31. The Story Of 719
In a top back room of the end house in the street which also boasted the residence
of Sin Sin Wa, Seton Pasha and Chief Inspector Kerry sat one on either side of a
dirty deal table. Seton smoked and Kerry chewed. A smoky oil-lamp burned upon
the table, and two notebooks lay beside it.
"It is certainly odd," Seton was saying, "that you failed to break my neck. But I have
made it a practice since taking up my residence here to wear a cap heavily
padded. I apprehend sandbags and pieces of loaded tubing."
"The tube is not made," declared Kerry, "which can do the job. You're harder to kill
than a Chinese-Jew."
"Your own escape is almost equally remarkable," added Seton. "I rarely miss at
such short range. But you had nearly broken my wrist with that kick."
"I'm sorry," said Kerry. "You should always bang a door wide open suddenly before
you enter into a suspected room. Anybody standing behind usually stops it with his
"I am indebted for the hint, Chief Inspector. We all have something to learn."
"Well, sir, we've laid our cards on the table, and you'll admit we've both got a lot to
learn before we see daylight. I'll be obliged if you'll put me wise to your game. I
take it you began work on the very night of the murder?"
"I did. By a pure accident--the finding of an opiated cigarette in Mr. Gray's rooms--I
perceived that the business which had led to my recall from the East was involved
in the Bond Street mystery. Frankly, Chief Inspector, I doubted at that time if it
were possible for you and me to work together. I decided to work alone. A beard
which I had worn in the East, for purposes of disguise, I shaved off; and because
the skin was whiter where the hair had grown than elsewhere, I found it necessary
after shaving to powder my face heavily. This accounts for the description given to
you of a man with a pale face. Even now the coloring is irregular, as you may
"Deciding to work anonymously, I went post haste to Lord Wrexhorough and made
certain arrangements whereby I became known to the responsible authorities as
719. The explanation of these figures is a simple one. My name is Greville Seton.
G is the seventh letter in the alphabet, and S the nineteenth; hence--'seven-
"The increase of the drug traffic and the failure of the police to cope with it had led
to the institution of a Home office inquiry, you see. It was suspected that the traffic
was in the hands of orientals, and in looking about for a confidential agent to make
certain inquiries my name cropped up. I was at that time employed by the Foreign
office, but Lord Wrexborough borrowed me." Seton smiled at his own expression.
"Every facility was offered to me, as you know. And that my investigations led me
to the same conclusion as your own, my presence as lessee of this room, in the
person of John Smiles, seaman, sufficiently demonstrates."
"H'm," said Kerry, "and I take it your investigations have also led you to the
conclusion that our hands are clean?"