GIVEN his own choice, Kent Power would neither have lunched at the Mount Dennis Club—which was full of stuffed shirts—nor with Harry Fanshawe—who was no better than he should have been. But you go to school with a fellow, you keep running into him here and there down the years, he invites you to his club to talk business—and you don't despise him quite enough to refuse. So all through the meal you wish you'd had more moral courage; and in the end you tell yourself you're doing it for Lily's sake. Lily was Harry Fanshawe's wife. It grew harder to believe that—that Lily was Harry Fanshawe's wife. Perhaps it had always been latent in Fanshawe's appearance, but these days it was unmistakable. That furtive shabbiness. They said he would do almost anything to turn a dollar. You felt he went spearing for them like those old men who pick up paper in parks with a stick with a spike at the end of it.
“Let’s go into the writing room,” Fanshawe said when they had finished eating. “It’ll be quiet in there and I can tell you what’s on my mind.”
Stepping through the dining-room door, they almost collided with a man entering.
“Harry!” The voice boomed. “I have looked for you to speak!” He was one of those big, magnificent animals, blond and ruddy, and his blue eyes danced ironically—or was it derisively?—as they fastened themselves on Fanshawe. “Tonight I give a little dancing at my house. You come?”
Fanshawe squirmed. Quite obviously he wanted to refuse; as obviously he had some mental reservation about refusing.
The other chuckled, and there was a hint of contempt in the blue eyes now. “Lily is coming. I have asked her—and the others. It will be very nice.”
Fanshawe suddenly made up his mind. “Thanks awfully, Henri. Meet Kent Power.”
The big man turned his quizzical gaze on Power. He seemed surprised at what he saw, as though he hadn’t expected that anyone who’d be lunching with Harry Fanshawe would look like Kent Power. Suddenly he thrust out a huge, bony hand. “I am delighted, Mr. Power.”
“Henri van Stuydam, Power,” Fanshawe said.
“By Jo’, Mr. Power, I t'ink I ask you also to my dancing. What you say? You like the dancings? It will be a good party—the mos’ beautiful women in Montreal. You give me the pleasure, eh?” Then he chuckled shrewdly. "You brace yourself to refuse me, Mr. Power. Please, not. Give me the one trial. If you do not like tonight, I do not bother you again. That is fair—no?”
Power agreed that it was fair and made note of the address on Redpath Crescent. In the writing room, which they found empty, he asked Fanshawe: “Who's Henri van Stuydam?”
Fanshawe frowned. “Dutchman—represents some big exporting firm here. Let’s sit over by the window.”
THEY sat over by the window. Fanshawe gave Power a furtive look; now that he had got to the horses he seemed a little uncomfortable about it. Perhaps a little shamefaced, although Power had never known him to suffer much from shame. “Want you to do a little job for me. It’s in your line.”
“Want to know where Lily spends her afternoons.”
He went on talking, but that was all Power heard. The rat was asking him to trail Lily! Asking him!
He rose slowly to his feet. His eyes must have shown what he felt, for Fanshawe rose too, with a frightened look. “Don’t get me wrong now, Kent! What I mean is—”
Power did something that he had wanted to do for a long time; he let Fanshawe have it across the face with his open palm. Then he went out to meet a young girl whom he had promised to drive that afternoon around Montreal Island.
Two hours later, when the car was idling along the shady stretches of Back River and he had forgotten the memory of that insolence, the girl said: “Let’s go in there and have tea.’’
It was one of those outdoor, gardeny places that backed on the water. Very nice, and at this hour very secluded. But not entirely secluded. Over in the far corner two people sat, and the sight of one of them sent the hot memory flooding through him again.
She hadn’t seen him, because she was facing the other way. If the young man with her saw them, he paid no heed. They were talking very earnestly together.
“Am I such a headache as all that?” the girl with Power asked.
“It’s the sun in my eyes. Who’s that with Lily Fanshawe?”
“Perry Tallant. Does it make you mad?”
His smile was rather grim. “That’s not what makes me mad.”
“Then you are mad?”
"I'd like to kick the side out of the house.”
She was a smart girl. She got to her feet. “I don’t like the view here much. There’s another place down the road.”
By the time Power got home that evening he had decided to ring Van Stuydam up and give him his regrets. He didn’t want to encounter Harry Fanshawe again in that twenty-four hours. But before he got to the telephone he knew that he did want to encounter Lily Fanshawe. Not for any particular reason more than to reassure himself about her, but he did want to do that. Once, when he was very young, Lily had represented something very special in his life. You like to know that the mountains are still there.
