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          (Chapter seven of _An African Millionaire: Episodes in
the Life of the Illustrious Colonel Clay_, published in book form
in 1897)
             by Grant Allen  (1848 - 1899)

HOW much precisely Charles dropped over the slump in
Cloetedorps I never quite knew.  But the incident left
him dejected, limp, and dispirited.

  'Hang it all, Sey,' he said to me in the smoking-
room, a few evenings later.  'This Colonel Clay is
enough to vex the patience of Job--and Job had large
losses, too, if I recollect aright, from the Chaldeans
and other big operators of the period.'

  'Three thousand camels,' I murmured, recalling my
dear mother's lessons; 'all at one fell swoop; not to
mention five hundred yoke of oxen, carried off by the
Sabeans, then a leading firm of speculative cattle-

  'Ah, well,' Charles meditated aloud, shaking the ash
from his cheroot into a Japanese tray--fine antique
bronze-work.  'There were big transactions in
live-stock even then!  Still, Job or no Job, the man is
too much for me.'

  'The difficulty is,' I assented, 'you never know
where to have him.'

  'Yes,' Charles mused; 'if he were always the same,
like Horniman's tea or a good brand of whisky, it would
be easier, of course; you'd stand some chance of
spotting him.  But when a man turns up smiling every
time in a different disguise, which fits him like a
skin, and always apparently with the best credentials,
why, hang it all, Sey, there's no wrestling with him

  'Who could have come to us, for example, better
vouched,' I acquiesced, ' than the Honourable David?'

  'Exactly so,' Charles murmured.  'I invited him
myself, for my own advantage.  And he arrived with all
the prestige of the Glen-Ellachie connection.'

  'Or the Professor?' I went on.  'Introduced to us by
the leading mineralogist of England.'

  I had touched a sore point.  Charles winced and
remained silent.

  'Then, women again,' he resumed, after a painful
pause.  'I must meet in society many charming women.  I
can't everywhere and always be on my guard against
every dear soul of them.  Yet the moment I relax my
attention for one day--or even when I don't relax it--I
am bamboozled and led a dance by that arch Mme.
Picardet, or that transparently simple little minx,
Mrs. Granton.  She's the cleverest girl I ever met in
my life, that hussy, whatever we're to call her.  She's
a different person each time; and each time, hang it
all, I lose my heart afresh to that different person.'

  I glanced round to make sure Amelia was well out of

   'No, Sey,' my respected connection went on, after
another long pause, sipping his coffee pensively, 'I
feel I must be aided in this superhuman task by a
professional unraveller of cunning disguises.  I
shall go to Marvillier's to-morrow--fortunate man,
Marvillier--and ask him to supply me with a really
good 'tec, who will stop in the house and keep an eye
upon every living soul that comes near me.  He shall
scan each nose, each eye, each wig, each whisker.  He
shall be my watchful half, my unsleeping self; it shall
be his business to suspect all living men, all
breathing women.  The Archbishop of Canterbury shall
not escape for a moment his watchful regard­ he will
take care that royal princesses don't collar the spoons
or walk off with the jewel-cases.  He must see possible
Colonel Clays in the guard of every train and the
parson of every parish; he must detect the off-chance
of a Mme. Picardet in every young girl that takes tea
with Amelia, every fat old lady that comes to call upon
Isabel.  Yes, I have made my mind up.  I shall go 
to-morrow and secure such a man at once at

  'If you please, Sir Charles,' Cesarine interposed,
pushing her head through the portiere, 'her ladyship
says, will you and Mr. Wentworth remember that she goes
out with you both this evening to Lady Carisbrooke's?'

  'Bless my soul,' Charles cried, 'so she does!  And
it's now past ten!  The carriage will be at the door
for us in another five minutes!'

