Mr. James B. Coulson settled
down to live what was, to all
appearance, a very inoffensive
and ordinary life. He rose a
little earlier than was customary
for an Englishman of business
of his own standing, but he made
up for this by a somewhat prolonged
visit to the barber, a breakfast
which bespoke an unimpaired digestion,
and a cigar of more than ordinary
length over his newspaper. At
about eleven o'clock he went
down to the city, and returned
sometimes to luncheon, sometimes
at varying hours, never later,
however, than four or five o'clock.
From that time until seven, he
was generally to be found in
the American bar, meeting old
friends or making new ones.
On the sixth day of his stay
at the Savoy Hotel the waiter
who looked after the bar smoking
room accosted him as he entered
at his usual time, a little after
half past four.
"There's a gentleman here,
Mr. Coulson, been asking after
you," he announced. "I told him
that you generally came in about
this time. You'll find him sitting
Mr. Coulson glanced in the
direction indicated. It was Mr.
Jacks who awaited him in the
cushioned easy chair. For a single
moment, perhaps, his lips tightened
and the light of battle flashed
in his face. Then he crossed
the room apparently himself again,--an
undistinguished, perfectly natural
"It's Mr. Jacks, isn't it?" he
asked, holding out his hand. "I
thought I recognized you."
The Inspector rose to his feet.
"I am sorry to trouble you
again, Mr. Coulson," he said, "but
if you could spare me just a
minute or two, I should be very
Mr. Coulson laughed pleasantly.
"You can have all you want
of me from now till midnight," he
declared. "My business doesn't
take very long, and I can only
see the people I want to see
in the middle of the day. After
that, I don't mind telling you
that I find time hangs a bit
on my hands. Try one of these," he
added, producing a cigar case.
The Inspector thanked him and
helped himself. Mr. Coulson summoned
"Highball for me," he directed. "What's
yours, Mr. Jacks?"
"Thank you very much," the
Inspector said. "I will take
a little Scotch whiskey and soda."
The two men sat down. The corner
was a retired one, and there
was no one within earshot.
"Say, are you still on this
Hamilton Fynes business?" Mr.
"You know, I'm not making reflections," Mr.
Coulson said, sticking his cigar
in a corner of his mouth and
leaning back in a comfortable
attitude, "but it does seem to
me that you are none too rapid
on this side in clearing up these
matters. Why, a little affair
of that sort wouldn't take the
police twenty minutes in New
York. We have a big city, full
of alien quarters, full of hiding
places, and chock full of criminals,
but our police catch em, all
the same. There's no one going
to commit murder in the streets
of New York without finding himself
in the Tombs before he's a week
older. No offence, Mr. Jacks."
"I am not taking any, Mr. Coulson," the
Inspector answered. "I must admit
that there's a great deal of
truth in what you say. It is
rather a reflection upon us that
we have not as yet even made
an arrest, but I think you will
also admit that the circumstances
of those murders were exceedingly
Mr. Coulson knocked the ash
from his cigar.
"Well, as to that," he said, "and
if we are to judge only by what
we read in the papers, they are
curious, without a doubt. But
I am not supposing for one moment
that you fellows at Scotland
Yard don't know more than you've
let on to the newspapers. You
keep your discoveries out of
the Press over here, and a good
job, too, but you wouldn't persuade
me that you haven't some very
distinct theory as to how that
crime was worked, and the sort
of person who did it. Eh, Mr.
"We are perhaps not quite so
ignorant as we seem," the Inspector
answered, "and of course you
are right when you say that we
have a few more facts to go by
than have appeared in the newspapers.
Still, the affair is an extremely
puzzling one,--as puzzling, in
its way," Mr. Jacks continued, "as
the murder on the very next evening
of this young American gentleman."
Mr. Coulson nodded sympathetically.
The drinks were brought, and
he raised his glass to his guest.
"Here's luck!" he said--"luck
to you with your game of human
chess, and luck to me with my
woollen machinery patents! You
were speaking of that second
murder," he remarked, setting
down his glass. "I haven't noticed
the papers much this morning.
Has any arrest been made yet?"
"Not yet," the Inspector admitted. "To
tell you the truth, we find it
almost as puzzling an affair
as the one in which Mr. Hamilton
Fynes was concerned."
Mr. Coulson nodded. He seemed
content, at this stage in their
conversation, to assume the role
"You read the particulars of
the murder of Mr. Vanderpole,
I suppose?" the Inspector asked.
