Mr. Coulson found his two visitors
in the lounge of the hotel. He
had removed all traces of his
journey, and was attired in a
Tuxedo dinner coat, a soft-fronted
shirt, and a neatly arranged
black tie. He wore broad-toed
patent boots and double lines
of braid down the outsides of
his trousers. The page boy, who
was on the lookout for him, conducted
him to the corner where Miss
Penelope Morse and her companion
were sitting talking together.
The latter rose at his approach,
and Mr. Coulson summed him up
quickly,--a well-bred, pleasant-mannered,
exceedingly athletic young Englishman,
who was probably not such a fool
as he looked,--that is, from
Mr. Coulson's standpoint, who
was not used to the single eyeglass
and somewhat drawling enunciation.
"Mr. Coulson, isn't it?" the
young man asked, accepting the
other's outstretched hand. "We
are awfully sorry to disturb
you, so soon after your arrival,
too, but the fact is that this
young lady, Miss Penelope Morse,"--Mr.
Coulson bowed,--"was exceedingly
anxious to make your acquaintance.
You Americans are such birds
of passage that she was afraid
you might have moved on if she
didn't look you up at once."
Penelope herself intervened.
"I'm afraid you're going to
think me a terrible nuisance,
Mr. Coulson!" she exclaimed.
Mr. Coulson, although he did
not call himself a lady's man,
was nevertheless human enough
to appreciate the fact that the
young lady's face was piquant
and her smile delightful. She
was dressed with quiet but elegant
simplicity. The perfume of the
violets at her waistband seemed
to remind him of his return to
"Well, I'll take my risks of
that, Miss Morse," he declared. "If
you'll only let me know what
I can do for you--"
"It's about poor Mr. Hamilton
Fynes," she explained. "I took
up the evening paper only half
an hour ago, and read your interview
with the reporter. I simply couldn't
help stopping to ask whether
you could give me any further
particulars about that horrible
affair. I didn't dare to come
here all alone, so I asked Sir
Charles to come along with me."
Mr. Coulson, being invited
to do so, seated himself on the
lounge by the young lady's side.
He leaned a little forward with
a hand on either knee.
"I don't exactly know what
I can tell you," he remarked. "I
take it, then, that you were
well acquainted with Mr. Fynes?"
"I used to know him quite well," Penelope
answered, "and naturally I am
very much upset. When I read
in the paper an account of your
interview with the reporter,
I could see at once that you
were not telling him everything.
Why should you, indeed? A man
does not want every detail of
his life set out in the newspapers
just because he has become connected
with a terrible tragedy."
"You're a very sensible young
lady, Miss Morse, if you will
allow me to say so," Mr. Coulson
declared. "You were expecting
to see something of Mr. Fynes
over here, then?"
"I had an appointment to lunch
with him today," she answered. "He
sent me a marconigram before
he arrived at Queenstown."
"Is that so?" Mr. Coulson exclaimed. "Well,
"I actually went to the restaurant," Penelope
continued, "without knowing anything
of this. I can't understand it
at all, even now. Mr. Fynes always
seemed to me such a harmless
sort of person, so unlikely to
have enemies, or anything of
that sort. Don't you think so,
"Well," that gentleman answered, "to
tell you the honest truth, Miss
Morse, I'm afraid I am going
to disappoint you a little. I
wasn't over well acquainted with
Mr. Fynes, although a good many
people seemed to fancy that we
were kind of bosom friends. That
newspaper man, for instance,
met me at the station and stuck
to me like a leech; drove down
here with me, and was willing
to stand all the liquor I could
drink. Then there was a gentleman
from Scotland Yard, who was in
such a hurry that he came to
see me in my bedroom. HE had
a sort of an idea that I had
been brought up from infancy
with Hamilton Fynes and could
answer a sheaf of questions a
yard long. As soon as I got rid
of him, up comes that page boy
and brings your card."
"It does seem too bad, Mr.
Coulson," Penelope declared,
raising her wonderful eyes to
his and smiling sympathetically. "You
have really brought it upon yourself,
though, to some extent, haven't
you, by answering so many questions
for this Comet man?"
"Those newspaper fellows," Mr.
Coulson remarked, "are wonders.
Before that youngster had finished
with me, I began to feel that
poor old Fynes and I had been
like brothers all our lives.
As a matter of fact, Miss Morse,
I expect you knew him at least
as well as I did."
She nodded her head thoughtfully.
came from the village in Massachusetts
I was brought up. I've known
him all my life."
Mr. Coulson seemed a little
"I didn't understand," he said
thoughtfully, "that Fynes had
any very intimate friends over
Penelope shook her head.
