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    Chapter 30

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    Chapter 30
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    There was no hope for Phillopolis from the first. The case against him was so clear and so damning that the magistrate, before whom the preliminary inquiry was heard, had no hesitation in committing him to take his trial at the Old Bailey on a charge of receiving, and that at the first hearing. Every article which had been stolen from the diamondsmiths' company had been recovered in his flat. The police experts gave evidence to the effect that he had been a suspected man for years, that his method of earning a living had on several occasions been the subject of police inquiry. He was known to be, so the evidence ran, the associate of criminal characters, and on two occasions his flat had been privately raided.

    The woman who passed as his wife had nothing good to say of him. It was not she who had admitted the police. Indeed, they found her in an upper room, locked in. Phillopolis was something of a tyrant, and on the day of his arrest he had had a quarrel with the woman, who had threatened to expose him to the police for some breach of the law. He had beaten her and locked her into an upper bedroom, and this act of tyranny had proved his downfall, if it were true, as he swore so vehemently that the articles which were found in his room had been planted there.

    The colonel was not present, nor were any other members of the gang, save little Selby, who had been summoned to the colonel's presence and had arrived in the early morning.

    "He hasn't a ghost of a chance," reported Selby, who had a lifelong acquaintance with criminals of the meaner sort, and had spent no small amount of his time in police courts, securing evidence as to the virtue of his protégés. "If he doesn't get ten years I'm a Dutchman."

    "What does Phillopolis say?"

    "He swears that the goods were not in his flat when he went out that night," he said, "but if they were planted, the work was done thoroughly. The detectives found jewel cases under cushions, hidden in cupboards, on the tops of shelves, and one of the best bits of swag--a wonderful diamond necklace--was discovered in his boot, at the bottom of his trunk."

    The conversation took place in the Green Park, which was a favourite haunt of the colonel's. He loved to sit on a chair by the side of the lake, watching the children sailing their boats and the ducks mothering their broods. He was silent. His eyes were bent upon the efforts of a small boy to bring a little waterlogged boat to a level keel and apparently he had no other interest.

    "Have a cigar, Selby," he said at last. "What is the news in your part of the world?"

    Selby was carefully biting off the end of his gift.

    "Nothing much," he said. "We got some letters the other day from Mrs. Crombie-Brail. Her son has got into trouble at the Cape. Lew Litchfield got them. He was doing a job in Manchester."

    Lew Litchfield was a bright young burglar of whom the colonel had heard, and he knew the kind of "job" on which Lew was engaged.

    "You bought 'em?" he asked.

    "I gave a tenner for them," said Selby. "I don't think they're much use."

    The colonel shook his head.

    "That's not the kind of letter that brings in money," he said. "You can't bleed a mother because her son got into trouble--at least, not for more than a hundred."

    "Letters have been scarce lately," said his agent disconsolately; "I think people have either given up keeping or writing them."

    "Maybe," said the colonel. "Anyway, I didn't bring you down to talk about letters. I've work for you."

    Selby looked uneasy, and that in itself was a discouraging sign. Usually the little crook from the north hailed a job of any kind with enthusiasm.

    It was an unmistakable proof to the colonel that he was losing grip, that the magic of his name and all that it implied in the way of protection from punishment, was less than it had been.

    "You don't seem very pleased," he said.

    Selby forced a smile.

    "Well, colonel," he said, "I've a feeling they're after us, and I don't want to take any risks."

    "You'll take this one," said the colonel. "There's somebody to be put away."

    The man licked his lips.

    "Well, I'm not in it," he said. "I had enough with that Hanson business."

    "By 'put away' I don't mean murdered or ill-treated in any sense," said the colonel, "and besides, it is one of our own people."

    But even this assurance did not satisfy the man.

    "I don't like it," he said; "they tell me that this Jack o' Judgment----"

    "Just forget Jack o' Judgment for a minute and think of yourself," snapped the colonel. "You've made your pile, and you find England's getting a bit too hot for you, don't you?"

    "I do indeed," said the man fervently. "You know, colonel, I was thinking that a trip to America wouldn't be a bad idea."

    "There are plenty of places to go to without going to America," said the colonel. "I tell you that I mean Lollie no harm."

    "Lollie?" Selby was surprised, and showed it. "She hasn't----"

    "I don't know what she's done yet, but I think it is time she went away," said the colonel, "and so far as I can judge, it is time you went too, Selby. I don't know whether Lollie is betraying us, and maybe I'm doing her an injustice," he went on, "but if I put up to her a suggestion that she should leave the country, maybe she'd probably turn me down. You know how suspicious these women are. The only idea I can think of is to scare her and make her bolt quick and sudden, and I want you to provide the means."

    Selby was waiting.

    "I bought a motor-boat, one of those swift motor-boats that the Government used during the war. I have it ready at Twickenham, and you can get all your goods on board and go to----"


    "Anywhere you like," said the colonel, "Holland, Denmark--one place is as good as another, and it'll be a good sea-going boat. You see, my idea is this. If I think Lollie is negotiating to put us away, I can give her a fright which will make her jump at the means of getting out of England by the quickest and shortest route. You can go with her and keep her under your eye until the trouble blows over."

    He saw a look in the man's face and correctly interpreted it.

    "I'm not worried about you double-crossing me," he said, "even if you are abroad. I've enough evidence against you to bring you back under an extradition warrant." He laughed as Selby's face fell. "You see Selby, there's nothing in it that you can take exception to. I don't even know that Lollie will refuse to go in the ordinary way, but I must make preparations."