  Next morning, accordingly, Charles drove round to
Marvillier's.  The famous detective listened to his
story with glistening eyes; then he rubbed his hands
and purred.  'Colonel Clay!' he said; 'Colonel Clay! 
That's a very tough customer!  The police of Europe are
on the look-out for Colonel Clay.  He is wanted in
London, in Paris, in Berlin.  It is le Colonel
Caoutchouc here, le Colonel Caoutchouc there; till one
begins to ask, at last, is there one Colonel
Caoutchouc, or is it a convenient class name invented
by the Force to cover a gang of undiscovered sharpers? 
However, Sir Charles, we will do our best.  I will set
on the track without delay the best and cleverest
detective in England.'

  'The very man I want,' Charles said.  'What name,

  The principal smiled.  'Whatever name you like,' he
said.  'He isn't particular.  Medhurst he's called at
home.  We call him Joe.  I'll send him round to your
house this afternoon for certain.'

  'Oh no,' Charles said promptly, 'you won't; or
Colonel Clay himself will come instead of him.  I've
been sold too often.  No casual strangers!  I'll wait
here and see him.'

  'But he isn't in,' Marvillier objected.

  Charles was firm as a rock.  'Then send and fetch

   In half an hour, sure enough, the detective arrived. 
He was an odd-looking small man, with hair cut short
and standing straight up all over his head, like a
Parisian waiter.  He had quick, sharp eyes, very much
like a ferret's; his nose was depressed, his lips thin
and bloodless.  A scar marked his left cheek--made by a
sword-cut, he said, when engaged one day in arresting a
desperate French smuggler, disguised as an officer of
Chasseurs d'Afrique.  His mien was resolute. 
Altogether, a quainter or 'cuter little man it has
never yet been my lot to set eyes on.  He walked in
with a brisk step, eyed Charles up and down, and then,
without much formality, asked for what he was wanted.

   This is Sir Charles Vandrift, the great diamond
king,' Marvillier said, introducing us.

  'So I see,' the man answered.

  'Then you know me?' Charles asked.

  'I wouldn't be worth much,' the detective replied,
'if I didn't know everybody.  And you're easy enough to
know; why, every boy in the street knows you.'

  'Plain spoken!' Charles remarked.

  'As you like it, sir,' the man answered in a
respectful tone.  'I endeavour to suit my dress and
behaviour on every occasion to the taste of my

  'Your name?' Charles asked, smiling.

  'Joseph Medhurst, at your service.  What sort of
work?  Stolen diamonds?  Illicit diamond-buying?'

  'No,' Charles answered, fixing him with his eye. 
'Quite another kind of job.  You've heard of Colonel

  Medhurst nodded.  'Why, certainly,' he said; and, for
the first time, I detected a lingering trace of
American accent.  'It's my business to know about him.'

  'Well, I want you to catch him,' Charles went on.

  Medhurst drew a long breath.  'Isn't that rather a
large order?' he murmured, surprised.

  Charles explained to him exactly the sort of services
he required.  Medhurst promised to comply.  'If the man
comes near you, I'll spot him,' he said, after a
moment's pause.  'I can promise you that much.  I'll
pierce any disguise.  I should know in a minute whether
he's got up or not.  I'm death on wigs, false
moustaches, artificial complexions.  I'll engage to
bring the rogue to book if I see him.  You may set your
mind at rest, that, while I'm about you, Colonel Clay
can do nothing without my instantly spotting him.'

  'He'll do it,' Marvillier put in.  'He'll do it, if
he says it.  He's my very best hand.  Never knew any
man like him for unravelling and unmasking the
cleverest disguises.'

  'Then he'll suit me,' Charles answered, 'for I never
knew any man like Colonel Clay for assuming and
maintaining them.'

  It was arranged accordingly that Medhurst should take
up his residence in the house for the present, and
should be described to the servants as assistant
secretary.  He came that very day, with a marvellously
small portmanteau.  But from the moment he arrived, we
noticed that Cesarine took a violent dislike to him.

