Friday, 5 February 2016

The Stalking Death - Part 8 of 9

The Stalking Death - Part 8 of 9
Lacey Amy’s Newest and Most Dramatic Story (Luke Allan)
A serialized novel from The Canadian Magazine, February, 1933. Illustrated by Carl Shreve
Digitized by Doug Frizzle, February, 2016.

XXXIV

Kalmberg had his foot inside the door, and he had no time to withdraw it before In­spector Broughton asked him in. In spite of Freyseng’s unmistakable signal to go and go quickly he was not inclined to face what he had just escaped.
In the faces of Freyseng and his butler he read excitement almost equal to his own, and when he saw the Inspector he groped for an explanation. That the latter had seen Freyseng’s gesture Kalmberg believed, and that made his own position doubly uncomfortable. He could only hope the detective had not understood.
He recovered his wits in time. With a fat smile, as if Freyseng’s signal had been a welcome, he stepped inside. He was conscious of the evidences of his haste and fright—the loud breathing, the perspiration, even the wide eyes he could not, on such short notice, sub­merge as usual in his fat cheeks. That could not be helped.
“I can come again, if you’d rather,” he suggested. “It wasn’t important—just a little matter of business.”
Freyseng, too, had recovered. “Not at all, not at all, Mr. Kalmberg. Come right in. You haven’t done me the honor before, have you? Fine, fine! Inspector Broughton was just going.”
In that little speech he had excelled himself—the “Mister” of mere acquaintance, and the hint to the detective to leave.
But Inspector Broughton had not thought of going. “This is the chance I wanted,” he said genially. “Two of you together—saves me a lot of time. Shall we go back where we were?”
He did not wait for permission but led back to the small room. “We were talking about these strange deaths, Mr. Kalmberg,” he said. “Among men in your line of business, I mean. Three of them—and one we know was murdered.”
“Have you any clues as to who murdered him?” Freyseng asked, covering his defeat.
“Of course . . . And yet,” the Inspector admitted. “they don’t seem to get us anywhere.” He caught Kalmberg’s eye and winked, assurance that nothing would be said about Kalmberg’s visit to the police. “Of course, as you say, Mr. Freyseng, Stirling was not murdered where he was found.”
Freyseng held up his hands. “Some devil, that mur­derer. What a risk to carry a dead body across the city right from Stirling’s house! That’s nerve for you—wonderful! I bet Aulinloch”—he grinned—“was a bit shocked—right there on his doorstep!”
“Scarcely on his doorstep,” the Inspector corrected. “And why should it shock him specially—any more than you or Mr. Kalmberg? You’re in the same line of business.”
Freyseng waved it aside. “Don’t tell me it didn’t shock him. I know him enough for that. Have you found where Stirling was murdered?”
“We think it was in his own house.”
“You don’t say! Poor man . . . and all his family away!”
“We’re not sure, of course,” the Inspector admitted, “just where he was struck down.”
Freyseng leaned forward. “‘Struck down’? Do you mean—But, no, he was shot, of course. But surely you’d find blood where he was shot!”
“We found the blood!”
Both Kalmberg and Freyseng were startled by the sharpness of the tone.
“We found blood in the kitchen!”
“But—but what would Stirling be doing there, in the kitchen? Do you think it was one of the servants?” he asked in a whisper.
“There’s only one servant in the house,” the In­spector said. “What he was doing in the kitchen is plain enough—he was drinking with a friend, a friend he took to the kitchen for a drink because the family was away and the one servant was out. The servant found the two glasses on the table when she returned.”
