CASE OF THE BLUE RAJAH
Inspector Grimsby called upon me one evening, wearing a great glumness of countenance.
“Look here,” said he, “I’m in a bit of a corner. You’ll have heard that a committee of commercial magnates has been formed to buy, and on behalf of the City of London to present to the Crown, the big Indian diamond?”
I nodded and pushed the box of cigarettes towards him.
“Well,” he continued, thoughtfully selecting one, “they are meeting in Moorgate Street to-morrow morning to complete the deal and formally take over the stone. Sir Michael Cayley, the Lord Mayor, will be present, and he’s received a letter, which has been passed on to me.”
He fumbled for his pocket-case. Grimsby is a man who will go far. He is the youngest detective-inspector in the service, and he has that priceless gift—the art of using other people for the furtherance of his own ends. I do not intend this criticism unkindly. Grimsby does nothing dishonourable and seeks to rob no man of the credit that may be due. There is nothing underhand about Grimsby, but he is exceedingly diplomatic. He imparts official secrets to me with an ingenuousness entirely disarming—but always for reasons of his own.
“Here you are,” he said, and passed a letter to me. It read as follows—
“To the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor of London.
“Beware that the Blue Rajah is not stolen on Wednesday the 13th inst. Do not lose sight of it for one moment.
“Your Lordship’s obedient servant,
“You see,” continued Grimsby, “Wednesday the thirteenth is to-morrow, when the thing is being brought to Moorgate Street. Naturally, Sir Michael communicated with the Yard, and as I’m in the know about Moris Klaw, I got the job of looking into the matter. I was at the Mansion House this morning.”
“I suppose Sir Michael regards this note with suspicion?”
“Well, he’s not silly enough to suppose that anybody who thought of stealing the diamond would drop him a line advising him of the matter! But he’d never heard of Moris Klaw until I explained about him. When I told him that Klaw had a theory about the Cycle of Crime, and his letter probably meant that, according to said theory, on Wednesday the thirteenth the Blue Rajah was due to be lifted, so to speak, he laughed. You’ll have noticed that people mostly laugh at first about Moris Klaw?”
“Certainly. You did, yourself!”
“I know it—and I’m suffering for it! Klaw won’t lift his little finger when I ask him; and as for his daughter, she giggles as though she was looking at a comedian when she looks at me! She thinks I’m properly funny!”
“You’ve been to Wapping, then?”
“Yes, this afternoon. The Lord Mayor wanted a lot of convincing that Moris Klaw was on the straight after I’d told him that the old gentleman was a dealer in curios in the East End. Finally, he suggested that I should find out what the warning meant exactly. But I couldn’t get to see Klaw; his daughter said he was out.”
“I suppose every precaution will be taken?”
“To-morrow morning we have arranged that I and two other C.I.D. men are to accompany the party to the Safe Deposit vaults to fetch the diamond and we shall guard it on the way back afterwards.”
“Who’s going to fetch it?”
“Sir John Carron, representing the India Office, Mr. Mark Anderson—the expert—representing the City, and Mr. Gautami Chinje, representing the Gaekwar of Nizam. I was wondering”— he surveyed the burning end of his cigarette—“if you had time to run down to Wapping yourself, and find out from what direction we ought to look for trouble?”
“Sorry, Grimsby,” I replied; “I would do it with pleasure, but my evening is fully taken up. Personally, it appears to me that Moris Klaw’s warning was a timely one. You seem to be watching the stone pretty closely.”
“Like a cat watches a mouse!” he rapped. “If any one steals the Blue Rajah to-morrow, he’ll be a clever fellow.”
Basinghall House, Moorgate Street, is built around a courtyard. You enter under an archway, and find offices before you, offices to right and offices to left. As a matter of fact, Basinghall House was designed for an hotel, but subsequently let off in suites of chambers. The offices of Messrs. Anderson and Brothers are on the left, as you enter, and from the window of the principal’s sanctum you may look down into the courtyard.
The room chosen for the meeting on Wednesday morning, however, was one opening off this. In common with the adjoining office—as I have said, that of the principal—it had a second door, opening on a corridor. This latter door, however, was never used and was always kept double-locked. Thus, the doorway from the other office was really its only means of entrance or egress. A large window offered a prospect of the courtyard.
At a quarter to eleven on Wednesday morning, Mr. Anderson (one of the City Aldermen) entered his own private office from the corridor. He was accompanied by Sir John Carron, Mr. Gautami Chinje, and Inspector Grimsby. These three had come with him from the Safe Deposit vaults. Mr. Anderson had possession of the case containing the diamond.
In the office, already awaiting the party, were Sir Michael Cayley (the Lord Mayor), Mr. Morrison Dell, of the Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company, Sir Vernon Rankin (ex-Lord Mayor), Mr. Werner, of the great engineering firm, and Mr. Anderson, junior. These constituted the Presentation Committee duly appointed by the City of London (excluding, of course, Sir John Carron, of the India Office, Mr. Chinje, representing the vendor of the jewel, and Mr. Grimsby, representing New Scotland Yard).
“We are all present, gentlemen,” said Mr. Anderson. “But before we proceed to the business which brings us here, we will enter the inner room, where we shall be quite private.”
