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A

W ILD C AT

SCHEME

B!

A UTH

R or

K EA T E

A GARD RN O F THE G D S ,

A ND

R ! A L P A LA CE s O F EN G LAN D

IN T A UTH

R OF

LO NDO N

A LS T O N
18

! O RK

R IV E R S ,

LT D

B U ILDIN GS , A DELPH I,

we
.

TO

F O R ES T FA R M
A N D M! FIRS T K I N D C RITI C S

A U TH O R S

N O TE
Al l the circumstances o f the story are pur ely
imaginary including the p art ab out the A rcos
Company except the menti on o f the police r aid
o n th eir premises
Whi c h is a matter o f common
kn owledg e

21 371 58

It

13

F e ar.

oh

l ttl
i

H un t e r i t
,

R ue

C H A P T ER I

K AT E PA RK ER came trip p ing down the front stairs


Greystones H ouse in the little village of
of
Greystones in Dorsetshire feeling light hearted
although it was only s ix o clock and a cold morning
in March
Kate was not allowed to go down the front stairs
at this unhallowed hour In fact as under
housemaid she was never allowed to go down them
at all fo r her own convenience she was only allowed
to sweep and polish them fo r the upper housemaid s
convenience S h e and El sie the kitchenmaid
took turns to be the rst o f the household up in
the morning to open the back door in good time
because the cook Mrs Crutcher and her husb and
the under gardener slept in a cottage o n the other
side o f the stable yard and wo e bet i de the luckless
Wight who had not opened the door be fore Mrs
Crutcher arrived
Li fe was not worth living fo r
several days afterwards because Mrs Crutcher
though usually a most comfortable woman when
roused had a sharp tongue and a still sharper eye
fo r minor delinquencies
Th e proper routine was to ga ther up the boots
and shoes le ft o n the table at the top o f the back
stairs drop them in the boot
boy s lair at th e b o tto m
,

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of the stairs open the back doo r and the shutters


in the kitchen If it were Elsie s turn she wo uld
light the kitchen re be fore she went into the hall
to open the shutters there unbolt the front d oor
and then continue to O pen shutters ev erywhere
millions o f shutters as Kate and Elsie thought
crossly when th ey had overslept themselves
But on this particular morning it was Kate s turn
and it was not her j o b to light the kitchen re
S h e was feeling light hearted because it had been
her afternoon o u t the day be fore employed in
rehearsing for a concert to be given by the Women s
Institute Sh e had been complimented o n her
singing by the choirmaster and o n her general
attractiveness by Jo e Buggins at least she su p
po sed i t was mean t fo r a compliment when he took
her arm on the way home Sh e felt that she had
achieved a social success and as such was entitled
to use the front stairs
S o she came peacocki ng
down humming a tune and twinkling at her o wn
reection in th e framed glasses o f a myriad of beau
ti ful prints that covered th e staircase wall o n her
le ft side Th e skylight made these stairs much
lighter than th e back stairs be fore she O pened th e
shutters and besides she could shirk the boot and
shoe business
A s sh e came down someth ing rustl e d a lit tle
under the stairs o h Cam p (short for Campbell!
sh e supposed Miss Joan s dog who ought no t to be
sleeping in the house but sh e forgot about him
in the strong smell o f burnt o u t lamps that greeted
her
It was so old fashioned a house that in Spite
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A WILD CA T S CHEME
1 !
of its modern sons and daughters only o il lamp s
illuminated its darkness Kate concluded that Miss
Eleanor Wentworth who was staying with her
uncle Mr Robert Preston the owner o f the house
had forgotten to put out th e lamps when she went
to bed
Kate sni ff ed with di staste H o w beastly th e
lamps woul d be to d o this morning Miss Eleanor
was not quite young she was always writing or
reading and though she was friendly and gentle
with the servants and gave very little trouble she
was certainly absent minded as if her thoughts were
o ften so mewhere else S he never talked and chat
te re d incessantly like most ladies Kate thought
S h e was socially rather silent but sometimes she
said things that made them all laugh
A t the same time Kate felt that Miss Elea nor
might have remembered the lamps Th e little
housem ai d could no t recollect that they had ever
b een forgotten be fore Mr Preston was very
H e would be vexed
particul ar abo ut them
Kate smiled a little to hersel f as she returned to
the h all after un bolting the back door ; he would
make no bones about letting Miss Eleanor know
th at he was vexed H e was rather an irritable o ld
gentleman with a nervous temperament Kate

thought o f it as peppery
but he was a dear
all the same his household were very fond of him
even devoted to him Kate wondered what it was
that made you fond of so me peo ple so that yo u
always wanted to please them
H e r mind wan
dered irrele vantly to Joe Buggins rather a o ne
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WILD Cd T S CHEME
he was that boy taking her arm like that and saying
that the lane was dark
S he unlocked the front door put back the hall
shutters and O pened the windows and then
whistling quite so ftly one of the tunes they had
practised the night be fore she w e nt into the library
wh e re Mr Preston and M iss Eleanor had been
sitting in the evening and the smell o f smouldered
wick was perfectly dreadful because o f the two l ar ge
l amps that had burnt themselves o u t T here was
a wide bow window in the room with blue curtains
which she had to draw
o f some so ft silky stu ff
be fore she went to work on them d amned

shutters
Kate was proud o f the swear word that she had
o ften heard the young ladies use though her father
had given her the strap fo r it once when sh e
said it at home H e had used some language
himsel f o n the occasion which Kate thought
un fair
S he opened the window an d somehow it occurred
to her that the room was very cold and silent
S h e took a step back and then sh e saw why the l amps
had been forgotten O n th e oor in a so rt o f heap

all crumpled up like


Kate described her
as
atti tude afterwards lay Miss Eleanor
Kate was o f the mod ern world and a country
girl not easily frightened but th e re was a l ook o f
terror and horror in that white face on th e fl oor
be fore her that made her blood run cold S O she
said to Elsie later but she kept enough presence
of mind to touch Miss Eleanor s hand and then
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knew Country children who live in small


cottages are not sheltered from the sight and
knowledge o f death Kate knew that M iss Eleanor
studious gentle quiet Miss Eleanor was d e ad
T hat was why sh e had forgotten the lamps
Kate drew a long breath and began to cry then
she rushed out o f the room to nd Mrs Crutcher
or Wilkins the chauffeur
They would know
what to do Why was she dead ! Who could
have ki lled her ! Miss Eleanor oh Miss
Eleanor 1
M rs Crutcher had arrived and so had Wilkins
who was also Mr Preston s body servant and took
tea up to his master early because M r Preston
did no t sleep well Wilkins and his wi fe had a
cottage a little way up the road b e yond the garden
H e was rather a delicate man and as he said it

gave him quite a turn when Kate rushed into


the kitchen crying and voci ferating that Miss
Eleanor oh
Miss Eleanor was dead i n the
library
W ilkins at rst thought that the g i rl was hyste ri
cal and he gave her a sharp shake with his hand
o n her shoulder
Elsie was raking o ut the kitchen
re and stopped with her mouth wide open he was
afraid that she was going to j oin in this extraordinary
and deplorable outcry
Mrs Crutcher was boiling the kettle for every
bo dy s early tea over a little oil stove S he looked
com fortable and competent in her print dress and
b ig apron
What d o yo u mean Kate ! What
are yo u sayi ng about Miss Eleano r ! T here I
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crying girl and tell us quiet


like No one s

going to hurt you


Kate had shrunk away from
Wil kins gri p o f her shoulder and she looked
frightened te rri e d it made Mrs Crutcher catch
h er breath a little Kate was not easily frightened
What ailed the girl
Miss Ele anor is dead in the libraryo u
the oor O h d o come
Do come 1 S omeone

has ki lled her


Then Mrs Crutcher and Wilkins realised that
something had really happened H e put down the
tray that he had taken up she took the kettle O ff
the stove and they followed Kate to the library
Elsie with the hearth brush in her hand crept after
them If someone had killed Miss Eleanor she
wanted to se e She had seen murders at the

i
c sh u r s
but
sh e did no t know that they took
p
place in real life among the gentry It occurred
to her s he was only fte e nthat they had had a
very ne wedding in the house last year be fore she
came when Miss Joan was married and this year
a murder 1 I t seemed rather an exciting place for
a girl to be in after all though she always told her
mother that it was s o c o untr i e d and dull
Kate cried and sobbed and Mrs Crutcher began
to cry to o directly sh e saw th at pathetic gure o n
the oor Miss Eleanor whom she had kno wrf and
liked for so many years Miss Eleanor who
al ways came to have a chat in the kitchen and made
fun about Mrs Crutcher s
extravagance at

It all ashed through Mrs


VVoolworth s
Crutcher s mind as she s aw th e crumpled helpless
S top

,
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CA T S CHEME

I5

gure o n the oo r in the mauve velvet frock that


they had all admired
Wilkins was o f a sternly practical cast of mind
It was a s h ock to him to se e M iss Eleanor there
but he had learnt a few things during the war
and he knelt down to feel her pul se and listen for
her breathing Like Kate he knew death when
he saw it H e also saw that Eleanor s forehead
the le ft temple was bruised and ashed ; it h ad
b een bleeding pretty freelys he ha be e n knocked
who could have
on the head
who
done such a thing ! H e noti ced as Kate had
noticed the look o f fright and horror in the
Wh at was the last thing those eyes h ad
dead f
seen Pace
Wilkins got up feeling a little sick but h e Spoke
sharply to the two weeping women h oldi ng each
other s h ands
I must telephone fo r the doctor and for Pratt
Don t you move a thing Perhaps you had better
stay here Mrs Crutcher till the doctor comes
Kate can go and get the tea Nobody must tell

Mr Preston Dr Calg arrie will tell him


uite
self
possessed
W
ilk
i
ns
went
to
the
door
!
and did not know why he felt obliged to ru b hi s
sleeve across his eyes It was a shock anyhow and
he did not know ho w his master would take it
S ooner or later in Wilkins mind everything
revolved round his master T hen he s aw Mrs
Crutcher stooping over Miss Eleanor taking her

poor limp hand


No he said you must
no t touch her
I th ink you d better come and I ll
,

,
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S CHE

S hut the window too Kate will


lock the door
you
It was not for nothing that Wilki ns had driven
his master into Calve rsto ke to si t o n the Bench
weekly fo r a good many years H e had picked up
various scraps o f pseudo legal knowledge from
Mr Preston himself and from di fferent people
including the Calve rsto ke police and Pratt the
local constable and o f o ne thing he felt sure i f
anyone died in any unexpected fashion they ought
not to be moved except in the presence o f the
doctor and the police Th e blood o n Miss
Eleanor s forehead was pr oo f enough that she had
not come by her death in any natural or accidental
m anner
H e drove o ut Mrs Crutcher and Kate who by
that time wanted to stay and exclaim and wonder
and Mrs Crutcher earnestly wished to make that

poor dead body comfortable


S he ll be as

sti ff as sti ff she said indignantly to Wilkins

I can t help it We don t want to get into


T hey might s ay
trouble with the police do we
we were hiding evidence Might say we had done

it ourselves Mrs Crutcher


Mrs Crutcher returned to the kitchen murmur
ing and still cryi ng to get what solace she could
Dawson who by that
o u t o f the head housemaid
time had made her leisurely appearance had sent

a flea in her ear


El sie back to the scullery with
and in a dignied manner was anxious to hear what
had happened It was a trying moment fo r her
because West the p arlou rm aid was away and Daw
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WILD ( MT S CHEME
tho u
ght she had a great de al

had o r
to get
th rou h
ki ns rang up the doctor and P r att the polic e
WiI
man and put through a trunk call to Mr A nthony
Mr Preston s eldest so n who was a don at O xford
A nthony said that he would start at once to come to
his father H e was greatly shocked and distressed
to hear o f the death o f his cousin for whom he had
a real aff ection al so he was angry and perturbed

o n his father s account


Don t let him know
Wilkins i f you can help it until I come o r at all
events until you have the doctor S hocks are bad

for him
A t that moment Mr Preston s bell rang im
patiently Wilkins was very late with his master s
tea H e promised A nthony to d o what he could
and ed to the kitchen where Mrs C rutcher had
had the presence o f mind to boil the kettle
Dr C al garrie and Pratt arrived practically
together T hey knew each other very well I n their
respective o fcial capacities they had gone through
many things toge ther A mong the nervous se r
vants they inspired the condence th at the man of
experience and knowledge al ways does inspire among
those more ignorant A sort o f p e ace still excited
but less alarmed settled down on the kitchen
They even ate some break fast because alt h ough
the younger ones were afraid that it was heartless
and possibly improper Mrs Crutcher and Dawson
with their wider outlook o n li fe agreed that even
with a murder in the house work had to be done
and if o ne must work one must al so eat

son

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1 8
Kate sat in silence and was regarded by the others
with commiseration and some respect had she not
th e corpse
S h e would be the rst to
found
be questioned by Pratt when th e doctor had done
with him Perhaps the older women would have
been shocked and disgusted i f they had known her
thoughts and still more shocked and disgusted
i f it co ul d have been brou ht home to them that
they themselves were the foundation and ori gin
o f those thoughts
Kate was considering how she might tell her
story and make it true and convincing wi thout t e
vealing the fact that she had come down the front
stai rs
Le t him that is without fault cast the rst s tone
I s no t sel f preservation the strongest instinct in
human nature ! Kate knew what Mrs Crutcher
and Dawson were like when anyone broke the r ules
Th e fact that to her Kate s mind
o f th e house
the rules were insensate and that anyhow a girl
who h ad been compl imented o n her singing and
her looks s h e k new what attracted J o e Buggins
it was not her voice had a right to do what she
liked
Dawson was evidently in one o f her worst moods
sh e h ad certainly got o u t o n the wrong side o f
her bed so much had been conveyed to Kate by
Elsie s covert grimaces
Murders had no softening
e ff ect on D awson ! uite the contrary ; you coul d
no t look fo r tears o r a chance to gossip from Daw son
S h e would harry and hurry you th rough your work
all the morning as a relie f for her feelings if she
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E

stairs but no w she would not mention it It w as


rats of course
Pratt s enquiries elicited nothing more from
Kate S he had come down as usual with the keys
o f the two doors which were kept upstairs at night
and opened th e back d oor unbolted the front door
opened the shutters hall rst then library Elsie
had O pen e d the shutters in the kitchen and servants
hall Pratt discovered that the usual routine had
been dropped after that point None o f the other
shutters downstairs h ad been opened H e w as
lad because it gav e him a chance to loo k at them
hey were all safely barred In the o ld days in
fact until within the last ten or fteen years a bell
had been hung o n each shutter But that had
been discontinued chiey under pressure from
housemaids who found the proc e ss irksome The
windows o f the kitchen o f c e s except the kitchen
itsel f and the servants hall w e re too high up and
too narrow to be a means o f ingr e ss o r egress fo r
anybody Th e house was old long and low only
t wo storied and as rambling as country houses
o ften are which have been altered and enlarged
from time to time to suit the fancy or convenience
of the owner o f the moment and not as part o f an
architect s design
Kate declared that she had seen nothing o ut o f
the ordinary that morning be fore s h e went into the
library except that the lamps had burnt o u t and

expired making a smell that stank to heaven


Sh e did not put it in those words but quite as
t
raphically
hat
had
star
led
her
directly
T
sh e
g
.

21
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came downstairs no(hastily! directly she came
i nto the hall
No the shutters and bolts were all right they
were j ust the same as usual ; no signs o f their
having been opened S he had heard nothing no
o ne moving about the house well
she had not
a rustle under the stairs among the garden chairs
and the tennis things that were kept there was not

so
someone moving about
Kate reasoned
with herself
Pratt did not bother her as much as she h ad
expected Sh e had had a vision o f him as she had
once seen him cross e xamining a very dirty we e ping
little boy w h o had stol e n a rabbit from the sh
monger in the village but vowed he had taken it
from a snare in his father s garden
Pratt had
held him rmly by the ear while the wretched
child struggled and kicked and prevaricated in vain
Th is time he was very polite and only ask e d each
servant in turn where they h ad been at th e hour when

Kate had found the body and whether they had


he ard unusual sounds o f any kind during the night
No o ne
H e seemed satised with their answers
had been disturbed during the night Patch the
yard dog had not barked
T hen he turned to Dr Calgarrie
Can yo u
tell Mr Preston sir I ought to se e if anything has
been stolen I can t go to h is safe or the pantry
cupboards without his leave H e has the key o f

the safe
Calg arrie was o ne o f the not very numerous
tr i be o f doctors who would almost prefer to let a
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patient die th an tell him a disagreeable truth

I should like to wait for Mr A nthony he


said

I ought not to wait sir said Pratt his honest


sunburnt countenance full o f o f cial importance

I shall have to let the inspector know and the

coroner as soon as I can


H e was not at all sure ho w
Calg arri e grunted
Robert Preston would be affected by thi s news in
two ways his strong temper and his weak heart
Th e o ne had an adverse e ff ect o n the other
A t all
events if A nthony were there he would bear the
brunt
Pratt followed the doctor u p stairs
O ne

moment si r
H e looked down to se e if anyone
else were comin g
I don t doubt but it i s a bur
glary and the fe llo w hopped it after seeing Miss
Wentworth did her in in sel f de fence I take it
Mr Preston was the last of the household to se e
her alive
I d like to know exactly what time
he went to bed and that
I need no t see hi m
I mean if you think he d
si r
i f you ll ask him

be upset at seeing me
Calg arri e looked at the man thought fully his
experience o f Pratt did not lead him to expect much
delicacy o f feeling from the policem an H e was
rather sur prised T here was certainly something
about old Bo b Preston that called out a curious
perso nal devotion from the peo ple about him
A fter all Pratt was a fellow churchwarden at the
little church of Greystones a member of the cricket
club whic h Preston h elp ed to support and of the
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WILD

Horticultural S ocie ty

CA T S CHEME

23

which Preston was Presi


dent Th e po liceman evidently wanted to show his
respect admiration and sympathy for a man whom
he considered great
W ait outside then will yo u
said Calgarrie
I ll call you if I want yo u You ve tol d Mrs
Crutcher what to d o about Mi ss Wentworth
Does she want help

It i s all right sir Mrs Wilkins will help


Cal arrie wished that someone could help him
H e to d Pratt to fetch Wilkins and to have some
brandy ready If the o ld fellow fainted i t might
be hard to bring him round
Ro be rt Preston was one o f the fortu nate people
who belong to a happier and more simple age than
H e was the so n o f a bishop who
the present day
had been famous fo r his great intellect and le arning
and Robert himsel f had been blessed with no mean
intellectual capacity and a memory that might have
r i valled M acaulay s o wn H i s impatient ne rvous
tem p erament had probably been the only reason
why he had no t achieved greater pre eminence

in his pro fession


dependable but di f cult as
someone had described him but as someone else had
described the Land o rs o f S taffordshire he came o f
a race that was polished high Spirited and long
lived and he had had a su fciently distinguished
career at Eton and O xford and afterwards at the
Parliamentary Bar
H e h ad retired from his profession some twenty
years before the date o f Eleanor We ntworth s
de at h w h en h e came to l ive at Greystones the
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fam ily house le ft to him by his grand father H is


marriage had been very hap Py because his wi fe had
been a woman not only o f great personal ch arm
but of a remarkably ne and unusual character
whose loss not many years be fore had le ft him heart
broken Nothing i n this world has yet been dis
covered that tends to the formation o f upright and
honourable character like the type o f happy atmos
h e re and dependable background that the Robert
prestons had given to their children
T wo o f their sons had distinguished themselves
be fore they were killed in the war and two sur
vive d ; A nthony who w as a lecturer in history at
O xford and a Fellow o f his College was married
and had three children ; and O liver still unmarried
who was a Co m m and e r i n the Navy and at that time
held an ap p ointment at the submarine d e pO t at
Plymouth Both Robert s daughters had married
well and happily It seemed that his lot had been
cast in pleasant places though he had had his share
of loss and sorrow
A nything like the sordid and ugly publicity of
the ordeal now be fore hi m had never previously
touched him so thought his doctor becau se a murder
in your house and there could be no doubt that it
was a murder leads always to a most unwelcome
notoriety Th e cheap press adores sensation and
a murder is obviously sensational Calg arri e was
fond of his old friend and would have given much
to save hi m from this unexpected trial
Pratt and Wilkins were coming u p the back
stairs and Calg arri e hardened hi s heart knocked
.

25
WILD CA T S CHEME
at the familiar bedroom door and opened it
Robert was sitting u in bed reading and on any
other occasion his fg
c e o f sheer astonishment as
the doctor walked in would have made Calg arrie
laugh
H ullo Calg arrie
What brings ou here so
early
I did not send for you ; never fe
lt better in

my li fe
No it is not you said the doctor obscurely

I am glad you are feeling well Look here


it is no good beating about the bush I was sent
for to s e e M iss Eleanor
I
Eleanor 1 S h e w as per fectly well last night
did think that she ate rather a lot o f that beastly
ginger for dessert
S h e has a way of eating
sometimes as i f she had forgotten what she w as

doing
Just so said Calg arrie
but it was not her

digestion Le t me feel your pulse

A re yo u trying to break something to me !


O h damn it man you have a face a yard long
Get it out in God s name I What is the matter
with Eleanor
Calg arri e s little round button o f a face puckered
up comically Really he did not know ho w to
begin It seemed like a nightmare H ere was
Robert Preston aged eighty well preserved not
very tall but a good gure o f a man if a bit thicker
than he used to be with his marvellous fresh co m
plexion that a girl mi ht have envied his white hair

what there w as O gi t his neat moustache and


mutton chop w h iskers that be longed to Victorian

WILD CA T S CHEME
days and were so completely typical and character
For years his children had laug hed at hi s
i sti c
entire disregard o f modern fashion but no o ne
could possibly imagine Robert Preston without his
whiskers H o w w as Calgarrie to tell this man so
posed and se t in his li fe and habits honourable and
dignied although with certain eccentricities that
made him human and lovable how could anyone
even his doctor and old friend tell him that a mur
der had been committed i n his o wn house
Calg arri e found himsel f wondering i nco nse
quently if any man with mutton chop whiskers
blatantly and unasham e dly Victorian h ad ever been
tol d such a th ing
Meanwhile Robert Preston regarded his doctor
with his very blue eyes wishing that the fellow woul d
not be such a con founded ass H e was very fond
o f his niece Eleanor but he was quite able to bear
it if he heard that sh e had collywobbles or measles
o r whatever it was

Do n t sta nd there goggling at me he almost


shouted
if it is anything catching we m ust

take precautions

Go d forbid I said poor Calgarri e


an epi
demic o f murder would be indeed a cal amity l
H e had Spoken his thought and it was out the
mur der was out
Robert looked at the doctor s
familiar face and hi s j aw dropped a little in Spite of
himsel f A fter all he was an o ld man H e pulled
himself together and sat very upright against his
pillows
Now Cal g arri e what the devil are yo u
s ay i ng
I ll go b ail that Ele anor has no t murdered
A

26

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28

Wilkin s telepho ned to me and to Pratt al so

to A nthony I believe
H as
H as Pratt found anything incriminating
he questioned the servants ! A re there signs that
anyone broke into the house l ast night
H e had begun to ask questions in a normal
manner T h e j ustice o f th e peace was coming to
the fore

You had better send Pratt up to me his hand


sho c k as he smoothed his moustache but Cal arri e
g
was reassured Th e o ld fellow was standi ng the
Shock very wel l
Pratt came in and stood near th e door he had
taken o ff his helmet and w as ddling with a note
book i n his hand

I m v e ry so rry sir he began


very sorry
fo r you Sir and M iss Wentwor th yo u have my

sympathy S ir
T hank yo u Pratt
I m sure you are sorry

T ell me what yo u h ave found out so far


Robert s voice shook in Spite o f his iro n self
control his determined reserve so pre e minently
British and Victorian Cal g arri e knew that his
patient s sti ff lip was costing him a good deal but
he admired the o ld man s courage and ready
ell
me
T
h
e
as sum
i
o n o f authority
T
m
master o f the house was not going to wait fo r Pratt
to question him
Not much sir no signs that the h ou se had been
broke into no broken windows or l ocks nothing

Stolen so far

H ave yo u looked in the pantry ! O h and th ere s

29
WILD CA T S CHEME
the s afe in the study
You ll want the key for
that
! e s si r that s what I wanted to ask yo u

lso
if you coul d tell me o ne or two things s ir
A
what time did you go to bed when you le ft Miss
Wentworth in the library
O h I go to bed early about ten o clock
T ime
S he said S h e had some writing to do and that she

would put out th e lamps


I suppose sir yo u have never known her faint
o r turn giddy o r anything !
S he don t l ook par
No t to my knowledge
tic u l arly strong but I Should say she was wiry
gets through a lot o ne way and another Why d o
you think sh e might faint
There s j ust a chance she might have knocked

her head o n the table if sh e fell down in a faint


Knocked her head Goo d Go d man you don t
mean that she was killed by a knock o n the head

said Calg arri e


as far as I can
T hat s true
tell at present without further examination but
we measured care fully I don t think it can have
been the t able A lso sh e bled a bit you d have

seen sign s on the table


Good God I said Robert Preston again the
horror was coming home to him
My poor
Eleanor She must have been terribly frightened !
What a foul brute the scoundrel must have been
In
to give her a blow o n the head Eleanor
the library and we all slept calml y through i t
never heard a sound not a blessed sound
H e mayn t have meant to kill her those

WILD CA T

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chaps Pratt observed twisting his noteb ook with


some agitation as if he had been accused himsel f
they re rough they knock their own wives about
it don t seem to hurt the women much but Miss

a lady
leanor
course
o
f
E
Calg arri e thought o f the look o f unutterable
terror in her face when they found her poor thing
poor woman I T here had been some charm and
a sort o f distinction about Eleanor Wentworth he
considered with he r well shaped h ead her grey
Shingled h air her still slight gure and the brown
eyes that had been her best feature though no w
adays S he would d i s gu re herself with those great
tortoiseshell spectac l es By the bye he had not
seen her Spectacles what had happened to them !
S h e could not have been writing without them
IS that all you want to know Pratt
Yes Sir except did you put o u t the lamp
on the stairs
Yes I always d o I leave only a small l amp

alight on the chest in the hall fo r her


S he s sat up before then
O ften enough if she has been alone with me
You know S he h as an appo intment at the Foreign
S h e often has writing to
O f ce research work

d o when She comes here


May I have the key Sir I don t think there s
anything more

u
there s a list
I Shal l have to come with yo
somewhere I don t know mysel f exactly what th ere

is in the safe

You must have breakfast rst I insist said


,

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3:

Calg ar rie ,

we can tell if anyone has tampered

with the safe


But the list was found and there were no signs
th at anyone had tamper e d with anything The
Silver in the pantry the ner silver and other
valuables in the safe were all intact The ln
tru d e r had apparently taken no thing but Eleanor s
li fe
When Anthony Preston arrived that afternoon
he brought a detective from S cotland Y ard with
him
.

CH AP T ER

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s Jury returned a verdict o f Murder

by a person o r persons unknown


but though
the local press was muzzled by A nthony Pr e ston s
skil ful manipulation s it was quite well known in
the neighbourhood that the gentleman who was
staying at Greystones was Detective S ergeant Mar
getson who was in charge o f the case
T he
person or persons unknown had to be found
Th e Chief Constable and the police inspector at
Calve rsto ke both urged that it was important to let
him stay in th e house as it was rather isolated
and th e nearest inn at which he could put u p was
some way off
M argetson w as quite obviously and pal p ab ly a
Jew the handsome and rened type o f Jew tall
thin as a rail with the crafty and vivacious eye s o f
his race a delicate complexion grey hair and
pointed beard ; he look e d much more like a dis
servant or a highly success ful
ti ngu i sh e d civil
physician with all the letters in th e alphabet after
his name than a detective from S cotland Yard
A nthony who was short dark quick apt to be
impulsive but shrewd and capable not in the least
dreamy o r unworldly as the learned pro fessor is
sometimes supposed to be found Margetson
T H E Coroner

32

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33
supremely interesting but also sometimes supreme
ly aggravating because he declared that he worked
and insisted that his
o n the latest scienti c lines
rst step must be to label and classi fy the outrage
that had cost Eleanor We ntwo rth s li fe M arget
son s theory w as that all crime could be lab e lled and
classied but he was not content o n this occasion
with Pratt s simple denition o f the frightened bur
glar who had done her in as an act o f sel f
de fence

I am pretty well satised Mr Preston he


said to A nthony after a fe w days
that no one
could have got into the house o r out o f it with out
leaving some trace The fact that p art o f the staff
sleeps o u t o f the house as well as the gardeners
make s an extra safeguard T hey would have noticed
anything unusual when th ey came in in the morning
and no one could possibly have go t o u t until Kate
unbolted the back doo r because they could not

have bolted it again


A nyone could get i n be fore the s h utters are
closed I have walked in at the drawing
room
window and out o f the front door hundreds o f times
without a soul in the h ouse knowing anythi ng
about it My younger brother O liver as a mi d
shipman arriv e d here unexpectedly o ne morning
very early We all thought that his ship had sailed
the night be fore H e got under the dining room
table and no one in the house knew th at he was
there until he put his head out and looked at my
father with an impudent grin in the middle o f
He said that he wanted to S e if
family p rayers
e
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he could st0 p my father in the middle o f a prayer
but he failed Without pause o r hesitation the
prayer went on In fact the whole ceremony went
I don t think
o n to the end without a pause
anyone else could see O liver Th e boy was
bitterly disappointed H e hoped that my father
would at all events say Good Go d
and suppose

that O liver h ad broken his leave


Crime es p ecially mur
M argetson l aughed

der he said i s generally to be attr i buted to o ne


o f three motives only fear an ger o r greed and the
greatest o f these i s fear A nger is more common
th an you would suppose It attacks the most nu
likely people and it i s there fore the most di fcult
motive to trace A fellow loses his temper and his
sel f control and hits harder than he knows Perhaps
he is a man o f ne poise who has never become
unbal anced before ! o u generally nd it in the
very young o r very ol d o ften for some entirely
inadequate reason I h ad a case once o f a man w ho
killed his wi fe with no better excuse than that S h e
was unpunctual It h ad been a sour ce of irritation
to him very o ften i t i s to a good many men w ho
have perhaps married late in life when their habits

were formed
My wi fe and daughters are almost punctu ally

unpun ctual
laughed A nthony
I don t see

mysel f murdering any of them for it


Margetson looked at him
You married
young all that is part o f your li fe yo u can t imagine
yoursel f without it ! o u h ave as it were grown
up to it B ut thi s fe ll ow h a d no t H e was

WILD CA T S CHEME
H o w about greed

In thi s case ! I don t se e how it comes in


Sh e did not wear exp e nsive j ewellery no pearls
good o r bad Lord ! the crimes that women
commit to get pearls you d never think and they
are supposed to be emblems o f innocence S he was
not th e sort o f woman I take it to be blackmailed
I have been up
S h e did not look like it anyhow
to h e r at in London and I ve interviewed the
o ffi cials where she was working I gather that S h e
was a clever woman rather fastidious co nscie n
tious very industrious an unusual talent I take
it fo r her particul ar j ob
They seemed to be
a g oo d deal put about to nd a successor for

her
S h e has been at it for a long time and it is no t
only the medical research worker who must be

born not made


Can you tell me anyt h ing about her li fe as a
younger woman love aff airs anything o f th at
ki nd
A nthony was silent fo r a moment
To tell
you the truth

Don t said M argetson that always precedes

a lie
It i s quite
A nthony laughed a little ruefully
true though that I don t know
My mother knew
I believe al l about her but sh e never conded in
me and naturally I have only heard hints and
rumours S he never talked much about hersel f
H e r work was what they call condential and
t h at headed her o ff from talking Shop T hank
6
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37

goodness
Most women who have any kind o f

j ob can t talk o f anything else


H e paused feeling suddenly a sort o f remorse
because he did know so little about her how she

amused hers e l f where she went in h er o ff time


who were her friends
S h e was very self

contained he said slowly and she never groused


though she led a lonely sort of li fe S h e lived with
her brother who was invalided after the war until
he died some years ago S h e was absolutely
wrapped up in him adored him I do know that
I imagine that S he never got over his loss though
s he did no t talk much about it
Latterly sh e has
been in very good spirits S h e was naturally a
gay sort o f soul lighthearted easily amused but
that may have been partly a mask My mother was
very fo nd o f her and I think she was very fond
especially perhaps o f my father and my
o f us all

naughty children

H ints and rumours


said M argetson
she
had aff airs then
A nthony frowned at him what a ghoul the man
was ! But it was advisable to tell him something
to divert his imagination from more highly coloure d
a ffairs
Y e ars ago S he was engaged to some
fellow when s h e was very young and broke it o ff
I don t know why There was talk o f a marri e d
man who got in the way somehow H e had a
j ealous wi fe I believe I imagine that Eleanor
had rather a thin time o f it S he was perhaps a bit
o f a irt but not the sort to throw her cap over the
mill fo r anyone ; to o conscientious and to o fond o f

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her o wn people They belonged to a generation


that would have thought it an indelible dis

grace

But there was a j ealous wi fe !


M argetson
looked very hopeful A nthony wanted to punch
hi s head These beasts of detectives they throve
on scandal
A long time ago
Th e man has been dead for
years I do know that You need not imagine
that the wi fe has murdered Eleanor ! I daresay
too H o w does j ealousy cruel as
sh e i s dead

come into your category o f motives !


th e grave
A mixture of fear and greed s ome anger in
it as well It i s o ne o f the strongest and most
deadly motives fo r every kind of crime ! o u are

quite rig ht there


H o w d o you bring in the cri me p am onal that
we hear so much about in France like that fellow
Landru wasn t it who murdered quite a collection
and burned them in his stove if I re
o f women
member right
Greed lust what is lust but greed
I think

Landru wanted the women s mon e y to o

A nthony sighed
Beastly sord id
he said
But you talk like a doctor trying to prove that
there are only three causes o f disease I don t
believe in a common causative fac tor i f that i s the

r ight term for crime o r disease either

S cience
Why not ! asked Margetson
simplies things very much when you get down to
bedrock H eredi ty drink dirt there you have

the t h ree common causes o f disease


.

WILD CA T S CHEME
39
Ho w about climate contagion se x sanitation

senility
O h I could go o n a d i n ni tum
S enili ty is not a disease j ust human nature
so is se x In your sense it i s only a literary co nc e p
tion o f a gruesome nature invented by Freud
T h e others are sins against heredity
Climate
does no t hurt th e native bo rn Dirt accounts fo r
contagion S anitation is only required when we
give up the li fe for wh i ch we were intended M an
was not born to live in crowd s Most things in
nature g o in threes like father mother child ;

root branch and fruit


T hen yo u think that the Christi an doctrine o f
the T rinity has a scientic basis

I should not be surprised said Margetson


and A nthony wondered i f he were a pr actising Jew
Mr Preston is a bit ho t tempered isn t he
asked the detective as if he wanted to change the
subj ect
Nervous temperament slightly irritable under
contradiction likes his own way and does no t su ffer
fools gl adly
Perhaps my mother dear thing
Spoilt him He has certainly what yo u might

call a reserve o f pugnaci ty

Miss Wentworth Marge tso n continued was


i nterested in archives records family history and
so on wasn t she
I gathered th at that had been
her line before sh e j oined the learned pro fessors

who edit Foreign O ffi ce papers for publication


Yes She worked o n coun ty histories and such

like
Mr Preston mentione d your family p aper s
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yesterday said he did not know who would deal


wi th them now I suppose he meant since Miss
We ntwo rth s death
Yes T here is a clause in his will by which
certain papers were le ft to her fo r publication or
not at her discretion S he has wri tten a good deal
novels memoirs and so o n My father wished her

T hey go back a lon way


to have o u r papers
g
Was sh e completely in agreement Wi th him
about the propo sed publication ! H e said some
thing rather fretful I thoughta bout it yester
da
nthony looked astonished Why was Marget
A
so n showi ng s o much interest in the family archives
Did he
They used to talk about it at o ne time
I think the subj ect really
no t so much l ately
rather bo red my father Eleanor worked at the
papers and read contemporary histories and
memoirs I don t think my father has ever taken

any very great interest in them

I am not so sure
said Margetson
the
servants say that l ately he and Miss W entwor th h ad
several heated discussions and arguments about the
Dawson the housemaid heard
family papers
your father s voice Speaking angrily in the library

on the night that Miss W entworth di ed


Dawson does not think by any chance th at
my father knocked Eleanor o n the head does she
l aughed A nthony

It may surprise you but Dawson i s not the

only person who has that suspicion


A nthony stared at the detective for a moment
.

