It was already a little past
the customary luncheon hour at
the Carlton, and the restaurant
was well filled. The orchestra
had played their first selection,
and the stream of incoming guests
had begun to slacken. A young
lady who had been sitting in
the palm court for at least half
an hour rose to her feet, and,
glancing casually at her watch,
made her way into the hotel.
She entered the office and addressed
the chief reception clerk.
"Can you tell me," she asked, "if
Mr. Hamilton Fynes is staying
here? He should have arrived
by the Lusitania last night or
early this morning."
It is not the business of a
hotel reception clerk to appear
surprised at anything. Nevertheless
the man looked at her, for a
moment, with a curious expression
in his eyes.
"Mr. Hamilton Fynes!" he repeated. "Did
you say that you were expecting
him by the Lusitania, madam?"
"Yes!" the young lady answered. "He
asked me to lunch with him here
today. Can you tell me whether
he has arrived yet? If he is
in his room, I should be glad
if you would send up to him."
There were several people in
the office who were in a position
to overhear their conversation.
With a word of apology, the man
came round from his place behind
the mahogany counter. He stood
by the side of the young lady,
and he seemed to be suffering
from some embarrassment.
"Will you pardon my asking,
madam, if you have seen the newspapers
this morning?" he inquired.
Without a doubt, her first
thought was that the question
savored of impertinence. She
looked at him with slightly upraised
eyebrows. She was slim, of medium
complexion, with dark brown hair
parted in the middle and waving
a little about her temples. She
was irreproachably dressed, from
the tips of her patent shoes
to the black feathers in her
"The newspapers!" she repeated. "Why,
no, I don't think that I have
seen them this morning. What
have they to do with Mr. Hamilton
The clerk pointed to the open
door of a small private office.
"If you will step this way
for one moment, madam," he begged.
She tapped the floor with her
foot and looked at him curiously.
Certainly the people around seemed
to be taking some interest in
"Why should I?" she asked. "Cannot
you answer my question here?"
"If madam will be so good," he
She shrugged her shoulders
and followed him. Something in
the man's earnest tone and almost
pleading look convinced her,
at least, of his good intentions.
Besides, the interest which her
question had undoubtedly aroused
amongst the bystanders was, to
say the least of it, embarrassing.
He pulled the door to after them.
"Madam," he said, "there
was a Mr. Hamilton Fynes who
over by the Lusitania, and who
had certainly engaged rooms in
this hotel, but he unfortunately,
it seems, met with an accident
on his way from Liverpool."
Her manner changed at once.
She began to understand what
it all meant. Her lips parted,
her eyes were wide open.
"An accident?" she
He gently rolled a chair up
to her. She sank obediently into
"Madam," he said, "it
was a very bad accident indeed.
that Mr. Hamilton Fynes was not
a very intimate friend or a relative
of yours. It would perhaps be
better for you to read the account
He placed a newspaper in her
hands. She read the first few
lines and suddenly turned upon
him. She was white to the lips
now, and there was real terror
in her tone. Yet if he had been
in a position to have analyzed
the emotion she displayed, he
might have remarked that there
was none of the surprise, the
blank, unbelieving amazement
which might have been expected
from one hearing for the first
time of such a calamity.
"Murdered!" she exclaimed. "Is
"It appears to be perfectly
true, madam, I regret to say," the
clerk answered. "Even the earlier
editions were able to supply
the man's name, and I am afraid
that there is no doubt about
his identity. The captain of
the Lusitania confirmed it, and
many of the passengers who saw
him leave the ship last night
have been interviewed."
"Murdered!" she repeated to
herself with trembling lips. "It
seems such a horrible death!
Have they any idea who did it?" she
asked. "Has any one been arrested?"
"At present, no, madam," the
clerk answered. "The affair,
as you will see if you read further,
is an exceedingly mysterious
She rocked a little in her
chair, but she showed no signs
of fainting. She picked up the
paper and found the place once
more. There were two columns
filled with particulars of the
"Where can I be alone and read
this?" she asked.