Accordingly the party of eight passed through the doorway; and Mr. Anderson, senior, entering last, relocked the door behind him. Inspector Grimsby remained alone in the private office.
Eight oaken chairs and a small oaken table bearing a pewter inkpot, two pens and a blotting-pad, represents, with a square of red carpet and a framed photograph bearing the legend:
“Jagersfontein Diamond Workings, Orange Free State, 1909,” an inventory of the furniture.
The company being seated, Mr. Anderson, by the table, rose and said—
“Gentlemen, our business this morning can be briefly dealt with. I have here”—he produced a leather case, opened it and placed it on the table before him—“the diamond known as the Blue Rajah. Its history may be summarised thus: It appeared in the year 1680, and is supposed to have been found in the Kollur Mine, on the Kostna. It had a weight of 254½ carats in the rough, but was reduced to 132 carats in the cutting. It has been successively owned by Nadir Shah, Princess de Lamballe, the Sultan Abdúl Hámid, Mr. Simon Rabstein of New York, and, finally, the Gaekwar of Nizam. It has no flaws; in fact, two of the original facets were retained when the stone passed through the cutter’s hands. It is rose cut and its colour is of the finest water, having the rare blue tint.”
He paused, raising the diamond from its receptacle, and holding it in his hand. The sunlight, pouring in through the window, struck flame-spears from the wonderful thing.
“In fact, gentlemen,” he concluded, “the Blue Rajah is a fitting offering for the City of London to make to the Crown.”
“Hear, hear!” chorused the others; and the diamond was passed from hand to hand. The formal business of making over the stone to the Committee was then transacted. A huge cheque was placed in the pocket-case of Mr. Gautami Chinje, autographs were affixed to two formidable documents; and the Blue Rajah became the property of the loyal City of London.
“You see,” said Sir John Carron, holding the stone daintily between thumb and forefinger, and pointing, lecturer-fashion, “the diamond is perfectly proportioned, being a full three-fifths as deep as it is broad.”
“Quite so,” agreed Mr. Morris Dell, looking over his shoulder. “It is the most perfectly proportioned stone I have ever handled, Sir John,” said the younger Mr. Anderson—and he stood back surveying the gem with the caressing glance of a connoisseur.
Sir John turned and tenderly laid the diamond in its case. At which moment, exactly, arose a blood-curdling scream in the courtyard below.
“Good Lord!” cried Mr. Werner, “What is that?”
There was a crowded rush to the window—those in the second rank peering over the heads and shoulders of those in the first. The horrid cries continued, in a choking yet shrill crescendo.
“Ah! God in Heaven! You are killing me! No! No! Mercy!…Mercy!…Mercy!…”
“It is some one in the archway,” said Sir Vernon Rankin, excitedly. “Can any of you see him?”
No one could, though all craned necks vigorously.
“Unfortunately the window cannot be opened,” cried Mr. Anderson. “The catch has jammed in some way. I am having it removed immediately.”
The cries ceased. People were running about below, and the blue uniform of a City constable showed among the group in the archway.
“I’ll run down and see what has happened,” said Mr. Chinje, stepping to the door which opened on the corridor. “Hullo! it is locked!”
Young Mr. Anderson turned to him with a smile.
“Both doors are locked, Mr. Chinje,” he said. “For the time being we are virtually prisoners.”
“Give me the case,” said his father, selecting the key of the door communicating with his private office. “There is no occasion for further delay.”
The Lord Mayor turned from the window, through which he had still been vainly peering, and stepped to the table.
“Yes?” said the latter, glancing back, keys in hand.
“Have you the diamond?”
“Then who has it?”
No one had it. But the case was empty!
Mr. Anderson replaced the keys in his pocket. His ruddy face suddenly had grown pale. Sir Michael Cayley, the empty case in his hand, stood staring across the room like a man dazed. Then he forced speech to his lips.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “since it is physically impossible for the diamond to have left this room, in this room it must be searched for—and found. First, is it by any chance upon the floor?”
A brief examination showed that it was not. “Then,” continued Sir Michael, “the painful conclusion is unavoidable that it is upon some one’s person!”
An angry murmur arose. Mr. Anderson raised his hand.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “Sir Michael states no more than the fact.”
And, his face remaining very pale, he removed his coat and waistcoat and threw them upon the table, emptied his trouser-pockets and turned out the linings.
“Be good enough to examine them, gentlemen,” he said. There was a momentary hesitation; but the Lord Mayor stepped forward and in a businesslike way examined the contents of the several pockets. He turned to Mr. Anderson.
“Thank you,” he said. “If the others are satisfied, I am.”
There was a murmur of assent; and as the owner of the office picked up his property, Sir Michael, in turn, submitted himself to examination. All the others followed suit, without further hesitation. And the result of the inquiry was nil.
Eight anxious faces surrounded the little table.
“I suggest,” said Mr. Anderson, quietly, “that we admit the detective who is in my office. His experience may enable him to succeed where we have failed.”
All agreeing, the communicating door was opened. Mr. Anderson, without quitting the room, called to Inspector Grimsby. The inspector entered. The door was relocked.