“Ah, then you found the finger-prints?” Freyseng asked eagerly.
“Unfortunately no. The maid had washed the glasses before we knew about them . . . But we found the blood-stain we sought. It was on the edge of the table. And,” he added, “Stirling was not shot; he was killed with a nail driven in from both sides of his head to look like a bullet. It was clever enough to deceive me at first.”
Kalmberg and Freyseng listened with open mouths. But presently they poured questions at the Inspector, who parried them, giving only what he wished.
“By the way, Mr. Kalmberg,” he said, “we didn’t mention to you the reason of my visit. There has just been an attempt on Mr. Freyseng’s life!”
By the pallor of Kalmberg’s face the Inspector knew he had touched a raw spot. He knew, too, that his tardiness in mentioning so grave an incident had something to do with Kalmberg’s agitation. In a few words, blunt and concise, he told the story; mention­ing the Chinaman and all the time he watched Kalmberg closely.
Kalmberg’s glance flickered around the room. “I—I saw one myself—just before I came in. He was outside my house—in a car—watching me.”
The Inspector bounded up. “Why the devil didn’t you say so when you came in? We’re looking for that Chinaman.”
“But what makes you think—how could it be the same Chinaman?” Freyseng asked, throwing a warn­ing glance at Kalmberg.
Inspector Broughton heard and saw everything, but he paid no attention.
“You say he was watching you, Mr. Kalmberg. What makes you think so?”
“He was—he was parked opposite my house—on the other side of the street. And when I crossed I saw he was crouched in the car watching me. I didn’t like the looks of him.”
“Parked opposite your house, you say. I wish you’d spoken of the Chinaman when you came.”
“I suppose I—I forgot,” Kalmberg stammered.
“Well, I want you to have a better memory when I see you again. I haven’t time now—I’ll get out after the fellow.” He started for the door. There he turn­ed. “Of course it’s the same Chinaman. Have either of you anything that belongs to a Chinaman—or any Chinese treasures—anything they might consider sacred?”
Taken unawares by the question, they were silent for a moment. Kalmberg recovered first.
“I don’t go in for that sort of thing; I’m more in the regular line of modern jewelry.”
Freyseng shook his head. “Goodness knows what these Chinese think sacred. I don’t know a Chinese god when I see one.”
Inspector Broughton went. The pair, left alone, stared at each other. Freyseng surged to his feet and commenced to stride about the small room. Kalmberg had a fancy of falling tables and bulging walls as the big fellow bulled about the confined space.
“Say, Kalmberg, is that right—about the Chinaman? Was there one after you, too—right out there on the street?”
“He was watching me,” Kalmberg whisper­ed. All his terror had returned at Freyseng’s consternation.
“He tried to murder me, murder me—shot at me from the lawn! Kalmberg, this don’t look too good, does it? Those damned jade things!”
A thought struck him and with one big hand he hauled Kalmberg to his feet. “Say, you skidoo. That detective is a deep one. He’ll be hanging about out there. We don’t want him to think we know each other too well.”
They were in the hall before Freyseng re­membered that Kalmberg had heard only part of the interview. He clutched him by the arm.
“Say, the police have found Larned was poisoned! Poisoned!” he hissed in Kalmberg’s ear. “Do you know what that means? No? Three of us gone—two murdered—and the Chinaman almost got me!” For a moment his own fear was submerged by delight at the greater fear in Kalmberg’s fat face. “It means that Chinaman is going to get us all if we don’t do something. We got to talk this over. Now get out. And don’t come here again. Telephone.”

