The Lusitania boat specials
ran into Euston Station soon
after three o'clock in the afternoon.
A small company of reporters,
and several other men whose profession
was not disclosed from their
appearance, were on the spot
to interview certain of the passengers.
A young fellow from the office
of the Evening Comet was, perhaps,
the most successful, as, from
the lengthy description which
had been telegraphed to him from
Liverpool, he was fortunate enough
to accost the only person who
had been seen speaking to the
murdered man upon the voyage.
"This is Mr. Coulson, I believe?" the
young man said with conviction,
addressing a somewhat stout,
gray-headed American, with white
moustache, a Homburg hat, and
clothes of distinctly transatlantic
That gentlemen regarded his
interlocutor with some surprise
but without unfriendliness.
"That happens to be my name,
sir," he replied. "You have the
advantage of me, though. You
are not from my old friends Spencer & Miles,
"Spencer & Miles," the
young man repeated thoughtfully.
"Woollen firm in London Wall," Mr.
Coulson added. "I know they wanted
to see me directly I arrived,
and they did say something about
sending to the station."
The young man shook his head,
and assumed at the same time
his most engaging manner.
"Why, no, sir!" he admitted. "I
have no connection with that
firm at all. The fact is I am
on the staff of an evening paper.
A friend of mine in Liverpool--a
mutual friend, I believe I may
say," he explained--"wired me
your description. I understand
that you were acquainted with
Mr. Hamilton Fynes?"
Mr. Coulson set down his suitcase
for a moment, to light a cigar.
"Well, if I did know the poor
fellow just to nod to," he said, "I
don't see that's any reason why
I should talk about him to you
newspaper fellows. You'd better
get hold of his relations, if
you can find them."
"But, my dear Mr. Coulson," the
young man said, "we haven't any
idea where they are to be found,
and in the meantime you can't
imagine what reports are in circulation."
"Guess I can figure them out
pretty well," Mr. Coulson remarked
with a smile. "We've got an evening
press of our own in New York."
The reporter nodded.
"Well," he said, "They'd be
able to stretch themselves out
a bit on a case like this. You
see," he continued confidentially, "we
are up against something almost
unique. Here is an astounding
and absolutely inexplicable murder,
committed in a most dastardly
fashion by a person who appears
to have vanished from the face
of the earth. Not a single thing
is known about the victim except
his name. We do not know whether
he came to England on business
or pleasure. He may, in short,
have been any one from a millionaire
to a newspaper man. Judging from
his special train," the reporter
concluded with a smile, "and
the money which was found upon
him, I imagine that he was certainly
not the latter."
Mr. Coulson went on his way
toward the exit from the station,
puffing contentedly at his big
"Well," he said to his companion,
who showed not the slightest
disposition to leave his side, "it
don't seem to me that there's
much worth repeating about poor
Fynes,--much that I knew, at
any rate. Still, if you like
to get in a cab with me and ride
as far as the Savoy, I'll tell
you what I can."
"You are a brick, sir," the
young man declared. "Haven't
you any luggage, though?"
"I checked what I had through
from Liverpool to the hotel," Mr.
Coulson answered. "I can't stand
being fussed around by all these
porters, and having to go and
take pot luck amongst a pile
of other people's baggage. We'll
just take one of these two-wheeled
sardine tins that you people
call hansoms, and get round to
the hotel as quick as we can.
There are a few pals of mine
generally lunch in the cafe there,
and they mayn't all have cleared
out if we look alive."
They started a moment or two
later. Mr. Coulson leaned forward
and, folding his arms upon the
apron of the cab, looked about
him with interest.
"Say," he remarked, removing
his cigar to the corner of his
mouth in order to facilitate
conversation, "this old city
of yours don't change any."
"Not up in this part, perhaps," the
reporter agreed. "We've some
fine new buildings down toward
Mr. Coulson nodded.
"Well," he said, "I
guess you don't want to be
You want to know about Hamilton
Fynes. I was just acquainted
with him, and that's a fact,
but I reckon you'll have to find
some one who knows a good deal
more than I do before you'll
get the stuff you want for your
"The slightest particulars
are of interest to us just now," the
reporter reminded him.
Mr. Coulson nodded.
"Hamilton Fynes," he said, "so
far as I knew him, was a quiet,
inoffensive sort of creature,
who has been drawing a regular
salary from the State for the
last fifteen years and saving
half of it. He has been coming
over to Europe now and then,
and though he was a good, steady
chap enough, he liked his fling
when he was over here, and between
you and me, he was the greatest
crank I ever struck. I met him
in London a matter of three years
ago, and he wanted to go to Paris.
There were two cars running at
the regular time, meeting the
boat at Dover. Do you think he
would have anything to do with
them? Not he! He hired a special
train and went down like a prince."