“Inspector,” said Mr. Anderson, “the diamond is missing!”
Whereupon Grimsby’s eyes opened widely in amazement.
“Are you sure, sir?”
“Unfortunately I cannot doubt it.”
“When did you last see it?”
“At the moment when that uproar broke out, below,” said Mr. Dell.
“Ah,” murmured Grimsby, thoughtfully. “You all rushed to the window, I expect?”
“Leaving the diamond on the table?”
“That’s when it was stolen!”
“Very possibly, Inspector,” said the Lord Mayor, a stoutly built man with an imperious manner. “But who took it and where did he conceal it?”
“You must all submit to be searched, gentlemen!”
“We have already done so.”
“I am more used to that sort of thing. Do you all agree to being searched by me?”
All did. The previous performance was repeated. Grimsby not only searched the garments but passed his hands all over the persons of the eight, even making them open their mouths and tapping at their teeth with a lead pencil!
“I did some I.D.B. work in South Africa,” he explained. “It’s wonderful where a clever man can hide a diamond.”
But no diamond was found!
The better to bring home to those who read these records the truly amazing nature of this circumstance, I will explain again here, the construction and furniture of the apartment.
It was a small room, some fourteen feet by eighteen. It contained eight oak chairs and an oak table; a red carpet; its walls were distempered and bare, save for the framed photograph previously mentioned. The one window was closed and fastened. The door opening on the corridor was double-locked. Save when it had been opened to admit Grimsby, the door communicating with the next office had also been locked throughout the course of the meeting. There was no fireplace. Ventilation was provided for by a small, square ventilator above the corridor door.
Having convinced himself that the diamond was not upon the person of any one present, Inspector Grimsby took but two or three minutes to satisfy himself that it was not concealed elsewhere.
“Gentlemen,” he said, slowly, “the Blue Rajah is not in this room!”
The Lord Mayor glared. He was a director of the company with which the diamond was insured.
“My good man,” he said, “it isn’t humanly possible for anything—anything—to have gone out of this room since we entered it!”
“I’m disposed to agree with you, sir,” replied Grimsby. “But at the same time I’ll stake my reputation that the diamond isn’t inside these four walls! Although my search of you gentlemen was a mere formality, I assure you it was thorough. I’ve searched a few score Kaffirs and I know my business. As to the room itself, it’s as bare as a drawing-board. A child could find the smallest bead in it inside twenty seconds. You can take it from me as a stone certainty that the diamond has gone!”
“Then we are wasting precious time!” cried Sir Michael. “Commence the pursuit at once, Inspector!”
Grimsby’s jaw shot out doggedly.
“If you could give me a hint where to begin, sir,” he said. “I shouldn’t waste another second!”
“Hang it all, that’s your business, my man!”
“I know it is, sir. But I’m only a poor human policeman, after all. We shan’t gain anything by getting angry, shall we? This room, to all intents and purposes, is a locked box from which something has been extracted without lifting the lid. That’s a conjuring trick, and as puzzling to me as it is to you.”
Sir Michael softened. Inspector Grimsby is not a man who can be browbeaten.
“Quite right, Inspector,” he said; “I recognise the difficulties. But this loss is horrible. It reflects upon all of us—all of us. If the news of this theft leaks out—if the stone cannot be recovered—a certain stigma—I cannot blind myself to the fact—a certain stigma will attach to our commercial integrity. Clean as our records may be, we cannot hope to escape it. For God’s sake, Inspector, set your wits to work.”
Indeed, those were anxious faces that surrounded the detective. Suddenly—
“Ah!” cried the Lord Mayor, “the man Klaw! On his own showing he knows something of this matter! Mr. Grimsby— —”
Grimsby held up his hand and nodded.
“With your permission, gentlemen,” he said, “I will try to get into communication with Moris Klaw at once.”
“Good,” said Mr. Anderson; “and meanwhile, whilst we await the result of your efforts, Inspector, I suggest, in the interests of all, that we lunch in my office. It may be inconvenient for many of you, but for my own part I am anxious to remain on these premises until we have news of the whereabouts of the diamond.”
The proposal was carried unanimously. No one of those substantial men of affairs was anxious to lay himself open to the suspicion of having removed the great Blue Rajah from the office! For, as Sir Michael quite justly had pointed out, where a diamond worth an emperor’s ransom is concerned, reputations melt like ice beneath a tropical sun.
In this way, then, I found myself concerned in the case; for Grimsby hastened to call me up, begging me to urge the retiring Moris Klaw to quit his Wapping haunt, to which he clung like Diogenes to his wooden cavern, and to journey to Moorgate Street. Fortunately I was in my rooms, and, willing enough to enjoy an opportunity of studying Klaw at work, I despatched a district messenger to him, trusting that he would be at his shop.
Since evidently he had apprehended that an attempt would be made this morning, I did not doubt that he would be at home. Indeed, he rang me up less than half-an-hour later and arranged to meet me at Mr. Anderson’s office.
“I warned him—that Lord Mayor,” came his rumbling continental tones along the wire, “how he must not let it out of his sight. He ignored me. So! Ring him up immediately, and tell him to have ready for me hot black coffee. It stimulates the inner perception, when green tea is not obtainable.”
