Room 13

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Chapter 33

FOR the first time Jeffrey Legge felt the cold contact of handcuffs. He was led back to the porter's lodge, whilst two of the policemen worked at the windlass that raised the hanging gate.

"It's a cop, Craig," he said, for the inspector in charge was that redoubtable thief-catcher. "But I'm going to squeak all I know. Johnny Gray is in this. He's been working my slush for years. You'll find the presses in the second hall, but the other birds have done some quick flying."

"They've all flown into the police station at Oxford," said Craig, "and they're singing their pretty little songs merrily. The Oxford police took a whole carload of them about eleven o'clock last night. Unfortunately, they weren't so ready to squeak as you."

"Johnny Gray's in it, I tell you."

"Oh, how can you say such a thing?" said the shocked Mr. Reeder. "I'm perfectly sure Mr. Gray is quite innocent."

Jeffrey regarded him with a sneer of contempt.

"You're a pretty funny 'busy'. I suppose Craig brought you here?"

"No," murmured Mr. Reeder, "I brought myself here."

"The only thing I can say about you," said Jeffrey Legge, "is that you're smarter than old Golden—and that's not saying much."

"Not very much," murmured Mr. Reeder."

"But you're not smart enough to know that Johnny Gray has been in this business for years."

"Even while he was in prison?" suggested Mr. Reeder innocently. "The opportunities are rather restricted, don't you think? But don't let us quarrel, Mr. Jeffrey."

The portcullis was raised now, and in a few minutes the girl was in her father's arms.

"Johnny, you've had a narrow squeak," said Craig, as he shook the man's hand, "and there's some talk about you being in this slush business, but I'll not believe it till I get proof."

"Who killed old Legge?" asked Johnny.

The detective shook his head.

"We don't know. But Stevens has disappeared, and Stevens was Fenner's brother. I got it from Mr. Reeder, who seems to have remarkable sources of information."

"Not at all," disclaimed the apologetic Reeder. "I certainly have a remarkable source of information, and to that all credit must go. But I think you will confirm my statement, John, that Stevens is Fenner's brother?"

To Peter's surprise, Johnny nodded. "Yes, I knew they were brothers; and it is unnecessary to say that their name was neither Stevens nor Fenner. It is pretty well established that the old man gave away Fenner—shopped him for the Berkeley Square job—and possibly Stevens got to know of this, and had been waiting his opportunity to settle accounts with Emanuel. Have you caught him?"

"Not yet," said Craig.

"I hope you won't," said Johnny. "What are you going to do about me, Peter?"

He put his arm round the girl's shoulder, and Peter smiled. "I suppose I'll have to let her marry you, Johnny, whether you're a crook or honest. I want you to go straight, and I'll make it worth while—"

"That I can promise you." It was Mr. Reeder who spoke. "And may I offer an apology. I'm rather a wolf in sheep's clothing, or a sheep in wolf's clothing. The truth is, my name is Golden."

"Golden!" gasped Craig. "But I thought Golden was out of this business?"

"He is out of it, and yet he is in it," explained Mr. Reeder carefully. "I am an excellent office man," he confessed, in that mincing manner of his, staring owlishly over his glasses, "but a very indifferent seeker of information, and although, when Mr. John Gray Reeder was appointed over me as chief inspector of my department—'

"Here, stop!" said the dazed Craig. "John Gray Reeder? Who is Inspector John Gray Reeder?"

Mr. Golden's hand went out in the direction of the smiling Johnny.

"Johnny! You a 'busy'!" said the bewildered Peter. "But you went to jail sure enough?"

"I certainly went to jail," said Johnny. "It was the only place I could get any news about the Big Printer, and I found out all I wanted to know. It was a trying two years, but well worth it, though I nearly lost the only thing in the world that made life worth living," he said. "You've got to forgive me, Peter, because I spied on you—a good spy doesn't play favourites. I've been watching you and every one of your pals, and I watched Marney most of all. And now I'm going to watch her for years and years!"

"You see," said Mr. Golden, who seemed most anxious to exculpate himself from any accusation of cleverness, "I was merely the listener-in, if I may use a new-fangled expression, to the information which John broadcasted. I knew all about this marriage, and I was the person who appointed a woman detective to look after her at the Charlton Hotel—but on Johnny's instructions. That is why he was able to prove his alibi, because naturally, that section of the police which knows him, is always ready to prove alibis for other officers of the police who are mistakenly charged with being criminals."

"How did you guess about the prison?"

"Fenner squeaked," said Mr. Golden with a gesture of deprecation. "'Squeak' is not a word I like, but it is rather expressive. Yes, Fenner squeaked."

Two happy people drove home together in the car which had brought Marney to Keytown. The country between Oxford and Horsham is the most beautiful in the land. The road passes through great aisles of tall trees, into which a car may be turned and be hidden from the view of those who pass along the road. Johnny slowed the machine at an appropriate spot, and put it toward the thickest part of the wood. And Marney, who sat with folded hands by his side, did not seek any explanation for his eccentricity.

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