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.Care to come round on the off-chance, Mr.Sheringham?”Roger glanced at his watch.“Ten to four.Yes, I’ll come round with you; and the British nation can stand me a cup of tea in your office.There’s nothing like—— Excuse me a minute, there’s the telephone.” He crossed to the instrument.“For you, Moresby,” he said, laying down the receiver.“Scotland Yard.Well, let’s hope something’s turned up.”Moresby spoke into the telephone.“Hullo? Yes, Chief Inspector Moresby speaking.Oh, yes, sir.—Good gracious, sir, is that so?” He pulled out a notebook and pencil and began to jot down notes.“Yes.Yes.Six Pelham Mansions, Gray’s Inn Road? Yes.Inspector Tucker, yes.Very good, sir.And we’d better have Dr.Pilkington, hadn’t we? Superintendent Green will see to the rest.Very well, I’ll meet you there in twenty minutes.Oh, and you don’t mind if I bring Mr.Sheringham along, do you? Seeing that he’s been working with me on the other cases, I mean.Yes, exactly.Very well, sir.In twenty minutes.” He hung up the receiver.Roger, who had hardly been able to contain himself in the background, gushed forth into a stream of questions.The Chief Inspector nodded with a grave air.“Yes, this is a nasty business, Mr.Sheringham.There’s been another girl murdered in just the same way, in one of those blocks of flats in the Gray’s Inn Road.We’re going round at once.”Roger opened the door into the passage feeling, in spite of all sense, as if he were personally to blame for the death of this further victim.The Chief Inspector, however, retained his professional outlook.“It’s only once in a lifetime that one meets with these mass murderers, you know, Mr.Sheringham,” he said conversationally, as they put on their coats.“It’s a real experience.I’m glad they put me in charge of the other investigations.”CHAPTER XIISCOTLAND YARD AT WORKTO one who, like Roger, has never seen his country’s criminal-hunting machine in action, the spectacle of Scotland Yard’s first concentration upon the scene of a murder is extraordinarily impressive.It is often said that the detection of crime has been reduced to a science, but it would perhaps give a clearer impression to say that it has been expanded into a business, with its card-indexes, its heads of departments, its experts in various branches, and its smooth-running efficiency; the way in which it is organised is, in fact, far more closely related to that of a commercial enterprise than to the more rigid and less imaginative efficiency of the Army or the other administrative governmental departments.If the murderer himself could catch a glimpse of the activity which prevails upon the spot he has recently left, all hopes he had fondly entertained of escaping arrest must abruptly disappear; he would watch the skilled and methodical pains that are taken to ensure his capture with a feeling of helpless despair.When Roger and Moresby arrived the business was just getting into its stride.From the moment that an agitated girl had run out into Gray’s Inn Road, clutched the arm of the first constable she could find, and gasped out that the friend who shared a flat with her had hanged herself on the sitting-room door while she herself was out at lunch—from that moment the machinery had been set in motion.The constable had hurriedly reported the news to a policeman on point duty within a few yards before accompanying the girl back to the flat, and he had got in touch with his station; the sergeant there had telephoned through to the Divisional Inspector, who had immediately communicated with Scotland Yard before jumping into a car and going round to the block in person.Scotland Yard had notified the Chief Inspector who had the other investigations in hand, luckily finding him at the first number they called, and had already rushed round the necessary experts; a superior officer or two, including perhaps the Assistant Commissioner himself, were following in a few minutes.The Divisional Surgeon was summoned, and constables told off to guard the entrance to the flat and stand by for any further orders.The constable who was the first on the scene had lifted the body down from the door on which it was hanging, having first been careful to form a mental picture of its exact position and appearance, and had laid it on a divan which filled one corner of the small room; otherwise nothing else had been touched.Everybody was anxiously excited.All stations had already been acquainted with the tentative conclusions reached by Headquarters in the other cases of this nature, and a warning had been issued that any further deaths in the same category were to be regarded prima facie as murder, evidence in the form of farewell letters to the contrary notwithstanding.Considerable anxiety therefore existed as to whether this case might provide a definite clue at last.It seemed to Roger, as he entered the little sitting-room in Moresby’s wake, that the confusion prevailing was such that any possible clues must be obliterated.It took him exactly thirty seconds to realise that exactly the opposite was the case; the small room was full of men, it was true, but there was no confusion; each had his own job and he was doing it quietly and methodically, and without getting in the way of anybody else.Roger, feeling exceedingly unimportant in the middle of all this scientific bustle, stepped unobtrusively into the nearest corner, where he might be more or less out of the way, and watched what was happening [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]