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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    Jane Smith

    When the door had closed upon the infuriated policeman, Binger hastened back to his employer.

    "That man was a detective," he whispered hoarsely.

    "I know that," said Jim, stifling a yawn. "He stole my matches--what other proof was needed, Binger?"

    "What did he come here for, sir?" asked Binger in agitation.

    "To find out all about me, and apparently to get a light for his cigar. He knows all he'll ever know. Don't worry your head about him, Binger."

    "Them fellows are as hartful as monkeys," said the valet.

    "Hartfuller," agreed Jim, "but not much. A monkey isn't clever at all: get that into your nut, Binger. He's the most stupid of all the lower animals."

    "Are you going out to-night, sir?" after a pause.

    "No, I'm staying in to-night. You may go home early to your wife and family--I suppose you have a family?"

    "Yes, sir, I've two boys in the Harmy," said Binger proudly.

    Jim Morlake nodded.

    "I don't think I shall want you for anything more. Tell Mahmet to bring me coffee: I shall be working late to-night."

    When the man had gone, he laid down his book and began slowly to pace the big room, his hands clasped behind him, a far-away look in his eyes and a frown upon his handsome face. He heard the thud of the door as Binger went home, and a few seconds later the little Moorish servant came in, bearing a tray with the paraphernalia for coffee-making.

    Jim watched him idly, and when the man's task was finished and he had salaamed his way out of the room, he walked to the divan, and stooping, lifted the top that came up like the lid of a box. In the cavity beneath was a small steel safe lying on its back. He fitted a key in the lock and, pulling up the door, took out a large bundle of banknotes. For half an hour he was sorting them into their various denominations. When he had finished, he counted the bundles carefully, enclosed them in various envelopes, on each of which he wrote a different name and address, which he took from a pocket diary which he carried in his waistcoat pocket. This done, he replaced all the envelopes in the safe, closed and locked it and replaced the "lid" of the divan.

    He looked at his watch: it was half-past eleven. He did not feel tired; the book he had been reading was very dull, yet no outside amusement attracted him.

    He sat down again to consider the problem of Marborne's visit. Marborne, in his simplicity, had imagined that he was unknown, but in truth there was not a detective holding any rank in the headquarters police whose face James Morlake did not know.

    Why had he come? Why had he been guilty of so paltry a theft? Jim had not seen the matches go, but he had known they were on the desk and when the detective had walked to the table he had observed the palming. What was the object, he wondered--he could supply half-a-dozen solutions, none of which was wholly convincing to himself.

    He got up and passed through a narrow arched doorway into a smaller room, furnished with a bed and a wardrobe. He would go out, he decided, and changed his shoes. He was opening the door of the flat when he saw a letter on the floor. It had evidently been pushed through the slot, and, picking it up, he saw that it had been delivered by hand. It was addressed in pencilled writing to "Mr. Morelake," and it was marked "Urgent."

    Tearing open the envelope, he read the few scrawled lines it contained, and reading, he frowned. Presently he folded the letter, put it back in its envelope and slipped it into his pocket.

    "Mahmet, did you hear anybody outside?" he asked when the servant had come in response to his signal.

    "No, effendi--not since the secretary went. I was in the hall then."

    Morlake took the letter from his pocket.

    "This was not here when you let Binger out?"

    "No--there was nothing."

    The letter must have been delivered while he was changing his shoes.

    Restoring the scrawled warning to his pocket, he went out on the stone landing. His flat was the only residential apartment in the building, the lower floors being offices, the ground floor a couturière's establishment. Usually at this hour of the night the caretaker, the only other person in the building at night, was to be found smoking in the small entrance hall, but to-night he was absent.

    As Morlake came into the street, Inspector Marborne, standing in the shadow of a door, tapped his companion on the shoulder.

    "There's your man, Lieber," he said.

    The pickpocket nodded and walked across the road, following the tall man, who was moving at a leisurely pace toward Piccadilly. As he reached the corner, Morlake stopped and looked left and right irresolutely as though he were undecided which way he should go. At that moment a stout little man, walking rapidly, came into violent collision with him.

    "Steady, my friend," said James Morlake, recovering from the shock.

    "Excuse me," mumbled the little man, and went on his way at the same furious rate, Jim Morlake looking after him with a glint of amusement in his eyes.

    Inspector Marborne was waiting for the thief at the corner of Air Street, and as the little man turned into that deserted thoroughfare, Marborne fell in at his side.

    "Well?" he demanded.

    "I got something," said Lieber, putting his hand in his pocket. "There's no handkerchief or case in his pocket, but I got a letter."

    Impatiently the inspector tore it from his hand and, halting beneath a street standard, examined the prize.

    "It is addressed to him all right," he said. "Now, Mr. Morlake, I think I've got you."

    He pulled out the letter and read it. Lieber watching him, saw his mouth open in horrified amazement.

    Dear Mr. Morlake [the message ran], Ralph Hamon employs a police officer named Marborne, who is laying a trap for you.

    It was signed "Jane Smith."

    "Who the devil is Jane Smith?" gasped Marborne.

    This was the identical question that James Morlake was asking himself at that moment.
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