41. The Finding Of Kazmah
At a point just above the sweep of Limehouse Reach a watchful river police patrol
observed a moving speck of light on the right bank of the Thames. As if in answer
to the signal there came a few moments later a second moving speck at a point not
far above the district once notorious in its possession of Ratcliff Highway. A third
light answered from the Surrey bank, and a fourth shone out yet higher up and on
the opposite side of the Thames.
The tide had just turned. As Chief Inspector Kerry had once observed, "there are
no pleasure parties punting about that stretch," and, consequently, when George
Martin tumbled into his skiff on the Surrey shore and began lustily to pull up
stream, he was observed almost immediately by the River Police.
Pulling hard against the stream, it took him a long time to reach his destination--
stone stairs near the point from which the second light had been shown. Rain had
ceased and the mist had cleared shortly after dusk, as often happens at this time
of year, and because the night was comparatively clear the pursuing boats had to
be handled with care.
George did not disembark at the stone steps, but after waiting there for some time
he began to drop down on the tide, keeping close inshore.
"He knows we've spotted him," said Sergeant Coombes, who was in one of the
River Police boats. "It was at the stairs that he had to pick up his man."
Certainly, the tactics of George suggested that he had recognized surveillance,
and, his purpose abandoned, now sought to efface himself without delay. Taking
advantage of every shadow, he resigned his boat to the gentle current. He had
actually come to the entrance of Greenwich Reach when a dock light, shining out
across the river, outlined the boat yellowly.
"He's got a passenger!" said Coombes amazedly.
Inspector White, who was in charge of the cutter, rested his arm on Coombes'
shoulder and stared across the moving tide.
"I can see no one," he replied. "You're over anxious, Detective- Sergeant--and I
can understand it!"
Coombes smiled heroically.
"I may be over anxious, Inspector," he replied, "but if I lost Sin Sin Wa, the River
Police had never even heard of him till the C.I.D. put 'em wise."
"H'm!" muttered the Inspector. "D'you suggest we board him?"
"No," said Coombes, "let him land, but don't trouble to hide any more. Show him
we're in pursuit."
No longer drifting with the outgoing tide, George Martin had now boldly taken to the
oars. The River Police boat close in his wake, he headed for the blunt promontory
of the Isle of Dogs. The grim pursuit went on until:
"I bet I know where he's for," said Coombes.
"So do I," declared Inspector White; "Dougal's!"