THEY were there. He had danced with her, sat on this same verandah with her, and she was the same. She would always be beautiful in that way that can launch a thousand ships. She would always have that inner glow. Whatever Perry Tallant meant in her life—and he had left that matter very strictly out of their discussion—would cast no shadow across that flame.
But as he sat now in a darkness lit only by the glow of his own cigarette and the lights of the city below, he began to think about Henri van Stuydam. All evening the Dutchman’s dynamic personality had been the centre of gravity around which enjoyment flowed. His jovial, saturnine laugh set one’s excitement on edge. Because he danced and drank with such gusto, you wanted to do the same. Because he said amusing things, it put a spur to your wit. Yet away from that magic circle you were aware of weariness, that, after all, you were a pigmy in the presence of a giant.
Voices from the garden below were for the moment vague knockings on the door of consciousness. Suddenly he found himself listening acutely. Van Stuydam's deep rumble—Lily’s serene laughter. They were coming up the twisting path. They stopped under a slender birch thirty feet below, and the big Dutchman put his hand against the tree trunk.
“I lofe you, Lily.” He spoke quietly and very earnestly—but without hope.
And because she was Lily she did not make the usual stupid protest. "It’s a very great privilege, Henri, to know that.”
“Sometimes I t’ink it is only a phantom that separates us, my dear. But it is a high mountain, no?”
“Yes—a high mountain,” she said, almost in a whisper.
He laughed; but there was pain in it. “Then we shall go up this other mountain!” He pointed up to the house—to which they ascended—into which they disappeared.
Power could feel something twisting at his heart. Once he had felt as the big Dutchman must be feeling. Perhaps Perry Tallant had felt that way this afternoon. He wondered if Harry Fanshawe had ever felt that way.
WHEN he went inside, the others were gathered around Van Stuydam, begging him to sing. He was protesting. “But when I sing it is I who enjoy! Tonight it must be you who enjoy!”
“Sing, then!” Helen Postyn said in her close-clipped way.
The big Hollander threw up his hands laughingly. “Please, boys,” he said to the orchestra, “in the dining room there are drinks.” He went to the foot of the stairs in the hall and called up. “Father!” It sounded more like "Vater!”
When he came back his hand was through the arm of an older man—one a little shorter, much leaner, yet unexpectedly young looking. You could see that Van Stuydam Senior was the self-effacing sort, and yet you felt that in whatever background he made he would pull his weight when needed. You could see also that he was very proud of his son.
“Please, father, they have asked me to sing. You will play, no?"
“I am delighted.” The older man bowed in an easy friendly way to the guests. He was obviously very pleased to have been brought down for this purpose.
In his self-effacing way he seated himself at the small grand piano. He looked at the keys, and then he looked across its top at Lily Fanshawe who was leaning against the mantel. Something glowed in the blue eyes beneath the grizzled brows. He struck the introductory chords to Di Provenza from “Traviata.”
Van Stuydam could sing. If the great organlike voice lacked training, it had a tremendous natural beauty. At least to one of his listeners it seemed freighted with a profound emotionalism. Yet though his eyes kept coming back to Lily Fanshawe, it seemed to Power that the Dutchman was using her as a focus for something deeper than love.
As the last tremendous and tender note became silence, a wild applause broke from the listeners. When it died, the father said quietly: “Sometimes from the heart you sing, Henri. Tonight, so.”
“T’ank you, father.” The big fellow seemed touched, and then his butler, Cuyp, came in and whispered something in his ear. It seemed to shock him; but only for a moment. He crooked his finger at the members of the orchestra who had brought their drinks to the door to listen to his singing. “Please, boys, some more dancings.” To his guests: “I come back soon.” He followed Cuyp from the room.
Power was dancing with a girl who was telling him about a book she had been reading that afternoon that had positively given her the willies, when Corwin Blayde touched him on the arm and said: “Can I speak to you a minute?”
“What was the book?” Power asked her.
“Something about nihilism.”
“Serves you right.”
Blayde was waiting in the hall. “This way,” he said tersely.
The room they entered was entirely masculine and as austere as a Dutch interior. If it hadn’t been in a private house, it would have looked like a business office—Van Stuydam evidently did a lot of homework. Just now he was standing beside the leather couch over by the wall, with a very disturbed expression on his face. On the couch lay Harry Fanshawe. The top of Harry’s head was more or less stove in.
"It is terrible this! I do not understand at all !”
POWER took a look at the dead man. “Better send for the coroner.”
“I’ll do it.” Corwin Blayde had a terse way of speaking, carried a perennial chip on his conversational shoulder. He was a thickset, nephritic-looking man with a pale, hard face and slitlike eyes through which he surveyed the world arrogantly. He seemed, Power thought, paler than usual. Excited—as though something quivered tautly inside him.
