The Quest of the Sacred Slipper HTML version

25. The Watcher In Bank Chambers
At about five o'clock that afternoon Inspector Bristol, who had spent several hours in
Soho upon the scene of the murder of the Greek, was walking along Fleet Street, bound
for the offices of the Report. As he passed the court, on the corner of which stands a
branch of the London County and Provincial Bank, his eye was attracted by a curious
There are reflectors above the bank windows which face the court, and it appeared to
Bristol that there was a hole in one of these, the furthermost from the corner. A tiny beam
of light shone from the bank window on to the reflector, or from the reflector on to the
window, which circumstance in itself was not curious. But above the reflector, at an acute
angle, this mysterious beam was seemingly projected upward. Walking a little way up the
court he saw that it shone through, and cast a disc of light upon the ceiling of an office on
the first floor of Bank Chambers above.
It is every detective's business to be observant, and although many thousands of
passersby must have cast their eyes in the same direction that day, there is small matter
for wonder in the fact that Bristol alone took the trouble to inquire into the mystery - for
his trained eye told him that there was a mystery here.
Possibly he was in that passive frame of mind when the brain is particularly receptive of
trivial impressions; for after a futile search of the Soho cigar store for anything
resembling a clue, he was quite resigned to the idea of failure in the case of Hassan and
Company. He walked down the court and into the entrance of Bank Chambers. An
Inspection of the board upon the wall showed him that the first floor apparently was
occupied by three firms, two of them legal, for this is the neighbourhood of the law
courts, and the third a press agency. He stepped up to the first floor. Past the doors
bearing the names of the solicitors and past that belonging to the press agent he
proceeded to a fourth suite of offices. Here, pinned upon the door frame, appeared a card
which bore the legend -
Evidently the Congo Fibre Company had so recently taken possession of the offices that
there had been no time to inscribe their title either upon the doors or upon the board in the
Inspector Bristol was much impressed, for into one of the rooms occupied by the Fibre
Company shone that curious disc of light which first had drawn his attention to Bank
Chambers. He rapped on the door, turned the handle, and entered. The sole furniture of
the office in which he found himself apparently consisted of one desk and an office stool,
which stool was occupied by an office boy. The windows opened on the court, and a door
marked "Private" evidently communicated with an inner office whose windows likewise