"I don't mean to imply that
we have been intimate lately," she
said. "I came to Europe nine
years ago, and since then, of
course, I have not seen him often.
Perhaps it was the fact that
he should have thought of me,
and that I was actually expecting
to have lunch with him today,
which made me feel this thing
"Why, that's quite natural," Mr.
Coulson declared, leaning back
a little and crossing his legs. "Somehow
we seem to read about these things
in the papers and they don't
amount to such a lot, but when
you know the man and were expecting
to see him, as you were, why,
then it comes right home to you.
There's something about a murder," Mr.
Coulson concluded, "which kind
of takes hold of you if you've
ever even shaken hands with either
of the parties concerned in it."
"Did you see much of the poor
fellow during the voyage?" Sir
"No, nor any one else," Mr.
Coulson replied. "I don't think
he was seasick, but he was miserably
unsociable, and he seldom left
his cabin. I doubt whether there
were half a dozen people on board
who would have recognized him
afterwards as a fellow-passenger."
"He seems to have been a secretive
sort of person," Sir Charles
"He was that," Mr. Coulson
admitted. "Never seemed to care
to talk about himself or his
own business. Not that he had
much to talk about," he added
reflectively. "Dull sort of life,
his. So many hours of work, so
many hours of play; so many dollars
a month, and after it's all over,
so many dollars pension. Wouldn't
suit all of us, Sir Charles,
"I fancy not," Somerfield admitted. "Perhaps
he kicked over the traces a bit
when he was over this side. You
Americans generally seem to find
your way about--in Paris, especially."
Mr. Coulson shook his head
"There wasn't much kicking
over the traces with poor old
Fynes," he said. "He hadn't got
it in him."
Somerfield scratched his chin
thoughtfully and looked at Penelope.
"Scarcely seems possible, does
it," he remarked, "that a man
leading such a quiet sort of
life should make enemies."
"I don't believe he had any," Mr.
"He didn't seem nervous on
the way over, did he?" Penelope
asked,--"as though he were afraid
of something happening?"
Mr. Coulson shook his head.
"No more than usual," he answered. "I
guess your police over here aren't
quite so smart as ours, or they'd
have been on the track of this
thing before now. But you can
take it from me that when the
truth comes out you'll find that
our poor friend has paid the
penalty of going about the world
like a crank."
"A what?" Somerfield
"A crank," Mr. Coulson repeated
vigorously. "It wasn't much I
knew of Hamilton Fynes, but I
knew that much. He was one of
those nervous, stand-off sort
of persons who hated to have
people talk to him and yet was
always doing things to make them
talk about him. I was over in
Europe with him not so long ago,
and he went on in the same way.
Took a special train to Dover
when there wasn't any earthly
reason for it; travelled with
a valet and a courier, when he
had no clothes for the valet
to look after, and spoke every
European language better than
his courier. This time the poor
fellow's paid for his bit of
vanity. Naturally, any one would
think he was a millionaire, travelling
like that. I guess they boarded
the train somehow, or lay hidden
in it when it started, and relieved
him of a good bit of his savings."
"But his money was found upon
him," Somerfield objected.
"Some of it," Mr. Coulson answered,--"some
of it. That's just about the
only thing that I do know of
my own. I happened to see him
take his pocketbook back from
the purser, and I guess he'd
got a sight more money there
than was found upon him. I told
the smooth-spoken gentleman from
Scotland Yard so--Mr. Inspector
Jacks he called himself--when
he came to see me an hour or
Penelope sighed gently. She
found it hard to make up her
mind concerning this quondam
acquaintance of her deceased
"Did you see much of Mr. Fynes
on the other side, Mr. Coulson?" she
"Not I," Mr. Coulson answered. "He
wasn't particularly anxious to
make acquaintances over here,
but he was even worse at home.
The way he went on, you'd think
he'd never had any friends and
never wanted any. I met him once
in the streets of Washington
last year, and had a cocktail
with him at the Atlantic House.
I had to almost drag him in there.
I was pretty well a stranger
in Washington, but he didn't
do a thing for me. Never asked
me to look him up, or introduced
me to his club. He just drank
his cocktail, mumbled something
about being in a hurry, and made
off. I tell you, sir, " Mr. Coulson
continued, turning to Somerfield, "that
man hadn't a thing to say for
himself. I guess his work had
something to do with it. You
must get kind of out of touch
with things, shut up in an office
from nine o'clock in the morning
till five in the afternoon. Just
saving up, he was, for his trip
to Europe. Then we happened on
the same steamer, but, bless
you, he scarcely even shook hands
when he saw me. He wouldn't play
bridge, didn't care about chess,
hadn't even a chair on the deck,
and never came in to meals."
