The Yellow Claw HTML version

The Man In Black
Mrs. Brian started back, with a wild look, a trapped look, in her eyes.
"What's he done?" she inquired. "What's he done? Tom's not done anything!"
"Be good enough to waken him," persisted the inspector. "I wish to speak to him."
Mrs. Brian walked slowly from the room and could be heard entering one further along
the passage. An angry snarling, suggesting that of a wild animal disturbed in its lair,
proclaimed the arousing of Taximan Thomas Brian. A thick voice inquired, brutally, why
the sanguinary hell he (Mr. Brian) had had his bloodstained slumbers disturbed in this
gory manner and who was the vermilion blighter responsible.
Then Mrs. Brian's voice mingled with that of her husband, and both became subdued.
Finally, a slim man, who wore a short beard, or had omitted to shave for some days,
appeared at the door of the living-room. His face was another history upon the same
subject as that which might be studied from the walls, the floor, and the appointments of
the room. Inspector Dunbar perceived that the shadow of the neighboring hostelry
overlay this home.
"What's up?" inquired the new arrival.
The tone of his voice, thickened by excess, was yet eloquent of the gentleman. The
barriers passed, your pariah gentleman can be the completest blackguard of them all. He
spoke coarsely, and the infectious Cockney accent showed itself in his vowels; but
Dunbar, a trained observer, summed up his man in a moment and acted accordingly.
"Come in and shut the door!" he directed. "No"--as Mrs. Brian sought to enter behind her
husband--"I wish to speak with you, privately."
"Hop it!" instructed Brian, jerking his thumb over his shoulder-- and Mrs. Brian
obediently disappeared, closing the door.
"Now," said Dunbar, looking the man up and down, "have you been into the depot, to-
"But you have heard that there's an inquiry?"
"I've heard nothing. I've been in bed."
"We won't argue about that. I'll simply put a question to you: Where did you pick up the
fare that you dropped at Palace Mansions at twelve o'clock last night?"
"Palace Mansions!" muttered Brian, shifting uneasily beneath the unflinching stare of the
tawny eyes. "What d'you mean? What Palace Mansions?"