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CLEEK OF SCOTLAND YARD


[Illustration: "My only kingdom is here ... in this dear woman's
arms. Walk with me, Ailsa ... as my queen _and_ my wife."]


The International Adventure Library

Three Owls Edition

CLEEK OF SCOTLAND YARD

Detective Stories

by

T. P. Hanshew

Author of "Cleek the Master Detective",
"Cleek's Government Cases" etc.







W. R. Caldwell & Co.
New York

Copyright, 1912, 1913, 1914, by
Doubleday, Page & Company

All rights reserved, including that of
translation into foreign languages,
including the Scandinavian.




Cleek of Scotland Yard




_PROLOGUE_

The Affair of the Man Who Vanished


Mr. Maverick Narkom, Superintendent at Scotland Yard, flung aside
the paper he was reading and wheeled round in his revolving
desk-chair, all alert on the instant, like a terrier that scents a
rat.

He knew well what the coming of the footsteps toward his private
office portended; his messenger was returning at last.

Good! Now he would get at the facts of the matter, and be relieved
from the sneers of carping critics and the pin pricks of overzealous
reporters, who seemed to think that the Yard was to blame, and all
the forces connected with it to be screamed at as incompetents if
every evildoer in London was not instantly brought to book and his
craftiest secrets promptly revealed.

Gad! Let them take on his job, then, if they thought the thing so
easy! Let them have a go at this business of stopping at one's post
until two o'clock in the morning trying to patch up the jumbled
fragments of a puzzle of this sort, if they regarded it as such
child's play--finding an assassin whom nobody had seen and who struck
with a method which neither medical science nor legal acumen could
trace or name. _Then_, by James....

The door opened and closed, and Detective Sergeant Petrie stepped
into the room, removing his hat and standing at attention.

"Well?" rapped out the superintendent, in the sharp staccato of
nervous impatience. "Speak up! It was a false alarm, was it not?"

"No, sir. It's even worse than reported. Quicker and sharper than
any of the others. He's gone, sir."

"Gone? Good God! you don't mean _dead_?"

"Yes, sir. Dead as Julius Csar. Total collapse about twenty minutes
after my arrival and went off like that"--snapping his fingers and
giving his hand an outward fling. "Same way as the others, only,
as I say, quicker, sir; and with no more trace of what caused it
than the doctors were able to discover in the beginning. That makes
five in the same mysterious way, Superintendent, and not a ghost
of a clue yet. The papers will be ringing with it to-morrow."

"Ringing with it? Can they 'ring' any more than they are doing
already?" Narkom threw up both arms and laughed the thin, mirthless
laughter of utter despair. "Can they say anything worse than they
have said? Blame any more unreasonably than they have blamed? It
is small solace for the overburdened taxpayer to reflect that he
may be done to death at any hour of the night, and that the heads
of the institution he has so long and so consistently supported
are capable of giving his stricken family nothing more in return
than the "Dear me! dear me!" of utter bewilderment; and to prove
anew that the efficiency of our boasted police-detective system
may be classed under the head of "Brilliant Fiction." That sort
of thing, day after day--as if I had done nothing but pile up
failures of this kind since I came into office. No heed of the
past six years' brilliant success. No thought for the manner in which
the police departments of other countries were made to sit up and
to marvel at our methods. Two months' failure and _that_ doesn't
count! By the Lord Harry! I'd give my head to make those newspaper
fellows eat their words--gad, yes!"

"Why don't you, then, sir?" Petrie dropped his voice a tone or
two and looked round over the angle of his shoulder as he spoke;
then, recollecting the time and the improbability of anybody being
within earshot, took heart of grace and spoke up bolder. "There's
no use blinking the fact, Mr. Narkom; it was none of us--none of
the regular force, I mean--that made the record of those years what
it was. That chap Cleek was the man that did it, sir. You know
that as well as I. I don't know whether you've fallen out with
him or not; or if he's off on some secret mission that keeps him
from handling Yard matters these days. But if he isn't, take my
advice, sir, and put him on this case at once."

"Don't talk such rot!" flung out Narkom, impatiently. "Do you think
I'd have waited until now to do it if it could be done? Put him on
the case, indeed! How the devil am I to do it when I don't know
where on earth to find him? He cleared out directly after that
Panther's Paw case six months ago. Gave up his lodgings, sacked
his housekeeper, laid off his assistant, Dollops, and went the
Lord knows where and why."