Penelope nodded her head thoughtfully.
"You are destroying all my
illusions, Mr. Coulson," she
said. "Do you know that I was
building up quite a romance about
poor Mr. Fynes' life? It seemed
to me that he must have enemies;
that there must have been something
in his life, or his manner of
living, which accounted for such
a terrible crime."
"Why, sure not!" Mr. Coulson
declared heartily. "It was a
cleverly worked job, but there
was no mystery about it. Some
chap went for him because he
got riding about like a millionaire.
A more unromantic figure than
Hamilton Fynes never breathed.
Call him a crank and you've finished
Penelope sighed once more and
looked at the tips of her patent
"It has been so kind of you," she
murmured, "to talk to us. And
yet, do you know, I am a little
disappointed. I was hoping that
you might have been able to tell
us something more about the poor
"He was no talker," Mr. Coulson
declared. "It was little enough
he had to say to me, and less
to any one else."
"It seems strange," she remarked
innocently, "that he should have
been so shy. He didn't strike
me that way when I knew him at
home in Massachusetts, you know.
He travelled about so much in
later years, too, didn't he?"
Penelope's eyes were suddenly
upraised. For the first time
Mr. Coulson's ready answers failed
him. Not a muscle of his face
moved under the girl's scrutiny,
but he hesitated for a short
time before he answered her.
"Not that I know of," he said
at length. "No, I shouldn't have
called him much of a traveller."
Penelope rose to her feet and
held out her hand.
"It has been very nice indeed
of you to see us, Mr. Coulson," she
said, "especially after all these
other people have been bothering
you. Of course, I am sorry that
you haven't anything more to
tell us than we knew already.
Still, I felt that I couldn't
rest until we had been."
"It's a sad affair, anyhow," Mr.
Coulson declared, walking with
them to the door. "Don't you
get worrying your head, young
lady, though, with any notion
of his having had enemies, or
anything of that sort. The poor
fellow was no hero of romance.
I don't fancy even your halfpenny
papers could drag any out of
his life. It was just a commonplace
robbery, with a bad ending for
poor Fynes. Good evening, miss!
Good night, sir! Glad to have
met you, Sir Charles."
Mr. Coulson's two visitors
left and got into a small electric
brougham which was waiting for
them. Mr. Coulson himself watched
them drive off and glanced at
the clock. It was already a quarter
past six. He went into the cafe
and ordered a light dinner, which
he consumed with much obvious
enjoyment. Then he lit a cigar
and went into the smoking room.
Selecting a pile of newspapers,
he drew up an easy chair to the
fire and made himself comfortable.
"Seems to me I may have a longish
wait," he said to himself.
As a matter of fact, he was
disappointed. At precisely seven
o'clock, Mr. Richard Vanderpole
strolled into the room and, after
a casual glance around, approached
his chair and touched him on
the shoulder. In his evening
clothes the newcomer was no longer
obtrusively American. He was
dressed in severely English fashion,
from the cut of his white waistcoat
to the admirable poise of his
white tie. He smiled as he patted
Coulson upon the shoulder.
"This is Mr. Coulson, I'm sure," he
declared,--"Mr. James B. Coulson
from New York?"
"You're dead right," Mr.
Coulson admitted, laying down
and favoring his visitor with
a quick upward glance.
"This is great!" the young
man continued. "Just off the
boat, eh? Well, I am glad to
see you,--very glad indeed to
make your acquaintance, I should
Mr. Coulson replied in similar
terms. A waiter who was passing
through the room hesitated, for
it was a greeting which generally
ended in a summons for him.
"What shall it be?" the
"I've just taken dinner," Mr.
Coulson said. "Coffee and cognac'll
do me all right."
"And a Martini cocktail for
me," the young man ordered. "I
am dining down in the restaurant
with some friends later on. Come
over to this corner, Mr. Coulson.
Why, you're looking first-rate.
Great boat, the Lusitania, isn't
she? What sort of a trip did
So they talked till the drinks
had been brought and paid for,
till another little party had
quitted the room and they sat
in their lonely corner, secure
from observation or from any
possibility of eavesdropping.
Then Mr. Richard Vanderpole leaned
forward in his chair and dropped
"Coulson," he said, "the
chief is anxious. We don't
this affair. Do you know anything?"
"Not a d----d thing!" Coulson
"Were you shadowed on the boat?" the
young man asked.