XXXV

Gideon McElheren’s re­flections on assuring himself that Kalmberg had entered Freyseng’s house were far from sooth­ing. What was the special bond between them?
And why was Kalmberg so furtive and sneak­ing about it? They had always seemed so antagonistic, so on guard against each other.
He knew the answer from his own habit of intrigue; Kalmberg and Freyseng were plotting together. Plotting about the jade!
As he drove away he studied the situation, its dangers, its possibilities. Had he known what he knew now he would have taken better aim at Freyseng. Only three then—and Aulinloch was not apt to work with Kalmberg. Then he remembered that Aulinloch was probably a victim of the Chinaman he had seen—and in the rivalry of Kalmberg and Freyseng, without Aulinloch to support him, he saw a greater peril than ever.
But was Aulinloch dead? He could not believe it.
Freyseng and Kalmberg would be more ruthless, more unsparing, more brutally dishonest, if it paved the way to profit. Of the seven, the three who were dead were the least offensive, the least dangerous. Those remaining between him and a fortune were obstacles less easily overcome. He feared them as he hated them.
McElheren smiled grimly and, running the car into a dark lane, proceeded to change back into his own clothes. The stain on his face he removed as best he could; the perspiration, he knew, was moisture enough.
From the garage he passed around to the front of the house. As he followed the cement walk along a hedge he did not see a face lift beyond the hedge and watch him until he disappeared.
As he entered the front door, his wife, a large, sour-faced, loud-voiced woman, came into the hall and glared at him.
“Where you been?” she demanded.
“What’s it matter?” he countered, in the same sullen tone, trying to get back out of sight to his own isolated room with the bundle he carried.
“Say,” she shrieked, “I want your key. I’ve lost mine. I won’t be back till you’re in bed long enough.” She held out a peremptory hand. “Quick! I’m in a hurry.”
He had to stop then, and he scowled at her with unaccustomed spirit.
“You should oughta go to bed—an hour like this—instead of gadding about all night.”
She laughed harshly. “Say, what’s the matter with your face?” She took a step nearer. “Have an acci­dent? Isn’t that a mark beside your eye—and your face looks dirty.”
“Knocked into the car door,” he explained shortly and, handing her the key, disappeared in his own private room.
He was safe there, safe from his wife and her bullying and her noisy friends, safe from the nagging worries of a house he was forced to supply but could not control. This special room of his he had added for just that purpose. A doorway had been cut through the solid stone wall of the house. It opened into a hall ending in another door letting into the room itself. There not a sound from the house could reach him. It was his silent protest against the position into which his wife forced him.
Only lately he was beginning to realize that as a protest it failed signally. She called it his “barracks”. Had she thought of “prison” it could scarcely added to his helpless fury.
Switching on the light, with the slam of the door echoing in his ears, he was painfully conscious of his insignificance in the house. He dare not even chide the servants, and he took no chances of giving orders. For a few moments he stood in the hall, gnashing his teeth. After all, what was she before he married her? Daughter of a woollen merchant whose business dishonesty was notorious. She had brought him notice—in spite of the reputation of her father’s wealth. Death had ridiculed that.

As he threw back the last door a waft of stale air met him, and he hurried to open a window. The nine lights from the three chandeliers blazed over his head as he stopped to peer with sudden and explicable curiosity into the darkness—a curi­osity so akin to fear that he shivered. For a moment the fear conquered and he reached out to close the window again. But pride held his hand and, with straightened shoulders, he returned to his desk and dropped into the chair before it.
The room was neither library nor workshop. Except for the evening paper he never read in it. Most of the time he simply sat and brooded over his wrongs, and cursed his enemies. It was a room devoted to making the world pay for its scorn. In there, cut off from the house, he would drop his fawning humility and snarl.
He found it impossible to concentrate. He had much to plan, and the profit might be tremendous, but he could not keep his mind off that open window that led into a dark garden. Through the darkness he saw in his mind, the Chinaman—creeping from Aulinloch’s dining room—holding the four of them up with gun in Aulinloch’s office—murdering—murdering! Even Inspector Broughton was afraid of the Chinese! . . . Should he call Aulinloch up and settle the doubt in his mind? But that would never do. If they should discover that he himself had been disguised that night as a Chinaman!
He frowned at the bundle that was his costume. He had thrown it on a chair as he entered. He remembered now that his gun was there, and he wanted so badly to have it at his finger-ends. Right now—right now! But first he would close the window.
He dragged himself to his feet by clutching the desk, for his knees trembled. One step only he took, then his lips parted as if to scream, his eyes bulged, his body sagged. There, framed in the open window, was the yellow face of a leering Chinaman!

