The Hampstead Mystery - Arthur Rees - E-Book

The Hampstead Mystery E-Book

Arthur Rees

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"Hallo! Is that Hampstead Police Station?"
"Yes. Who are you?"
"Detective-Inspector Chippenfield of Scotland Yard. Tell Inspector Seldon
I want him, and be quick about it."
"Yes, sir. Hang on, sir. I'll put you through to him at once."
Detective-Inspector Chippenfield, of Scotland Yard, waited with the receiver held to his ear. While he waited he scrutinised keenly a sheet of paper which lay on the desk in front of him. It was a flimsy, faintly-ruled sheet from a cheap writing-pad, blotted and soiled, and covered with sprawling letters which had been roughly printed at irregular intervals as though to hide the identity of the writer. But the letters formed words, and the words read:

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Arthur Rees and John Watson


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Copyright © 2016 by Arthur Rees and John Watson

Published by Ozymandias Press

Interior design by Pronoun

Distribution by Pronoun

ISBN: 9781531291716





































“Hallo! Is that Hampstead Police Station?”

“Yes. Who are you?”

“Detective-Inspector Chippenfield of Scotland Yard. Tell Inspector Seldon

I want him, and be quick about it.”

“Yes, sir. Hang on, sir. I’ll put you through to him at once.”

Detective-Inspector Chippenfield, of Scotland Yard, waited with the receiver held to his ear. While he waited he scrutinised keenly a sheet of paper which lay on the desk in front of him. It was a flimsy, faintly-ruled sheet from a cheap writing-pad, blotted and soiled, and covered with sprawling letters which had been roughly printed at irregular intervals as though to hide the identity of the writer. But the letters formed words, and the words read:





“Is that you, Inspector Chippenfield?”

“Yes. That you, Seldon? Have you heard anything of a murder out your way?”

“Can’t say that I have. Have you?”

“Yes. We have information that Sir Horace Fewbanks has been murdered—shot.”

“Mr. Justice Fewbanks shot—murdered!” Inspector Seldon gave expression to his surprise in a long low whistle which travelled through the telephone. Then he added, after a moment’s reflection, “There must be some mistake. He is away.”

“Away where?”

“In Scotland. He went there for the Twelfth—when the shooting season opened.”

“Are you sure of that?”

“Yes; he rang me up the day before he left to ask us to keep an eye on his house while he was away.”

There was a pause at the Scotland Yard end of the telephone. Inspector

Chippenfield was evidently thinking hard.

“We may have been hoaxed,” he said at length. “But I have been ringing up his house and can get no answer. You had better send up a couple of men there at once—better still, go yourself. It is a matter which may require tactful handling. Let me know, and I’ll come out immediately if there is anything wrong. Stay! How long will it take you to get up to the house?”

“Not more than fifteen minutes—in a taxi.”

“Well, I’ll ring you up at the house in half an hour. Should our information be correct see that everything is left exactly as you find it till I arrive.”

Inspector Seldon hung up the receiver of his telephone, bundled up the papers scattered on his desk, closed it, and stepped out of his office into the next room.

“Anyone about?” he hurriedly asked the sergeant who was making entries in the charge-book.

“Yes, sir. I saw Flack here a moment ago.”

“Get him at once and call a taxi. Scotland Yard’s rung through to say they’ve received a report that Sir Horace Fewbanks has been murdered.”

“Murdered?” echoed the sergeant in a tone of keen interest. “Who told

Scotland Yard that?”

“I don’t know. Who was on that beat last night?”

“Flack, sir. Was Sir Horace murdered in his own house? I thought he was in Scotland.”

“So did I, but he may have returned—ah, here’s the taxi.”

Inspector Seldon had been waiting on the steps for the appearance of a cab from the rank round the corner in response to the shrill blast which the sergeant had blown on his whistle. The sergeant went to the door of the station leading into the yard and sharply called:


In response a police-constable, without helmet or tunic, came running up the steps from the basement, which was used as a gymnasium.

“Seldon wants you. Get on your tunic as quick as you can. He is in a devil of a hurry.”

Inspector Seldon was seated in the taxi-cab when Flack appeared. He had been impatiently drumming his fingers on the door of the cab.

“Jump in, man,” he said angrily. “What has kept you all this time?”

