The Illustrious Prince HTML version

21. A Clue
By midday on the following morning London was placarded with notices, the heading of
which was sensational enough to attract observation from every passer-by, young or old,
rich or poor. One thousand pounds' reward for the apprehension of the murderer of either
Hamilton Fynes or Richard Vanderpole! Inspector Jacks, who was amongst the first to
hear the news, after a brief interview with his chief put on his hat and walked round to the
Home Office. He sought out one of the underlings with whom he had some acquaintance,
and whom he found ready enough, even eager, to discuss the matter.
"There wasn't a word about any reward," Inspector Jacks was told, "until this morning.
We had a telephone message from the chief's bedroom and phoned you up at once. It's a
pretty stiff amount, isn't it?"
"It is," the Inspector admitted. "Our chief seems to be taking quite a personal interest in
the matter all at once."
"I'll lay two to one that some one was on to him at Sir Edward Bransome's reception last
night," the other remarked. "I know very well that there was no idea of offering a reward
yesterday afternoon. We might have come out with a hundred pounds or so, a little later
on, perhaps, but there was nothing of this sort in the air. I've no desire to seem
censorious, you know, Jacks," the young man went on, leaning back in his chair and
lighting a cigarette, "but it does seem a dashed queer thing that you can't put your finger
upon either of these fellows."
Inspector Jacks nodded gloomily.
"No doubt it seems so to you," he admitted. "You forget that we have to have a
reasonable amount of proof before we can tap a man on the shoulder and ask him to come
with us. It isn't so abroad or in America. There they can hand a man up with less than half
the evidence we have to be prepared with, and, of course, they get the reputation of being
smarter on the job. We may learn enough to satisfy ourselves easily, but to get up a case
which we can put before a magistrate and be sure of not losing our man, takes time."
"So you've got your eye on some one?" The young man asked curiously.
"I did not say so," the Inspector answered warily. "By the bye, do you think there would
be any chance of five minutes' interview with your chief?"
The young man shook his head slowly.
"What a cheek you've got, Jacks!" he declared. "You're not serious, are you?"
"Perfectly," Inspector Jacks answered. "And to tell you the truth, my young friend, I am
half inclined to think that when he is given to understand, as he will be by you, if he