LUCKY WENDOVER: The Third of a Series of Five Stories

III. “The Case of the Wicked Fool'

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL July 15 1923

LUCKY WENDOVER: The Third of a Series of Five Stories

III. “The Case of the Wicked Fool'

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL July 15 1923

LUCKY WENDOVER: The Third of a Series of Five Stories

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL

III. “The Case of the Wicked Fool'

COMPLETE IN THIS ISSUE

WENDOVER by this time had made the discovery that the affairs of others interested him more than his own.

Nevertheless, as he admitted to the Sage. the responsibilities imposed by vast wealth cannot be entirely ignored. And. shortly after the affair with Vail, the fact that he had ignored them was discreetly brought

to his notice by his solicitor. Wendover had bought a very valuable property just outside London. It was something more than a gilt-edged investment. Acting under expert advice, and also under some pressure from Government. Wendover had agreed to remodel this suburban estate, a scheme that involved immense expenditure of money, a handsome profit later on, and the satisfaction of knowing that as a private individual he was doing an immense service to the State.

But gradually personal interest in the property had evaporated. His business manager, Adamson, happened to be a masterful personality, chosen on that account. Interference with the carefully considered ptans of such a man was fatuous. Ultimately. Adamson was permitted, indeed encouraged. to exercise a free hand. Wendover, in fine, trusted him implicitly. Imagine, then, his surprise and exasperation when his solicitor said, without warning:

"I am afraid Adamson is robbing you.”

Before Wendover left Lincoln’s Inn Fields strong evidence in support of this was laid before him. Adamson, however, had covered his tracks.

To expose him. to gibbet him. might be impossible. To break his contract with positive proof of peculation would be nearly as difficult. The millionaire felt singularly cheap, as his solicitor made it plain, very discreetly, that the master’s eye must not be too introspective.

"What do you suggest?” asked Wendover irritably.

“We might employ a private detective.”

"I don't trust them. I’ll give the matter attention. Good morning.”

He walked back to his flat. Disgust overpowered him. the more intensely because Adamson was rich. He beheld him as the profiteer on the grand scale, the humbug and hypocrite masquerading aa philanthropist. Adamson had got the contract because he had imposed himself upon Wendover and his solicitor as a patriot zealously eager to build comfortable nests for the unhoused working man. Instead, the rascal had feathered his own.

“I shall expose him, but —how?” thought Wendover. Adamson was too clever to be found wanting by expert accountants. All the evidence against him was presumptive, much of it hearsay, the gossip of the taverns. It came to this, everybody knew that a big contractor was making more than his bit: nobody could prove it.

“I shall prove it.” thought Wen*-

dover.

To achieve this purpose he donned his oldest and shabbiest suit, a flannel shirt, a muffler, and a billycock hat that had seen happier days. Carrying a small suitcase. and unshaven, he presented himself at a cheap lodging-house not far from his property.

The gossip of the taverns confirmed what his solicitor had affirmed. Sitting back, with his billycock well over his eyes. Wendover listened to the talk of his own workmen. He beheld himself as a pile of pelf. Nobody, he remarked, pitied him. Nor did he pity himself. The loss of the money was. of course, negligible. What rankled was the sense of being robbed, now a rooted conviction, and the difficulty of dealing with the robber. Anything approximating to a public rumpus, with caustic comments from the Radical Press, must be avoided. A private and personal investigation would defeat its own ends. Adamson was not to be caught red-handed.

Within twenty-four hours Wendover contemplated retreat. He might return, play the master—which he was not—throwhimself into a business he did not understand. and thereby—although this was not certain— stop future peculation. But that meant playing a part with the robber.

"After all,” he reflected, “nothing short of personal violence would really' satisfy me.”

Chewing this nauseating cud, he lit a pipe in the small garden behind the lodging-house. The garden, once, had

encompassed a mansion of gentility pulled down to make room for a row of hideous jerry-built cottages. Rhododendrons, now reverted to the common Ponticum, overhung the paths. Behind one of them Wendover found a bench. He was idly contemplating a wilderness of weeds when he heard a voice belonging, so he presumed, to some person

in the summer-house It was impossible to doubt that the speaker, a man, was in sore distress, denouncing himself with an intensity and sincerity amazingly' poignant. The words seemed to burst from him.