Flack breathed stertorously to show that he had been running and was out of breath, but he made no reply to the official rebuke. Inspector Seldon turned to him and remarked severely:

“Why didn’t you let me know that Sir Horace Fewbanks had returned from


Flack looked astonished.

“But he hasn’t returned, sir,” he said. “He’s away for a month at least,” he ventured to add.

“Who told you that?”

“The housemaid at Riversbrook—before he went away.”

“H’m.” The inspector’s next question contained a moral rebuke rather than an official one. “You’re a married man, Flack?”

“Yes, sir.”

“So the housemaid told you he was going away for a month. Well, she ought to know. When did she tell you?”

“A week ago yesterday, sir. She told me that all the servants except the butler were going down to Dellmere the next day—that is Sir Horace’s country place—and that Sir Horace was going to Scotland for the shooting and would put in some weeks at Dellmere after the shooting season was over.”

“And are you sure he hasn’t returned?”

“Quite, sir. I saw Hill, the butler, only yesterday morning, and he told me that his master was sure to be in Scotland for at least a month longer.”

“It’s very strange,” muttered the inspector, half to himself. “It will be a deuced awkward situation to face if Scotland Yard has been hoaxed.”

“Beg your pardon, sir, but is there anything wrong about Sir Horace?”

“Yes. Scotland Yard has received a report that he has been murdered.”

Flack’s surprise was so great that it lifted the lid of official humility which habitually covered his natural feelings.

“Murdered!” he exclaimed. “Sir Horace Fewbanks murdered? You don’t say so!”

“But I do say so. I’ve just said so,” retorted Inspector Seldon irritably. He was angry at the fact that the information, whether true or false, had gone direct to Scotland Yard instead of reaching him first.

“When was he murdered, sir?” asked Flack.

“Last night—when you were on that beat.”

Flack paled at this remark.

“Last night, sir?” he cried.

“Don’t repeat my words like a parrot,” ejaculated the inspector peevishly. “Didn’t you notice anything suspicious when you were along there?”

“No, sir. Was he murdered in his own house?”

“His dead body is supposed to be lying there now in the library,” said

Inspector Seldon. “How Scotland Yard got wind of it is more than I know.

We ought to have heard of it before them. How many times did you go along

there last night?”

“Twice, sir. About eleven o’clock, and then about three.”

“And there was nothing suspicious—you saw no one?”

“I saw Mr. Roberts and his lady coming home from the theatre. But he lives at the other end of Tanton Gardens. And I saw the housemaid at Mr. Fielding’s come out to the pillar-box. That was a few minutes after eleven. I didn’t see anybody at all the second time.”

“Nobody at the judge’s place—no taxi, or anything like that?”

“No, sir.”

The taxi-cab turned swiftly into the shady avenue of Tanton Gardens, where Sir Horace Fewbanks lived, and in a few moments pulled up outside of Riversbrook. The house stood a long way back from the road in its own grounds. Inspector Seldon and Flack passed rapidly through the grounds and reached the front door of the mansion. There was nobody about; the place seemed deserted, and the blinds were down on the ground-floor windows. Inspector Seldon knocked loudly at the front door with the big, old-fashioned brass knocker, and rang the bell. He listened intently for a response, but no sound followed except the sharp note of the electric bell as Flack rang it again while Inspector Seldon bent down with his ear at the keyhole. Then the inspector stepped back and regarded the house keenly for a moment or two.

“Put your finger on that bell and keep on ringing it, Flack,” he said suddenly. “I see that some of the blinds are down, but there’s one on the first floor which is partly up. It looks as though the house had been shut up and somebody had come back unexpectedly.”

“Perhaps it’s Hill, the butler,” said Flack.

“If he’s inside he ought to answer the bell. But keep on ringing while I knock again.”

The heavy brass knocker again reverberated on the thick oak door, and Inspector Seldon placed his ear against the keyhole to ascertain if any sound was to be heard.

“Take your finger off that bell, Flack,” he commanded. “I cannot hear whether anybody is coming or not.” He remained in a listening attitude for half a minute and then plied the knocker again. Again he listened for footsteps within the house. “Ring again, Flack. Keep on ringing while I go round the house to see if there is any way I can get in. I may have to break a window. Don’t move from here.”

Inspector Seldon went quickly round the side of the house, trying the windows as he went. Towards the rear of the house, on the west side, he came across a curious abutment of masonry jutting out squarely from the wall. On the other side of this abutment, which gave the house something of an unfinished appearance, were three French windows close together. The blinds of these windows were closely drawn, but the inspector’s keen eye detected that one of the catches had been broken, and there were marks of some instrument on the outside woodwork.