A WILD CAT S CHEME


4:
as if he thought the man must have taken leave o f
Oh
his senses and then roared with l aughter

look here he said


this i s most aw fully funny
Don t be o ff ended but it i s such a mare s nest I
My father
My father who hates wasps like the
devil but has never been known to kill o ne o f them
in his li fe 1 H e coul d not hurt a y much less
Eleanor ! o u don t underst and my father H e may
be a bit autocratic and impatient h e can t stand
Dawson by the way I think it is her voice she i s
under notice to go but he i s the mo st tender
hearted soul alive I daresay he did argue with
Eleanor and she could be obstinate determined
i f yo u like that word better but he would not
touch her in anger Good Lord ! You don t

know ho w completely unthinkable it i s


A nthony

began to laugh again


Don t look so solemn

man he said to Margetson whose face could


assume the impassiveness o f a stone image
Really I can t take it seriously I feel ve ry
deeply that my o o r cousin s death i s a tragedy
and a mystery u t this idea of yours i s simply
comic If you knew my father you would know

ho w comic it is
M argetson smiled rather per funct orily
Per

haps it is he said
I can understand that you might
th i nk so S ome murders are comic i f you look
at them that way like choking a cat with cream
Do yo u know why they should disagree about the
papers ! Wilkins seems to have realized as well
that his master was distinctly vexed
as Dawso n
about something or other Perhaps you would
-

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W
4
rather not tell me
I don t want to probe into your
family secrets i f you have any but it might help me
to get to the bottom o f this affair
T hat cousin
o f yours
the clergyman Mr Evan Day who was
h ere fo r the funeral said something and Miss
We ntworth s will re ferred to notes o n the family

history th at she had made


Evan Day ! O h he is a portentous prig
always poking his nose into matters that don t
concern h im H e has written a b i t too mostly
tosh about his travels but I think he was rather
j ealous because Eleanor was to have t h e handling
T here is nothing in them o f the
o f the papers

slightest interest to anyone outside the family


No skeletons in your cupboards
Most people
who can trace back a fe w generations have some

bones rattling somewhere


I Should say we had al l been dully prosperous
and unadventurously success ful O ne o r two o f my
ancestors reached a more o r less outstanding emin
ence and some o f my collaterals too got to the top
Most of
o f th e tree in their particular professions
them were blameless fol k su i cie ntly success ful
not very exciting They married respectably and
so o n
We can t brag about o ur grand and noble

skeletons like the man in H ardy s Tess


No t much to quarrel about ! Wh o was your
very beauti ful great grandmother whose picture
is in the dining room and I think some miniatures
room
o f her family in the drawing
No scandals about her except that Bl ucher
kissed her w h en he met her in England after
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Dawson
Eleanor was quite accustomed to that
whose line I take it is vinegar not violence mi ht
be misled When did sh e hear this argu m e n

I understand th at S h e and Wilkins in the


absence o f the p arlourmaid waited at dinner o n
the night o f the trage dy T he argument began
at dinn e r and was continued afterwards Wilkin s
took co ff e e into the library and noticed that his
m aster appeared to be vexed and that Miss
Wentworth did no t s e em to agree with him H e
was standing be fore the re and laying down the

l aw rather erce according to Wilkins I should


have described it as a clash o f wills no t violent
perhaps but a clash l

Mere sound and fury signi fying nothing said

A nthony grinning ;
haven t I known it from
my earliest years ! H e starts lik e that but he
gen e rally comes round in the end it takes time

though
he add e d Signicantly remembering
many things
I must o w n all the same that on
a great many subj ects especially if they are no t
personal matters my father has the soundest
j udgment o f anyone I know
I will ask him
and tell yo u what he says about any disagree
ment that he h ad with Eleanor I can assure you
be forehand that it won t be as deep as a well
door
o r as wide as a church
Margetson consented and that evening after
dinner when W ilkins took away the coff ee cups
he said that he had business letters to write and
followed the man out o f the room
It must be explained that the drawing room at

WILD CA T S CHEME
45
Greystones had two doors a big bow window at
one end and a very l ar e window in the wall
opposite the replace
he doors were o n each
side o f the replace o ne o f them O pened into the
hall the other into the library wher e Eleanor had
met her fate The entrance to the library fo r some
reason was double there were two doors with a
small recess probably onc e a cupboard between
them
A detective has no scruples about h i s
m e thods o f obtaining in formation S omething in
A nthony s manner added to the in formation he
already held had convinced M argetson that there
Great aunt Jane
w as more to be said about
than the record o f a smug and bl ameless li fe in
H e there fore
S omersetshire o r any oth e r shire
decided to insinuate himsel f into the Space between
those two doors in order to hear the conversation
between A nthony and his father If anyone came
i nto the library he could j ust walk on into the
d rawing room with some excuse for returning ;
i f A nthony suddenly went into the library there
would be time to escape But the library had
remained Shut up since that tragic evening B e fore
dinner Margetson had taken the precaution to
open the drawing r oom door a bare crack b ut
enough to make it possible fo r voices to be heard
H e was in his hiding place i n time fo r A nthony s
o e n in
gambit
as
he
would
probably
have
called
it
p
himsel
What are you going to do about the
family archives Father now
Don t hurry me my de ar fellow don t hurry

me I must think it over


A

46

WILD

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course ; but I have heard from Mordaunt


Eleanor s solicitor who is also the executor o f her
will It seems that she le ft some notes about the
family locked up in a d CS p atCh box and said that
they were to be given to whoever yo u settled was
Naturally M ordaunt
to have the original papers
wants to know what he is to do with the box S he
left all her o wn manuscripts and things to a Mrs
Mordaun t
Danvers a literary friend o f her o wn
supposes that yo u won t want this particular box

to go to th e D anvers
I consider that was a ve ry
Certainly not
proper provision in Eleanor s will though I did

no t know that She had made any notes


T here w as a pause then A nthony went o n
For goo dness sake don t let Evan Day have them
H e will be o ff at a tangent over the Colquhoun

H arper business

n
ot
thou
ht
argetson
you
di
d
A
h
M
(
deceive me my gi e nd T here i s a Colquhoun
business
Evan Day that bl undering ass ! Good God
no 1
Why Should he have anything to do with

it !
Well Father there s the fund that Julius
Isn t Evan
Colquho un le ft for you to administer

one o f the trustees !


Certainly no t
H i s father was origi n ally but

no t Evan Providence be praised l

VVh at wi ll happen to that fund eve ntu


ally P
There ar e p rovision s
The tru st wi ll conti nue
O f

WILD CA T S CHEME
47
as long as there are H arpers o f the same family

to prot by it
thought the d e te c
S ir Julius Col quhoun l

tive
he was very well known at the criminal
bar I thought the na me was familiar O h ye s
I remember the story in some legal memoirs there
was a ca m e cel re about a fellow called H arper ;
some fraud Colquhoun was counsel for the
de fence and lost the case Why should he have
made any provi sion fo r the H arper family
Did Eleanor know about all that ! A nthony
asked
To tell yo u the truth I was very much annoyed
with Eleanor about it It i s a matter of the most
poignant regret to me now that I was seriously
angry with her S h e thought that she had dis
covered so mething extraordinary and really i m
po ssible about the matter ; said i t was in those
papers that A unt Jane le ft to me I o wn ah
hum I own that I have never gone through them
very c are fully but Eleanor s ideas were per fectly
absurd prepo sterous and ridiculous Th e fact i s
that She seems to have made the acquaintance o f
young H arper that fellow s grandson and took an
interest in him S he had discovered a regular
mare s nest about Julius which I don t believe fo r
a moment and wanted my consent to publish th e
whole story in order to clear H arper s memory
Preposterous I tell yo u j ust like a woman though
I tho ught better o f Eleanor Generally speaking

sh e was no fool
Wh at did she th i nk she h ad found out
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Upon my word A nthon y I don t know why

I should tell you I t is no concern o f yours


It may be i f you leave th e archives to me and

that is about the best thing you can do

I Shall burn them said Robert Preston de


,

c id e d l

! o u c an t burn Eleanor
T hat fellow is no fool

s notes

either thought the


.

detective !
Co nfound Eleanor s notes ! No I am not
going to s ay th at o f the dead De mortui s
Don t
said A nthony go o n con foundi ng
Did yo u s ay that to her ! If
Eleanor s notes
anyone quotes that beastly tag about me when I

am dead I I ll haunt them

I was angrier than I have been fo r years


not since yo u A nthony made such a fool o f yoursel f
in 1 9 1 0 3
I
My dear sir what a memory yo u have
seem to have dim recollections of som ea nnoyance
very capably and ably expressed by you even
wi th eloquence at a later date th an that But
I want to know what Eleanor found o u t I shall
tell Mordaunt that I am going to be your residuary

legatee and that he can send her box to me

I shall cut yo u o u t o f my will altogether said


his father complacently
I shall have read th e notes long
A ll right
be fore yo u have made up your mind to send fo r
Blakeney to alter your testamentary di spositions
and I Shall tell him to go o n making silly little
legal obj ections to everythi ng yo u say By that
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49

t i me we shal l have consented together agai n


p robably to burn the whole caboodle You know

o tell m e
t
are
dying
o
u
y
Nothing o f the kind
I t is all pure ap d oo d le
mere surmise Do you remember the H arper case
Why should yo u years be fore you were born
Jo seph H arper was a cler k in a solicitor s o f ce
in Gray s Inn S quare Edwards 8: Matthews
very good o ld rm Julius had a great many
brie fs from them Well H arper absconded with
a dee d box which contained not only the Irchester
apers but the Irchester pearls It was Lady
Irch e ste r s particular bo x and when she sent for it
on some occasion it was sealed up and bein
unusually valuable H arper who was what yo u c a
a condential clerk was told to take it to her in a
han som and get a receipt H e did no t turn up
again that day and me anwhile Irchester himself
arrived at Gray s Inn full of re and fury m ur
muring threats against all and sundry T here was
a court ball or something tha t night and he wanted
hi s wi fe to wear the pearls and some diamonds and
things that were l n the b o x H arper did no t appear
which looked bad but he was eventually caught

some month s later o n his way back from Par i s


H ad he really taken the bo x
Irchester prosecuted and Julius was briefed
by the rm to de fend H arper H arper s de fence
was very Shaky he said he had left the b o x at the
Irche ste rs s aw Lady Irchester herself an d s he gave
him a receipt O n his way back to Gray s Inn h e
was knocked do w n by a hansom so he said an d
.

0
5

WILD CA T

S CHEME

carr i ed O ff to Guy s H ospital where he remained


for weeks knowing nothin g
No receipt o r ot her
w as foun d o n him ; he said that he ha d
1poapers
st his memory and was eventually take n to Paris
b y o ne o f the Guy s doctors to con sult a bra in
spe cialist w ho treated him an d he eventually
r ecovered his memory an d came home but was
arreste d at Dover By that time the pe arl necklace
had been discovered at a j eweller s in Paris T he
diamon ds were never foun d broken up I con

e lude
H o w a bout the doctor s eviden ce
It seemed very vague Eleanor said that
H arper s luck was o ut
T hey di d no t know h i s
name at Guy s be cause he coul d no t tell them when
he was there an d the doctor w ho took him over to
Paris d ied suddenly
T hey had the Frenc h
doctor s evidence taken o n commission ; but coul d
no t prove H arpe r s identity
Julius made a great
s eech in H ar r s defen ce o ne o f his be st it was
ap
ways remem red in the legal world but he lost
the c ase H arpe r went to prison an d died there
When Jul ius died it was foun d that for years he had
be en s u pportin g the H arp er family and he le ft a
ve ry considerable su m in trust for them
Of
course there was con siderable scandal youn g
H arper was said to be Jul ius son an d all that kin d
o f thing
Julius mother my aunt Jane coul d not

bear you to mention H arper s name


T hat is all ve ry well
I have heard as much as
that before an d so has Evan Day but what di d
Eleanor di s cover

WILD CA T

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sentiment ; there were all the Irchester wo man s


letters to him an d his to her apparently J ul ius
died rather suddenly you know an d his mother
took over all his pape rs as residuary legatee I
don t suppose She ever looke d at them They came
to me in a tin deed b ox which looked as if it had

never been unlocked


What did Elea nor w ant you to do
Publish the story She said that everyone
w ho coul d be h urt by it was dead the Irc he s te rs
and the Co l qu hou ns Julius hi m sel f never married
as yo u know and the Irchester title died out they
had no children T he o ne person to be beneted
is this young Patrick H ar per the gran dson
It
seems that the scandal lives in his so rt of cot erie
H e wanted to marr y some girl an d her father
refuse d to allow it becaus e he was the gr ands on

of a convict
I shoul d l ike to meet that father an d as k him

how he does it
said Anthony
Do you atter
yourself that I shall be able to prevent Molly an d
Eve from marryin g convicts if they have a taste t hat
let alone the grandsons o f convicts
wa
yPish
said the gran dfather o f Molly an d Eve

I have no p atien ce with such nonsense


It seems to me that it woul d be a ity to rake up
so
ba d a story though I fe el fo r
sad a nd

H ar per
T hat i s j ust w h at Eleano r woul d not se e
She was full o f abstra ct ideas a bout j usti ce and
honour an d the man s goo d name all that sort of
thing Th e family honour and Julius good name

WILD CA T S CHEME
53
d i d not a ffect her at all s he said if I remembe r
ri ht thatzshe would not touch J ulius with a pair

tongs
s imply b aau se s he knew this H arper
0
A

b oy

and liked him


It would b e j olly hard to prove unless the pa pe rs

are very damnin g

I tol d her so sa i d Robert wearily


I told
her so more than on ce In fact I said that not hin g
woul d induce me to consent to publ ication of any

ki n d
H ow lon g have ou had the pa rs
y
S ince A unt Jane S death about o t ty years ago
I su pose S he s urvived Julius only by a year or
.

p
tw o

th i s H ar pe r b oy
they say in genealogies

di es
w ho
,

S uppose

w i thou t
gets th e

i ssue as
money

I t comes back to the family I get it or you


get it H arper is quite young p ro b ably yo ur

children would get it


It wo ul d be rather a
A nthony whistled aga in

b ad show u p fo r yo u to ub l ish now


I told Eleanor so I to (1 her so It wo ul d make
no di fference about the money But she woul d no t
l i sten s he said I could rove that I had never looked
p
at the blessed papers

And that would be hard to prove to o A nthony


observed
I am beginning to think that we had
better burn the lot without looking at them I
isn
t
it
time
t
o
o to bed
sa
g
y
What will
Margetson escaped w on de ring
I w ish I
t hat good son tell me to -mo rro w
,

C
H
E
M
E
A
I
L
D
C
T
S
W
A
54
were as s ure of salvation as I am that the ol d
chap knew all about those pa pe rs forty year s
all
the
same
why
didn
t
he
burn
them
then
a o
g
T he door into the hall from the library opened at
right angles to a glass door which led into the garden
an d was always shuttered up at night as c are fully
as the w indows but it was yet too ear ly fo r the
shutt ers an d as Margetson came out he w as met
by a blast o f col d air a small gure in a leather
coat a crash to awaken the dead an d a clattering of
apparently innumerable heavy ironshod weapons on
his feet
Margetson w as not easily rattled but his
feet were h urt an d he sei z ed the leather c lad

Now then
intru der with no gentle hand
he said hands u p W hat are yo u doin g here
H is captive stoo d still and giggled j oyful ly

O h she said it was a girl without a hat an d


her hair was cut like a boy s but still there was
no doubt about it
a g irl
O h w ho are yo u !
You did frighten me
I was trying to Show
them ho w a bur glar might get in without anyone
hearing
Without anyone hearing
A nthony s
voice broke in impatiently
Row enough to
waken the seven Sleepers
Really Molly I What
are you doing with my golf clubs all over the place
at this time o f night
It is all right W il kins
only M iss Molly go and tell Mr Preston wi ll
-

sou n d of s campe ring feet and smothered


la ughter followed as the yo unger servants who we re
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
55
j ust behind Wilkins went back to their own
quarters T he no ise had lle d them with hope

for mo re excitement but it was only Miss Molly


A nthony be gan to pick up h is scatt ere d clubs
grumbling all the time
Whyw hat the w ho
really Molly this time o f n ight ! Who came
with you
No one Daddy dear
Why shoul d they
I ha d lunch at Sal is b u w i th the Dean an d suppe r
with A unt Peggy an came o n here I left the
car by the gate because I wanted to Show you that
I coul d get into the hou se without anyone hearing
me
Without anyone hearin g you
My PO o r
deluded chil d
It was my fault for not leaving your clubs in
the car I thought if it raine d they woul d get rusty
and you d want me to clean them I did no t expe ct
to n d an one near this door We have not been
intr oduce d to each other but I never thought
anyone woul d say hands u p to me Isn t it
glorious

Mr Margetson my daughter said A nthony


With your usual acumen you have probably

guessed the relationship

With my u sual acumen said Margetson


I heard a car stop near the gate and came down
to se e w ho w as arriving
It is not so easy to get
into the house unheard Miss Preston when

peop l e are on the wa tch


Molly sighed
I never t ho u ght of that
Where is Gran d pa p a
A

"

A WILD CA T S CHEME

6
5

Just going t o be d
Mr Preston was
his can dl e which stoo d on the oak chest in
behind them
I suppo se the maids know
H e seemed to be co m
what you want Molly
plet ely unmoved by this tumultuous arrival

Do n t
Molly un g her arms roun d his neck
fash you rself darling I can sleep with o ne eye
o pen anywhere It stru ck me that you might want
so meone else to sympathize wi th you now Daddy
is quite a good comfort er for a bit but you may be
glad of a little feminine intuition by this tim e
! ou are
H e r gran dfather ret urned her h ug

quite right Bless you Molly good night ch il d


H e went slowly upstairs with his can dle
Feminine intuition upon my word
A nthony
was now sitt in g on the oor exam in in g his s catt ered
clubs
Yo ur feminine intuition has broken my

best brassy

But Daddy Molly said to him as they went


ou t a few minutes later to garage her car and s he put
her han d t hrough his arm I don t believe that your
o l d detective heard me arrive from u stairs
I am
pe rfectly certain he came out o the l ibrary

Shutting that door when I opened the other


A nthony looked st art led
Naturally t he l ibrary

i s suspect after what happene d there


O h Da ddy you are Victorian somet i mes 1
Why can t you say after Ele anor was killed
there

! e s ducky
said her father
an d w hy can t
you say that feminine curios ity brought yo u he re
no t feminine intuition

CH A P T ER

III

roduce d a very fair an d only slightl


y
pversion of the Col quhoun bus iness
But Margetson w as
o rm ation
ite a w are of the p oints that were bowdleri z ed
gpe knew perfectly well that the weak part of the
story was the lengt h of time that those !a pers
p rovin the innocence of a man w ho ha d been
w ron
lly sentenced had been i n Robert Preston s
han ds without be ing examined
A s usual to a man o f his rofe s s io n such weakness
P
w as a sign o f gu ilt not o f innocence and he w o n
dered how much of the fund s tuck to the ol d

entleman
s
ngers
in
passin
g
through
them
g
A ll the same he asked A nthony only o ne ap pa r

ently casual question


T hen M iss Wentwo rt h
did make him angry that n ight
He said that he w as an
more so than he had
been for years I begged eave t o di ff er from him
there We have all su ffere d from his reasonable

annoyance as h e calls i t quite frequently


A nthon laughe d again
Di he ever thr ash yo u or yo ur b rot hers as

boys !
No I don t think so
I can t remem be r that
h e ever did He may have s p anked u s when yo un g
H O N!

57

CA
S
C
H
M
E
I
T
E
D
W
L
s
5
! ou may think t hat
not h alf enough probably
I have inherited a weakness abo ut the proper
discipline of my ch i ldren But we shoul d have
heard a great deal more about it if we had landed
his clubs an d broken tw o o f them as Molly did wi th
mine last night My remembrance is that he only
lashed us w ith his tongue but tha t drove us to
bed weeping I can t drive my children to be d
weeping they are much more likely to have that
e ffect o n me

I have an idea all the


Margetson smiled
same that you might be an unpleasant custome r at
close quarters if you lost your temper I have no
doubt now that Mr Preston did lose his temper

that night with Miss Wentworth


H e co ul d not be half so unpleasant as I shall
be i f you h arp too much o n that strin g
It is
re ally to o ridicul ous ! o u are probably los ing

sight of impo rtant clues in other d irections


Margetson smiled enigmatically with his be st air
of Buddha like abstraction and withdrawal but
as ked shortly a fterwards if he coul d be driven into
Calve rs to ke
the nearest town that afternoo n
Un fortu nately he coul d not drive himsel f be cause
he had had his right w rist wo un ded in the war
and it w as still sti ff
A nthony said that proba bly Molly co ul d drive
him an d went to look for his da ughter H e
foun d her a s he expected sampling the rema in ing
apples in the fru it roo m in the orc hard
Walk up the road with me Molly I want some

fe minine in tui tion o u t of e arshot


CA T S CHEME
IL
D
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60

detective so n
law woul d be a variety in the
in
family I must persuade my father to ee from
j usti ce Whither shall he go
Coul d Wilkins drive him up to Oxford ! I
don t wan t to marry a detective than k you even
to save Grandpa
! ! ou can t
What is the good o f O xford

disguise him as an un dergraduate


I am sure we ought no t to be funny Mummy
woul d think us awful with poor dear Gran about
o h d on t
to be arrested o n a capital c harge
laugh a major charge then Da ddy 1 Don t be
a be ast
A nthony came to earth aga i n an d took h i s g irl s

arm
It is really serious he sai d
I can t
allow my father to be arrested and taken before the
Bench at Calve rsto ke We might laugh an
might laugh but o n the evidence be fore them
have to commit him for trial Margetson is a most
consummate ass but it is be cause he has had all
his experience amon g wrong uns H e is l ike
Napoleon always o n the look o ut for the base motive
He can t be lieve that anyone is ever even somehow
good H e has never m e t commonplace ordi n ary
H e thinks be ca u se
Go d fearing people like us
Grandpa was angry and grumbled at Eleanor that
he then nat ur ally bashed her o n the head Marget
so n can t se e how i diotic ally inconceivable it is

T he only pe ople he knows d o that kind o f thing


But is that all
No o ne s aw Gran d p a b ash i ng
I mean no one imag ined they saw
e
.

WILD CAT S CHEME


61
No b ut u nluckily Margetson tal ked to t hat
acid spinster Dawson an d S he seems to have
drawn on her imagination to the extent o f hearing
my father spe ak in an excited way to Eleanor and
then Dawson says s he heard somethin g fall with a
bit of a crash an d then silence T hat was when
Wilkins tol d
s he w as Shutti ng the garden door
me all this an d also that he himsel f had o wn ed
out o f sheer lack o f imagination j ust as yo u o r I
might have owned from the impos sibili ty to us o f
a wrong construction that Mr Preston was
laying down the law something erce when he
too k in the co ff ee a fte r dinner H is ev i dence will
back up Dawson Everyone knows that he wor
ships my father an d woul d not give evidence
against him if he coul d help it Margetson has

an
d
bull
story
but
he
has
also
o t hol d o f a cock
g
I heard him say
o r thin ks he has two wi t nesses
somethin g o n the telephone First he asked for
a man to be sent on duty while he is out this a fter
noon an d then he went o n in code a very easy
code I learnt it during the war
In cod e
O h the darlin g
It i s j ust like a
cinema First he said han ds up 1 to me an d
then he telephoned in code
I t is like a John
Buchan I am thrille d to the marrow I W ill he
take a revolver in the car this afternoon
Do n t be such a cuckoo Molly you talk like
a bo y scout Can t you hel p me a little
DO you really want help
Molly disengage d
he r arm an d put it roun d her father s neck
S hal l
I contr ive a puncture or miss the way and get to
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
Calve rsto ke too late fo r the warrant o r whatever
it is to be given to him
Is there a close time for
warrants like marriage l icen c e s
What d o you know about marriage
H umph
licences Take your arm away M olly the baker s
cart i s coming round the corner he ll thin k you are
Kate with her young man an d there will be a

s candal in the village


H o w exciting fo r the
Has Kate a young man
village I It may distract their attention from
Grand
a I ll Show them
p
Mo ll ; S a ff ect ion took a somewhat s trangulat i n g
form against which her father protested in vain

O h she said at last don t let u s play the fool


Let s s it o n the
This is a matter o f life an d death

gate an d tal k seriously

T hat is my desire
said A nthony piously

I t does not so much matter what you do with


Margetson ; the question is what am I t o d o
w ith you r grandfather an d Mar ge tso n s s u b st i
tute ! Margetson won t go till the erm tz fellow

comes

I know
cried Molly
I have it
S en d
Wilkins with Mr Margetson and let me stay with
o
u
I
ll
go
over
to
A
unt
Peg
this
morning
and
y
tell her s he must hide Gra ndpa in the church

I think isn t a church a sanctua ry ! A nyhow


Gran must stay there u ntil Margetson comes back
and sen ds a search par ty I shall be at the Rectory
all alone and innocent They will be ba ffl ed
Molly s voice be came hollow
! o u mu st some
how get the po lice o n to a wrong track Then
A

62

63
A WILD CA T S CHEME
at dead of night I will drive Gran dpa to to
where shall we go
You ll have to make him consent to go at all
rst Le t me se e you had better no t go to London
too obvious
I have it
! o u ca n go to
Uncle O liver s at De vonport H e can hide Gran
in somebody s submarine That might answer

all right
Very well I I can go to A unt Peggy now ;
Mr Margetson must think I have gone to lunch
with her and then he won t be sus picious Grandpa
might wal k through the park at S tanb u ry this

afternoon and I ll pick him up there


T hey both go t o ff the gate with se t an d earnest
faces It was very hard no t to treat the whole
matter as a joke an d yet it was no joke
Grand apa will certainly say it is one of yo ur
wi ld
cat sc h
emes Da ddy an d I can t somehow se e

him in a submarine

Be tter than in the dock at a police co urt sa i d


A nthony
! ou might as well come an d help me

to persuade him
T hey advanced u on Ro bert i n his stu dy shutting
the door very care ully behin d the m with the air
of conspirators

Father said A nthony


I am afraid that you

Wi ll have to make a move


Make a move
What are you talk i ng about
Wh at sort of move
The fact is that b l ighted bounder Marget
-

so n

Not

at

all,

I t hi nk

h im

most gentleman l y

WILD

64

CA T S CHEME

much so that it is an ins ulting wor d to use abo ut

him H e does no t deserve it


Well anyhow he has take n the most pre po s
te rou s and ridiculo us idea into his head about you
It is a serious matter H e is going into Calve rs to ke
this afternoon to inform Eltham the C hief Con
stable that he proposes to arrest you on the charge

of having murdered Eleanor


Robe rt Preston looked at his so n an d looke d at
Molly H e t ur ned a deeper pink than us ual t he n
his face broke into smiles as if he coul d not hel p
it
Upon my word I h e said what damnabl e
cheek

De o Gra ti as u n de r his
Anthony m urmured
breath to Molly w ho said W hat
What does the fellow propose to do
T ake you into Calve rst oke be fore t h e Ben c h
! ou know what that means reman ds in c us tody
until the pol ice are ready an d then you w ill be co m
m itte d for tr ial at the next assi zes
I suppo se they d
have to keep you in quod until June ! ou can t
grant bail o n a murder charge can ou
O f course no t Brin g me be ore the Be n ch
Does the fellow real ize that I am a J P myself
It woul d not make any di fference if you were
the Lord Chan cellor
! o u can t be arrested fo r
debt as an M P but a J P has no pa rti cul ar p rivi

leges that I know of

But look here Ant hony is t h is some wi l d cat


i dea o f yo ur s
Molly giggled feebly
I tol d you so l
My dea r father ! A m I li kely to s u ggest
so

65
WILD CA T S CHEME
anythin g o f the ki nd to you unless it were a matter
o f the most serious and really vital importance
! ou must have managed Margetson very
w the devil has he got such an idea into
A rrest me at my age a magistrate
myself it is an outr age I tell you a n out
rage

I quite agree said A nthony heartily

Darling Grand a
crie d Molly
we are
p
going to save you
S ave me
Pray don t be so perfectly abs urd
Why shoul d I be saved ! A man in this country
is innocent until he is prove d guil ty It will take
that con foun ded Jew all his time to prove me
gu ilty 1
It seems that Dawson heard you raggin g
Eleanor an d thought the worst
Margetson has
enough to give him a start must arrest somebody
you know o r S cotlan d Yard will ask the reason why
Mean while you will be kept in quod at Calve rsto ke
and it will be beastly un comfortab le an d not at all
goo d for you tha t is what we must prevent It
only requires a small e ffort a little nes:
A small e ff ort
I don t se e myself makin g
any e ff ort at all Why Shoul d I
It is intolerable
that at my age I should be turned o ut o f my o wn
house in this w ay All this is a terrible shock to me
A nthony
Poor dear Eleanor s horrible death w as
a crushin g blo wan d now thi s to mfoo le ryro n

the to p of it
A l l we want you to do Gran dear is to go an d
a
a
visit
t
U
cle
O
liver
at
r
t
I
ll
D
o
w
o
n
o
n
p y
p


W
I
L
D CA T S CHEME
A
66
drive you down only we must get away wi thout
lettin g that silly detective know that we have gone
Molly is going to settle the business with the
Be aumonts at S ta nbury Peggy Beaumont will
!
o u must go into the church and
o u thr ough
y
It i s rather a nice vestr y there is
s it in the ves try
an arm
chair an d a stove S he will sen d yo u some
food
Meanwhile I will lay a false scent for the
police When the coa st is clear Molly will pick
you up an d drive you\ hell for lea ther d own to

Devon po rt
! ou can t go hell fo r leather in my Jane she s

only an A ustin seven gru mbled Molly

Dreadful uncomfortable thin g growled Robe rt


can we get to Devonpo rt to night

De pends when we get away


said Molly
it mightn t be safe for yo u to sleep at A unt

Peggy s
Do you mean that you propose to drive all night
in that bea stly open car in a howling draught with
your knee s up to our chin

It isn t s o b adas all that urge d Molly while


the lines of pe rplexity dee pened in A nthony s
forehead H o w is a man to cheat j ustice o r the
semblance o f j ustice when he cannot be ar to alter
the settled habits o f his l ife by one hai r s breadth
H e knew his father
T hat he s houl d be accuse d
p f murder disturbe d him remar kably litt le
but t he
i dea o f change discomfort a shake out of the
acceptably lined ru t in which he l ived disturbed
him a gr eat deal
Perhaps it mig ht not be ne ce ssary if I co ul d have
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
68
Y ou must wear a thick coat It is still col d at

night
What
But later he aske d A nthony again
doe s this detective fellow think he has to go upon
S urely it woul d be the merest farce t o have me up
be fore my fellow magistrates ! T hey will only
suppo se that Margetson has a bee in his bonnet

It is that blasted woman Dawson


said
S he has had her kni fe into you ever
A nthony
since s he w as given warning an d Wilkins or some
let o ut that you coul d not stan d her
o f them

whiny piny voice


De ar me dear me how di ffi cult servants ar e
no wa days
I am a bit dea f you know an d I never

can hear what s he says


It is all be cause you will go on havin g lamps

and won t have elect ric light tted in the house


said A nthony who never missed a chance to brin g
in that ol d bone of contention be tween himsel f and
h is father
I su po se you will sa next that Da wson thinks
I refuse to have elect ric light be cause I inten ded to
murder Eleanor ! A ny stick wi ll do to bea t that
dog W hat does the woman say really
T hat s he heard you tal kin g loudly and an grily
to Eleanor that Elea nor exclaimed
O h don t I
that somethin g then fell with a so rt of cr ash an d
o u sai d
M
G
od I
an
d
a
ter
that
there
was
f
y
y

silence
You know what my argument wi th Eleanor
was about
I O wn that I thought her mistaken
and b e cam e
I think reasonably annoyed The
A

WILD

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69

rash that Dawson heard was the small table near


the sofa that had o n it the books an d papers that
I n a moment of
Eleanor wante d me to look at
exas peration the thing was always confoun dedly
rickety I hate small tables I put down o ne of
the books rather impatiently an d the whole thin g
went over
I daresay Eleanor did say
Oh
don t I but I thought it was Take care
Very
likely I did say Good Go d
or something of the
kind A fter that I sat down smoke d my pipe an d
read my book an d Eleanor picke d up the d bms
T hat was all that occurred
We did not ret ur n to
the detestable subject and I don t think we talked
much more before I went to bed when Eleanor
said that she woul d s it up an d write a bit S he had
no ill feeling
I am sure an d I had not either
We knew each other well enough to disagr ee
I must own that I have never be fore seen Eleanor

so damnably obstinate
Poor Elea nor
said Molly
I am sorry that I did not urge her to go to be d
instead o f s i tting up over that be astly writing
She was a great deal to o conscientious
By the bye
A nthony what became o f all those pap e rs ! S he
had an envelope full of notes o i cial stuff I think
an d there were some of the family archives as you

call them o n that litt le table


Oh
said A nthony as if his father s question

sudde nly shed a fre sh light o n the subject


I
have no t thought about them I must ask Margetson

No doubt the police took possession


H e began to un derstan d that Margetson hel d a
c

C
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7
be tter hand than he had realized also that the
washing o f family dirty linen in court must be
avoided at any cost although the linen in question
belonged to a former generation an d a distant
branch o f the family
thought A nthony with
C/ erche z l a fe mme
a somewhat wry smile to himsel f
I don t mean
Da wson but all this has happe ne d because that
minx Lady Irchester who never had anything to
do with any o f us outran the constable stole her
own j ewels and got roun d J ul ius Col quhoun I
can se e that Margetson thinks we are all tarred with
the same brush It seems rather har d luck that
my father who is as innocent as a babe unborn
I am not sure that he was born at the time when I
come to think o f it s houl d have to suffe r I feel
certain that he did not know in the least what the

papers were that he was givi ng to Ele anor


-

afternoon Margetson drove o ff to Calver


stoke in the litt le two seater car with Wil kins
If he were sorry no t to have the bonny Molly to
drive him he did not say so H e knew that she
had gone to her aunt s at S tanb ury about twenty
miles away an d proposed to bring Mrs Beaumont
her mother s sister who had married the rector
of S tanb ury back with her to tea T hat w as
why ostensibly s he had taken the more comfortable
car Mr Preston talked all through lun cheon o f
the fact that though there were tw o cars in hi s
stables there was not one avai lable for hims elf
if he wanted it
T hat

1
A WILD CA T S CHEME
7

But you don t want it said A nthony irrita b ly ;


he seeme d to be in a rather goaded frame of mind
You know you hate motoring an d yo u don t

want to go anywhere
If you suffered from yo ur feet as I do
be gan his father
O h d o shut up I h ate talkin g about feet at

l un cheon
Mr Preston returned t o his grievance about the
ab sent cars Margetson un derstood perfectly that
it was being conveye d to him that he ought not to
have asked to be taken to Calve rsto ke H e did
no t start until the e rsa tz
as A nthony called him
arrived a man calle d Ritchie obviously only a
policeman in plain clothes
Robert Preston retired as usual to his study
He generally smoked and read o r wrote
slept
there i n the afternoon A nthony met Ritchie
Showed him the house and garden an d le ft him in
the hou
roo m with a pipe an d a news
r
a
he
expected
nothing
more
p
j
pie said afterwards that out o f the Window he had
s een Mr Preston wal king in the gar d en dur ing the
afternoon When Margetson ret urned soon a fter
ve o clock the erm tz once more mounted his
motor cycle an d rode away
Margetson had his
te a alone in the hall
Mr Preston an d Mr
A nthony had gone o ut he w as tol d by Kate
Tw o hours later they had not come in an d fo r
Mr Preston this was s o unusual that Margetson
began to get uneasy H e had no idea that A nthony
had suspe cted the re ason fo r his errand to Calver
-

WILD CA T

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S CHEME

stoke which he had mentioned casually as a mere


matte r of routine to make a report to the chief
inspector th e re an d also to en quire fo r himsel f
about anyt hing furt her that the police might have
discovered A s a matter o f fact he had arran ged
to bring Robert Preston before t hre e magistrates at
Calve rsto ke o n Mon day as the next day was S un day
o n the charge o f having murdered Eleanor W ent
wort h T he police evidence would be purely
formal ; they would only ask for the accused man
to be remande d in custody
Margetson was more human than A nthony su p
osed
he
lik
e d o l d Ro bert Preston
appreciated
;
p
A nthony an d was charmed by Molly but his duty
was plain if grim H e was also a l itt le haunted an d
puzzled by Wilkins description o f the look o f
terror in Eleanor s eyes wh e n She had rst been
found
W ilkins had talked o f nothin g else all the
way to Calve rsto ke
I can t think what s he saw
s ir an d I can t bear to think o f the poo r lady bein g
that frightened S he had a pale loo k always as if
s he lived too much in doors
delicate
like but she
was not nervous S he did not drive hersel f but
she d take a bit o f a Shave in the motor quite calm
not rattled like Mr Preston H e don t like motor
i ng not really too quick for him I think but Miss
Eleanor never seemed to mind not to Show

anyhow
It might have astonished Margetson if he had
known how near to a shave he w as himsel f
Wilkins was much tempted to upset him in a ditch
or to run o ut of petrol in a lonely lane an d take
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
73
Wilkin s had every excuse
ho ur s to get any more
as he was not driving his o w n car A nthony
had ha d to take W ilkins into his condence on
account o f the suit
case that had to be prepared
an d other matt ers an d W ilkins was extremely
an gry with the detective
S uch a pack o f

nonsense as I never heard was his O pinion o f the


evidence again st his master
When the dressing bell ran g an d there was still
no Sign of any of the Prestons Margetson woke up
to the fact that their absen ce coul d hardly be
accidental H e telephoned to the o li ce at Calver
stoke and s poke very severely o Ritchie to his
superiors T hen he sent fo r Pratt from the village
tol d the astonished man that he inten ded to arre st
Mr Preston an d start ed once more with W ilkins
in Molly s l ittle car fo r S tanbury
H e arrived as the Beaumonts an d Molly were
sittin g do w n to dinner ve ry calmly H e had as ce r
taine d that the S tan dard car an d Mr Be aumont s
l ittle Morris O xford were both in the coach hous e
Margetson had left word where he was to be foun d
an d almost be fore he had explained his erran d to
Mr Beaumont who only looked be w ildered he
was ru ng up by Pratt passin g o n a message from
Calve rsto ke
Ritchie by the merest chan ce had
seen Mr Preston get o ut o f the car that could be
hired in Greystones village at S tarbeck the nearest
station to Greystones Ritchie had j umped off h is
bicycle an d hurled himsel f into the station only
in time to se e Mr Preston get into the train which
Ritchie at once boarded by a dash into the guard s
A

74

WILD CAT
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He

had eventu ally telephoned from Lon don ,


to say that a fter all M r Preston had given him
the slip It was a fairly quick train that stopped
only once after S tar beck at Dorchester be fore it
arrived at Waterloo but Ritchie ha d not se e n
Mr Preston get out at that station an d certainly
H e had warned the guard and
no t at W aterloo
telephoned to the police inspe ct or at W aterloo from
Dorchester where the train stopped for some
minutes Ritchie said that Mr Preston was appar
ently alone he had no t seen Mr A nth ony
Margetson asked to se e Molly but s he tol d him
nothing She w as not sure if her father might have
had to go to O xford that afternoon H e had had a
letter at brea kfast an d had mumbled something
about a Fellows Meeting next day so he might have
gone H e r gran dfather had said nothing about
going to Lon don but She knew t hat his fe et some
times bothered him an d his chiropodist live d i n
Lo ndon
H e generally went to her aunt his
daughter Mrs C harlton if he had to go up to
Town
H e ha d grumble d a goo d bit at bo th cars
being re quisitioned but had hims e l f suggeste d tha t
Molly should bring the Beaumonts back to tea
Eventually she had foun d that they expecte d people
for tennis the rst game that year so She had
decided to play an d stay the night S he had tele
to Gre ystones Perhaps her gran dfather
p
l ad
honed
then decide d that he woul d go to London
A fter all he did decide such things for himself
Charles Beaumont the typical count ry clergyman
o f the present day thin tall exceedi ngly co ns c ie nti
van


E
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S
C
E
H
W
A
T
M
D
6
7

said Margetson
your presence Miss
No
Molly woul d be only an embarrassment to the

police
I shoul d love to embarrass the police
cried
Molly with one o f her in fect ious bursts o f laughter ;
even Margetson smile d

I daresay they would enjoy it he observed


and yo u must do as yo u like I am goin g at on ce
to S tarbeck to make enquiries possibly I shall go

o n to London
H e bowe d to the tw o ladies as a so rt of farewell
gesture but then tur ned to Mr Beaumont again
Do you think that the station master at S tarbe ck
woul d have recogn ise d M r Preston

O h certainly
Mr Beaumont held the door
open fo r his d e parting guest
Everyo ne in
this neighbo urhood knows him very well
But
surely his servants could tell yo u where he has

gone !

