LUCKY WENDOVER: The Fourth of a Series of Five Stories

IV. “The Case of the Blue Serge Suit"

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL August 15 1923

LUCKY WENDOVER: The Fourth of a Series of Five Stories

IV. “The Case of the Blue Serge Suit"

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL August 15 1923

LUCKY WENDOVER:

IV. “The Case of the Blue Serge Suit"

HORACE ANNESLEY VACHELL

FOR a time, several weeks, Wendover remained a comparatively happy and busy man. He was keeping an eye on young Kingslade, and also on the wicked fool, and, incidentally, he was reorganizing the conduct of his suburban property.

A June sun was illuminating cheerfully his breakfast table, when a letter challenged attention. All very rich men receive anonymous letters, and. frequently, threatening letters, which, for the most part, are thrown as rubbish to the void of the waste-paper basket. This particular letter was written legibly, in firm caligraphy upon decent notepaper,

"Dear Sir.” it began', "You are called ‘Lucky Wendover.’ and l am wondering whether or not you have any sympathy for or interest in the luckless brigade, of which I am a member. Luck has gone persistently against me in this world, so persistently, indeed, that I propose to try the next, unless—which is extremely improbable—you see your way to help me I ask bluntly, for a hundred pounds. That happens to be the irreducible minimum necessary to rehabilitate me. I am not a drunkard, nor an evil-liver.

From the style of this letter you may infer that 1 am welleducated. I hope to repay what I should regard as a temporary grant in aid.’ Probably this is a cant phrase with all beggingletter writers. With a hundred pounds I can cut loose from London, and seek fortune elsewhere. I am young enough and strong enough to begin again.

If you are prepared to lend me this money, will you meet me the day alter to-morrow at ten in the morning in Kensington Gardens? I shall be sitting on the bench nearest to the statue of Queen Victoria which is on the east side of the palace. You will not fail to recognize me because I shall be wearing a blue serge suit with some violets in the lapel of it.

And I shall be reading a copy of Montaigne’s works. I call your attention to these descriptive details. because if you don’t meet me or send some one to meet me at the hour appointed, what is eft of me will be found shortly after eleven by the police, and further details will be furnished by the evening papers.

“Yours faithfully,

“Infortunatus.”

W endover whistled softly to himself. Presently, when the faithful Judkins appeared to clear the table, the letter was handed to him.

“What do you make of that, Judkins?”

Judkins read it carefully.

“Bluff, sir.”

"That, Judkins, is my considered opinion also. Thank you.”

VX/’ENDOVER attacked other correspondence.

* ' But. somehow, Infortunatus haunted his mind. His curiosity concerning him became more and more importunate. The letter bore a date, but no address. According to the postmark it had been posted in Kensington. It was quite possible, he reflected, that some wag at one of his clubs was attempting “to pull his leg.”

Ultimately, merely out of curiosity, he decided to stroll into Kensington Gardens at the hour named in the letter. He intended, if possible, to see the gentleman in the blue serge suit without being seen by him.

He decided that if he liked his looks, he might speak to him. Later he might help him if luck had been persistently against Infortunatus.

The unexpected upset these not too carefully considered plans. V endover ordered his own car at half-past nine. But running down the sharp slippery slope between Knightsbridge and St. George’s Hospital, the heavy limousine skidded into avegetable cart. An officious

COMPLETE IN THIS ISSUE

constable took down Wendover’s name and address. Fortunately the material damage done was slight. And Wendover didn’t wish to be pestered by a summons. Also he felt personally responsible for the damage inasmuch as he had instructed his chauffeur to “speed up.” Accordingly, there and then, he settled the matter handsomely out of court, having the satisfaction of being cheered by a small but appreciative crowd of foot passengers. When he rolled on half an hour had been lost.