XXXVI

McElheren’s lips opened but no sound came, and slowly he dropped back into the chair. But his staring eyes never left the yellow face framed in the window; they not so much as blink. It was as if he was hypnotized. In the patch of blackness that was the open window the face of the Chinaman stood blindingly distinct.
For a time they remained thus, the Chinaman still as a statue, his eyes boring into the room; McElheren shaking like a leaf. Then the Chinaman climbed through. The soundlessness of it was uncanny to McElheren it was part of a horrible nightmare though the pounding of the blood in his veins drowned all ordinary noises. He was a pitiful wreck, speechless, ghastly white, half dead with fear.
A cruel, gloating leer twisted the Chinaman’s face. Without taking his eyes from McElheren’s he closed the window behind him and drew the blind. Cooly, without hurry, he stood for a moment contemplating his victim, then slowly he approached.
McElheren shrivelled before him. With a last effort, massing every fibre of resistance left him, he found his voice, a mere whisper:
“What—do you—want?”
The Chinaman made no reply. The grim stillness of him was like fate. He stood over McElheren, leering down into his ghastly face. Terror had robbed him of all but the power to suffer.
Slowly and surely as fate itself one of the Chinaman’s hands disappeared inside his loose black silk coat. Slowly it reappeared. There was no hurry.
Mrs. McElheren slept late next morning. Of the maid who brought up her morning cup of black coffee at eleven she enquired if her husband had left.
“We haven’t seen him this morning at all, ma’am.” the maid replied, with a contemptuous indifference that re­flected her mistress’s. “He didn’t come down to breakfast.”
“Go and call him,” Mrs. McElheren snapped, “and take this toast back and do some fresh. And hot, mind, hot!”
A servant broke into McElheren’s private room through one of the cur­tained windows. He saw his master slumped in the chair, a great pool of blood beside him on the carpet. He had been dead many hours.