Without delay I followed Moris Klaw’s instructions, and then hurried out and into a cab. My duties, as Klaw’s biographer—self-appointed—forbade my delaying.
We arrived at Basinghall House simultaneously. Our cabs drew up one behind the other. Except for the presence of Inspector Grimsby at the entrance, there was nothing to show that a stupendous robbery had been committed there less than an hour before. As I descended, Grimsby ran and opened the door of the other cab. He offered his hand to the beautiful girl who was within, according her all the nervous deference due to a queen.
And indeed no queen of ancient times could have looked more queenly than Isis Klaw—no Hatshepsu could have carried herself more regally. She wore a dark, close-fitting costume and ermine furs. In contrast to the snowy peltry, her large, black eyes and perfect red lips rendered her a study for the brush of a painter, but, like her Oriental grace, defied the pen of the scribe.
Moris Klaw’s daughter, her dazzling beauty enhanced by all the feminine arts of Paris, was a rare exotic one would not have sought in the neighbourhood of Wapping Old Stairs. But her father afforded a contrast at least as singular as her residence.
Behind this seductive vision he appeared, enveloped in his caped coat, his yellow bearded face crowned by the brown bowler of Early Victorian pattern—indeed apparently of Early Victorian manufacture. He peered at the taximeter through his gold-rimmed pince-nez.
“Two and tenpence,” he rumbled, hoarsely. “That meter requires inspection, my friend. I have watched it popping up those two pennies, and I have perceived that it does so every time the cab bumps upon a drainhole. I am to pay, then, for all the drains between Wapping and Moorgate Street. Here it is—three shillings. One and fourpence for the company and one and eightpence for yourself.”
He turned aside, raising his hat. “Good-morning, Mr. Searles! Good-morning, Mr. Grimsby! I shall charge the City of London one and sixpence for drains. Let us walk on as far as the courtyard I see yonder, and you shall tell me all the facts before I interview those others, who will be, of course, so prejudiced by their misfortune.”
We passed on, and many a clerkly glance followed the furry figure of Isis beneath the archway. Hemmed in by offices, a certain quietude prevailed in the courtyard.
“It is a chilly morning,” said Moris Klaw; “but here we will stop and talk.”
Accordingly Grimsby related the known facts of the case, more often addressing his story to the girl than to her father.
“Yes, yes,” growled the latter, when the tale was told: “and this crying out—this screaming of murder—what occasioned it?”
“That’s the mystery!” explained the detective. “I wish I had run but at once. I might have learned something. As it is, all I can find out amounts to nothing. The clerks and porters and other people who came flocking to the scene found no one here who knew anything about it!”
“The screamer was missing, eh?”
“Vanished! I can’t help thinking it was a ruse; though what anybody profited by it isn’t clear.”
“It is not clear, you say?” rumbled Moris Klaw. “Ah! you have a fog of the mentality, my friend!”
Grimsby flushed. “Of course,” he added, hurriedly, “I can see that it served to divert the attention of the people who ought to have been guarding the diamond. But as both the doors and the window were locked, how did it help to get the stone out of the office?”
Moris Klaw pulled reflectively at his scanty beard.
“We shall see,” he rumbled. “Let us ascend.”
We entered the lift and went up to the office of Messrs. Anderson and Brothers. The Presentation Committee were awaiting the mysterious Moris Klaw, but had not anticipated a visit from a pretty woman. They were prepared to adopt towards the man who would seem to have had some foreknowledge of the robbery a certain attitude of suspicion. It was amusing to note the change of front when Isis entered. Moris Klaw singled out the Lord Mayor, and the owner of the office, with unerring instinct. He removed his hat.
“Good-morning, Mr. Anderson!” he said. “Good-morning, Sir Michael! Good-morning, gentlemen!”
“This is Mr. Moris Klaw,” explained Grimsby, “and Miss Klaw. Mr. Searles.”
Mr. Anderson hastened to place chairs. We became seated. Following a short interval, Sir Michael Cayley cleared his throat.
“We are–er–indebted to you, Mr. Klaw,” he began, “for taking this trouble. But, in view of your note to me— —”
Moris Klaw raised his hand.
“So simple,” he said, whilst the Committee watched him, puzzled and surprised—that is, those who were not watching Isis, did so. “I have a library, you understand, of records dealing with such historic gems. To show you that I have made some study of these matters I will tell you that the diamond called the Blue Rajah was discovered on the morning of April the thirteenth, 1680, in the Kollur Mine, and stolen the same evening!”
“What is your authority for the exact date, Mr. Klaw?” asked Anderson, with interest; “and for the statement that the diamond was stolen on the day of its discovery?”
“Fact, Mr. Anderson, is my authority,” was the rumbling reply, “and I can tell you more. The diamond is the birth-stone of the month of April, and this diamond was itself born on the thirteenth of that month. To illustrate how its history is associated with April, I shall only tell you of the beautiful and unhappy Marie de Lamballe. This great diamond was presented to her on the ninth of April, 1790, and taken from her on the twelfth of April, 1792, after her return from England, and only six months before her fair head was stuck upon a pike and held up to the Queen’s window!”