  Medhurst was a most efficient detective.  Charles and
I told him all we knew about the various shapes in
which Colonel Clay had ' materialised,' and he gave us
in turn many valuable criticisms and suggestions.  Why,
when we began to suspect the Honourable David Granton,
had we not, as if by accident, tried to knock his red
wig off?  Why, when the Reverend Richard Peploe
Brabazon first discussed the question of the paste
diamonds, had we not looked to see if any of Amelia's
unique gems were missing?  Why, when Professor
Schleiermacher made his bow to assembled science at
Lancaster Gate, had we not strictly inquired how far he
was personally known beforehand to Sir Adolphus Cordery
and the other mineralogists?  He supplied us also with
several good hints about false hair and make-up; such
as that Schleiermacher was probably much shorter than
he looked, but by imitating a stoop with padding at his
back he had produced the illusion of a tall bent man,
though in reality no bigger than the little curate or
the Graf von Lebenstein.  High heels did the rest;
while the scientific keenness we noted in his face was
doubtless brought about by a trifle of wax at the end
of the nose, giving a peculiar tilt that is extremely
effective.  In short, I must frankly admit, Medhurst
made us feel ashamed of ourselves.  Sharp as Charles
is, we realised at once he was nowhere in observation
beside the trained and experienced senses of this
professional detective.

  The worst of it all was, while Medhurst was with us,
by some curious fatality, Colonel Clay stopped away
from us.  Now and again, to be sure, we ran up against
somebody whom Medhurst suspected; but after a short
investigation (conducted, I may say, with admirable
cleverness), the spy always showed us the doubtful
person was really some innocent and well-known
character, whose antecedents and surroundings he
elucidated most wonderfully.  He was a perfect marvel,
too, in his faculty of suspicion.  He suspected
everybody.  If an old friend dropped in to talk
business with Charles, we found out afterwards that
Medhurst had lain concealed all the time behind the
curtain, and had taken short-hand notes of the whole
conversation, as well as snap-shot photographs of the
supposed sharper, by means of a kodak.  If a fat old
lady came to call upon Amelia, Medhurst was sure to be
lurking under the ottoman in the drawing-room, and
carefully observing, with all his eyes, whether or not
she was really Mme. Picardet, padded.  When Lady Tresco
brought her four plain daughters to an 'At Home' one
night, Medhurst, in evening dress, disguised as a
waiter, followed them each round the room with
obtrusive ices, to satisfy himself just how much of
their complexion was real, and how much was patent
rouge and Bloom of Ninon.  He doubted whether Simpson,
Sir Charles's valet, was not Colonel Clay in plain
clothes; and he had half an idea that Cesarine herself
was our saucy White Heather in an alternative avatar. 
We pointed out to him in vain that Simpson had often
been present in the very same room with David Granton,
and that Cesarine had dressed Mrs. Brabazon's hair at
Lucerne: this partially satisfied him, but only
partially.  He remarked that Simpson might double both
parts with somebody else unknown; and that as for
Cesarine, she might well have a twin sister who took
her place when she was Mme. Picardet.

  Still, in spite of all his care--or because of all
his care--Colonel Clay stopped away for whole weeks
together.  An explanation occurred to us.  Was it
possible he knew we were guarded and watched?  Was he
afraid of measuring swords with this trained detective?

  If so, how had he found it out?  I had an inkling,
myself--but, under all the circumstances, I did not
mention it to Charles.  It was clear that Cesarine
intensely disliked this new addition to the Vandrift
household.  She would not stop in the room where the
detective was, or show him common politeness.  She
spoke of him always as 'that odious man, Medhurst.' 
Could she have guessed, what none of the other servants
knew, that the man was a spy in search of the Colonel?
I was inclined to believe it.  And then it dawned upon
me that Cesarine had known all about the diamonds and
their story; that it was Cesarine who took us to see
Schloss Lebenstein; that it was Cesarine who posted the
letter to Lord Craig-Ellachie!  If Cesarine was in
league with Colonel Clay, as I was half inclined to
surmise, what more natural than her obvious dislike to
the detective who was there to catch her principal? 
What more simple for her than to warn her fellow-
conspirator of the danger that awaited him if he
approached this man Medhurst?