"My hat! Then that's the reason we never hear any more of him in Yard
matters, is it? I wondered! Disappeared, eh? Well, well! You don't
think he can have gone back to his old lay--back to the wrong 'uns
and his old 'Vanishing Cracksman's' tricks, do you, sir?"

"No, I don't. No backslider about that chap, by James! He's not built
that way. Last time I saw him he was out shopping with Miss Ailsa
Lorne--the girl who redeemed him--and judging from their manner
toward each other, I rather fancied--well, never mind! That's got
nothing to do with you. Besides, I feel sure that if they had, Mrs.
Narkom and I would have been invited. All he said was that he was
going to take a holiday. He didn't say why, and he didn't say where.
I wish to heaven I'd asked him. I could have kicked myself for not
having done so when that she-devil of a Frenchwoman managed to slip
the leash and get off scot free."

"Mean that party we nabbed in the house at Roehampton along with
the Mauravanian baron who got up that Silver Snare fake, don't you,
sir? Margot, the Queen of the Apaches. Or, at least, that's who you
declared she was, I recollect."

"And that's who I still declare she was!" rapped in Narkom, testily,
"and what I'll continue to say while there's a breath left in me.
I never actually saw the woman until that night, it is true, but
Cleek told me she was Margot; and who should know better than
he, when he was once her pal and partner? But it's one of the
infernal drawbacks of British justice that a crook's word's as good
as an officer's if it's not refuted by actual proof. The woman
brought a dozen witnesses to prove that she was a respectable
Austrian lady on a visit to her son in England; that the motor in
which she was riding broke down before that Roehampton house about
an hour before our descent upon it, and that she had merely been
invited to step in and wait while the repairs were being attended
to by her chauffeur. Of course such a chauffeur was forthcoming
when she was brought up before the magistrate; and a garage-keeper
was produced to back up his statement; so that when the Mauravanian
prisoner 'confessed' from the dock that what the lady said was
true, that settled it. _I_ couldn't swear to her identity, and
Cleek, who could, was gone--the Lord knows where; upon which the
magistrate admitted the woman to bail and delivered her over to the
custody of her solicitors pending my efforts to get somebody
over from Paris to identify her. And no sooner is the vixen set at
large than--presto!--away she goes, bag and baggage, out of the
country, and not a man in England has seen hide nor hair of her
since. Gad! if I could but have got word to Cleek at that time--just
to put him on his guard against her. But I couldn't. I've no more
idea than a child where the man went--not one."

"It's pretty safe odds to lay one's head against a brass farthing as
to where the woman went, though, I reckon," said Petrie, stroking
his chin. "Bunked it back to Paris, I expect, sir, and made for her
hole like any other fox. I hear them French 'tecs are as keen to get
hold of her as we were, but she slips 'em like an eel. Can't lay
hands on her, and couldn't swear to her identity if they did. Not one
in a hundred of 'em's ever seen her to be sure of her, I'm told."

"No, not one. Even Cleek himself knows nothing of who and what she
really is. He confessed that to me. Their knowledge of each other
began when they threw in their lot together for the first time, and
ceased when they parted. Yes, I suppose she did go back to Paris,
Petrie--it would be her safest place; and there'd be rich pickings
there for her and her crew just now. The city is _en fte_, you know."

"Yes, sir. King Ulric of Mauravania is there as the guest of the
Republic. Funny time for a king to go visiting another nation, sir,
isn't it, when there's a revolution threatening in his own? Dunno
much about the ways of kings, Superintendent, but if there was a
row coming up in _my_ house, you can bet all you're worth I'd be
mighty sure to stop at home."

"Diplomacy, Petrie, diplomacy! he may be safer where he is. Rumours
are afloat that Prince What's-his-name, son and heir of the late
Queen Karma, is not only still living, but has, during the present
year, secretly visited Mauravania in person. I see by the papers
that that ripping old royalist, Count Irma, is implicated in the
revolutionary movement and that, by the king's orders, he has been
arrested and imprisoned in the Fort of Sulberga on a charge of
sedition.



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