The Guilty River
17. Utter Failure
My lawyer took a serious view of the disaster that had overtaken us. He would trust
nobody but his head clerk to act in my interests, after the servant had been followed to the
London terminus, and when it became a question of matching ourselves against the
deadly cunning of the man who had escaped us.
Provided with money, and with a letter to the police authorities in London, the head clerk
went to the station. I accompanied him to point out the servant (without being allowed to
show myself), and then returned to wait for telegraphic information at the lawyer's office.
This was the first report transmitted by the telegram:
The Cur had been found waiting for his servant at the terminus; and the two had been
easily followed to the railway hotel close by. The clerk had sent his letter of introduction
to the police--had consulted with picked men who joined him at the hotel--had given the
necessary instructions--and would return to us by the last train in the evening.
In two days, the second telegram arrived.
Our man had been traced to the Thames Yacht Club in Albemarle Street--had consulted a
yachting list in the hall--and had then travelled to the Isle of Wight. There, he had made
inquiries at the Squadron Yacht Club, and the Victoria Yacht Club--and had returned to
London, and the railway hotel.
The third telegram announced the utter destruction of all our hopes. As far as Marseilles,
the Cur had been followed successfully, and in that city the detective officers had lost
sight of him.
My legal adviser insisted on having the men sent to him to explain themselves. Nothing
came of it but one more repetition of an old discovery. When the detective police force
encounters intelligence instead of stupidity, in seven cases out of ten the detective police
force is beaten.
There were still two persons at our disposal. Lady Rachel might help us, as I believed, if
she chose to do it. As for old Toller, I suggested (on reflection) that the lawyer should
examine him. The lawyer declined to waste any more of my money. I called again on
Lady Rachel. This time, I was let in. I found the noble lady smoking a cigarette and
reading a French novel.
"This is going to be a disagreeable interview," she said. "Let us get it over, Mr. Roylake,
as soon as possible. Tell me what you want--and speak as freely as if you were in the
company of a man."
I obeyed her to the letter; and I got these replies: