“I know that!” muttered Allerdyke. “Clever, too!”
“Exactly,” agreed the chief. “Now at the same time Schmall learned of Miss Lennard’s return. He sent Ebers, who already knew and had been cultivating the French maid, down to Hull to meet her and bring her away with Miss Lennard’s jewel-box. That was done easily. The Lydenberg affair, however, did not come off—through Lydenberg. Because, as we now know, James Allerdyke sent the Nastirsevitch jewels off to you, Mr. Fullaway. But there, fortune favoured these fellows Van Koon, for purposes of theirs, had taken up his quarters close by you—in your absence the box came into his hands. And—we know how the ingenious Miss Slade despoiled him of it!”
The chief paused for a moment, and mechanically shifted the two parcels which stood before him. He seemed to be reflecting, and when he spoke again he prefaced his words with a shake of the head.
“Now here, from this point,” he continued, “I don’t know if Mr. Merrifield is telling the truth. Probably he isn’t. But I confess that, at present, I don’t see how we’re going to prove that he isn’t. He strenuously declares that neither he nor Van Koon had anything whatever to do with the murder of Lisette Beaurepaire, Lydenberg, or Ebers. He further says that he does not know if Lydenberg poisoned James Allerdyke. He declares that he does not know if it was ever intended to poison James Allerdyke, though he confesses that it was intended to rob him at Hull. Schmall, he says, was the active partner in all this—he took all that into his own hands. According to Merrifield, he does not know, nor Van Koon either, if it was Schmall who went down to Hull and shot Lydenberg, or if Lydenberg was murdered by some person who had a commission for his destruction from some secret society—Lydenberg, he believed, was mixed up with that sort of thing.”
“I know that, I think!” exclaimed Allerdyke.
“I daresay we all three know what we think,” observed the chief. “Schmall seems to have had a genius for putting his tools out of the way when he had done with them. It was undoubtedly Schmall who took Lisette Beaurepaire to that hotel in Paddington and poisoned her; it was just as undoubtedly Schmall who took Ebers to the hotel in London Docks and got rid of him. But, I tell you, Merrifield swears that neither he nor Van Koon knew of these things, and did not connive at them.”
“Did they know of them—afterwards?” asked Fullaway.
“Ah!” replied the chief. “That’s what they’ll have to satisfy a judge and jury about! I think they’ll find it difficult. But—that’s about all. Except this—that they were all three about to clear out when the enterprising Miss Slade turned up and told Schmall she’d got the Nastirsevitch jewels. That was a stiff proposition for them. But they were equal to it. For you see Miss Slade let him know that she was open to do a deal—for sixty thousand pounds! How were they to get sixty