The Yellow Claw HTML version
At Scotland Yard
Matters of vital importance to some people whom already we have met, and to others
whom thus far we have not met, were transacted in a lofty and rather bleak looking room
at Scotland Yard between the hours of nine and ten A. M.; that is, later in the morning of
the fateful day whose advent we have heard acclaimed from the Tower of Westminster.
The room, which was lighted by a large French window opening upon a balcony,
commanded an excellent view of the Thames Embankment. The floor was polished to a
degree of brightness, almost painful. The distempered walls, save for a severe and
solitary etching of a former Commissioner, were nude in all their unloveliness. A heavy
deal table (upon which rested a blotting-pad, a pewter ink-pot, several newspapers and
two pens) together with three deal chairs, built rather as monuments of durability than as
examples of art, constituted the only furniture, if we except an electric lamp with a green
glass shade, above the table.
This was the room of Detective-Inspector Dunbar; and Detective- Inspector Dunbar, at
the hour of our entrance, will be found seated in the chair, placed behind the table, his
elbows resting upon the blotting-pad.
At ten minutes past nine, exactly, the door opened, and a thick- set, florid man, buttoned
up in a fawn colored raincoat and wearing a bowler hat of obsolete build, entered. He
possessed a black mustache, a breezy, bustling manner, and humorous blue eyes;
furthermore, when he took off his hat, he revealed the possession of a head of very
bristly, upstanding, black hair. This was Detective-Sergeant Sowerby, and the same who
was engaged in examining a newspaper in the study of Henry Leroux when Dr. Cumberly
and his daughter had paid their second visit to that scene of an unhappy soul's dismissal.
"Well?" said Dunbar, glancing up at his subordinate, inquiringly.
"I have done all the cab depots," reported Sergeant Sowerby, "and a good many of the
private owners; but so far the man seen by Mr. Exel has not turned up."
"The word will be passed round now, though," said Dunbar, "and we shall probably have
him here during the day."
"I hope so," said the other good-humoredly, seating himself upon one of the two chairs
ranged beside the wall. "If he doesn't show up." . . .
"Well?" jerked Dunbar--"if he doesn't?"
"It will look very black against Leroux."
Dunbar drummed upon the blotting-pad with the fingers of his left hand.
"It beats anything of the kind that has ever come my way," he confessed. "You get pretty
cautious at weighing people up, in this business; but I certainly don't think--mind you, I
go no further-- but I certainly don't think Mr. Henry Leroux would willingly kill a fly; yet
there is circumstantial evidence enough to hang him."