“I’m a wicked fool—a wicked, wicked fool!” Wendover supposed that an answer to this might be forthcoming. In any case, he had no wish to play eavesdropper. He stood up, glancing at the summerhouse. As he crossed a strip of mossy turf, curiosity constrained him to glance over his shoulder. The summerhouse held one person.

A wicked fool had been talking to—himself!

WENDOVER hesitated. He wondered what Babbington-Raikes would do. He told himself that the Sage would not pass by on the other side. In the centre of the summer-house was a table, semi-circled by a stone seat. The wicked fool had sunk back upon the seat, and, with arms supinely stretched across the table, was hiding his miserable face.

Wendover said sharply:

“Why have you sent out this S. O. S. signal?”

The y'oung man started, glaring at Wendover. Sensitive to first impressions, like all of us blessed or cursed with imagination, quick also to form an opinion. Wendover decided that an S. O. S. signal had been sent out. The pupils of the young man’s eyes were abnormally dilated; his thin fingers were twitching. But he said savagely:

“What the hell d’ye mean?”

“Well, I heard you call y'ourself a wicked fool.”

“And what business is that of yours?”

“None.”

“Then why do y'ou butt in?”

Wendover met his congested glance. Then he mur-

mured after a momentary pause: “That is an interesting question.

I can’t answer it off-hand. I intended to skedaddle—quietly. Why did I butt in? Was it merely curiosity or sympathy?”

“Curiosity be damned!” “Certainly. Sympathy remains. Have a cigarette?”

He held out a leather case. The young man paused irresolutely. Wendover smiled.

“They aren’t gaspers,” he said.

The young man took a cigarette. Wendover entered the summer-house and sat down, knocking the ashes out of his pipe and preparing leisurely to refill it.

“Who are you?” asked the wicked fool.

“I’m a mechanical engineer—out of work.”

“I shall be hunting a job to-morrow. To-day I , was sacked.”

As he lit his cigarette the wicked fool exhibited an ink stained finger. Wendover shot a bolt into the blue.

“You have been clerking it, I dare say, in this new concern of Wendover’s.”

“Got there in one. Yes, I have been clerking it for that poisonous swine, Lucky Wendover, curse him!”

Wendover said pleasantly:

“I’ve cursed Lucky Wendover myself. What have you against him?”

The wicked fool held his tongue. Wendover went on softly:

“WTiat has the poisonous swine done to you?” “He’s no good to himself or anybody else.”

“Urn! Now, how do you know that?”

The wicked fool flushed a little, throwing back his head defiantly. It wasn’t a bad head. A welldeveloped brow counterbalanced an indeterminate chin. He spoke excitedly:

“He’s a drone, isn’t he?” Wendover nodded. “He lets other people attend to his business. Down here he’s been robbed, and serve him right!” Wendover nodded again. “Everybody has robbed him.”

“Have you?”

npHE wicked fool glanced furtively at his quesA tioner, blinking beneath the sharp interrogation. He growled out:

“Why shouldn’t I? If a man deliberately invites robbery--” He paused, dominated by

Wendover’s eyes, trying to interpret their expression, which held, so he decided, sympathy, a faint derision, humour—and what else?

“But have you robbed him?” repeated Wendover carelessly. “Mind you, I’m not blaming you; I throw no stones at you; I may be able to help you.”

The wicked fool replied miserably :

“You may as well know the truth; everybody will know it soon enough. For two months I’ve seen his agents helping themselves out of his big pile. I took a bit myself. There!”

He ended with a harsh laugh.

“I tumble. These big thieves caught you, eh? And sacked you?”

“They sacked me because I cheeked one of them. When they go over my accounts next Saturday I shall be caught right enough. I—I didn’t take much.”

Wendover smoked his pipe in silence, trying to “size up” the wicked fool, wondering whether he had “stuff” in him worth the trouble of salvage. Presently he said lightly:

“You hate Wendover because he exposed you to temptation?”

“I suppose that’s about the size of it.”

“Anybody dependent on you?”

“No—thank God.”

“Well, what are you going to do about it?”

The young man made a gesture indicating impotence, opening his hands, palm uppermost. Wendover saw that the hands were capable and, save for the ink stain, clean. He continued pleasantly:

“If you went to Wendover and exposed the big thieves he might overlook your pilferings.”

“Not he. If I went to Wendover I should want to punch his head.”

“But he might punch yours.”