XXXVII

“I hope,” Phyliss Aulinloch said to her husband next morn­ing, “you missed nothing from your library last night”
Aulinloch looked up slowly from his shredded wheat and regarded her enquiringly.
“Because,” she explained—and she wondered how she could feel so in­different about it—“when I came in last night I thought I saw someone run back down the hall and out through your room.”
“You saw someone? Did you—call the servants?”
“I went upstairs to find you. I thought perhaps you hadn’t gone out yet. It was such a fleeting glimpse that I thought I must have imagined it. I came downstairs when I found you weren’t up there. I investigated myself.”
Aulinloch shook his head disapprovingly. “You shouldn’t do that, Phyliss. Suppose it really had been a burglar.”
“I’m quite sure it was someone,” she said. “It looked like—like a Chinaman.”
He said nothing for a moment, his eyes on his plate, then he smiled in­credulously. “You must be mistaken, of course.”
“Have you been in the library this morning?” she asked, irritated that he seemed almost as indifferent as she.
He nodded. “There’s no sign there of a visitor . . . Did you go into the room?”
“Yes. It was five minutes after I saw him, though; he had lots of time to escape. I found the back door un­locked.”
“Did you—look around—in there, I mean? You’re sure he wasn’t hiding somewhere?”
“Quite sure. I even tried the door of the clothes closet. It was locked, but I made sure no one was in there.”
“Yes—I keep it locked,” he said. “I’ve a few things I don’t wish the servants to touch. I’ll take a better look about presently . . . You’re quite sure it was a Chinaman?” He did not wait for her reply. “China­men aren’t burglars. There’s nothing here a Chinaman could want . . . But I must ask you never again to be so rash. Just leave it to me, Phyliss.”
She saw that he had eaten scarcely anything.
“Do you know any more about your trip to Paris? Are you going?”
“Perhaps I won’t have to, after all. It’ll be a few days before I’m sure . . . Maybe then we can make a more leisurely trip of it so you can go, too.”
“I think,” she said slowly, “that I’d rather spend a few weeks with Aunt Edna, up at Balsam Lake.”
“Several of your people are up there, aren’t they,” he enquired, after a pause.
“I don’t know. There used to be. I haven’t been in touch with them for years.”
“No,” he replied, in a flat voice. “I suppose they’re still therethe Charlesworths and the others.”
Phyliss sipped her coffee. Both as­sumed a casualness neither felt, and both knew it. “I’m sure I don’t know,” she said.
“The Charlesworths—you used to see them so often,” he murmured. “Pity to lose all your old friends.”
Phyliss dare not speak.
She was angry—and after last night’s visit to the Charlesworths her con­science upbraided her. But how she longed to speak of the Chinaman whose dread­ful plot against the Charles­worths she had so fortun­ately defeated!
Neither spoke for the rest of the meal. When her husband was gone, she went to her room and sat for a long time before the window, her face a mask.
* * *
There’s a tangle in it somewhere, Platt, and just yet I can’t find what it is.” Inspector Broughton paced about the office, his forehead lined.
“I’m satisfied there’s some connecting link between all these men, the whole seven of them—Larned, Stirling, Zaharoff, McElheren, and the other three; and if we don’t hurry and find out what it is there won’t be any of them left to work on. Whatever it is, instead of being a link of friend­ship it’s a link of hatred. Lord, how they hate one another! . . . It was that hatred got us started on the track—that visit of Kalmberg’s the morning after Stirling’s murder. Then Aulinloch, right there in the same chair . . .
“And now this Chinaman—or these Chinamen. You remember McElheren’s call, and his fear of the Chinese—of Chinese vengeance . . . A Chinaman works in with curious and inconsistent frequency. There’s the one that acted so strangely in Aulinloch’s office. And, by the way, we never got the whole story about that. Then he shoots at Freyseng—and frightens Kalmberg almost to death . . . And they’ve some reason to be alarmed.”
Platt scowled at the floor. “You’re right, sir, it’s—in­consistent. The Chinaman saved Aulinloch’s stuff—and then he terrifies the others.”
“And I’ve an idea that if we knew the whole truth about that Aulinloch affair it would clear things up a lot . . . But the climax is this latest murder.”