“This looks like business,” he muttered.

He pulled open the window, and walked into the room. The light of an afternoon sun showed him that the apartment was a breakfast room, well and solidly furnished in an old-fashioned way, with most of the furniture in covers, as though the occupants of the house were away. The daylight penetrated to the door at the far end of the room. It was wide open, and revealed an empty passage. Inspector Seldon walked into the passage. The drawn blinds made the passage seem quite dark after the bright August sunshine outside, but he produced an electric torch, and by its light he saw that the passage ran into the main hall.

His footsteps echoed in the empty house. The electric bell rang continuously as Flack pressed it outside. Inspector Seldon walked along the passage to the hall, flashing his torch into each room he passed. He saw nothing, and went to the front door to admit Flack.

“That is enough of that noise, Flack,” he said. “Come inside and help me search the house above. It’s empty on this floor so far as I’ve been over it. If you find anything call me, and mind you do not touch anything. Where did you say the library was?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Well, look about you on the ground floor while I go upstairs. Call me if you hear anything.”

Inspector Seldon mounted the stairs swiftly in order to continue his search.

The staircase was a wide one, with broad shallow steps, thickly carpeted, and a handsome carved mahogany baluster. The inspector, flashing his torch as he ran up, saw a small electric light niche in the wall before he reached the first landing. The catch of the light was underneath, and Inspector Seldon turned it on. The light revealed that the stairs swept round at that point to the landing of the first floor, which was screened from view by heavy velvet hangings, partly caught back by the bent arm of a marble figure of Diana, which faced downstairs, with its other arm upraised and about to launch a hunting spear. By this graceful device the curtains were drawn back sufficiently to give access to the corridor on the first floor.

Inspector Seldon looked closely at the figure and the hangings. Something strange about the former arrested his eye. It was standing awry on its pedestal—was, indeed, almost toppling over. He looked up and saw that one of the curtains supported by the arm hung loosely from one of the curtain rings. It was as though some violent hand had torn at the curtain in passing, almost dragging it from the pole and precipitating the figure down the stairs. Immediately beyond the landing, in the corridor, was a door on the right, flung wide open.

The inspector entered the room with the open door. It was a large room forming part of the front of the house—a lofty large room, partly lighted by the half-drawn blind of one of the windows. One side was lined with bookshelves. In the corner of the room farthest from the door, was a roll-top desk, which was open. In the centre of the room was a table, and a huddled up figure was lying beside it, in a dark pool of blood which had oozed into the carpet.

The inspector stepped quickly back to the landing.

“Flack!” he called, and unconsciously his voice dropped to a sharp whisper in the presence of death. “Flack, come here.”

When Flack reached the door of the library he saw his chief kneeling beside the prostrate body of a dead man. The body lay clear of the table, near the foot of an arm-chair. Instinctively Flack walked on tiptoe to his chief.

“Is he dead, sir?” he asked.

“Cold and stiff,” replied the inspector, in a hushed voice. “He’s been dead for hours.”

Flack noted that the body was fully dressed, and he saw a dark stain above the breast where the blood had welled forth and soaked the dead man’s clothes and formed a pool on the carpet beside him.

Inspector Seldon opened the dead man’s clothes. Over his heart he found the wound from which the blood had flowed.

“There it is, Flack,” he said, touching the wound lightly with his finger. “It doesn’t take a big wound to kill a man.”

As he spoke the sharp ring of a telephone bell from downstairs reached them.

“That’s Inspector Chippenfield,” said Inspector Seldon, rising to his feet. “Stay here, Flack, till I go and speak to him.”



“Six-thirty edition: High Court Judge murdered!”

It was not quite 5 p.m., but the enterprising section of the London evening newspapers had their 6.30 editions on sale in the streets. To such a pitch had the policy of giving the public what it wants been elevated that the halfpenny newspapers were able to give the people of London the news each afternoon a full ninety minutes before the edition was supposed to have left the press. The time of the edition was boldly printed in the top right-hand corner of each paper as a guarantee of enterprise if not of good faith. On practical enterprise of this kind does journalism forge ahead. Some people who have been bred up in a conservative atmosphere sneer at such journalistic enterprise. They affect to regard as unreliable the up-to-date news contained in newspapers which are unable to tell the truth about the hands of the clock.