“It is too terrible!” Van Stuydam repeated, shaking his head. “I do not like to face Lily with this.”
“There’s no need to, yet. We can tell her and the others after the coroner gets here. But no one must leave before that.”
“Perhaps I should return to them, no?”
“That's a good idea.”
“You come also, Corry?”
“In a minute.” When the door closed behind the big Dutchman, Blayde snapped: “Whadda you think?”
Power had picked up the telephone from the desk. “What do you?”
Blayde just said: “Huh!” and then Dr. Morin’s voice came over the wire. “Power speaking, doctor. Better come out to the Van Stuydam residence, Redpath Crescent. Bring Sergeant Papineau, and come in the back way.”
When he turned to speak to Corwin Blayde, he found he was alone with the dead man. Blayde had departed. He went over to the couch and turned on the floor lamp at its head. A smudge of dust had brushed the front of the right shoulder of the black coat immediately in front of the armpit. When he touched it, it felt slightly damp.
There was a screen in front of the French window. Stepping behind it, he found the window, locked and farther on the windows of the bay all locked. There were some papers on the top of the big, flat-topped desk that stood in the centre of the room, but they were all household bills. The drawers of the desk were locked. What struck him about the room as he moved questing about it, was its impeccable neatness. It was the working place of a man with an extremely tidy and well-ordered mind. Harry Fanshawe’s body lent the only note of disarray, and the difference between the two men, as typified by the room, struck him forcibly. The Dutchman’s mind was like a pool of clear water: Harry Fanshawe’s thoughts had always arisen out of mud. There might be something in that difference.
Finally he took the key from the door, stepped out into the hall, locked the door and went along to the butler’s pantry which brought him to the kitchen. There were three people in the kitchen, a fat, red-faced woman who was the cook; the butler, Cuyp, and a housemaid. Obviously they had been discussing the murder. Power sat on the edge of the table and spoke to the butler: “Did you see Mr. Fanshawe enter the library?”
“Yes, sir.” Cuyp was Dutch too, and his little blue eyes were wary.
“Was he alone?”
“Who went in with him?”
Cuyp hung for a fraction of a second on his answer. “The master, sir.”
“How long ago was that?”
“Half an hour—about half-past eleven.”
“Who discovered the body?”
“I have, sir. I am serving the refreshments. I go in to see—”
“Was anybody else in there with Mr. Fanshawe?”
“I saw no one—”
“You might as well tell him what I told you,” said the maid.
“Ye’re a blattin’ little fool!” It came from the fat cook with a sort of hiccup. She was sitting in a chair by the stove, and Power realized suddenly that she was in liquor.
The maid said to Power: “She can’t help it. It’s her feet. When she gets the misery, gin’s the only thing gives her ease. When I was coming along the hall there was a row going on. They were shouting at one another.”
“Who was shouting at whom?”
“Mr. Blayde shouting at poor Mr. Fanshawe.”
“Poor, me eye!” gulped the cook. “Ye’re all talkin’ too much, the whole caboodle uv ye!”
“You’re sure it was Mr. Blayde?”
“I’d know that bellow of his anywhere,” the maid replied. “Didn’t I work there a fortnight this spring when their maid was home sick? He fair lets go when he gets het up.”
“Givin’ yerself airs!” sniffed the cook. “If I had bones in me poor feet, I’d kick the tar outa the lot uv ye!”
Power said to Cuyp: “Was Mr. van Stuydam in the library when this was going on?”
“No, sir. He has come out before. He tells me to serve the champagne.”
“When did you see him again?”
“When he is singing.”
THE knock at the door announced Sergeant Papineau who, with Dr. Morin, had been faithful to instructions to arrive by the back. Power took them into the office and told them the story. Then, leaving them to their devices, he returned to the kitchen and said to the housemaid: “I want you to take me upstairs to the bedroom where the ladies left their wraps, and then I want you to ask Mrs. Fanshawe to come up. But not a word to her about this business.”
“That’s my motter,” hiccuped the cook. “Tell ’em nothin’!”
“This way’s the quickest.” The maid led him up the back stairs.
When Lily Fanshawe arrived, her lovely face wore a puzzled look. “Is this a game of some sort, Kent?” she asked, in her low, caressing voice.
“I wish it were,” he said uneasily.
She snatched suddenly at the straw of intuition. “Harry! Something has happened—”
“I’m sorry,” he said painfully. “We found him in the library—”
“Oh—” She sank down on the edge of the bed and covered her face with her hands.
He wanted to say something, something to sustain her, but the only words that formed themselves in his mind were: “I’m sorry.” But before he could speak them he knew that they must ring falsely. He wasn’t sorry that Harry Fanshawe was dead.