He paused impressively, waving his long hands in the air.
“I could recount to you,” he resumed, “many such incidents in the history of the Blue Rajah—and all took place within a week of its birthday! What day is to-day?”
“Why, it’s the thirteenth of April!” said Sir Michael Cayley, with a start.
“The thirteenth of April,” rumbled Moris Klaw. “For many years the diamond has been too closely guarded for any new incident to occur, but when I learn how to-day it is to be brought here, how many hands will touch it, how many eyes will look upon it, I know that there is danger! Its history repeats. These incidents—” again he waved his hands—“proceed in cycles. I warned you. But it was perhaps inevitable. The Cycle of Crime is as inevitable and immutable as the cycle of the ages. Man’s will has no power to check it.”
Every one in the room was deeply impressed. Indeed, no one could have failed to recognise in the speaker a man of powerful mind, one of penetrating and unusual intellect.
“Had I had the good fortune to have met you, Mr. Klaw,” said the Lord Mayor, “I should have attached a greater, and—er—a different, significance to your note. Your theories are strange ones, but to-day they have received strange and ample substantiation. I can only hope—and I do so with every confidence in your great ability” (Moris Klaw rose and bowed), “that you will be able to recover the diamond whose loss you so truly predicted.”
“I will ask you,” replied Moris Klaw, “to have sent into me the black coffee. Myself, my daughter, Mr. Searles, and Mr. Grimsby will view the room from which the robbery took place.”
“You would wish us to remain here?” asked Mr. Anderson, glancing at the others.
“I would so wish it, yes.”
“I hope, Mr. Klaw,” said Sir Michael Cayley, “that you will not hesitate to send me an account of your fee and expenditures.”
“I shall not so hesitate,” replied Moris Klaw.
We entered the small room from which the Blue Rajah had been spirited away. Grimsby, who was badly puzzled, was evidently glad of Klaw’s cooperation. Moris Klaw’s letter of warning, leading to the request for Moris Klaw’s attendance, had enabled the Scotland Yard man to summon that keen intellect to his aid without compromising his professional reputation. He would lose no credit that might accrue if the gem were recovered, and in short was congratulating himself upon a diplomatic move.
“It’s beyond me,” he said, “how the thing was got out of the room. With this door shut, the window fastened, and the other door double-locked, as it always is, practically the place is a box.”
Moris Klaw, from its hiding-place in the lining of his hat, took out the scent-spray and squirted verbena upon his face.
“A box—yes,” he rumbled; “and so stuffy. No air.”
“There’s no ventilation,” explained Grimsby. “That square hole over the door is intended for ventilation, but as there’s no corresponding aperture over the window or elsewhere it’s useless. Anyway, it only opens on the passage.”
“Ah. You searched them all quite thoroughly?”
“Certainly; like Kaffirs. But I didn’t expect to find it.”
“Blessed is he who expecteth little. Isis, my child, there is some one knocking.”
Isis opened the door communicating with Mr. Anderson’s office and a boy entered carrying a tray, with a coffee pot and cup upon it.
“Good,” said Moris Klaw. “I shall not sleep in this room, Mr. Searles. It is difficult to sleep in the morning and I cannot wait for night. I shall sit here at this table for one hour with my mind a perfect blank. I shall think of nothing. That is a great art, Mr. Searles—to think of nothing. Few people but ascetics can do it. Try it for yourself, and you will find that thinking of trying not to think is the nearest you will get to it! I shall expose my mind, a sensitive blank, to the etheric waves created here by mental emotion.
“I shall secure many alien impressions of horror at finding the Blue Rajah to be missing. That is unavoidable. But I hope, amongst all these, to find that other thought-thing—the fear of the robber at the critical moment of his crime! That should be a cogent and forceful thought—keener and therefore stronger to survive, because a thought of danger, but of gain, than the thoughts of loss with which this atmosphere is laden.”
He stood up, removing his caped coat and revealing the shabby tweed suit which he wore. A big French knot, of black silk, looked grotesquely out of place beneath his yellow face with its edging of toneless beard.
“Isis,” he said, “lay my cloak carefully upon that chair by the window. I will sit there.”
Grimsby stepped forward to assist.
“No, no!” said Isis, but smiled enchantingly. “No hand but mine must touch it until my father has secured his impression!”
She laid the coat upon the chair, completely covering it; and Moris Klaw sat down.
“Another cup of coffee,” he said; and his daughter poured one out and handed it to him. “This is Java coffee and truly not coffee at all. There is no coffee but Mocha—a thing you English will never learn. Return in an hour, gentlemen. Isis, ask that no disturbing sound is allowed within or without. That Committee, it can go home. None of it has the diamond.”
“And the other gentlemen?” asked Grimsby. “They’ll be anxious to get about their business, too. There’s Sir John Carron from the India Office and Mr. Gautami Chinje—the Gaekwar’s representative.”
“Of course—certainly,” mused Moris Klaw. “But, of course, too, they will all be anxious to know immediately the result of my inquiries. Listen—Mr. Anderson will remain; he can represent the City. Mr. Chinje, you will perhaps ask him to remain, to represent the Gaekwar—the vendor; and Sir John Carron, he might be so good. Make those arrangements, Mr. Grimsby, and let nothing again disturb me.”