Wilkins was o ut wi th me I gathered that


o ne o f the gard e ners h ad fetched the car from the
villag e for Mr Preston T hey all suppose that he
has gone to his daughter Mrs Charlton for the
night ; but at the same time they all thought she

was o u t o f T own I have her address


Mr Beaumont o ff e red to drive to S tarbeck with
him to make enquiries o f the station master but
Molly s little car only held two and Margetson
drove o ff alone wi th W ilkins Th e detective was
puzzled and would no doubt have be e n surprised
i f as the sound o f his motor died away in the dis
tance he could have seen Mrs Beaumont and Molly
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
77
clasp each other ecstatically and dance round the
room

Now Molly said her aunt


o ff
ou
o I
y
g
Uncle O liver will meet yo u at Lo ng b olto n Don t
go further than that ! o u must come straight
back here T hat man won t let the grass grow
under his feet D i rectly he discovers that your
grandfather i s no t at the Charltons he will begin
to search here again
I d o hope he does not know
o f O liver s existence

O h yes h e does
said Molly
Uncle
O liver was at Eleanor s funeral only a fe w weeks
a o
But
still
r
argetson
may
not
think
M
M
of
g
him
Who has gone to London disguised as your
grand father
O r was Ritchie s message all camou
A

ag e

It may have been Daddy I know he go t out


some things from the dressing up cupboard before
I started W ill Uncle Charles go and dig o ut
Gran dpapa from the vestry ! I will take the car

round to the churchyard gate


I d o hO p e I am going to embarrass the police
she called over her Shoulder to her aunt as she ran
o u t of the room
.

C HA P TER

IV

MRS B EA U MO NT was quite right ; be fore lunch e on


time the next day which was S unday Margetson
was back at S tanbury and h e aring that all the family
were at church he went into the coach house an d
exa m ined the two cars that stoo d there H e thought
they were both rather suspiciously clean and he was
perfectly right In th e end Mrs Beaumont h ad
been troubled because her niece would be o u t alone
most o f the night and Charles Beaumont had
there fore started with Robert and Molly o n the i r
drive to Lo ngb o lto n o n the S outh Downs where
O liver Preston had met his father an d took hi m
o ff to an hotel at Lyme Regis fo r the night be fore
he went o n to Devonpo rt th e next day O liver
seemed to be far more concerned that either A nthony
o r Molly were about his father s state o f heal th
and fatigue for which no doubt Robert was grate ful
and at such moments there was something endearing
in his manner o f recognising that people were doing
H e and O liver went o ff
their best fo r him
together very happily
Molly and Charles retur ned to S tanbury by abo ut
t wo o clock and went to bed
Mrs Beaumont
S p ent the rest of the nighto r rather morn ing
.

78

WILD CA T S CHEME
79
in clean i ng the S tandard car because it had rained
and the car was splashed all over T here had been
no rain the preceding day
S he felt that sh e was

living in a Buchan as Molly would have put it


enj oyed hersel f enormously and appeared at church
for the early service as fresh as a ros e
Ho w was Margetson to know all that
H e did
kn o w that it had rained al l night and that both the
c ars were me ticulously clean Regretfully he came
to the conclusion that the old gentleman h ad
esca ed success fully
he night be fore Margetson had made Wilki ns

drive him hell fo r leather although it was in the


A ustin all the way to Town over 1 0 0 miles and
he had gone to the Charltons house very early
the next morning to nd there only a caretaker ;
a caretaker full o f the experienced Londoner s
easily roused suspicions S h e was sure that Mar

getson was after no g ood especially as he had


arrived with the milk~a most ungodly hour on a
S unday morning
Nevertheless She knew Wilkins and when the
chauff eur gloomily assured her that Mr Margetson
was genuinely concerned only to nd Mr Preston
sh e allowed him to come in but followed him every
where with such shrill asseverations that no o ne
should go into any part o f the house fo r which sh e
was respo nsible with out her that M argetson felt
certain that anyone in hiding must have been warned
in good time The house certainly seemed very
empty all shut up and dark except the basement
S omehow Margetson could no t imagine Robert
A

A WILD CA T S CHEME
80
Preston fastidious and irritable hobnobbing wi th
an elderly caretaker o f respectable but u np re po s
sessing appearance in the basement
H e had telephoned to the inspector at Calver
stoke very late the night be fore when he took the
protesting W ilkins to an hotel but the police had
heard no further news W ilkins h ad to garage
the car in the next stre e t away from the hotel but
Margetson did not follow him there or he might
have been surprised to hear Wilkins make cryptic
remarks to somebody or other o n the garage tele
phone to the e ffect th at he and Mr Margetson
were staying at Bailey s H otel for the night H e
might have been in forming only his wi fe but he
also seemed to hear news that made him smile
and come o u t looking in a better temper than he had
shown since he started fo r Calve rsto ke that morn
ing Th e next day when they went to the
Charltons house he had r e lapsed into his grumpy
moo d and re fused to rattle the car back at the pace
they had come up the day be fore Eventually
they arrived at S tanbury before one o clock
Margetson met the Beaumonts and Molly after
church and explained th at he had had no luck in
London
Mrs Beaum ont was sympathetic and
o ff e red him lunch ; Charles looked bored and
vanished directly the meal was over
H e must

rest hi s wi fe explained
be fore S unday S chool

th is afternoon
S h e and Molly seemed to be anxious to talk and
as k questions but they volunteered no in formation
and although any detecti ve who is worth his salt
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WILD CA T S CHEME

81

has a sort o f sixth sense that warns him when he


ought to be suspicious he did not yet feel that he
could ask to search the Beaumonts house H e felt
convinced that somehow or other Mr Preston

would double back and was no t reassur e d by


Charles Beaumont s sulky m anner which only m e ant
if he had known it that the poo r man could not stand
lat e nights A fter retur ning at two o clock in the
morning the un fortu nate Rector o f S tanbury had
to be up and in church by seve n By the end o f
the morning service he fe lt as i f he would give all
he po ssessed to sleep fo r an hour and instead found
himsel f constrained to do the civil to the detective

fellow
Margetson asked Molly if her father had gone

back to O xford and she said


I suppose so
rather vaguely but offered to ring up and ask and
as she spoke the tel e phone bell rang in th e hall

I daresay that is Daddy She said and went to


answer i t
Grandpapa wants to
S h e returned laughing
know when I am going back to Greystones H e is

at home again

Margetson stared at her


A t home
I must ask you to come there with me please
Miss Preston There is some hanky panky here

I can t be sent from pillar to post like this


No
said Molly and her eyes were very de
mure
We can
O f co u rse Iwi ll come i f yo u li ke
leave Jane here and Wilkins can drive us in the

S tandard o r I will drive i f he i s to o tired


Fo r a moment Mrs Beaumont looked as if she
,

E
A WILD CA T S CHEZW
were o ffended by the det e ctive s dictatorial manner
but all s h e said was
S urely the trav e lling about
was your own id e a Mr Margetson ! M ust yo u
I
rather
wanted
my
niece
to
stay
till
o now !
g

to morrow
T hey looked glared Molly said afterwards
then Marg e tson said
at each other fo r a moment
t
o
I
am
accustomed
meet
with
more
s tii
y
consideration o n the part o f my clients My duty
is to discover Miss We ntwo rth s murderer Ev e ry
di ffi culty seems to be put in my way by those whose
duty and inclination if I may s ay so Should be

to give me every facility


I gave yo u my Jane and Grand p apa gave you
Wilkins Isn t that enough
Now you want me

and I ve said I ll come


Molly s voice was the
complaining voice o f a chidden child

I can t
Mrs Beaumont still bristled a little
think why w e should be accused o f putting d i i
c ul ti e s in your way
It is no t o ur business if
Mr Preston leaves home unexpectedly ! o u will
probably nd th at he le ft a message fo r you that
Kate or someone forgot to deliver A fter all he
can d o what he likes I suppose and so can
my niece
I don t recognise your right to dic
tate to her I Shall come too if she goes with
82

ou

By all means said Mar getson whose momen


tary loss o f poise it could hardly be called loss o f
temper had be en caused by a sudden suspicion th at

they were laughing at him pulling his leg


All
the same he had wanted the oppo rtunity to cross

WILD CA T S CHEME
he had put down the glass screen at his back before
S h e kn ew that he meant to hear
they started
everything they said
Th e matter with him
Why Should he have
i
n
t
the
matter
with
him
h
!
y
g
O h I forgot to tell yo u It was Kate who rang
me up to ask when I was coming you know S he
said that Grandpapa got back rather late last night
with a bad cold on him and that he was staying in
bed T hat is probably why he told her to sen d for
me H e can t bear to be alone when he is ill
Sh e said that Dr Calgarri e had seen him and was

keeping him in bed but was no t alarmed


Did Kate say where he had been yesterday

O h no I did not ask her


I hope it i s not going to be o ne o f his really

bad colds said Mrs Beaumont with unaffected


anxiety in her voice
Kate said she wished Mr Margetson woul d
come back because Pratt was very cross and di s
agreeable always ticking them o ff if they said a

word
Mrs Beaumont laughed
H e must have hi s
work cut out
T hey are not exactly T rap

p i sts
Margetson heard it all and found himself wonder
ing H e would not be able to take Mr Preston
to Calve rsto ke even under arrest if the doctor in
te rve ne d
Well he would get a couple o f extra
plain clothes men o n duty if necessary to see that
the o ld man did not get away again unobser ved
T hey found Robert Preston in bed probably
A

84

A WILD CA T S CHEME
85
no t seriously ill
but unusually quiet Margetson
thought and very hoarse when he spoke
Mrs Beaumont observed ho w unexpectedly
patient he was and Molly exclaimed
You don t
know Grandpapa wh e n he is ill cherubs and
m artyrs aren t i n i t H e is always terribly chas
tened by pain We cheer up when he begins to
Shed his halo and his sprouting wings When he
says Good Go d what is this muck ! to his
A llen 8: H anbury o r whatever it is Mummy
and I always feel that we can go and play
olf
g

i n peace

Charles is rather peevish when he is ill


said
Charles s wi fe as i f it were a superior attitude o n
her husband s part but then he th i nks i t his duty

to be per fectly equable w h en he is well

H e i s terribly angelic when he plays golf


said Molly
I always long to say to h im
-

taugh t th e m bother likewi se bl ow


O f Wi cke d ne ss th e ge rm s
B ut golfe rs kn ow th e swe e t re l i e f
Th at live s i n aw ful t e rm s l
He

T hey

prattled o n they were always prattling or


O ne o r other o r both
so it seemed to M argetson
o f them were always in the room when he saw Mr
Preston ; he felt as if he were in a bee hive with
bees very amiable bees always buzzing round
him
But o n the third day in the afternoo n Margetson
found the ati e nt up and dres sed and a fter some
dodging o the female part o f the family contrived
,

I
A W LD CA T S CHEIME

86

to serve the s ummons o n him to appear be fore the


Bench at Calve rsto ke o n T hursday Robert was
reading by the light o f o ne small l amp H e looked
up from his book
I knew yo u had this card up
your sleeve my good fellow yo u were never more

mistaken in your li fe
Margetson warn ed him that anything he said
could be used in evidence against him

s ai d Robert
O rder the car when
A ll right
I
shall
be
ready
only
get
o u t o f my room
o u like
y
and fo r heaven s sake shut the door after
no w
yo u
Margetson left him ; shrugging his shoulders
Th ese Prestons always contrived to t urn the tables
on him It was not he who ought to have felt sm al l
but the man who w as virtually hi s pri soner
T h e next day three o f Bob Preston s very good
friends and neighbours Lord T horell who w as in
the chair S ir John Elgin and youn g Partridge
a gentleman farmer o f th e neighbourhood fellow
magistrates and fellow members o f boards and
councils all over the coun ty found that they were
being asked to commit their respected friend and
colleague fo r trial on a charge o f murder No t one
o f the three beli e ved that he was guilty no t o ne o f
th e three knew how to evade committing him for
tr ial
They had the coroner s verdic t be fore them so
that it was unnecessary to call witnesses to certi fy the
death o f Miss Wentworth and Marge tso n s state
ment was o n the face o f it unanswerable H e was
plausible sensible even sympathetic
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
87
There was a quarrel nobody denied it Mr
Preston himsel f acknowledged that he had quarrelled
with his niece over a family matter that concerned
Mr Preston himsel f ve ry closely The police
had the papers involved T hey all knew that Mr
Preston had a hasty temper slight chuckles re
pressed from the Bench Miss Wentworth had
gone to o far no doubt she was aggravating
irritating probably inconsiderate It was possible
that her uncle meant o nly to throw th e book at her
as a relie f to his feel i ngs not really to inj ure her
A t that moment the prisoner interrupted
Go d
bless my soul l throw a book at h er what book

I never threw any book at h e ronly on to a tab l e

Wait a bit sir broke in young P artridge

irrepressibly let the fe llow go o n


Why do you say that Mr Preston threw a
book at her
asked the Chairman Lord Thorell
very maj estic with his white hair and t ufted eye
brows but Spoilt by a pink nose and a twitching
mouth H e was a ne shot and a good l andlord
but didn t all the rest o f them know that Bob
Preston in a characteristically irrepressible moment
had said that the good Go d who m ade rabbits
might have made someone wh o looked stupider th an
Thorell but evidently had no t thought it worth

while
Mar ge tson s an swer was cle ar and denite
Th e book which Mr Preston says he threw o n
a table was found under the table near the head of

the corps e stained with her blood


I don t believe a word o f it
began the
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
Hi
priso ner testily but was again silenced
solicitor who was in court came to the resc u e
T here i s nothing fo r us to say at the prese nt

stage he remarked
My client pleads not
guilty and I understand that the police ask fo r a

remand until they are ready wi th their evidence


Th e Bench hesitated again
Mr Bl akeney the
solicitor said he sup posed that it was no use even
under the Special C i rcumstances his client s ad
vanc e d age and uncertain health and so o n to ask
fo r bail

Thorell said hastily


O h o f course but the
clerk o f the court muttered something and the
other two j ustices loo ked uncom fortable
I

don t think we can o n a murder charge ! said


S ir James Elgin who had been a county court

j udge h imsel f
We Should like to o f course
said young Partridge
Marget son thought his pri soner still extra
ordinarily quiet he had made very fe w character
i sti c outbursts and he h ad be en obstinately silent
in the car driving from Greystones with Margetson
and an inspector from Calve rsto ke Pratt shed
tears and obstinately re fused to accompany them
though he and Dr Cal garri e were both in court in
case they were wanted Mr Preston was still
hoarse after his cold he turned up his coat collar
pulled his hat over his eyes put his hands in his
pockets and apparently went to sleep M argetson
thought o f all th i s and wondered i f th e old man were
really feeling ill chastened by pain as Molly had said
Robert Preston go t up from the chair they h ad
A

88

WILD CA T S CHEME
89
given him in the dock he se e med to think that it

Well good bye you fellows


was all settled

he said to the men who wer e his j udges


I

shan t bear you a grudge


Probably he said goodbye to them j ust like that
when he had been sitting o n their side o f the
court but at that mom e nt he stumbled a little his
le ft hand Shot out and caught at the ledge in front
o f him and then M argetson began to feel that the
whole concern was a nightmare no t only Gilbertian
from the intimate terms o f Bench and prisoner
Young Partridge ung himsel f o u t o f his seat
dashed across th e court and caught the prisoner s
hand with a sort o f roar
Look h e re I Lo ok
here
What s this ! What s this
This i s
A

A ntb orzy s ha nd
Then even the
.

bare semblance o f a court fe ll to


pieces they were all crowding round Partridge
and Partridge was holding the prisoner s le ft hand
by the wrist and keeping o ff the blows aimed at
him by the prisoner s right hand
Damn you
I can t mistake your
A nthony don t be an ass
hand This is the nger yo u had blown o ff at
Givenchy when you elded some bits o f Shell th at
came your way
It isn t you fool shut up
H o w could it be
if it was blown o ff
But unmistakably there it was a hand with the
two top j oints o f the third ng e r missing
Marge tso n s face was more like a stone i m e
than ever but i nwardly he was like a ravening wo f
Ho w had he allowed himsel f to be tr icked ! O f
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
course if a man were in bed yo u did not notice par
ti c ul arly i f he kept his hands under the bedclothes
and if he had a b ad col d yo u expected him to be
hoarse and no t very talkative Who could be
talkative with those chattering women damn that
It was a put up j ob on her part
Mrs Be aumont
o f course
S h e had never allowed anyone to co nc e n
trate to think o r even to look much at the invalid
Th e room had always been rather dark as well as
full o f people ; suddenly M argetson realized that
and understood why he had not missed Robert
Preston s remarkably blue eyes O h con found it
H e could s e e now that A nthony s make u p was
wonderfully good including the bald head and t he
whiskers but no amount o f extraneous pigment
could t urn brown eyes to blue
Mr Blakeney the old solicitor was twittering
like a bird he was not in the secret it was a shock
to him to o and there was that con founded doctor
was he in the plot h e was laughing o h they
were all laughing roaring pleased to have made a
fool o f the d e tective the stranger in their midst
Englishmen were like that
M argetso n was j ust
as English as they were but fo r the moment he felt
like a Jew and nothing but a Jew H e was not
o ne
them H e hated th eir laughter H e
of
wanted the law and nothing but the law
H i s voice broke into the clamour coldly
Do
I understand gentlemen that yo u recognise that
the prisoner is not Mr Rob e rt Preston
A nthony pulled o ff the wi g and ung it down
A

90

WILD

92

CA T S CHEME

but he re fused to be rattled H e thought A nthony


a good actor but he was not oing to sympathize
with a fe llow who had made a fool o f him he had
seen the policemen snigge ring
Th e n Lo rd T horell suddenly intervened ; he had
relapsed into his seat during A nthony s appeal

Upon my soul he said with sudden fervour

if yo u w e re your father I wouldn t do it


I
thought we could grant bail and the thing ud get
clear e d up I couldn t send the o l d fe llow to gaol
it u d be a scandal Even if he ha d thrown a boo k
at Miss We ntworth No doubt he did not mean to
hit h e r stupid woman ought to have dodged it
o r e lded it or something
clever women are
always the devil about anything pr ac tical can t
cook a dinner fail at a pinch
it w as all her
fault
but he ain t here
Let s clear o u t
Bo ther contempt o f court
I think you re a deuced
good actor A nthony used to act myself when young
Come along i f yo u catch Mr Preston yo u
Margetson there d on t ask me to sitc ome along

no w don t let s talk any more

Do you agree ! S ir John Elgin laughed as


he turned to h is other neigh bour
I think A nthony s dashed clevera nd I daresay

there s some water somewhere


said young
Partridge rather helplessly
! o u do look rum

A nthony yo u might have done anything


! o u are not going to accuse me mysel f o f the
murder are you ! asked A nthony
If you
had only held your tongue
Th e surgeo n at the gaol would h ave found out
.

A WILD CA T S CHEME

93

Pretty sort o f fools


directly said Partridge
we Sh ould h ave looked then
T h e clerk o f the court said a fe w things in an
incompreh e nsible but presumably legal j argon
o f which the upshot seemed to be that the prisoner
was discharged
A nthony made his way to Marg e tson with his

hand h e ld out
Don t bear a grudge against

me he said
you d have done i t a j olly sight

b e tt e r to o fo r your o wn father
Margetson thought rapidly ; he must keep o n
terms with these people o r chuck the case and he
had never chucked a case yet
A ll i s fair in love o r

he said philO SO p hic ally


m e anwhile there
w ar
is still a w arrant out against Mr Preston I sup

po se I can t ask you to tell me where he is

No said A nthony
as a matter o f fact I
don t know where he is H e met my brother
O liver the night that he le ft Greystones I don t

know where they met and that i s all I can tell you
H e did not add that O liver had written that

morning to Molly :
S end the blighter along

I ll keep h i m b usy
to me

I wish that I could convince you A nthony

went o n
that you are o n a wrong track The

real criminal must be laughing in his sleeve


M argetson suddenly xed him with a look o f
If I had been guilty I should have burst
steel

into tears A nthony said afterwards


I di dn t know

that the fellow had guts enough to look like that

Do you know who the real criminal i s !


Margetson asked
.

I
C
D
T
W
L
A
S
C
E
M
E
H
4
9
I h ave not the vague st notion but I le an

towards Pratt s burglar


I have n ever known a burglar kill anyon e by
hitting them o n the head with a boo k T hey have

their own weapon s as a rule


It seems a bit clumsy
A nthony agreed
W hat book w as it You did no t tell me abo ut the
book Cal garrie and Prat t nev e r menti oned it

It was not Shown to the Co roner


I found the boo k Pratt missed it but I went
through everyt hing in the room pret ty thoroughly
after the inquest It was an old account boo k wi th

a brass lock and corn e rs

Come o n A nthony Partridge was at his el bow


I can drive you back if you ll make yoursel f look

respectable

I shall want some grease


said A nthony
No I m padd e d up and all sorts of things I ll

p ut the wig on again


Most o f the people o f Calve rsto ke who happened
to se e them supposed that Mr Preston had j ust
gone home again no case that would lie again st

him they were honestly very glad though it


meant the end o f a seven
days wonder in the little
country town Wilki ns arrived at Greystones later
r
rinning
all
over
ar
e
gone
to
M
M
t
s
o
n
s
g
g

Plymouth he said
but he went to the D orset
Hera l d rst they had a reporter in court and he
stuffed them up that they weren t to publish a

report S ir John Elgin went wi th him

I told yo u that man wouldn t let the grass

grow under his feet said Mrs Be aumont


A

A WILD CA T S CHEME

95

A nth ony,

returned to his o w n lawful image


runted uneasily
I wish that I knew where my

father has gone he said it is all very well but


Margetson has his pro fe ssional pride to think o f

also he s a Jew and the Jews n e ver let go

aske d Molly
I
A re you sure Daddy
thought it was only bull dogs bull d ogs o f the
British breed who nev e r let go Mr M ar getson

is less like a bull d o g than anyone I e ver saw


H e was mor e like an image o f cold and con

I ever saw to day


c e ntrate d fury th an anyone
sai d A nthony
S hylock wasn t in it ; he kept his
temper remarkably well but he will never forgive
me even if he catches the real culprit O ld T horell
was a trump W e must not let my father s ay dis
agreeable things about his bunny face again If
he d looked like who looked less like a rabbit

than anyone that ever was Molly !


Molly was accustomed to curious pseudo literary
games and cross word puzzles she had an answer

pat
S olomon I suppose
Well if he d looked like S olomon in all his

glory he couldn t have played up better than he did

Do tell me said Mrs Beaumont


did yo u go
up to London on S aturday in your disguise
A nthony laughed
Yes I did It was because
that came o ff so well that I thought o f this stunt
It has give n my father a little time I wonder
where the dickens he is ! Nobo dy looked at me
twice Borden from the village took me fo r my
father all right
H e drove me to the station and
made remarks about the weather when I got out
,

WILD

96

CA T S CHEME

all that sort o f thing Price the station master at


S tarbeck was most e mp resse in his attentions sai d
he hadn t seen me fo r a long time hoped I was well
I was rather grumpy to both o f them as my fa ther
is when his Corns are hurting him I looked o u t o f
the window after I d got into the train I had found
a carriage to mysel f all right and I saw Ritchie
bo und into the guard s van S o ho thought I
and I did not change my clothes until after we had
stopped at Dorchester in case he turned up there
T hen I got into my o w n things and p acked the dis
I had some grease wi th me
ui se as you call it
for my face and luckily no o ne go t in at Dorchester
I got out o f my carriage at Waterloo o n the wrong
side into another train standing alongside I did
that once b e fo re when I was escaping in Ge rmany
It is not di ffi cult if you can get from one footboard
to the oth e r but ther e i s always a c h anc e o f the door s

being locked or o f someone seeing you


Well it was
A nthony paused and laughed
rather absurd I had hardly hauled mysel f into
the other carri age when I m blessed i f the train
did not start right away
Daddy I cried Molly with fervent horro r
You might have been killed I

No ducky I don t think so trains on the


S outhern Railway don t start like trains in the T u b e
I found that I was j ust retracing my steps so I
my
disguise
again
and
c
ame
here
I
o t into
g
arrived rather late and found Pratt in command
but I put o n my father s best air o f inj ured innoc ence
and went to bed I was very hun gry and Mrs
-

WILD

CA T S CHEME

97

had gone so I had to put up with Elsie s


r e paration o f Bovril and some cold ham Merci
ully Kate o r so meone had the inspiration to bring
me some o f the b est M ar sala I did not d o badly
T hen next day I sent fo r yo u Molly because I
wanted to know what had happened I did not
realiz e that yo u already had M argetson in tow
A p parently he started so early from London that

Pratt did not catch him on th e telephone at his hotel

H e was dreadfully angry with us at S tanbury


said Molly
A nthony went o u t to the stables to nd Wilkins
and wondered as he went what could be done to put
H e is
M argetson o ff this entirely false scent

more determin e d than ever thought A nthony


es pe cially after the way that the j ustices behaved
No doubt he thinks all country magis
to day

trates beneath contempt


Wilkins was cleaning his car with a face o f deep

depression
It is all very well you know s ir
you ve played this trick and it has come o ff success
ful like and I am thankful that Mr Preston is
o u t o f the way but what troubles me is that we are
no nearer than we were at the beginning to the
real murderer M iss Eleanor s face fair haunts me
it does S ir ! o u needn t tell me that nothing
Mr Preston could do would make her look like that

o
saw
something
r
someone
that fair Sk e ered
h
S e
h er
I can t bear to think o f it ! o u ask
Dr Calgarri e o r Pratt they saw the look They

were downright frightened themselves

I saw her only after her eyes were closed


Crutcher

WILD CA T S CHEME
S he looked quite young then there was no look o f

terror
No sir ! Perhaps it was chiey in her eyes
but no it was more than that her mouth her
whole face her clenched hand
I ve no
patience with that Margetson Mr Preston in
deed
H e b arks a bit but he s no bit e
Look
here Sir why don t the olice make more enquiries
about strangers here
Pratt says Mr Margetson
enquired about th e workmen s train
from
No o ne could have
S tarbeck but that s too early
got there in time i f Kate didn t unbo lt the back door
till past six could they sir
No t o n foot
Could anyone have done i t with
a car or a motorbike
No t fo r me to say sir but if he d had a car
surely some o f us would have met it ! Besides
then he d have gone straight to London probably
no t to the station
No the gardeners came one
way up the road and I came the other there wasn t

no car and that s a fact


W ilkin s hesitated and then went on
I don t
much like that Marge tso n s going to Plymouth
Mr O live r ll never understand I don t want Mr
Preston to be found sir and th at s the tru th
I thought in court this afternoon that i f he had be en
in your place sir he couldn t have stood it H i s
h e ar t d have given o ut
H e can t b e ar agitation

it does fo r him
Why d o you think Mr O liver won t under
stand ! I am a frai d that sometimes he considers

Mr Preston s he al th more sym p athet i c ally than I do


A

8
9

WILD CA T S CHEME
t oo
could dr op Mrs Beaumont on the waymight
di ne at S tanbury
H e was o ff and Wilki ns looked after him
aff ectionately
H e don t let the grass gro w
neither he and his wild cat schemes as Mr
Preston call s em but he s all right a real gentle
man M r A nthony i s
the car s quite ready
but I ll get a bite o f something be fore we go
I oug ht by rights to mow the lawn to morrow
it looks like a hay e ld now Mr Preston will be
vexed
A fter the fashion o f country servants Wilkins
did a great many th i ngs that were no t ex actly his
among
them
he
mowed
the
big
lawns
f
o r th e
ob
j
very adequate reason that no o ne else could work
the motor mower S o th e lawns had to conver t
themselves into h ay e ld s at their o wn sweet will
Molly like most young people loved doin g
things in a h urry Mrs Beaumont was re signe d
and after telephoning s aid there would be enough
dinner fo r them all at S tanbury A nthony was
per fectly well aware that she was longing to come
wi th them but he would not encourage her
Why

his
d o yo u bring all these clacking females !
father would ask Molly would giggle and refuse
to be accounted a clacking female but there would
be j ust enough s ting in th e adj e cnve to put a str ain
o n Mrs Beaumont s sense o f humour
T h e Crutchers always slept in the house when
none of the family was there and Pratt would have
H o w we shut the door after the st e ed
to remain
i s stolen I thought A nthony as they drove away
A

CH A P T ER

other great exponent of sei z ing Time by the


forelock arr i ved at Plymouth in a state of com p lete
uncertainty S hould he conceal himsel f and l i e in
wait fo r the unsuspecti ng Mr Preston until he could
nab him in the street or should he go straight
to O liver Preston and demand that his prisoner
should be given up to him
H e discovered very quickly that Commande r
Preston who was o ne o f the o ffi cers at the submarin e
d e p O t lived in t h e Naval Barracks and M argetson
Spent h is rst evenin at Devonport in various b ars

frequented by the g
ower deck in order to he ar
if there were any gossip about a guest staying with
the commander
It was no t an in fallible method no one knew that
better than Margetson himse lf who particularly
disliked putting o n rough clothes and treating

j olly sailor men at local pubs But he was a


goo d actor knew how to encourage talk and pre
tended to be travelling fo r a rm o f china and
glass manu facturers A t Plymouth he was natur
ally anxious to provide decanters tumblers cock
tail Shakers wine glasses direct to any naval mess
that required such articles wi thout the intervention
H e showed hi mself
o f the expensive middleman
TH E

IO I

WILD

102

CA T S CHEME

also to have a pretty taste fo r the usual contents of


his wares and to be generously dispo sed towards
anyone likely to assist him in the disposal o f his
goo ds By this method he very quickly got in
touc h with one o f the marines who acted as mess
waiter at the b arracks and went straight to the point
by saying that among his oldest customers was
H e gave a glowing
Commander Preston s father
account o f the beauti ful glass and still more beau
ti ful drinks at Mr Preston s house in Dorsetshire
If the commander would let me Show him some
he d recognize them at once Mr
o f my things
Preston has great taste at his table

said Gregson the


S o s the commander
marine with a wink
knows what s what in a

b
y glass or o ut o f it
I thought he would H ave yo u ever seen the
o l d gentleman
H e is a rare specimen he is one

o f th e o ld school

You don t say ! No I ve never seen him


I ve seen the commander s bro ther
T al kative
gent likes his port H e s one o f them co llege
gents they knows a thing or two about cocktails

and po rt too
Gregson laughed a little thickly perhaps H e
had never met a travell e r quite so generous as this
o ne though he knew the breed p retty well
T hey
never seemed able to realize that the barracks
employed regul a r contractors and that Gregson
had no more power than a mouse even to recommend
a liqu e ur glass
much less tumblers and cocktail
Shake r s
,

1 04

WILD CA T

S CHEME

person through whom Mr Preston s where


abouts might be discovered
the
S ailors are supposed to be simple peo ple

simpler the more di ffi cult thought Margetson


H e wo u ld have known a great deal better ho w to deal
with a gang o f underworld crooks warranted to go
wrong than with these people who had consciences

and were str aight


up to a point thought the
detective who believed in a breaking point fo r all

ordinary humanity
It j ust Shows yo u he said

to himsel f even these fortunate so


called honour
able highly respected people can take cover and
de fend themselves with remarkable ingenuity and
sheer disregard o f truth when once they are threat
ened with the rigours of the law T hey think they
can d o what they like I fully believe that the o ld
gentleman did murder M iss W entworth in a
moment o f r age perhap s hal f accident with that
h eavy book A nd he could go to bed and deny it
there were times when I couldn t believe it m y
sel f but an innocent man wouldn t have tri ed to

escape his sons must know t h at


Mar g e tso n s study o f psychology had never
envisaged a simplicity o f the civilized order that
made discom fort and the risk o f catching cold o f
greater importance than the sel f conscious recti tude
that woul d pre fer to be taken into custody and

incur heavy expense to say nothing o f possible


illness in order to prove a man s innocence o f the
charge against him
If a man s no t guilty he does

not need to hide thought M argetson


and the
proof o f the puddi ng i s in the eating If he d b een

o ne

10
WILD CA T S CHEME
5
in Court to
day they wouldn t have comm i tted him
fo r trial at least I suppose that o ld sheep Lo rd
T horell woul dn t and that would h ave been the

end o f it fo r th e moment anyhow


But he was no t quite sure S ir John Elgin had
let o ff Anthony without demur but he might have
found i t di ffi cult to be e qually lenient if the real
o ff ender had been be fore h i m It was true that the
Chief Constable o f the county Colonel Eltham
had practically washed his hands o f the business and
le ft it all to the detective from S cotland Yard
but he had made inquiries lately o f the p olice i n
spector at Calve rsto ke and had po o h poohed the
idea o f Mr Preston as the possibl e criminal
A ll th e same S ir John was dread fully bo thered

by the book thought Margetson because it was


j ust the sort o f thing an irritable o ld fellow might
do throw the book without actually meaning to
hurt her H is going o ff to bed so quietly after
wards was a bit o u t o f the picture ; but a man
may d o anything in self de fence to avert suspicion
and there s something behind that Colquhoun fund
I Shall have to nd o u t a bit more about that
If he played any hanky panky with that it w as
enough to scare him sti ff when she wanted to pub
lish the facts Possibly he was only trying to frighten
her out o f it S omething did frighten her there s

no doubt about that


Th e next morning directly a fter breakfast he
rang up the naval barracks and asked fo r Co m
mander Preston Co mmander P reston was out ;
evi dently his naval duties began at an ear ly hour