"What did he do that for?" the
"Why, because he was a crank,
sir," Mr. Coulson answered confidentially. "There
was no other reason at all. Take
this last voyage on the Lusitania,
now. He spoke to me the first
day out because he couldn't help
it, but for pretty well the rest
of the journey he either kept
down in his stateroom or, when
he came up on deck, he avoided
me and everybody else. When he
did talk, his talk was foolish.
He was a good chap at his work,
I believe, but he was a crank.
Seemed to me sometimes as though
that humdrum life of his had
about turned his brain. The last
day out he was fidgeting all
the time; kept looking at his
watch, studying the chart, and
asking the sailors questions.
Said he wanted to get up in time
to take a girl to lunch on Thursday.
It was just for that reason that
he scuttled off the boat without
a word to any of us, and rushed
up to London."
"But he had letters, Mr. Coulson," the
reporter reminded him, "from
some one in Washington, to the
captain of the steamer and to
the station-master of the London
and North Western Railway. It
seems rather odd that he should
have provided himself with these,
"They were easy enough to get," Mr.
Coulson answered. "He wasn't
a worrying sort of chap, Fynes
wasn't. He did his work, year
in and year out, and asked no
favors. The consequence was that
when he asked a queer one he
got it all right. It's easier
to get a pull over there than
it is here, you know."
"This is all very interesting," the
reporter said, "and I am sure
I'm very much obliged to you,
Mr. Coulson. Now can you tell
me of anything in the man's life
or way of living likely to provoke
enmity on the part of any one?
This murder was such a cold-blooded
"There I'm stuck," Mr. Coulson
admitted. "There's only one thing
I can tell you, and that is that
I believe he had a lot more money
on him than the amount mentioned
in your newspapers this morning.
My own opinion is that he was
murdered for what he'd got. A
smart thief would say that a
fellow who takes a special tug
off the steamer and a special
train to town was a man worth
robbing. How the thing was done
I don't know--that's for your
police to find out--but I reckon
that whoever killed him did it
for his cash."
The reporter sighed. He was,
after all, a little disappointed.
Mr. Coulson was obviously a man
of common sense. His words were
clearly pronounced, and his reasoning
sound. They had reached the courtyard
of the hotel now, and the reporter
began to express his gratitude.
"My first drink on English
soil," Mr. Coulson said, as he
handed his suitcase to the hall-porter, "is
"It's on me," the young man
declared quickly. "I owe you
a good deal more than drinks,
"Well, come along, anyway," the
latter remarked. "I guess my
room is all right, porter?"--turning
to the man who stood by his side,
bag in hand. "I am Mr. James
B. Coulson of New York, and I
wrote on ahead. I'll come round
to the office and register presently."
They made their way to the
American bar. The newspaper man
and his new friend drank together
and, skillfully prompted by the
former, the conversation drifted
back to the subject of Hamilton
Fynes. There was nothing else
to be learned, however, in the
way of facts. Mr. Coulson admitted
that he had been a little nettled
by his friend's odd manner during
the voyage, and the strange way
he had of keeping to himself.
"But, after all," he wound
up, "Fynes was a crank, when
all's said and done. We are all
cranks, more or less,--all got
our weak spot, I mean. It was
secretiveness with our unfortunate
friend. He liked to play at being
a big personage in a mysterious
sort of way, and the poor chap's
paid for it," he added with a
The reporter left his new-made
friend a short time afterwards,
and took a hansom to his office.
His newspaper at once issued
a special edition, giving an
interview between their representative
and Mr. James B. Coulson, a personal
friend of the murdered man. It
was, after all, something of
a scoop, for not one of the other
passengers had been found who
was in a position to say anything
at all about him. The immediate
effect of the interview, however,
was to procure for Mr. Coulson
a somewhat bewildering succession
of callers. The first to arrive
was a gentleman who introduced
himself as Mr. Jacks, and whose
card, sent back at first, was
retendered in a sealed envelope
with Scotland Yard scrawled across
the back of it. Mr. Coulson,
who was in the act of changing
his clothes, interviewed Mr.
Jacks in his chamber.
"Mr. Coulson," the Inspector
said, "I am visiting you on behalf
of Scotland Yard. We understand
that you had some acquaintance
with Mr. Hamilton Fynes, and
we hope that you will answer
a few questions for us."
Mr. Coulson sat down upon a
trunk with his hairbrushes in
"Well," he declared, "you
detectives do get to know things,
"Nothing so remarkable in that,
Mr. Coulson," Inspector Jacks
remarked pleasantly. "A newspaper
man had been before me, I see."
Mr. Coulson nodded.
"That's so," he admitted. "Seems
to me I may have been a bit indiscreet
in talking so much to that young
reporter. I have just read his
account of my interview, and
he's got it pat, word by word.
