The red widow; or, the d.., p.31
The Red Widow; or, The Death-Dealers of London, p.31
Scotland Yard is difficult to arouse, but when once actual evidence ofcrime is forthcoming it is quick of action.
At half-past five that afternoon a small, under-sized man, who wore theuniform of the Metropolitan Water Board, rang at the basement entranceof the house in Pont Street, and the cook opened the door. "Well,missus?" he exclaimed merrily. "What's the trouble with the waterhere--eh?"
"Trouble? There's no trouble," replied the cook, who never suspectedthat four other men were in close vicinity awaiting their leader's call.
"Oh! but we've had a report that you've got a bad leak in one of yourpipes. So I'll just have to look at it," and he carried in what lookedlike a walking-stick in wood with a wide trumpet end.
The cook took him into the scullery, and he placed the end of his stickupon the pipe. He listened intently, using it like a huge stethoscope.Then he went from pipe to pipe, chatting merrily with the cook and theman-servant all the time.
"Are your people at home?" he asked the cook.
"No. They went away an hour ago in a car down to Brighton for threeweeks. So we're all off for a bit of a holiday, so hurry up! Do youfind anything wrong, mister?"
"No," replied the shrewd little man. "There must be some mistake, Isuppose. There's no leak here, as far as I can detect. But what a timeyou will have--eh? Did they take much luggage?"
"No, not very much. Madam said she would come up and get some more onTuesday."
"Yes. All of a hurry. Their friend, Mrs. Pollen, slept here lastnight--which is a bit unusual. But my mistress had a 'phone message.Then they rang up for a car and all three went off. They left theiraddress--the Metropole."
"Do you know where they got the car from?"
"No. That I don't! Why? I heard Mrs. Pollen ordering it on the'phone. But where it came from, I don't know."
"You think that they're at the Metropole, at Brighton?"
"Of course they are. But are you going down there to report a leak ofwater, mister? If so, yours must be a nice comfortable job."
The little man laughed mysteriously, and leaving, walked to the cornerof Pont Street, where he reported to his colleagues that the birds hadflown.
Inquiry at Upper Brook Street brought no better result. Mrs. Pollen hadnot been seen there since the previous day.
Already news of the flight had been telephoned to Scotland Yard, who, inturn, telephoned to the Brighton police, and within ten minutes thetelegraph wires were at work to the various ports of embarkation,circulating descriptions of the trio--Boyne's description beingfurnished by the police at Hammersmith, where he was so well known.
That night Gerald sat with Marigold, and both were filled with wonder atwhat was happening.
Expert criminals of the type of the death-dealers never fail to arrangefor a safe bolt-hole in case sudden escape becomes necessary. Thepolice knew this well, and had already taken certain precautions fortheir arrest.
The story, of what followed is a brief, but dramatic one.
The car hired to take them to Brighton conveyed them only as far asRedhill, where they dismissed it. The Red Widow, having alreadyalighted at Sutton, in Surrey, and returning to Victoria by train,claimed her two trunks. Then, by the aid of her false passport, andadding age and shabbiness to her appearance, she managed to travelthird-class from Folkestone to Boulogne and, passed by the police andpassport officer there, went on to Paris, where already she had a safeasylum awaiting her.
At Redhill Boyne and his wife halted at an hotel, and after being insidefor ten minutes the fugitives came out, paid the man, gave him ahandsome douceur and said that they had changed their minds. Thusdismissed the man returned to London well satisfied.
The pair separated half an hour later, Boyne returning as far as ClaphamJunction, where he changed and went on to Waterloo. His idea was to getaway by Southampton that evening to the Channel Islands, and thence,after a few days, across to Havre. He knew too well that the game wasup and that his only chance was to get abroad.
On arrival he went into the refreshment room at Waterloo, for he had afull hour to wait for the next train to Southampton. Having leisurelydrunk a cup of tea, he was just about to emerge when three men near thedoor dashed out and pounced upon him.
