The Illustrious Prince HTML version

9. Inspector Jacks Scores
There followed a few days of pleasurable interest to all Englishmen who travelled in the
tube and read their halfpenny papers. A great and enlightened Press had already solved
the problem of creating the sensational without the aid of facts. This sudden deluge,
therefore, of undoubtedly tragical happenings became almost an embarrassment to them.
Black headlines, notes of exclamation, the use of superlative adjectives, scarcely met the
case. The murder of Mr. Hamilton Fynes was strange enough. Here was an unknown
man, holding a small position in his own country,--a man apparently without friends or
social position. He travelled over from America, merely a unit amongst the host of other
passengers; yet his first action, on arriving at Liverpool, was to make use of privileges
which belonged to an altogether different class of person, and culminated in his arrival at
Euston in a special train with a dagger driven through his heart! Here was material
enough for a least a fortnight of sensations and countersensations, of rumored arrests and
strange theories. Yet within the space of twenty-four hours the affair of Mr. Hamilton
Fynes had become a small thing, had shrunk almost into insignificance by the side of the
other still more dramatic, still more wonderful happening. Somewhere between the Savoy
Hotel and Melbourne Square, Kensington, a young American gentleman of great
strength, of undoubted position, the nephew of a Minister, and himself secretary to the
Ambassador of his country in London, had met with his death in a still more mysterious,
still more amazing fashion. He had left the hotel in an ordinary taxicab, which had
stopped on the way to pick up no other passenger. He had left the Savoy alone, and he
was discovered in Melbourne Square alone. Yet, somewhere between these two points,
notwithstanding the fact that the aggressor must have entered the cab either with or
without his consent, Mr. Richard Vanderpole, without a struggle, without any cry
sufficiently loud to reach the driver or attract the attention of any passer-by, had been
strangled to death by a person who had disappeared as though from the face of the earth.
The facts seemed almost unbelievable, and yet they were facts. The driver of the taxi
knew only that three times during the course of his drive he had been caught in a block
and had had to wait for a few seconds--once at the entrance to Trafalgar Square, again at
the junction of Haymarket and Pall Mall, and, for a third time, opposite the Hyde Park
Hotel. At neither of these halting places had he heard any one enter or leave the taxi. He
had heard no summons from his fare, even though a tube, which was in perfect working
order, was fixed close to the back of his head. He had known nothing, in fact, until a
policeman had stopped him, having caught a glimpse of the ghastly face inside. There
was no evidence which served to throw a single gleam of light upon the affair. Mr.
Vanderpole had called at the Savoy Hotel upon a travelling American, who had written to
the Embassy asking for some advice as to introducing American patents into Great
Britain and France. He left there to meet his chief, who was dining down in Kensington,
with the intention of returning at once to join the Duchess of Devenham's theatre party.
He was in no manner of trouble. It was not suggested that any one had any cause for
enmity against him. Yet this attack upon him must have been carefully planned and
carried out by a person of great strength and wonderful nerve. The newspaper-reading
public in London love their thrills, and they had one here which needed no artificial
embellishments from the pens of those trained in an atmosphere of imagination. The