Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Colonel Thorndyke's Secret > CHAPTER XVIII.
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
 After thinking over the best way in which to set about the work of carrying the diamonds to Amsterdam, Mark decided upon asking the advice of his late chief. The latter said, as Mark entered his room: “I did not expect to see you here again, Mr. Thorndyke.”
“Well, sir, I have come to ask your' advice about another matter altogether.”
“What is it now?”
“I have to convey a diamond bracelet of very great value across to Amsterdam. I have reasons to believe that there is a plot to seize it on the way, and that the men engaged will hesitate at nothing to achieve their object. Under these circumstances I should be very much obliged if you will tell me what would be the best course to pursue. I must say that the bracelet is, with many other jewels, in a strong teak box of about a foot square, at present in the possession of our bankers; they were brought from India by my uncle. I imagine that the rest of the jewels are of comparatively little importance in the eyes of these men, though doubtless they would take them also if they lay their hands on them. The bracelet, however, is of special interest to them, not so much for its intrinsic value, as because it was stolen from one of their sacred idols.
“This was about twenty years ago; but I have reason to believe that the search for it on the part of some Hindoos connected with the temple has never ceased. The soldier who took it was murdered; his comrade, into whose hands they next passed, was also murdered. They next came to my uncle, who forwarded it at once to England. His bungalows were searched again and again, until probably the fellows came to the conclusion that he must have either buried it or sent it away. Nevertheless, to the day of his death he was firmly convinced that he was closely followed, and every movement watched. He warned my father solemnly that he too would be watched, but as far as we know it was not so; at any rate, we had no reason to suppose that the house was ever entered. On the other hand, I am convinced I have been watched more or less closely ever since I came up to town, and as I came out from the bank yesterday I saw a man—a colored fellow, I believe—on the watch.
“My uncle said that my life would not be worth an hour's purchase so long as I had the bracelet in my possession, and advised that it should be taken straight over to Amsterdam, broken up, and the diamonds sold singly to the merchants there.”
“It is a curious story, Mr. Thorndyke. I own to ignorance of these Indian thieves and their ways, but it certainly seems extraordinary that so hopeless a quest should be kept up for so long a time. You are sure that it is not fancy on your part that you have been watched? I know you are not the sort of man to take fancies in your head, but as you have had the matter so strongly impressed upon you, you might naturally have been inclined to think this would be the case when it was not so.”
“No, I don't think there is any chance of my being mistaken. It is only of late that I have thought about it, but when I did so and thought over what had passed since I came to London, I recalled the fact that I had very often come across foreign seamen; sometimes they were Lascars, at others they might have been Italian or Spanish seamen; and you see, sir, it was, as I told you at the time, some foreign sailor who came and informed Gibbons that I had fallen into the hands of a gang of criminals, and that I should certainly be killed if I was not rescued immediately. Gibbons at once got together half a dozen fighting men, and, as you know, rescued me just in time. It was extraordinary that the man never came forward to obtain any reward.”
“That was a friendly act, Mr. Thorndyke.”
“Yes, I have no reason to suppose that these men would be hostile to me personally. I was not the thief, I was simply the person who happened to be in possession, or rather, might come into possession of the bracelet. From the close watch they had kept, they were, I imagine, well aware that I had not got it, but may have thought, and doubtless did think, that I had some clew to its hiding place, and should sooner or later get it. With my death the clew might be finally lost, and my life was consequently of extreme importance to them, and therefore they took steps to have me rescued, and the fact that they learned this and knew how friendly I was with Gibbons shows how close was the watch kept over me. No doubt, had Gibbons refused to help them, they would have come here at once.”
“Certainly, after what you say it would seem that your conjecture is right, and in this case, if I were you, I should take the bracelet out of the case and conceal it about me. I would not fetch it myself from the bank.”
“I don't think I should be much safer so,” Mark said thoughtfully. “In the first place, I must go to the bank to get them, and I might be murdered merely on the supposition that I had brought the bracelet away. In the next place, even if I got to Amsterdam safely and got rid of the bracelet and returned unnoticed by them, a fresh danger would arise when I got the other gems into my possession, for they could not be certain whether the diamonds were still among them or not.”