He went to his desk and spread out a large photograph, and Platt came beside him. Together they examined it.
At first sight a formless scene, it developed on closer examination into a picture of the top of a desk centred by an ordinary desk blotter. Scribbled on the white blotter, scarcely legible, trailing away toward the bottom of the blotter: “The jade carvings.”
From the pile at the side of the desk the Inspector took a sheet of paper, placed it beside the photograph and read aloud: “A Chinaman did it.”
The detectives regarded the two ex­hibits for a long time. At last Platt raised his eyes. The Inspector was smiling.
“So you, too, thought of that, Platt?”
“Sure thing, sir. How could the same hand write this on the paper, so firm and clear, and this on the blotter—in his own blood?”
“He didn’t,” the Inspector declared. “He didn’t write this about the China­man at all . . . this writing on the paper resembles no writing of Mc­Elheren’s we can find. We’ll get an expert at it.
“At present we’d better keep this writing to ourselves. The servant who found the body didn’t even enter the room; no one but the police knows of all this . . . Now, if McElheren didn’t write it, the murderer did. And why did he write it? To deceive the police . . . Because he was no Chinaman at all.”
“Might it not be a threat to the others,” Platt suggested. “A warning that they could not hope to escape—something to frighten them into doing something the Chinaman wants? We have had somewhat similar cases.”
“Possibly,” Inspector Broughton agreed reluctantly. “But what about the jade carvings? We agree that was written by McElheren, and it establishes a reason for a Chinaman appearing in the affair . . . It also reminds me that McElheren’s talk with us dealt with just this affair. Either he had those jade carvings or he’s associated with a friend who has. . . . I asked Kalmberg and Freyseng last night if they had any Chinese treasures. Of course they said they hadn’t. But I knew those two were up to something I wasn’t to share.”
“Speaking of a Chinaman, sir,” said Platt, “what about the Chinese costume we found in McElheren’s room?”
“Not so puzzling, Platt. McElheren had certainly been using that costume himself last night. We know that by the yellow still on his face and the tilt to the end of his eyebrows. But I have more than that.” He drew from his pocket a flattened bullet. “As far as the shape allows, it fits the gun in that bundle of clothes. It was McElheren shot at Freyseng. It was McElheren frightened Kalmberg. And that further establishes a connection—and an enmity.”
Platt threw up his hands. “What a mixup! The more we find out the further we are from an explanation. Then there were two Chinamen—”
“I had that in mind all the time. McElheren is not the Chinaman who got into Aulinloch’s office. He is mentally incapable of playing that part.” Inspector Broughton laughed. “Not so fast, Platt, not so fast . . .
“Here’s another proof that McElheren didn’t write this on the paper: If he had strength for that, strength and will, he would have put up some sort of fight. There isn’t a sign of a struggle. Nor could he have been asleep when he was attacked or he would never have survived that horrible gash long enough to recover his wits and write in such a firm hand. My idea is that McElheren paralyzed with fear, too terrified to resist. We can believe that from his conduct here day before yesterday. The murderer cut his throat while he was in that condition, hastily wrote this little note, and fled. And McElheren, torn from his paralysis by pain and approaching death, scribbled this on the blotter with his finger in his own blood in his last moments.
“Now, Platt, what we have to do is to concentrate on this connecting link in this group. Evidently it’s the jade carvings. Whose are they—where are they—what about them? . . . I’m going to give Kalmberg and Freyseng and Aulinloch a call. Kalm­berg first. Aulinloch is too clever, too cunning, to start on; he’d hold me off and warn the others. And Freyseng has given me too much already to make it wise to arouse his suspicions by trying for more. Kalmberg is the best chance.”
“Why don’t we wring from Aulinloch what he’s hiding about the visit of the Chinaman to his office?” Platt asked.
“Because if he doesn’t wish to tell