On the other hand he had gained a glow, that sense of satisfaction which warms the benefactor and almost justifies indiscriminate charity. It struck him that' Infortunatus—if he were not a rogue—made bad luck contagious. The fact that he might, through no fault of his own, have missed an adventure quickened in Wendover further interest in the unhappy wight who read Montaigne.

The Fourth of a Series • of Five Stories

Leaving his car at the railings, Wendover hastened to the meetingplace. He perceived that a heavy shower of rain had cleared this part of the Gardens of pedestrians. Nearing the statue, he shortened his stride. Upon the bench, hard by, somebody in a blue serge suit was sitting, rather huddled up. Wendover stood still with every faculty alert. A book lay face down upon the gravel path. The stranger’s head drooped, but he wore a bunch of violets in the lapel of his coat. Was he dozing? Or speeding to that undiscovered country from which no traveller returns?

The question was fraught with grim significance. Wendover, not easily moved, realized that he was trembling with apprehension. But, as he approached, Infortunatus raised a pallid face and smiled faintly:

“You are a few minutes too late, Mr. Wendover,” he said.

“You don’t—you can’t mean that-”?

Infortunatus nodded, and closed his eyes.

WENDOVER acted promptly. Upon the path, near the volume of Montaigne, he perceived an empty phial. He picked up both, and glanced about him. Nobody was in sight.

“Can you walk to my ear?” he asked.

Wendover raced back to his car, and returned as swiftly with his chauffeur. Together, they supported what appeared to be a dying man to the limousine.

“Drivé to the flat,” said Wendover curtly..

In the set of rooms above his lived the pal whohad vetted him ' (and laughed at him) before he consulted Babbington-Raikes. Wendover, of course, knew well enough that the destination of a man who had attempted his own life should be a police-station or a hospital. Either of these meant publicity. The case, indeed, seemed to howl for the help of a pal, and the pal happened to be a very clever young man, whom he was certain to find at home. v

Within an incredibly short space of time, Dr. Trevor, the pal, was at work, attempting to revive animation, and doing all that was possible. Under his ministrations, life slowly flickered back. A severe emetic, however, left the patient nearly dead.

He was quite incapable of asking or answering questions. Trevor took Wendover aside.

“It’s my duty to communicate with the police.”

“Do you always do your duty?” asked Wendover.

“Not always.”

Thus encouraged, Wendover pleaded for a few hours’' secrecy.

“Perhaps,” he said, “the poor devil’s luck has turned.” “What you’re doing—what we're doing—isn’t wise, Wendover.”

“Perhaps not, but it’s exciting.” .

In the end, with full knowledge of the facts, the doctor consented to regard his patient as one who had been overcome by cardiac weakness in Kensington Gardens. He said in conclusion:

“There are many drugs of which we knownext to nothing. The empty phial may have held one of these. Possibly the dose was too small or too big. An overdose may defeat its own ends?What’s the use of guessing? Our patient, when he becomes stronger, will satisfy our curiosity. Humanly speaking, we have pulled him through. He has extraordinary recuperative qualities, a sound constitution not impaired by excess, the resilient arteries of youth. They got him out of a tight place. I wonder wrhat got him into it. We must keep him quiet and give him time.”

II.

npREVOR went back to his rooms. Wendover return 4 ed to the spare room. The patient lay upon hiback, breathing as easily and as naturally as a tired child* Judkins and Trevor had undressed him, and put. him into a sleeping suit of Wendover’s. All his clothes and underclothes were good—and unmarked. Sitting beside the bed, Wendover wondered what had driven so young a man into such an impasse. Surely bad luck was not alone sufficient. The features of the face were well proportioned and the chin satisfactorily salient. Wendover decided that such could hardly belong to a coward.

But, long ago, he had dismissed cowardice as an absurd and i n a d equate reason for suicide.

Cowards were afraid of death. And when life became, as it might, insupportable, strong men in all times had found a way out of it.

He was thinking of this, when Infortunatus opened his eyes, saw Wendover, and smiled derisively. Then he closed his eyes again.