“If I could get ‘one’ in first---”

He clenched his fists, scowling savagely. Wendover laughed. Really, he felt grateful to the youth, because he had lifted the pall of depression and boredom. To test more thoroughly this bit of human clay became irresistible

“You have confided your troubles to me,” he began. “The Lord only knows why.”

“Perhaps the Lord knows also why I am tempted to confide in you.”

WENDOVER stood up, walked to the door of the summer-house and satisfied himself that nobody else was within hearing. These actions were not lost upon the young man. He eyed Wendover with renewed and increasing interest when that gentleman sat down again. “Shall I help you to get even with Wendover?”

“Can you?”

“I think so. Would it surprise you if I told you that I was a successful—burglar?”

“You don’t look very successful.”

“Looks are proverbially deceiving. You don’t look wicked or a fool. I wonder whether you possess grit.”

“Go on.”

Wendover lowered his voice.

“As a burglar, self-confessed, I don’t seem to inspire you with—with repulsion.”

“No.”

“I, too, have a ‘down’ on Wendover. We needn’t go into that. Hitherto I have paddled my own canoe.” “Maybe that’s why you’re successful.” Wendover acquiesced, adding carelessly:

“If you have grit, if you want to square accounts with this poisonous «wine, I can offer you a fine chance.”

“You offer it, and see how quick I’ll take it.”

“Right! I came down here to stick my nose into this Wendover’s business. I know a thing or two which you can corroborate. Pay day is on Saturday, isn’t it? And the cash—a whacking big sum—is sent down on Friday and deposited in the safe?”

“You know a thing or two.”

“The safe stands in an inner office, a sort of small strong room, which holds also the plans and specifications and the books?”

“Quite correct. And Adamson’s private books are kept

there. If Wendover could take a squint at them--”

“Adamson would be short of a job, eh?”

“You bet.”

“Next Saturday, I take it, when the weekly books are balanced, the shortage in your accounts will howl for explanation?” The young man nodded. “But if the books were missing on Saturday morning, you would feel less wicked and less of a fool.”

“I should feel less of a fool. You’re after the cash?” “I admit that I am interested in the cash. Can we get into the private office after midnight on Friday—that’s tomorrow? If you get me into the private office, I’ll find

my way into the strong room. What share of the loot do ycu think ought to come to you?”

THE wicked fool gasped slightly. Gazing at Wendover, not entirely without awe, noting the set of his jaw' and the quality of his eyes, he jumped hot-foot to the conclusion that, as a burglar, the speaker was successful. In silence he tackled the imposed problem, saying presently: “I can get you into the office. A night watchman goes round at certain hours,—eleven, one and three. He lives on the premises. We can get into his quarters after he leaves them and follow him into the main building. I—I’m not after the cash. I want the books.”

“Really? But having taken a little, why not take more?”

“You see, I—I intended to put it back. I should have put it back if I hadn’t been sacked. I’m not exactly a burglar yet.”

“You haven’t the nerve, you mean. You’d like to back out?”

“I want to destroy two books.”

“Adamson’s private books might be worth something to you?”

The wicked fool duly assimilated this suggestion.

“You mean that I should^ have a strangle hold of him? But I’m not a blackmailer, either. Fellows like Wendover deserve to be robbed. If I can crawl out of this awful hole, I shall run straight. I can get another job easy.”

As he spoke he wondered what thoughts were quickening behind an impassive and inscrutable countenance. He heard the quiet, indifferent voice:

“Are you game for this or do you funk it?”

“I do funk it a bit, but I’m game for it.”

“Remember this: if we’re copped, it means penal servitude.”

“I shall be copped anyway—next Saturday.”

“Then you’re in with me, sink or swim?”

“Yes.”

II.

DETAILS having been discussed, Wendover returned next day to his flat. Judkins, his man, may have been surprised at his appearance, but he was too well trained to comment on it. Silently, he prepared a bath and laid out shaving tackle. Wendover, alone in his sitting-room, unlocked a despatch box and took from it a couple of keys, duplicate keys to the small strong room. Luckily, the door of the safe was not provided with a combination lock. Adamson had the other keys. Wendover chuckled as he heard water rushing into his bath, and glanced at himself in a Chippendale mirror. Then he

slipped an automatic pistol into the pocket of his oldest overcoat, filled a small flask with whisky, and drifted silently out of his flat. Within an hour he was back at his lodging-house.

The ex-clerk and he supped together at a cheap restaurant. Wendover almost enjoyed an overcooked chop; the clerk’s appetite failed him; he crumbled his bread nervously as he muttered:

“This is nothing to you.”

