“Oh, then, of course, I came up to her suite. She showed me this box. It had stood, she declared, on a table by her bedside, close to her pillows, from the moment she entered her rooms yesterday. She swore that it ought to have been full of her jewels—in cases. When she had opened it—just before this—it was empty. Of course, she demanded the instant presence of the police. Also, she insisted that I should at once, that minute, lock every door in the hotel, and arrest every person in it until their effects and themselves could be rigorously searched and examined. Ridiculous!”
“As you doubtless said,” remarked Fullaway.
“No—I said nothing. Instead I telephoned for police assistance. These two officers came. And,” concluded the manager, with a sympathetic glance at the detectives, “since they came Mademoiselle has done nothing but insist on arresting every soul within these walls—she seems to think there’s a universal conspiracy against her.”
“Exactly,” said Fullaway. “It is precisely what she would think—under the circumstances. Now let us see this chambermaid.”
The manager opened the door of the bedroom, and called in a pretty, somewhat shy, Scotch damsel, who betrayed a becoming confusion at the sight of so many strangers. But she gave a plain and straightforward account of her relations with Mademoiselle since the arrival of yesterday. She had been in almost constant attendance on Mademoiselle ever since her election to the post of temporary maid—had never left her save at meal-times. The little chest had stood at Mademoiselle’s bed-head always—she had never seen it moved, or opened. There was a door leading into the bedroom from the corridor. Mademoiselle had never left the suite of rooms since her arrival. She had talked that morning of going for a drive, but rain had begun to fall, and she had stayed in. Mademoiselle had seemed utterly horrified when she discovered her loss. For a moment she had sunk on her bed as if she were going to faint; then she had rushed out into the corridor, just as she was, screaming for the manager and the police.
When the pretty chambermaid had retired, Fullaway took up the box from which the missing property was believed to have been abstracted. He examined it with seeming indifference, yet he announced its particulars and specifications with business-like accuracy.
“Well—this chest, cabinet, or box,” he observed carelessly. “Let us look at it. Here, gentlemen, we have a piece of well-made work. It is—yes, eighteen inches square all ways. It is made of—yes, rosewood. Its corners, you see, are clamped with brass. It has a swing handle, fitted into this brass plate which is sunk into the lid. It has also three brass letters sunk into that lid—Z. D. L. Its lock does not appear to be of anything but an ordinary nature. Taking it altogether, I don’t think this is the sort of thing in which you would believe a lady was carrying several thousand pounds’ worth of pearls and diamonds. Eh?”