The Yellow Claw HTML version
Abraham Levinsky Butts In
At about the time that this conversation was taking place in Ho- Pin's catacombs,
Detective-Inspector Dunbar and Detective-Sergeant Sowerby were joined by a third
representative of New Scotland Yard at the appointed spot by the dock gates. This was
Stringer, the detective to whom was assigned the tracing of the missing Soames; and he
loomed up through the rain-mist, a glistening but dejected figure.
"Any luck?" inquired Sowerby, sepulchrally.
Stringer, a dark and morose looking man, shook his head.
"I've beaten up every 'Chink' in Wapping and Limehouse, I should reckon," he said,
plaintively. "They're all as innocent as babes unborn. You can take it from me:
Chinatown hasn't got a murder on its conscience at present. BRR! it's a beastly night.
Suppose we have one?"
Dunbar nodded, and the three wet investigators walked back for some little distance in
silence, presently emerging via a narrow, dark, uninviting alleyway into West India Dock
Road. A brilliantly lighted hostelry proved to be their objective, and there, in a quiet
corner of the deserted billiard room, over their glasses, they discussed this mysterious
case, which at first had looked so simple of solution if only because it offered so many
unusual features, but which, the deeper they probed, merely revealed fresh complications.
"The business of those Fry people, in Scotland, was a rotten disappointment," said
Dunbar, suddenly. "They were merely paid by the late Mrs. Vernon to re-address letters
to a little newspaper shop in Knightsbridge, where an untraceable boy used to call for
them! Martin has just reported this evening. Perth wires for instructions, but it's a dead-
end, I'm afraid."
"You know," said Sowerby, fishing a piece of cork from the brown froth of a fine
example by Guinness, "to my mind our hope's in Soames; and if we want to find Soames,
to my mind we want to look, not east, but west."
"Hear, hear!" concorded Stringer, gloomily sipping hot rum.
"It seems to me," continued Sowerby, "that Limehouse is about the last place in the world
a man like Soames would think of hiding in."
"It isn't where he'll be THINKING of hiding," snapped Dunbar, turning his fierce eyes
upon the last speaker. "You can't seem to get the idea out of your head, Sowerby, that
Soames is an independent agent. He ISN'T an independent agent. He's only the servant;
and through the servant we hope to find the master."
"But why in the east-end?" came the plaintive voice of Stringer; "for only one reason, that
I can see--because Max says that there's a Chinaman in the case."
"There's opium in the case, isn't there?" said Dunbar, adding more water to his whisky,
"and where there's opium there is pretty frequently a Chinaman."