6. Red Kerry
Chief Inspector Kerry, of the Criminal Investigation Department, stood before the
empty grate of his cheerless office in New Scotland Yard, one hand thrust into the
pocket of his blue reefer jacket and the other twirling a malacca cane, which was
heavily silver-mounted and which must have excited the envy of every sergeant-
major beholding it. Chief Inspector Kerry wore a very narrow-brimmed bowler hat,
having two ventilation holes conspicuously placed immediately above the band. He
wore this hat tilted forward and to the right.
"Red Kerry" wholly merited his sobriquet, for the man was as red as fire. His hair,
which he wore cropped close as a pugilist's, was brilliantly red, and so was his
short, wiry, aggressive moustache. His complexion was red, and from beneath his
straight red eyebrows he surveyed the world with a pair of unblinking, intolerant
steel-blue eyes. He never smoked in public, as his taste inclined towards Irish twist
and a short clay pipe; but he was addicted to the use of chewing-gum, and as he
chewed--and he chewed incessantly--he revealed a perfect row of large, white,
and positively savage-looking teeth. High cheek bones and prominent maxillary
muscles enhanced the truculence indicated by his chin.
But, next to this truculence, which was the first and most alarming trait to intrude
itself upon the observer's attention, the outstanding characteristic of Chief
Inspector Kerry was his compact neatness. Of no more than medium height but
with shoulders like an acrobat, he had slim, straight legs and the feet of a dancing
master. His attire, from the square-pointed collar down to the neat black brogues,
was spotless. His reefer jacket fitted him faultlessly, but his trousers were cut so
unfashionably narrow that the protuberant thigh muscles and the line of a highly
developed calf could quite easily be discerned. The hand twirling the cane was
small but also muscular, freckled and covered with light down. Red Kerry was built
on the lines of a whippet, but carried the equipment of an Irish terrier.
The telephone bell rang. Inspector Kerry moved his square shoulders in a manner
oddly suggestive of a wrestler, laid the malacca cane on the mantleshelf, and
crossed to the table. Taking up the telephone:
"Yes?" he said, and his voice was high-pitched and imperious.
He listened for a moment.
"Very good, sir."
He replaced the receiver, took up a wet oilskin overall from the back of a chair and
the cane from the mantleshelf. Then rolling chewing-gum from one corner of his
mouth into the other, he snapped off the electric light and walked from the room.
Along the corridor he went with a lithe, silent step, moving from the hips and
swinging his shoulders. Before a door marked "Private" he paused. From his
waistcoat pocket he took a little silver convex mirror and surveyed himself critically
therein. He adjusted his neat tie, replaced the mirror, knocked at the door and
entered the room of the Assistant Commissioner.
This important official was a man constructed on huge principles, a man of military
bearing, having tired eyes and a bewildered manner. He conveyed the impression