The Door with Seven Locks

All Rights Reserved ©

Chapter 30

DICK LOOKED round for a safe way to the bottom, and presently was clambering down a projecting shoulder of the hill. He reached the edge of the lake as a figure came wading ashore, blubbering and sobbing in grief and fury. Dick seized him by the shoulder and swung him round.

"Cawler! "he said.

"My God! My God! He's dead!" sobbed the chauffeur. "Both of 'em! And that swine! I ought to have killed him first!"

"Where are they?"

The man pointed with a shaking hand to a small triangular object in the centre of the lake.

"The car turned over. I tried to pull him out," he wailed. "If I'd only killed him that night I found what they'd done! Do something, Mr Martin." He gripped Dick frenziedly. "Save him. I don't care what happens to me. Perhaps we could get the car turned over?"

Without a word, Dick threw off his coat and waded into the shallow water, followed by the half - demented Cawler. At the first attempt he realized that the task was impossible; in turning, the machine had wedged itself under a projecting rock. He dived down and sought to pull clear the huge creature his hand touched; and all the time Tom Cawler was sobbing his fury and anguish.

"If I'd only killed him when I found out! That night I listened at the window when Cody was there. I killed him tonight. You can take me for it, if you like, Martin. I smashed in his head with a spanner."

"Who killed Cody?"

"My brother killed him. God! I'm glad of it! He killed him because Stalletti told him to."

"Your brother?" said Dick, hardly believing the evidence of his ears.

"My brother - the big fellow," sobbed the man. "Stalletti experimented on him first, before he took the other boy."

It needed all Dick's strength to drag to safety this man, half mad with sorrow and remorse. Leaving him at the edge of the lake, Martin began to work his way back to the valley. No assistance he could procure could rescue the three men who were pinned down beneath the car, but he must make some attempt.

As he mounted the slope towards the farm he heard a police whistle blow shrilly, and almost immediately there came a strange red glow from behind the trees. Dick threw away the coat he was carrying and sprinted, but before he could reach the farmyard wall he saw the red flames leaping up to the sky.

Again the police whistle shrilled. And now, as he turned the corner of the farm buildings, Dick Martin saw …

Selford Manor was ablaze from one end to the other. Red and white tongues of flame were leaping from each window. The lawn was as bright as though day had dawned.

Mr Havelock, an overcoat over his pyjamas, was running up and down frenziedly. "Save the women!" he raved. "Can't you force those bars and get them out?"

Captain Sneed stood apathetically by. He was more than apathetic, he was callous. He was smoking his big pipe with a solemn indifference.

"The women, I tell you!" screamed Havelock, waving his hands to the barred windows of the state room, from which the flames were now roaring.

Dick's hand fell on his arm.

"You needn't worry, Mr Havelock," he said quietly. "Neither Mrs Lansdown nor her daughter is in the house."

The lawyer stared round at him.

"Not in the house?" he gasped.

"I sent them to London much earlier in the evening - in fact, when we were searching the valley a few hours ago," said Dick, and nodded to his companion.

Mr Sneed took his pipe from his mouth, knocked out the ashes, and became instantly a competent police official.

"Your name is Arthur Elwood Havelock, and I am Chief Inspector John Sneed of Scotland Yard. I shall take you into custody on a charge of murder and incitement to murder, and I caution you that what you now say may be taken down and used in evidence against you at your trial."

Havelock opened his mouth to speak, but only a hoarse groan escaped him. And then, as another detective caught him by the arm, he collapsed in an unconscious heap on the ground.

They carried him down to the porter's lodge, and began their search. About his neck was a thin steel chain, and to this were attached what Dick expected to see - two keys of peculiar design. Under the stimulus of a glass of brandy, Mr Havelock had recovered, and he was a very indignant man.

"This is the most monstrous charge that has ever been concocted," he said violently. "For the life of me, I can't understand what you mean by such a disgraceful - -"

"Spare us your eloquence, Mr Havelock," said Dick coldly. "It will save you a lot of trouble when I tell you that I have known, from the day I saw a certain photograph in Cape Town, that my chase of Lord Selford was a fake organized by you to allay suspicion. Probably somebody else had been inquiring as to the whereabouts of Selford, and you thought it would be an excellent proof of your bona fides if you sent a fully fledged detective to hunt him down. And, having arrived at this decision, you, with the connivance of Cody, sent his chauffeur, Tom Cawler, to act as hare to my hounds. I happen to know that Cawler was your messenger, because he incautiously showed himself on the balcony of a Cape Town hotel and was snapped by a press photographer. I recognized him at once, and from that moment I have been privately engaged in discovering the mystery of Lord Selford's fate."

The lawyer swallowed hard, and then, in a quivering voice: "I'll admit that I have acted very foolishly in regard to Selford. He was of a weak intellect, and I placed him in the care of a doctor - -"

"You gave him to Stalletti for his damnable experiments!" said Dick sternly. "And in order to test whether Stalletti's method would be successful, you handed over another child - the nephew of Mrs Cody, and brother of Tom Cawler. I have just come from the man. He recognized his brother that night he defended Sybil Lansdown, and, calling him by an old pet name they used as children, awakened in the poor soul a memory of the past. For that crime alone, Havelock, you shall go to the scaffold! Not for the murder of Cody, which you superintended; not for firing Selford Manor - you sent those three barrels of naphthalene which I found - but for the killing of two human souls!"

The white - faced man licked his lips.

"You will have to prove - - " he began.

And then, unconsciously, his hand strayed to his neck. When he found the chain had gone, beads of perspiration rolled down his pallid face. He made two attempts to say something, and again dropped into the arms of the attendant detectives.

Continue Reading Next Chapter

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.