He put a hand on her shoulder. “I’ll have to leave you here, Lily. Shall I send one of the—”
“No—no! I’ll be all right in a minute.”
He met Sergeant Papineau at the foot of the stairs, and they went into the drawing-room where Van Stuydam’s guests had gathered around his towering figure for support. Power said: “As nearly as we can tell, Fanshawe died between half-past eleven and twelve o’clock. He went into the library with you, Mr. van Stuydam, and it’s doubtful if he ever came out again. What time did you leave him?”
“I am with him only a few minutes, Mr. Power. Perhaps five.” The big man looked acutely uncomfortable. You felt that all this was sinning against his sense of the orderliness and decency of life—against its zests and its joys. His glance moved appealingly from Power to his other guests, as if he were apologizing to them for having had this happen in his house.
“Was he alone when you left him?”
“Of course! He says he will stay to smoke a cigar.”
Power turned to Corwin Blayde. “Was he still smoking it when you went in?”
Blayde’s stumpy figure stiffened. The thought of denial seemed to quiver in his mind, but he growled a belligerent affirmative.
“How long were you with him?”
“Was he alive when you left him?”
“You’re darned right he was!”
Power turned to the others, his glance resting perhaps a second longer than was necessary on Perry Tallant’s dark, passionate face. “Did anyone else see him alive after that?”
No one answered.
“Then he must have been killed between a quarter to twelve and the time we all came in here to hear Mr. van Stuydam sing—which was about twelve. Where were we all during that quarter of an hour?”
FOR a moment no one spoke, and Van Stuydam exclaimed: “Perhaps it is better I begin, no?” He addressed the remark rather to his other guests than to Power and Sergeant Papineau. “I have met Lily under the birch at the foot of the verandah. She will say that when she came down the steps I am standing there smoking a cigarette. We have a little walk, a little talk—and then we arrive here again.”
“That's right,” Helen Postyn said. “I saw you.”
“Where were you?” Power asked her.
“Communing with nature on a bench outside. It’s an old maid’s privilege.” She was a mannish-looking, downright girl. Thirty, perhaps.
“Please!” Van Stuydam exclaimed. “You are not an old maid, Helen!”
She gave her curt laugh. “Thanks, Henri.” But she didn't seem convinced.
Power turned finally to Perry Tallant. “Where were you during the fateful quarter hour?”
It startled Tallant uncomfortably, brought something aggressive into his dark eyes. “Loitering,” he said curtly.
“In the garden.”
“Anywhere near the French window that leads into the office?”
Tallant hesitated the barest instant. "No.”
And then Power turned to the elder Van Stuydam. “You were upstairs, sir?”
“In my sitting room.”
All the others had been dancing.
WHEN, some time later, Power and Papineau reached the laboratory in the back of the former’s flat, Power unwrapped the dead man's dress coat from the newspaper that had encased it. “Notice that, Pap?” He indicated the smudge of dust in the armpit.
"Ou’est-ce que c'est?”
“Stardust until I know the difference.” Power got a new toothbrush and proceeded to brush the dustings into a flat glass dish. He made solutions in some test tubes and began to work on them with reagents. Half an hour later he exclaimed with a puzzled air: “Lead arsenate! Why the devil lead arsenate?”
“Unless he is a gardener. Me, I am a gardener.”
“I spray the flowers wit’ it.”
“Fanshawe may be a candidate for flowers: he certainly wasn’t spraying ’em. Let’s go in and have a drink.”
They did, and presently Papineau departed. The door had hardly closed on him when the telephone rang. It was Helen Postyn, and she was unhappy. “I’m going to be a dirty tattle-tale, Kent,” she said, “and I hate it.”
“You’ll sleep better if you spill it,” he said comfortingly.
“Perry Tallant. I saw him come down the steps from that French window a few minutes before twelve. My only reason for telling you this is that I won’t see poor old Henri left holding the bag. Mind you, I don’t say Perry was in that room. He may not have been. When I caught sight of him he was coming away from the door—definitely.”
‘‘Thanks a lot. Helen.”
Power went along to bed. As he climbed between the restful sheets he could see that Perry Tallant was the sort of man who might do a desperate thing where his emotions were involved. Not so much because he wanted Lily for his own, but because he wanted to set her free. His was the type of temperament that would revolt against her bondage to a creature like Harry Fanshawe.
Van Stuydam might commit a murder, too, but not for either of those reasons. It would have to be a need much more direct than love or sentiment. The sort of situation where only a murder could clear up an untidiness that was cluttering his life.
And then there was Corry Blayde. What had Blayde and Fanshawe been quarrelling about? That was something that’d have to be looked into.