  However, I was too much frightened by the episode of
the cheque to say anything of my nascent suspicions to
Charles.  I waited rather to see how events would shape

  After a while Medhurst's vigilance grew positively
annoying.  More than once he came to Charles with
reports and shorthand notes distinctly distasteful to
my excellent brother-in-law.  'The fellow is getting to
know too much about us,' Charles said to me one day. 
'Why, Sey, he spies out everything.  Would you believe
it, when I had that confidential interview with
Brookfield the other day, about the new issue of
Golcondas, the man was under the easy-chair, though I
searched the room beforehand to make sure he wasn't
there; and he came to me afterwards with full notes of
the conversation, to assure me he thought Brookfield--
whom I've known for ten years--was too tall by half an
inch to be one of Colonel Clay's impersonations.'

  'Oh, but, Sir Charles,' Medhurst cried, emerging
suddenly from the bookcase, 'you must never look upon
any one as above suspicion merely because you've known
him for ten years or thereabouts.  Colonel Clay may
have approached you at various times under many
disguises.  He may have built up this thing gradually. 
Besides, as to my knowing too much, why, of course, a
detective always learns many things about his
employer's family which he is not supposed to know­ but
professional honour and professional etiquette, as with
doctors and lawyers, compel him to lock them up as
absolute secrets in his own bosom.  You need never be
afraid I will divulge one jot of them.  If I did, my
occupation would be gone, and my reputation shattered.'

  Charles looked at him, appalled.  'Do you dare to
say,' he burst out, 'you've been listening to my talk
with my brother-in-law and secretary?'

  'Why, of course,' Medhurst answered.  'It's my
business to listen, and to suspect everybody.  If you
push me to say so, how do I know Colonel Clay is not--
Mr. Wentworth?'

  Charles withered him with a look.  'In future,
Medhurst,' he said, 'you must never conceal yourself in
a room where I am without my leave and knowledge.'

  Medhurst bowed politely.  'Oh, as you will, Sir
Charles,' he answered; 'that's quite at your own wish. 
Though how can I act as an efficient detective, any
way, if you insist upon tying my hands like that,

  Again I detected a faint American flavour.

  After that rebuff, however, Medhurst seemed put upon
his mettle.  He redoubled his vigilance in every
direction.  'It's not my fault,' he said plaintively,
one day, 'if my reputation's so good that, while I'm
near you, this rogue won't approach you.  If I can't
catch him, at least I keep him away from coming near

  A few days later, however, he brought Charles some
photographs.  These he produced with evident pride. 
The first he showed us was a vignette of a little
parson.  'Who's that, then?' he inquired, much pleased.

  We gazed at it, open-eyed.  One word rose to our lips
simultaneously: 'Brabazon!'

  'And how's this for high?' he asked again, producing
another--the photograph of a gay young dog in a
Tyrolese costume.

  We murmured, 'Von Lebenstein!'

  'And this?' he continued, showing us the portrait of
a lady with a most fetching squint.

  We answered with one voice, 'Little Mrs. Granton!'

  Medhurst was naturally proud of this excellent
exploit.  He replaced them in his pocket-book with an
air of just triumph.

  'How did you get them?' Charles asked.

  Medhurst's look was mysterious.  'Sir Charles,' he
answered, drawing himself up, 'I must ask you to trust
me awhile in this matter.  Remember, there are people
whom you decline to suspect.  I have learned that it is
always those very people who are most dangerous to
capitalists.  If I were to give you the names now, you
would refuse to believe me.  Therefore, I hold them
over discreetly for the moment.  One thing, however, I
say.  I know to a certainty where Colonel Clay is at
this present speaking.  But I will lay my plans deep,
and I hope before long to secure him.  You shall be
present when I do so­ and I shall make him confess his
personality openly.  More than that you cannot
reasonably ask.  I shall leave it to you, then, whether
or not you wish to arrest him.'