"Not to my knowledge," Coulson
answered. "Fynes was in his stateroom
six hours before we started.
I can't make head nor tail of
"He had the
papers, of course?"
"Sewn in the lining of his
coat," Coulson muttered. "You
read about that in tonight's
papers. The lining was torn and
the space empty. He had them
all right when he left the steamer."
The young man looked around;
the room was still empty.
"I'm fresh in this," he said. "I
got some information this afternoon,
and the chief sent me over to
see you on account of it. We
had better not discuss possibilities,
I suppose? The thing's too big.
The chief's almost off his head.
Is there any chance, do you think,
Coulson, that this was an ordinary
robbery? I am not sure that the
special train wasn't a mistake."
"None whatever," Coulson
"How do you know?" his
companion asked quickly.
"Well, I've lied to those reporters
and chaps," Coulson admitted,--"lied
with a purpose, of course, as
you people can understand. The
money found upon Fynes was every
penny he had when he left Liverpool."
The young man set his teeth.
"It's something to know this,
at any rate," he declared. "You
did right, Coulson, to put up
that bluff. Now about the duplicates?"
"They are in my suitcase," Coulson
answered, "and according to the
way things are going, I shan't
be over sorry to get rid of them.
Will you take them with you?"
"Why, sure!" Vanderpole answered. "That's
what I'm here for."
"You had better wait right
here, then," Coulson said, "I'll
He made his way up to his room,
undid his dressing bag, which
was fastened only with an ordinary
lock, and from between two shirts
drew out a small folded packet,
no bigger than an ordinary letter.
It was a curious circumstance
that he used only one hand for
the search and with the other
gripped the butt of a small revolver.
There was no one around, however,
nor was he disturbed in any way.
In a few minutes he returned
to the bar smoking room, where
the young man was still waiting,
and handed him the letter.
"Tell me," the latter asked, "have
you been shadowed at all?"
"Not that I know of," Coulson
"Men with quick instincts," Vanderpole
continued, "can always tell when
they are being watched. Have
you felt anything of the sort?"
Coulson hesitated for one moment.
"No," he said. "I
had a caller whose manner I
did not quite
understand. She seemed to have
something at the back of her
head about me."
"She! Was it a woman?" the
young man asked quickly.
"A young lady," he said,--"Miss
Penelope Morse, she called herself."
Mr. Richard Vanderpole stood
quite still for a moment.
"Ah!" he said softly. "She
might have been interested."
"Does the chief want me at
all?" Coulson asked.
"No!" Vanderpole answered. "Go
about your business as usual.
Leave here for Paris, say, in
ten days. There will probably
be a letter for you at the Grand
Hotel by that time."
They walked together toward
the main exit. The young man's
face had lost some of its grimness.
Once more his features wore that
look of pleasant and genial good-fellowship
which seems characteristic of
his race after business hours.
"Say, Mr. Coulson," he declared,
as they passed across the hall, "you
and I must have a night together.
This isn't New York, by any manner
of means, or Paris, but there's
some fun to be had here, in a
quiet way. I'll phone you tomorrow
or the day after."
"Sure!" Mr. Coulson declared. "I'd
like it above all things."
"I must find a taxicab," the
young man remarked. "I've a busy
hour before me. I've got to go
down and see the chief, who is
dining somewhere in Kensington,
and get back again to dine here
at half past seven in the restaurant."
"I guess you'll have to look
sharp, then." Mr. Coulson remarked. "Do
you see the time?"
Vanderpole glanced at the clock
and whistled softly to himself.
"Tell you what!" he exclaimed, "I'll
write a note to one of the friends
I've got to meet, and leave it
here. Boy," he added, turning
to a page boy, "get me a taxi
as quick as you can."
The boy ran out into the Strand,
and Vanderpole, sitting down
at the table, wrote a few lines,
which he sealed and addressed
and handed to one of the reception
clerks. Then he shook hands with
Coulson and threw himself into
a corner of the cab which was
"Drive down the Brompton Road," he
said to the man. "I'll direct
It was a quarter past seven
when he left the hotel. At half
past a policeman held up his
hand and stopped the taxi, to
the driver's great astonishment,
as he was driving slowly across
Melbourne Square, Kensington.
"What's the matter?" the man
asked. "You can't say I was exceeding
my speed limit."
The policeman scarcely noticed
him. His head was already through
the cab window.
"Where did you take your fare
up?" he asked quickly.
"Savoy Hotel," the man answered. "What's
wrong with him?"
The policeman opened the door
of the cab and stepped in.
"Never you mind about that," he
said. "Drive to the South Kensington
police station as quick as you