HE HAD barely fallen off to sleep when the phone rang again. This time it was Lily Fanshawe’s low, tense voice—indeed her whisper—that sibilated along the wire. “Kent! There’s someone in the house—downstairs! Will you come, please? I’m terribly afraid!”
“Where is he?”
“In the library, I think.”
“Stay where you are and lie doggo. I’ll be right up.”
He drew trousers over pyjamas, shoes over bare feet, and pulled on a coat as he hurried along the hall. It was certainly not fifteen minutes after he got the call until he was tiptoeing over a lawn toward a back window. But when he peered into it he saw nothing but darkness. He went around to the other side of the house and threw a pebble up at a half-open window. When the whiteness of a face appeared, he called: “Come down and let me in. He’s gone.”
But he had been there. They found the library devastated. Papers scattered everywhere, drawers emptied, even the books had been dragged from their shelves and their pages flushed. The small wall safe had been opened.
Power turned to the girl. “He must have had a key to open it, and a key to the front door. Great Scott!” He caught her by the arm. “Ring Sergeant Papineau! Tell him to meet me at Harry’s office—and not to spare the horses!”
The façade of the office building on de Montigny Street certainly showed no sign of life. He ascended a narrow and apologetic flight of stairs—this was an elevator building—to the third floor back. With a mounting tension. The thoroughness of the search of Fanshawe’s library suggested strongly that the thing sought there had not been found. In the sheer logic of events the searcher must have come here.
He tiptoed noiselessly toward a frosted glass door with the wording “H. J. Fanshawe” black on its surface. He halted suddenly a yard from it.
A light had flickered inside!
He took a step forward. His fingers found the door handle, turned it silently. Then he flung it wide open and stepped inside.
“All right!” he snapped. “The game’s up!”
But not that game. He ducked something that came whirring through the air and reached for the light switch. From the swift shadow that swept toward him a stream of molten metal seemed to shoot into his head and down the back of his neck. Pain broke in a brilliant constellation, and then went dead out in the void of timeless space.
IT WAS Sergeant Papineau’s face that came finally through the headache. He was lying on his back, the office lights were on, two policemen stood by the door, one of whom was whispering regretfully across the back of his hand: “Cripes, ya can’t kill that guy!”
Power sat up and leaned against the wall. He shook the fog out of his eyes. “Where’s the body?”
“But there is no body—only yours.”
“I mean Fanshawe’s.” Power staggered to his feet.
“At the morgue. Dr. Morin does the post-mortem tomorrow.”
“Go and see if there’s a key ring in the pants pocket. If there is, bring it here. I suppose you got here too late to run into my Nemesis?”
“Oui—there is only yourself, lying so peaceful.”
Power went over to the office safe. It had been opened and its contents scattered. The same searcher in the same hurry. He glanced around the office. It typified Harry Fanshawe. Furniture that tried to impress, yet had taken on that characteristic shabbiness.
Papineau came back with a chain at whose end no key ring hung. “Regardez! There is not’ing—rien de tout!”
Power sat down to the phone and dialled a number. “Lily, did Harry usually wear his key ring on the end of the chain that goes with his evening clothes? Thanks a lot. I’m having Sergeant Papineau send a man down to keep an eye on your house. You can sleep safely the rest of the night.”
He turned to Papineau. “Fanshawe’s murderer stole his keys. He wanted something Fanshawe had—some paper or other.”
The sergeant glanced around the office. “What is the business of M’sieu Fanshawe?”
“Promoter of sorts.”
“Then it can be anyt’ing, that paper?”
Power sat frowning into space. “This sort of muddies up the pool. Suffering saints, how my head aches! My first thought on this murder was that it was done on Mrs. Fanshawe’s account. You don’t know her, Pap, but she’s one of those women that you can’t forget. When she married Fanshawe, fate handed her one of its rawest deals. There were two people at that house last night who’ll be glad of her freedom—the Dutchman himself, and Perry Tallant. I thought it might be as simple as all that; but not now. It looks as if Fanshawe was murdered not for love, but a scrap of paper. If we knew what was on that scrap we might know who did the murder. I wonder what Corry Blayde knows about it?”
“And what is the business of this M’sieu Blayde?”
Papineau gave him a sharp glance, opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to think better of it.
Power rose, rubbing his temples. “I’m going home to bed and aspirin. I’ll meet you at the Dutchman’s at nine o’clock. We’ve still got a few rows to hoe up there.”