"Every word," Mr. Coulson answered. "Most
interesting thing I've seen in
an English newspaper since I
landed. Didn't sound like London
somehow. Gray old law-abiding
place, my partner always calls
"I am going to be quite frank
with you, Mr. Coulson," the Inspector
continued. "I am going to tell
you exactly why I have come to
see you again tonight."
"Why, that's good," Mr. Coulson
declared. "I like to know everything
a man's got in his mind."
"I have come to you," the Inspector
said, "because, by a somewhat
curious coincidence, I find that,
besides your slight acquaintance
with and knowledge of Mr. Hamilton
Fynes, you were also acquainted
with this Mr. Richard Vanderpole,--that
you were," he continued, knocking
the ash off his cigar and speaking
a little more slowly, "the last
person, except the driver of
the taxicab, to have seen him
Mr. Coulson turned slowly around
and faced his companion.
"Now, how the devil do you
know that?" he asked.
The Inspector smiled tolerantly.
"Well," he said, "that
is very simple. The taxicab
here. Mr. Vanderpole had been
visiting some one in the hotel.
There was not the slightest difficulty
in ascertaining that the person
for whom he asked, and with whom
he spent some twenty minutes
in this very room, was Mr. James
B. Coulson of New York."
"Seated on this very couch,
sir!" Mr. Coulson declared, striking
the arm of it with the flat of
his hand,--"seated within a few
feet of where you yourself are
at this present moment."
The Inspector nodded.
"Naturally," he continued, "when
I became aware of so singular
an occurrence, I felt that I
must lose no time in coming and
having a few more words with
Mr. Coulson became meditative.
"Upon my word, when you come
to think of it," he said, "it
is a coincidence, sure! Two men
murdered within twenty-four hours,
and I seem to have been the last
person who knew them, to speak
to either. Tell you what, Mr.
Jacks, if this goes on I shall
get a bit scared. I think I shall
let the London business alone
and go on over to Paris."
The Inspector smiled.
"I fancy your nerves," he remarked, "are
quite strong enough to bear the
strain. However, I am sure you
will not mind telling me exactly
why Mr. Richard Vanderpole, Secretary
to the American Embassy here,
should have come to see you on
"Why, that's easy," Mr. Coulson
replied. "You may have heard
of my firm, The Coulson & Bruce
Company of Jersey City. I'm at
the head of a syndicate that's
controlling some very valuable
patents which we want to exploit
on this side and in Paris. Now
my people don't exactly know
how we stand under this new patent
bill of Mr. Lloyd George's. Accordingly
they wrote across to Mr. Blaine-Harvey,
putting the matter to him, and
asking him to give me his opinion
the moment I arrived on this
side. You see, it was no use
our entering into contracts if
we had to build the plant and
make the stuff over here. We
didn't stand any earthly show
of making it pay that way. Well,
Mr. Harvey cabled out that I
was just to let him know the
moment I landed, and before I
opened up any business. Sure
enough, I called him up on the
telephone, an hour or so after
I got here, and this young man
came round. I can tell you he
was all right, too,--a fine,
upstanding young fellow, and
as bright as they make em. He
brought a written opinion with
him as to how the law would affect
our proceedings. I've got it
in my room if you'd care to see
Mr. Jacks listened to his companion's
words with unchanged face.
"If it isn't troubling you," he
said, "it would be of some interest
Mr. Coulson rose to his feet.
"You sit right here," he declared. "I'll
be back in less than five minutes."
was as good as his word. In
less than the time
mentioned he was seated again
by his companion's side with
a square sheet of foolscap spread
out upon the round table. The
Inspector ran it through hurriedly.
The paper was stamped American
Embassy,' and it was the digest
of several opinions as to the
effect of the new patent law
upon the import of articles manufactured
under processes controlled by
the Coulson & Bruce syndicate.
At the end there were a few lines
in the Ambassador's own handwriting,
summing up the situation. Mr.
Coulson produced another packet
of letters and documents.
"If you've an hour or so to
spare, Mr. Jacks," he said, "I'd
like to go right into this with
you, if it would interest you
any. It's my business over here,
so naturally I am glad enough
of an opportunity to talk it
Mr. Jacks passed back the paper
"I am extremely obliged to
you," he said. "I am sure I should
find it most interesting. Another
time I should be very glad indeed
to look through those specifications,
but just now I have this affair
of my own rather on my mind.