“Nothing at all,” replied Wendover jauntily.

After supper they went to a picture palace.

Throughout the evening Wendover cracked jokes with a sort of gusto that obviously amazed and dazed his partner in this adventure.

“I feel like Claude Duval,” he affirmed gaily.

But the ex-clerk had never heard of that bold cavalier. And his thoughts, moreover, lingered disagreeably upon the night watchman, who was admittedly a tough customer. To beguile the unhappy novice, Wendover refreshed him with tales of Duval and Jack Sheppard, purposely portraying them as gallant gentlemen of the road. Obviously the novice, had no stomach for such adventures. Yet he had grit. When Wendover said suddenly:

“Own up; you wish you were well out of this, eh?” he replied, almost primly:

“Of course I do; but not till I’ve destroyed those false entries of mine.”

Was this obstinacy or pluck? He seemed a poor enough creature physically, but his comments on the “movies” were illuminating. The story unfolded by the film was melodramatic, sugared and salted to the suburban palate. Virtue triumphed, of course, over vice. Wendover grasped the essential fact that, to his temporary partner, good, as he saw it, was white, and evil black. No gradations of tint. Realizing this, he asked abruptly: “WThy did you take these few pounds?”

“To pay some bets.”

“Racing—what?”

The ex-clerk repudiated this with some heat.

“Cards?”

“I don’t play cards, not for money.”

“Do you go to church?”

“I go to chapel. I bet on a moral certainty, a football match. If a gentleman friend of mine hadn’t put his knee cap out, I—well, I shouldn’t be here.”

“But, forgive the question, as a chapel-goer do you think it right to bet on a certainty, whether moral or not?”

“I think it’s wicked to bet if you can’t pay up when you lose.”

Continued on page 44

Lucky W e n d o v e r

Continued from page 17

“Stout fellow!” exclaimed Wendover. “By the way, you must look upon me as a lost soul.”

“I’m not in a position to throw stones at you or anybody else.”

“Cheer up! Cracking this little crib”— the clerk winced—“is a sitter for me.” Almost hypnotized, the fearful youth whispered:

“I say, b_ive—ha\tyou ever had to— to shoot?”

“No, but I should shoot if necessary to save our skins!”

This was the last test. To make it convincing, Wendover exhibited the pistol. They had left the picture palace and were alone in an empty street.

“Nip back to bed if you feel like it.”

“I feel like it, but I sha’n’t do it.”

THE hour was nearly ripe for the assault. A fine drizzle obscured the approaches to the fortress, which was encircled by a wooden fence. This first obstacle was negotiated with ease. Inside the enclosure, and close to the fence, was the main building. They stumbled over some rough ground with their eyes upon a lighted window. The ex-clerk might be a novice at burglary, but evidently he had used his powers of observation. He had told Wendover what would happen, and what did happen—up to a point—when the night-watchman went his rounds. He would leave his own snug room, and pass through the main building, turning on and off the electric light. After this he would walk round the other unfinished buildings, returning in due time to his chair and his fire. If he started at one punctually he would be back in his room within half an hour.

A workingman’s rough shed served as a shelter and a post of observation. The night watchman was punctual enough. He left his room some few minutes after the appointed hour, carrying a lantern. For a moment he stood at his front door, obviously taking stock of the weather. He put down the lantern, and went back into the house. His progress through the main rooms was leisurely. Window after window showed light for a second or two. Once more his burly form could be just descried as he came out of his house and picked up his lantern. As he vanished in the drizzle, Wendover hurried towards the door. There was the possibility of finding it locked. In that case the house would have to be broken into through a window. Wendover was quite prepared for this. The door, however, was not locked. In half a minute they found themselves in the sentry box, a small room comfortably warm and curtained. And here again the door that led into the

main building might be locked. But it wasn’t. The ex-clerk, carrying an electric torch provided by Wendover and carefully warned not to use it where it might be seen, crept down a passage and into Adamson’s office. They found it shuttered and curtained, absolutely light proof. The ex-clerk switched on the electrics.

Time now was negligible. They haS two hours clear, more if they chose to hide themselves when the watchman made his next round. To get into this room from outside was almost impossible. To get out was easy. As soon as the “job” was done, the window could be opened, and the visitors would then slide down a rope provided by Wendover and find themselves with nothing between security and insecurity except the fence scaled so easily before.