From the cries of the news-boys and from the announcements on the newspaper bills which they displayed, it was assumed by those with a greedy appetite for sensations that a judge of the High Court had been murdered on the bench. Such an appetite easily swallowed the difficulty created by the fact that the Law Courts had been closed for the long vacation. In imagination they saw a dramatic scene in court—the disappointed demented desperate litigant suddenly drawing a revolver and with unerring aim shooting the judge through the brain before the deadly weapon could be wrenched from his hands. But though the sensation created by the murder of a judge of the High Court was destined to grow and to be fed by unexpected developments, the changing phases of which monopolised public attention throughout England on successive occasions, there was little in the evening papers to satisfy the appetite for sensation. In journalistic vernacular “they were late in getting on to it,” and therefore their reference to the crime occupied only a few lines in the “stop press news,” beneath some late horse-racing results. The Evening Courier, which was first in the streets with the news, made its announcement of the crime in the following brief paragraph:

“The dead body of Sir Horace Fewbanks, the distinguished High Court judge, was found by the police at his home, Riversbrook in Tanton Gardens, Hampstead, to-day. Deceased had been shot through the heart. The police have no doubt that he was murdered.”

But the morning papers of the following day did full justice to the sensation. It was the month of August when Parliament is “up,” the Law Courts closed for the long vacation, and when everybody who is anybody is out of London for the summer holidays. News was scarce and the papers vied with one another in making the utmost of the murder of a High Court judge. Each of the morning papers sent out a man to Hampstead soon after the news of the crime reached their offices in the afternoon, and some of the more enterprising sent two or three men. Scotland Yard and Riversbrook were visited by a succession of pressmen representing the London dailies, the provincial press, and the news agencies.

The two points on which the newspaper accounts of the tragedy laid stress were the mysterious letter which had been sent to Scotland Yard stating that Sir Horace Fewbanks had been murdered, and the mystery surrounding the sudden return of Sir Horace from Scotland to his town house. On the first point there was room for much varied speculation. Why was information about the murder sent to Scotland Yard, and why was it sent in a disguised way? If the person who had sent this letter had no connection with the crime and was anxious to help the police, why had he not gone to Scotland Yard personally and told the detectives all he knew about the tragedy? If, on the other hand, he was implicated in the crime, why had he informed the police at all?

It would have been to his interest as an accomplice—even if he had been an unwilling accomplice—to leave the crime undiscovered as long as possible, so that he and those with whom he had been associated might make their escape to another country. But he had sent his letter to Scotland Yard within a few hours of the perpetration of the crime, and had not given the actual murderer time to get out of England. Was he not afraid of the vengeance the actual murderer would endeavour to exact for this disclosure which would enable the police to take measures to prevent his escape?

No light was thrown on the cause of the murdered man’s sudden return from grouse-shooting in Scotland. The newspaper accounts, though they differed greatly in their statements, surmises, and suggestions concerning the tragedy, agreed on the point that Sir Horace had been a keen sportsman and was a very fine shot. In years past he had made a practice of spending the early part of the long vacation in Scotland, going there for the opening of the grouse season on the 12th of August. This year he had been one of a party of five who had rented Craigleith Hall in the Western Highlands, and after five days’ shooting he had announced that he had to go to London on urgent business, but would return in the course of a week or less. It was suggested in some of the newspaper accounts that an explanation of the cause of his return might throw some light on the murder. Inquiries were being made at Craigleith Hall to ascertain the reason for his journey to London, or whether any telegram had been received by him previous to his departure.

The fact that one of the windows on the ground floor of Riversbrook had been found open was regarded as evidence that the murderer had broken into the house. Imprints of footsteps had been found in the ground outside the window, and the police had taken several casts of these; but whether the man who had broken into the house with the intention of committing burglary or murder was a matter on which speculation differed. If the murderer was a criminal who had broken into the house with the intention of committing a burglary, there could be no connection between the return of Sir Horace Fewbanks from Scotland and his murder. The burglary had probably been arranged in the belief that the house was empty, Sir Horace having sent the servants away to his country house in Dellmere a week before. But if the murderer was a burglar he had stolen nothing and had not even collected any articles for removal. The only thing that was known to be missing was the dead man’s pocket-book, but there was nothing to prove that the murderer had stolen it. It was quite possible that it had been lost or mislaid by Sir Horace; it was even possible that it had been stolen from him in the train during his journey from Scotland.