The smile worried Wendover.

Presently the door opened quietly, and Judkins appeared. His face, ordinarily so imperturbable, indicated slight excitement. He beckoned mysteriously, and vanished. Wendover rose and followed Judkins into the hall.

“What is it, Judkins?”

Judkins led the way into a small valet’s room. Behind glazed doors were rows of Wendover’s boots, perfectly treed and polished. In the middle of this sanctuary were two chairs, and, upon the back of these hung two blue serge coats. Judkins, still silent, lifted a significant fore-finger and pointed at the coats. His master, still mystified, raised interrogative eyebrows.

“Look at the sleeves, sir.” v -

Wendover did so, and an exclamation escaped him. After he became a rich man, he had gone to a famous snip in Savile Row, a master-cutter, with ideas peculiarly his own. For example, he refused to embellish the ordinary lounge coat with pocket flaps, and he insisted upon, placing four buttons on each sleeve. More, from the centre of the first button to the centre of the fourth button the distance was always the same, to wit: two and a half inches. Further, the two buttons nearest the wrist were practicable. That is to say they had button holes. The two buttons higher up the sleeve were dummies sewn firmly above sham button holes.

“Our tailor,” said Judkins triumphantly, “made those two coats.”

“You’re a marvel,” murmured Wendover.-

Further inspection settled the matter beyond dispute. The sleeves were lined with the same excellent silk, and about the waist the skirts of the coat had the same smart fullness.

“We have got at something,” Wendover admitted. “Not much,” he added, pensively. “You see, Judkins, it is more than likely that this coat,” he indicated the garment not his own, “was bought at some second-hand shop.”

This had not occurred to the graven image, who looked disconcerted but incredulous. Wendover returned to his mysterious guest.

TTE WAS still dozing, but he had slightly changed his

■* position; and his hands lay outside the thin coverlet. The hands—if hands could be regarded as indices of character—were finely modelled and had been carefully tended. The nails, however, were not manicured. Wendover disliked men who manicured their nails. The smooth texture of the skin, the absence of callosities, proved conclusively that the owner of such hands could not belong to manual workers. As ends they failed to suggest means. Wendover’s own hands were very like them.

Probably, so Wendover reflected, Infortunatus was an artist of sorts:—a painter, musician, or a writer. From the style of his first epistle it was not straining probability to call him a Man of Letters. And he read Montaigne. The copy of the book lay within reach of his own hand. It was an early edition, bound in red morocco with half a dozen French names upon the first blank page. It might have been picked up at one of the bookstalls on the left bank of the Seine. It had suffered use and abuse.

Wendover glanced at a page, and read on. Suddenly he knew that his patient was awake and looking at him. He raised his head.

“Where am I?” asked a faint voice. “Not in hell, anyway.”

“You are in my rooms,” said Wendover. “I advise you to keep quiet. We can talk later on.”

“Why not now?” The voice became almost dominant.

“Right you are, if you feel up to it. I am Wendover. I kept the appointment too late. Accident to my car. I found you, well, a goner. But a clever fellow got to work on you in the nick of time.”

“I see.”

. Wendover went out of the room. He came back presently with a cup of clear soup and'a small whisky and soda. The patient disposed of these without comment or thanks.

“You feel stronger?” asked Wendover.

“My mind is strong enough. My body seems to belong to somebody else.”

“The doctor who has left within an hour told us to give you time.”

“Time—time,” murmured the young man. “I wanted eternity, an eternity of sleep. Why did you waken me?”

He spoke sharply, but in attenuated tones. Wendover was taken slightly aback. No really adequate answer to such a question came to him. Possibly he expected thanks. The man’s voice betrayed protest. If he were as weak as a child, he ought to be treated, for the moment, as a child. Wendover said soothingly:

“We can go into that when you are stronger? Try to doze off again.”

Obediently, Infortunatus closed his eyes.

ÍII.

