“There’s a gentleman here, Mr. Coulson, been asking after you,” he announced. “I told him that you generally came in about this time. You’ll find him sitting over there.”
Mr. Coulson glanced in the direction indicated. It was Mr. Jacks who awaited him in the cushioned easy chair. For a single moment, perhaps, his lips tightened and the light of battle flashed in his face. Then he crossed the room apparently himself again,—an undistinguished, perfectly natural figure.
“It’s Mr. Jacks, isn’t it?” he asked, holding out his hand. “I thought I recognized you.”
The Inspector rose to his feet.
“I am sorry to trouble you again, Mr. Coulson,” he said, “but if you could spare me just a minute or two, I should be very much obliged.”
Mr. Coulson laughed pleasantly.
“You can have all you want of me from now till midnight,” he declared. “My business doesn’t take very long, and I can only see the people I want to see in the middle of the day. After that, I don’t mind telling you that I find time hangs a bit on my hands. Try one of these,” he added, producing a cigar case.
The Inspector thanked him and helped himself. Mr. Coulson summoned the waiter.
“Highball for me,” he directed. “What’s yours, Mr. Jacks?”
“Thank you very much,” the Inspector said. “I will take a little Scotch whiskey and soda.”
The two men sat down. The corner was a retired one, and there was no one within earshot.
“Say, are you still on this Hamilton Fynes business?” Mr. Coulson asked.
“Partly,” the Inspector replied.
“You know, I’m not making reflections,” Mr. Coulson said, sticking his cigar in a corner of his mouth and leaning back in a comfortable attitude, “but it does seem to me that you are none too rapid on this side in clearing up these matters. Why, a little affair of that sort wouldn’t take the police twenty minutes in New York. We have a big city, full of alien quarters, full of hiding places, and chock full of criminals, but our police catch em, all the same. There’s no one going to commit murder in the streets of New York without finding himself in the Tombs before he’s a week older. No offence, Mr. Jacks.”
“I am not taking any, Mr. Coulson,” the Inspector answered. “I must admit that there’s a great deal of truth in what you say. It is rather a reflection upon us that we have not as yet even made an arrest, but I think you will also admit that the circumstances of those murders were exceedingly curious.”
Mr. Coulson knocked the ash from his cigar.
“Well, as to that,” he said, “and if we are to judge only by what we read in the papers, they are curious, without a doubt. But I am not supposing for one moment that you fellows at Scotland Yard don’t know more than you’ve let on to the newspapers. You keep your discoveries out of the Press over here, and a good job, too, but you wouldn’t persuade me that you haven’t some very distinct theory as to how that crime was worked, and the sort of person who did it. Eh, Mr. Jacks?”