Michael's Evil Deeds
Michael's Evil Deeds
II. THE KISS OF JUDAS
Norman Greyes Tells the Whole Story
On the evening of my return from the Riviera after a three months' holiday, I was accosted in the lounge of Marridge's Hotel by a middle-aged man of inconspicuous appearance, who had been seated in a corner alone. It was some few seconds before I could recall him to my memory, but curiously enough a crowd of unpleasant associations gathered themselves together in my mind even before I recognized him.
"You haven't forgotten me and our golf down at Woking, Sir Norman?" he asked.
I knew all about him then.
"Mr. Stanfield, isn't it?" I said. "No, I haven't forgotten."
I was a few minutes early for my party, and I accepted the offer of a cocktail from my golfing acquaintance, while I waited.
"That was an extraordinary interruption to our first game," he remarked. "I never fancied my little house much afterwards. I gave it up, in fact, within the year."
"I heard you had left," I told him. "Have you still your model domestic?"
"She left me soon afterwards," he replied regretfully. "You had no luck in your investigations, Sir Norman?" I shook my head. The subject was still a sore one with me.
"I had no luck at all," I confessed. "I came to certain conclusions which carried me a little way along the road, but all the clues ended abruptly. Yet I don't despair. I always have the fancy that some day or other I shall solve that mystery."
The waiter brought the cocktails and we raised our glasses.
"I drink, then, to that day, Sir Norman," my companion said.
"I am with you," I declared heartily.
We talked idly of various matters for a few moments-principally of golf, which I had been playing regularly in the South of France. There were several dinner parties being given in the restaurant that evening, and some very beautiful women were in evidence. One in particular attracted my attention. She was tall and, though slim, beautifully made. Her complexion was perfect, although a little colourless. Her strange-coloured eyes had a nameless attraction. Her hair, beautifully coiffured, was just the shade of brown which appealed to me. She bowed to my companion as she passed, and joined a little group at the farther end of the hall. The last thing I noticed about her was her wonderful string of pearls.
"That is a very beautiful woman," I remarked. "Do you know who she is?"
"A South American widow-De Mendoza, her name is."
"You know her?"
"My humble apartment is on the same floor as her suite," my companion replied. "She is gracious enough sometimes to remember the fact that we meet occasionally in the lift."
My friends arrived, and I made my adieux to my erstwhile golfing acquaintance. Somehow or other, my meeting with him had left an unpleasant impression behind it. It forced my thoughts back to the humiliating recollection of the fact that the murderer of Richard Ladbrooke still remained undiscovered, and that the man who had called himself Pugsley had walked away from detection under our very eyes and never been heard of since. Amongst my fellow guests was an official of the Home Office, and our conversation naturally drifted into the subject of social order.
"Your connection with Scotland Yard having long since ceased, Sir Norman," he remarked to me, "you will not be over-sensitive as to facts. The epidemic of crime which was raging about two years ago seems to have broken out again with exactly the same results. There are four undetected murders and five great robberies up to the debit of your late department. Your people believe that the same person is at the head of it who planned all those robberies eighteen months ago and escaped arrest by shooting the inspector."
I affected to take only a casual interest in the information, but as a matter of fact I was considerably moved. If the man who had last concealed his i