It might be that while prowling through the rooms after breaking into the house, and before he had collected any goods for removal, the burglar had come unexpectedly on Sir Horace, and after shooting him had fled from the house. Only as a last resort to prevent capture did burglars commit murder. Had Sir Horace been shot while attempting to seize the intruder? The position in which the body was found did not support that theory. Two shots had been fired, the first of which had missed its victim, and entered the wall of the library. Evidently the murdered man had been hit by the second while attempting to leave the room. It was ingeniously suggested by the Daily Record that the murderer was a criminal who knew Sir Horace, and was known to him as a man who had been before him at Old Bailey. This would account for Sir Horace being ruthlessly shot down without having made any attempt to seize the intruder. The burglar would have felt on seeing Sir Horace in the room that he was identified, and that the only way of escaping ultimate arrest by the police was to kill the man who could put the police on his track. Mr. Justice Fewbanks had had the reputation of being a somewhat severe judge, and it was possible that some of the criminals who had been sentenced by him at Old Bailey entertained a grudge against him.

The question of when the murder was committed was regarded as important. Dr. Slingsby, of the Home Office, who had examined the body shortly after it was discovered by the police, was of opinion that death had taken place at least twelve hours before and probably longer than that. His opinion on this point lent support to the theory that the murder had been committed before midnight on Wednesday. It was the Daily Record that seized on the mystery contained in the facts that the body when discovered was fully clothed and that the electric lights were not turned on. If the murder was committed late at night how came it that there were no lights in the empty house when the police discovered the body? Had the murderer, after shooting his victim, turned out the lights so that on the following day no suspicion would be created as would be the case if anyone saw lights burning in the house in the day-time? If he had done so, he was a cool hand. But if the burglar was such a cool hand as to stop to turn out the lights after the murder why did he not also stop to collect some valuables? Was he afraid that in attempting to get rid of them to a “fence” or “drop” he would practically reveal himself as the murderer and so place himself in danger in case the police offered a reward for the apprehension of the author of the crime?

If Sir Horace had gone to bed before the murderer entered the house it would have been natural to expect no lights turned on. But he had returned unexpectedly; there were no servants in the house, and there was no bed ready for him. In any case, if he intended stopping in the empty house instead of going to a hotel he would have been wearing a sleeping suit when his body was discovered; or, at most, he would be only partially dressed if he had got up on hearing somebody moving about the house. But the body was fully dressed, even to collar and tie. It was absurd to suppose that the victim had been sitting in the darkness when the murderer appeared.

Another difficult problem Scotland Yard had to face was the discovery of the person who had sent them the news of the murder. How had Scotland Yard’s anonymous correspondent learned about the murder, and what were his motives in informing the police in the way he had done? Was he connected with the crime? Had the murderer a companion with him when he broke into Riversbrook for the purpose of burglary? That seemed to be the most probable explanation. The second man had been horrified at the murder, and desired to disassociate himself from it so that he might escape the gallows. The only alternative was to suppose that the murderer had confessed his crime to some one, and that his confidant had lost no time in informing the police of the tragedy.

The newspaper accounts of the case threw some light on the private and domestic affairs of the victim. He was a widower with a grown-up daughter; his wife, a daughter of the late Sir James Goldsworthy, who changed his ancient family patronymic from Granville to Goldsworthy on inheriting the great fortune of an American kinsman, had died eight years before. Sir Horace’s Hampstead household consisted of a housekeeper, butler, chauffeur, cook, housemaid, kitchenmaid and gardener. With the exception of the butler the servants had been sent the previous week to Sir Horace’s country house in Dellmere, Sussex. It appeared that Miss Fewbanks spent most of her time at the country house and came up to London but rarely. She was at Dellmere when the murder was committed, and had been under the impression that her father was in Scotland. According to a report received from the police at Dellmere the first intimation that Miss Fewbanks had received of the tragic death of her father came from them. Naturally, she was prostrated with grief at the tragedy.