VAN STUYDAM’S house stood on steep descending ground. From the sidewalk you stepped into the second floor and walked downstairs to get to the living room which, with its verandah, overlooked the garden and the city below. This morning Power and the sergeant took the tradesmen’s gate and the flight of stone steps down to the kitchen door. They didn’t enter the kitchen, but skirted the jog in the house beyond. On the far wall of that there was a door leading to the butler’s pantry. Against this same southern wall stood a glass greenhouse, and then you came to the three stone steps leading up to the French window of the room in which Fanshawe had been murdered.
Power mounted to the window and frowned at its bow handle. “Go inside and unlatch it. I don’t want to touch it. Bring a screwdriver.”
He unscrewed the handle and, wrapping it carefully in his handkerchief, slipped it into his pocket.
A lean figure came up from the garden below. “Goot morning, gentlemen.” The elder Van Stuydam greeted them gravely. He was dressed in old tweeds, but they hung from him neatly and coolly. “Please, I do not disturb you!”
“We’re just looking around,” Pow'er said.
They moved slowly down the pathway and came to the steps at the foot of the verandah. All but Papineau, who had remained behind. Power sat down on the steps and said: “You have a great view from here.”
“You like?” The older man seated himself, too. “It is very distressing, this business,” he exclaimed. “I regret it very much for my son.”
There was something very likable about the old Dutchman, something very touching in his regard for his son.
“Your room’s directly above the one in which the murder took place, Mr. van Stuydam?”
“You were there at the time?”
“Of course! I am sitting by the window reading—a very interesting study of one of your American women. Her name is Kitty.”
“Hear anything unusual?”
The old man shook his head. “Not’ing of importance, Mr. Power. There was the young man who peeked at the window.”
Power swung sharply. “The French window?”
“Of course! But he has only peek and go away.”
“You’re certain he didn’t enter the room?”
"Ach, very much certain! I hear first his step on the path. So I look down. He walks up to the window. He looks in. He goes away. So! You shall take my word, please?”
Papineau sauntered around the corner. The old man rose. “You will like perhaps a liddle drink, no?”
He seemed disappointed when they refused.
Back in his laboratory Power said presently, laying down a test tube: “There was lead arsenate on that door handle.”
Papineau chuckled. “I am still the gardener.” He brought from his pocket a pair of old leather gardening gloves. “Per’aps you try dese. I find them in the greenhouse.”
Ten minutes later Power laid another test tube back in the rack. “That does it,” he said. “The murderer wore those gloves. He came out through the door from the butler’s pantry. He stepped into the greenhouse and got the gloves. Then he let himself in through the French window. He did that somehow without Fanshawe either hearing or seeing him. Then he struck. He caught Fanshawe under the arms as he fell and dragged him to the couch—which explains the lead arsenate smudges. He slipped out the way he came in and snapped the lock.”
“Where? There are a lot of things in this case that may mean something or nothing. Why did Van Stuydam and Fanshawe go into that room together last night and what did they talk about? Why, a few minutes later, did Corry Blade go in and quarrel with Fanshawe? Do those two incidents tie up, or are they just coincidental?”'
Papineau ruminated a moment before stating: “Me, I’ave an idea.”
“Y'ou say M’sieu Blayde manufactures the airplanes, non? You say also M’sieu Fanshawe ’as been a promoter—a shady character?”
“I always thought so.”
“We are at war. M’sieu Blayde makes the airplanes for the army. He ’as some secret process per’aps. M’sieu Fanshawe steals it. He tries to sell it to M’sieu van Stuydam, but per’aps he tries the doublecross, so M’sieu van Stuydam smacks ’im down. But he does not find the plans in M’sieu Fanshawe’s pockets, so he goes to ’is ’ouse—’is office.”
“What the devil does Van Stuydam want with airplane plans?”
“Per’aps he is not a Dutchman. Per’aps he is a German.”
Power threw back his head and laughed. “You’ve been seeing too many Walt Disney pictures, Pap!”
“You t’ink so?” Papineau was inclined to be belligerent about it. “Who ’as tell you first the significance of lead arsenate? Who ’as find the gloves which are impregnate' wit' it? Per’aps I get that from a Walt Disney picture!”
Power shook his head. “It’s screwy.”
“It is screwy when Columbus starts to sail the ocean! It is screwy when Marconi starts to send a message wit’out wires!”
"POWER swung suddenly. “All right, it isn’t screwy. Fanshawe had some document somebody else wanted. It wasn’t on him. It wasn’t in the safes at his house or at his office. Where is it?”
“If I say ’is safety-deposit box at ’is bank, per’aps that is screwy, too.”
“Mrs. Fanshawe’ll know. Have her open it for you and bring the winnings to Van Stuydam’s house. I’m going to reassemble last night’s guests and put them through the sieve again.”
