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E. PHILLIPS OPPENHEIM

THE HAPPY ENDING

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RGL e-Book Cover 2014©

A GEORGE ANGUS AND PUDGY PETE STORY

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY T.D. SKIDMORE

First published in Collier's Weekly, May 7, 1927
Collected as "The Disappearance of William King" in
Pudgy Pete & Co., Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1928

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2014
Produced by Paul Moulder and Roy Glashan

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ANGUS leaned gloomily back in his chair.

"I think I shall hand in my checks, Pudgy," he declared. "I'm no use at this game. I'd better go in for selling wine or automobiles."

"Don't be an ass, George," Mr. Peter Bragg enjoined. "What you want is some work."

"Not a client near the place for a week," Angus continued sorrowfully.

"You might take on some of the Strand House stuff if you cared to," his partner suggested. "There's a heap of divorce-watching going on and a small blackmail affair. Not really worth your time, though. If I were you and hadn't to stay here in case anything should turn up I should keep my hand in on a bit of outside business."

"Outside business?"

"Well, I'd take up one of these cases where we don't happen to have been consulted, but which the police don't seem to be getting on with. Of course there are disadvantages, because it isn't so easy to get the real information and there's no pay at the end of it. So far as we are concerned, however, that doesn't matter so much."

"Were you thinking of any particular case?" Angus inquired, his interest gently stimulated.

Peter Bragg took up the Times.

"I was," he admitted. "I was thinking of the case of William King. Shall I outline it to you?"

"Go ahead."

"William King is, or was, a man of forty-four years of age, engaged in the office of a firm of wholesale druggists in the City. He appears to have been a man of high character without any vices, earning a good salary and of a saving turn. He lived at Chiswick in a house which belonged to himself; he was married and had two children, both of whom had started to work. He was a man of domestic habits, a regular attendant at church on Sundays, a member of the local lawn-tennis and golf clubs, and he entered whenever invited into the social activities of the place. His habits were entirely regular.

"He left home at eight o'clock every morning, walked for half an hour and completed the journey to the City by tram, always boarding one at a certain point. He left the office at six o'clock without exception and could be relied upon to reach home by half past seven.

"There was never a shadow of scandal or a suggestion of loose living connected with him. His employers valued his services highly. He had apparently not an enemy in the world. Yet on one Friday, about two months ago, he slipped out of the world. He failed to return home at the usual hour and has never been seen or heard of since."

"I remember seeing some paragraphs about it in the papers at the time," Angus admitted. "Somehow or other, I imagined it would be one of those cases which would inevitably be cleared up in a day or two."

"Well, this one wasn't," Peter Bragg replied. "Now, I don't know how it seems to you, George, but to me there is much more mystery about the disappearance of a man of this type than any other. One is driven to ask oneself what could have befallen him? A man so settled in his life and habits is not likely to have disappeared without a strong motive. Any accident would certainly have been reported. Yet between Gracechurch Street and Chiswick on Friday evening, between the hours of six o'clock—when he is known to have left his work as usual—and seven o'clock, when he should have swung open the gate of his little villa and presented himself in his home, William King seems somehow or other to have stepped off the edge of the world!"

"You make it all sound quite intriguing," Angus admitted.

"If you want a little wholesome interest in life, take it on quietly," Peter Bragg advised. "Go tactfully to the family, explain your position and ask for any information you can get. Try the firm in the same way. Make use of the Strand people—they can always ferret out minor details—and see whether you can arrive at any theory. It will save you from getting stale, at any rate."

"Chiswick," Angus murmured, reaching for his hat. "It sounds familiar."

"You will find Chiswick without difficulty," his partner assured him. "It is not a fashionable quarter, but it is a respectable district situated on the Ealing Road. But take my advice, present yourself there this evening, when presumably the two younger members of the family will be home. In the meantime go and have a game of golf.

"Sound fellow!" Angus observed, closing his desk.


ANGUS played his round of golf, lunched and played again afterward. At seven o'clock—which he deemed a suitable hour—he brought his Rolls-Royce to a standstill outside a neat, rather new-looking villa in one of the byways of Chiswick. He walked up a tiled path and made use of a shining brass knocker. The door was opened in a moment or two by a girl of about eighteen or nineteen years of age.

She was of sallow complexion, a little fat for the fashions of the moment—to which, however, she rigidly adhered. Her hair was bobbed, and there was a presumptive evidence that she had used the lipstick, which she held in her hand, since the ringing of the bell.

