“A drug? Why, say, two of my neighbors have been robbed within the past three days, and they all complained of violent headaches.”
“Well, what y’ know about that! Say, Mr. Killigrew, any place where I could hang out down there for a couple o’ days?”
“Come as my guest, Haggerty. I can tell the folks that you’re from the office.”
“Fumes! I’ll bet a hat it’s my maharajah’s man. When do you go back?”
“About half-past two, on my yacht. You’ll find it at the New York Yacht Club pier. Some old friends of yours will be on board. Crawford, his wife, and Forbes, the artist.”
“Fine an’ dandy! Forbes is clever at guessing, an’ we’ll work t’gether. All right I’ll hike up t’ Bronx an’ get some duds. Tell th’ chef that corn-beef an’ cabbage is my speed-limit,” jested the detective as he reached the door.
“By the way, what’s the name of that steward who took my daughter’s sapphires?”
“His monacker is Webb,” said Haggerty; “Thomas Webb, Esquire; an’ believe me, he’s some smooth guy. Thomas Webb.”
For a moment Killigrew sat stiffly upright in his chair; then gradually his body grew limp, his chin sank, his shoulders drooped. “Webb?” he said dully. “Are you sure, Haggerty?”
“No question about it. Y’ see, this Jameson chap writes me a sassy letter from Liverpool. Spite. Thomas Webb was th’ name. What’s th’ matter?”
“Haggerty, the very devil is the matter. Thomas Webb, recently a steward on the Celtic, has been my wife’s private secretary for nearly two months.”
“Say that again!” gasped Haggerty, bracing himself against the jamb of the door.
“But I’ll wager my right hand that there’s some mistake.”
“Of all th’ gall I ever heard of! Private secretary, an’ Miss Killigrew’s sapphires stowed away in his trunk, if he ain’t sold ’em outside th’ pawnshops! Will y’ gimme a free hand, Mr. Killigrew?”
“I suppose I’ll have to.”
“All right. On board you draw me a map o’ th’ rooms an’ where Thomas Webb holds out. I shan’t come t’ th’ house an’ meet anybody. While you folks ‘r at supper I’ll sneak up t’ his room an’ see what’s in his trunk. If I don’t find ’em, why, I’ll come back t’ town an’ start a news stand, Forty-second an’ Broadway. I’ll be on th’ yacht at half-past two. I’m on m’ way.”
The door behind him closed with a bang. It startled every clerk on the huge floor. The door to the boss’ office did not bang more than once a year, and that was immediately after the annual meeting of the directors of the Combined Brazilian Coffees. Who was this potentate who dared desecrate the honored quiet of this loft?