When Power arrived at the house on Redpath Crescent, he took the tradesmen’s gate again and went directly to the greenhouse. One by one he proceeded to examine the garden tools he found there, but none of them proved what he wanted. Some weapon had been used against the dead man’s skull, and it should be here if anywhere.
But it wasn’t. Yet Fanshawe’s murderer had slipped through that French window with something more compact in his hand than a shovel or a hoe. Suddenly his glance fell on the last of a row of flats in which next year’s biennials were being brought along. From one corner some of the plants had been lifted. Under some of the others the earth had cracked above a peculiar ridge.
His long thin fingers suddenly plowed into the soft humus, came out again with a twelve-inch length of old brass piping— the sort of thing out of which your handy gardener might improvise a dibber. The earth was abnormally adherent at one end. Power wiped some of it away with a piece of newspaper; it was darkly red and sticky underneath.
When he reached the verandah, Van Stuydam was shaking cocktails for most of last night’s guests. Papineau and Lily Fanshawe had not arrived yet.
“We have a liddle drink while we wait for you, Mr. Power.” The big Dutchman was trying valiantly to overcome the restraint which hung over the verandah. But his bonhomie seemed forced, and there was a harassed look in his blue eyes. “You like one?”
Power took the glass and turned to Corwin Blayde. “This can’t make the headache I’ve had since last night any worse,” he said with a wry grin.
“Whatever you’re pulling, I hope you do it in a hurry,” Blayde said in his brusque way. “I’ve got an important meeting at four.”
“We start now.” Power turned to Van Stuydam. “Do you mind?”
“It is for you to say.” The big Dutchman turned to his guests. “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Power has something to say to us, please.”
IN THE silence that fell so suddenly, Power leaned against the table. “There are one or two matters I want to clear up.” He turned to Corwin Blayde. “Did you enter the office last night from the hall, or did you come in from outside through the French window?”
“From the hall.” Blayde had that chip on his conversational shoulder again.
“Was the French window open?”
“I don’t know. There was a screen in front of it.”
Power turned to the big Dutchman. “Perhaps you can tell us, Mr. van Stuydam.”
Van Stuydam rubbed his chin as though he were trying to recollect. Suddenly Blayde snapped his fingers. “Yes, it was open! I remember now!”
That settled one point. Screen and open door made entirely plausible why Fanshawe had neither heard nor seen his murderer’s approach.
Power turned to Blayde again. “Where did you go when you left the room?”
“Back into the hall.”
Blayde hesitated. Irritation seemed to be yeasting in his eyes. He replied with a shrug. "Into the dining room.”
“How long were you there?”
“Until Henri came in and broke the news.”
“You were alone all that time?”
“Any reason for your solitude?”
“Of course there was!” snapped Blayde. “I was rip-roaring mad!”
“Look here, Kent, Harry Fanshawe’s dead and there’s no need raking up unnecessary dirt. We had a quarrel, but it had nothing to do with his death.”
“We’d better know, Corry.”
“All right, then. I discovered day before yesterday that he’s been representing to American interests that he was in a position to act as my agent. I wrote him a letter about it yesterday morning. Last night I faced him down with it and dotted the i’s.”
“You used to own this house, didn’t you, Corry? Sold it to Mr. van Stuydam.”
“You know that—why ask? And look here, Kent, if you think I killed Harry, you’re full of feathers!”
Power turned to Van Stuydam. “You met Lily Fanshawe at the foot of the verandah steps last night. How did you get there?”
“I have come out here and descend.”
“You’re sure you didn’t slip out through the butler’s pantry and down by the side of the house?”
“I am quite sure. I am very sure!”
Power turned to the others. “Did any of you see him come out?”
IT WAS the elder Van Stuydam who answered, almost before the question had left Power’s lips. “I shall have heard him from my window if he passed along the path below, Mr. Power.”
And then Perry Tallant said—as though jealousy grudged it: “I saw him. He came down the verandah steps.”
Perhaps Power had not expected this gilt-edging of the big Dutchman’s alibi. He looked rather nonplussed.
He said to Tallant: “You went to the French window and looked in a few minutes before twelve.”
The other paled. Denial quivered on his lips, but Power said: “You were seen.”
Tallant said: “Yes—I went to the window.”
A breathless silence held the others.
“You saw Fanshawe on the couch—dead?”
“You knew he was dead?”
“No!” It came volcanically. Tallant half-rose from the chair in which he was sitting.
“Then why did you go to the window?”
There was a cornered look in Tallant’s dark eyes. His glance wavered indecisively. And then he said: “I knew he was in there. I was going in to talk to him.”
“Care to say what about?”
“No.” It came very definitely. Tallant’s mouth set into the stubborn lines of silence as he dropped back into his chair—at which moment Papineau appeared with Lily Fanshawe in the doorway.