"Is Mrs. King at home?" Angus inquired.

The girl opened the door wider. She very much approved of the tone and manner of this new unexpected visitor.

"Will you come into the drawing-room for a moment?" she invited. "Mother's having tea."

"Please don't let me disturb her," Angus begged. "I can wait."

"Who is it, Belle?" a sharp voice demanded from the room on the left-hand side of the passage.

"A gentleman, Mother, to see you," the girl answered, throwing open the door of the room opposite. "Won't you sit down, please," she begged. "Is that lovely car yours?"

"It is," Angus replied. "Are you fond of motoring?"

"I adore it," the girl declared enthusiastically.


IN due course Mrs. King made her appearance. She was a short, hard-faced woman with thin lips, keen eyes, not a gray hair in her head nor a wrinkle upon her forehead. She was neatly dressed in dark clothes, and she was still engaged in the consumption of some portion of her repast.

"I'm Mrs. King," she announced. "What might you want with me?"

"I hope," Angus began, "that you will not consider my visit in any way an intrusion. To tell you the truth, Mrs. King, I and a friend of mine have started in business—just from the love of it—as sort of amateur investigators into crime and disappearances and all that kind of thing. We are both very much interested in your husband's disappearance. Am I right in presuming that as yet you have received no news of him?"

"Not a line, not a word," Mrs. King declared. "What we pay the police for in this country I can't imagine."

"It does seem extraordinary," Angus observed sympathetically. "I wonder whether you'd object to my interesting myself a little in the affair. All that I should require from you would be to answer a few questions."

Mrs. King looked at him suspiciously.

"We've no money to spend on advice or anything of that sort," she warned him.

"We certainly do not require a penny," Angus assured her. "Here is my card to show you that we are in earnest. My friend and I do sometimes take cases professionally, but the matter of your husband's disappearance is one which we should like to look into entirely from a disinterested point of view. We do not require any payment or reward. If we should succeed in obtaining any information, so much the better; if not, it will at least cost you nothing and no harm will be done."

"Take a seat," Mrs. King invited.

"Please do sit down," Miss King begged, wheeling an easy-chair toward him and lingering by its side.

"In the first place, have you a picture of your husband?" Angus inquired.

"Dozens."

The girl crossed the room, opened a drawer, slipped a photograph out of a pile and, bringing it over, resumed her place by the arm of Angus' chair. The picture was of an insignificant-looking man of middle height, inclined to be thin, with a slight mustache and deep-set eyes. There was nothing in the features in any way different from the hundreds and thousands of City toilers who at six o'clock might be expected to leave their work in the City for their suburban homes. Nevertheless Angus put the photograph into his pocket.

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"I'm supposed to be rather like him," Miss Belle confided, "only that we haven't the same color eyes."

"Your husband's habits, I understand, were most regular?" Angus proceeded, after a short dialogue with Miss Belle on the subject of eyes.

"There was never a more punctual man," Mrs. King averred. "Six days of the week you could set your clock by his comings and goings. Thursday was mail night at his office, and he might come any time. I have known him only a little later than usual, and I have known him not to come home till midnight."

"Financially Mr. King was a saving man, I understand?"

"Fortunately for us all, he was," Mrs. King acknowledged. "We've been putting by for over twenty years or I don't know where we should be now."

"He didn't withdraw any money, I suppose, from the bank before his disappearance?"

"Not a penny."

"There was that five hundred pounds, Mother," Belle whispered.

Mrs. King nodded.

"There's one sum of money we haven't been able to trace," she confided. "It seems he had five hundred pounds on deposit at the bank for some time ago. About a year ago he told the manager he had found an investment and withdrew it. We haven't been able to find out just where he did invest it, but that can't have had anything to do with his disappearance. He couldn't have been carrying all that money about with him for twelve months."

"Naturally not," Angus acquiesced.

For a moment he was silent. He looked around the room and through the window down the street.

The room to him was horrible, the neighborhood depressing, yet to the man whose photograph he had in his pocket it might well have seemed utterly and entirely desirable.

"Your husband had no quarrel with anyone?" he asked.

"Been asked that question a hundred times," Mrs. King replied. "Never that I know of. He was one of the peacefullest men I ever knew."

"And liked his golf and tennis here week-ends?"