  Charles was considerably puzzled, not to say piqued,
by this curious reticence; he begged hard for names;
but Medhurst was adamant.  'No, no,' he replied; 'we
detectives have our own just pride in our profession. 
If I told you now, you would probably spoil all by some
premature action.  You are too open and impulsive!  I
will mention this alone: Colonel Clay will be shortly
in Paris, and before long will begin from that city a
fresh attempt at defrauding you, which he is now
hatching.  Mark my words, and see whether or not I have
been kept well informed of the fellow's movements!'

  He was perfectly correct.  Two days later, as it
turned out, Charles received a 'confidential' letter
from Paris, purporting to come from the head of a
second-rate financial house with which he had had
dealings over the Craig-Ellachie Amalgamation--by this
time, I ought to have said, an accomplished union.  It
was a letter of small importance in itself--a mere
matter of detail; but it paved the way, so Medhurst
thought, to some later development of more serious
character.  Here once more the man's singular foresight
was justified.  For, in another week, we received a
second communication, containing other proposals of a
delicate financial character, which would have involved
the transference of some two thousand pounds to the
head of the Parisian firm at an address given.  Both
these letters Medhurst cleverly compared with those
written to Charles before, in the names of Colonel Clay
and of Graf von Lebenstein.  At first sight, it is
true, the differences between the two seemed quite
enormous: the Paris hand was broad and black, large and
bold; while the earlier manuscript was small, neat,
thin, and gentlemanly.  Still, when Medhurst pointed
out to us certain persistent twists in the formation of
his capitals, and certain curious peculiarities in the
relative length of his t's, his l's, his b's, and his
h's, we could see for ourselves he was right­ both were
the work of one hand, writing in the one case with a
sharp-pointed nib, very small, and in the other with a
quill, very large and freely.

  This discovery was most important.  We stood now
within measurable distance of catching Colonel Clay,
and bringing forgery and fraud home to him without hope
of evasion.

  To make all sure, however, Medhurst communicated with
the Paris police, and showed us their answers. 
Meanwhile, Charles continued to write to the head of
the firm, who had given a private address in the Rue
Jean Jacques, alleging, I must say, a most clever
reason why the negotiations at this stage should be
confidentially conducted.  But one never expected from
Colonel Clay anything less than consummate cleverness. 
In the end, it was arranged that we three were to go
over to Paris together, that Medhurst was to undertake,
under the guise of being Sir Charles, to pay the two
thousand pounds to the pretended financier, and that
Charles and I, waiting with the police outside the
door, should, at a given signal, rush in with our
forces and secure the criminal.

  We went over accordingly, and spent the night at the
Grand, as is Charles's custom.  The Bristol, which I
prefer, he finds too quiet.  Early next morning we took
a fiacre and drove to the Rue Jean Jacques.  Medhurst
had arranged everything in advance with the Paris
police, three of whom, in plain clothes, were waiting
at the foot of the staircase to assist us.  Charles had
further provided himself with two thousand pounds, in
notes of the Bank of France, in order that the payment
might be duly made, and no doubt arise as to the crime
having been perpetrated as well as meditated--in the
former case, the penalty would be fifteen years­ in the
latter, three only.  He was in very high spirits.  The
fact that we had tracked the rascal to earth at last,
and were within an hour of apprehending him, was in
itself enough to raise his courage greatly.  We found,
as we expected, that the number given in the Rue Jean
Jacques was that of an hotel, not a private residence. 
Medhurst went in first, and inquired of the landlord
whether our man was at home, at the same time informing
him of the nature of our errand, and giving him to
understand that if we effected the capture by his
friendly aid, Sir Charles would see that the expenses
incurred on the swindler's bill were met in full, as
the price of his assistance.  The landlord bowed; he
expressed his deep regret, as M.  Ie Colonel--so we
heard him call him--was a most amiable person, much
liked by the household; but justice, of course, must
have its way; and, with a regretful sigh, he undertook
to assist us.

