Rashid read all about the affair while traveling to his office. He got back from his Sonipat engagement sometime after midday and went on from Victoria by tube. He slipped unobtrusively into an end seat and began to read. He wasn’t at all elated, or even concerned about the test performance of his new gun sights he has already satisfied himself as to their complete perfection before even getting into communication with the Admiralty.
And then a ghost of a smile played on the corners of his mouth as he took out his pocket-book. The train had stopped at a station and had filled up. There were strap-hangers pressing against his knees. one succeeded in treading on his feet– a man with a villainously dirty countenance and ghastly cast in his eye.
Rashid looked up in mild remonstrance.
“sorry guv,” said the unwashed one and took a fresh grip on his strap.
Rashid smiled a frosty acknowledgement and resume his attention to his pocket-book
There was something unique about that book. Delbury and Shaughnessy would have given their ears an all their little tin gods for the privilege of half an hour’s scrutiny of it.
Each page was numbered, and the pages up to 34 were written on it at “intimation no. 34,” with its subheading silver Arrow group. He briefly scanned all what was written underneath and transcribing from his paper, blocked in the names of the five prisoners and added the fact that they stood remanded.
And all the time he wrote, the unwashed gentleman with the frightening optical disfigurement hung above him, glaring down at his notebook as though his badly focused eyes would burst in their sockets. Across his face was stamped such a look of ferocious malignity that it might have been the face of a gorilla in a fit of passion.
It was Tansy. Tansy too utterly amazed, too utterly lost in his own pall of bewilderment to do anything more than hang onto his strap and stare at the extraordinary writing in the book.
So far as he knew, he had never seen Abdul Rashid in his life before. And yet, at the back of his slow-moving mind, he could not help thinking there seemed to be something vaguely familiar about him.
He racked his brains for a clue to the man’s identity, struggled hard with his own bovine intelligence to grasp something that was as elusive as a vagrant whiff of old-forgotten perfume.
Then a flash of memory struck him! It came with a sizzling abrupt spontaneity of a streak of lightning. The writing! It was identical with that he had seen on the warning post-card sent to Willard Lyall four mornings earlier.
The jeweler gasped, and his mental fuddlement increased a hundredfold. That man on the seat was no criminal gangster. He was no leader of a coterie of crooks. Tansy had had dealings with them all, and this man was not one of them. He would swear his life on that.
Rashid, blissfully unaware of what was going on over his head, idly turned the pages of his notebook. There were other and equally illuminating entries in that book. Tansy was vouch safes fleeting glimpses of them.
And the first one of all—- which Rashid contemplated for several seconds with quiet satisfaction was his opening assault on the silver Arrow group. There were six arrests down against this entry, and not a single one of them had got away with less than five years.
Rashid closed the book with a snap and slipped it back into his pocket. The jeweler had long since passed the station at which he wished to alight. But some unfathomable impulse, some inexplicable urge over which he had not the slightest control impelled him to stay on.
Rashid glanced out of the window as the train slid into the Mansion House, tossed his paper to the floor and stood up. As though in a daze Tansy stood aside to let him pass. He turned and stared dumbly after him as his commanding figure went out through the door.
It occurred to him almost as an afterthought to follow that mysterious menace to its destination. The idea seemed to surprise him with its own lucid logic. He released his strap and lurched out on to the platform. Rashid was halfway up the steps, fumbling for his ticket. Tansy shouldered his way through the crowd till he was just behind him.
The morning was fair and fresh after the overnight rain. Rashid glanced up at the blue sky with the white, woolly clouds sailing across it. Breathed the invigorating air deep into his lungs and decided that a quick walk to kingsway would do him more well than taking a bus or a taxi.
He made his way through the side streets, stepping out briskly, and humming a little tune to himself as he went along.
And just behind him, on the opposite side of the road, almost a few yards in the rear but never out of touch, walked the stalking shadow of Tansy..
The chase ended when they got to kingsway. Rashid entered the block of offices without even as much as a glance to right or left. He went up in the lift, and when Tansy hurrying up behind him arrived at the entrance, it was to find his quarry out of sight.
The jeweler, quite unperturbed, waited till the lift came down and then putting on a friendly grin, approached the lift man:
“Who was the bloke you just took up?” he asked.
“Tenant here. Why?”
“Oh, Notting—- only he asked me to call tomorrow. Got a bit of work for me perhaps. And I could do with it , God knows. And I don’t no his name.”
“Dent. Top floor,” said the lift man laconically.
Tansy nodded and went out. He rang Willard Lyall up from a public box and asked if he could see him. “I’ve got the goods for you, guv’nor,” he said significantly. I’ve got the goods and I know where they come from.”
“Yes. come round and see me immediately. Take a taxi,” said Lyall. I’ll wait for you.”
Tansy, for the first time in his life found himself riding in a taxi. Also for the first time in his life he found himself ringing the doorbell at sotheby’s international reality.
Willard himself answered the door and showed him to his study.
“Well?” he said, when he had close the door.
“Guv’nor, I’ve got a line on that devil who’s been making all the trouble for us,” he blurted. I know him, know his name and——and where he lives.”
“Oh yes?” Lyall was almost unperturbed. “Tell me about it,” he said.
Tansy poured out his story, dwelling largely on his amazement and the undoubted discretion with which he had handled an unprecedented situation.
“There he was, as large as life, writing it all down in a diary,” he concluded. “Exactly the same handwriting as was on your card.”
“And you say his name was Dent?” asked Lyall.
“Yes, Guv’nor. Got an office in kingsway.”
“But—-but what is he like?”
“Ah—–there you’ve got me,” admitted Tansy. I’ve seen him before, but where Gawd knows. Got black hair, he has funny eyes. Nasty, trouble-hunting eyes. Look as though they’d eat you as soon as look at you.”
Lyall startled, and a quick look of apprehension shot across his face.
He took a morning picture-paper from his desk and opened it.
Abdul Rashid’s picture looked out at him from the centre page.
‘Not—not him?” Asked Lyall, breathing quickly.
Tansy jumped up excitedly. “Yes—-that’s him!” he cried.
Lyall’s face drained as white as wood ashes, a sickly pallor that made him look like an old, sick man bloodless and shaky beyond his years.
“You—-you’re sure about this?’ he asked stiffly.
He felt even as he said it, the utter futility of such a question. He knew only too well that it could have been no one else. Rashid in trying to get him to go down to sonipat with him, had given himself away. To Willard Lyall, sardonic beyond the ability to see the horrible humor of it, it was like Mephistopheles trying to play the good Samaritan.
“Sure? D’ye think I’d say it was him if it wasn’t?” Tansy was convincing, almost to the point of scoffing at unbelief.
He watched Lyall for a moment.
“You’re a bit worried, ain’t you?” he asked pointedly.
“Not unnatural, is it?” answered Lyall sarcastically.
“I mean the last time we spoke about this guy, you didn’t seem so almighty upset about the way to handle him.”
Tansy wanted safety, and the only safety in his eyes was the quick elimination of Abdul Rashid.