"Never missed one or the other. Belle's taken to tennis lately, so he'd often let his golf go on a Sunday and play tennis with her in the afternoon. They both were elected members of the club not long ago."

"Quite a nice club," Miss Belle murmured. "All the best people around here belong. If I only had someone to go there with me now, it would be such a comfort."

"No man," Mrs. King declared with conviction, "could have had a happier home or have lived a more contented life, and what I say is that a man of his character should be easy enough to trace anywhere. Pretty pass things have come to when every day all they can tell me at Scotland Yard is that they are still without news."

"It does seem extraordinary," Angus admitted politely.

"Any more questions?" Mrs. King inquired. "Because if not, I'll finish my tea."

"I can't think of any for the moment," Angus admitted, rising.

"If there are, I can answer them," Miss Belle assured him. "I love to talk about it. One feels one's doing something."

"Wishing you good evening, young man," Mrs. King said, making toward the door.

Angus sprang up, held the door open and bowed his farewells to Belle. She rose reluctantly.

"Sure you wouldn't like to stay a little longer and see if you can think of anything else you want to ask?"

"If there is anything, I'll call again, if I may," he suggested.

He looked back as he started his car to find Miss Belle watching from the window. She waved her hand regretfully. Angus smiled as he raised his hat. His little glimpse of the missing man's home life had been uninspiring.


AT what he thought a suitable hour in the morning Angus presented himself at the offices of Messrs. Gutteridge, Mason & Co., wholesale chemists, sent in his card and asked for a few minutes with one of the partners. A small man, who, it appeared, was Gutteridge, presently received him, and Angus briefly explained his business.

"We are willing to do everything we can to help, of course," Mr. Gutteridge said, twisting the card round in his fingers, "but the Scotland Yard people have pumped us pretty dry a good many times. If the family are sanctioning your intervention, why, of course, we'll answer any questions you like to put. I warn you, however, that nothing we can tell you will throw the slightest light on King's disappearance. It remains as great a mystery to us today as on the first morning when he failed to turn up."

"There is only one question I am going to ask you," Angus said. "That is about his late night every Thursday—shipping night or something."

Mr. Gutteridge stared at him.

"What do you mean?" he demanded.

"I understand," Angus explained, "that while he left here at six o'clock punctually every night of the week except Saturdays and Sundays, on Thursdays he was detained here sometimes very late indeed by extra work."

"Nothing of the sort," was the sharp reply. "There are no mails out on a Friday, for one thing, and we shouldn't think of keeping an employee after hours if there were."

"Do I understand, then," Angus persisted, with a sudden vast access of interest in the case, "that Mr. King left here on Thursday night at six o'clock as usual?"

"Certainly. There was no reason why he should be later on Thursdays than any other night."

"The Thursday, for instance, before his disappearance?"

"I walked up the street with him myself. It wasn't five minutes past six when we reached the corner."

"I am very much obliged," Angus said, rising to his feet. "Supposing I have occasion, you will not mind my interviewing some of your porters or warehousemen?"

"Ask them what you like," Mr. Gutteridge conceded. "King was a good servant and a steady fellow, and what the police are doing, that they can't find out what's become of him, beats me. I wish you good day, sir."

Angus stepped back into his car and made his somewhat tedious way to Chiswick. He found Mrs. King alone in the house surrounded by utensils for rendering cleaner than ever the already shining interior. She was enveloped from head to foot in an overall.

"You back again, young man?" she remarked, without any marked cordiality.

"Just one question," Angus begged. "The Thursday before the Friday upon which Mr. King disappeared, what time did he get home?"

"Just after midnight—looking tired out too. He drank a bottle of beer before he went to bed, which wasn't his custom, though never a teetotaler."

"I am very much obliged. I hope to have news for you before long..."


A WEEK or so later, his car standing in the street below laden with dressing bags, gun cases and golf clubs, Angus, on his way to Norfolk for three weeks' holiday, looked in to wish his partner good-by.

"Lucky chap!" Peter Bragg grumbled as they shook hands. "Never mind. I'll be after you presently. There's nothing doing here, anyway."

"There's only one thing bothers me," Angus confided, "and that is the King case. I'm almost sorry I ever took it up."

Peter Bragg nodded.

"Nothing more to be done about it, I'm afraid. You made a wonderful start. When you discovered about that Thursday night the man had kept up his sleeve all this time, I thought you were going to romp home a winner."