DRESENTLY, quite sure that the patient was asleep, -*■ and soundly, Wendover saw the doctor, and told him what had passed. Trevor was reassuring: “It is almost

certain that he is quite all right. If the pulse fails, if there is violent sickness, or any sort of rigor, send Judkins for me. When he wakes give him a little light food, half a dozen oysters and a slice of chicken. Nature will attend to him.”

Nature was complaisant. ïnfortunâtus slept for several hours. When he awoke, he swallowed the light meal provided and asked for a cigarette. Colour had returned to his lips and cheeks; his eyes sparkled with vitality.

. “You’re right as rain,” said his host.

“Damn rain! I want sunshine.”

Once again Wendover’s curiosity was piqued by the querulous, petulant note. Here, evidently, was a man “at outs” with life—as he himself had been—and this constituted a link between them. Sympathy, he reflected, might provoke exasperation. In his own ease, when well-meaning pals clapped him on the shoulder and said cheerily: “You look blue, old bean,” he was tempted to

consign them to a place where the dominant colour is presumed to be red.

Wendover pointed to the windows.

“The sun is shining,” he said simply.

“So it is.” He added, more pleasantly: “Please

prop me up with a pillow or two, before I try to satisfy your curiosity.”

Wendover did so, feeling firm muscles beneath the silk pyjamas. But the patient needed help and support.

“I am half paralysed still,” he muttered. “I don’t believe I could walk across the room to save my life.” “Don’t talk unless you want to.”

“My mind is as clear as the water in Avalon Bay. Ever been to California?”

“Not yet.”

“When I wrote to you California was my objective.”

He paused frowning. Wendover said lightly: “I may help you to get to California.”

Infortunatus laughed. The laugh tickled Wendover. It was the laugh of youth, and all things are possible to youth. But the following remark gave him pause: “You do owe me something, Mr. Wendover.” “Do I?”

“Why, yes. You have chosen to resurrect me from the dead. I put it to you, as a sportsman, haven’t I a claim upon you? You have played the God out of the Machine. I had taken the big plunge. It takes a bit of doing.” Wendover nodded. “If you saw some waif of a woman jump over Waterloo Bridge, and jumped after her, rescued her, restored a life she considered worthless, would you leave her on the bank, and go your way in any sort of peace?”

“I thought not. Are you prepared to ‘stake me,’ as we call it out West?”

“We? Are you an American?”

“I am English. But I am tired of England. Dogtired!”

HIS voice died away. Wendover remained silent.

He wished to know more, but it was sound policy to wait patiently for details. One might, of course, listen to lies without'asking questions. Infortunatus continued carelessly:

“I would rathér not bore you with my autobiography. It is enough to say that I have lived, not too riotously, upon a modest capital inherited from my father. After that was spent I lived upon my wits, such as they are. I have travelled the high road and the low. If you like you can call me a—crook.”

“But I don’t like.”

“Ah! The word is elastic. Brutus was an honourable man. Becky Sharp remarked that it was easy to be virtuous with ten thousand a year.”

“Becky slipped dp on that. It’s never easy to be virtuous.”

“You are thinking, possibly, that you made a mistake in raising me from the dead?”

“I am suspending judgment, Mr.-?”

“You can call me Brown. It isn’t my name. But I have been done brown, boiled, baked, braised—Brown.” “You interest me, Mr. Brown. I can understand why you read Montaigne.”

“Thanks. Interest, if sufficiently stimulated, may provide me with capital.”

“I mentioned a sum, the irreducible minimum, one hundred pounds, to be regarded, between gentlemen, as a loan.”

“Will you tell me what you propose to do with it?” “With pleasure. It will take me to California, where I have friends. I have been rained upon enough. Sunshine will revitalise me.”

“Are you single—without ties?”

