20. Conflicting Clubs
"Any news, Wessex?" asked Innes, eagerly, starting up from his chair as the
inspector entered the office.
Wessex shook his head, and sitting down took out and lighted a cigarette.
"News of a sort," he replied, slowly, "but nothing of any value, I am afraid. My
assistant, Stokes, has distinguished himself."
"In what way?" asked Innes, dully, dropping back into his chair.
These were trying days for the indefatigable secretary. Believing that some clue
of importance might come to light at any hour of the day or night he remained at
the chambers in Chancery Lane, sleeping nightly in the spare room.
"Well," continued the inspector, "I had detailed him to watch Nicol Brinn, but my
explicit instructions were that Nicol Brinn was not to be molested in any way."
"To-night Nicol Brinn had a visitor--possibly a valuable witness. Stokes, like an
idiot, allowed her to slip through his fingers and tried to arrest Brinn!"
"What? Arrest him!" cried Innes.
"Precisely. But I rather fancy," added the inspector, grimly, "that Mr. Stokes will
think twice before taking leaps like that in the dark again."
"You say he tried to arrest him. What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that Nicol Brinn, leaving Stokes locked in his chambers, went out and
has completely disappeared!"
"But the woman?"
"Ah, the woman! There's the rub. If he had lain low and followed the woman, all
might have been well. But who she was, where she came from, and where she
has gone, we have no idea."