"Here, if you please, madam," the
clerk answered. "I must go back
to my desk. There are many arrivals
just now. Will you allow me to
send you something--a little
"Nothing, thank you," she answered. "I
wish only to be alone while I
He left her with a little sympathetic
murmur, and closed the door behind
him. The girl raised her veil
now and spread the newspaper
out on the table before her.
There was an account of the tragedy;
there were interviews with some
of the passengers, a message
from the captain. In all, it
seemed that wonderfully little
was known of Mr. Hamilton Fynes.
He had spoken to scarcely a soul
on board, and had remained for
the greater part of the time
in his stateroom. The captain
had not even been aware of his
existence till the moment when
Mr. Hamilton Fynes had sought
him out and handed him an order,
signed by the head of his company,
instructing him to obey in any
respect the wishes of this hitherto
unknown passenger. The tug which
had been hired to meet him had
gone down the river, so it was
not possible, for the moment,
to say by whom it had been chartered.
The station-master at Liverpool
knew nothing except that the
letter presented to him by the
dead man was a personal one from
a great railway magnate, whose
wishes it was impossible to disregard.
There had not been a soul, apparently,
upon the steamer who had known
anything worth mentioning of
Mr. Hamilton Fynes or his business.
No one in London had made inquiries
for him or claimed his few effects.
Half a dozen cables to America
That papers had been stolen
from him--papers or money--was
evident from the place of concealment
in his coat, where the lining
had been torn away, but there
was not the slightest evidence
as to the nature of these documents
or the history of the murdered
man. All that could be done was
to await the news from the other
side, which was momentarily expected.
The girl went through it all,
line by line, almost word by
word. Whatever there might have
been of relationship or friendship
between her and the dead man,
the news of his terrible end
left her shaken, indeed, but
dry-eyed. She was apparently
more terrified than grieved,
and now that the first shock
had passed away, her mind seemed
occupied with thoughts which
may indeed have had some connection
with this tragedy, but were scarcely
wholly concerned with it. She
sat for a long while with her
hands still resting upon the
table but her eyes fixed out
of the window. Then at last she
rose and made her way outside.
Her friend the reception clerk
was engaged in conversation with
one or two men, a conversation
of which she was obviously the
subject. As she opened the door,
one of them broke off in the
midst of what he was saying and
would have accosted her. The
clerk, however, interposed, and
drew her a step or two back into
"Madam," he said, "one
of these gentlemen is from
and the others are reporters.
They are all eager to know anything
about Mr. Hamilton Fynes. I expect
they will want to ask you some
The girl opened her lips and
closed them again.
"I regret to say that I have
nothing whatever to tell them," she
declared. "Will you kindly let
them know that?"
The clerk shook his head.
"I am afraid you will find
them quite persistent, madam," he
"I cannot tell them things
which I do not know myself," she
"Naturally," the clerk admitted; "yet
these gentlemen from Scotland
Yard have special privileged,
of course, and there remains
the fact that you were engaged
to lunch with Mr. Fynes here."
"If it will help me to get
rid of them," she said, "I will
speak to the representative of
Scotland Yard. I will have nothing
whatever to say to the reporters."
The clerk turned round and
beckoned to the foremost figure
in the little group. Inspector
Jacks, tall, lantern-jawed, dressed
with the quiet precision of a
well-to-do-man of affairs, and
with no possible suggestion of
his calling in his manner or
attire, was by her side almost
"Madam," he said, "I
understand that Mr. Hamilton
Fynes was a
friend of yours?"
"An acquaintance," she
"And your name?" he
"I am Miss Morse," she replied,--"Miss
"You were to have lunched here
with Mr. Hamilton Fynes," the
detective continued. "When, may
I ask, did the invitation reach
"Yesterday," she told him, "by
marconigram from Queenstown."
"You can tell us a few things
about the deceased, without doubt," Mr.
Jacks said,--"his profession,
for instance, or his social standing?
Perhaps you know the reason for
his coming to Europe?"
The girl shook her head.