We left him, returning to the outer office.
Sir John Carron expressed himself willing to remain.
“If I may use your telephone for a moment, Mr. Anderson,” he said, “I can put off an engagement.”
Mr. Chinje had no other engagement, and Mr. Anderson’s duties had detained him in any event. There was some general, but subdued, conversation before the rest of the party left; but finally Sir John, Chinje, Grimsby, Isis Klaw and myself found ourselves in a waiting-room on the opposite side of the corridor, provided with refreshments and the gentlemen of the party with cigars, whilst the hospitable and deeply anxious Messrs. Anderson piled the table with periodical literature for our entertainment.
It was a curious interlude, which I shall always remember.
Sir John Carron, a tall, bronzed military man, middle-aged and perfectly groomed, surveyed Isis Klaw through his monocle with undisguised admiration. She bore this scrutiny with the perfect composure which was hers, and presently engaged the admiring baronet in some conversation about India, wherein Mr. Chinje presently joined. Chinje had all the quiet self-possession of a highcaste Hindu; and his darkly handsome face exhibited no signs of annoyance when Sir John adopted that tone of breezy patronage characteristic of some Anglo-Indian officers who find themselves in the company of a well-bred native. Grimsby, with recognition of his social inferiority written largely upon him, smoked, for the most part, in silence—Isis having given him permission to light up. Seeing his covert glances at this intimate trio, I ultimately succeeded in making the conversation a general one, thereby earning the Scotland Yard man’s evident gratitude.
“You know, Inspector Grimsby,” said Sir John, “I never was searched before to-day! But, by Jove, you did it very efficiently! I was dreadfully tempted to strike you when you calmly turned out my purse! Your method was far more workmanlike than Sir Michael Cayley’s a few minutes earlier. He forgot to look in my watch-case, but you didn’t!”
“There’s more in a simple thing like searching a man than most people take into consideration,” he replied. “I’ve known a Kaffir in the mines who—excuse me, Miss Klaw—wore no more than Adam, to walk off with stones worth my year’s wages.”
“I’m prepared to accept your assurance, Inspector,” said Sir John, “that none of us had the diamond about our persons.”
“My father has accepted it,” added Isis Klaw; “and that is conclusive.”
Which brought us face to face again with the amazing problem that we were there to solve. How, by any known natural law, had the Blue Rajah been taken out of the room? None of us could conjecture. That the detective was hopelessly mystified, his inaction, awaiting the result of Moris Klaw’s séance, was sufficient proof. I wondered if the Commissioner would have approved of his passive attitude and entire dependence upon the efforts of an amateur, yet failed to perceive what other he could adopt. One thing was certain; if the diamond was recovered, its recovery would be recorded among Detective-Inspector Grimsby’s successful cases! And there he sat placidly smoking one of Mr. Anderson’s cabañas.
At the expiration of the hour specified, Isis Klaw rose and walked across to Mr. Anderson’s office. Mr. Anderson, his ruddy face—typically that of a lowland Scot—a shade paler than was its wont, I fancy, was glancing from his watch to the clock.
Isis knocked on the inner door, opened it and entered. Sir John Carron was watching with intense interest. Mr. Chinje met my glance and smiled a little sceptically.
Moris Klaw came out with his caped coat on and carrying his bowler in his hand.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “I have secured a mental negative, somewhat foggy, owing to those other thought-forms with which the atmosphere is laden. But I have identified him—the thief!”
A sound like a gasp repressed came from somewhere immediately behind me. I turned. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Anderson, junior, stood at my elbow, close by were Mr. Chinje, Grimsby and Sir John Carron.
“Who snorts?” rumbled Moris Klaw, peering through his pince-nez.
“Not I,” said Sir John, staring about him.
We all, in turn, denied having uttered the sound. “Then there is in this office a ghost,” declared Klaw, “or a liar!”
“Excuse me, Mr. Klaw,” began Mr. Anderson, with some heat.
Moris Klaw raised his hand. His daughter’s magnificent eyes blazed defiance at us all.
“No anger,” implored the rumbling voice. “No anger. Anger is a misuse of the emotions. There are present eight persons here. Some one snorted. Eight persons deny the snort. It is a ghost or a liar. Am I evident to you?”
“Your logic is irrefutable,” admitted the younger Mr. Anderson, glancing from face to face. “It pains me to have to admit that you are right!”
In turn, I examined the faces of those present. Grimsby was a man witless with wonder. Both the Andersons were embarrassed and angry. Isis Klaw was scornfully triumphant, her father was, as ever nonchalant. Sir John Carron looked ill at ease. Mr. Chinje appeared to have changed his opinion of the eccentric investigator and now studied him with the calm interest of the cultured Oriental.
“I shall now make you laugh,” said Moris Klaw. “I shall tell you what he was thinking of at the psychological instant—that mysterious thief. He was thinking of two things. One was a very pretty, fair young lady and the other was a funny thing. He was thinking of throwing twelve peanuts into a parrot’s cage!”