“I should hardly think that would be the case if they watch you as strictly as you believe. Even if none of them accompanied you, they would soon find out what diamond merchants you went to, and the leader might call upon these men, stating that he was commissioned to purchase some diamonds of exceptional value for an Eastern Prince, in which case he would be sure to obtain sight of them.
“If I had your business to perform, I would not go near the bank again, but would send some friend I could trust to go and open the box, and take out the bracelet, and make it into a small parcel. He should hand it to you privately, as you are on your way to embark for Amsterdam. Then I would take with me one or two of my men, and, say, a couple of your prize fighters, and with such a guard you ought to be fairly safe.”
“I think that is a capital plan,” Mark said, “and if I don't go to the bank there will be nothing to lead them to suppose that I have taken them out, or that I am just going across to Holland.”
Mark then went straight to Dick Chetwynd's lodgings.
“I want you to do me a service, Dick,” he said.
“With pleasure, Mark. What sort of service is it? If it is anything in my power, you know that you can absolutely rely upon me. You are not going to fight a duel, are you, and want a second?”
“No; quite another sort of business. I will tell you shortly what it is. I have to convey an extremely valuable diamond bracelet to Amsterdam, and I have reason to believe that there will be an attempt to murder me, and to carry off the jewels before I can dispose of them. It happened in this way;” and he then related the history of the diamonds, the reason he was followed, and the suggestions that the Chief of the Bow Street detectives had given him.
“That is all right,” Dick said, when he concluded. “It is a rum business, but certainly I will do what you ask me; and, what is more, I will go over with you to Amsterdam, and see the thing through. It is an interesting business, if it is a queer one.”
“You know Philip Cotter?”
“Of course, Mark; why, I have met him with you several times.”
“I will give you a note to ask him to allow you to open the case, and to take from it the bracelet; I don't know whether it is a regular gold mounted bracelet, or simply some diamonds that have been fastened together as a necklace; however, I suppose you are sure to recognize them; they are altogether exceptional stones, and will certainly be done up in a packet by themselves, whatever the others may be. Say that you will call in and take them away some other time, of which I will give him notice by letter. I will write the note now, and if you can spare time to go there today, all the better, for I shall be glad to get the business over; then I will come again tomorrow morning, and we will arrange the details of the plan. I will look in the shipping list, and see what vessels are sailing for Amsterdam. When we have fixed on one, it will be best for you to take our passages under any names you like, so that they are not our own. The detectives will take their passages separately, and so will Gibbons and whoever else goes with us.”
“I will go at once, Mark.”
“Don't go straight there, Dick; if these fellows are dogging my footsteps everywhere, and saw me coming here, they might take it into their heads to follow you.”
“Oh, they can never be doing all that sort of thing; that's too much to believe. However, to please you, I will go into my club for a quarter of an hour. Shall I come round to your rooms this evening, or will you come here?”
“I think I will put off our meeting altogether until tomorrow morning. I have an engagement this evening that I cannot very well get out of.”
“All right, Mark, just as you please. What time will you come round in the morning?”
“About the time you have finished breakfast. I will go now, and have a look at the shipping list.”
They parted at the door, and Mark went to the coffee house where shipping matters were specially attended to, and where master mariners might often be met, conversing together, or with ship owners or merchants. On going through the list, he found that the fast sailing brig, Essex, of 204 tons, and mounting eight guns, would sail for Amsterdam in three days' time, and would take in goods for that place, and, should sufficient freight be obtained, for any other Dutch port. It was also announced that she had good accommodation for passengers. Information as to cargo could be obtained from her owners, on Tower Hill, or from the captain on board, between the hours of ten and twelve. Then, in small type, it was stated that the Essex was at present lying in the outside tier nearly opposite Anderson's wharf.
Mark made a note of all these particulars in his pocketbook, and then went to Ingleston's public house.
“Morning, Mr. Thorndyke,” the man said; “haven't seen yer for the last month or so.”
“No; I have been out of town. Do you expect Gibbons in here this morning?”
“It is about his time, sir, when he has nothing in particular to see about. Like a turn with the mauleys this morning?”