"I thought so too," Angus admitted. "He must be the most amazingly clever person or he must have had wonderful luck. Here you have a man leaving his office at six o'clock every Thursday for eighteen months except during holidays, and not getting home until about midnight, and yet, now that we know it, we haven't an idea what he did during those five or six hours."

"I couldn't have believed it possible." Peter Bragg admitted. "I'm not at all sure, George, that we ought not to pass on our little bit of information about those Thursday nights to Scotland Yard. The only thing is that I should imagine they've tumbled to it themselves, although how they've managed to keep it from Mrs. King I can't think."

"Let it be now, until I get back," Angus begged. "I'll make one more effort then on new lines... Cheerio, Pudgy!"

"Cheerio, George, my lad!"


IT was distinctly a coincidence that on the night of his return to London, nearly a month later, turning over his evening paper, Angus should come upon the following paragraph:


"The body of the man discovered in the river near Bourne End has been identified by his widow as the body of William King, cashier to Messrs. Gutteridge. Mason & Co., of Gracechurch Street. King disappeared mysteriously some four months ago, since when the police have been vainly endeavoring to discover his whereabouts. From the battered condition of the deceased foul play is suspected."...


On the following evening at seven o'clock Angus paid his third visit to Chiswick. Again Miss Belle opened the door.

"Come in, won't you?" she begged. "I'll fetch Mother directly."

She led him into the little drawing-room. Mrs. King appeared almost at once. Mother and daughter were attired in the somberest black; otherwise they exhibited no signs of deep grief.

"I called to offer you my sympathy," Angus explained. "It must have been a great shock to you, after all this waiting, to discover your husband's face under such unhappy conditions."

Mrs. King remained dry-eyed, but her tone was bitter.

"Murdered!" she exclaimed. "And no one brought to justice nor likely to be. Murdered just for the trifle of money he might have had on him."

"You were able to identify him without difficulty?"

"There was no trouble about that," she answered. "A fearful state he was in, but I didn't need to look twice. His clothes, too, told me all I wanted to know. There was the little patch I'd sewn in his trousers leg and the odd button on his waistcoat. There was his pocketbook too, empty though it was, and his business cards still there, and the silver cigarette case I gave him last Christmas."

"I've been away for some time," Angus explained. "I suppose no one has any idea how it was he got down as far as Bourne End."

Mrs. King shook her head.

"A mystery the whole thing is, and a mystery, with our incompetent police, it seems as though it were likely to remain," she declared. "Here William walks out of his office at six o'clock, a respectable, straight-living man on his way home to his wife and family, with perhaps a few pounds in his pocket, and from that day till last week not a thing could the police discover about him. Then they find his body in the river thirty miles away, with his money gone. And it seems to me that's all they can do about it."

"There was no possibility, I suppose, of his having been drowned by accident?" Angus ventured.

"Not a chance," was the emphatic reply. "He'd been battered about the head for one thing, and his money was gone for another. I wasn't so set at first, young man," Mrs. King proceeded, "on your interference, but if you can find the man who killed him I'll take you by the hand and thank you. That I promise."

Angus rose to his feet.

"I don't know that there's much more I can do," he admitted, "but I shall talk it over with my partner. It's a long time ago now, unfortunately."


HE TOOK his leave—Belle, this time, accompanying him to the street to admire the car. He caught a glimpse of them as he swung round the corner, mother and daughter standing together—the mother a grim figure in her unrelieved black, the daughter almost pitiful with her simpering smile, her cheap coquetries and too obvious desire to attract. The sight of them somehow depressed him, as did also the neighborhood. Nevertheless there was a new sense of drama enveloping what before had been a very ordinary though unintelligible mystery...

He found Peter Bragg, back from three weeks' fishing in Devonshire, bronzed and in the best of health. They spoke almost at once of the finding of King's body.

"This case goes to prove as conclusively as any I have ever come across," Peter Bragg pronounced, "that drama lies often behind the lives of many of the most ordinary-looking people—drama at which we should never guess, which we should never suspect. We know enough now to fill in certain gaps. In some way or another this man King, whose life seemed to be a model one, spent every Thursday night of his life with someone under such conditions as to make a bitter enemy.

"You are driven back, Angus, if you are still interested in this case, to the old cry which has practically been the catchword of every one of the great murder cases of the world—'find the woman.'"

"And unfortunately the scent is a little stale."

"We'll draw up a précis of the whole affair within the next few days," Peter Bragg suggested, "and then we'll see whether it's worth while going on with it."