About this Mr. Richard Vanderpole,
Mr. Coulson, then," he added. "Do
I understand that this young
man came to you as a complete
"Absolutely," Mr. Coulson answered. "I
never saw him before in my life.
As decent a young chap as ever
I met with, all the same," he
went on, "and comes of a good
American stock, too. They tell
me there's going to be an inquest
and that I shall be summoned,
but I know nothing more than
what I've told you. If I did,
you'd be welcome to it."
Mr. Jacks leaned back in his
chair. Certainly the situation
increased in perplexity! The
man by his side was talking now
of the adaptation of one of his
patents to some existing machinery,
and Jacks watched him covertly.
He considered himself, to some
extent, a physiognomist. He told
himself it was not possible that
this man was playing a part.
Mr. James B. Coulson sat there,
the absolute incarnation of the
genial man of affairs, interested
in his business, interested in
the great subject of dollar-getting,
content with himself and his
position,--a person apparently
of little imagination, for the
shock of this matter concerning
which they had been talking had
already passed away. He was doing
his best to explain with a pencil
on the back of an illustrated
paper some new system of wool-bleaching.
"Mr. Coulson," the Inspector
said suddenly, "do you know a
young lady named Miss Penelope
It was here, perhaps, that
Mr. Coulson sank a little from
the heights of complete success.
He repeated the name, and obviously
took time to think before he
"Miss Penelope Morse," the
Inspector continued. "She is
a young American lady, who lives
with an invalid aunt in Park
Lane, and who is taken everywhere
by the Duchess of Devenham, another
aunt, I believe."
"I suppose I may say that I
am acquainted with her," Mr.
Coulson admitted. "She came here
the other evening with a young
man--Sir Charles Somerfield."
"Ah!" the Inspector
"She'd read that interview
of mine with the Comet man," Mr.
Coulson said, "and she fancied
that perhaps I could tell her
something about Hamilton Fynes."
"First time you'd met her,
I suppose?" the Inspector remarked.
"Sure!" Mr. Coulson answered. "As
a matter of fact, I know very
few of my compatriots over here.
I am an American citizen myself,
and I haven't too much sympathy
with any one, man or woman, who
doesn't find America good enough
for them to live in."
The Inspector nodded.
"Quite so," he agreed. "So
you hadn't anything to tell this
"Not a thing that she hadn't
read in the Comet," Mr. Coulson
replied. "What brought her into
your mind, anyway?"
"Nothing particular," the Inspector
answered carelessly. "Well, Mr.
Coulson, I won't take up any
more of your time. I am convinced
that you have told me all that
you know, and I am afraid that
I shall have to look elsewhere
to find the loose end of this
"Stay and have another drink," Mr.
Coulson begged. "I've nothing
to do. There are one or two boys
coming in later who'll like to
The Inspector shook his head.
"I must be off," he said. "I
want to get into my office before
six o'clock. I dare say I shall
be running across you again before
you go back."
He shook hands and turned away.
Then Mr. Coulson made what was,
perhaps, his second slight mistake.
"Say, Mr. Jacks," he exclaimed, "what
made you mention that young lady's
name, anyway? I'm curious to
The Inspector looked thoughtfully
at the end of the fresh cigar
which he had just lit.
"Well," he said, "I
don't know that there was anything
in my mind, only it seems a little
strange that you and Miss Penelope
Morse should both have been acquainted
with the murdered man and that
you should have come across one
"Sort of bond between us, eh?" Mr.
Coulson replied. "She seemed
a very charming young lady. Cut
above Fynes, I should think."
The detective smiled.
"All your American young ladies
who come over here are charming," he
said. "Goodbye, Mr. Coulson,
and many thanks!"
The Inspector passed out, and
the man whom he had come to visit,
after a moment's hesitation,
resumed his seat.
"These aren't American methods," he
muttered to himself. "I don't
understand them. That man Jacks
is either a simpleton or he is
too cunning for me."
He crossed to a writing table
and scribbled an unnecessary
note, addressing it to a firm
in the city. Then he rang for
a messenger boy and handed it
to him for delivery. A few minutes
afterwards he strolled out into
the hall. The boy was in the
act of handing the note to one
of the head porters, who carefully
copied the address. Mr. Coulson
returned to the smoking room,
whistling softly to himself.