  The police remained below, but Charles and Medhurst
were each provided with a pair of handcuffs. 
Remembering the Polperro case, however, we determined
to use them with the greatest caution.  We would only
put them on in case of violent resistance.  We crept up
to the door where the miscreant was housed.  Charles
handed the notes in an open envelope to Medhurst, who
seized them hastily and held them in his hands in
readiness for action.  We had a sign concerted. 
Whenever he sneezed--which he could do in the most
natural manner--we were to open the door, rush in, and
secure the criminal!

  He was gone for some minutes.  Charles and I waited
outside in breathless expectation.  Then Medhurst
sneezed.  We flung the door open at once, and burst in
upon the creature.

  Medhurst rose as we did so.  He pointed with his
finger.  'This is Colonel Clay!' he said; 'keep him
well in charge while I go down to the door for the
police to arrest him!'

  A gentlemanly man, about middle height, with a
grizzled beard and a well-assumed military aspect, rose
at the same moment.  The envelope in which Charles had
placed the notes lay on the table before him.  He
clutched it nervously.  'I am at a loss, gentlemen,' he
said, in an excited voice, 'to account for this
interruption.'  He spoke with a tremor, yet with all
the politeness to which we were accustomed in the
little curate and the Honourable David.

  'No nonsense!' Charles exclaimed, in his
authoritative way.  'We know who you are.  We have
found you out this time.  You are Colonel Clay.  If you
attempt to resist--take care--I will handcuff you!'

  The military gentleman gave a start.  'Yes, I am
Colonel Clay,' he answered.  'On what charge do you
arrest me?'

  Charles was bursting with wrath.  The fellow's
coolness seemed never to desert him.  'You are Colonel
Clay!' he muttered.  'You have the unspeakable
effrontery to stand there and admit it?'

  'Certainly,' the Colonel answered, growing hot in
turn.  'I have done nothing to be ashamed of.  What do
you mean by this conduct?  How dare you talk of
arresting me?'

  Charles laid his hand on the man's shoulder.  'Come,
come, my friend,' he said.  'That sort of bluff won't
go down with us.  You know very well on what charge I
arrest you; and here are the police to give effect to

  He called out 'Entrez!'  The police entered the room. 
Charles explained as well as he could in most doubtful
Parisian what they were next to do.  The Colonel drew
himself up in an indignant attitude.  He turned and
addressed them in excellent French.

  'I am an officer in the service of her Britannic
Majesty,' he said.  'On what ground do you venture to
interfere with me, messieurs?'

  The chief policeman explained.  The Colonel turned to
Charles.  'Your name, sir?' he inquired.

  'You know it very well,' Charles answered.  'I am Sir
Charles Vandrift; and, in spite of your clever
disguise, I can instantly recognise you.  I know your
eyes and ears.  I can see the same man who cheated me
at Nice, and who insulted me on the island.'

   You Sir Charles Vandrift!' the rogue cried.  'No,
no, sir, you are a madman!'  He looked round at the
police.  'Take care what you do!' he cried.

  'This is a raving maniac.  I had business just now
with Sir Charles Vandrift, who quitted the room as
these gentlemen entered.  This person is mad, and you,
monsieur, I doubt not,' bowing to me, 'you are, of
course, his keeper.'

  'Do not let him deceive you,' I cried to the police,
beginning to fear that with his usual incredible
cleverness the fellow would even now manage to slip
through our fingers.  'Arrest him, as you are told.  We
will take the responsibility.'  Though I trembled when
I thought of that cheque he held of mine.

  The chief of our three policemen came forward and
laid his hand on the culprit's shoulder.  'I advise
you, M. le Colonel,' he said, in an official voice, 'to
come with us quietly for the present.  Before the juge
d'instruction we can enter at length into all these

  The Colonel, very indignant still--and acting the
part marvellously--yielded and went along with them.

