Good Lord!” he muttered under his breath. what a perfectly appalling situation. Lyall, Willard Lyall a member of the silver Arrow Group and father of Mercia! And I’ve sent him to Central Delhi. I’ve shut him up in a penal cell just as surely as though I turned the key in him myself. The Yard will act on intimation no 34 with absolute certainty. they always have acted on my cards ever since intimation no 4 anyway, when even officialdom began to realize that…..phew! Delivery and Shaughnessy have already got the net out. they’re closing in on Lyall as surely as darkness closes over the day.”
He tried to untangle the maze, but his jaded brain could find no pin-point of light. The posting of that letter had amassed around him a mountain of such non-scalable difficulties that he felt himself getting tinier and more abjectly helpless with every minute that passed.
In moments of crisis, a man is apt to resort to panic measures and in so doing it is just possible that he does blindly the thing which in his saner moments he could do only after hours of studious thought and logical reasoning Rashid did.
He stuck his head out of the window and redirected the driver to kingsway again. He stopped him at the top of Southampton row paid him off, and walked to his laboratory.
The place was almost silent. A single dynamo humming quietly in the corner, a tiny coronet of blue sparks playing on the Corner. Rashid switched on the restful green lights and started up the other dynamos. In his long while, he moved about through the uncanny gloom like a dim ghost in the twilight of the gods.
With headphones on and contact keys plugged in on a whole series of winking dials, he renounces himself to another long bout of listening.
A brazen bell in a clock-tower boomed two o’clock clangorously into the night, but Rashid, in his soundproof room heard nothing to it.
And then, when his head was almost lolling forward with weariness, he got a line on a conversation that jolted the weariness out of him that galvanized him into a new effort of eager intensity.
“One of them said. “odd! you call it odd! why, burn my eyes, it’s uncanny! that’s the thirty-fourth. The thirty-fourth mind you, in less than nine months. It’s—-its—-bah! we’ll be waking up one morning and finding it’s all a dream we’ve been having.”
“A dream, eh?” said the other. “with fifty-seven of the toughest birds in Delhi under lock and key. A dream, eh?” with four men walking about Delhi as large as life who if it hadn’t been for the ghost. would have not been corpses by now—murdered as surely as they know it themselves. it’s not much use talking about dreams, Shaughnessy when we’ve collared them in rows, caught ‘them with the goods on men we’ve been itching to get our claws on for years. Dreams! It’s not dreams, mick—-nightmares if you like. He’s making us the laughing stock of every police organization in the world. I’m half expecting my own shadow to turn round and grin at me.”
Shaughnessy’s voice cut back with its faint touch of the Irish brogue and it’s softening leaven of native humor.
“Aw! don’t get mad. Long life to the ghost says I. I’m no stickler for personal pride and he keeps landing the fish anyway. I think you’re all wrong. why try to track him down? He’s better than the flying squads, better than a whole charge-room full of squealers.
Deliberately cut him short with a voice that was waspish with irritability.
“Don’t you see—-that’s just what he is” he blurted. “He’s the king of all the squealers that lived since Judas first fingered silver. He’s the biggest crook we’ve ever known. And he’s double-crossing them all—he won’t stand for opposition. He’s Brain—- a like crime maker. Those we have manage to take in to now are only puppets, his puppets most likely, and—”
“Ahhhr! Away with you. why should he be selling his own boys? for why should he be playing the fool with his own crowds?
“How the blue blazes do u know? All I know is that no man on earth could have done what the ghost has done unless he was in with the gangs—- in with ‘them up to the eyes. He’s got the leaders of every big coup for the past twelve months in his pocket. He knows their names, knows their way, knows their plans. Gosh! can’t you see? He’s hand and glove with every big move afoot.”
“Then you must think he’s a lunatic. you must do. you think he’s just cutting off his nose to have a look at it?”
“That’s the nearest we’ve got to it yet. A madman. A raving, marvelous, unbelievable imbecile. And I’ll get him if u have to come all of Delhi for him. I’ll get him if I have to call in the chief and make him give me every man in the Yard. I’ll lay that ghost before the month is out—–or I’ll quit!”
” There came a brief pause, then he suddenly snapped out: “Is everything all right for Tuesday morning? You’ll be in full charge at Karol Bagh.”
“Sure, everything’s as sweet as a pot of honey.” replied the soft Irish voice. “I’ve had a talk with her Grace herself and a fine, stately party she is. she says she will be the owl of discretion about the matter and I think she will be’ after all, her family made us as cold as the Dublin mountains, and a lot more Innocent about scandal.”
“What are your arrangements?”
“I’ve got six men in the kingsway mews. They’ll be there right on from midday so that their arrival won’t be noticed. I’ve had peepholes drilled in the horses stalls which same are now a row if motor garages. my men will be hidden away there, and their orders are to take the man nearest to ‘them when the sergeant gives the word. there will be two others down in the area by the kitchen window, well out of sight and two more over in Hyde’s park in the shadows of the railings. They will be guarding the road approaches and will whistle if anything happens on their side.”
“Yes, and you?”
“I’ll be in the library. The Duchess herself was wanting to be there she’s got courage all right as the old lady but I wouldn’t hear of it. The servants will be warned at midnight that not a soul must go near that library. I’ll be armed, and I’ll shoot if that door opens a foot. The telephone authorities are disconnecting the line to all out-going calls, see that if the silver Arrow have any friends inside the house they won’t be able to get a warning through before it’s too late. That gang is as good as dead. We’ll collar the whole crowd it them as easy as eating pie.”