WILD CA T S CHEME
Margetson asked fo r an appo intment on urgent
business gave his name and the telephon e number
A S the morning went on he became
o f his hotel
impatient walked down to the barracks and again
asked fo r Commander Preston only to be told that
he was still out and M arget son full o f impatience
went back to his hotel T here he found a mess 3
giving him an appointment at Six o clock
E
arrived punctually an d was shown into the smoking
room where a vigorous looking young naval o i ce r
not in the least like the other members of his
family whom M argetson had seen greeted him in a
ringing voice an d with a su ffi ciently hearty manner
though with considerable reserve be hin d it With all
his supposed Simplicity a naval o fficer is essentially
suspicious he has a fear apparently derived from
constant contact with his brother o ffi cers o f being

bounced an d he neve r gives himsel f away to a


stranger Margetson kn ew at once that Com
mande r O liver Preston wou ld not answer any ques
tions that he was not fully prepared to answer
S omehow or other civil law as known to the
police hardly seemed to exist in those surroundings ;
only the A dmiral ty W ithout a word said it was
clearly conveye d to the detective that here he ha d
no authority an d no s tatus
O liver o ffere d his visitor a chair a cocktail a
cigarette a fter the time honoured custom but al ways
with the air o f one in command to the comman ded
M argetson thought that he resente d something ;
but coul d not say w hat it was
H e refused all hospit alit y but the chair an d
A

106

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 08
father were here he is not I assure you he woul d

have to meet you o n his o w n groun d


A n d what the devil does he mean by that
thought Margetson
! ou refuse to ive me Mr Preston s pres e nt
address
he as ke tf

I have tol d you that he is not here


T hen I won t waste any
Margetson got up

more time he said but you know that unpleasant


consequences can be invoked for those naval
o fcers o r not who obstruct the police i n t heir

duty

S it down
said O liver
I am not obstruct in g
you and you have no witnesses if I were Le t s
talk it over without prejudice you know What is
it the newspapers are so fon d o f as man to man
I ve heard about you from my brother I recogn ise
that yo u are only doin g your duty I d like to tal k
to you about my father be cause you re altogether
on the wrong tack about him You re wasting
your time trying to nd him H e is not the man

you want
S o I have heard s everal t i mes f rom your
brother
I don t deny that you are goo d
A

s o ns

We are rather more than that

aid O liver
we know my father an d we ve knocked abo ut a
bit both o f us ; we aren t easily taken in My
father coul dn t murder anyone
It is o ne o f those
things that aren t done If you d rea li ze that you d

simpl ify matt ers all round

I have been tol d the same story even more


,

WILD CA T S CHEME
109
i mpressively about a good many me n who have

be en roved guilty an d hanged

My father is
hink it over said O liver
irritable an d he does not hide his feelings but he is
I wish
not violent never was an d never could be
seen
my
mother
You
d
have
ou coul d have
y
known that her husband woul d never touch a woman

in an ger
Margetson stare d at him in sheer ama zement
T his display of feeling o f sentiment o r whatever
it was was utterly unex pe cted T hese Prestons
were always unexpe cted Five minutes be fore he
woul d have called O liver a damned obstinate
arrogant brute with a most annoying quarter
deck manner and now thought Margetson he
was talking l ike the hero of a movie about his
T he youn g
mother ! No that w as not fair
man was quite real una ff ected sincere in his
tribute to his mother But it was all part of the
same thing T hese people thought that they could
jolly well say j ust what they l i ked and expected
everyone to believe them
Do you think that you coul d forget for a few
minutes that I am talking about your father and
se e the case from a detached point o f view
Mind
k you are going the wron g way to work
n n ine cases out o f ten a man is doubtful
and his case when he run s away Just
thin k of him as John S mith w ho is accu se d o f the
murder of A rabella Brown
Must She be A rabella I feel that I could mur
der anyone called Arabe lla myself Well go on 1
A

A WILD CA T S CHEME
1 10
Margetson frowne d at the levity but he went o n
T here can be no question that s he was m urdered
hit on the head by a heavy brass boun d book that
John S mith had had
w as evidently thrown at her
a violent quarrel with her that is known to two

Margetson re peated the story


reliable witnesses
that he had tol d be fore the Calve rsto ke magistrates
A t the rst Sign o f
and woun d it up by saying
suspicion being roused against him S mith ran
aw ay an d his frien ds say that he cou ld not face the
ordeal We put it that he coul d not meet the charge
No w if he were really S mith what woul d yo u
-

3
"

sa

Isn t that the cru x o f the whole matter


If I
don t know what sort of a fellow S mith is how can
H e might brin g a whole ood o f reliable
I j udge
witnesses to prove that he was totally incapable of

m urdering anyone
None o f us is
Margetson sh ook his head
totally in ca able A t least w ho can be sure t hat
he i s
I resay yo u have experience d with yo ur
men that even the most trusted will suddenly run
amok ! o u can t let him o ff be caus e you thought
him incapable o f doing anything o f the ki n d
Touclz
said O liver
I yiel d the point fo r
the sake o f argum ent but with my fellows in nine
cases o u t o f ten the trouble is caused by drin k
an d in the tenth case by a woman sometimes com
p licated by debt o r gambling My father is not

i n any o f those galleys


T he whole o f this tr ouble if I am not m i staken
a goo d many
was cause d by a woman i n debt


W
I
D
CA T S CHEME
L
1 12
an d can t face it Perhaps if he coul d take Wilkins
A

an d his books an d his hot water bott le an d a perfect


cargo of medical stores an d gadgets he woul d no t

m i n d so much

said Margetson He wished


T hink it over
he coul d persuade O liver that the m inor comfo rts
o f l i fe were a poor exchange for the higher principles

Look here l
O liver said impulsively as i f
on the s p ur of the moment gi ve me till to morrow
and dine with us to night to Show that there is no
ill feeling I must o now b ut d o come
Never
min d about a bo ile (gsh irt if you haven t one w i th

T
here
won
t
be
many
us
ou
f
o
y
If Margetson had known a litt le more about the
manners an d customs o f the Navy he woul d have
r ealize d that fo r O liver to invite him to dine at
mess without dressing for dinner meant that for
some mysterious reason his presence was mu ch

desired but he had a b oiled shirt and he went


to dine at the barracks There were only abo ut a
do z en men there T he Commodore o f the barracks
w as marrie d an d dine d at home some o f the others
were on leave o r away with their submarines
Margetson thought them a quiet lot pleasant yo un
fellows though natur ally he loo ke d on them 1
as potential criminals and they occasionally su b
side d into naval sl ang which he coul d not follow
but d i scovered that most of them were h urryin g
over their meal to go to a dance in the neighbo ur
ho o d some way out o f the town
He sat be tween O liver an d a light hear ted yo un g
l i eutenant Pa ul H ardy b y name w h o c hatte r ed
-

WILD CA T
-

S CHEME

1 1

mostly about submarines Evidently he was


very keen on his j ob and Margetson began to be
infecte d by his enthusiasm though it struck him
once or tw ice that some of the others looked aston
is he d if not impatient an d he caught one of them
makin g a face at H ardy Margetson like d the boy
and since the war had always wished to see an d
know more about the under
se a boat
at close
quarters
H ardy tol d him a ne story o f co urage persever
a stoker
ance an d presence of min d shown b
petty o fcer who wa s the sole survivor o rn a su b
marine which san k after attempting to ram an
enemy submarine during the war
Everyone
except the one man w ho had remained in the engine
room was choked by the escape of chlorine gas
The o ne survivor knew that his only chan ce w as to
o pen the torpedo hatch i n the hope of being blo w n
o ut o f the boat by the escape o f air
A fter seven
heart
breakin g fail ures he succeeded though him s elf
half choke d with gas and with one hand ba dl y

crushe d T hen as H ardy said he reporte d


I
raised the hatch an d escaped rising to the surface

an d be in g picked up by the destroye r Dod o


As o ne might say
I opened the door an d walked

after that desperate b ut never despairing


o ut
struggle o f over an hour an d a hal f
Even Margetson had to o w n that he could no t
utterly despair o f human nature after that story It
woul d have made H ardy laugh if he had said what
he really thought
We ought to have that man

at S cotlan d Yard

fre ely ,

1 1

WILD CA T

S CHEME

dinner when most of the party had gone


O liver Margetson H ardy an d
to their dance
another man who proved to be a doctor playe d
bridge Eventually young H ardy said that he woul d
drive M argetson back to the hotel in h is ve ry ancie nt
tw o seat e r car o f an antediluvian ty pe that almost
shook the teeth o ut of your head
! ou may arrive

alive said O liver Preston as they started


but
you will certainly be in l ittle bits Everyone who
drives with H ardy is lucky if he can be reassemble d
from adj acent part s of the car and not from remote

points o n the jo u rney

I wonder H ardy said as they drove away


if you d care for a run in my boat the
S he
7

goes a bit smoother than th i s he laughed unless

the sea s very choppy


I have to be o ff some time to
morrow than ks

very much all the same I Shoul d have liked it said


M argetson with chatterin g tee th clutchin g his hat
We are
Coul dn t you stay another n ight
going out to morrow three o f us Z s for exercises
My skipper is taking a guest I am sure you coul d

come

It is very kind o f you Margetson


really
tempted H e enjoyed new ex periences and yin g
had ceased to be a new experience but he had never
tried a submarine
T h e own e r he was not there to night dining
with his best girl o r something his name s
is
taking o l d Pre ston the bloke I mean Commander

Pre sto n s father


Marget son felt like t he proverbial housemaid
Af ter

1 1

WILD
CA T

S CHEME

remarked in a brotherly Spirit to A nthony at a late r


date much more aristocratic that most varsity dons
H ad not the most noble the Vice C hancellor of
O xford been turned from the door o f o ne o f his
as a tramp an d a seedy o ne at
o w n college farms
that ! He wa s a bachelor an d Molly always said
that his clothes reminded her of a third rate waiter
out o f work Margetson bore no resemb l ance to
a waiter o f any kin d even in a boile d Shirt T here
wa s no reason why H ard shoul d not ask a guest o f

the bloke s to go o ut or a trip longing a fter the


fashion o f every special ist an d ardent lover to Show
o ff the darlin g of h i s heart
A ccordingly M argetson in high spirits fo r was
he no t killing tw o birds with one stone doing his
duty an d taking his pleasure together arrive d at
the submarine ste s in the harbour before t hr ee
o clock the next te rnoo n giving a glance o n his
way to some o f the famous memorials on the H oe
He little knew what was before him
A s Paul H ardy had foretol d there was no gale the
su n shone an d the win d o n shore was no t noticeable
but there was a short an d choppy se a H ardy me t
Margetson with glee an d poured a vast amount of
technical information into his ear as they stood on
the slopin g deck o f that pe culiar contraption that
calls itsel f a submarine
H e heard much about
ballast tan ks batteries Diesel engines dynamos
ballast tank vents re chargin g batteries accu mu
lators valves air storage stability pressure
if
he coul d have listene d intelligently no doubt he
Thi s is a li b l n ny V i
Ch an ll r

c e-

ce

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 17
would have known everything that the re is to be
known about a submarine in theory and practice
H ardy an d o ne or tw o o f the seamen w ho were
on deck seemed to n d it pe rfectly natural to stan d
an d walk abo ut at any angle o n their precarious craft
th it s practical absence o f bulwark or freeboard
without holding on to anything but Margetson clung
!
rmly to a corner o f the superstructure that con
taine d the conning tower an d the o ne little four inch
gun because it seemed to b e the o nly support an d stay
that he coul d nd in a slopin g an d slippery world
H e asked a fter Mr Preston but was told that
he had gone to earth already in the o i ce rs
quarters having stoutly refuse d to
hold on to

H e s in Jarvis s
nothing by the skin o f his teeth
be rth with his servant holdin g one hand and poor

H ardy giggled shr illy and


O l d Jarvey the other
then said suddenly H ullo
s ir you look rather
green about the gills Woul d you like a spot o f
brandy
H e vanished from sight while Margetson shut his
eyes shivered a little an d wishe d that the se a were
H ardy reappeared with startlin
no t so yellow
rapidity ; he seemed to be able to balan ce himsel
like a cat o r a y o n any surface anywhe re even
with a tumbler full of liquid in h is han d
It may

be rather nasty he observed the M O has put


some stu ff into it Mother S iegel s soothing syru p
no that s for babies but it s Mother s ometh i ng

anyhow he says it will put you right


m r m d rn t yp with
Th
w
f th L lass n t t h
r l g ns
l b rat s p rstr t r
nd
A

as o

e a

uc u e a

-c

se ve a

o e

WILD CA T S CHEZWE
1 1 8
Margetson drank it ; it was exceedingly n asty
more syrup th an brandy he thought and it was
worse than useless H e was too ill to care though
he found himsel f wondering what an M O was
and i f it could be put under arrest for po isoning
him but he relinquished his despairin g grasp of
th e friendly corner that had sustained h i m had
idea that he s lid into Paul H ardy s arms and was
dragged o ff somewhere down some ladder le adi ng
apparently to th e nethermost hell and was laid o n a
shel f h e thought it was a shel f but it might have
been a co ffi n did they take co i ns to s e a with them !
H e thought that dead bodies at se a were al ways
sewn up in the Union Jack
A fter that he
seemed to himsel f to be exi st i ng i n so me awful
in ferno full o f the smooth uncompromi sing sounds
punctured by his own agonies tended
o f engines
quite ki ndly by a man in blue serge that smelt o f
the sea those lines o n his collar what fo r
Nelson s victories
Nelson was always sea Sick
But Nelson had never been in a submarine Why
had he not followed that great man s example
Then app arently M argetson went to sleep an d woke
up with all th at awful throbbing and vibrating and
rotating at an end in a peace th at he hoped was
eternal
A ll at once he found his kindly attendant bending
over him asking if he would like a breath o f air o n
deck Th e Z 1 7 was at anchor he s aid at W esting
b ury Marg e tso n s pro fessional zeal was o n the
alert at onc e H e waited fo r nothing but picked
up his coat collar and ti e that had been taken 03
A

I
CAT S CHEME
L
D
W

1 20

veil o f silence It was only a poor remnant o f a


man who staggered back to his hotel at Devonport
late that evening
.

You need no t have given the poo r chap such a

o o f emetic whatever it was


s ti ff
s
o said O liver
g
Preston later o n the same evening in intimate
converse with the doctor and Paul H ardy

I ve
H e was b ad said H ardy reminiscently
never seen anyone make such heavy weather o f it
I thought we should bring back only his corp se
But Mr Preston go t away all right he was not Sick
at all though he said he was going to be I d rew a
touching picture o f his prostration in J arvey s

cabin for Marge tso n s benet

! o u carried out your orders very well H ardy


said hi s superior o ffi cer ki ndly
Your conversation
at mess yesterday nearly made me sick but no
doubt it impressed Margetson I am hardly in a
si tio n to report favourably abo ut you
but My
rds would doubtl es s express their appreciation
Did yo u tell our s uffe ring
o f your services i f I could
friend that my father h ad gone to T ruro
I did and I think the poor blighter will go there

to morrow but he won t as k us to take him


It shows ho w little Margetson understands my
father o r he would know that it i s as absolutely
unthinkable that he would risk him sel f in a sub

marine as that he would commit murder


I am really beginning to respect M ussolini

and his castor o il methods said the doc tor


Poor O ld Margetson
Paul H ardy laugh ed
,

1 21
WILD CA T S CHEME
H e was as meek as a lamb when we landed him
I told o ff Rogers to look a fter him and he clung to

Rogers like a child to his nanny

You re a hard hearted little beast said O liver


A nthony imitates my father very well though he
wouldn t come face to face with Margetson again
something to do with the colour o f his eyes I ve
had a rough time with Molly because S h e wasn t
allowed to 0 too disguised as W ilkins was her idea
I think
ou d better take her out H ardy and
submerge and d o trick tur ns with her as soon as
o r li fe won t be worth living
ou can
Don
t
let
y
this old fellow dose her though at least no t yet
we ll try gentler methods rst before we imitate

Mussolini

Don t insult an old fellow sai d the M O


Am I not a gallant man a squire o f dames and a
humble admirer o f Miss Molly
Your friend
Margetson looked a Shade yellow I expect he will

be none the worse for his dose

I d sooner stay yellow said H ardy and dodged


some thing that the doctor threw at him

I wonder what o ur brother o f T ruro will d o


said O liver chuckling
talk tosh about being
answerable only to the A rchbishop o f Canterbury
and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners as I did
about the A dmiral ty and naval law though I
think friend M argetson suspected the presence o f my
tongue in my cheek Poor chap Th e underworld
must be a j oke compared to u s I should think he d
become a red hot S ocialist o u t of sheer annoyance
w i th the profess i onal classes

C H A P T ER

VI

MA RG ET S O N go t out o f bed the next morning at a


reasonably early hour H e felt sore and bruised
and rather j aded altogether but he rang fo r tea
and toast and a Bradshaw without doing more than
groan at the thought o f catching a train to T ruro
H e wondered i f O liver Preston knew w ho had
been on board the
and i f he would contrive to
warn h is father ! For that rea son M argetson co n
si d e re d it incumbent upon him to make an early
st art O f course O liver would send fo r him later
to argue once more about Mr Preston s innocence
and probably in the end would ive him a false
i ttl e why O liver
address M argetson wondered a g
had not done that be fore but concluded that he had
thought it wiser to keep the detective under his
o w n eye until his father w as o u t o f reach
M argetson
wondered still more why A nthony had brought him
within re ach but supposed that fo r some reason
probably connected wi th Mr Preston s heal th his
start fo r T ruro had been deferred or perhap s
A nthony had not been prepared fo r M arge tso n s
very prompt departure from Calve rsto ke
Th e waiter w ho brought his breakfast and the
Bradshaw also brought two telegrams which made
the detective sit up in bed and swear aloud
.

1 22

WILD

1 24

CA T S CHEME

to go for that mos t painful and per sonall


l
disastrous run Even as it was he h ad been so i y
that he had very nearly missed see ing Mr Preston
altogether
Margetson went downstairs to s p eak to Inspector
S mithers o n the telephone and try to nd out more
about the new position
S mithers was at all events denite o n o ne point

I think yo u had better come back he said my


o w n impression is that this outrage i s connected with
some property o f M iss We ntworth s ! o u went
through her belongings and you could tell be tter
than we can I h ave h ad nothing touched The
room is in sheer con fusion but I have had the
windows b arred heavily outside and have p ut two

men o n night duty


Margetson explained that he knew Mr Preston
was at T ruro at the Bishop s pal ace and that he
himself meant to go there that day H e continued
in the code th at h ad excited Molly to s ay that he
meant to arrest Mr Preston there and would bring
him to Calve rsto ke prob ably next morning
Th e inspector urged him to come at once
I
think you will agree that thi s occurrence rules o ut
Mr Preston S omeone is after something that was
in M iss We ntwo rth s po ssession It was her room

they got into by a ladder through the window


A gain in code Margetson suggested that it was
only th e family
Mr A nthony was probably
attempting to distract attention from his father

T he in spector s reply was astonishing


I have
made enquiries Mr A nth ony with his d aughte r
so n

WILD CA T S CHEME
12
5
and Wilki ns le ft by car the same evening that
you did apparently according to the servants and
Mrs Beaumont for Devonport T hey certainly
slept at Exeter that ni ght and arrived at Devonport
the next day because Wilkins wi fe had a letter fr om
him that sh e showed to Pratt I don t think that

this aff air has anything to d o with the family


T h e Crutchers aren t in it I suppose
No no Pratt heard noises in the night and

woke them up

H as any in formation been sent to the Prestons !


Not to my knowledge I told Pratt to wire

only to you

Very well
I
Mar getson said reluctantly

will come as soon as I can


H e still wanted to go to T ru ro to make sure o f
his prisoner there Then an idea occurred to him
H e go t himsel f put through to the palace at Truro
and said he was speaking fo r Commander Preston
wh o was anxious to know ho w Mr Preston was
after his j ourney
Th e call was answered evidently b y a se rvant
who made considerable di ffi culties over th e name
S urely Mr
Mar getson at last said impatiently
Preston is staying at th e palace H e sho ul d have

arrived yesterday
No sir Mr
Th e man seemed astonished
Preston i s not here H old the l i ne I will m ake

enquiries
A fter some delay an educated voice began to

Speak
I am the Bishop s chaplain w e don t
understand about Mr Preston I thi nk I know who
A

WILD CA T S CHEZWE
1 26
r
mean
Robert
Preston
o f Greystones no
M
o
u
y
he has not been here was not expected The
Bishop hopes that there has been no accident H e

would like to Speak to Co mmander Preston


Margetson said that the commander was ou t
but would ring up later H e pro fess e d
o n duty
considerable anxie ty and stated that Mr Preston
started from We stingb ury yesterday to motor to
T ruro and he had certainly intended to go to the

palace
Th e chaplain then went away but came back with
a further mess age from the Bishop H e would
have been delighted to see Mr Preston but h ad not
expected him and he had not arrived No c ar had
been sent from the palace to meet him at Westing
b ul
Slo wly it began to dawn o n Margetson that he
h ad been diddled again
What had the Calver
stoke inspector said Ant/z any had gone to Devon
H e rang o ff promising that Commander
rt
P
fe sto n himsel f would telephone later
M argetson sat down with his still somewh at
di zz y head between his hands H e felt very much

like th e morning after the night before but hi s


mind worked cle ar ly enough
Th e missing link was revealed ; at l ast he under
stood why A n thony had broadly hinted at informa
tion to be obtai ned from O liver T ruro w as not in
the plot H is fellow passenger i n the
had
been Ant/z any and no t Ro ert Preston
Margetson swore so loudly that a frightened
s ervant o f the hotel came up to ask hi m i f anything
A

1 28

WILD CA T

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I looked at my watch i t was abo ut 3 o clock


too e arly for Crutcher so I go t o u t o f bed
S ur e
enough I could see a light under Miss Eleanor s
door Th e key o f that room has been kept locked
up in a cash box in my roo m so I could get it
quickly b u t I thought it better to wake Crutcher
and get him to come with me I crept round to
their room as so ft as I could but I s pose the thief
heard me When we opened the door it was
locked all right we found no o ne Th e room was
and the window was
all o f a clutter as it is no w
broken There was a candle guttering mercy it
didn t set re to the house with all the papers there
was about There was a ladder up against the

window
Why d o yo u say the thief had h e taken any
thing
No t as I know sir but Mr S mithers
thought best to leave things as they were till

you came
What time did you go to bed

Not much after


A bo ut ten O clock sir
Did you go round the house rst
Yes sir Me and C rutcher We did every
night right round outside stab le yard front dr ive
and garden and al l
! o u saw no o ne heard nothing
Not a blessed thing S ir Patch the yard d og
was tied up in his kennel and we l e t him loo se I ll

swear he never made a so und all night


Loo ks as i f he knew the
Margetson grunted
thie f Where was he in the morning
Then

WILD CA T S CHEME
9
O ut in the yard S ir waiting for his breakfast

as he always do
Margetson grunted again H e thought that w as
pret ty good evidence against the family Patch
was a mongrel but a very good watch dog It
had been one argument against any theory o f an
i ntruder from outside when Eleanor was murdere d
that no one had heard Patch bark
Margetson went outside rst an d saw where the
branches and leaves o f the roses growing up to the
broken window had been flatte n e d an d crushe d by
the ladder against them T he window ha d been
bo arded and naile d up T here was not much else
to see
M argetson felt that he would be on rmer an d
more famili ar ground hunting fo r a tangible thie f
than struggling through the web woven roun d him
by the Preston determin ation to keep their father
out o f his reach Yet he hardly hope d to fin d a
fresh clue in this a ff air
H e felt more an d more
certain not only that in hunting for Mr Preston
he was on the track o f the real murderer but that
the o ld man s sons knew it T he o sition had
become straine d an d di ffi cul t Even ifhe brought
an action against the sons fo r obstructing him in his
duty he doubted if any case woul d lie against them
The magistrates at Calve rsto ke had rather cramped

his style
S mithers had made en quiri es about the possible
escape o f the thie f but no o ne had heard or seen
anythin g unusual After all there were fe w people
T he
o n t h e r o ads a t t h re e o cl oc k i n t h e mo r ning
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
2 39
gates had all been shut an d fastened when Pratt
and Cru tcher went to bed and apparently they had
I t had rained rather heavily in
no t be en opened
the early morning so that all wheel marks or foot
marks had been obliterated It seemed evident
that the intru der had come o n foot o r had at all
events le ft his car if he had one somewhere outside
the Greystones demesne

W ell we must go and l ook upstairs Marget


H e an d S mithers went together
s o n said at last
followe d by Pratt into the bo w
windowe d room
where Eleanor had bee n sleeping
Margetson
himsel f had already gone t hrough everything in that
room an d as a precaution he had caused all the papers
which Eleanor had had with her o n that fatal night
to be brought upstairs from the l ibrary an d locked
up in the bureau which stood in the wi ndow It
was o n those family pape rs that he depen de d to
prove the motive for the crime of which he accused
Robert Preston
H e had thought
the bo w wi ndow a most
charming room with that air o f grace and rightness
that belongs only to r ooms that have been cared for
by o ne generation after another ; the atmosphere

o f having
grown and not o f having come out of a
shop T he grace ful ol d furniture was o f the
farmhouse type very general in the eighteenth
century and the gay o w e re d chintzes were laven de r
an d green T his highly favoured room had a south
ern aspect looking over the garden an d away to the
blue di stance O f el ds and woo ds The window
itself was modern a bi t buil t on to t h e original house
A

WILD

32

CA T S CHEME

position the bureau locked But no w the dus t shee ts


had be en thrown into a mangle d heap o n o ne Side
every drawer an d door was open the bureau an d the
oor all roun d it seemed to be a mass o f dishe velle d
papers letters note books diaries sheets o f foolscap
one o r two parchment deeds lon g envelopes in a
strange con fusion all hee dlessly thr own do w n
dashed hit her an d thither pell mell in a wil d mad
unheeding search fo r something something that had
be en foun d an d carried away or that Pratt s well
meant but doubtless elephantine e ff orts to be
quiet had distu rbe d the searcher in time to save
S omeone in a damned
Margetson gasped
hurry

said S mithers who was not a rened


! o u bet
person but this is the real thing Mr Margetson

no j oke o f Mr A nthony s
M argetson was silent but he coul d not deny it
T here was somethin g familiar though perhaps
sin ister about all this H e had seen it be fore
this apparently insane desperate se cret h urrie d
sea rch fo r something regardless of any an d eve ry
other consideration in the world
But a search for w ha t ! W hat could Eleanor
ever have p ossessed that could accoun t for this con
dition o f a ffairs
What had she attempted to
conceal or to keep even at the co st o f her o w n l i fe
and that was Still being hunted at the risk o f th e
hunter s li fe ! Sh e had no j ewels o f any value
and no hoard o f money of that Margetson w as
cert ain
If P ra tt ha d only O p ened the doo r at on ce w i t h o ut
.

1 33
WILD CA T S CHEME

going fo r Crutcher would he have caught red handed


the real culprit the murderer o r would he in his
turn have been sacriced to some grim need
Pratt had evidently been frightened there was no
doubt about that but i f he had only been quick
enough
T here might have been more than o ne man in

it said S mithers w ho was probably going through


exactly the same considerations and calculations
as Margetson was
but you can t suppose it was

Mr Preston this time

Go d knows
said Margetson b i tterly
I
have no t th e l e ast idea where Mr Pr e ston is o r
what h e is doing S o far as I know he is still the
only living soul who could possibly have any i n

t e re s t in these papers
It ashed into his mind that i f the Col quhoun
papers had disappeared his strongest proo f o f
Robert Preston s motive for committing murder
had gone
T hen he was not at T ruro a fter all
asked
S mithers in considerable astonishment

No T hat was another false scent laid by


Mr A nthony
You don t say so
A ll the same you can t
see Mr Preston climbing up a ladder and breaking
a window to get into his own house

No M argetson wondered for a moment i f he


could not se e M olly and Mrs Beaumont doin it
but he hesitated ; this was not the work 0 gan
innocent amat e ur T here was an atmosphere o f
the real thing about it

WILD CA T S CHEME

as ked
A ny g ood looking for nge r prints

It s dusty enough
S mithers
M argetson went up to the bureau there were
some marks on the polished desk where the papers
had been thrown aside H e produced a magni
fying glass o u t o f his pocket

Gloves he said
O h yes that settles it I

suppose no amateur

said S mithers
! ou never know
Everyone
reads such a lot o f detective stories in these days
it might be the rst thing they d think o f T hey d
have to put on gloves to get a hand through that
broken pane
But Margetson was standing with a transxed
expression o f countenance looking at a pape r
that had been pushed o n o ne side among the
others

I think that I had better go through the lot


he said
A

2 34

evening he wrote to O liver Preston ex


plaining what had happened and why he had had
to return so unexpectedly to Greystones
I think we are o n the track o f the real murderer

no w
he wrote
T here is n o reason why Mr

Preston shoul d not come home if he choo ses


No doubt A nthony would recognize a bit o f real
human nature in the next sentence
I know that
Mr Preston is not at T ruro and that he was not
my fellowpassenger in the
It gave M argetson considerable pleasure to
re frain from saying how he had come by that know
T hat

C H A P T ER

VI I

day that the telegram from Ely was receive d


at De vonpo rt A nthony Molly and the fait hful
W ilkins once more in nautical language sailed
!
d procee de d to Ely
It was a lon g j ourn ey ; they arrive d late an d too k
refuge in an hotel T he next morn in g as ea rly
as they dare d A nthony an d Molly went to the
palace which A nthony knew very well T hey
foun d that it w as practically shut up but the
Bishop s chaplain w ho was also his secretary was
there an d welcomed them though A nthony
thought with a certain reserve T he Bishop was
unmarried an d it w as suppose d that he le ft all
househol d management to his chaplain Mr Un der
wood an d his wi fe 1
Mr Underwood was a middle age d man a little
overwhelmed by his o wn impo rtance inclin ed to
stan d o n his dign ity also un fo rtunately inclined to
be fon d of the soun d o f his o wn voice which made
him repeat himself at fre quent intervals He had
a some what lon g red face a long nose an d a thin
THE

h p is st ll sai d t
m
m ha
h al w ay
ly a g g
1 El y i
r h d a hap la h k
A

ec

ni s

c al

eo r a p

in

Mr

e xp r e

Un

i n the e
a nd n e ve r

s day

e ve n

r oc e e d s ,

s on

e ve

s ai l

ss

er w oo

I 36

i on

No

i ti g at d
s a yw h
h p a ywh

s of u n m

g oe
Bis

er e

e re

1 37
WILD CA T S CHEME
neck slightly blue which had an inclination to
Molly with her modern
fold under the chin
youthful disrespect of persons said afterwards that
he reminded her o f a turkey cock full o f pretentious
gobbles but with no chin an d no ght in him

I thought he had
No chin ! said A nthony

quite a numbe r of chins

said Mr Un derwood
sailed
T he Bishop
in the Monta ra i a fo r the Canaries some days ago
yes some days ago H e had been ailin g all the
wi nter an d his doctor prescribed a s e a voyage
Yes ye s a sea voyage
Perhaps yo u saw the
anno un cement in t he Morni ng P ost ! T he Bishop
tol d me that Mr Preston woul d n d it convenient
to remain here for a time so Mrs Underwoo d
and I did o ur b e st to make him comfortable Yes
yes we did our best H e was very independent
for his age and liked going o u t alone to visit his
ol d
acquaintances in the Close but he seeme d
d ge ty yes yes an d if I may say s o a little irritable
Mrs Underwood thought s o too yes yes s he
thought s o t oo We had to go awa y fo r a couple
o f nights
to visit our s on at school an d when we
came back we heard that Mr Preston had le ft the
palace yes he had left the alace
H e had
written a note fo r me and d i dp not say that he
was going home but he gave no other address
so we conclude d that he had returned to Grey

stones

But he is not at home A nthony broke in


hastily be fore the conclusion coul d be repeate d
in Mr Un derwood s impressive manner
and

I 38

WILD

CA T S CHEME

for business reasons it is important t hat I Shoul d be

able to communicate wi th him at once

You began to talk j ust like Mr Underwood


as if you had
Molly tol d her father afterwards
a plum in your mouth an d a poker down yo ur

back
I am grieve d to hear that yo u have any d i f

culty in communicating with him


said Mr
Un derw oo d looking apprehensive an d with the
blue shade o f his neck invading his cheeks
but
I can ass ure yo u yes ye s I can assure you that
I am totally ignorant of Mr Preston s where

abouts

Well but look here said A nthony surely


It is
Gough woul d know o r o ne o f the servants
very unlike my father to go o ff without leaving an

ad d ress
Mr Underwood gobble d a l ittle an d then
coughed he seemed rather at a loss
S hall I r in g
the bell
aske d Molly innocently

I think
said Mr Underwoo d looking
thoroughly startled an d dra wing in his chin which
did not require it
that if anyone in this house
knows I Should know T he Bishop left me in
charge with complete authorityyes ye s complete
authority over the househol d sta ff If anyone is
to ask the servants I shoul d prefer to d o it myself
o r Mrs Underwood o f course
Mrs

Underwood

MrS U nd e rwo o d evidently wears the breeches


thought An thony vulgarly

I am very so rry to be troublesome he said


.

"

WILD CA T S CHEME
140
dressed in Speckled uncertain garments as if she
apologized fo r having to be dressed at all
an d almost ran to her husband apparent !
t e c tio n against possibly heartless strangers
H e introduced his visitors and with much re
petition o f any favourite turn o f speech he tol d her
what they wanted to know
Did you hear
anything my dear ! Did the servants mention
the e r manner yes the manner of Mr Preston s
departur e
No no in deed I asked no questions T hey
said he had gone I suppose o u r the Bishop s

car took him to the station


O f course o f course no doubt no doubt
Well Mr Preston I don t think we can tell yo u any
more T he Bishop s car took him no doubt to

the station
Mr Un derw ood drew himsel f up thru st o ne han d
into his tro u sers pocket smiled benevolently an d
evidently believe d that the trouble was over
Perhaps the Bishop s chauffe ur coul d tell us

what ticket he took said Molly seeing that her


father was apparently stricken dumb

Perhaps said Mrs Underwoo d and then with


a sudden access o f volubility
pe rhaps not You
know he cannot leave the car at the station he has
to stay with it Dear Mr Preston no doubt foun d
a port er he coul d not have carried his o wn luggage
though he had so l ittle with him H is washing
was re ally a question but we have a laundry here in
the palace and I think we managed fairly well
for him gentlemen s shirt s you know so di f c ult
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
14 1
to get up an d the Bishop an d Mr Underwood
don t wear them
Don t wear shirts
said Molly isn t it very
uncomfortable
Gran dpapa wouldn t like that
DO they do it as a religious penance
Mrs Underwood giggled shrilly an d feebly
O h dear what have I said ! So l ike me
No
I mean e ve ni ng shirts dear you know with sti ff
fronts shiny
O ur laun dry maids are not accus
to m e d to them though they do the Bishop s collars
an d cu ff s very well I think Mr Preston bought
some more shirts in the town H e an d the Bishop
bought them together T he dear Bishop was
quite excited said he had not done such a thin g
Gough orders all his clothes for
fo r years

him
I expect Go ugh woul d have made a better hand

o f the shirts
said A nthony wondering why in the
worl d they were talking about Shirts It wa s like
his father to insist on dressing punctiliously for
dinner at the palace though he generally con
tented himself with an old velvet smoking coat at
home
S uddenly while poor Mrs Underwood an d
Molly maundered on A nthony un derstood ; Gong/z
was the d e n: ex ma chi ne T hese two feeble souls
were perhaps gure he a d s but Gough did the work
It was l ike H arold Moxon the Bishop to maintain
probably o u t o f his private means at a goo d salary
an ine f cient ass like Un derwood because he was
sorry for him A nthony began also in a ash
to u n der stand w hy his fat he r h ad run away
A

WILD

CA T S CHEME

a week o f Un derwood I shoul d ha ve

tu rned into a poor gabbling thing like his wife


thought A nthony
but my father is made o f

sterner stuff
H e made up his min d to follow the excellent

are ntal example


Goo d bye he said sorry to
have bothered you We must go an d make e n
u ir ie s at the station
q
But but
Mrs Un derwood evidently
struggled with emotion too deep for words ; her
hus ban d came nobly to the rescue
Won t yo u
an d Miss Preston stay for lun ch ! We generally

l un ch at one o clock yes at o ne o clock


T han k yo u very much no we must get o n
I have a great deal to d o
Good bye many
than ks no don t trouble to come out I know
the way use d to stay here as a boy Goo d bye

come alon g Molly


T hey foun d themselves in the hall at last without
the Un derwoo ds an d Gough with a myrmidon at
the door was hol di ng A nthony s coat

I want to have a word with you Gough


said A nthony ol d times an d all that you know
When can you come ro un d to the Roy al D a ne !
Mis s Preston an d I are staying there but we have

to be o ff this afternoon

T han k you s ir
said Go u gh ; he foun d some
thing in his han d besides A nthony s coat collar

I ll be down in hal f an hour

Goo d for you said A nthony

I call that a cowardly ight sa i d Molly when


they were well on the i r way an d s he had stop pe d
A fter

WILD CA T S CHEME
144

I wish yo u would mind said her father


It
is one o f my arguments with your mo ther Sh e
likes beauty abo ut her peopl e clo thes furniture
good Lord yes 1 T hey cost a pre
is welcome to them all but why not
sh e
Why does she let you talk
beauti ful language too

what she calls modern slang !