The butler who had been left behind in charge of Riversbrook was a man named Hill, but he was not in the house on the night of the tragedy. He was a married man, and his wife and child lived in Camden Town, where Mrs. Hill kept a confectionery shop. Hill’s master had given him permission to live at home for three weeks while he was in Scotland. The house in Tanton Gardens had been locked up and most of the valuables had been sent to the bank for safe-keeping, but there were enough portable articles of value in the house to make a good haul for any burglar. Hill had instructions to visit the house three times a week for the purpose of seeing that everything was safe and in order. He had inspected the place on Wednesday morning, and everything was as it had been left when his master went to Scotland. Sir Horace Fewbanks had returned to London on Wednesday evening, reaching St. Pancras by the 6.30 train. Hill was unaware that his master was returning, and the first he learned of the murder was the brief announcement in the evening papers on Thursday.



INSPECTOR CHIPPENFIELD, WHO HAD COME into prominence in the newspapers as the man who had caught the gang who had stolen Lady Gladville’s jewels—which included the most costly pearl necklace in the world—was placed in charge of the case. It was to his success in this famous case that he owed his promotion to Inspector. He had the assistance of his subordinate, Detective Rolfe. So generous were the newspaper references to the acumen of these two terrors of the criminal classes that it was to be assumed that anything which inadvertently escaped one of them would be pounced upon by the other.

On the morning after the discovery of the murdered man’s body, the two officers made their way to Tanton Gardens from the Hampstead tube station. Inspector Chippenfield was a stout man of middle age, with a red face the colour of which seemed to be accentuated by the daily operation of removing every vestige of hair from it. He had prominent grey eyes with which he was accustomed to stare fiercely when he desired to impress a suspected person with what some of the newspapers had referred to as “his penetrating glance.” His companion, Rolfe, was a tall well-built man in the early thirties. Like most men in a subordinate position, Rolfe had not a high opinion of the abilities of his immediate superiors. He was sure that he could fill the place of any one of them better than it was filled by its occupant. He believed that it was the policy of superiors to keep junior men back, to stand in their light, and to take all the credit for their work. He was confident that he was destined to make a name for himself in the detective world if only he were given the chance.

When Inspector Chippenfield had visited Riversbrook the previous afternoon, Rolfe had not been selected as his assistant. A careful inspection of the house and especially of the room in which the tragedy had been committed had been made by the inspector. He had then turned his attention to the garden and the grounds surrounding the house.

Whatever he had discovered and what theories he had formed were not disclosed to anyone, not even his assistant. He believed that the proper way to train a subordinate was to let him collect his own information and then test it for him. This method enabled him to profit by his subordinate’s efforts and to display a superior knowledge when the other propounded a theory by which Inspector Chippenfield had also been misled.

When they arrived at the house in which the crime had been committed, they found a small crowd of people ranging from feeble old women to babies in arms, and including a large proportion of boys and girls of school age, collected outside the gates, staring intently through the bars towards the house, which was almost hidden by trees. The morbid crowd made way for the two officers and speculated on their mission. The general impression was that they were the representatives of a fashionable firm of undertakers and had come to measure the victim for his coffin. Inside the grounds the Scotland Yard officers encountered a police-constable who was on guard for the purpose of preventing inquisitive strangers penetrating to the house.

“Well, Flack,” said Inspector Chippenfield in a tone in which geniality was slightly blended with official superiority. “How are you to-day?”

“I’m very well indeed, sir,” replied the police-constable. He knew that the state of his health was not a matter of deep concern to the inspector, but such is the vanity of human nature that he was pleased at the inquiry. The fact that there was a murdered man in the house gave mournful emphasis to the transience of human life, and made Police-Constable Flack feel a glow of satisfaction in being very well indeed.

Inspector Chippenfield hesitated a moment as if in deep thought. The object of his hesitation was to give Flack an opportunity of imparting any information that had come to him while on guard. The inspector believed in encouraging people to impart information but regarded it as subversive of the respect due to him to appear to be in need of any. As Flack made no attempt to carry the conversation beyond the state of his health, Inspector Chippenfield came to the conclusion that he was an extremely dull policeman. He introduced Flack to Detective Rolfe and explained to the latter:

“Flack was on duty on the night of the murder but heard no shots. Probably he was a mile or so away. But in a way he discovered the crime. Didn’t you, Flack? When we rang up Seldon he came up here and brought Flack with him. He’ll be only too glad to tell you anything you want to know.”

Rolfe took an official notebook from a breast pocket and proceeded to question the police-constable. The inspector made his way upstairs to the room in which the crime had been committed, for it was his system to seek inspiration in the scene of a crime.