Now, Mr. Jacks, if you'll just
invest a halfpenny in that newspaper,
you don't need to ask me any
questions. That young man had
a kind of pleasant way with him,
and I told him all I knew."
"Just so, Mr. Coulson," the
Inspector answered. "At the same
time nothing that you told him
throws any light at all upon
the circumstances which led to
the poor fellow's death."
"That," Mr. Coulson declared, "is
not my fault. What I don't know
I can't tell you."
"You were acquainted with Mr.
Fynes some years ago?" the Inspector
asked. "Can you tell me what
business he was in then?"
"Same as now, for anything
I know," Mr. Coulson answered. "He
was a clerk in one of the Government
offices at Washington."
"Government offices," Inspector
Jacks repeated. "Have you any
idea what department?"
Mr. Coulson was not sure.
"It may have been the Excise
Office," he remarked thoughtfully. "I
did hear, but I never took any
"Did you ever form any idea
as to the nature of his work?" Inspector
"Bless you, no!" Mr. Coulson
replied, brushing his hair vigorously. "It
never entered into my head to
ask him, and I never heard him
mention it. I only know that
he was a quiet-living, decent
sort of a chap, but, as I put
it to our young friend the newspaper
man, he was a crank."
The Inspector was disappointed.
He began to feel that he was
wasting his time.
"Did you know anything of the
object of his journey to Europe?" he
"Nary a thing," Mr. Coulson
declared. "He only came on deck
once or twice, and he had scarcely
a civil word even for me. Why,
I tell you, sir," Mr. Coulson
continued, "if he saw me coming
along on the promenade, he'd
turn round and go the other way,
for fear I'd ask him to come
and have a drink. A c-r-a-n-k,
sir! You write it down at that,
and you won't be far out."
"He certainly seems to have
been a queer lot," the Inspector
declared. "By the bye," he continued, "you
said something, I believe, about
his having had more money with
him than was found upon his person."
"That's so," Mr. Coulson admitted. "I
know he deposited a pocketbook
with the purser, and I happened
to be standing by when he received
it back. I noticed that he had
three or four thousand-dollar
bills, and there didn't seem
to be anything of the sort upon
him when he was found."
The Inspector made a note of
"You believe yourself, then,
Mr. Coulson," he said, closing
his pocketbook, "that the murder
was committed for the purpose
"Seems to me it's common sense," Mr.
Coulson replied. "A man who goes
and takes a special train to
London from the docks of a city
like Liverpool--a city filled
with the scum of the world, mind
you--kind of gives himself away
as a man worth robbing, doesn't
The Inspector nodded.
"That's sensible talk, Mr.
Coulson," he acknowledged. "You
never heard, I suppose, of his
having had a quarrel with any
"Never in my life," Mr. Coulson
declared. "He wasn't the sort
to make enemies, any more than
he was the sort to make friends."
The Inspector took up his hat.
His manner now was no longer
inquisitorial. With the closing
of his notebook a new geniality
had taken the place of his official
"You are making a long stay
here, Mr. Coulson?" he asked.
"A week or so, maybe," that
gentleman answered. "I am in
the machinery patent line--machinery
for the manufacture of woollen
goods mostly--and I have a few
appointments in London. Afterwards
I am going on to Paris. You can
hear of me at any time either
here or at the Grand Hotel, Paris,
but there's nothing further to
be got out of me as regards Mr.
The Inspector was of the same
opinion and took his departure.
Mr. Coulson waited for some little
time, still sitting on his trunk
and clasping his hairbrushes.
Then he moved over to the table
on which stood the telephone
instrument and asked for a number.
The reply came in a minute or
two in the form of a question.
"It's Mr. James B. Coulson
from New York, landed this afternoon
from the Lusitania," Mr. Coulson
said. "I am at the Savoy Hotel,
speaking from my room--number
There was a brief silence--then
"You had better
be in the bar smoking-room
at seven o'clock.
If nothing happens, don't leave
the hotel this evening."
Mr. Coulson replaced the receiver
and rang off. A page-boy knocked
at the door.
"Young lady downstairs wishes
to see you, sir," he announced.
Mr. Coulson took up the card
from the tray.
"Miss Penelope Morse," he said
softly to himself. "Seems to
me I'm rather popular this evening.
Say I'll be down right away,
"Very good, sir," the page
answered. "There's a gentleman
with her, sir. His card's underneath
Mr. Coulson examined the tray
once more. A gentleman's visiting
card informed him that his other
caller was Sir Charles Somerfield,
"Bart," Mr. Coulson remarked
thoughtfully. "I'm not quite
catching on to that, but I suppose
he goes in with the young lady."
"They're both together, sir," the
Mr. Coulson completed his toilet
and hurried downstairs