! o u don t se t u s a very goo d example darling


s aid Molly demurely taking hi s arm
and

language does not cost anything


No it comes o ut o f the
A nthony groaned

gutter

You are rather a dear said Molly


I ll say
gobble gobble if you like What are you going to
as k Gough
A fter all Gough when he arrived at the hotel
could only tell them that it was not the Bishop s
car that too k Mr Preston away Mr Preston
h ad hired a car in the town quite suddenly in the
morning o f the day when Mr and Mrs Underwood
were C xpected back in the afternoo n
asked A nthony
Do yo u know the garage

Yes sir Fitzwilliam s in Nor thover S treet


Mr Preston di d no t give you any address for
his letters
No Sir I took it for granted that he was going
home and I knew the Greystones address but he
did tell me to open any telegram that came fo r him
and answer that he h ad le ft the palace i f the tele
gram required ah answer
I was not to forward
it H e le ft me some money fo r replies but yo u

p re p aid yo ur answer sir


A

WILD CA T S CHEAIE

45

i
uite
I
suppose
he
so
d
d
n
o t mention any
!

reason fo r going !
No s ire xcept h e was quite happy while
his Lordship was here but afterwards
W ell afterwards
H e seemed well a bit bored sir I Should
say
I think he wanted to get home if I

mi ght s ay so sir

But he has no t gone home said A nthony


that s the trouble I am dread fully afraid that
he may have had an accident and that no o ne knows

his address
A s a matter o f fact A nthony was a good deal
r elieved to hear o f his father s provision for tel e
gr ams i t made him much less anxious than he had
been be for e Possibly the o ld fellow had thought
it a good move No o ne should know where he
was no t even his o wn sons
Well sir Fitz william s might tell you The

car may be back by now


A n thony turned the conversation tal ked about the
B i shop asked after Mrs Go ugh and the youngsters
and was very affable and friendly as Gough himsel f
would have said
A fter th e man had gone A nthony said to Molly
Gough is the perfect servant Did you notice
that we never o nce mentioned the Underwoods
and his eye did not even twinkle when he said that
my father was bored Poor old b oy No wonder

I can t think ho w he stuck them out so long


asked Molly a t ri e
Where can he be
anxiously
Let s go at once to Fi tz william s
.

WILD

46

CA T S CHEME

I feel as if li fe would be never the same agai n


as yo ur Old song says Grand fathers ought to be
al ways available in the chimney corner If yo u
don t know wher e your grand father is what d o yo u
know
I expect to hear that Mummy has vanished
and then I shall commit h ari kari in sheer despair

Chimney corners ought not to move


I suppose you don t look o n me as a chimney

corner ! asked A nthony discontentedly


I don t hope that yo u or i f
Molly l aughed

you come to think o f it Mummy won t move


s h e said
Fitzwilliam was only a little more help ful Mr
Preston had taken the car for a week a Dai ml er
saloon with o ne o f their best drivers No the car
was not back yet h e did not expect it fo r a day or
Be 3ides Mr Preston had said he might
two
require it a little longer ! e s he had given them
a cheque for the week ; it did not much matter
Th e num
th ey knew he was staying at the palace
ber o f the car O h yes o f course A girl bending
over a card index in the background gave them the
number wrote it o n o ne o f the Fitz william bills
and that was all
No the chauff eur has not communicated wi th

us this was in answer to Mol l y wi th a smile


H e wouldn t unless Mr Preston wanted to hire

the car fo r another week


I suppose you heard no instructions about the

We
road they were to take asked A nthony
are anxious becau se Mr Preston has not wri tten
and if there were an acc i dent

'

C H A P T ER

VIII

A NT H O N! thought that it might be wort h while to

o to London and enquire fo r news at his father s


g
club , also from the Charltons , with whom Robert
Preston generally stayed when in Town
Meanwhile, A nthony h ad a curious conversation
with Marget son o n the telephone Th ey fenced
.

wi th each other a good deal and Margetson was


exceedingly sti ff and unbending in h is m anner and
speech H e re fused to s ay any more about the
latest event at Greystones but A nthony at last
made him believe that none o f the family knew

where Robert Preston had gone


I must leave

it to yo u A nthony said at last


I understand
th at yo u withdraw your charge against my father
owing to the fresh evidence that has no w come b e
fore you I re frain from saying I told you so
but I will give you the number of the car that he
took from Ely and suppose that yo u can s e t the
proper machinery i n motion to nd o u t where that
car is no w No doubt I could also get a message
H e is fond o f listening
to my father broadcasted
to the wireless wherever he is I should like to
let him know that there is no further obj ect in hi s

kee p ing away from his o wn house


,

48

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 49
M ar getson then spo ke urgently and hast i ly
I will do
No no nothing must be broadcasted
anyt hi ng that I can through S cotl and Yard about
th e car but for heaven s sake advertise nothing
! o u don t know how impo rtant complete secrecy

is at this moment

I could word it so that no o ne else would


know ! My father would certainly miss the

agony column o r I might try that


Fo r Go d s sake no No N O I cr i ed Marget
so n much perturbed at the other end o f the line
Don t give the smallest hint to any living creature
be yond yourself and your brother that I am no t
still hun ting fo r Mr Preston I will make the
country hum to nd his car but that doe s no t
matter It is rather a good thing It will look as
I can t tell yo u
if the police were still a fter him
S hall I meet yo u
ho w much depends o n secrecy
in London if you can t come down here
I have
I might
to go up to morrow to make enquiries
give you a further hint then o f the direction my e n
But I can t tell yo u by telephon e
ui ri e s are taking
t ough I am spe aking from Calve rsto ke o n th e po lice

station line now

I wonder what o n eart h he is after thought


A nthony but he consented to wait while a Se arch
was made fo r the car from Ely o r at all events until
he could interview M argetson in London
To A nthony s great astonishment Margetson
b egan by insisting on driving out in A nthony s car
to a S urrey common
near A shste ad be fore he
T here must be
wo uld say anythi ng at all
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 50

absolutely no chance o f o ur being overheard


he sai d and woul d no t allow the c ar to be stopped
until they were on a b y road at the to p o f a hill
with heather stretching away o n each side o f i t
and the deep silence that mean s i solati on hemming it
in T here was little wind the sky was blue and
sunny and in so treel e ss a place not even a bird
twittered Th e main road was a mile away and
there w as barely even a gorse bush wi thin S
only the soft clean undulating stretch of h
not very high and freshly green wi th the young
shoo ts o f May
It was a lovely spot and certainly as lonely a
Spo t as could be found o n a summer s day within
easy reach o f London All this precaution was
inclined to make A nthony laugh H e thought
th at Margetson
as he had never thought be fore
was nervous What the devil w as the man going
to tell him ! Was this only some c u rious method
supposed to impress A nthony himself with the need
fo r secrecy
T h e sto ry that M af g e tson told was strange
enough indeed though part o f it was al ready known
In the spring o f that year almost
to all the world
i m mediately after the time that Eleanor W ent
worth was murdered great pub li c excitement h ad
been caused by a raid c arri ed out b the police on

the premises o f A rcos Limited a u ssian tradi ng


comp any in S oviet H ouse Lo ndon in order to
discover condential doc uments said to have been
obtai ned by secret agents from certain British
Go vernment O f ces ; documents w hi ch contai ned
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 5
H ush sh sh
said Margetson H e was evi
d e ntly exceedingly nervous

Bu t no one can p o ssibly hear u s said A n thony

impatiently
I can tell yo u about the current
work as an undoubted fact A l so I can tell you
fo r another undoubted fact that s he never in the
whole cour se o f her existence took away O f cial
documents from the o ffi ce I was in a Government
O fce fo r a bit towards the end of th e war and I
know that it h as been done by o fcials who have
urgent work in hand T hey take it home with
them I don t pretend to critici s e b ut Eleano r
had p rinciples rooted ri nciple s ; sh e thought it
wron g no thing woul d ave persuaded her to do
anyth i ng o f the kin d S h e wo uld have pre ferred
to stick in th at little room o f hers scribbling for
dear li fe all day and all night rather th an carry
anyt h ing out of the o f ce ! o u can take that from
me as a fact S he was like that rather over
conscientious I told you something o f her earlier
li fe She was m ade that way I suppose Perhaps
it w as partly nervousnesss he would have bee n

afraid
But she had work with h er S he was doing some
o f cial work that night
T here were
! o u and I l ooked at her papers
only notes in her own writing nothing o f any
i mportance whatever S h e was putting together in
chronological order communi que: o n various su b
e c ts
h
e had a lot of news
already
published
S
j
paper cu ttings if I remember right
S o I thought
Certainly this paper was not in
A

WILD CA T

S CHEME

I 53

the library when I went through her things the d ay

after her death


T hen I don t understand why you think no w

that she had it !


It was there in her roo m after the thieves
or whoever they were h ad broken into it the other

n ight
Where is it no w

A t S cotland Yard
You are sure it is the m issing paper
Per fectly sure S cotland Yard had the who le
description o f course and directly after Miss
We ntwo rth s death they sent me the numbe r
be cau se she h ad been working at the Foreign

Of ce
But how was it that yo u did not nd it
b efore
I don t kno w I went through everything in
her bedr oo m It must have been hidden in some

remarkably ingenio u s way


But if that was what was wanted by th e man
who killed her why did he again leave it behind
I conclude that he was disturbed by Pratt and
Crutcher o r that in his haste he did no t se e it
though he must have discovered the hidin g p lace
Undoubtedly he was in a great h urry Th e
papers were scattered pell
mell all over the room

My immediate suspicions were that you o r


s i b ly young H arper were after the Colquhoun
papers I could understand that you might wish to
remove all trace o f any possible motive that Mr

Preston might have h ad for such a crirne


.

WILD CA T S CHEME
x54
It is the most incredible thing I ever h eard
except your suspicions about my father

I can tell yo u something else That docket


was actually in Miss We ntwo rth s h ands a fe w

days before s he left T o w n


A n thony looked at the hard expressionless face
next to h im with considerable suspicion H ad
Margetson taken leave o f hi s senses ! D id d e
on their nerves P
te c tive s sometimes get a case
Was he inventing all this story to save hi s o w n

face
because the case ag ainst Robert Preston
could not be proved
C ould it be pos sibly a very
ingenious put up j o b to get hold o f Robert
again ! It w as a fact that if they had kno wn
where he w as his sons might have advised him to
o back to his o w n house
g
A nthony asked
Can yo u be sure of that
! o u can be sure of it yoursel f by the evidence

said the detective a little sullenly


o f your o w n eyes
H e kne w that A nth ony w as nding it h ard to b e
lieve a word that he said
If yo u like to come to
S cotl and Yard w ith me I will sho w yo u Miss
We ntworth s signature on the j acket or docket
outside the document follo win a minute in her
o wn writing dated as I s ay a ig
w days before she

went to Greystones
Do you mind telling me in what capacity sh e
sa w the paper

I can t sho w yo u the doc ument i tself ! o u


kno w ho w pa p ers are circulated in a Government
O f ce and m i nuted on th e docket There was a

i
t
question I am not at liberty to explain
but
A

"

WILD

CA T

S CHEME
they had begun to have suspicions and decided o n the
If I remember right Mr Preston h ad to
A rcos raid
ll up a form stating that at the time o f her death
Miss W ent worth had no o f cial d ocum ents in he r
po ssession but it w as p urely formal
No one
imagined for a moment that she had taken the
paper When the raid w as instituted it was supposed
to have been stolen on its w ay from h er to S ir John

D avidson who h ad sent it to her


John D avidson
O h I kno w the R C
cipher expert But he n ever h ad anything to d o
w ith Eleanor P
No as I tell yo u the p aper we nt to her merely
to be checked with t h e former p a p er that she

had
A re you w atching any of these peo p l e
O f course especially the messenger but he i s
a very decent fello w a disabled soldier H e s aid
that he had not seen it and su posed that she took
it back to S ir John herself Iii s secretary brought
it to her not the messenger Yes I am having
th e secretary w atched but he is a p ermanent o f cial
of some st anding I think he is p ractic al ly above
suspicion Y ou se e it is a damn i ng fact that the
aper
has
been
found
actually
among
iss
M
D
I

H e did not add that


\Ve ntworth s belongings
to his mind it w as a very damning fact
H e had
not yet satis ed himself that Eleanor w as complet ely
beyond suspicion in spite of the honour in which
S he w as dead and men
s he appeared to be held
have a superstitious horror o f Speaking evil of the
H e though t a ls o
d ead so th o ught Marget so n
A

x56

CA T S CHEME
WILD

57

with his Wide and cynical experience of h uman


weakness that money is a po werful lever an d the
S oviet o r A rcos agents had money to burn

A damning fact ! I n what w ay damning !


If she h ad the pap er she seems to have defended it

w ith her life


But she had it in her po ssession that is what

I mean Margetson hesitated an d then w ent o n


To tell yo u the truth at rst I suspected that you
had found the paper and by way o f preserving Miss
We ntwo rth s reputation fo r being utterly trust
worthy you had concealed it not realizing its
importance Then w hen all this business about
Arcos came to light you thought it might be the
key to the mystery of her death and therefore
shu ffl ed it back under cover o f another break into
the house hoping also in that manner no doubt

to divert attention from Mr Preston

I w ish you w oul d not be so ingenio u s said

Anthony hol ding his head w ith both hands


it
is such tortuous reasoning 1 Even if Eleanor had
had an o f cial document w ith her I shoul d not
have thought it criminal though I shoul d have been
greatly surprised A s you say I might have
suspe cte d that it gave a clue to the mystery but that
would have been no reason for me to conceal it

rather the contrary


I kno w I apologize but you are rather ingen

ious you kno w

said
My ingeniousness is very simple
rather of the schoolboy type
Yes
A nthony
I realize that you nd it harde st of all to excuse the
,

A WILD

8
5

I 7,

but

CA T S CHEME

Why have

o on

o
u
y

change d your

mind

I kno w that you an d Miss Preston


were at D evonport that night also your brother
an d Wilkins Pratt an d C rutcher are not clever
enough to have brought o ff the housebreaking in
the professional manner in w hich it w as done
I took steps to nd out your w hereabouts at once
I discovered that you an d Wilkins drove straight
back to Devonport after you lan ded from the Z 1 7
! o u kne w that you w oul d have nothing to fear
from such a poor crumpled u p remnant o f a man
S ince then I have discovered
as I w as that night
further evidence No I can t explain at present
w hat it w as T his i s not a matter only of the
murder of a private individual ho w ever regrettable
it is mixed up w ith important public a ff airs Some
times I fear that w e shall never get to the bottom o f
it T hese international rogues are practically b e
yon d o ur reach We have put the Government
secret service fello w s o n to it no w but I have very

l ittle hope

I thought that S cotlan d Yard had a p rivate


s ear chlight turned o n to every creat ure i n the
country with a drop o f Russian blood in his vein s

r
o
n
s hall w e
even
Russian
bo
ts
her
feet
o
o
Because

'

P
XPerhaps

sa

It woul d be a bigger j ob than you


think but w e have no searchlights po werful enough
to sho w up all the employ s and agen ts w ho work
perhaps indirectly for the S oviet A number o f
them are no more Russian than yo u or I H alf

1 60

WILD

CA T S CHEME

h e woul d not allo w himself to be re stored to


e quanimity

H e has go t it on his nerves thought A nthony


I expect he ought to be rel ieved from the case
H e is in as bad a fun k as even poor Eleanor was
O f cours e he kno ws that these Bo ls hevik fello w s
stick at nothing I won der if he w ill ever d is oove r
anybo dy or anything H e is ready to s hy at his

o wn shado w
Margetson did not tell A nthony t hat he had
been making intensive en quiries about Eleanor
Wentw ort h in every sort of direction an d going a
long w ay back You never kne w he conside red
w ho might be preyin g on a sol itary wo man A gainst
his w ill almost he had been forced into a sort o f
respect fo r a feminine type hitherto comple tely
outside his experience In his private life he had
little to do with the other se x ; it was a lon g time s ince
he had come to the conclusion t hat if he mea nt to
make a success of his profession he must esche w
the company of women H e had married young
chie fly as a matter of business his w ife had die d aft er
chil dren an d he had prac
a fe w years leaving no
tically forgotten her All his interests were bo und
up in his profession There w as no soften ing or
distu rbing inuence in his l ife
It was only to be expe cted that a man so conce n
trate d an d o ne ideaed as he w as shoul d n d such a
w oman as Eleanor Wentw orth unusual and almost
in comprehensible S he had lived a l ife practically
in thre e watertight co mpartments w hich encroached
He had kn o wn
on ea ch other very l ittle if at all
.

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 61
men but never be fore a woman w ho coul d d o it
S he seemed to be as entirely devoid o f emotional
or sexual complications as he w as himself
T hrough
w hat deep waters she had passe d to arrive at that
stage he could not nd ou t beyon d the fe w hints that
A nthony had given him but he guessed at their
existence H e w as convinced that s he had not be e n
w ithout attra ction fo r men yet certainly for the last
fteen o r tw enty years o f her life probably since
s he w as thirt y or thereabouts s he had live d a self
contained existence working very hard as it w ere in
tw o dimensions
In her o f cial life s he did i m
po rtant laborious historical and archival work an d in
her literary life s he seemed to nd rest an d amuse
ment in writin g novels memoirs revie w s even
poe try a considerable output fo r o ne w hose days
were s pent in tireless work o f a di ff erent nature
A lthough unlike A nthony T rollo pe w hose o f cial
labo urs had no t been tinged w ith literary e ffort
her historical research w as not w ithout a literary
character
The third division o f her l ife had been given up
to her friends an d relations
It was true that her
nearest an d dearest no lon ger lived to claim her
devotion but she clung to those w ho though less
clo sely linked were yet her o w n people
M argetson foun d that her relations and even her
closest frien ds hardly realized the di ff erent sides
o f her life
S he resisted no claims o n her time or
attention that s he coul d possibly meet an d though
n o t secretive s he w as naturally reserved very in
de pen dent an d a p parently she con ded in very
A

62

WILD

CA T S CHEME

fe w I n all her relationshi p s s he was essen tially


robust S he w as sympathet i c but no t sentimental

T he frien ds
and she consume d her o wn smoke
o f her literary life w ere no t her o f cial colleagues
an d they all seemed to be practically unconscious
o f any aspe ct o f her ch aracter w hich did not come
w ithin their o w n purvie w
In fact the M rs D anvers w hom s he had made he r
literary executor w as practically the only frien d
w ho kne w an d understood her from eve
an gle
I t may be imagine d that Margetson ha driven
poor Mrs Danvers al most o ut of her mind by his
en quiries an d suggestions H e had been origin ally
astonishe d by the varying sources from w hich Spran g
the notices o f Eleanor s life and work that had bee n
published after her death A distinguished his
torian had wri tten of her careful scholarly aecom
l
i
s he d w ork fo r history
kno
w
n
only
to
a
fe
w
p
More than o ne w ell
kno wn critic had mentioned w ith
appreciation an d un derstanding her other work
an d her literary g ifts and her o wn family had be e n
rather nai vely astonished None the less they had
been ready to sing praises o f the aff ectionate
sympathetic Eleanor that they had kno wn he r
humorous enj oyment o f life and small amusements
A s an example o f this attitude A nthony had told
M argetson about her o f cial j o b but had rare ly
mentioned her literary interests
M
ar e tso n coul d not exactly call her myste rious
g
g
but he felt certain that there was some key to
her w hole life o n w hich he coul d no t lay his
han ds He resente d bo t h her versat ility an d her
.

64

WILD

CA T

S CHEME

graine d suspiciousness o f the detective s min d to


imagine that Robert Pres ton was in league w ith
A rcos l
A gain he went back in his mind to Eleanor
tryin g to nd the motive that might be the key to
the w hole aff air H e r means were small money
was certainly the most obvious motive he co ul d no t
think o f any other but she earne d enough to l ive
a simple frugal sort o f life in a modest at with one
o l d servant w ho see med absol utely crushe d by her
death S he had eviden tly enough re ned and
cultivated tastes w hich she coul d not indulge but
her extravagances w ere not o f a kin d to require
drastic e fforts to meet S he had involve d herself
in the affairs of no o ne else no promises to pay fo r
the extravagance o r mis fortu nes o f another no
fool ish Speculations o r gambling no t even any sort
o f l ite rary venture that might have led to expen se
She did not even play bridge
Probably s he w oul d
have made a greater success if s he had ventured
more A s A nthony h ad said she al ways played for

safety rst
she was afraid nervous and
that again seeme d to queer the pitch thought
Margetson H e kne w very well that fo r anyone of
Eleanor s mentality and experien ce to s in aga inst
the O f cial Se crets A ct re quir e d courage of a
highe r order than the bravery o f the ignorant as
well as a prepo n derati n g motive w hich he coul d no t
nd out
T here was absolutely nothin g tha t Margetson
coul d discover to account fo r the fact that a docu
ment o f wh ich the loss had ap p arentl y ca use d in

WILD
CA T S CHEME
1 65
compl ications had been in her private
A

te rnatio nal

possess i on
H e thought of all this as he an d A nthony drove
l
back to Lon don but he coul d form no conclusions
.

ae

H ave you foun d any trace yet

my father s
car P A nthony aske d
T hat is apparently going
to be as great a mystery as the other
To tell yo u
the tru th I am beginnin g to get the w in d up about

it
We w ill go to S cotlan d Yard on our w ay back
if yo u like and ask
I have not heard anything yet
T here are quite a fe w cars in England yo u kno w
an d their numbers can only be traced w ith d i f
cul y
Anthony grunted I have lost my Childhood s
faith in most things he remar ke d
but I still
believed in the police
until no w Are you goin g
to tell me that an o ld m an over eighty w ith a crocky
heart can evade them all by himself w ith this
astonishing facility though they kno w the number
o f h is car an d the date o f the letter that h i s chau ffeur
certainly posted at C ambridge P
H unting for a car no w
Margetson laughed
adays is a great deal worse than hunting fo r a needle
in a haystack O f course I ve had the roads from
C ambridge to London watched there are several
w ays that u can come but we were proba bly
too late
ohe chau e ur s letter was two days
I kno w you have made
o l d w hen w e heard abo ut it
your own en quiries at likely places in Lo n don
o

Th e w h ol e

of

thi s story

of

th e

mi ssi ng d oc ume nt i s p ur e cti on

WILD

66

CA T S CHEME

But w e have no clue at all to his road out of To wn


I f the car is in a private g arage and not o n the roads

we shal l have great di f culty in tracing it


T hey arrive d at S cotlan d Yard an d A nthon y
follo wed the detective through labyrinthine p assages
t o an ordinary sort o f o f ce room lofty an d a iry
overlookin g the river full of desks at w hich clerks
some in plain clothes sat working surroun de d by
l in g cabinets in genious pigeon holes telephone
receivers From a door at o ne en d o f the room
came the so un d of clackin g type writers and at the
other end they passed into a smaller room w here a
man w ho seeme d to be o f greater impo rt ance than
the in dustrious clerks got up to greet Margetson
an d saluted him w ith the conscious smile o f success
We have foun d the car s ir A T 50 9 1 It is
g araged at a place called Blane s b u rgh in Lincoln
shire arrived there tw o days after you sent us the
number Party is stayin g at the Rectory but they

hadn t room fo r the car

Bl ane s b ur g h
said An thony
w hy the devil
shoul d he go there ! I have never heard of it
before
Who is the Rector ! Do you kno w his
name P
T he superintendent turned over a small le o f
apers al ready o n his desk
We had most of it

py telephone hesaid Yes here it is the Rev


A rthur Lambert

T he car is still there I suppose said A nthony


an d presumably Mr Preston is st ill at the
Rectory P
Mr Pres ton ! Wait a bit that was not the
.

C H APT ER IX
garage at Ely repeated obstinately w hen run g
u ! by S cotlan d Yard that A T 50 9 I w as the number
o f the car in w hich Robert Preston had departe d
from the hallo wed precincts o f the Bishop s palace

said the su pe rinte n


T hey would o f course
dent no garage woul d admit that it had given a

wron g number

But that girl


said A nthony
must have
kno w n the number of the car that her yo ung man
wa s driving !
H e had already explained ho w he had heard that
his father had in the rst instance gone to
Cambridge
T he thing would be to get hol d o f the girl on

the quiet outside the garage


suggested the
s uperinten dent

It must have been her mistake said A nthony

s he gave us the number


H e took o ut o f his
pocket a letter case in w hich he found the original
Fitzwi lliam bill form with the number o f the car
o n it in the youn g w oman s writing an d belo w that
her address added by A nt hony himself w hen s he
gave it to him after wards
What
Perhaps t h e chau ff eur put her u p to it
THE

68

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 69
w as his name P asked the superintendent with his
pen cil poised ready fo r the ans w er

George Green said A nthony rather u nw il


lingly ; he foun d that he had taken a great disl ike
to the process o f havin g all his remarks entered in
a note book It occur red to him that the publica
tion of a notebook compiled by a supe rintendent
of police might cause more scandal an d excitement
than even the most indiscreet an d racy of S ociety
diaries H e then gave also un willingly the name
o f the girl clerk C lare Entw histle
I suppose you think they are agents of A rcos

or something o f that kind he said to Margetson


as they went do wn in the lift

Very likely said Margetson laughing as at


a good joke but directly they were in A nthony s
car again he said peremptorily
For God s
sake Preston don t talk casually about Ar cos in
public places as if it had any connection w ith
o ur business
T here were tw o stran gers in the
l ift w ith us ! ou don t see m to understan d that
they have spies o r agents if you like that word

better e veryw here

Even in S cotlan d Yard ! ! ou amaze me


said A nthony but his tone w as contemptuous
A ll the same w hy shoul d that young woman
have given you the w rong number P
Well it is rather a habit o f young w omen to

give one the wr ong number laughe d A nthony


w ho had recovered his temper
and w hen en wrapt
in love s young dream some peo p le are remarkably

absent minded
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
Pooh l
said Margetson
a ver from some
agent as yo u call them produces a convenient
absen ce o f mind far more readily than any amount

of love s young dream

I s that the ans wer o f experien ce w ere you

ever in love Margetson P asked A nthony with


a t w inkle in his eye

Not w ith a Russian anyho w said the detective


! o u don t mean that this mystery about my
father has anyt hing to do w ith a Russian

I shoul d no t be surprised
Margetson
ans w ered

I shoul d emphatically said A nthony and


began to laugh again you don t think that he has
eloped w ith a Russian P
More likely that a Russian has eloped w ith

him said Margetson


I must say it seems as if

the wrong number w ere delibe rate


H e looked fro wn in g an d intent
I don t like

it he said at last
I kn o w w hat you thought
I suspected Mr Preston o f the
o f me beca use
murder but I don t w ant any harm to happen to

him
! o u only did your damne d est to get him

or
hange d said A nthony
I thought that I
rather he had no t a leg to stan d o n in court that
day at Calve rsto ke T hey d have committed him

fo r trial all right if he d been there


T his is per
T hat w as purely professional

sonal I hope he has not met w ith any foul play


I can t see any motive fo r it No o ne could

connect him wi th Eleanor s o f cial docum ents


1

70

WILD

I 72

CA T S CHEME

No ,

but if he has transferred hi mself to another


bishop s palace it might last some time P

I gu ess that he is fed up w ith bishops palaces or


at all events w ith their cha ! lains an d their chaplains

w ives A nthony ans were d


Le t me think w here
woul d he be likely to go P I kno w he is not with
my sister o r w ith any near relation I n fact I have
had alrea dy to tell a fe w lies about him to some of

them
O l d frie n ds P suggested Margetson hopefully
We must remember that he thinks he is still
ee ing from j ustice not that h e ever took t hat
very seriously We have cousin s do wn in Corn
wall Evan Day you kno w but the Days bore him
more than a bit H e woul d not go from S cylla

t o C harybdis
But if yo u don t think he takes his ight from
j ustice as you call it very seriously w hy did he
leave Ely P I imagined that he got frightened
there s aw someone w ho looked like me p er
ha s
p Nothin g o f the kind T he chaplain bore d him
T here yo u have it in a nutshell my father al l
over
an d a saint woul d be bore d by that fello w

Under woo d
I gather that the Bishop puts up w ith him P
H arold El ie ns is is a saint if ever there was one
H e d w ells in a world apa rt
A ppeal to his love or
his p ity an d you couldn t bore him if you tried fo r
a hun dred years For some reason o r other he
is sorry for U nd e m o o d they were at W inchester
together I believe but my fathe r well after all

CA T S CHEME
1 73
WILD
w hy shoul d he pe rmit himself to be rubbe d sore by
H arold s particular form o f sackcloth next the skin !
I have my doubts if his doctor did no t send even
H arold to se a to free him from his o l d man o n

land
Can you think o f anyone else that Mr Prest o n
might like to visit
H e has one cousin w ho lives abroad to w hom
he has al ways been devoted S he is very much
attached to him yes that is j ust her way o f puttin g
it By Jove
It w ould be rather sporting o f him
S he lives in
Perhaps he has gone o u t to her
some remote spo t near one o f the smaller Ital ian

lakes
If the garage at Ely isn t playing a double game
they d kno w if he had taken their car out of Englan d
licen ce insurance passport for the c hau e ur
I can nd ou t what cars have been shipped to
Italy in the last week if yo u thin k it is wo rt h
w hile P
A nthony sighed
H e would never take all
that trouble I kn o w he woul dn t not for any
amount of pursuing j ustice Well t here are my
mother s people o ne o f her nephe w s has a place
in S cotland Ber w ickshire
T hat s the ticket I
My father is rather fon d of Ro wley Maxwell
S omeone had better get into touch w ith him at

on ce
T hat
! ou can do that sen d him a w ire
won t give anything a way But haven t you any
more ecclesiastical relations nea r e r at hand an y

mo r e bisho p s or deans P

WILD CA T S CHEME
I 74
A nthony laughed but that evening he sent o ff
a sheaf of tele grams w ithout tellin g Margetson ;
in fact he w as getting the w in d up more th an
he allo wed T his in dependent procee ding w as so
extremely unlike his father S uppose those blighted
A rcos people imagine d that he had gone o ff
with the incriminating document P It was only at
that moment A nthony remembe re d that a fter all
he had no t seen the document at S cotlan d Yard
Why had Margetson omitted to sho w it to
him P
T he next mornin g he w ent o ff by himself t o Ely
leaving Molly to open the reply telegrams an d to
let him kno w if there w ere any ne ws
H e arrived at Ely in the afternoo n an d w ent
straight to Fitz w illiam s w here the o wn er recog
niz e d him an d w as ready to be sympathetic about
his failure to trace Mr Preston s car

T he w eek s j ust up
said Fitz william
we

ought to hear from Mr Preston or Green shortly

What is the slip


u p about the n u mbe r P
asked A nthony
S cotlan d Yar d traced the number
u gave me
and
it
proves
be
a
private
car
o
t
o
y

belongin g to a Mr A rcher
I kno w they rang me up yesterday I t hin k
the mistake must be theirs I can sho w yo u my

ledger
Bu t as it happene d A nthony never saw that
ledger be cause the girl clerk w ho had ori ginally
given him the numbe r suddenly came into the
o f ce w ith a telegram in her han d s haking l ike a
leaf In the midst of his own pre occupation
A

r 76

WILD

CA T S CHEZW
E

w as ghtin g pluckily fo r self control an d


A n thony impulsive as ever caught her han d
he said
I am in this too If it w as
S teady l
an accident w hat has hap p ened to my father !
I ll take yo u you an d George s mother I have
my car here It s a long way but w e can get there
to
night H urry up get w hat you want an d tell
Mrs Green that I w ill come he looke d at the

telegram
to Co urt S treet in half an ho ur
Calve rsto ke no w w hat the deuce are they

doing at Calve rsto ke P b e thought but said


nothing to sho w his wonder
Fitz w illiam nodde d to the girl an d she went a w ay
murmurin g s hy gratitude Evidentl y h e di d no t
l ike being hustled but probably he w as not really
hard hearte d an d there was somethin g about
A nthony that no one coul d gainsay

T hat for your A T 50 9 1 at Blane s b ur gh 1


A nthony observe d an d w atched Fitz wi lliam Was
the man a rogue in the pay of A rcos as M argetson
had suggested P But Fitzw illiam s perfectly ordi n

ary blunt countenance remained unmoved


T here

was a mistake some w here


he said as if it we re a
matter of little consequence H e went and looke d
at the card index an d came back again and looked

at a le dge r
It s
T hen his face l ightened
M iss Entw hi stle s writin g that s done it It ought
to be A F 50 9 1
S he makes bad F s they look

l ike T s

Well upon my so ul l said An thony He


remembere d that the girl had given him only the
wr itten number she had never said w hat it was
S he

WILD

1 77
S CHEME
He coul d not co m lain bi tterly though it w ould
have relieved his e e l ings because he was sorry
for the idiotic girl w ho se mistake might have cost
her lover s l ife If the police had foun d the car
soo ner p ossibly they migh t have cut short its
jo urney an d prevented the accident A nthony very
naturally had made up his mind that there had been
an accide nt H is only hope w as that po ssibly his
father had esca d o r had not be en in the car at the
time Fitz w il iam was incline d to thin k that an
ac cident was impossible because the police woul d
have let him kno w before anyone el se could
hear
All the same he could not explain why Geo rge
Green shoul d be lying in a precarious state in the

T hat w as a good car


he
Calve rs to ke hospital
muttered as A nthony t urned to go a w ay a very
good car It belonged to S ir James Molyn eux
I bought it be cause her ladyship wanted a Rolls ;
good as ne w it was S ir James w as very p artic ul ar
about his c hauffeurs no lick an d promi se there
T hey had to look after their cars as if they w as

i
t
al ive or they heard about
you bet yer li fe they
did S ir James wasn t mealy
mouthed not by any
manner o f mea ns T hat was a bea utiful car I
wi ll say for Green that he was a good driver to o
slick but not too slick he w as careful but not
nervous I d have trusted an y car with Gree n
It w asn t his fault I d put any money on that

if there w as an accident

I w ill let yo u kno w said A nthony col dly


O f course the man was thinking o f the insurance

CA T

A WILD CA T S CHEME
1 78
no t o f the safety o f l ife or l imb o f anyone in the c ar
passenger or driver but his a ttitude w as intoler able
t o the man to w hom ins u rance meant nothin g the
safety o f the passenger everything

sai d Fitz william


T han k yo u s ir
A p p arently it did not occur t o him to express
itu d e fo r the h el p o ffered to M iss Entw histl e
somethin g in An thony s face made him re t
again
I don t be lieve there was an accident
Good day l said A nthony