There are speeches so entirely unexpected that their effect is unappreciable until some little time after the utterance. This speech of Moris Klaw’s was of that description. For some moments no one seemed to grasp exactly what he had said, simple though his words had been. Then, it was borne home to us—that grotesque declaration; and I think I have never seen men more amazed.
Could he be jesting?
“Mr. Klaw— —” began Sir John Carron. “But—”
“One moment, Sir John,” interrupted Klaw. “Let all remain here for one moment. I shall return.”
Whilst we stared, like so many fools, he shuffled from the office with his awkward gait. During his brief absence no one spoke. We were restrained, undoubtedly, by the presence of Isis Klaw, who, one hand upon her hip and with the other swinging her big ermine muff, smiled at us with a sort of pitying scorn for our stupidity.
Moris Klaw returned. “Let me see,” he rumbled, reflectively, “have you, Sir John Carron or Mr. Chinje, a specimen of the handwriting of the Gaekwar of Nizam?”
Chinje and Sir John stared.
“At the office—possibly,” replied Sir John.
“I have my instructions, signed by him,” said Mr. Chinje. “But not here.”
“At your hotel, yes?”
“Yes,” replied Chinje, shortly. He gave me the impression that he resented Moris Klaw’s catechising as that of a fool and an incompetent meddler with affairs of great importance.
“Then, gentlemen,” said Klaw, “we must adjourn to examine that signature.”
“Really,” the younger Mr. Anderson burst out, “I must protest against this! You will pardon me, Mr. Klaw; I believe you to be sincere in your efforts on our behalf, but such an expedition can be no more than a wild-goose chase! What can the Gaekwar’s signature have to do with the theft of the diamond?”
“I will tell you something, my feverish friend,” said Moris Klaw slowly. “The Blue Rajah is not on these premises. It is gone! It went before I came. If it is ever to come back you will put on your hat and accompany me to examine the signature to Mr. Chinje’s instructions.”
“I must add my protest to Mr. Anderson’s,” remarked Chinje. “This is mere waste of time.”
“Mr. Grimsby,” resumed Klaw, placidly, “it is a case to be hushed up, this. There must be no arrests!”
“Eh?” cried Grimsby.
“Sir John Carron will ring up the Commissioner and he will say that Detective-Inspector Grimsby has traced the Blue Rajah, which was stolen, but that for reasons of state, Detective-Inspector Grimsby will make a confidential report and no arrest!”
“Really— —” began Sir John.
“Mr. Klaw,” cried Anderson, interrupting excitedly. “You are jesting with men who are faced by a desperate position! I ask you, as man to man, if you know who stole the Blue Rajah and where it is?”
“I reply,” rumbled Moris Klaw, “that I suspect who stole it, that I am doubtful how it was stolen, and that when I have examined the Gaekwar’s signature I may know where it is!”
His reply had a tone of finality quite unanswerable. His attitude was that of a stone wall; and he had, too, something of the rugged strength of such a wall—of a Roman wall, commanding respect.
Sir John got into communication with the Commissioner, as desired by Klaw, and we all left the office and went down in the lift to the hall.
“Two cabs will be needful,” said Moris Klaw; and two cabs were summoned.
Sir John Carron, the Andersons and Moris Klaw entered one; Isis Klaw, Grimsby, Chinje and I the other.
“The Hôtel Astoria,” directed Chinje.
Throughout the drive to the Strand, Isis chatted to Grimsby, to his great delight. Mr. Chinje contented himself with monosyllabic replies to my occasional observations. He seemed to be disgusted with the manner in which the inquiry was being conducted. When the two cabs drove into the courtyard of the hotel, the one in which I was seated followed the other. Mr. Chinje, on my left, descended first, and Moris Klaw also descended first from the cab in front. As he did so he stumbled on the step and clutched at Chinje for support. Isis leapt forward to his assistance.
“Ah,” growled Klaw, hobbling painfully, and resting one hand upon Chinje’s shoulder and the other upon his daughter’s. “That foolish ankle of mine! How unfortunate! An accident, Mr. Chinje, which I met with in Egypt. I fell quite twenty feet in the shaft of a tomb and broke my ankle. At the least strain, I suffer yet.”
“Allow me, Mr. Chinje,” said Grimsby, stepping forward.
“No, no!” rumbled Klaw. “If you will hand me my hat which I have dropped, and see that my verbena has not fallen out—thank you—Mr. Chinje and Isis will be so good as to walk with me to the lift. A few moments’ rest in Mr. Chinje’s apartments will restore me.”
This arrangement accordingly was adopted, and we presently came to the rooms occupied by the Gaekwar’s representative, upon the fourth floor of the hotel. At the door, Mr. Chinje asked me to take his place whilst he found his key.
I did so and Chinje opened the door. To my great surprise he entered first. To my greater surprise, Moris Klaw, scorning my assistance and apparently forgetting his injury, rapidly followed him in. The rest of us flocked behind, possessed with a sense of something impending. We little knew what impended.
One thing, as I entered the little sitting-room, struck my vision with a sensation almost of physical shock. It was a large, empty parrot cage standing on the table!