    "It is a reasonable suggestion," said Selby, after considering the matter for a few minutes. "I'll do it, colonel."

    "You'd better bring a couple of men to London who can handle Lollie if she gives any trouble--no, no," said the colonel, raising his hand in dignified protest, "there's going to be nothing rough. How can there be? You'll be in charge of it all, and it is up to you as to how Lollie is treated."

    It did not occur to Selby until an hour later to ask the colonel how he knew that his hobby was motor-boating, but by that time the colonel had gone.

    It was true, as Boundary said, that the gang was scared--and badly scared. It was equally true that they needed only one jar before it became a case of every man for himself. Already even the minor members were making their preparations to break away. The red light was burning clear before all eyes. But none knew how readily the colonel had recognised the signs, and how, in spite of his apparent philosophy and his contempt of danger, he, more than any of the others, was preparing for the inevitable crash.

    Jack o' Judgment, he told himself, was playing his game better than he could play it himself. The arrest of Phillopolis had removed one of the men who might have been an inconvenient witness against him. White was gone, Raoul was gone. He had planned the disappearance of Selby, a most dangerous man, and Lollie Marsh, an even more dangerous woman and there remained only Pinto and Crewe.

    When he had taken leave of his agent, the colonel walked to Westminster and boarded a car which carried him along the Embankment to Blackfriars. He might have been followed, and probably was, but this possibility did not worry him. He walked across Ludgate Circus, up St. Bride Street to Hatton Garden, and turned into the office of Myglebergs'. Mr. Mygleberg, a very suave and polite gentleman, received him and ushered him into a private room. This shrewd Dutchman had no illusions as to the colonel's probity, but he had no doubt either that the big man could pay handsomely for everything he bought.

    "I'm glad you've come, colonel," he said; "I have been expecting you for a couple of days. We have just had a wonderful parcel of stones from Amsterdam, and I think some of them would suit you."

    He disappeared and came back with a tray covered with the most beautiful diamonds that had ever left the cutter's hands. The colonel went over them slowly, examining them and putting a selected number aside.

    "I'll take those," he said, and Mr. Mygleberg laughed.

    "They're the best," he chuckled. "Trust you to know a good thing when you see it, colonel!"

    "What have I to pay for these?"

    Mygleberg made a rapid calculation and put the figures before Colonel Boundary.

    "It is a big price," said the colonel, "but I don't think you have overcharged. Besides, I could always sell them again for that much."

    Mr. Mygleberg nodded.

    "I think you are wise to put your money into stones, colonel," he said; "they always go up and never go down in value. You can lose other things. They're easy and they're always convertible. I always tell my partner that if I ever become a millionaire I shall invest every penny in stones."

    The colonel paid for the gems from a thick wad of notes he took from his hip-pocket. They were, in point of fact, the identical notes which Maisie White had handed to him the night previous. He waited whilst the jewels were made up into a little oblong package, heavily sealed and inscribed with the colonel's name and address, and then, shaking hands with Mygleberg and fixing a further appointment, he came out into Hatton Garden, whistling a little song and apparently the picture of contentment.

    He was getting ready for flight too. This, the first of many packages which he intended depositing in the private safe of his bank, would go with the ever-increasing pile of American gold bonds of high denomination which filled that steel repository. For months the colonel had been converting his property into paper dollars. They were more easily negotiated and less traceable than English banknotes, and they were more get-at-able. A big balance in the books of the bank might be creditable and, given time, convertible into cash. Then nobody knew but himself the amount standing to his credit. He was not at the mercy of prying bank clerks or a manager who might be got at by the police. At a minute's notice, and without anybody being the wiser, he could demand the contents of his safe and walk from the bank premises without a soul being aware that he was carrying the bulk of his fortune away.

    He took a cab and drove now to the bank premises. Ferguson, the manager, received him.

    "Good morning, colonel," he said. "I was just writing you a note. You know your account is getting very low."

    "Is that so?" said the colonel in surprise.

    "I thought you wouldn't realise the fact," said Ferguson, "but you've been drawing very heavily of late."

    "I'll put it right," said the colonel. "It is not overdrawn?" he asked jocularly, and Ferguson smiled.

    "You've eighty thousand pounds in Account B," he said. "I suppose you don't want to touch that?"

    Account B was the euphonious name for the fund which was the common property of all the leaders of the Boundary Gang.

    "Unless you're anxious that I should get penal servitude for fraudulently converting the company's funds?" said the colonel in the same strain. "No, I'll fix my account some time to-day. In the meantime"--he produced a package from his hip-pocket--"I want this to go into my safe."

    "Certainly," said Ferguson, and struck a bell. A clerk answered the call. "Take Colonel Boundary to the vaults. He wants to deposit something in his safe," he said, "or would you like me to do it, colonel?"

    "I'll do it myself," said the colonel.

    He followed the clerk down the spiral staircase to the well-lit vault, and with the key which the man handed him opened Safe No. 20. It was divided into two compartments, that on the left consisting of a deep drawer, which he pulled out. It was half filled with American paper currency, as he knew--currency neatly parcelled and carefully packed by his own hands.

    "I often wonder, Colonel Boundary," said the interested clerk, "why you don't use the bank safe. When a customer has his own, you know, we are not responsible for any of his losses."

    "I know that," said the colonel genially. "Still one must take a risk."

    He placed the package on the top of the money, pushed back the drawer, locked the safe and handed the key to the young man.

    "I think the bank takes enough risks without asking them to accept any more," he said, "and besides, I like to take a little risk myself sometimes."

    "So I've heard," said the clerk innocently, and the colonel shot a questioning look at the young man.
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