WENDOVER sat down in Adamson's chair at his desk. He had sat in it before. He would sit in it again with Adamson opposite to him on the stool of exposure if not of repentance. He chuckled as he envisaged the scene. The exclerk stared hungrily at the door of the strong room. He was nerving himself for a first glimpse of a “jemmy.”

Wendover pulled out the keys. The wicked fool eyed him with amazement. “Keys!” he gasped.

“What do you open safes with?” asked Wendover. “I told you this was a sitter for me.”

He unlocked the great door with the larger key, and invited the excited youth to pull it open. It remained shut. To the further confounding of the novice. Wendover slid back a thin plate of steel, revealing a tiny key-hole. He inserted the smaller key, turned it, and pulled back the door.

“Take what you want first,” he said. The novice entered, glanced at a row of books, and took two. He was so pleased with himself that he became humorous.

“Next,” he remarked with the air of a smug barber.

For the first time Wendover showed signs of excitement. If what he wanted was not in the safe? He saw his own books which were bound alike, and the innumerable plans and specifications neatly laid upon shelves. The strong room was fireproof. Built to hold papers of no value except to the owner, burglars had not been considered. The first object that met his eye was a small safe. An exclamation escaped him

“You never told me there was a second safe.” he said irritably.

“I didn't know it was there.”

Obviously the cash was in the smaller

„afe, which had a combination lock. No afe is absolutely proof against the expert, but Wendover perceived instantly that even an expert with all the tools necessary would not break open this strong box without spending time and much trouble. It sat in a corner, solid as the rock of Gibraltar. Undoubtedly, Adamson’s books were in Adamson’s own safe. Meanwhile the ex-clerk, satisfied with his share of the loot, was staring at the face of an unsuccessful operator.

“I’m done,” said Wendover, in a depressed voice. Worse, he felt grievously bored and unpleasantly damp.

“Shush-h-h-h—-—!” whispered the clerk. He added excitedly: “I hear something!”

So did Wendover. A door to the right, not the door communicating with the night-watchman’s room, had unmistakably slammed. The ex-clerk went on feverishly: “He’s come back through the main entrance. He must have seen a light.”

“Hop in here,” said Wendover. “I’ll switch off the light. Probably he won’t notice that this door is not locked. Hurry up!”

Clutching his precious books, the exclerk obeyed. Wendover switched off the electrics, entered the safe, and gently pulled to the heavy door. But he had not counted upon the great weight of it, and also he was not aware that it closed automatically, self-locking itself. A faint click was heard.

“DY GOD!” said Wendover, “we’ve -D locked ourselves in.”

The one light in the strong room was still burning. By it Wendover could see the despairing face close to his, twisted with misery.

“Buck up!” he said sharply. “We’re not done yet.”

“But we are,” groaned the wicked fool, looking both wicked and foolish; “the air in this place won’t last us till morning.” “By Jove—that’s true,” muttered Wendover. He dropped his voice to a whisper. “Listen. Can you hear anything? I’ll turn off the light.”

In darkness they listened. Not a sound fell upon strained ears. Solid concrete imprisoned them. The door was nearly nine inches thick. Wendover turned on the light.

“Why do you do that?” asked a quavering voice.

Wendover didn’t answer. He knelt down, placing his ear close to the edge of the door, holding up a hand to enjoin silence. Suddenly, after what seemed to the ex-clerk an eternity of silence, a faint noise became audible. Wendover smiled, stood up, and took from his pocket the pistol. As he did so the door opened.

“Hands up, Mr. Adamson,” said Wendover. His . cap was well over his eyes. The stout, rosy-gilled gentleman staring down the barrel of a pistol not a yard from his head saw the cap and a blue , unshaven chin. He gasped and held up his hands.

“Thank you,” said Wendover. “I wasn’t expecting you, but I’m glad you came. By this time you have recognized my voice. If you have any regard for yourself, don’t mention my name. Keep your hands up.”

“I am unarmed,” said Adamson, in a thick voice. “Is this a practical joke?” “What I’m doing is practical, if not a joke.”

He ran his disengaged hand over Adamson’s portly figure, and then lowered the pistol.

“Open that little safe,” he said curtly. “It’s my safe.”

“Open it—quick!”

Adamson hesitated, but obeyed. Wendover observed politely:

“Thank you. Now you can sit down. So can you,” he turned to the wicked fool.

“Dawson--!” exclaimed Adamson.