  'Where's Medhurst?' Charles inquired, glancing round
as we reached the door.  'I wish he had stopped with

  'You are looking for monsieur your friend?' the
landlord inquired, with a side bow to the Colonel.  'He
has gone away in a fiacre.  He asked me to give this
note to you.'

  He handed us a twisted note.  Charles opened and read
it.  'Invaluable man!' he cried.  'Just hear what he
says, Sey: "Having secured Colonel Clay, I am off now
again on the track of Mme. Picardet.  She was lodging
in the same house.  She has just driven away; I know to
what place; and I am after her to arrest her.  In blind
haste, MEDHURST."  That's smartness, if you like. 
Though poor little woman, I think he might have left

  'Does a Mme. Picardet stop here?' I inquired of the
landlord, thinking it possible she might have assumed
again the same old alias.

  He nodded assent.  'Oui, oui, oui,' he answered. 
'She has just driven off, and monsieur your friend has
gone posting after her.'

  'Splendid man!' Charles cried.  'Marvillier was quite
right.  He is the prince of detectives!'

  We hailed a couple of fiacres, and drove off, in two
detachments, to the juge d'instruction.  There Colonel
Clay continued to brazen it out, and asserted that he
was an officer in the Indian Army, home on six months'
leave, and spending some weeks in Paris.  He even
declared he was known at the Embassy, where he had a
cousin an attache; and he asked that this gentleman
should be sent for at once from our Ambassador's to
identify him.  The juge d'instruction insisted that
this must be done; and Charles waited in very bad
humour for the foolish formality.  It really seemed as
if, after all, when we had actually caught and arrested
our man, he was going by some cunning device to escape

  After a delay of more than an hour, during which
Colonel Clay fretted and fumed quite as much as we did,
the attache arrived.  To our horror and astonishment,
he proceeded to salute the prisoner most

  'Halloa, Algy!' he cried, grasping his hand;  what's
up?  What do these ruffians want with you?'

  It began to dawn upon us, then, what Medhurst had
meant by 'suspecting everybody': the real Colonel Clay
was no common adventurer, but a gentleman of birth and
high connections!

  The Colonel glared at us.  'This fellow declares he's
Sir Charles Vandrift,' he said sulkily.  'Though, in
fact, there are two of them.  And he accuses me of
forgery, fraud, and theft, Bertie.'

  The attache stared hard at us.  'This is Sir Charles
Vandrift,' he replied, after a moment.  'I remember
hearing him make a speech once at a City dinner.  And
what charge have you to prefer, Sir Charles, against my

  'Your cousin?' Charles cried.  'This is Colonel Clay,
the notorious sharper!'

  The attache smiled a gentlemanly and superior smile. 
'This is Colonel Clay,' he answered, 'of the Bengal
Staff Corps.'

  It began to strike us there was something wrong

  'But he has cheated me, all the same,' Charles said--
'at Nice two years ago, and many times since; and this
very day he has tricked me out of two thousand pounds
in French bank-notes, which he has now about him!'

  The Colonel was speechless.  But the attache laughed. 
'What he has done to-day I don't know,' he said; 'but
if it's as apocryphal as what you say he did two years
ago, you've a thundering bad case, sir; for he was then
in India, and I was out there, visiting him.'

  'Where are the two thousand pounds?' Charles cried. 
'Why, you've got them in your hand!  You're holding the

  The Colonel produced it.  'This envelope,' he said,
'was left with me by the man with short stiff hair, who
came just before you, and who announced himself as Sir
Charles Vandrift.  He said he was interested in tea in
Assam, and wanted me to join the board of directors of
some bogus company.  These are his papers, I believe,'
and he handed them to his cousin.

  'Well, I'm glad the notes are safe, anyhow,' Charles
murmured, in a tone of relief, beginning to smell a
rat.  'Will you kindly return them to me?'

  The attache turned out the contents of the envelope. 
They proved to be prospectuses of bubble companies of
the moment, of no importance.