Rather a high han de d gent thought Fitz


william and decided to ring up the police at C alver
stoke H e gave the right number of the car a nd
asked if there had been any accident in the distri ct
durin the las t fe w days but he coul d no t get m uch
ou t o fthem
T he y w ou l d m ake en qui ries and let
him kno w
A nthony had not thought o f consulting the local
p olice but h e rang u Molly w hen he got back to
his hotel an d asked or ne w s
S he coul d only tell him that all his telegrams had

dra wn blank
Where can Gran dpa a be P she
asked w ith m ore than a suspicion o tears in her
voice Molly w as be ginning to be rattled
H e di d no t l ike to tell her such ne w s as he had
because of his apprehension o f the tragedy that
might lie behi nd it H e only said that he was
goin g to Greystones an d w oul d ring her u p agai n
next d ay
Why are yo u goin g all that way P she asked
anxiously don t get lost to o Daddy o h D addy
don t I
-

C HAPT ER X
the years to co m e A nthony looked back on that
long an d weary expedition from Ely to Cal ve rstoke
as o ne of the most exasperating episodes in the night
mare that had begun with the murder of Eleanor
He was very sorry indeed as w ho w ould not be
sorry fo r Green s mother and the girl to w hom he
was engaged after the receipt o f that most alarming
telegram but A nthony was accustomed to the gener
ation of women w ho had s at tight lippe d and dry
eyed un der the heavy rain o f blo w s they had
received during the war H e did not ex ct
poor Mrs Green to be a Lady Frederick C aven ish
ready at once to ac kno w ledge that the Prime M inis
ter w ho w as also her o wn uncle had done right in
sending her husband to Ireland an d his death
But he was not prepared for Mrs Green s state of
tears an d collapse varie d only b anger an d a steady
stream of lachrymose abuse 0 Fitz william Ce r
tainly Fitz w illiam had no t sho wn himself o f a sym
pathetic disposition he thought more of his property
an d his insurance than of his driver H e had har dly
tol d Miss Ent w histle that he w as sorry although
accident or no accident the unfortunate George
w as apparently dying but under no c ircumstances
IN

I 80

WILD
CA T S CHEME
1 81
coul d any responsibility fo r h is con dition be attri
buted to Fitz w illiam as far as A nthony could see
Mrs Green evide ntly thought other w ise A ll
thr ough that dreary afternoon an d it raine d a steady
grey drizzle all the w ay taking every atom o f light
an d colour o ut of the countryside s he w ept and
sobbed an d had to be revived w ith smellin g salts
and salvolatile w hich M iss Ent w histle mercifully
had with her A nthony thought o f o ff erin g her some
brandy that he had in the car but was afterw ards
glad that he had refrained because it might have
excited her still more W hen s he felt better s he
gave vent to a steady outpour o f vituperation o f
F itz w illiam S ometimes s he seemed to be cur sing
him his ancestors his family an d his belongings
in an al most patriarchal manner Evidently s he had
some o ld o l d grievance against him It w as not
only the present misfortune that s he laid at his door
Yet Fitz william had most pointedly praised youn g
Green an d refraine d from any reection o n his
character as a driver O f course that might be
only w ith a vie w to obtainin g damages if there had
been a collision with another car thought A nthony
A bo ut half way to Ca lve rsto ke
at the little
village o f A sterley w hich A nthony happe ned to
kno w he had to stop fo r more petrol went to the
inn an d se n t the two women to have some tea
In ordin ary circumstances A nthony would not
have min ded having tea w ith them himself but
Mrs Green w as too much for his patience S ome
ho w o r other her acid revilings had suggeste d that
Fitzw illiam in some mysterious way had inveigle d
A

WILD CA T S CHEZME
young Green into nefarious doings an d had then

T he upshot as far as coul d


turne d upon him
be made o u t was that Green w as drivin g for
Fitz w illiam at much too lo w a wa ge because o f the
hol d that he had o n the young man A nthony
once more be gan to thin k very uncomfortably
about A rcos
A fter tea M iss Ent w histle slippe d o ut by herself
and S poke to A nthony as he stood by the car w aitin g
fo r h i s passe ngers

s he
said
1 hope you don t min d her S ir
I m very sorry you ve heard all this s ir but it is
nothing S he s fair dazed w ith grief Ge orge is
her only son her only child S he don t kno w w hat
George w ould be an gry if he coul d
s he is saying

hea r her I ve given her some aspirin now

said A nthony
but look here
All right
M iss Ent w histle w hat is her grudge against
Fitzw illiam ! H as h e inj ured George in any
A

1 82

He

asked bluntly although it was no t his busi


ness an d he would not have aske d but fo r that
lurking suspicion ; he w as getting as bad as
Margetson he thought seein g everythin g in a
distorte d light
I t does no t
S he s hran k a way from him a little
matter re ally It is only a society he s j oined
an d Mrs Green doesn t like it s he does no t think
H ere s he is s ir ought w e
it s respe ctable

to be get ting o n P

i
s ve ry
Green
Sp
uie tl y
It
rs
o ke more
M
{
kin d of you sir I am sore str aught but y ou ve
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
1
his tyres explo ded w ith a loud ban g T he re was
no hel p fo r it ; his passengers had to w ait in su ch
pa tience as they might w hile he put on the s e
w heel It was gettin g dark w hen he had nish
fd
and he wa s sorry t h at he ha d turned o ff the main
road By the time that he drove up to the hospital
it w as nearly ten o clock T he night porter recog
nis e d A nthony ; took the telegra m that the me dical
o f cer had sent to Mrs Green an d came back

with a broa d smile


It s all right sir Ge orge
Gr een is aslee p an d doing well Plea se come this
A

84

3,

Eh
.

kne w the hos p ital ve ry well be cause


his mother had al ways taken a grea t interest in
an d the night Sister w ho appeare d t o intervie w them
was not a stranger S he said that Green was
aslee p Yes o f course if they w ishe d D r Med w in,
the medical superintendent wo ul d see them H e
had sent for Mrs Green be cause her address
had be en foun d in her son s po cket an d w hen the
telegram w as dispatched it was un certain w het he r
Green w oul d l ive through the night but there w as
no dan ger no w he w as all right
Was it an accident P A nthony was se c t
w ith impa tience an d coul d wait no longer he
to ask
T he sist er looke d surprised
An accident P

Well I suppose you might say it was


T hen a nurse ap ared and asked Mrs Green to
D
r Med w in 5 room
to
nthony
follo
w
e
d
her
o
A
g
but M iss Entw histl e remained w ith the Sister Dr
Med w in w ho looke d l ike the do ctor in b oo ts
nt o ny

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 8
5
of the o l d hu nti ng son g greete d the m w ith further
reassurance
Gree n IS quite all right now I am

sorry I frightene d you he sai d to Mrs Green


but it w as touch an d go I w as not sure that w e

ull
him
through
s hould
p

Was it an accident s ir P Poor Mrs Green


aske d the question this time
Well it might have been We can t tell
A

t
.
e
y

How w as he inj ure d !

aske d A nthony w ho
could not un derstand this uncertainty
it might
,

I nj ured ! H e w oul d have died if we had no t

ot him here in time


g

C an I se e him sir P asked Mrs Green


I thin k no t to night better not
H e is
slee ping no w naturally and quietly I don t want
him to w ake up He has had a rotten time poo r
lad l
Mrs Green o f course be gan to cry and to say
that s he had come all that way to see George s ni ff
and no w she w asn t allo wed to se e him s ni ff
i t couldn t hurt him to let his mother s n iff s e e
him S he w oul dn t w ake him u p S n i
Beyond snif ng she did no t make a noise ;
A nthony waited for Fitz william s name to be brought
into the complaint an d Dr Medw in loo ked w orried
T hen he spoke through a telephone on the table

A sk Nurse Bodley to come here


He turned to Mrs Green
C an you keep quite
quiet P D on t cry or make a soun d P Nurse Bodley
w ill take you to have a pe ep at him ! ou w ill see
.

'

86

WILD

CA T S CHEME

that he is quite comfortable To morro w you can

come an d he will be able to tal k to you


Nurse Bodley w hen s he appeared w as given the
same directions accompa nied by some cabalistic
sign s from the doctor w hich She e vidently un der
stood perfectly ; s o did A nthony an d proba bly so did
Mrs Green w ho turned o ff her tears as if by a tap
and w ith a slightly less crushed appearan ce you
coul d hardly call it a triumphant air follo wed the
nurse out o f the room

I don t want her to wake him sai d Dr


Med w in
but these women are more sensible
than you d think S he ll probably only talk to him
as if he w ere a baby an d tell him to go to sleep

aga i n

! o u kno w more of the ge nus than I d o


said
A nthony
but I ve driven that woman all the w ay
from Ely and I haven t disco vered a grain of sen se

in her yet

T hat w as very good of you


sai d Dr
Me dw in
Ma y I ask if yo u kno w the family
w ell P
I ve never seen Mrs Green till to day an d I ve

never s e en Green at all


A nthony rather enj oy e d mystifyin g the burly
doctor w ho stared at him with so me astonishment

D id you j ust pick her up on the road ! he


asked
She w as no t trying to w al k here poo r
wretch w as She P
No I kno w something o f the girl w ho is e n
gaged to Gree n an d I hap pene d to be at Ely w hen
yo ur telegra m ca m e I ll ex p lain presently b ut I
-

WILD

88

CA T S CHEME

T he doctor gave him


ve ye d little to A nthony
O pium , I suppose !

Latin

name wh ich co n

Rather dangero us P
Yes it s a preparation o f opium We don t
It s French it ought to be ve ry
us e it much here
carefully mea sured I shoul d say he wasn t used
to it an d too k a double dose I
t as teless
I don t kno w ho w he go t it
will play

tricks with these things

I feel a bit rattled


A nthony confes se d

be cause the fello w w as drivin g for my father


Your father Mr Preston o f Greystones P
Well upon my word 1 I thought he al ways had
his o wn chauffeur w hat s his name his w ife was
here not long ago Wil kins P
My father has been a w ay staying at Ely w ith
his cousin the Bishop He hired a ca r to drive back
A nthony
from there O f course I suppo se
wondered w hat he did suppose he wasn t goin g
to give a way anyt hin g to Dr Med w in kno w n as the
greatest gossip in the county outside anything to d o
w ith his o w n profession I suppose my father had
dismissed him and t h e fello w w as o n his w ay back

to Ely

O h o f course said D r M ed win a little un


comfortably S tories may be kept out o f the loc al
rag but they can t be kept off local tongues D r
Med win had he ard a great deal more than all
about the scene in court when A nthony h ad
represented his father It would have been i n
credible to A nthony but th e thought did ash
into the doctor s mind that old Preston had

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 89
be en accused of o ne murder w as this an attempt
at another P
A nthony C xplained
! o u will understand why
I was alarmed when I saw your wire at Ely Natur
ally I thought that there had been ah accident
You did not say what was the matter with Green
I w as confoundedly anxious about my father H e

i s an o ld man yo u kno w

I hO pe he i s all right said the doctor anyho w

there was no accident o n the road


H ad Green garag ed his car at the Thorell
Arms P

I don t kno w The police could tell you


A t that moment there w as a knock at the door and
Nurse Bodley appeared
Mrs Green an d the

young woman are ready to go sh e said but they


w anted to see Mr Preston rst if he did no t mind
It i s
They don t kno w where to go fo r the night

rather late No sir to th e doctor


Mrs Green

did no t w ake her so n


The di f culty had not
A nthony looked aghast
occurred to him H e was blessed if he was go ing
to take them to Greystones ; he kne w very little
abo ut them really

You d better take them to the l orell Arms


said D r Med win
O ld James kno w s you H e l l
probably have a room It s quite a respectable

pl ace
A nt h ony thanked him and having collected the
t wo women no w in a much calmer and more hopeful
frame o f mind he drove them round to the T/z ore/l
A

A WILD CA T S CHEME
1 90
But it was no t so easy as D r M ed win had sug
gested Th e T/z orell Arms was in darkness every
o ne had gone to bed and it w as a long time be fore
there was any ans wer to their knocking and ringing
O ld James himself at last put his head o u t of a

NO good
windo w
he said in ans wer to
I m full u p
A nth ony s s ho uted request for a room
I couldn t t ake in a man nor a mouse much less two

l adies

Just come do wn for a minute will you said


o u might tell me w h e re to go
ou
A nthony
!
y

kno w me James A n thony Preston Greystones


Th e name had some e ffect for James came do w n
and after considerable fumbling Opened the door
A nthony w ent into the house and tal ked to him
told him who the women were and asked what he
kne w abo ut Mr Preston
James kne w nothing Green had said that his
boss w as staying i n the to w n and th at he was
going o n next day James had not even heard that
Green was driving Mr Preston T he man in
charge at the garage said that Green had come in
very early that morning h ad p aid what was O wing
at the garage and had taken a w ay th e car It must
have been some other man because a little later the
boots who had been told to call Green found him
insensible in his bed and James had immediately
sent for D r M ed win

No I can t take in anybody very sorry sir


w hen A nthony o ff ered to pay in advance
Id
d o it to oblige yo u Sir if I could but I ve even go t

t wo men sleeping in the bar parlour


-

A WILD CA T S CHEME
ans wer but intermittent buzzing and at last the
exchange kindly informed him
We can t get

through line o ut o f order


A nthony s wore ; then re m embered to ring up
I w as too late
Molly and told her where he was

h e said
but I
to get to Greystones l ast n ight
am going o n there directly NO no ne ws o f RP
yet
O h Molly the right number o f the car
i s A F not A T 50 9 1 ! o u might let Margetson

kno w that
H e did no t w an t to tell her any more though he
had a suspicion that events were thickening about
him S omething was going to happen H e coul d
not make o u t where his father w as H e must be
staying some where in the to w n A nthony had
enquired tentati vely at the Red Li on but no one had
seen Mr Preston fo r a long time
A n thony did no t w ant to go to the po lice if he
coul d avoid it H e w ent to the hospital rst ! e s
he coul d see Green the matron told him but o nl y
for a fe w minutes the young man w as still ve ry w eak
H e found th at Green w as in o ne of th e sm al ler
w ards which happened to be other wise em p ty at
the moment Th e young fello w was lying Wi th his
eyes shut looking white and w orn The nur se
who came with A nthony only said
Mr Preston

has come to se e you Green pointed to a bell


push in the w all and w ent a w ay
H ullo Green ho w d o yo u feel this mo rning P
A nthony greeted him in as unconcerned a manner
as he coul d Green Opened hi s eyes and ans wered
with an attempt at vivacity
Good morning sir
1 9a

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 93
I m very sorry
then he stopped w ith a look
O f utter be w ilderment and disappo intment
O h I
thought nurse said it w as Mr Preston P
I am A nthony Preston
I understand that
u have been driving a car for my father
I
am
o
y

sorry to hear that yo u have been so ill


Yes sir than k yo u H o w i s Mr Preston
A

s ir

Well that is rather what I w ant to hear from


ou
D
id
o u leave him at Greystones P I tried to
y
y
ring him u p there but the line seems to be o ut o f
,

order

NO

s ir ,

Mr

Preston

meant

there
yester
g
I don t kno w what
to

day but I was too ill to go

he did
Green tried to rai se himself o n his elbo w but fell

back
I feel as weak as a kitten he said
What abo ut this sleeping draught P ! o u seem
to h ave overdone it a bit this time P
I ve never taken
The doctor s bin asking me

a sle e p in draught in my life not to my kno wledge


Nho can have do p ed yo u ! H ave yo u any
idea j
I had suppe r w ith a fello w I d met at C ambridge
I suppose he hocussed me and stole the car P erhaps
I did gas a bit about it H e was a chauffeur too
I thought he w as straight enough T he doctor
asked at the garage but they w ere queer T hey
said I d taken the car o ut myself in the morning
I can t have done that I w as as sick as a dog here

all the morning


Well
An th o ny wo uld h ave liked to ask a
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 94
great deal more but the young man s sickly pallor
seemed to intensify as he talked A nthony thought
he w as going to faint and rang the nurse s bell

D o n t bother about it he said I ll let you kno w


l ater It i s not your fault I am very sorry for all

this

You re very kind sir but the nurse came in


and A nthony w as glad to go though he had not
gained much information Green had not even told
him w here his father w as stayi ng
H e w ent back to the Re d Li on and found a
message from Molly askin him to ring her up
W ell child wh at i s it g he began as soon as
he could
I
Mr Margetson has gone o ut of to wn
thought you d like to kno w I could not give him

the ri ht number o f the car


g
But you might ring up S cotl and
T h at s a pity
Yard ask for S uperintendent Watts and tell hi m
I haven t fo und the car yet but it was at Calve rsto ke

at the Thorell Arms the night before last


W ith Grandpapa P
Yes but he must have gone h ome some other
w ay I tried to ring up th is morning and the dashed
line w as out o f order I Shall go there myself no w

as soon as I can

C an t I come too P
Yes l ater
I ll let you kno w when I get
there I still w ant a liai son O f cer in to w n yo u

kno w
Molly gurgled agreeably through the telephone
Not much liai son wh e n I c an t connect yo u w ith
A

C H APT ER X I
A N T H O N!

was perfectly right in his j udgment o f his


father s mo tive for
running aw ay
from the
Bis h op s p alace at Ely Robert Preston really dis
liked intensely being any where but in his o wn house
though at times b e derived some pleasure from ful
lling a duty when he stayed w ith any o ne of his
three married children T hey were disappointed

because his soj ourns with them were like angels

vi sits fe w and far bet w een and they w ere still


young enough to misunderstand T hey thought it
w as rather tiresome and sel sh of him T h ey could
not yet realise that the one safeguard of Old age i s
serenity a sereni ty that can se ldom be maintai ned
ap art from accepted and familiar surroundings in
the pursuance o f a comfortable routine Jolts an d
j erks and sudden excursions hither and thither
which cause pleasure and excitement o r even pain
and fatigue are the breath O f life to the young who
look u o n movement and variety as a right and any
sort 0 dullness and monotony as a w rong It h as
yet to be seen whether the con stant bustle and hurry
o f thi s generation w ill tend to prolong life o r rather
Rest is perhap s as essential to our
to shorten it
nervous and highly strung generation as it was to
the sav age who follo w ed Nature s w ay and slept

I 96

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 97
when he could in the daytime as well as at night
It is true that he had naturally the v ariety and Spice
of dan ger in hunting for hi s food that we all seem
to seek arti cially in constant movement
In the back of his mind Robert had al w ays
looked upon his ight from Greystones as one of
It was practically
A nthony s wild cat schemes
impossible to a man o f his age and standing to
realise the position into which Marge tso n s sus
c io ns had forced him
w
ay
from
nthony
s
A
A
i
p
arguments and Marg e tso n s unaccustomed presence
which he felt w as inimical and resented accordingly
he began to forget any un leasant consequences
that might accrue to himsel pi f he went home at
least he only remembered them at rapidly increasing
intervals It can h ardly be said th at he blamed
Eleanor fo r having been murdered in his house but
it is true that he th ought more th an once that if
Eleanor h ad only married in a suitable and common
place fashion o r had been content to lead the li fe
convent ionally assigned to the unmarried women o f

Robert s o w n generation good works and a


nebulous place in the background nothing o f the
kind would have happened There were oth er
moments when he felt that he would give anything
to have her murderer brought to j ustice ; moments
o f tenderness and kindness whe n he w as haunted
by the thought that he had been unable to protect
her from S O unto ward a fate Th e remembrance o f
her intense terror at the moment of her death he
put o ut O f his mind It i s part o f the armour o f self
p res ervatio n the strongest instinct in the human
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
1 98
race to put aw ay at once and fo r ever thoughts that
tend to be unbearable
When th e Bishop had left his cousin by himself
at Ely he had asked no questions about the reasons
that seemed to make it desirable fo r Robert to stay
aw ay from home but he guessed w ithout much
trouble that Eleanor s murder and th e police p ro
c e e d in s after w ards might tend to make Greystones
g
uni nhabitable at all events for a time Th e Bishop
therefore asked no questions w elcomed his cousin
and w ent a w ay for his se a voyage beg i ng Robert to
i ke d
remain in the palace as long as he g
T h ere
w as a moment when the older man thought o f
undertaking the s e a voyage in th e Bishop s compan y
but his courage failed H e had never been a good
sai lor he dreaded illness and he said goodbye to
the Bishop without qual ms though he kne w quite
w ell that a younger man would have hailed th e
opportuni ty as a good line Of retreat But in his
o w n mind the bare idea o f retreat w as preposterous
H e w as sure that he had never run a w ay from any
thing i n his life H e w as inn ocent of th e charge so
ridiculously brought against h im and w ell he
would no t leave England
SO he remained in the pleasant precincts the
grey Ol d Cloisters the budding ros e garden o f the
Bishop s palace very comfortable under Go ugh s
able ministrations with every reasonable luxu ry at
hi s command and the Under woods But even
princesses have to put up w ith crumpled rose
leaves
Mr
A w eek O f the Under woods w as enough
A

WILD

2 00

CA T S CHEME

George Green wh o seemed to be a civil amiable


young fello w and Robert laid great stress on the
sort of driving that he liked very steady no excess
nothing sudden a quiet even pace and
O f speed
above all things smoothness he hated to be Shaken
Green said that he understo od and
o r bumped
made some sensible sugge stions abo ut cushions
sho w ing Robert that a certain amount o f packin g
prevented concussion

I used to drive a gentleman who had sciatica


h e said
he d cry like a baby he would if yo u
bumped him so w e had to learn ho w to keep hi m

steady in the car


You re evidently the right man for me said
Rob e rt though I w arn you th at if I am bump e d

I don t cry I s w ear and you ll kno w it


You shan t be bumped sir the car has good
tyres any w ay no t if I can help it I promise but I
can t get yo u to Calve rsto ke in o ne day not at the

Speed yo u like
Ro bert had insisted that he could no t stand going
at more than t wenty miles an hour

Le t me s e e the map he s tudied it rst through


his spectacles and then with a magnifyi ng gl ass
We ll go rst to C ambridge and put up at the
,

Very good sir Green touched h is cap and


Robert approved o f his manners T hey drove a w ay

like a funeral as Green sai d after w ards to a p al


o f his o wn
Near the station Robert to the chau ff eur s

DO yo u se e that man
surprise stop p ed him
,

WILD

CA T S CHEME

20 1

ver there with a be ard carrying a coat over hi s


arm P

e s , S r.

Just go d own the street an d se e w here he goes

and then come back to me


Green touched his cap again ; he be gan to wonder

if the Ol d gentleman were a bit balmy

said Robert
! ou needn t speak to h im
I only want to kno w if he is goin g to the palace

if so I may have to go back there to s e e him


O f course Robert thought that the bearded
stran ger was Margetson an d had not the faintest
intention of going to se e him but he wante d t o
H ast thou foun d me Oh mine
m ake sure
enemy P he said to himself al most chil dishly
pleased to think he had got a way before the detective
arrived
Gree n came back to say that the stra nger had
gone into the Bank T he ubiquitous Barclay had
a branch in the H igh S treet and a good many people
from the country ro un d about banked there

said Robe rt settling himself amon g


A ll right
h is cushions
! o u can go o n an d e r w hat is
your name Green P Green you can drive a little
faster but nothing extreme you kno w nothing

extreme
Green was than kful fo r the order ; w hat is the
good of driving a D aimler saloo n if you mayn t get

a cra w l
a s the young chau ff eur
a
w
alk
t
o
f
ou
indignantly called i t P A t the same time he w as
rather astonishe d espe cially as later in the day
Robe rt twi ce tol d hi m to put on Speed
You d
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
al most have thought he was r unnin g a way from that

gent with the burberry over his arm he said to


himself an d I believe it was only Mr Cord wain
from Northover S treet A ny ho w I don t min d as

lon g as w e can shove alon g a bit


T he sight o f the detect ive as he believed ho t
o n h is trail
rather Shook Robert So they wer e
still lookin g for him ! O liver had said something
of the kin d in his last letter the usual sort o f advice
that t h e y all gave to him
Bett er s it ti ght an d keep
out o f the w ay until Margetson nd s o u t his

mistake o r the real culprit is discovere d


S it tight ! I d like to see O liver o r A nthony
either fo r that matter sitting tight w ith the Under
woods Tw o more abject nincompoops it has never
been my ill fortune t o meet but if that confounde d
policeman is still hunting fo r me ho w is the r ea l
culprit to be discovere d P I don t keep him in my

pocket
So thought Robert no t w ithout reason
A ll the
same he w as very glad that he had tol d Gough that
h e had not tol d anyone as it
he w as going home
happened but he thought that he had it would put
Margetson O E the scent H e would no t go ho me
j ust yet H e thought o f such business as he had
to do at home his bit o f shooting his co w s an d hi s
co wman his garden an d his gardeners his boo ks
the Bench at Calve rsto ke some meetings he ought
to atten d they co ul d all wait
In the brilliant days o f his O wn yout h Robert
had been at O xford but he had a fe w old friends at
Cambridge ; the Master o f one college w ho w as
A

20 2

WILD CA T S CHEME
trammels of schoo l he decided that no one s hou l d
kno w w here he was not even his O wn sons and
daughters If it w ere necessary for him to hi d e he
w oul d hide completely H e tol d Green that he woul d
probably go on to Lo ndon short ly but mean w hile
he remained at C ambridge living by himself at the
hotel a fte r refusing an invitation from his ol d frien d
the Master and resisting a lurking temptation to
sen d fo r Molly to come an d enjoy his recrea tions
with him S omeho w o r other he felt t hat so lon g
as no one kne w w here he w as h e w as safe I t di d
not occur to him that anyone woul d be alarmed o r
apprehensive about him S ome characteristic e n
o m e nt o f bachelor freedom sustained h im
H
e
j y
even drank the Master s port an d did no t refus e
lobster a I A merz ca i ne at an un dergraduate s lun
cheon party
T hese j uvenile liberties w ere all very w ell b ut a
moment came w hen age an d fail ing strength claime d
their reven ge
Robert had a bad night two bad nights he felt
shaky and he did not kn o w any o f th e doctors at
H is temper became badl y ruf e d
C ambridge
which w as a Sign that his o w n family woul d have
recognised that he w as no t very ill but Green was
alarmed H e went to the M aster and implored him
to persuade Mr Preston to s e e a doctor It w as
part of the fastidious almost feminine s ide of
Robert that he could not bear to expose hi s
w eakness as h e called it to strangers and he
refused to call i n any doctor (quali ed by several
undeserved adj ectives! at all but as his friends and
A

204

'

WILD

CA T

S CHEME
20
5
Green all seem e d to make a point of it he stayed in
bed for a couple o f days which w as about all that
any doctor would have prescribed for him
H e had a supply of books various peopl e came
to s e e him his room was comfortable the hotel
servants were very attentive he was quite content
No o ne imagined th at he w as not corresponding
wi th his family and 8 0 the time w ent on while the
police hunt ed for th e wrong car and Robert himself
had practically forgotten that no o ne kne w where
he was The Master cashed a cheque for him and
put the cheque itself into a drawer and forgot it
so hi s bank r e ceived no ne w s o f him John Fleming
one o f A nth ony s friends rather wondered why none
o f his family seemed to think it necessary to look
up the o ld man Fleming had stayed at Greystones
and kne w th at Robert as a rule was not so completely
autonomous but something Of a more personally
interesting nature occur red in Fleming s o wn life
and he did no t remembe r to as k Robert what his
ly w ere doing
A fter a couple o f days Robert rose from his bed
said that he w as better and w as taken for a drive by
Fleming in the afternoon but they w ent too fast for
his taste H e did not appreciate Fleming s really
skilful driving and in the evening he felt less w ell
and even rather perturbed about himself
Without taking into con sideration any risk of
being arrested by Margetson in fact he forgot all
about i tRobert decided to d o what seemed to him
the obvious thing H e was ill he ought to se e a
d octor H e refus ed to consult an y stranger there
-

WILD CA T S CHEZWE
fore the only alternative w as to go and see his o wn
doctor who understood his heal th and had attended
H e felt a sudden cravi ng fo r
him fo r years
Calg ar ri e s familiar cheerful countenance and sym
pathetic i f someti mes abrupt manner Th e fact
was perhaps that Robert understood his doctor
T here w as nothing about his heal th that any
ordinarily quali ed general practitioner could not
h ave tackl ed quite satisfactorily but Robert w as

determined his childr en woul d have said obsti nate


when he h ad m ade up his mind
H e decided that he would start the next day go
s tr aight to Calve rsto ke and s e e Calgarri e H e di d
no t think parti cularly about going back to Grey
stones It w as a commonplace corollary after vi sit
ing Cal g arrie
O f cour se it was one o f th e strange contingencies
of the case that Green s letter to hi s anc ee had
entirely diverted attention from C ambridge Mar
getson and A nthony bo th took it fo r grant ed that
the car for which they were searchin g had gone to
Lon d on
Green had no t written ag ai n because he
did not write easily but he al w ays tol d C lare
Ent whistl e when he chan ged his ad d ress and he
hop e d every day that they would leave C ambridge
H e did no t care fo r th e short afte r noon expeditions
that su f ced for Robert and he had put for w ard
tentative suggestions that they should go for a
night o r two here and there but Robert had dug
hi mself in and paid no attention Then he took to
his b ed and Green w as in despai r Lounging abo ut
was no pl e as ure to the chauff e ur and it seem ed to
A

20 6

WILD CA T S CHEME
brilliant pullovers and scarves made thi n gs h um a
bit but give him the road o r some decent machines
to look at
George Green was a Sp ecialist Of the
same order as P aul H ardy or as M argetson himse lf ;
he had not much room to spare for outside interes ts
H o w ever there was at last considerable exci te
ment when th e Prince o f Wales arrived o n hi s w ay
from some where else to some where else after the
man ner o f modern princes to whom the stately
progresses O f their ancestors are unthi nkable H e
slept at T rinity fo r o ne night to the j oy an d be w ilder
ment o f the to wnspeople who turn ed out in their
thousands to s e e him A good many other pe o ple
with cars no t al w ays driven by themselves we re
attracted to C ambridge and Gree n found some
kindred Spirits and had some real sprinters to
loo k at H e w as no t in th e least interested in
Royal ty and turned up hi s nose at the Pri nce s
car because it was no t the most powerful on th e
market
It will be understood that he w as not sorry to
receive his marching orders In fact he had told
several o f the ch auEe urs he had met that h e was
fed to the teeth w ith C ambridge

! o u must no t go fast this time


Mr Preston
told him
I am no t feeling quite up to the mark
I must h ave my break
and I can t start early

fast comfortably
I am sorry sir d o you wish to go to Lo ndon P
C ertainly not
Calve rs to ke in
London P
Dorsetshire
What e arthly reason i s there fo r
me to go to Lo ndon P
A

20 8

20 9
WILD CA T S CHEME
Gr ee n had gro wn accustomed to his master s
manner and had al so gro wn rather fond o f the Old
whom he no longer regarded as a harm

but as certainly to be humoured H e


laughed
I don t kno w sir you mentioned

London before
Probably yo u w ant to go to Lo ndon yourself P
I can t oblige yo u this time Look up Calve rsto ke
o n o ne o f those invaluable maps of yours w ill yo u
and tell me ho w long it will take to get there at my
pace mind at my pace I am no t going to be

bumped to bits for anyone


Green consulted his maps and shook his h ead
! o u can t d o it in a day S ir you d arrive about
midnight even if yo u drove at t wen ty ve instead o f

t w enty miles an hour even if you started very ear ly


I told you that I would not start early and I

can t call o n my doctor at midnight


You are going to se e your doctor s ir P Th en
you d w ant to get there what is his con sulting
hour sir P

H e is generally at home bet ween two and three


Green looked at the map again fro wned and bit
his nger
If you d start from here after lunch sir
dine and sleep the night at Ed e nhurst there s a
good hotel there I d get yo u into Calve rsto ke in

time to lunch before you go to the doctor


P
e
u
r
s
n
h
t
Where is that P Green sho wed
Ed
him o n the m ap It w as a small country to wn
! o u are sure there is a decent hotel P Good b e ds
and no chance of bei n g poisoned o r anythi ng o f
that sort P
.