“That is an ungenerous question. Do I impress you as being the sort of anaemic creature who would bolt from wife and children? I am a bachelor without encumbrances.” He laughed again adding: “Not even

a conscience, Mr. Wendover. to fetter my endeavours.” He spoke whimsically. And it was difficult to believe that the speaker had not a conscience. Somehow, without being able to analyse, calmly, his emotions, Wendover felt touched. The man’s soft voice captivated him. And the blessed spirit of comedy informed it. He might or might not be a crook. How many men including the bench of bishops ran undeviatingly straight? One thing was certain: this man had been rained upon, saturated by the showers of Misfortune, soaked to the marrow. Wendover said curtly:

Continued on page 48

Lucky Wendover

Continued from page 25

“I will lend or give you a hundred pounds upon one condition: you must tell me what you do with it. If you care to add extra' details about the poison you used, for example, I shall be obliged.”

Mr. Brown frowned; then he smiled.

“I accept the loan of a hundred pounds upon your conditions. Before I leave England, your curiosity shall be satisfied. I think I can go to sleep again. I shall dream of what may be done with a hundred pounds.”

Wendover often indulged a passing whim. He left the room, returning within a minute with a small flat leather case in his hand.

“The hundred pounds, in Bank of England notes, is here. Put it under your pillow. Pleasant dreams!”

He nodded and went out.

IV.

T ■ NWILLING to leave the flat till U Brown’s recovery, Wendover pottered about his sitting-room. Things as apart from persons didn’t interest him much; but he had collected some fine furniture and prints. During the past year, also, he had bought snuff-boxes, snuffing romance out of them. His latest “find” happened to be, incomparably, the gem of a valuable collection. The box was of crystal lined with gold, but between the crystal and the gold were innumerable tiny plaits of dark brown hair, each fairy plait being held and amazingly embellished by an exquisite fleur-de-lys in diamonds. The box had historical interest, inasmuch as the hair had been taken from a lovely head that fell under the guillotine at the time of the Terror, taken before not after the unmerited execution. The lovely head had belonged to a Princess of France. She had given the snuff-box to her lover, a Grandee of Spain. Put up at Christie’s with many connoisseurs and collectors bidding, it had fetched an immense price.

All Wendover’s snuff-boxes were, presumably, and as a rule, authentically love-tokens. Many were adorned with miniatures; most of them bore interlaced cyphers in diamonds. There was no box later than the eighteenth century. All of them appealed irresistibly to a man who elected to keep love at a distance. Each had its story. Quite apart from the passion of collecting, a luke-warm sentiment in Wendover, he had grown attached to these precious souvenirs. In his less cynical moments he would say to himself: “If I ever find the real right

woman, I shall give my snuff-boxes to her.” And, bit by bit, he had come to regard them as the property of that unknown She, whom he began to despair of finding in the madding crowds of Mayfair.

Presently, he rang the bell, and told Judkins that he would dine at home. Judkins glanced at the glittering snuffboxes.

“Shall I put ’em in the safe to-night?” “Why?”

“Stranger in the flat, sir.”

“Lock up the valet’s room, Judkins.” “The valet’s room, sir?”

“Can a stranger escape in blue silk pyjamas? All his clothes are in your custody.”

“Very true, sir.”

“You are of a suspicious nature, Judkins.”

“Yes, sir, I don’t cotton to strangers, sir.”

“I do—sometimes. Mr. Brown is my guest. Tell the cook to exercise her art this evening upon a grilled sole and some sweetbreads. Mr. Brown may drink a pint of Clicquot.”

Judkins sniffed audibly, and withdrew.

NOTHING further of interest happened till Trevor looked in just before eight. Mr. Brown was awake ¡ and, admittedly, hungry. The doctor ; examined him thoroughly in Wendover’s presence, but asked no indiscreet question except one.

“Can you tell me what poison you ; took?”

I “Have you ever heard of Muscarine?”

; “The alkaloid isolated from the Flyagaric fungus? Yes.”

¡ “I didn’t take that.”

“Of course you didn’t. Muscarine induces myosis, violent vomiting, and great muscular weakness.”