“You—you dirty dog!”

“We’re all dirty .dogs,” replied Wendover. “Sit down, but not in my chair.”

ADAMSON did so, shrugging his fat - shoulders, as yet too confounded to realize all the truth. Indeed, for the moment he thought that Wendover was mad. He was soon disillusioned. Wendover appeared from the strong room carrying the books that he found in the safe. There were only three. He laid them upon the desk.

“Now.” he said pleasantly, “we are going over together your private account. Mr. Dawson may be able to explain technical points beyond me.”

“This is outrageous,” blustered Adam) son.

“Justice,” observed Wendover, “often seems so to criminals.”

“Criminals--!”

“I haven’t applied the word to you— yet.”

As he spoke he sat down in the chair at the head of the desk, and picked up the ledger.

“I hope it’s properly indexed,” he murmured. “By the way, why do you come here at this unholy hour?”

Adamson, clever enough possibly to know that bluster was played out, answered mildly: “When I am very busy,

I often come here at night.”

“Yes, it’s quiet and peaceful. Nobody about. Ah! The ledger is indexed. From whom do we buy timber?” Adamson hesitated. Wendover laughed as he pushed across the desk a memorandum pad and a pencil. “Quite right, Mr. Adamson, I asked you, I remember, not to mention names. Kindly write down on that pad the names of the firms from whom we buy timber, concrete and bricks.”

“You ought to know their names.”

“I am properly admonished. I ought to, but I don’t. Please oblige me.”

Adamson wrote down some names.

“You can smoke if you like,” said Wendover. “I may keep you here some little time. Dawson will join you, if you offer him a cigar.”

For a quarter of an hour Wendover was busy with Adamson’s private books. He betrayed, by his expression, interest in nothing else. Adamson, pale with rage and apprehension, watched him furtively. When-Wendover shut the books with the a triumphant bang, he started. Wendover rose, replaced the books in the safe and returned with an immense sheaf of bank notes.

“I sha’n’t detain you much longer,” he said pleasantly. “I have here”—he tapped his note-book—“all that I want. Nothing remains but to square up.” “Be-before a third party?”

“In our joint interests—yes.”

ADAMSON moistened his thick lips -¿Awith a feverish tongue. Wendover continued suavely:

“Mr. Dawson, for reasons of his own, will keep his own counsel. I trust him to do so, and so must you. Also, you serve as an object lesson to him. He knows, everybody knows, that you have systematically robbed your employer. I have taken my own way to prove it. I presume that you wish to settle up out of court.” He paused and smiled. “I take silence to mean consent. Here and now you will write a letter to Mr. Wendover resigning your position. Acting as Mr. Wendover’s representative, I shall accept from you, not a cheque which might provoke curiosity elsewhere, but hard ' cash. You have several thousands of pounds here which may be regarded as your own property. Speaking roughly, from rough figures, you have taken from Mr. Wendover about two thousand pounds, more or less.”

“Less—I swear it.”

“Mr. Dawson will note that you admit taking something less than two thousand pounds. A small balance is apparently in Mr. Wendover’s favour. That balance will pay for my personal services. I propose, therefore, to take this two thousand pounds now. Write your letter of resignation, and let us go home to bed.”

“And to-morrow?”

“To-day, you mean. You will appear as usual, pay the men, meet Mr. Wendover’s solicitor, and hand over the immediate conduct of the business to the second in command. Your own bankers will no doubt supply you with two thousand pounds. No workman must be kept waiting for his weekly wage. Write the letter whilst I count out four hundred fivers.”

The letter was written. Mr. Adamson locked his safe and departed. The wicked fool stared at Wendover.

“You are a ’tec?”

“No.”

“Then—who are you?”

“I’m that poisonous swine—Lucky Wendover. Are you going to stay on in my service or try your luck with some other swine?”

“But the entries?”

“You can leave them to me.”

“I don’t feel quite so wicked, Mr. Wendover, but you must think me an awful fool. I—I’d like to work for you,

sir. I—I’ll work hard for—for such an operator.”

It was past mid-day when Wendover returned to his flat. After luncheon he rang up Babbington-Raikes.

“I’ve handled a case on my own, and treated it to a successful issue.”

The voice of the great neurologist seemed to convey a slightly mocking inflection as it came back over the ’phone.

“Really? My congratulations. We don’t always find the successful issue. If you are on your own, expect disappointment sometimes.”