210

No ,

WILD

s ir

CA T S CHEAIIE

I ve stayed there with customers


driving w est fairly often T hey ve al ways b e e n
satis ed It s an old to w n what they call p ictur

eske w

Robert smiled at the p ic ture ske w he kne w


that any taste of that kind w as entirely alien from
Green H e would have much p referred Birmingham
and motor works
Well if it can t be helped I daresay that would
be the best plan I can lunch early We will start

at
to morro w
T hey started as arranged the day before M arget
s o n told his strange sto ry to A nthony on the common
at A sh ste ad
A fter spending a night at the co m fortable little
hotel at Ed e nhurst which he found to be an o ld
fashioned shing centre and at the moment taken
up by several men who had arrived with the may
y Robert felt better but still thought that th e
visit to Calgarrie w as necessary They drove O E
the next morning and meant to go straight to the
doctor s house a little w ay o ut o f Calve rsto ke
Robert intended to as k Mrs Calgarri e fo r some
lunch
they started later than Green
S O far s o good
had pl anned because Robert felt better and
thought h e would like to h aV e a look at the tr out
stream and the pi c ture ske w to wn before he le ft
i t T hen a tyre punctured o f course and they
w ere delayed and then to their horror discovered
that it w as market day and that every kind Of beast
and vehicle seemed to be coming ou t O f Calve rsto ke

C H A PT ER

X II

D R CA LG A R RIE who had heard th e b are fact s


from A nthony though nothing about the o f cial
pa p er that had been discovered expl ained the ne w
development Of aff airs at Greystones to Robert
who w as to a certain extent grati ed but at the same
t i me o Ee nd e d and disgruntled by th is second o u t
rage as he called it Th e Calg arrie s persuaded him
not without di f culty to stay the night with them
and ring up Mrs C rutcher to s ay that he would
arrive the next morning

said Cal garrie


! o u must have your bed aired
very dangerous if you don t especially after th e
rain w e h ave had lately Besides the servants are
as nervous as cats on hot bricks If you arrive at
night sudde n ly probably they won t let you in
whi ch
or something idiotic of that description
would be very bad for you Moreover yo u kno w
yourself you don t like motoring in the dark ! o u
must dine w ith us no w and it will be dark before

ou get home
y
Th e last argument probably had the greatest
e ff ect Robert w as inclined to think that D a w son s
successor woul d have kept his bed aired and he
pooh poohed the e xi stence o f ne rves i n his servants
,

21 2

WILD

CA T S CHEME

21

doubt but nerves my dear fello w


they are country people w ith excellent digestion s
They eat like wolves and sleep like dormice ; such

people have no nerves

T hey have co wardly dispositions then laughed


D r Calgarri e
and the police keep them on the
j ump Mrs C rutcher can t get over the fact o f
b e ing called up before da w n because there were
robbers as she calls th em in the house S he told
m e that sh e understood the Litany much better no w
when she prayed to be delivered from battle murder

and sudden death

said Robert impatiently the fact


T u t tut
being that he did not like to be reminded o f such
things
I don t suppose that w e could get back
before dark though the days are long
after numerous apologies to Mrs
A t last
Cal garri e fo r this sudden tax on her hospitality
he consented to stay asked that D r Calgarrie s
secretary might telephone to w arn his o w n house
hold o f his arrival and ordered Green to come fo r
him at eleven o clock the next morning
D r Calgarri e advised Green to garage th e car
and take a room for him self at the Thorell
P unctually at eleven O clock the next morning
th e car arrived and Robert with hi s luggage w as
packed into it in the usual friendly country fashion
with the Cal arries themselves and a considerable
proportion 0 their household in the p orch to se e
him O E
Robert had had a good night he was glad to

have his indispo sition treated as a smal l and


Tempers ,

no

A WILD

214

CA T S CHEME

passing matter he felt refreshed and beyond all


things very happy to be on his w ay home
T hey h ad driven a fair di stance before he hap
ened even to glance at the back o f his chauEe ur S
familiar lin en coat in front of him and then for some
reason that he could not explain i t occurred to him
that it w as less familiar than usual H ad Green
got a ne w coat and w as he sitting o n a cushion he
seemed to be taller than he h ad been before P
Robert was in a com fortable and idle frame o f
mi nd The idea came and w ent but as he drove on
h e remembered that he had not Spoken to Green
that morning Green had not left his seat
they started but that was n ot remarkable because
D r Calgarri e s man had put in the luggage and had
arrang e d the rug and cushions for Robert S O many
people had been cro w ding round the door that
Green w as hardly called upon to take any part in
H e w as not like W ilkins who
th e proceedings
would have kno wn them all Green w as driving a
little faster th an Robert liked Th e car bumped
over some obstruction in the road Robert s wore
and thought that his cushions were less comfortably
arranged th an usual H e put o u t his hand for th e
S p eaki ng tub e but before he Spoke it dawned upon
h i m that the man who w as driving him w a s not Gre e n
Robe rt s rst insti nct w as to shout to his un
kno w n driver to stop but another instinct it could
h ardly be c al led reasoning prevailed H e sat still
and replaced the tube Without being exactly
frightened he was puzzled Why had Green sent
another man to d rive him w ith o ut a w or d of ex
,

21

WILD

CA T S CHEME

the wide white collar of his coat and his ca p al so


w ith i ts white cover
Why w as Robert being driven back to h is house
by this unkn o w n man who evidently did not w ant
his employer to notice that h e w as not Green !
When they bumped o n the road o r turned a corner
sharp ly at th e next possible quiet moment Green
a
d riv mg slo w ly had go t into a habit of
qui ck look round to se e if thin gs w ere all ri ght
inside the car but this man w as like an auto
maton a robo t h e might have been part of the
machinery
T hen a touch O f Robert s natural shre wdness
came to his rescue T his fello w w an ted to get into
the house H e w as o ne o f the gang th at w as looki ng
for somatlz i ng that h ad been in Eleanor s possession
It says much fo r th e clearness Of Robert s conscience
that he never once thought o f the Colquhoun papers
Cal g arri e had mentioned police
H e considered
in charge Of th e h ouse Th e fello w was possi bl y
trying only to steal the car but if that w ere the case
h e might be h alf w ay to London by this time in
stead o f drivin g steadily to Greystones
T h e best thing to be done w as to continue to
treat him as Green get him into the house and tell
those con founded useless policeme n to take him
into custody T hey should j ustify their existence
someho w
NO doubt he w as prepared wi th a yarn to spin if
Robert recognised that he w as no t Green a yarn
that must be accepted at its face valu e if he h ad to
be recognised but Robert hop ed to avoid th e
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
21 7
n eces sity because it would put him o n his guard
NO one else in the house would be aw are that he
w as not Green
Robert s suspicions were further con rmed b e
cause the driver turned in at the Open gate o f Grey
stones without w aiting for any direction S O the
fello w kne w the house I Green would not have kno w n
it H i s repre sentative had not got up his brief very
well Robert thought being unaw are o f Green s
weakness fo r posing as a chauEe ur in private employ
ment who would never o wn that h e h ad not seen
his bo ss s house
T h e drive turned a little sharply u to the house
and every ch auEe ur naturally sounded lii s horn at t hat
point It w as enough Wilkins C rutcher Mrs
C rutcher W est the parlourmaid appeared as if by
magic in the porch There was no question o f any
attention being paid to Green true or false Robert
had a slightly shy and self conscious sensation o f
being welcomed like the prodigal so n but it w as a
p leasant enough Sensation Later he would laugh
abo ut it H e o t inside the door at last shaking
g
Mrs Crutcher 3 hand and declaring some what
testily that he w as quite well testily because there
w ere signs o f Mrs C rutcher s
turning o n the

water works and that though touching as a Si gn


T hen he sa i d
was embarrassing
o f her devotion
without actually looking at the ch auEe ur who w as
no w standing irresolutely w ith his back to the porch
and was certainly taller than Green
O h Green
co me in I shall have something fo r you You have
driven me very w ell indeed I shall write to Fitz
A

A WILD
CA T S CHEME

illiam
but come in and Mrs C rutcher will giv e
W
ait in the h all a minute
Just
w
o u some dinner
y
w ill yo u ! Wilkins come in to the study Wi th me

I w ant to change my b o ots


H e and W i lki n s w ent through th e s w ing
d oo r under th e stair s to the study Th e oth er
se rvants disappeared and the pseudo Green came
into the house and w as left standing alone in the
hal l
It would have surprised everyone concerned if
they had seen him make a rapid dash for the tele
phone ; apparently he barely touched it but he
came back to his position o f attention by the table
with a sa tis ed expression on his clean shaven face
certainly a darker less pleasant face th an Gree n s
had been Mean while in the study Robert was
giving orders to Wilkins
T hat fello w in the hall is n ot Green
I don t
kno w what he w ants here We have some co n
stables abo ut the place I understand P

T wo plain clothes men sir yes


Wilkins
w as admirable H e sho w ed no surprise and ask ed
no questions
Le t Mrs C rutcher give the fello w some dinner
don t rouse hi s suspicions but keep an eye o n him
and tell them to arrest him o n a char ge O f attempting

to steal the car

Yes sir said Wilkins


Robert pulled some treas ury notes out of his
pocket
Give these notes to him no w and say
I m not very well but I w ant to se e h im before h e
o
es
g
21

-C
I
L
D
A T S CHEME
W

2 20

got some darbies but he may try to make a run for

it

I ve put hi s car out of action for a bit anyho w


said W ilkins grimly But he did no t try to make a
run at all A t dinner he talked to the maids about
the h ouse an d the late attempt at b urglar y

he sugges ted
! o u might Sho w me the roo m
to West the parlourmaid
It s int e resting you

kno w to say you ve seen the lace


D yo u mean the roo m w ere Miss Eleanor was
mur dered P ask e d Elsie who still took a gruesome
Mrs C rutcher broke in
delight in the fact
! o u get o n w ith your dinner Elsie and don t

Speak till you re s ken to


A murder 1
cried the suppo sed Green
No w I d heard nothing o f th at
Mr Preston
only said there d been a bur glary lately but the
burglars w ere disturbed and took nothing Was the
lady murdered a hundred years ago and doe s her
ghost walk P T his looks like a house where a ghost

mi i t w alk
glIrs C rutcher looked at him severely Elsie
and Kate w ere already regarding him with their
mouths Open A ghost they hadn t thought O f
that Might they se e Miss Eleanor s ghost P Mrs
C rutcher kne w what th at mean t S creams and
shrieks when they put up the Shutters hysterics
when they w ent to bed S h e w asn t going to have

none of that nonsense

No s he said
A very sa d s tory not very
lon g a go w e don t tal k abo ut it Mr Green if that s
yo ur n ame I daresay Wilkins ll sho w you the
,

WILD

CA T S CHEME

221

windo w w here the ro bber got in if so be you want


It s morbi d all that going after scen es of
to see it
burglary and such like I think I woul dn t have

anythin g to d o with them if I was you

I d ra ther like to se e the room tho ugh per


siste d Gree n
Mine s a dull l ife drivin g generally
O ld ladies an d gentlemen w ho don t like to go at
any spe ed ! o u don t kno w ho w tired o ne gets
as if one
O f bein g ordered to go steady and slo w
was driving a hearse Burgl aries s e em to me a sort
Of excitement I al way s read about em in the papers

H e wa s makin g eyes at
sort O f romantic ye s P
West a personable woman as he mentioned the

Presumably this Mr Gree n


word romantic
had a way with him and generally go t w hat he
w ante d through a woman Evidently he wanted to
se e that room
Wilkins came in as t hey w ere all getting up
after o ne Of the best dinners that Mrs C rutcher kne w
S he had made it extra good that day
ho w to cook
as a so rt o f feast in honour of Mr Preston s retu rn
A ny excuse for a feast is good enough for a cook
w ho takes a pride in her work

W ill yo u come no w Green said Wilkins


Mr Preston wants to se e yo u before yo u go an d
he s rather tired he means to take a n ap this afte r
,

no o nf

T he

door Of the servants hall opened into a fairly


de lobb w ith a stone oor lighted only by the
windo w 0 t h e back stairs ; it was not very light A s
Green went o ut he turned a languishing glance o n

I shoul d like
West w hich said plainly enough
'

WILD

222

CA T S CHEME

again
but
he
only
re
m
rked
to
a
M
rs
y

Cru tcher
I ll come back presently evidently
meanin g to be polite
W il kins shut the doo r rather Sharply behin d him
an d al most at the same momen t Green found him
self seized by the arm O n each Side W ilkins on his
right a stran ge man o n his left
Come quiet ly

no w said the man o n his left


I charge you wi th

stealing that car you ve been driving to day


S O after all Mr Preston had recognise d t h at he
w as not Gr e en l
H e struggled fo r a m oment then st oo d stil l

T hat s all nonsense


he sai d
I can explain

that directly

You ll h ave lots Of time to explain said the


o
liceman
w
h
o was holding his left ar m
p
T here w ere seve ral doors in the lobby
Gree n
looked roun d an d then attempte d a break a wa y
H e w as very stron g and as l ithe as a cat but the
Odds were against him T he doors were all locked
except the s w ing doo r under the stairs an d o u t o f that
loome d the stocky gure Of Crutcher
W il ki ns

w asn t going to take no risks though the police


man had be en incline d to laugh at his caution I t
w as not lon g before the S O called Green still
struggl in g foun d hi mself han d cuffe d securely

said the police


Now you re a stu p id fello w
If you d come alon g
m an almost sympathetically

quietly w e shoul dn t have had to d o this

If you d onl y
The pri soner cursed volubly

l isten he said
I didn t steal the bloody car
I dr ove it to oblige a friend My name s not Green
to s e e

ou

2 24

right

ou

o
g ,

WILD

CA T S CHEME

said the police man

W ilkins w ent out a n d O pened the d o!


s too d Marg e
to his great astonis h ment

C H A PT ER XI I I
MA R G ET SO N had heard through S cotland Yard
that another attempt was to be made to secure the
secret paper that w as lying safely locked up in the
C hief C ommissioner s safe
It had tr anspired that the people w ho w anted it
did no t kno w w here it w as T hey believed appar
ently that it was still at Greystones T he in forma
tion available did no t go s o far as to say in w hat
m anner the attempt w as to be made M argetson
had been to Calve rsto ke an d had brought over two
more plain clothes men as a reinforcement I t can
be imagined that h is surprise w as great w hen he
was taken immediately into the kitchen lobb an d
brought face to face w ith a man in chau y
cur s
l ivery already hand cu Ee d wi th his feet tie d together
in a sack guarde d by three men as if he had been
very turbulent an d violent

W hat was the fello w doin g P he asked in


great excitement Was it possible that they had
already caught the A rcos agent w ho w as ou t to
n d that paper P
W ilkins an d the policeman together gave hi m
a j umble d version Of w hat had happened Marget
so n w as distinctly disappointed
Yo u d better get him over to the police statio n
,

225

A WILD CAT S CHEME


at once We can easily nd ou t if his story about
Green can be authenticated Where d o yo u say

Green is P he asked the prisoner but the man


only turned his head a w ay an d di d not ans wer
H e looke d ext remely sulky
! ou can take him back in the police car that

! ou nee dn t
brought me here said Margetson
r
ilkins
D
id
ou
sa
that
M
P
reston
had
o
W
g
y

returne d ! I Shoul like to se e him


A s the pseud o Green though still hand
cuEe d
wa s allo wed to wal k to the car betw ee n the policeman
an d W ilkins he came into a be tter light an d though
he was hol din g his head do wn M argetson coul d
see his face an d suddenly h ad the impression that
h e had seen the man before
H e shr ugge d his shoulders as the police car
drove a way unable to connect the impression w ith

anything else
A n ordinary crook
he thought
professional car stea ler I Shoul dn t be sur

prised
T he mai d s w ere comin g out o f the servants
hall w hich C rutcher had unloc ked an d Mrs
C rutcher stop pe d in amazement as s he saw Marget

so n
D id you kno w Mr Preston w as here s ir
s he
asked in very natural be wilderment Sh e
had be en tol d b y W ilkins that that there Marget
so n had come to his senses and Mr Preston coul d

come home w hen he l iked but She felt less co n


d e n t w hen the detective arrived thus rapidly on
the heels o f her master

Margetson laughe d
I kno w now he said
but you need not be a pp re he n sive I ackno wledg e
226

A WILD CA T S CHEME
imagined H e remembe red that there w as some
thing he had recogn ised in the man s appe aran ce
and suddenly it occurred to him that the pseudo
Green had no t Spoken at all in his hearing
Ro bert Preston
a fter the manner o f the Presto n s
w ho were al ways surprisin g M argetson greeted
him l ike an o l d frien d an d w ith an air o f considerable

trium ph I thin k I ve caught the criminal fo r yo u


he said
T hat fello w t oo k Green s place I don t
kno w ho w he dis pos ed O f Green because he wante d

to get in here
T he fello w w as only
Margetson stare d at him

trying to steal the car he said


I ve seen him
before some w here probably under the sa m e sort

o f charge
Robert w as very
S it do w n w on t you P
genial
It is rather a lon g story but if that chap
w anted only to steal the car he coul d have bee n
well o u t o f our reach by this time NO he w anted

a chance to get into this house I don t kno w w hy

Your telephone is o ut Of order said Marget son


abruptly
I must go to the st o f ce I d like

to get t hrough to S mithers at


alverstoke
O ut o f order 1 I al ways said that the damned

thing w as no u se said Robert irritably


Oh I
that fello w waite d in the hall w hile I s poke to
W ilkins I suppo se it is fairly easy to disconnect P

Margetson
! e s if yo u kno w ho w to d o it
was thoroughly roused he coul d hardly keep st ill
T ell me about him quickly w ill you ; they ll
take hal f an hour to get to C alve rsto ke I d like

to ring u p before they arrive


22 8

229
WILD CA T S CHEME
The fello w brought the car fo r me this morning
to Calgarri e s house I had be en staying there
I did not recognise that he w as not
fo r the night
Green the c hau Ee u r I d taken w ith the car until
w e were half way here I was j ust going to stop
him an d as k w hat the devil he meant by it w hen
it occurred to me that he wanted to get into this
house T here coul d be no other reason If he had
wante d only to steal the car he coul d have been
in London by the time w e started o r half way to
S outhampton if he meant to get out of this count ry
No w I don t kno w much about the last attempt here
but my so n tol d Cal garrie that the thieves must
have be en looking fo r something that belonged to
my niece and that they had taken nothin g I
conclude w hatever it w as that they could not
nd i t
T herefore I supposed that this fello w w as
o ne Of the gang ; he meant to get into the house an d
try once more to nd it I can tell you de nitely
that he kne w the w ay here and kne w the house
We are no t quite in the village an d I shoul d have
had to direct Green T hat is my story I don t
say that the fello w murdere d my niece but I have
no doubt that he w ante d to get into the house an d
didn t need to be sho wn the wa y here H e had
been here be fore It looks as if he had discovered

w here the telephone is too l


I must speak to S mithers at once T hey ought
to search the prisoner thoroughly the moment he
arrives
Margetson w as out of the room
an d half w ay up the drive before Robert coul d
get o ut another word

WILD

S CHEME
Margetson is very smart
H e shook his head
but he did not catch the fello w l
al l at once
H is face broke into smiles
did 1
for the rst
time since Eleanor s death he felt that he was once
more master in his O wn house ; he had vin d icated
his character

he said
A nthony s w il d cat schemes indeed

these aEa irs w ant


to himself contemptuously
nothing but common sense to get to the bottom of

them
A

2 30

CA T

Margetson telephoned from the po st O f ce to


S mithers at Calve rsto ke and directed that the
c hau Ee u r charged w ith stealing a car at Greystones
shoul d be searched and put un der special supe r
vision the moment that he arrived at the po lice
station
I t w as necessary to give the inspe ctor
some in kling o f the possible un derlying seriousness
Of the aEair an d to ask that the story about Green
Shoul d be investigate d at once S mithers was in
H e thought the l in k very
cline d to be scepti c al
thin
I expe ct you ll nd t hat there s nothing in
it
W hat s the d iEe re nce be tween o ne hired
It isn t as if Gree n were
c hau Ee ur an d another !

Mr Preston s ow n servant

H ave him searche d anyho w said Margetson


an d if he has any sort o f re arms on him lock
him up till I come I ve seen the fello w before

but can t remembe r w hen o r w here


S mithers promised to go to the T/z or el/ Arms
an d nd o ut abo ut Green but afterw ar ds he decided
-

WILD CA T S CHEME
his intenti o ns at all events in Mr S mithers min d
It w as possible that Green had made a
O f it an d the other man did not w ant t o
fello w c hau Ee u r a w ay
I t w as merely ill advise d
of him not to have explaine d the po sition to Mr
Preston
S mithers kn e w that the O ld gentleman was
in clined to be w hat he called cranky in a car
an d it seemed credible that Green had w arned his
representative that his employer was easily fri ght
ened To most pe ople o ne professional c hauEe ur
w as as goo d as another but Mr Preston was capable
o f be comin g nervous about a strange driver

T hese fello w s don t w ant to lose their j obs


thought S mithers H e w as quite prepared to Sho w
that he coul d rise superior to S cotlan d Yard w hen
S cotland Yard w as evidently in a blue funk
T he fact w as that the w eek be fore S mithers as
pol ice inspector had made a mistake in charging
and keeping in custody fo r several days a perfectl y
innocent man accuse d o f stealin g his neighbour s
w heel barro w w hereas his n eighbo ur s w ife w ho was

a
saucy piece
had re quired some earrings
pa wned the said w heel barro w visited V oo lworth s
an d accuse d a perfect ly honest an d respectable man
of the the ft S ir John Elgin happened to be in the
chair o n the day that this man was bro ught be fore
the Bench an d had rather sharply criticise d
S mithers
T he inspe ctor did no t wa nt to have
another case o f wr ongful det ention laid to his
charge O n occasion S ir John had a some w hat
cu ttin g edge to his tongue
T herefore S mithers made up his min d to d e w
2

2
3

WILD

CA T S CHEME

2 33

very len iently with the man accuse d o f stealing Mr


Preston s hire d car ; in fact to give him the be ne t
of the doubt j ust be cause Margetson and the rest
o f them at Greystones w ere in a state o f nerves over
the business S mithers had never thought much of
Marge ts on s evidence against Mr Pre sto n having
kno wn that gentleman for a n umber of years both
o n the Ben ch an d o ff it
T here aren t such a lot
o f men as you d go bail fo r that they wouldn t

commit a murder S mithers considered but I d


have staked my last ha penny on Mr Preston
I don t kno w a s I d have said as much for some of
the others on the Bench H is Lordship w ith a dr op
of drink o n board might have done most things o ut
and S ir John has a kind o f
o f mere silliness like
col d rage abo ut him sometimes I shan t forget
in a hurry w hat he w as like w hen his so n was killed
I kno w he w as j ust cursing like hell in his o wn min d
I woul dn t have given a brass bo b for any c ons hy
w ho got in his w ay j ust then and y et he was col d
l ike a bit o f frozen iron o r something that takes the
Skin O E yo u if yo u touch it and my w ord I don t
wa nt no more o f his dashe d remarks like I had
over that w heelbarro w H e kno w s ho w to say
things that cut l ike a kn ife he do es
no w Mr
Preston he s peppery if yo u like and as clever an d
impatient as they make em but soft hearte d
that sort don t commit murder bless em no t they
But M r Margetson thin ks S cotlan d Yard kno w s a
damned sight be tter than anyone else I expect
all this excitement about the c hauEe ur s pure gas
H e must be after somebody
Well it s his job
.

A WILD

2 34

CA T S CHEME

I sup se and he didn t seem even to have aske d


the e llow s name
I might have kno w n if
he w as one of the us ual cro w d at the T/z orell
,

thr ough the ordi nary routine


expe ct ed to have the accuse d
man brought in to him in the usual manner but all
at once he heard a most ext raordinary noise clatter
an d shoutin g outside the police station H e did
not connect it w ith the Greystones case it soun ded
like a very noisy drun k an d disorderly b ut he
follo
w
ed
by
the
o t up an d w ent out to the door
g
constable o n duty A struggle o f al most u npre
ce d e nte d violence w as going o n
I t w as the Grey
stones prisoner to w hom S mithers had been pre
pared to Sho w mercy rather than j ustice H e
kne w in a moment that this was no ordinary case O f
attempte d theft
T he prisoner s stren gth was
evidently abnormal securely handcuffed as he was
he had someho w taken Pierce by surprise an d
knocked hi m do wn ; he lay app arently insensible
in the gutter T he prisoner w as shoutin g ou t a
stream o f lthy abuse relapsing at in tervals into
words Of some strange language S mithers had
only once heard an yt hing l ike it w hen he too k up
a foreign seaman w ho had ill tre ated his wife an d
he had no idea wh at language o r lan g uages {he
man had use d but it soun ded ex traordinarily evil
a devil s lan guage anyho w
thought S mithers and
it was startling to hear it breakin g the silen ce o f a
sunny sprin g aftern oon in the Sleepy little to wn Of
S mithers w as going
work in his o f ce , an d

Calve rsto ke

WILD

S CHEME
be en foun d a tiny much crum m
ed bit o f pa p er a
narro w blue strip with something written o n i t
Wilkins exclaimed M iss Eleanor s writin g l
H e smoothe d o ut the fragment ; it w as an ordin
ary sl ip about tw o inches w ide four inches lon g
such as is used in most O f ces w ith Eleanor Went
worth s name the address at Greystones an d t wo
dates written o n it in her o wn han d
T he prisoner glared at it
T hese bloody

clothes belon g to Green he said


I don t kno w

anyt hing about it


Fo r the rst time he stoppe d s w ea ring and
looked frightened hunted
H e co ul d not guess that if h e had allo wed h im
self to be taken quietly into the po lice
station he
might have le ft it that same afternoon as a free man
because Inspe ctor S mithers meant to as sert his
right to private j udgment an d D etective Sergeant
Margetson had been delayed
2 36

CA T

Margetson went back to Grey stones H ouse


quickly after he had telephoned to S mithers only
to give instructions to the constables o n spe cial
duty an d t o comman deer Wilkins to drive him
into Calve rsto ke To his great annoyance an d
dismay he coul d no t nd the c hau Ee ur anyw here
C rutcher at last informed him that Wil kins had
gone w ith the prisoner though Margetson had
tol d him that it was not necessary fo r him to go
The local publ ic house had a small garage an d a
couple o f cars that coul d be hired Margetson
rushed hastily into the village c ur sing the wounded
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
2 37
arm that prevented him from driving h imself
Both cars were o u t
H e came back to the house once more raging
and found that there w as only one method open to
him to reach Calve rsto ke that night H e borro wed
Crutcher s bicycle T here was a b us from about
half way Crutcher tol d him doubtfully but probably
he woul d miss it
Margetson had no t ridden a bicycle for a long time
an d he de arte d shakily an d uncomfortably It w as
the only tliing to be done A s he w ent he racked
his brain to remember w here he had seen the
pseudo
Green before
T he man had
A ll at once it came back to him
been in the lift at S cotland Yard the day that he
an d A nthony were there
A

C H A PT ER

XIV

WH E N

A nthony an d Molly arrived al most simul


tane o u sly at Greystones the next morning , they were
greete d by Robert Preston in a thoroughly com
p lacent frame o f min d , an d Wilkins in a state that

can only be describe d as s w aggering


I w atched the fello w s ir I did like a cat with
a mouse all the way to Calve rs to ke I d felt a
lump un der the top of his trousers at the back an d
I kne w w hat it w as If he coul d have got his han ds
free he d have made short work of u s an d I d o
believe as that gu m p h of a constable from C alver
stoke w oul d have taken O E the darbies if I hadn t
been there such a w hee dling tongue the chap had
S aid he d been w oun ded in the wrist during the war
an d having his hands tie d together l ike that gave
him a hell Of a pain promised and vo w ed he wouldn t
move
H ow could I says he w ith both of you
here P
T hat s true says Pierce the constable a softy if
ever there w as one I had to Speak out at last Look
here P ierce I says the fello w s got a re vo lve r in
his pocket If you want to go to kingdo m come
this evening says I I can tell you I don t If
o u w ant to slip O E those dar bies you can stop the
y
.

2 38

WILD

CA T

S CHEME
declare d that he kne w nothing w hatever abo ut
Greystones or the murder
M argetson proceeded very carefully The fact
that S mith had doped Mr Preston s chauffeur in
a way that by the merest chance had not cos t the
l ife apparently in order to get into
c hau E
e ur s
Greystones H ouse himself ; th e revolver an d the bit
Of blue pa r w ith the addre ss in M iss We ntw orth s
but no t
w riting
o u n d in his pocket ; an d last
least his remarkably violent behaviour at the
police s tation forme d the only un doubte d eviden ce
against him
Nevertheless as M argetson sai d
it was evidence that called for further examination
It was by no means certain that the man had given
his real name an d the pol ice asked for a reman d until
his identity coul d be prove d
T he prisoner s defence w as that Green had had
t oothache an d after sever al disturbe d nights had
taken a sleeping draught himself an d had asked his
fello w c hau Ee ur t o drive for him the next mornin g
S mith declare d that he had had no intention to
deceive Mr Preston an d woul d have e x laine d
He
that Green was ill if he ha d been aske
claime d w ith great in dignation that he had b een
very badly treated W hen asked to say w hy he
carried a revolver an d a packet of the some w hat
unusual preparation of Opium w ith w hich Green
had been dosed he only shrugged his s ho ul d e rs
He had to drive all sorts Of people Often in very
deserted places ; the revolver w as a precaution
T he drug an d the bit o f blue paper both belonge d
to Green
H e s aid t hat h e had p ut on Green s
24 0

WILD CA T S CHEME
l ive ry in order to look respectable fo r Mr Preston
as his O w n clothes were shabby b ut it was very
quickly proved that he w as not wearing Green s
trousers boots or gaiters which w ere al l much too
small fo r him and moreover they had all remained
in the room Green had occupied at the Tlz orel /
A r ms
S mith had taken only his linen coat which
was very loose and a cap cover fo r his o wn cap
A ll the suspected articles had been found in S mith s
but he w as quite u nmoved
o wn trouser pockets
and said that he had taken a handkerchief and the
other th ings out of the coat pockets and put them
into his o wn pockets for safer keeping
Th e next time that he appeared before the
Bench one Of the managers o f the bank at White
chapel appeared to s ay that S mith had been em
ployed there as a temporary clerk chiey because
he kne w some Obscure Russian dialects whi ch were
w anted fairly Ofte n in the district but he had other
j obs as interpreter and had been a w ay lately fo r
some weeks T he manager said th at S mith was
a good linguist A nthony who was present in
court looked at M argetson They both kne w
that the man had been with them in the lift at
S cotland Yard when A nthony half in j oke had
mentioned A rcos
Green al so appe ared denied that he had ever
taken a sleeping draught o r w anted one in his
life and s wore that S mi th must have given him the
drug w ithout his being aw are o f it Further he
denied that he had ever even heard Miss
We ntwo rth s name or seen her wri ting H e had
A

WILD

CA T

S CHEME
never been at Greystones Robert Preston corro
borated that statement H e had never mentioned
his niec e or he r tragic fate to Green who could no t
possibly have seen her writing
It w as practically the word o f one chauEe ur
against th e other though no o ne really suspected
Green o f th e murder and w itnesses had been
brought from Ely to prove no t only his identity
and respectability but that he had actually been at
S till the case
Ely at the time of th e murder
seemed to hang re until the manager of the
Whitechapel b an k suddenly volunteered the inform
mation that S mith had been employed so metimes at
th e Foreign O f ce as an interpreter in some o f those
same Ob scure dialects which made him useful at th e
bank Th e manager evidently thought that he w as
doing S mith a good turn by mentioning th e fact
as a voucher fo r his steadiness and reliability but
th e prisoner glo w ered at him
M argetson looked
triumphant and Observed that no w they kne w
where S mith h ad found the strip Of blue paper
S ir John Elgin w as in the chair and asked for
evidence from the Foreign O f ce itself before the
pri soner could be committed for trial
S O the case dragged o n but later S mith w as
identi ed by two o f cials from the Foreign O f ce
wh o also decl ared that he had been in the O f ce
o n the day that the docket
after w ards found in
H e had an
Eleanor s room had disappeared
Open ass as interpreter th ough he w as only occa
si o nal y employed
No o ne had suspected hi m
but di rectly the paper w as missed a strict su p er
24 2

WILD CA T S CHEME
that she had the d o cket They all take it for grant ed
that She brought the beastly thing here and some
ho w o r other in my bones I kno w th at S he did

not
Robert for all his impatient tendencies co uld be
sympathetic Moreover he agreed with his s o n
T hey w ere both w ell acquainted w ith th at curious
streak Of nervous conscientiousness in Ele anor
T here w as no getting a w ay from it
S h e used to
laugh and declare th at sh e w as very dull as S he
could never mention any subj ect connected with
her work because though she might be quoting
from the D ai ly Ma z l everyone would take it for
granted that her kno wledge w as O f cial
NO
o ne else in her position would have minded if they
did but Eleanor w as only too evidently nervous

about disclosing secrets


O n the other hand if sh e had not the d ocket in
h er possession there w as no conceivable reason why
s he Should have been follo w ed or murdered

said
S mith might have picked up that slip

if Eleanor dro p ped it in the lift or


A nthony
anywhere and put it in h i s pocket wi thout any
particular design If he had said that there would
have been little reason to doubt him but he sticks
to th e story that he took it o u t o f Green s pocket
w ith a handkerchief which is absurd I think w e

can rule Green out Of the question


Robert agreed
We need not bother about
Green If that sl ip had not been found in S mith s
pocket w e should not have been j usti ed in botherin g
about him but I still believe rmly that he w anted
A

24 4

'

'

A WILD CA T S CHEME
24
5
to get into this house con found him
T he
docket was presumably here he could not possibly

kno w th at the police had taken it away


H e w as in the lift at S cotland Yard the day
that I went there w ith Margetson to enquire about

yo ur car
Was he indeed ! H as Margetson found out
what he w as doing there P
Yes Oddly enough it was in connection w ith
H
e came to in form the Yard that your car
ou
y
w as at C ambridge That is all right Green says

he made S m ith s acquaintance at C ambridge


T hen why did yo u go to Ely P
O h th e mist ake about the number as usual
T h e Yard did not think it worth while to tell me
M argetson is trying to nd o u t ho w S mith came to

be at C ambridge at all

I heard o ne rather Odd thing from Wilkins

to
day A nthony went o n
which I must tell
M argetson ! o u kno w w e too k your dog Patch
into Calve rsto ke to
day for the vet to see him
Wilkins brought him do wn to th e Court to meet me
after w ards but w e had all gone and the police
were bringing o u t th eir p risoners Wilkin s says
that Patch made one bound fo r S mith was all over
him in a moment frightfully pleas ed and friendly
S mith d i d no t like it at all s wore hotly at the dog
he has some language at command that fello w
especially when one o f the warders said Well he
seems to kno w you anyho w
I wonder who the hell he thinks
S mi th said
I am P I ve never seen the b
y brute be fore
-

WILD CA T S CHEME
an d don t w an t to see him again
Wilkins was a
goo d bit impressed You kno w tho se t wo
that someone certainly go t into the house

never bark e d

T hat i s true
said Robert and Patc h i s not

everyone s friend ! o u can t deceive a d og


Wilkin s w as convinced that Patch kne w S mi th
H e said that the dog w elcomed him ecstatically
tr embled all over w agged hi s tail and whined

A nthony laughed
his most aEe c tio nate whine

W ilkin s declares that Patch never whines like


that for him or fo r anyone but Mr Preston and the
butcher bo y l I hope yo u are attered by the w ay

in which he divides his aEec tio ns

I kn e w it before c upboard love c upbo ard


love he s no t di sinterested ; ho w m any people are P

i
t
i
nthony
s
important
that man h as fed Patch
A
no t once but several ti mes and given him w hat

h e likes to eat too


I shall have to tell Marget
A nthony groaned
son I can t stand talking to the fello w no w
because he will take it fo r granted th at Eleanor

brought that docket do w n here

said Robert dryly


S omeone brought it

because undoubtedly it w as here

I could believe more readily that Margetson

brou ht it himsel f
don t suspect that M argetson murdered

said Robert
al though he did suspect
Eleanor

me

We go round and round in a circle said


A n thony gloomily
24

24

WILD

CA T S CHEME

enquired of C rutcher

A nthony

s w eeping

w ho was

the drive

Do n t kno w much about angels said C rutch er


leaning o n hi s broom
th at s the butcher bo y
T here s only Mr Preston and him fo r Patch except
there w as a gypsy fello w who w as about here a day
M iss Eleanor died selling baskets
o r t wo afore
he was and I s pose he sold cats mea t too because
he gave Patch a bit more n once Mrs C rutcher
saw him o u t of bedroom winder Th e missus
can t abide gypsies kno w s too much of em S he
wouldn t have none o f his baskets and she sent him
O E w ith a ea in h is ear but I sa w him again more n
once
P atch kne w him all right
I wonder ed

if he w anted to steal th e d o g
Would yo u kno w him again if yo u saw him P
asked A nthony hopefully but C rutcher Shook h is

head
O ne gyppo s as like another as two peas
he said t h ere ain t a pin s po int to choose at wee n
em to look at
I ain t Patch to re c ke rniz e the

cats meat

th o ught
S O th at w as ho w Patch w as Silenced

and he did recognise S mith


A nthony
Th e little link insigni cant as it might prov e to
be was duly imparted to Margetso n who still
seemed to be far from satis ed about the case
I c an t get beyond S mith s landlady wi th whom
he lodged when he was clerking at that bank
I believe she kno w s more than she says but she is
fri h te ne d of telling me I don t believe that the
fel o w s name i s S mith and I can t nd o ut yet
why a b ank cl e rk su f ciently well educat ed to
.

WILD CA T S CHEME
249
be em loyed as an interpreter at the Foreign O f ce
shoul be doing O d d j obs as a chauEe u r at C am
If he w as connected with the A rcos
bridge
company I conclude that he w as after the Prince
who stayed i n C ambridge fo r a night
O f Wales
before Mr Preston left ; Go d only kno w s what
It is e asy enough
S mith thought he could nd o u t
to get taken o n by a garage when there i s a press
Of work The managers don t as k for much
reference beyond a clean licence and some sort
of voucher that a fello w can drive d iEe re nt makes o f
car T here are plenty Of such men to be had
If
A lot of them learnt to drive during the w ar
o ne doesn t suit the garage can get another as quick
I suppose it pays with tips and so
as they like
o n better than priva te work and the men are more

independent
He
A nthony still felt restless and dissatis ed
was sure that Margetson w as taking ano ther wrong
turning because he would not or could not believe
that Eleanor had no t brought that docket with her
T wo or three days later A nthony and Molly came
do w n together to stay at Greystones and A nthony
arrived in a state O f excitement hardly able to get
into the study where Robert w as sitting be fore he

be gan
It is j ust what I al w ays said Eleanor
no more brought that docket do w n here than I did
I ve been to the E C to nd out what w as in that
blessed pape r It h ad absolutely nothing to do with
S h e would no more have
Eleanor o r her w ork

w anted it here than the man in the moon


What w as it P asked Robert
A

WILD CA T S CHEME

D addy won t tell me s aid Molly discon


and Mr Margetson becomes puce wi th
te nted l y

passion o r rigid with r age if yo u as k him


I should have said he became tremulous with

A bare whisper of any


tears said A nthony

thing so secret turns h is bones to water


Molly shrugged her shoulders Will yo u tell
Grandpapa if I go aw ay P
! e s yo u minx I will l H e won t repeat it to
every Tom Jack and H arry O f his acquaintance

It i sn t the only secret he will carry to his grave


Molly made a face at her father an entrancing
face full o f impudence a ffection and contempt
A s i f Grandp apa had an y secrets from me I
Fare yo u
sh e said and curtsied to them bo th
well reverend gentlemen but if yo u don t tell me

someone else w ill a little bird met h inks

I
O E sh e w ent and the t wo men laughed
don t suppose that wild horses woul d drag it out O f

her if w e did tell her said A nthony


but S he
wouldn t be able to resist th e temptation o f saying
that sh e kne w and if that came round to Margetson
he d get me locked up for l ese maj esta or contem p t

Of court or something
I don t believe he will ever be satis ed un til he

gets o ne of us locked up said Robert


Fire aw ay
my boy wh at w as it P

said A nthony
I
Th e key to a cipher

don t kno w what cipher and I don t kno w the key


Why did it come to Eleanor P S he had nothing

to d o w ith ciphers
O f co ur se no t i T hat is the point It s eem s
A

2 50

A WILD

2 52

CA T S CHEME

never had it again he says she wouldn t have sent


it by a messenger S h e minuted it merely to say
that the form tallied with the original form and
gave the number and date that w ere requi red S he
Signed the minute and dated it the day before she
came do w n here O f course it w asn t quite usual
T hey keep ciphers to o ne room as a rul e but the
thing had been disused for S O long and it was quite
a ne w idea to make it current again I t gives one
a bit of a shock to think of Eleanor working aw ay
checking that key going through the usual routi ne
and coming do wn here w ithout the slighte s t i d e a of
what w as before her I feel certain that She took

it to S te !hens room and it w as stolen from there

d I wa s so an gry with her sai d Robert


I can t be ar to think o f it
O h d on t thin k of it
Eleanor woul dn t care
She w as devote d to yo u an d w oul dn t mind w hat
s he w oul d have been s o rry
except
t
at
o u said
h
y
to displea se yo u
But don t you see this docket
had nothin g to do w ith her o r her w ork She had
no rea son in the wide worl d no motive for bringing
it here Margetson talks such a lot about motives
fo r crime but w hy doesn t he consider motives fo r
other t hi ngs as well ! Why shoul d Eleanor take
the tr ouble to cart about a paper t hat was ab so l ut e ly
use less to her P It had no interest a string o f letters
and num bers quite meaningless unless you kne w
the cipher I un derstan d that it was ingenious
in that w ay T he cipher Of co ur se meant nothin g
without the key or th e key w ithout the cipher

Davidso n says that together the y were q ui te Simpl e

A WILD CA T S CHEME
2 3
5

I suppose that is like most ciphers or codes


said Robert but I am a fraid it looks as if we kno w
that it is impossible it looks as if s he had brought
it here to give to someone else to w hom it w oul d

be useful
T hat is Marge tso n s argument
O f course he
did no t kno w Ele anor ! ou and I are as certain
as w e can be o f anything in this wor l d that She

would have done nothing o f the kin d


O f co urse Of course I don t doubt Eleanor
but I am thinking o f outside Opinion the man in
the street you kno w the bare fact that s he could
want it fo r no other reason is embarrassing H ow
did the fello w w ho came to look for it after her
death kn o w that it was here P
A nthony got u p and w alked about the room
Was it here P he said
-

C H A PT ER XV

days later A nthony tol d his father that the


Gran d Jury had returned a true bill and that S mit h
was to be tried at the C entral C riminal Co urt
before Mr Justice Crays haw in the course Of the
next fe w w eeks H e w as not to be kept wa itin g for
the next local assizes
Who is going to defend S mith P aske d Ro bert
rather wearily ; his reserve o f i u gnacity was
wearin g thin T his long d istaste fii l b us in ess wa s
beginn ing to tire him o ut
Lucius Barnaby no o ne coul d have a better man

brute but able very able an d not over scrup ulous


An d again st him fo r t h e C ro w n P
S ir A n dre w Mallo ck you have met him
haven t you P
! e s o f course his so n w as at T rin i ty last year
w asn t he w hen I stayed with you P But think O f
Eleanor w hy sho uld her mo st la mentable death be
made a ca use cel br e
I can t bear it Barnaby
w ill try to drag her name in the dust I kno w his
style S omeone said not lon g ago that Barnaby s
method generally left both plaintiE an d defen dant
with neither a scrap o f character nor a rag of

rep utation w ith w hich to cover their nake dness


A

r aw

2 54

WILD CAT S CHEME


the sake of argument let us agree that Eleanor
coul d only have brought the docket here to dis
Of it to someone else T he ans wer to that i
that she coul d have dispose d O f i t much more ea
in Lon do n an d secondly i f s he inten ded it
someone else w hy did he murder her ! ! o u see
w hat an i mp a sse it is Margetson is be ginning to
think that some third person is implicated for w hose
bene t she brought the docket here an d that this

fello w S mith is an ou tsider w ho came to steal it

Far fetched said Robert

O ut of the question said A nthony

We must se e w hat cou nsel w ill make o f it


A n unholy mess no doubt about as far fro m
the truth as po ssible By the by H arman the
solicitor w ho is in charge of the case for the
C ro wn is coming do wn here for a night next

week

I kno w H arman said Ro be rt testily


My
port isn t good enough fo r him ; he w ill be seriously
prej udiced against u s NO I w on t have the fello w

here
said
T here are still two bottles of the
But I thought they d do to
A nthony seriously
drink the girl S hea lths w hen they get en gaged to

marrie
d
j ust a bott le each
be
What do girls kno w about port keep it for youn g
A

2 56

To n

Ithink H arman

must have it These fello ws

require to be mello w ed
Well yes he is about the age for that Looks
as if he d gone to sleep in the reign of George IV
.