“My muscles are weak. I took, doctor, an alkaloid isolated from another fungus. I have forgotten its jaw-breaking name. It grows in East Africa. A man I met out there, a Hun, was experimenting with it. He contended to me that it Would cut the knot painlessly. And swiftly. He had a small quantity which he kindly shared with me. We intended at the time to explore a bit of uncharted country infested by a peculiarly savage tribe who found entertainment in torturing their prisoners. If we fell into their hands, we hoped to balk them of their favourite amusement. That’s all. When I left East Africa, I carried the phial with me.”

The doctor accepted politely this explanation. As soon as he was alone with Wendover, he said bluntly:

“I believe that story, but I wonder whether he has forgotten the name of the fungus. Humanly speaking, he is out of the danger zone. There was myosis, abnormal contraction of the pupil of the eye, and there is still muscular weakness. He is no ordinary man, Mr. Wendover; I wish we knew more about him.”

“We shall,” predicted Wendover confidently.

“I shall not call till to-morrow, unless you send for me. Good-night.”

Mr. Brown enjoyed his dinner, and drank one glass of champagne. Afterwards Wendover played piquet with him and lost a few shillings to a much superior player. He learnt, incidentally, why his guest had sojourned in East Africa.

“I am a surveyor by profession. I was on the staff of the Southern Pacific Railroad in California. I can earn good money, when I get back there. I chucked surveying when my father died. Money didn’t bring me luck. The Hun I mentioned wpnt into the unmapped country, and never came back. Did he empty his phial?”

Mr. Brown spoke of Montaigne.

“I love Montaigne,” he said, “because —as Emerson observes—he is never dull. And always independent. He took the road of life, laughing at everything and everybody, including himself. I feel in his essays a touch of the buccaneer, although he was a judge and a gentleman of the King’s Chamber. Do you read him?”

“You tempt me to do so.”

“Good! I make you a present of my copy.”

AT ELEVEN, Wendover went to bed.

• Before falling asleep he tried to “assemble” his various impressions of Mr. Brown. Gratitude did not seem, on the surface of things, to be aggressively prominent. Wendover, however, had suffered from gratitude too exuberantly expressed, and placed little value on it. Pluck delighted him. This student of Montaigne had pluck. And brains. The two, in combination, ought to carry him far on any road. It was a pity that such a clever young man should leave England. His reserves and reticencies were in his favour. Probably he had squandered his patrimony. His proficiency at piquet indicated much pratice, a costly apprenticeship. Anyway, he wanted to begin again, in a new country, in sunshine.

Wendover wondered what BabbingtonRaikes would think of Mr. Brown. How would the Sage treat this interesting case. He chuckled a little, when he reflected that he was treating Mr. Brown on his own. If, as potter, he could mould such plastic clay into the right form it would be a feather in his cap. A second feather, because the “wicked fool” was really satisfying expectation. What a wonderful game it was, this moulding of clay! He began to understand the fascination of the medical profession, arduous though it was. What compensations! Yes, the Sage had shewn him the right path to happiness. Mere pleasure seekers found-, ered in a bog of satiety.

His last waking thought formed itself into the determination to keep Mr. Brown in England, where he might be transmitted from pottery into porcelain.

Kindly thoughts woo kindly sleep. Wendover never stirred in his slumbers till Judkins appeared with the shaving water.

“Twenty minutes to eight, sir.”

“How is my guest? I told him to ring the bell if he wanted anything.”

“Mr. Brown, sir, has not rung the bell.

I have not disturbed him. What will you wear, sir? It’s a sunny morning, not too hot.”

“I’ll wear my blue serge suit. Did you lock up the valet’s room?”

“No, sir. I gathered from your remark that suspicion, in your opinion, did not become me.”

“Quite right, Judkins.”

Wendover slipped out of bed, whistling cheerfully, and into the bath that was ready across the passage. He was splashing vigorously in cold water, when he heard an agitated voice outside.