While Van Stuydam strode over to greet Lily, the sergeant crossed to where Power stood and handed him some papers. “Let’s take ’em inside,” Power said.
They went into the living room. “She is there!” Pap breathed. “What you want! Regardez!”
Power read. And as he read a puzzled look came into his eyes. These documents led up a road that had been already closed.
Suddenly, he shot to his feet. “I’ll be back—in half an hour! Tell Van Stuydam!”
He dashed upstairs.
He was back in thirty-five minutes. When he arrived he said to Van Stuydam’s guests, “There’ll be no more questions. You can go now.”
Corry Blayde swung on him. “That’s no way to dismiss us. If you know anything, we’ve a right to know it, too. I have anyway.”
“Have a little more patience, Corry,” Power said wearily.
When the last guest had gone, Power suddenly realized that only he and Papineau and Van Stuydam were left on the verandah. “Where’s your father?” he asked sharply.
“He has gone up to his—” The words froze on the big Dutchman’s tongue. “Hyrgott!”
He dashed into the house, up the stairs. Presently he came back, ashen, terribly agitated. ‘‘He is not there!"
“This way!” Power said, and sprang down the verandah steps.
They found the elder Van Stuydam in the greenhouse. They found him lying in a heap on the floor. There was a glass on the bench from which he had evidently drunk—a glass frosted with white powder.
“Sacré nom!” Papineau gasped. “It is the lead arsenate again!”
LATER, in that same office in which Harry Fanshawe had died, Power sat with the grief-stricken Van Stuydam. “We found a file of your letters in Fanshawe’s safety-deposit box,” Power said. “They’re on the letter headings of the Gestapo Foreign Department. You worked in the Nazi interests here in Canada, Mr. van Stuydam.”
The big man shook his head brokenly. “I haf been a fool—a tragic fool! Like so many others, Mr. Power, I was deluded by that man, Hitler. I allow myself to be persuaded it is goot to spread this gospel. But two years ago I go home to Holland. I meet my cousin who has returned from Germany. Finally I am persuaded that I haf made a terrible mistake—that what I haf lend myself to will destroy civilization. I am through with it from that moment. I return to Canada and break my relations with them.”
“Too bad you didn’t destroy those papers.”
“But I am doing that—the very night I return I am sitting at this desk—in this very room—burning my bridges. My wastebasket is full. And then my friends come to welcome me home. I am very touched. All the more I realize I haf done well to cut myself from the past. But I am stupid. I think these all my goot friends. I think harm of no one. We have a very pleasant evening. But when they are gone and I return to this room, I realize that my wastebasket has been ransacked. One month after the war breaks out I haf a call from Fanshawe. He threatens to expose me to the government.”
“Hyrgott! From that day to this! But I should never haf tell my poor father. He sees I am worried and gets it from me. We haf always been close—like brothers—always. So he does this terrible thing for my sake—for me. But how? He comes from his own room when I call him to play for me”
Power spoke gently: “Your father got to Fanshawe by slipping down the back stairs, and then along to the door leading outside from the butler’s pantry. That’s why no one saw him.”
Van Stuydam suddenly lifted his clenched hands. “Why did I not suspect? I could haf done something to save him. But I thought it is Corry. Corry quarrelled with Fanshawe—there was bad blood between them. And then I am selfish. I am taken up with my own need. I see him lying there dead and I say: ‘It is Corry!’ Then, I say: ‘Here is your chance—those letters! You must get them before they fall into other hands!’ So when you haf all left my house I go his house—his office—”
“Then it was you who cracked down on me last night?”
“Please! You will forgive! I am desperate at that moment! But that is the tragedy—I am too desperate last night. I am thinking too much of myself to suspect the truth—to do what might haf been done to save my father from discovery. How haf you known it is he?”
“When I read the letters I knew it must be you or him. But your alibi was complete. I went to his room and found the jacket he was wearing last night. There was lead arsenate on the cuffs where the gloves had rubbed them.”
“Ach, my poor father!”
The big man buried his face in his hands and began to sob. Because there was nothing he could do or say, Power rose to his feet and tiptoed from the room. He met Papineau in the hall and held the letters out to him. “Go and burn these in the kitchen,” he said. “They’ve done enough damage.”
And then he went to the telephone. “I’m speaking from Henri van Stuydam’s, Lily,” he said. “He’s in great trouble. Will you come up?”
Lily said she’d come.
On the way down the Mountain Papineau turned with a challenging look in his eye. “Per’aps I do not hit the nail exactement on the head—but am I so screwy with my idea?”
“You,” Power said, “are like a woman. You insist on the last word.”