“Not this morning, Ingleston. I have got some engagements for the next day or two where I could not very well show myself with a black eye or a swelled nose; you have given me a good many of both.”
“Well, Mr. Thorndyke, when one stands up against a man who is as strong as one's self, and a mighty quick and hard hitter, you have got to hit sharp and quick too. You know my opinion, that there aint half a dozen men in the country could lick you if you had a proper training.”
“I suppose you couldn't get away for a week, or maybe two?” he said.
“Lor' bless you, no, sir. Who would there be to keep order here at night? When I first came here I had not given up the ring, and I fought once or twice afterwards. But, Lor' bless you, I soon found that I had got either to give up the pub or the ring, and as I was doing a tidy business here, I thought it best to retire; since then business has grown. You see, boxing is more fashionable than it used to be, and there are very few nights when one don't have a dozen Corinthians in here—sometimes there are twice as many—either to see some of the new hands put on the mauleys, and judge for themselves how they are going to turn out, or maybe to arrange for a bout between some novice they fancy and one of the west countrymen. No, sir, I could not do it anyhow; I should not like to be away even for one night, though I know Gibbons would look after things for me; as for being away for a week, I could not do it for any money. No, sir, my fight with Jackson last year was the last time I shall ever go into the ring. I was a fool to go in for that, but I got taunted into it. I never thought that I should lick him, though, as you know, sir, I have licked a good many good men in my time, but Jackson is an out and out man, and he has got a lot more science than I ever had; my only chance was that I could knock him out of time or wear him down; but he was too quick on his pins for me to do the former. Ah, Gibbons, here is Mr. Thorndyke. He wants to see you; you had best go into my room behind the bar.”
“Want to get hold of a fresh hand, Mr. Thorndyke?” Gibbons asked when they had sat down by the fire.
“No, Gibbons, it is another business altogether. Have you got anything particular to keep you in town for the next fortnight? It may not be over a week, but it may be over a fortnight.”
“No, sir,” the man said, after taking three or four draws at his long pipe. “No, sir; they won't want the ropes and stakes for another three weeks, so I am your man if you want me. What, is it for, sir?”
“Well, it is rather a curious affair, Gibbons. I have to take a very valuable bracelet over to Amsterdam, to sell there, and I have very strong reasons for believing that if some fellows get an inkling of it they will try to put me out of the way, and get hold of the diamonds. I want a couple of good men to go with me.”
“Well sir, I should say you and me could lick a dozen ordinary chaps, without thinking anything of it.”
“I dare say we could, Gibbons, in a stand up fight without weapons, but I fancy these fellows will not try that. They are foreigners, and the first thing they would try would be to put a dagger between my shoulders as I walked up and down on deck at night, or, more likely still, creep into my cabin and stab me while I was asleep. If the voyage were only to last one night I might sit up, pistol in hand, but if the wind is foul we might be a week. We are a pretty strong party. Mr. Chetwynd—you know him—is going with me; there will also be two runners from Bow Street, and I want you to take another good man with you. Of course, on board we shall separate. The Bow Street men will watch the passengers, and you and your mate will smoke your pipes and keep yourselves ready to join in if you see there is going to be a row. But I rather think that the passage will be a quiet one. At Amsterdam, until I have got rid of the diamonds I certainly should not care about going out into the street after nightfall without having you close behind me.”
“All right, sir. I should say Tom Tring would be as good a man as one could get at the job. What is the money to be, Mr. Thorndyke?”
“Well, what do you think yourself, Gibbons?”
“I take it you pay all expenses, sir?”
“Yes, everything.”
“Would five and twenty guineas a head be too much?”
“No; I will do better than that. I will give you five and twenty guineas each when we get to Amsterdam, and I will give you another twenty-five each if I come back here safe and sound.”
“Well, I call that handsome. One could not want more, and you can rely on it that Tring will jump at the offer. He has not been able to get a fight on lately, and he is rather in low water.”
“Well, you will both get up as quiet traders. I don't know what other passengers there may be, but I don't want them to know that you belong to the fancy.”
“I twig, sir. We will get up quiet like.”
“Then I want............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved