“And—it was delivered to and received by—who?” broke in Allerdyke eagerly. “Who, man?”
“Signed for by Mary Marlow for Franklin Fullaway,” answered Chettle in the same low tones. “Delivered—here—about half-past twelve. So—there you are! That is—if you know where we are!”
Allerdyke, whose cigar had gone out, relighted it with a trembling hand.
“My God!” he said in a fierce, concentrated voice as he flung the match away. “This is getting—you’re sure there was no mistaking the signature?” he went on, interrupting himself. “No mistake about it?”
“It was a woman’s writing, and an educated woman’s writing, anyway,” said Chettle. “And plain enough. But there was one thing that rather struck me and that they couldn’t explain, though they said I could have it explained by inquiry of the clerk who had the books in charge on May 13th and the boy who actually delivered the parcel—neither of ’em was about this evening.”
“What?” demanded Allerdyke.
“Why, this,” answered Chettle. “The parcel had evidently been signed for twice. The line on which the signatures were placed had two initials in pencil on it—scribbled hurriedly. The initials were ‘F.F.’ Over that was the other in ink—what I tell you: Mary Marlow for Frank Fullaway.”
Allerdyke let his mind go back to the events of May 13th.
“You say the parcel was delivered here at twelve-thirty noon on May 13th?” he said presently. “Of course, Fullaway wasn’t here then. He’d set off to me at Hull two or three hours before that. He joined me at Hull soon after two that day. And what I’m wondering is—does he know of that parcel’s arrival here in his absence. Did he ever get it? If he did, why has he never mentioned it to me? Coming, as it did, from—James!”
“There’s a much more important question than that, Mr. Allerdyke,” said Chettle. “This—what was in that parcel?”
Allerdyke started. So far he had been concentrating on the facts given him by the detective—further he had not yet gone.
“Why!” he asked, a sudden suspicion beginning to dawn on him. “Good God!—you don’t suggest—”
“My belief, Mr. Allerdyke,” said Chettle, quietly and emphatically, “is that the parcel contained the Russian lady’s jewels! I do believe it—and I’ll lay anything I’m right, too.”
Allerdyke shook his head.
“Nay, nay!” he said incredulously. “I can’t think that James would send a quarter of a million pounds’ worth of jewels in a brown paper parcel by train! Come, now!”
Chettle shook his head, too—but in contradiction, “I’ve known of much stranger things than that, Mr. Allerdyke,” he said confidently. “Very much stranger things. Your cousin, according to your account of him, was an uncommonly sharp man. He was quick at sizing up things and people. He was the sort—as you’ve represented him to me—that was what’s termed fertile in resource. Now, I’ve been