When I did get there I found him grimly surveying a small and wizened creature, whose arm he had linked to his own by means of a handcuff.
“Lester,” he said, “allow me to introduce you to the ghost of Peter Magnus—otherwise Mr. Jemmy Blum, the Tom Thumb of con men. Jemmy,” he added, “aren’t you ashamed to be playing such tricks on my friend, Mr. Lester?”
The small creature’s eyes twinkled maliciously as he glanced up at me.
“Ho,” he said contemptuously, “’twasn’t no trick to fool him. But I didn’t know he was your friend. If I had, I’d ‘a’ let him alone.”
I deserved the taunt, of course, but I winced a little at Godfrey’s chuckle.
“You’d fool the devil himself, Jemmy,” said his captor. “And now I’ll thank you to pass over to me those five little packets which my friend here left on that desk up yonder.”
Without a word Jemmy unbuttoned his coat and produced the five packets. I could not but admire the coolness with which he accepted defeat.
“Take ’em, Lester,” said Godfrey, “and put ’em back in your bag. We’ll leave ’em over at the Tenderloin station, where we’ll lodge this gentleman for the night. No use to disturb Mrs. Magnus till morning,” he added, with a glance at the gloomy house. “Then we’ll have Jemmy give us a special performance of his impersonation of the ghost of Peter Magnus.”
The prisoner laughed.
“Glad to,” he said. “I think you’ll find it A one.”
“No doubt,” assented Godfrey. “As soon as Lester told me the story I knew you were the only man who could have worked it. And then there was the desk.”
“Of course,” agreed the prisoner. “You’d see that.”
This was all Greek to me, but I knew the explanation would come in time. Meanwhile I carefully stowed away the five precious packets in my bag.
“Why can’t we go over to my rooms at the Marathon and hear the story?” I suggested. “It’s right across the street from the station.”
“All right,” said Godfrey, and led the way down the street, with Jemmy keeping step with him as well as his short legs would permit. Five minutes later we were in my rooms, and I switched on the lights and got out the cigars.
“If you’ll see that the doors are locked, Lester, I’ll open this handcuff temporarily,” said Godfrey. “But first,” and he ran his hands over his prisoner’s person. “Ah, I thought so,” he said, and produced a small revolver of exquisite workmanship. “You always were a connoisseur, Jemmy,” he added, examining the weapon, and then slipping it into his own pocket. “All right. Now you sit down over there and be good.”
“Oh, I’ll be good,” said Jemmy. “I guess I know when I’m crimped. Thanks,” he added, accepting the smoke I offered him.