After Dove had worked for two or three hours he began to feel thirsty, for he was quite unaccustomed to any continuous labor. The sun was shining brightly on the balcony, and he was also a little hot, and the inside of Noel’s room looked deliciously cool and inviting. He had just seen Lawson walking down the street, too, so he was quite sure of having the premises to himself. Slipping off his shoes he stepped into the room and began to look about him with an appreciative air. He handled some of Noel’s choicest books, and looked through a portfolio of rare engravings but neither books nor engravings were quite in Dove’s way, and after a time he strolled over to the mantel-piece, as he said, to see how he looked reflected in the over-mantel glass. There were letters there directed to Noel. Dove would have dearly liked to acquaint himself with their contents, but he was a slow and deficient reader. Some cigars lay in a little cigar-case at one end. Dove, as a matter of course, and without weighing the question at all, slipped a couple into his pocket. After doing this he did not feel quite so virtuous, nor so like the proverbial British workman; he jingled some of Daisy’s sovereigns in his pocket, and laughed when they made a pleasant sound. Still eagerly peering at all the articles on the mantel-piece his quick eyes presently detected amongst a heap of rubbish and odds and ends Noel’s valuable signet-ring; it was of heavy workmanship, and its gold alone made it worth money.
“Why, Isaacs the Jew would give me two pound ten, or perhaps three pounds for this,” queried Dove. “It has plainly been forgotten here, and if the gent does miss it he’ll lay the blame on that fine fellow Lawson.”
It took a very small parley with Dove’s seared conscience to make him pocket the ring, and by the time Lawson returned to the house the five-pound note had also been appropriated. Dove whistled more cheerily than ever over his work that afternoon, and in the evening he went home quite unsuspecting any little trap which might have been set for him.
He had scarcely gone before a boy arrived with a telegram directed to Lawson, and with a reply pre-paid. Lawson read the following words:—
“Look on the mantel-piece in my sitting-room for a blank envelope, open, which contains a five-pound note—No. 11267. I also left my ring in the cigar tray. Wire reply if note and ring are safe.—ARTHUR NOEL.”
The address to reply to was added.
Poor Lawson spent an agonized ten minutes in searching over the contents of the mantel-piece. In the end he had to fill in the reply telegram with the news that nowhere could the five-pound note nor the ring be found.
A little over two hours passed, and again the worthy servant was startled by a telegraphic dispatch. This was what it contained:—
“Have reasons to believe that the painter Dove is the thief. Go instantly to the nearest police-station, give them the number of the note, and go with one of their staff to Dove’s house. His address is, 10, Eden Street, Junction Road, Holloway. The note and ring will probably be found on his person. Get him apprehended if possible. Take all necessary cabs.—ARTHUR NOEL.”