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23. Chief Inspector Kerry Resigns
"Come in," said the Assistant Commissioner. The door opened and Chief Inspector
Kerry entered. His face was as fresh-looking, his attire as spruce and his eyes
were as bright, as though he had slept well, enjoyed his bath and partaken of an
excellent breakfast. Whereas he had not been to bed during the preceding twenty-
four hours, had breakfasted upon biscuits and coffee, and had spent the night and
early morning in ceaseless toil. Nevertheless he had found time to visit a
hairdressing saloon, for he prided himself upon the nicety of his personal
He laid his hat, cane and overall upon a chair, and from a pocket of his reefer
jacket took out a big notebook.
"Good morning, sir," he said.
"Good morning, Chief Inspector," replied the Assistant Commissioner. "Pray be
seated. No doubt"--he suppressed a weary sigh--"you have a long report to make. I
observe that some of the papers have the news of Sir Lucien Pyne's death."
Chief Inspector Kerry smiled savagely.
"Twenty pressmen are sitting downstairs," he said "waiting for particulars. One of
them got into my room." He opened his notebook. "He didn't stay long."
The Assistant Commissioner gazed wearily at his blotting-pad, striking imaginary
chords upon the table-edge with his large widely extended fingers. He cleared his
"Er--Chief Inspector," he said, "I fully recognize the difficulties which--you follow
me? But the Press is the Press. Neither you nor I could hope to battle against such
an institution even if we desired to do so. Where active resistance is useless, a
little tact--you quite understand?"
"Quite, sir. Rely upon me," replied Kerry. "But I didn't mean to open my mouth until
I had reported to you. Now, sir, here is a precis of evidence, nearly complete,
written out clearly by Sergeant Coombes. You would probably prefer to read it?"
"Yes, yes, I will read it. But has Sergeant Coombes been on duty all night?"
"He has, sir, and so have I. Sergeant Coombes went home an hour ago."
"Ah," murmured the Assistant Commissioner
He took the notebook from Kerry, and resting his head upon his hand began to
read. Kerry sat very upright in his chair, chewing slowly and watching the profile of
the reader with his unwavering steel-blue eyes. The reading was twice punctuated
by telephone messages, but the Assistant Commissioner apparently possessed
the Napoleonic faculty of doing two things at once, for his gaze travelled
uninterruptedly along the lines of the report throughout the time that he issued
telephonic instructions.
When he had arrived at the final page of Coombes' neat, schoolboy writing, he did
not look up for a minute or more, continuing to rest his head in the palm of his
hand. Then:
"So far you have not succeeded in establishing the identity of the missing man,
Kazmah?" he said.