  'Medhurst must have put them there,' I cried, 'and
decamped with the cash.'

  Charles gave a groan of horror.  'And Medhurst is
Colonel Clay!' he exclaimed, clapping his hand to his

  'I beg your pardon, sir,' the Colonel interposed.  'I
have but one personality, and no aliases.'

  It took quite half an hour to explain this imbroglio. 
But as soon as all was explained, in French and
English, to the satisfaction of ourselves and the juge
d'instruction, the real Colonel shook hands with us in
a most forgiving way, and informed us that he had more
than once wondered, when he gave his name at shops in
Paris, why it was often received with such grave
suspicion.  We instructed the police that the true
culprit was Medhurst, whom they had seen with their own
eyes, and whom we urged them to pursue with all
expedition.  Meanwhile, Charles and I, accompanied by
the Colonel and the attache--'to see the fun out,' as
they said--called at the Bank of France for the purpose
of stopping the notes immediately.  It was too late,
however.  They had been presented at once, and cashed
in gold, by a pleasant little lady in an American
costume, who was afterwards identified by the
hotel-keeper (from our description) as his lodger, Mme.
Picardet.  It was clear she had taken rooms in the same
hotel, to be near the Indian Colonel; and it was she
who had received and sent the letters.  As for our foe,
he had vanished into space, as always.

  Two days later we received the usual insulting
communication on a sheet of Charles's own dainty note. 
Last time he wrote it was on Craig-Ellachie paper: this
time, like the wanton lapwing, he had got himself
another crest.

     well, as Medhurst, that you must distrust
     everybody?  And the one man you never dreamt of
     distrusting was--Medhurst.  Yet see how truthful I
     was!  I told you I knew where Colonel Clay was
     living--and I did know, exactly.  I promised to
     take you to Colonel Clay's rooms, and to get him
     arrested for you--and I kept my promise.  I even
     exceeded your expectations; for I gave you two
     Colonel Clays instead of one--and you took the
     wrong man--that is to say, the real one.  This was
     a neat little trick; but it cost me some trouble.

       'First, I found out there was a real Colonel
     Clay, in the Indian Army.  I also found out he
     chanced to be coming home on leave this season.  I
     might have made more out of him, no doubt; but I
     disliked annoying him, and preferred to give myself
     the fun of this peculiar mystification.  I
     therefore waited for him to reach Paris, where the
     police arrangements suited me better than in
     London.  While I was looking about, and delaying
     operations for his return, I happened to hear you
     wanted a detective.  So I offered myself as out of
     work to my old employer, Marvillier, from whom I
     have had many good jobs in the past; and there you
     get, in short, the kernel of the Colonel.

       'Naturally, after this, I can never go back as a
     detective to Marvillier's.  But, on the large scale
     on which I have learned to work since I first had
     the pleasure of making your delightful
     acquaintance, this matters little.  To say the
     truth, I begin to feel detective work a cut or two
     below me.  I am now a gentleman of means and
     leisure.  Besides, the extra knowledge of your
     movements which I have acquired in your house has
     helped still further to give me various holds upon
     you.  So the fluke will be true to his own pet
     lamb.  To vary the metaphor, you are not fully
     shorn yet.

       'Remember me most kindly to your charming family,
     give Wentworth my love, and tell Mlle. Cesarine I
     owe her a grudge which I shall never forget.  She
     clearly suspected me.  You are much too rich, dear
     Charles; I relieve your plethora.  I bleed you
     financially.  Therefore I consider myself
                     --Your sincerest friend,
        'Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.'

   Charles was threatened with apoplexy.  This blow was
severe.  'Whom can I trust,' he asked, plaintively,
'when the detectives themselves, whom I employ to guard
me, turn out to be swindlers?  Don't you remember that
line in the Latin grammar--something about, "Who shall
watch the watchers?" I think it used to run, "Quis
custodes custodiet ipsos?"'

  But I felt this episode had at least disproved my
suspicions of poor Cesarine.