Tanton Gardens, a short private street terminating in a cul-de-sac, was in a remote part of Hampstead. The daylight appearance of the street betokened wealth and exclusiveness. The roadway which ran between its broad white-gravelled footwalks was smoothly asphalted for motor tyres; the avenues of great chestnut trees which flanked the footpaths served the dual purpose of affording shade in summer and screening the houses of Tanton Gardens from view. But after nightfall Tanton Gardens was a lonely and gloomy place, lighted only by one lamp, which stood in the high road more to mark the entrance to the street than as a guide to traffic along it, for its rays barely penetrated beyond the first pair of chestnut trees.

The houses in Tanton Gardens were in keeping with the street: they indicated wealth and comfort. They were of solid exterior, of a size that suggested a fine roominess, and each house stood in its own grounds. Riversbrook was the last house at the blind end of the street, and its east windows looked out on a wood which sloped down to a valley, the street having originally been an incursion into a large private estate, of which the wood alone remained. On the other side a tangled nutwood coppice separated the judge’s residence from its nearest neighbours, so the house was completely isolated. It stood well back in about four acres of ground, and only a glimpse of it could be seen from the street front because of a small plantation of ornamental trees, which grew in front of the house and hid it almost completely from view. When the carriage drive which wound through the plantation had been passed the house burst abruptly into view—a big, rambling building of uncompromising ugliness. Its architecture was remarkable. The impression which it conveyed was that the original builder had been prevented by lack of money from carrying out his original intention of erecting a fine symmetrical house. The first story was well enough—an imposing, massive, colonnaded front in the Greek style, with marble pillars supporting the entrance. But the two stories surmounting this failed lamentably to carry on the pretentious design. Viewed from the front, they looked as though the builder, after erecting the first story, had found himself in pecuniary straits, but, determined to finish his house somehow, had built two smaller stories on the solid edifice of the first. For the two second stories were not flush with the front of the house, but reared themselves from several feet behind, so that the occupants of the bedrooms on the first story could have used the intervening space as a balcony. Viewed from the rear, the architectural imperfections of the upper part of the house were in even stronger contrast with the ornamental first story. Apparently the impecunious builder, by the time he had reached the rear, had completely run out of funds, for on the third floor he had failed altogether to build in one small room, and had left the unfinished brickwork unplastered.

The large open space between the house and the fir plantation had once been laid out as an Italian garden at the cost of much time and money, but Sir Horace Fewbanks had lacked the taste or money to keep it up, and had allowed it to become a luxuriant wilderness, though the sloping parterres and the centre flowerbeds still retained traces of their former beauty. The small lake in the centre, spanned by a rustic hand-bridge, was still inhabited by a few specimens of the carp family—sole survivors of the numerous gold-fish with which the original designer of the garden had stocked the lake.

Sir Horace Fewbanks had rented Riversbrook as a town house for some years before his death, having acquired the lease cheaply from the previous possessor, a retired Indian civil servant, who had taken a dislike to the place because his wife had gone insane within its walls. Sir Horace had lived much in the house alone, though each London season his daughter spent a few weeks with him in order to preside over the few Society functions that her father felt it due to his position to give, and which generally took the form of solemn dinners to which he invited some of his brother judges, a few eminent barristers, a few political friends, and their wives. But rumour had whispered that the judge and his daughter had not got on too well together—that Miss Fewbanks was a strange girl who did not care for Society or the Society functions which most girls of her age would have delighted in, but preferred to spend her time on her father’s country estate, taking an interest in the villagers or walking the country-side with half a dozen dogs at her heels.

Rumour had not spared the dead judge’s name. It was said of him that he was fond of ladies’ society, and especially of ladies belonging to a type which he could not ask his daughter to meet; that he used to go out motoring, driving himself, after other people were in bed; and that strange scenes had taken place at Riversbrook. Flack had told his wife on several occasions that he had heard sounds of wild laughter and rowdy singing coming from Riversbrook as he passed along the street on his beat in the small hours of the morning. Several times in the early dawn Flack had seen two or three ladies in evening dress come down the carriage drive and enter a taxi-cab which had been summoned by telephone.



WHEN ROLFE HAD FINISHED QUESTIONING Police-Constable Flack and joined his chief upstairs, the latter, who had been going through the private papers in the murdered man’s desk in the hope of alighting on a clue to the crime, received him genially.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollst?ndigen Ausgabe!