"Mr. Fynes and I were not intimately
acquainted," she answered. "We
met in Paris some years ago,
and when he was last in London,
during the autumn, I lunched
with him twice."
"You had no letter from him,
then, previous to the marconigram?" the
"I have scarcely ever received
a letter from him in my life," she
answered. "He was as bad a correspondent
as I am myself."
"You know nothing,
then, of the object of his
"Nothing whatever," she
"When he was over here before," the
inspector asked, "do you know
what his business was then?"
"Not in the least," she
"You can tell us his address
in the States?" Inspector Jacks
She shook her head.
"I cannot," she answered. "As
I told you just now, I have never
had a letter from him in my life.
We exchanged a few notes, perhaps,
when we were in Paris, about
trivial matters, but nothing
more than that."
"He must at
some time, in Paris, for instance,
or when you lunched
with him last year, have said
something about his profession,
or how he spent his time?"
"He never alluded to it in
any way," the girl answered. "I
have not the slightest idea how
he passed his time."
The inspector was a little
nonplussed. He did not for a
moment believe that the girl
was telling the truth.
"Perhaps," he said tentatively, "you
do not care to have your name
come before the public in connection
with a case so notorious as this?"
"Naturally," the girl answered. "That,
however, would not prevent my
telling you anything that I knew.
You seem to find it hard to believe,
but I can assure you that I know
nothing. Mr. Fynes was almost
a stranger to me."
The detective was thoughtful.
"So you really cannot help
us at all, madam?" he said at
"I am afraid not," she
"Perhaps," he suggested, "after
you have thought the matter over,
something may occur to you. Can
I trouble you for your address?"
"I am staying at Devenham House
for the moment," she answered.
He wrote it down in his notebook.
"I shall perhaps do myself
the honor of waiting upon you
a little later on," he said. "You
may be able, after reflection,
to recall some small details,
at any rate, which will be interesting
to us. At present we are absurdly
ignorant as to the man's affairs."
She turned away from him to
the clerk, and pointed to another
"Can I go out without seeing
those others?" she asked. "I
really have nothing to say to
them, and this has been quite
a shock to me."
"By all means, madam," the
clerk answered. "If you will
allow me, I will escort you to
Two of the more enterprising
of the journalists caught them
up upon the pavement. Miss Penelope
Morse, however, had little to
say to them.
"You must not ask me any more
questions about Mr. Hamilton
Fynes," she declared. "My acquaintance
with him was of the slightest.
It is true that I came here to
lunch today without knowing what
had happened. It has been a shock
to me, and I do not wish to talk
about it, and I will not talk
about it, for the present."
She was deaf to their further
questions. The hotel clerk handed
her into a taximeter cab, and
gave the address to the driver.
Then he went back to his office,
where Inspector Jacks was still
"This Mr. Hamilton Fynes," he
remarked, "seems to have been
what you might call a secretive
sort of person. Nobody appears
to know anything about him. I
remember when he was staying
here before that he had no callers,
and seemed to spend most of his
time sitting in the palm court."
The inspector nodded.
"He was certainly a man who
knew how to keep his own counsel," he
admitted. "Most Americans are
ready enough to talk about themselves
and their affairs, even to comparative
The hotel clerk nodded.
"Makes it difficult for you," he
"It makes the case very interesting,
the inspector declared, "especially
when we find him engaged to lunch
with a young lady of such remarkable
discretion as miss Penelope Morse."
"You know her?" the
clerk asked a little eagerly.
The inspector was engaged,
apparently, in studying the pattern
of the carpet.
"Not exactly," he answered. "No,
I have no absolute knowledge
of Miss Penelope Morse. By the
bye, that was rather an interesting
address that she gave."
"Devenham House," the hotel
clerk remarked. "Do you know
who lives there?"
The inspector nodded.
"The Duke of Devenham," he
answered. "A very interesting
young lady, I should think, that.
I wonder what she and Mr. Hamilton
Fynes would have talked about
if they had lunched here today."
The hotel clerk looked dubious.
He did not grasp the significance
of the question.