“Mrs. Marlow!” exclaimed Fullaway. “Just step to Mr. Van Koon’s rooms and beg him to come back here to my sitting-room with you—important business, Mrs. Marlow—I want you, too.”
Allerdyke, closely watching the woman around whom so much mystery centred, saw that she did not move so much as an eyelash. She laid her work aside, left the room, and within a minute returned with Van Koon, who gazed at Fullaway with an air of half-amused inquiry.
“Something happened?” he asked, nodding to Allerdyke. “Town on fire?”
“Van Koon, sit down,” commanded Fullaway, pushing his compatriot into the inner room. “Mrs. Marlow, fasten that outer door and come in here. We’re going to have a stiff conference. Sit down, please, all of you. Now,” he went on, when the other three had ranged themselves about the centre table, “There is news, Van Koon. Allerdyke and I have just come away from an hotel in the Docks where we’ve seen the dead body of a young man who’s been found dead there under precisely similar circumstances to those which attended the death of the French maid in Eastbourne Terrace. We’ve also heard a description of a man who was at this hotel in the Docks last night—it corresponds to that of the fellow who accompanied Lisette Beaurepaire. I, personally, have no doubt that this man, whoever he is, is the murderer of Lisette and of this youngster whose body we’ve just seen. Mrs. Marlow, this dead young fellow, from whose death-chamber we’ve just come, is that valet I used to have here—Ebers. You remember him?”
“Sure!” answered Mrs. Marlow, quite calmly and unconcernedly. “Very well indeed.”
“This Ebers,” continued Fullaway, turning to Van Koon, “was a young fellow, Swiss, German, something of that sort, who acted as valet to me and to some other men here in this hotel for a time. I needn’t go into too many details now, but there’s no doubt that he knew, and was in touch with, Lisette Beaurepaire, and Miss Lennard positively identifies him as the man who met her and Lisette at Hull, and represented himself as Lisette’s brother. Now then, Ebers—we’ll stick to that name for the sake of clearness—was in and out of my rooms a good deal, of course. And what I want to know now, Mrs. Marlow, is—do you think he got access to our letters, papers, books? Could he find out, for instance, that I was engaged in this deal between the Princess Nastirsevitch and Mr. Delkin, and that Miss Lennard had bought the Pinkie Pell pearls? Think!”
Mrs. Marlow had evidently done her thinking; she replied without hesitation.
“If he did, or could, it would be through your own carelessness, Mr. Fullaway,” she said. “You know that I am ridiculously careful about that sort of thing! From the time I come here in the morning—ten-o’clock—until I leave at five, no one has any chance of seeing our papers, or our letter book, or our telegram-copies book. They are always on my desk while I am in the office, and when I go downstairs to lunch I lock them up in the safe. But—you’re not careful! How many times have I come in the morning, and found that you’ve taken these things out of the safe over-night and left them lying about for anybody to see? Dozens of times!”