In an instant he fought like a tiger, but just as quickly the mengripped him, though not a word was spoken, except that a terribleimprecation escaped the assassin's lips.
He was a master-criminal, and the detectives had not gauged the extentof his wily cleverness.
"Very well," he laughed grimly at last. "You needn't hurt my arm.Really, this is all extremely annoying."
A crowd had at once assembled at the first sign of a struggle, but thedetectives hurried him unceremoniously to a taxi, into which theybundled him. Of that very act Bernard Boyne was swift to take advantage,for ere they could prevent him he had managed to slip his hand to hismouth and swallowed something--so quickly, indeed, that the detectiveswho sat with him could scarcely realise his action.
Then, as the taxi sped across Waterloo Bridge on its way to Bow Street,Boyne, turning to his captors with a gay laugh of defiance, said:
"Gentlemen, you have done your duty, but you've bruised my arm verybadly. Yet I forgive you. Bernard Boyne has had a long life and a merryone. But"--he gasped, his face suddenly changed--"but he cheats--hecheats you--after--after all!"
Next second their prisoner collapsed, and his captors saw to theirhorror that he was dead.
Lilla, in ignorance of what had happened, spent the night with a friendat Reigate, and went next day to Victoria, where she presented thevoucher and obtained her luggage, which she took with her to Liverpool,having succeeded in purchasing a second-class passage to Canada in thename of Anna Mansfield, the name upon her forged passport.
When, however, two days later she had boarded the big liner and wassitting comfortably at tea within an hour of sailing, she was politelyinvited by the steward to step ashore again as a friend was awaitingher. She at once realised that she had been followed. Two minutes latershe was under arrest. In the night she was brought to London, andbefore the magistrate at Bow Street next morning.
The suicide of Bernard Boyne prevented the whole details of the amazingconspiracy from being explained at Lilla's trial, which later on tookplace at the Old Bailey. She was, however, sent to penal servitude forlife as the accomplice of her husband--a just sentence she is stillserving.
Not until nearly three months afterwards was anything heard of the RedWidow, until one night she was arrested in Lyons, and on being broughtto Paris it was found by the Surete Generale that she was wanted by themfor a similar offence in Biarritz--the mysterious death of a red-hairedEnglishman named Pearson about three years previously--and that she had,even then, been in active association with Boyne and his wife.
She was brought before the Examining Magistrate, M. Decoud, and herguilt proved. Just before the date of her trial at the Assize Court ofthe Seine she followed the master-criminal's example by poisoningherself with one of the same tiny pilules which the insane toxicologistof Harpur Street had prepared for emergency. This little white piluleshe had succeeded in secreting in the hem of her skirt for nearly fourmonths, hoping to escape justice. But at last, being convinced of theterrible sentence which awaited her, she ended her notorious career.
The demented scientist in Harpur Street, whom Boyne had held socompletely in his power, came to the end of his resources in a month,and was certified as insane and sent to an asylum. He made wildallegations against a person named Wisden, but they were alwaysunintelligible to the attendants.
The insurance company which had issued the policy on the life of theunfortunate Mrs. Morrison, combined with three other companies which hadalso been defrauded, awarded to Gerald Durrant and Marigold Ramsay thevery substantial sum of one thousand pounds each for their services inbreaking up the dangerous and unscrupulous gang, for had the truth notbeen discovered they would in all probability be carrying on theirmurderous work at the present moment.
The reward which the young people received went a long way towardsbuying the pretty little home they occupy at Hampstead, for they are nowunited as man and wife.
Gerald is back again at Mincing Lane, where he has been promoted to aresponsible and lucrative position as assistant manager, but Marigold,of course, no longer goes daily to the City.
They are never tired of talking of those dark days of their danger anddistress, but there is one person to whom they have agreed never torefer--that handsome woman of many crimes both known and unknown--theRed Widow.
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