He recognised the high-pitched tones as belonging to Judkins.

“What is it?” ->

“Your blue serge suit, sir. It’s goneJ’ “Don’t be a fool, my good man!”

“Very good, sir. Mr. Brown has gone too.”

WENDOVER was out of his bath, and into a dressing-gown in a jiffy. When he opened the bath-room door he beheld Judkins with a blue serge suit in his trembling hands. Across the passage, behind Judkins, through the open door of the spare room, Wendover could see also an empty bed.

He hurried into the spare room. Upon the dressing-table lay a note. Seeing the note, addressed to himself, he admonished the confounded Judkins: “Pull yourself together. My guest, for reasons of his own, is evidently an early riser, with art ineradicable instinct not to outstay his welcome. He has appropriated my blue serge by mistake.”

“I hope, sir, it ain’t worse than that.”

. “I’ll wear the suit .1 wore yesterday.” “Yes, sir.”

Wendover returned to the bath-room to dry himself properly. Mr. Brown’s disappearence didn’t annoy him. The -“Collins” left on the dressing-table would contain thanks and apologies. Indeed, putting himself into Mr. Brown’s shoes, he could sympathise with this sudden exit, almost a forced exit under the pressure of obligations.

He did not open the “Collins” till he had finished his toilet.

“My Would-be Benefactor” (it began upon Wendover’s best note paper),

“I have to thank you tropically for your hospitality and entertainment. I am sincerely sorry that you have been ‘had,’ but needs must when the devil drives. I too, am a collector of precious articles.

It has been in my mind to burgle your charming flat for some time, but the difficulty of getting in and out of such carefully guarded paradises fairly flummuxed me. To get in as your guest, however unworthy, seemed the only solution of the problem. Tell the doctor that the alkaloid presents claims upon his attention, although it was isolated by a Hun. It produces suspension of animation, but is not lethal. When I saw you , ■ I downed the necessary dose. I am no doubt absurdly quixotic, but you will find the hundred pounds under my pillow.

“I should drink up that Clicquot. It’s on the go. The bottles may survive the pints.

“Yours gratefully,'

“FORTUNATUS. - ' “P.S.—My destination is not California.”

For a moment, Wendover was stunned with astonishment. He rushed into the spare room; under the crumpled pillow lay the note-case and notes. He hurried Jnto his drawing-room. The show-case that held the snuff-boxes was always covered with an embroidered cloth, to keep the destroying light from the delicately tinted miniatures. Wendover -snatched off the cloth.

The show-case was empty. . ' -Judkins remarked cynically:

“I knew he was a wrong ’un.” ‘

“How?”

“He gave himself dead away, sir, to me.”

“What on earth do you mean?”

“His tie was made up.”

V.

THERE remained the rogue’s blue serge suit, made by Wendover’s snip. After a sorry breakfast Wendover took a taxi to Savile Row. He described his man. The famous snip nodded, and then examined his books after examining the suit.

“I made this,” he said presently, “for a very pleasant gentleman. I didn’t think he was quite the gentleman, because he only tried it on once. But he paid cash.”

“But his name? What was his name —and address?”

“Name—Smith. Address—Carlton

Hotel.”

Wendover returned to his flat. He might, of course, have gone to Scotland Yard. But he didn’t. He reflected that he was rich enough to pay in full for a misadventure. To advertise his gullibility in the daily press would be merely another act of folly. Judkins was pledged to secrecy. ' To Trevor, part of the truth sufficed to quash further proceedings.

“The man bolted next morning,” he said curtly.

Trevor possessed a nose that had poked itself into many queer cases. He asked quietly:

“Did he take anything with him?”

“Yes, a blue serge suit by mistake. He left behind his own, which is newer and fits me admirably.”

But, as he spoke Wendover felt as blue as the serge suit.

(The fifth of the series will appear in an early issue.)