WILD

CA T S CHEME

2 57

an d waked up in surprise to nd that George V w as

on the throne
Mr H arman did come for a night looking less
like Mr P ickw ick than might have been expecte d
from the foregoing conversation an d h is rst dis
c ove r
w
as made as they w ent up to dress fo r dinner
y
soon after his arrival H e announced it triu m
h
antl
r
L
o
ok
here
P
reston
the
f
ello
w
M
y
p
must have been hidden under the stairs I T he place
i s positively made fo r it among all those garden
chairs and things ! ou coul d hide there in the
dark for a week on end and no one woul d be any

the w iser
We do have it cleaned out sometimes said
A nthony apologetically
T hat gave H arman his next clue he asked to see
the servants an d in his rather pompous didactic
manner go t under Kate s gu ard at once b y taking it
for grante d that she had come do wn the front stairs
in the early morning H e remarked as if he kne w
all about it I suppose you heard a little noise and
thought it was the d o g P
Kate stammered
Yes sir but after wards I

thought it w as rats
Why rats P A re there any in the house P
Mrs C rutcher says so Sir
D id you tell Mr Margetson abo ut the rats P

N
n no s ir he never asked

We have it all pretty pat now said Mr


T he fello w
H arman after w ards to A nthony
came here as a gypsy fe d Patch go t into the house
by the garden door w hile the party were dressing
fo r dinner any one can se e that is not d i i cult h i d
.

WILD CA T S CHEME
under the stairs an d w as actu ally heard moving by
your housemaid in the mornin g W hat w as Marget
so n abo ut that he did not n d o u t as much as that P
H o w co ul d the fello w get a way wi thout being seen P
I have been studying the plan yo u sent me yo u
have tw o gates to the drive an d a door in the far
corner O f the kitchen garden w all T hen there is
the long w alk by the tenn is o un d w hich leads to
the coppice and the road O gou rse o n the Oppo site
side o f the garden there is the farmyard an d the
el ds thr ough w hich he might escape
I think you
said that you can get into the Open countr y o r the
churchyard that w ay but he woul d have to pass in
front Of the house an d your co w man is out early
n o doubt I thin k we can rule tha t o ut If he
w ent through the back door I gather that K ate
ope ne d it rst he woul d have been afraid of the
drive because W ilkins an d the gardeners arrive
that w ay C oul d he get into the kitchen garden
anyho w P

Yes
A nthony took Mr H arman out an d
sho wed him the l ittle stone pa ved courtyard on to
w hich the back d oor opened Beyon d it w as the
large Stable yard w ith the C rutchers cottage an d
turnin g slightly to the right the w all o f the kitchen
garden w ith a door in the corner nearest to the
house an d Patch s kennel no t far O E
DO yo u lock this door at night P

I don t think so
An thony shook his head
My brothers an d I lost the key at some time or
other Patch is suppo sed to look after it an d you

can see it from the C rutchers cottage


O f
Hum 1 We uite un de rstan d the bri be
2

s
5

A WILD CA T S CHEME

T hat i s where your puzzle does no t t


said
No t only my father and I but the
A nthony
professors for whom my cousin worked at the
Foreign O f ce everyone in fact who kne w her at all
intimately are prepared to go bail for the fact th at
s h e did not bring it here
We don t l ay cl aim to any
superior virtue fo r her she w as j ust an ordinary
sensible honourable English woman but she would
have been too nervous to o frightened of co nse
Fear
i
s
sometimes
the
ally
o f good as w ell
u e nc e s
q

as of evil
Mr H arman Shook his head doubtfully ; like
most men o f his generation h e distrusted the
independent woman H e w ent back to the house
and made Kate act her part S he w as to come
do w n th e stairs exactly as she had come on the
morning after the murder Mr H arman who
w as nothing if not thorough concealed h imself
under the st ai rs Mr Preston s absence and oth e r
reasons had served to keep all th e garden apparatus
in its usual place indoors A nthony and Molly
h ad tal ked vaguely Of putting up the tennis nets
but they had done no more everything remained
j ust as it had been o n the ni ht of the murder Mr
th e garden chairs with
H arman s at do w n on o ne 0 g
his feet protr uding a little beyond the recess formed
by the Staircase H e asked Kate if she could se e
them By hanging over the banisters she could but
as she exp lained S he had not loo ked A nyone
hiding there might ho wever have been afraid that
Mr H arman dre w them in and
sh e would look
touched the loose paper wrapping O f
as he did s o
a b o x of tennis b alls
2 60

261
A WILD CA T S CHEME
Kate stopped o n the stairs and cried out in an
agitated voice That is the sound I heard sir j ust

like that like a bit O f paper rustling


Mr H arman asked her to go o n and Sho w him
exactly wh at she had done H e O Ee re d no ex

pl anation o f the rustle


A nything might have

caused it he said
S he w ent through all the proceedings of that
fateful morning quite exactly because A nthony
h ad put up the shutters bolted and barred the doors
When she came back to the library Mr H arm an
had disappeared Sh e had not heard him go

I timed it
he told A nthony after w ards
There w as plenty Of tim e to get o u t o f the back
door be fore She had nished with the front door
Why didn t you try all this before P
Because Kate never allo w ed that she had heard
any sound at all T here w as nothing to suggest the
stairs as a hiding place For some reason M argetson
dropped the idea that anyone had go t into the house
The fact is w hoever it was carried aw ay no sp o il
Until that document w as discovered w e had no

clue to any po ssible motive for the crime


But the case remained a mystery up to the day
when the trial Opened A nthony and his father
Wilkins Kate and the C rutchers were subpoena e d
to appear as w itnesses
and Molly behaved very
badly because She w as no t also called upon to appear
H e r father fo r once in his li fe acted the part o f a
s tern p arent and told her that she w as no t to attend
the trial but Molly being young and human forgot
h is inj unctions suborned a useful undergraduate
friend to O with her and a eared amon th e
-

A WILD CA T S CHEIME
spectators in the cro wded court A nthony saw h er
at once of course and was very angry though less
S O than his o w n father
who recognised only the
usual rebellion o f youth against duly insti tute d
authority

If sh e w ere my daughter
he said to his son

I woul d drag her out by the hair if necessary


A nthony shrugged hi s shoulders
Not enough

hair to hold o n to but he w as disappointed Molly


had never disobeyed him so agrantly before
H e looked at her as if S h e w ere a stranger made no
Sign Of recognition and would no t look at her again
In less than a quarter o f an hour Robert with a
chuckle told him that Molly had gone and A nthony
felt better able to tackle the serious business in hand
Th e fact being that Molly could not enj oy herself
while she w as being given the cut direct by her
father T here i s something to be said for modern
methods H e had some inuence after all
Th e most important witness in the case is

Patch
said A nthony and I suppose his evidence

woul d no t be accepted in a court o f law


S ir A ndre w M alloc k Opened the case in the usual
dry fashion trad itional in prosecuti ng counse l but
he made at once a some what unexpected statement
T h e prisoner s name as charged in Co urt w as A lbert
S mith but that said S ir A ndre w w as only o ne o f
many a li ases
Th e police have discovered that
he w as al so Johannes S chmidt Pierre Coude and
other names which it is unnecessary to specify th e
last discovered by which I propose to call him i s
Nicolas Bru siloE but he may have adopted that
name because he had heard Of the reat Russian
2 62

2 64

WILD

CA T S CHEME

prove that the dog had made friends w ith a gypsy


shortly before the date o f the murder certainly
during the time that Miss Went worth w as staying
w ith her uncle
Th e dog did not make friends

at all readily said S ir A ndre w and the rst burst

of laughter in court
w as rovo ke d by his
perfectly serious explanation O Patch s former
attachme nt to t wo human beings only both because
like Jacob of old they provided him wi th the meat
i n his case uncooked that his soul loved
Mr Preston w alking abo ut with hi s d og on his
o w n property
sometimes turned a blind eye when
P atch sought his meat after his kind by chasing a
rabbit and the butcher boy w ell w e all kno w ho w
the butcher b 0 brings meat to o u r houses thoug h
most o f us p re fiir to t urn a blind eye on that proces s
also
T h e only other human being who g ave the d og
ra w meat probably in what Patch considered a
tasty and gamey condition w as the gypsy and
there can be no doubt that he recognis e d this third
friend Of his when he ung h imsel f o n Bru siloff at
Calve rsto ke
H aving in this manner silenced the
w atch dog Brusilo ff evide n tly got into the house
through the garden door w hic h w as al w ays left
unlocked in the daytime concealed himself under
the staircase a perfectly simple proceeding as
witnesses who kno w the house will tell you H e
w aited there until everyone had gone to bed except

Miss Went worth w ho w as writing in the library


Si r A ndre w paused this w as perhaps the i ne Xp li c
able point in his case and he kne w that his learned
fri end M r Barnab w as read t oun ce u o n it
to

WILD

CA T S CHEME

26

the inexplicable point being that though he mur


dered Miss Went worth he did not either then or at
any tim e o b tain the document

S ir A ndre w continued
I have explained ho w
Bru si lO E got into the house and I have told you
exactly ho w the Opportuni ty wa s given to him to
murder a defenceless woman H i s motive is no t
hard to understand H e kne w o r thought he
kne w that she had in her po ssession a document for
which he would doubtless receive a very splendid
re ward if he could procure it W e can only con
el ude that she refused to let him have it Probably
s h e attempted to give an al arm either by ringing
the bell or calling up the police o n the telephone
We can understand that he did not w ish to re the
revolver that he habitually carried as the report
would possibly have roused someone el se in the
house therefore he snatched up the heavy book w ith
its brass bound edges
S ir A ndre w indicated
where it lay in vie w of the j ury and brought
it do wn on her head with such savage force as to kill
her T hat w as easy enough and the look of
extreme almost mad terror Of which w e shall hear
depicted o n Miss We ntwo rth s dead countenance
i s not di f cul t to understand H e r lonely position
Bru silO E s unprepossessing face convulsed w ith
rage mind you he was disguised as a lthy tramp
and he i s a very big and po werful man S he kne w
that S he w as completely at his mercy NO doubt he
threatened her w e shall hear O f his command O f
appalling language before the blo w fell Gentle
men O f the j ury this woman a nervous woman w e
are told alone out o f reach o f he ! threatened in a
,

266

WILD

CA T S CHEIME

manner to drive her almost o ut of her wits yet

refused refused ab solutely to give up the docu


ment in question w hich she p o ssessed only through
her o f cial positio n and in fact rather than betray
her trust w e shall hear in what esteem she was held
as a con dential servant of the C ro w n she met

her death at th e hands o f this scoundrel

We kno w S ir A ndre w w ent o n that Brusi


lo E did not obtain the paper from her because he
made a second attempt to Obtain it and when that
failed he made a third e Eort to force his w ay into the
house evidently w ith the same end in vie w Th e
paper was found by th e police among Miss Went
worth s belongings and is no w safe and intact in

their hands
S i r An dre w wound up his speech although still in
a manner o f studied calm in a w ay calculated to
leave no doubt of the guilt of Bru silo E
Mr Barnaby s line as he cross examined the w it
nesses fo r the C ro wn was at rst be wildering To
the great astonishment of both the Prestons he was
apparently as determined as they w ere to p rove that
the secret paper which w as th e only mot i ve for the
crime had no t been in Eleanor We ntworth s posses
sion at all H e made no t the smallest attempt to
blacken her character o n the contrary b e displayed
great forbearance with her relations and e nc o ur
aged them to express their con dence in her and
their absolute conviction that she would never have
attempted to carry aw ay from the Fore i gn O f ce any
H e received with apparent
document at all
pleasure th e evidence of the O f cials who came to
ex ress their com lete con dence in her u
ht
,

A WILD CA T S CHEME
S lo wly and w ith di f culty the truth w as elicited
that the reason she had never mentioned before the
fact that she had heard that rustle under the stairs
w as because she had no business to be there at all
Th e end O f her examination left the j ury o r w as
intended to leave them under the impression that the
girl w as a liar a vain i ghty em ty
headed creature
not worthy of any credence at a l
T his is the real Barnaby
said Mr H arman
Crutcher with hi s evidence about the gyp sy
tramp and the dog proved a harder nut to crack H e
w as no t to be moved Patch h ad made friends w ith
the gypsy C rutcher had no doubt that it w as through
the lure O f raw meat
NO he could not identify the gy p sy and w as no t
going to try
You tell me said Mr Barnaby in h is most
bullying manner that yo u sa w this man kne w that
he was feeding your master s w atch dog and did
nothing about it P

Th e missus did
said Crutcher
What did She d o P Why did you leave it to
her P

Better ask her herself sir if yo u don t mind


said C rutcher quite amicably w ith a broad grin
Look at the prisoner in the dock d o you think
he i s at all like the gypsy you Sa w P
C an t say S ir but Patch re cke rnise d him all

right at Calve rsto ke


! o u recognise him as the man who drove Mr
Preston back to Greystones P

Yes sir

But not as the


P
2 68

WILD C A T S CHEME
269
No sir I didn t s e e the gyppo so close
I had
to hold on ter this feller h e struggled like the devil
and
I kno w you need not tell me about that The
point is that you kno w Mr Preston s dog was fed
by a gypsy but yo u don t recognise the prisoner as
that gypsy P
NO Sir but I would take my Bible oath as he

is because Of Patch
Mr Barnaby shrugged his Shoulders I f Patch
recognised someone else me for instance would
you suppose that I w as the gypsy P
No sir I should only reckon as you d bin a

fe e d i n of i m too
Th e C ourt rocked w ith laughter and the Judge
intervened Mr Barnaby quite unru f e d appar
ently slightly amused himself waited for the next
w itness but Mrs C rutcher though more voluble
w as unable to say any more than her husband that
s h e recognised the prisoner as the gypsy She had
t urned O E t w ice from the back door at Greystones

and told him what I d d o if he came again S h e


said indignantly
about his
whi ni n to me

baskets

Barnaby is making his point whispered Mr


You can t hang t h e fello w o n the evidence
H arman

O f h is recognition by the dog alone


Bru silo E himself in the w itness b o x said very
little apparently quite straight for wardly gave an
account o f his actions declared that he had been
employed at the Whitechapel bank o n the t wo dates
mentioned and had been outwith friends h e
said in the evenin after w ards on both occasions
A

A WILD CA T S CHEME
H e had never been at Greystones in his life before he
drove M r Preston there Th e landlord at the
l or ell A rms had told him ho w to nd the house
H e took an O dd j ob sometimes as c h auEe u r when he
w anted a holiday that w as ho w he came to be at
C ambridge ; they w anted extra drivers at the garages
there while the Prince of W ales w as being enter
tai ne d in the neighbourhood
H e repeated w hat he
had said before about Green and about the S l i o f
blue paper H e could not understand why lil r
Preston s dog had seemed to recognise him but dogs
al w ays liked him perhaps because he w as fond of
them H e had never dressed up as a gypsy in his
life H e turned a blank face and impervious
denial s to all S ir A ndre w s questions and insinua
tions about the A rcos C omp any he kne w nothing
w hatev er about them
M r Barnaby then produced three w itnesses from
the bank at Whitechapel who s wore that S mith as
they called him had been o n duty at the bank o n th e
day of Eleanor We ntwo rth s murder and o n the day
O f the second burglarious entry into Greystones
H ouse
S ir A ndre w cross examined only o ne o f these w it
nesses
What time does the Bank close P

Four O clock s ir
What time did S mith get away P
We were generally all o u t by ve O clock
except o ne o f the cashiers and a j unior clerk T hey
stayed and nished th e correspondence or boo king
up that was left over until the night watchman

c ame
2 70

be true It i s a queer thing but Bru silo ff expects


some o ne or other to appear voluntarily o n hi s side
I kno w that by the way he looks round the court and
his evident eagerness and as evident di sappointment

every time a ne w witness i s called


O f cour se the rea l crux of that lengthy tri al came
when counsel fo r the C ro w n had to rove Bru siloE s
p
connection with the employers or masters as he
called them in whose interests he was said to be
working and who might be described as a learned
j udge described an analogous association at a l ater
date as the hireling agents o f mere mi schief cor
rupt and corrupting traf cki ng in O f ci al secrets for

what they could get out o f the traf c


H e dre w a lurid picture O f a gan g o f desperate
men playing desperate games hiring themselves out
as servants of any shady semi political anarchical
society or association that woul d pay them Me n
o f no home and no hope
practically of no nation
ality erce degraded beings able to S c ak in
practically any language up to a point ffo m the
argot o f a thieves kitchen in Paris to red hot
M uscovite propaganda or the windy stuff served
listeners
in
the
o u t in English to long s uEe r i n
g
p arks O f London
M e n who had perhaps as
their highest ideal some dim notion o f serving

the
under dog
because that w as what they
felt themselves to be
T heir idea of service
being to destroy when possible anyone in a more
fortunate position than the under dog It never
occurred to them unhappy souls that without such
destruction they could make themselves anything
but under dogs in th e world as it is to day Th e y
.

2 73
WILD CA T S CHEME
as m any reformers have t hought and
thought
doubtless w ill continue to think that it is easier to
change the whole world than to change one s o wn

self

It i s su ch a man that you have before yo u said


the police have produced enough
S ir A ndre w
evidence to sho w you the life he has led the company
he has frequented A man is kno wn by his friends
H e worked so secretly destroying every bit o f
evidence as he w ent along that it is only by such
chance as the discovery of that bit o f paper in hi s
pocket his recognition during a most accidental
meeti ng by Mr Preston s w atchdog and his some
what clumsy attempt once more to enter Mr Pres
ton s house by doping his c h auEe ur that w e have
any means o f bringing home the crime that he has
committed We d o not kno w ho w the paper that
Bru s ilo E w anted w as introduced into Mr P reston s
house it was against all Miss We ntwo rth s tradi
tion s and convictions that she should have brought
it w ith her C ertainly sh e seems to have de fended
it w ith her li fe S he did not bring it to sell or to
give to Bru silo E o r any agent o f his company T hat
is quite evident o r he would not have killed her
But that he w anted the paper i s also evident because
he came back a second time to nd it here again
w e kno w that it w as Bru silO E because Of the absence
O f any al arm given by the w atch dog
B
ru silO E once more failed to carry a w ay t he
paper H e w as inte rru ted in his search and the
paper as w e kno w was o u nd by D etective S ergeant
Margetson in Miss We ntworth s room There
was evidentl y s om e thin stu e nd o u s at stake h e
,

WILD
CA T S CHEME
meant to try a third time and endeavoured
into the house by the method w e all kno w
this third attempt there i s no doubt and no po ssible

defence
T hen Mr Barnaby bounded so to Spe ak into the
arena H is learn ed friend he said had made a
beautiful speech he admired it enormously but he
w as obliged to point o u t that it had remarkably
little to do w i th the question before them If he
might use the metaphor the foundation stone w as
missi n g NO o ne had proved the identity O f S mith
w ith Bru silO E There was no evidence to Sho w
that S m i th had ever been at Greystones before he
drove Mr Preston there For his part he Barnaby
believed S mith s story H e could not see any
reason why the word o f the o ne ch auEe ur Shoul d be
preferred to that o f the other Green s contention
w as very far fetched
S mith w as a po w erful man
and there w as no doubt that he lost his temper when
he w as arrested but that w as no pr oof Of guilt per
haps rather the contrary it sho w ed a h asty sort of
fello w not a cold
blooded intriguer and murderer
Probably many o f us would have sho w n impatience
under the circumst ances

My learned friend said M r Barnaby has


dra w n for us a vivi d picture o f an international
socie ty or guild whose sole Obj ect is to Obtai n
O f cial political secrets by buying and no doubt
selling at stupendous prices important O f cial
documents That may be ; w e kno w all about the
raid on the A rcos Company and w e have heard in
ca me ra about the importance o f th e document in
thi s case But there are two bad aw s in the argu
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2 74

p laces

W! LD

2 76

CA T S CHEME

cushy j obs for him no ple asant rooms


Pno easy hour
i h shall w e s a
cotland
Yard
S
s
y
no assured positi on or salary
Mr Barnaby paused looked from the risoner
in the dock with his intent and fro wni n fa
ce and
unti dy hair to where M argetson sat wel groomed
and imperturbable near the solicitors table and then
took up his story again
If a man as h as been
suggested i s earning huge sums by tra f cking in
O f cial secrets i s he usually content to live like
S mith among th e classes that struggle on th e edge
the razor edge of pen ury P The thing as said once
for al l by Euclid i s absurd ! You have hear d
about the dingy lodgings that S mith inhabit e d the
miserable meals his l andlady prepared fo r him the
fro w sy foreign friends whose company he fre
u e nte d
I
suggest
t
at
he
as Sho w n more delicacy
h
h
q
than w e might have expected because he will no t
allo w us to use the po wer of the law to call for th e
evidence that would prove where he spent the two
nights that he was supposed to be at Greystones
I assure you that I most honestly b elieve his state
m ent that he cannot even at this supreme moment
bring into court a woman whose honour he is bo und
Gentl emen o f th e Jury
to res ect and protect
there as been an entire misdirection here I p ut
it to you th at S mith had absolutely nothing to d o
wi th this case Miss We ntwo rth s murderer much

as w e lament her death is still at large


It is conceivable that if Mr Barnaby had b e en
content to stop at th at point he might have won
the case but he proceeded by various unpleasant
su
e s ti o n s and i m l i c atio n s to thro w se rious doub t
,

no

,
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
2 77
o n the me th ods by w hich the documen t had b e en
found

I don t propose he said


to enter into the
initial mistake made by the police though that
story is highly diverting but I do suggest that even
the best O f us are human and w e wish to save o ur

faces S ometimes he that hides can nd


Mr Barnaby sat do wn
A nthony turned to Mr H arman who shook his

head and whispered


Th e fundamental Barnaby
w as to o strong for him he lz a d to leave some poor
w retch w ithout a gleaf
Th e Judge summed up in the ent irely fair
unbiassed barely human manner required of a u d g e
It w as no t a long summing u p but he laid the whole
case very clearly before the j ury and every soul in
court kne w that Bru siloE s fate w as sealed H e
pointed o u t that Bru silO E could produce no alibi
either for the night O f the murder o r for that other
night when Eleanor We ntworth s room w as entered
H e was certainly intimately connected w ith men
who w ere implicated in the corrupt and corrupting
tra f c described by counsel for the Cro wn The
document that provided the only conceivable motive
for the crime had been found in Greystones H ouse
The suggestion that some third person had brought
it there he the Judge brushed aside as entirely
irrelevant H e remarked that it w as for the J ury
to decide whether they would take the word o f
Gree n a simpl e young fello w whose whole career
h ad been laid before them like a limpid stream
conceal ing nothing o r that o f Bru siloE other wise
S mith the conditions o f whose life at the best
A

CA T S CHElll E
A WILD
could only be said to be murky and muddl e d
It w as for the Jury to decide whether there was
su f cient evidence to prove that Brus ilo E had actu
ally made three attempts to Obtain that document
a document whose disappearan ce they must re
member had caused international complications ;
that at the rst attempt he had murdered a most
innocent and courageous woman who had actually
sacri ced her li fe rather than give up the secret
that had been committed to her charge A t the
third attempt if they believed Green s evidence
he had very nearly caused the death O f an equally
innocent though totally i gn orant in dividual whose
absence would give him his chance to get into the
house where he still believed that the document
w as concealed
H e the Judge considered that last attempt as
better evidence Of Bru silo ff s identity wi th Miss
We ntwo rth s mur derer th an any o ther evidence
laid before them thou gh he did not for a moment
such as the dog s
suggest that other evidence
recogni tion of Bru siloE shoul d be ignore d
Guilty brought by the J ury,
T h e verdict of
after a very short interval w as only expected but
Mr Barnaby w as no tyro he pushed through an
appeal and when that failed a petition fo r mer cy
signed by the unthinking mul titudes who do sign
such petitions to the H ome S ecretary but that was
also re fused and the evening papers on the follo wing
day w ere full o f startling headlines z B R U S ILO FF S
C O N FE SS IO N M U R DERER S LA S T WO R DS F O RE IG N
O F FIC E M! S T ER! S O LV E D A R C OS R EV E LA T IO N S
and so forth and so on
2 78

WILD CA T S CHEME
H e had received no re w ard fo r his past service
and whether he lived o r died he would receive none

from his late


masters
H e kne w that they
considered he had failed in the very worst possible
manner because he had been found out A ccording
to their rules i f t w o men w ere w orkin g together
o ne w as instructed to shoot the other i f necessary
to escape detection and his o wn mad struggle when
he w as arrested w as made with the intention o f
getting an Opportunity to shoot himself or to
s w allo w that packet Of poi son which he carrie d abo u t
w ith him al w ays
A l l the same he kne w very w ell that the organiza
tion w as quite strong enough to save him by a cert ain
amount of false s w earing had it no t been done
before an d when he found that h e was to b e
treated already as a dead man out O f mind the iron
entered into his scarred and tormented soul H e
turned and rent whom he c oul d by revealing such
secrets as he had No t hal f his confession w as ever
published Th e ne w spapers had to be satis ed with
the detail s of Eleanor We ntw o rth s murder which
among other matters o f probably far reaching
national im portance was a very small part indeed
T wo things the u b li sh e d con fession made quite
clear to th e relie f 0 the Prestons and to the extreme
annoyance o f Margetson but as he told himself
a nd
he w as in the same boat w ith j udge and
everyone else who had anything to do with the case
Bru silo E con fessed that he had murdered Eleanor
Went worth but al so that at the time o f the murder
the Foreign O f ce docket w as already in his pos
session
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2 80

CA T S CHEME
WILD

28 1

Eleanor

had not taken the docket to Greystones


S he had had no O ffi cial papers o f any kind in her
possession S he had not died in a disti n guished
manner to defend an O f ci al secret
Bru siloE had not w anted t o Obtain possession of
the paper but to get rid of it
Th e man who had been right from th e rst
moment that the murder was discovered was Pratt
the village policeman
Th e fello w did her in i n self defence I take

it he had said and that w as strictly true


M arge tso n s initial mistake was that b e conceived
the motive for the crime to be anger not fear
But as he had said O f the three fundamental
motives the greatest i s fear and fear it w as
Th e A rcos C ompany w ere w ell served and as all
the world kno w s no w they had learnt beforehand
that a police raid was going to be made on their
premises to search for the very paper after wards
found at Greystones
In Bru siloE S confession he
said that he thought it w as the great coup o f his life
when he took it from the table where Eleanor
h erself had put it in the roo m o f S ir John D avidson s
secretary at the Foreign O f ce By mistake sh e
had left w ith it the blue slip with her address that
sh e meant to give to the correspondence clerk and
Bru silo E said that he took the slip also
H e revealed that directly the raid o n S oviet
H ouse w as kno w n to be imminent he received

con scated
O rders to take the paper that he had
as they called it do w n to the country house w here
Miss Went worth w as staying and by hook or crook
The
wi tho ut he r knowle d 6 ret ur n it to h er
.

CA T S CHEME
WILD

2 82

Co mp any

wanted to get rid o f that particul ar paper


in a w ay which woul d seem to prove that they had
never h ad it at all If it were burnt it would sti ll
be supposed that they h ad destroyed it and the
cipher would no t be used again but if it were found
in the possession Of a trusted O f cial as Eleanor
w as suspicion woul d be allayed and the key might
still be o f u se Eleanor s signature w as the last
o n the docket therefore they supposed it w oul d not
be unnatural that sh e should take it with her
It was too
A nyho w that w as no concern of theirs
dangerous once the hue and cry for missing docu
ments had been started to attempt to return it to
the Foreign O f ce Bru siloE s instructi ons w ere to
get into the house at Greystones di scover where
Eleanor s papers w ere kept and leave it there
NO sort Of trace must be visible eith er that Bru silo E
had b een in the house or that he had brought the
paper If necessary she must imagine that she h ad
brought it by mistake
Bru siloE s actions w ere almost precisely as they
had been outlined by Mr H arman and S ir A ndr e w
Mallo c k H e did disguise himself as a gypsy and
fe e d Patch H e did hide under the stairs and w aite d
until as he thought everyone h ad gone to b ed
before he w ent into the library and he w as nearly
as much startled as Eleanor h erself when he opened
the door and found her sitting at the writi ng
table
But S ir A ndre w w as w rong in supposing that h e
h ad threatened her with violent language S h e
w as naturally frightened almost to death and sprang
to her feet c lu tc h in
the back Of her chair but she
.

shut th e library door and crep t a w ay once mor e to


hi s hiding lace under the stairs
A fter al he dared not leave th e paper much as
he longed to get rid o f it because i f Eleanor re
covered She would kno w that he had broug ht it
and if she died and the police came into the busine ss
it would be only to o Obvious to them that her
murderer must have had some connection wit h a
document that was going to cause international
complications
H e thou ht considering deeply that if no trace
w ere foun g of any alien entry and departure
suspicion must fall o n som eone in th e house Hi s
only O bsession w as to get aw ay and leave no
trace H e did no t give Eleanor another though t
S h e w as o f the class that had to be sacri ced
H e did not even regret that he had killed a defence
less woman From the cra wling festering multitudes
amo n g whom he h ad spent most of his time he had
learnt to look o n human life as cheap and to d o
him j ustice he did not hold his o wn life dear though
he w as prepared to ght for it
H e made the rustle that Kate had heard under
the stairs j ust as Mr H arman had made it with
his foot against so m e loose papers because he h ad
been listening for someone to come do w n by the
back stairs and had stretched o u t his legs
H e g ot out o f the house after Kate h ad O pened
the back doo r in precisely the manner that Mr
H arm an had supposed and esca ped thro ugh th e
d oor near Patch s kennel crossed the kitchen
garden and made hi s w ay o u t by the Shrubbery
next to the long w alk But he still had the d oc ument
,

WILD CA T S CHEME
28
5
concealed under his waistcoat and when he arrived
i n London his head O f ce received him coldly
H e had not obeyed their orders
H e w as told to
o b ack and attempt once more to leave behind
g
him at Greystones the incriminating document
T hat second attempt was more successful
He
did leave the document and turned the room
upside do wn in a real hurried frenzied search fo r
suitable pap ers with which it might be mixed in
order that i t should escape attention But in that
h e failed There was not o ne single O i cial docu
ment in the room H e heard Pratt moving
and so escaped as rapidly as he could
H e hoped at l ast to get his re w ard and go to
Pari s to enj oy it in hi s o w n doubtless diabolical
fashion but again he met with di sappointment
H e found the A rcos organization severely shake n
by the police raid o n their property Th e greater
part O f their C xpensively acquired information if
not destroyed w as compromised and rendered

useless but Bru silo ff s paper w as intact and


therefore more valuable than ever It could never
be proved they thought that they had handled it
at all They kne w that the cipher w as still in u se
and believed that important in formation could still
be tapped When th e paper was discovered
at Greystones the police would only believe at the
worst that some A rcos agent had been looking for
it but had not found it A s subsequent events
proved that w as exactly what happened
Bru silo E s action w as approved but he w as not
allo wed to go to Paris H e w as sent to C ambridge
to keep the usual w atch o n the Prince Of Wales
A

WILD CA T S CHEME
who was passing through th at city but the most
use ful thing he did there w as to m ake friends with
Green
M ean while to his great disappointment and di s
may he heard that the solitary copy that had been
made Of the cipher key i n Bru silo E s paper had
been destroyed more o r less as a precaution though
by mistake in connection with the raid A nother
copy w as urgently w anted Th e man who made
the original copy had memorized the key b ut he
had been taken up on some minor charge by the
police and for the moment w as ou t Of reach
It w as believed at the A r cos headquarters that
the po lice had not discovered the paper because
they were said to be still hunting for Mr Preston
as Bru silo E himsel f heard when he w ent to S cotland
Yard to give information about the car a t C ambridge
H e w rote very bitterly o f the decision that proved
fatal to send him on c e more to Greystones to nd
the paper no t to take it aw ay but to C opy the key
In that endeavour he failed and so nished th e
story o f Eleanor W e ntw o rth s murder that has been
here s e t do wn O f the more stupendous revelations
in his confession t h is is no t the time or place to
Speak
From beginning to end Bru siloE expressed no
c o mpunction Fearless pitiless and shameless he
died as he had lived
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2 86

288

WILD

CA T S CHEME

himself accused of a murder h as brought the

real criminal to j ustice


Robert smiled and lifted his shoulder in his
characteri stic fashion with conscious self
sati s

faction but Molly w ent on


! e s but w ith out
us D addy and me would yo u have moved o ne foot
from this place P Would you have gone to Ely and
hired a car and picked up a Bolshy c hau Ee ur and
all the rest o f it P
Robert laughed
O h of course I That was
only one O f A nthony s wild cat schemes 1
,

Perhaps w e may be allo w ed to hope that Eleanor


We ntwo rth s loyal Spirit rested content, less with
the punishment O f her murderer, the man wh o had

so cruelly frightened her than w ith the j ustice tardily


done to Joseph H arper s memory Robert Preston
insisted on bringing that matter into court once
more at considerable cost to himself H e said that
he no w kne w what it w as to be wrongfully accused
Of crime and that the best monument to Eleanor s
memory would be the act of j u stice for which she
had pleaded almost with her last bre ath
,

T H E EN D