*•*>

 

 

1
 
he won’t . . . Have you asked your­self about that Chinaman? How did he happen to be on hand so opportunely? Why did he act as he did? Plainly because somehow he knew of the plot to rob Aulinloch. And he prevented it for some secret purpose of his own, otherwise he would have warned Aulinloch or the police. Worry over that simple one.”
The Inspector sat thinking for some time. “I don’t believe, Platt, there’s a real Chinaman in it at all . . . even though all these men believe there is.
“But it isn’t the murderer who troubles me so much at the moment, Platt, as preventing another murder. Is there to be another? And can wc prevent it? I’ve got Falkncr on Freyseng. I’m going to have a talk my­self with Simon Kalmberg. You’ll keep Aulinloch under your eye.”
But Simon Kalmberg was not to he found when the Inspector wished to see him. And when he did find him it was too late.

But with all these men, cowards though they were at heart, there was one emotion stronger than fear. Avarice.
Fear, with the others as with Kalmberg, urged them to hurry the sale of the jade, but avarice made them un­willing to sacrifice it.
But with the death of McElheren things took a more serious turn.
It resulted in a group within a group, a combination within a com­bination. It consisted of Kalmberg and Freyseng—and it was typically dishonest and selfish. The two men met in Freyseng’s office, and the result was a call for a meeting with Aulinloch that very night in the latter’s library. He was to bring the jade with him, and the garden gate into the lane was to be left unlocked.
This demand—for it was nothing else—disturbed Aulinloch, for it showed him exactly where he stood. Immediately he set to thinking out a way to circumvent a plot that was evident enough. Over the telephone he was wise enough to offer no sus­tained objection. Above all he must hide his suspicions, must avoid link­ing the pair openly against him.
Promptly at nine Kalmberg and Freyseng admitted themselves to the library from the garden. That they had come together emphasized to Aulinloch their alliance, and from that moment he watched their every move with jealous decision.
The old leather suitcase lay in full sight beside the desk, and the eyes of the three were on it.
Freyseng rolled the unlit cigar across his huge mouth. “There’s no use blinding ourselves any more—something’s got to be done and done quick. It ain’t a shoke any more.”
“Murder is never a joke.”
Freyseng broke in with a chuckle. “You’re a wise guy, Aulinloch. You didn’t help the police much to catch him the next time he got in, did you? Ve don’t vant no Chinaman dragged into this, you bet.”
“We don’t need to drag him in, if we use common sense,” Aulinloch said. “The maddest thing we ever did was to bring that suitcase here to­night.”
Freyseng bit into a fresh cigar. “Ve brought it here because it is mad to leave it vere it vas. It ain’t safe in your safe any more.”
“Are you thinking of handing it to the police,” Aulinloch sneered.
They smirked, a sign of uneasy con­science—or of fear that they were not deceiving Aulinloch.
Freyseng began to chatter. “That fellow, he ain’t losing no time, I tell you. He’s going to get the lot of us and the jade as vell, if ve don’t look out. See vat he did all in vun night: he shoots at me, then he lays for Kalmberg. and after that he goes off and cuts McElheren’s head off.”
“How do we know he did all that?” Aulinloch snapped. “Inspector Broughton says he shot at you, and Kalmberg saw a Chinaman on the street. But what has that to do with McElheren—even if it was the same Chinaman?”
Kalmberg said: “He thinks the jade is in your safe, Aulinloch, and you know as well as we do that the time-lock isn’t complete protection.”
“I have a small safe right here in my house,” Aulinloch suggested.
“And I have a big vun in mine,” Freyseng put in bellicosely, “but I ain’t vanting it with me. But Kalmberg, he says he’s villing to keep it for a vile. He’s got a fine safe, a secret vun.”
Aulinloch saw. “We’ll be so busy moving it about we won’t have time to show it.”
“Then vy didn’t you show it long ago—and sell the damn stuff?” Freyseng bellowed. “Ve left it to you.”
Aulinloch ignored it. “I was think­ing,” he said, “of taking it to New York myself. I know several collec­tors there who’d be interested. That’s the best way—”
“Like blazes it is!” Freyseng jeered. “Not much you ain’t going to clear out vith it. The jade stays right here till ve see the colour of somevun’s money.”
“Right where?” Aulinloch asked.
But the sarcasm was much too fine for Freyseng. “If the jade goes,” he said, “ve all go.”

Outside in the dark grounds a vague figure skulked from window to window, but the blinds were drawn tight. With an ear close to the window-frame he listened; but only the murmur of voices. After a time the shadow separated itself from the house. It became a man. Pass­ing through the gate into the lane, he ran out on the street.
Kalmberg moved uneasily, as if the shadow outside had fallen across him. He was studying his two compan­ions—thinking perhaps that he had acted too quickly in allying himself with Freyseng instead of with Aulinloch.
Aulinloch did not argue—he knew the danger of that. Excusing himself on the pretext of getting something to drink, he left the room. In the few minutes he was absent he telephoned a taxi.
“Whoever takes the jade,” he de­clared on his return, “Must give the other two a paper of some kind to show it’s ours if anything happens him.”
As he poured the whisky into the glasses he noticed their silence and looked up. Freyseng’s big lips were twisted nastily.
“Yeah! Oh, sure. Now somevun else has the jade they got to give you a paper. You veren’t so eager to give us a paper, vere you, eh? You’re mighty clever, Aulinloch—looking after yourself, eh? You ain’t so keen looking after your friends.”
Aulinloch replied: “If my friends had asked for a paper they’d have got one. You’re old enough to look after yourselves. As a matter of fact, Mc­Elheren asked and got a document—”
“You mean you—you and McEl­heren—none of the rest of us vould share—” Freyseng was on his feet, leaning threateningly toward Aulinloch.
The latter waved him away con­temptuously. “That paper meant no­thing whatever—except another talk­ing point for Kalmberg taking the jade tonight. McElheren was to share only if the jade was found in my safe. As a matter of fact I planned to change the hiding place myself; I was going to talk about it with you. You have anticipated me, that’s all.”
Soon afterwards they parted, self consciously, hurriedly, all glad to break the strain of covering their de­ceit. Kalmberg carried the suitcase. They had come in Freyseng’s car, and the big form of Freyseng, hand on gun, crowded close on Kalmberg’s heels.
The moment they were gone Aulinloch dived into the locked cupboard in his library and, a bundle under his arm, raced to the front of the house and climbed into the taxi waiting there.

(To be continued) (Link to final part)

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As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.