I had an impression that Chinje dashed forward in a vain attempt to conceal the cage ere Moris Klaw entered. I saw, as one sees figures in a dream, a pretty, fair-haired girl in the room. Then the Hindu had leapt to an inner door—and was gone!
“Quick!” cried Klaw, in a loud voice. “The door! the door!”
He brushed the girl aside with a sweep of his arm and hurled himself against the locked door.
“Mr. Grimsby! Mr. Searles! Some one! Help with this door. Isis! hold her back, this foolish girl!”
The inner meaning of the scene was a mystery to us all, but the urgency of Moris Klaw’s instructions brooked no denial. With a shrill scream the girl threw herself upon him, but Isis, exhibiting unsuspected strength, drew her away.
Then Sir John Carron joined Klaw at the door and they applied their combined weights to the task of forcing it open.
Once, they put their shoulders to it; twice—and there was a sound of tearing woodwork; a third time—and it flew open, almost precipitating them both into the room beyond. Hard on the din of the opening rang the crack of a pistol shot. A wisp of smoke came floating out.
“Ah, just God!” said Moris Klaw, hoarsely, “we are too late!”
And, at his words, with a leap like that of a wild thing, the fair girl broke from Isis, and passing us all, entered the room beyond. Awed, and fearful, we followed and looked upon a pitiful scene.
Gautami Chinje lay dead upon the floor, a revolver yet between his nerveless fingers and a red spot in his temple. Beside him knelt the girl, plucking with both hands at her lower lip, her face as white as paper and her eyes glaring insanely at the distorted features.
“Dearest,” she kept whispering, in a listless way, “my dearest—what is the matter? I have the diamond—I have it in my bag. What is it, my dearest?”
We got her away at last.
“He had only been in London six months,” Moris Klaw rumbled in my ear, “and you see, she adored him—helped him to steal. It is wonderful, snake-like, the power of fascination some Hindus have over women—and always over blondes, Mr. Searles, always blondes. It is a psychological problem.”
So ended the case of the Blue Rajah robbery, one of the most brief in the annals of Moris Klaw. The great diamond we found in the girl’s handbag, wrapped in a curious little rubber covering, apparently made to fit it.
“You see,” explained Moris Klaw, later, to his wondering audience, “this girl—I have yet to find out whom she is—was perhaps married to Mr. Chinje. He would, of course, have deserted her directly he returned to India. But here at the Astoria she was known as Mrs. Chinje. Who would have been the losers by the robbery? The insurance company, if I do not mistake the case. For the Gaekwar, through his representative, Chinje, had the diamond insured for all the time it was his property and in England, and the Committee had it insured from the time it became their property. It had become their property. The Gaekwar would have got his cheque. He gets it now; it is in Chinje’s pocket-case. The City would have lost their Blue Rajah, and the insurance company would have paid the City for the loss!
“The next office along the corridor from Mr. Anderson’s is the Central London Electric Lighting Company. Many consumers call. Mrs. Chinje was not suspected of any felonious purpose when she was seen in that corridor—and she was seen by a clerk and by an engineer. After my mental negative had told me of a pretty young lady of whom the thief thinks at the moment of his theft, I went to inquire—you recall?—if such a one had been seen near the office.
“From the first my suspicions are with Chinje. The emotions have each a note, distinct, like the notes of a piano, though only audible to the trained mind. Both Isis and myself detect from Chinje the note of fear. I arrange, then, that he remains. My talk of examining the Gaekwar’s writing is a ruse. It is Chinje’s apartment and the fair lady I expect to find there that I am anxious to see.
“Then, in spite that he is the most cool of us all, I see that he suspects me and I have to hold him fast; for, if he could have got first to his room, and hidden the parrot cage, where had been our evidence? Indeed, only that I have the power to secure the astral negative, there had been no evidence at all. There is a third accomplice—him who howled in the courtyard; but I fear, as he so cleverly vanished, we shall never know his name.
“And how was it done, and why did this some one howl?”
Moris Klaw paused and looked around. We awaited his next words in tense silence.
“He howled because Chinje had looked out from the window (which, though hidden, the howler was watching) and made him some signal. The signal meant: ‘The Blue Rajah has been placed upon the table—howl!’
“The one below obeyed, and the Committee, like foolish sheep—yes, gentlemen, like no-headed cattle-things!—flocked to the window. But Chinje did not flock with them! Like a deft-handed conjurer he was at the table, the diamond was in the little rubber purse held ready, and Mrs. Chinje, with her large handbag open, was waiting outside the door, in the corridor, like some new kind of wicket-keeper. Chinje tossed the diamond through the little square ventilator!
“He had been practising for weeks—ever since he knew that the Committee would meet in that room—tossing peanuts into the Square opening of a parrot-cage, placed at the same height from the floor as the ventilator over Mr. Anderson’s doorway! He had practised until he could do it twelve times without missing. He had nerves like piano-wires, yet he was a deadly anxious man; and he knew that a woman cannot catch!
“But she caught—or, if she dropped it, no one saw her pick it up.
“Gentlemen, these Hindus are very clever, but talking of their cleverness makes one very thirsty. I think I heard Mr. Anderson make some cooling speech about a bottle of wine!”