"Capital!" Angus agreed...

Nevertheless, on the following morning he carried out an idea of his own. He drove once more down to Gracechurch Street and, without asking for an interview with either of the partners, inquired for a young porter named Williams, whom he had interviewed on a previous occasion. Williams was soon found and came to him in a corner of the warehouse. He was a tall, rather shy youth, with a pleasant, truthful face.

"Look here, Williams," Angus began, "I came to see you some time ago when there was a question of Mr. King's disappearance, and I asked you, as I asked a good many of the others, whether any of you had ever been able to form any idea as to what Mr. King did with himself on Thursday nights. You answered just like the others, only a little differently."

"How differently, sir?"

"Because you gave me the impression that you were not telling the truth."

The young man considered for a moment.

"That was clever of you, sir," he admitted. "Perhaps I wasn't."

"Why not?"

The young man shifted his position a little nervously. He looked around as though to be sure that they were not being overheard.

"You see, sir, it's this way," he explained. "Mr. King was the one gentleman in this place as I liked. He got me my job, he saved me from losing it once when I made a stupid mistake, and he always had a kindly word and a nod. I liked him, and I wasn't going to do anything to give him away. If I had had any idea," he went on, "that he'd come to harm, that anyone had done him in like this, I'd have out with the truth quick enough. As it was, I didn't, because I thought I was doing my best for him by keeping my mouth shut."

"Then you do know something about these Thursday nights?" Angus persisted.

"Just by accident, I do, sir," the young man acknowledged. "About eight months ago was the first time. I was passing by a cinema at the top of Tottenham Court Road, and I saw Mr. King and a young lady get out of a taxi and go in. He didn't see me, and I stepped back so as he shouldn't."

"Any other time?"

"Yes, sir. It was once in the summer. I've an uncle who's a waterman down at Bourne End. I saw Mr. King in a boat with the same young lady."

"Can you describe her?"

"Not very well, sir, I'm afraid. She looked nice, and both times I saw her she seemed cheerful like and happy. She was rather pale, and she was dressed quite—quite the lady."

"Would you know her if you saw her again?"

"I might," was the somewhat doubtful response. "There's no telling."

"You haven't any idea who she is or where she can be found?"

The man made no reply. Presently Angus repeated his question.

"I'd like to think a bit over that, sir," he said at last. "I don't want to do any harm to anybody, and I'll tell you, honest, I don't know whether to answer your question or not."

"You can do nobody any harm," Angus assured him. "All that I want to find out is how Mr. King came by his death. The young lady was not directly concerned in it. We can be quite sure of that—although she may have been the cause of it—but she probably knows the truth. If she hasn't come forward we ought to find her."

"Maybe I'll tell you what I know about her, sir," the young man decided, after another prolonged pause. "I hope I'm doing right. It's only for Mr. King's own sake that I've hesitated. I've seen her when I've delivered goods in a factory in the Bethnal Green Road. She was a typist in the office there, and she used sometimes to sign the delivery sheets."

"Would Mr. King ever call there?" Angus asked quickly.

"I make no doubt he would, sir. We do a lot of business with the firm."

"You'll tell me the name?"

"Levy & Levy, 72, on Bethnal Green Road."

Angus produced his pocketbook, but the young man shook his head.

"I don't want no money for telling you what I have done, sir," he said. "It's the truth about a very sad job. Maybe I ought to have done it before, but if I didn't it was because I liked Mr. King."

He made his escape, and Angus found his way with some difficulty to the Bethnal Green Road. He explained his business in a very guarded manner to one of the partners.

"Tell you all I know with pleasure," Mr. Levy declared, looking with some surprise at this unusual visitor. "Young lady typist you want to know about who was here three or four months ago?"

"That's so."

"Miss Bentley, her name was—as nice a young lady as ever worked for us. She left—let me see—last June. Left unexpectedly: didn't ask for references—said she'd come in for a little money. I wanted her to put it into the business and stay on, but she wasn't having any."

"Do you still happen to have her address?"

"I've got the address of where she was living then," Mr. Levy replied dubiously. "But I don't know as you'll be able to find her from that."

"I might try," Angus suggested pleasantly.

Mr. Levy plunged into the office and reappeared presently with a card.

"There you are," he announced. "What's it all about? Anyone left the young lady another fortune?"

Angus smiled.

"No such luck, I'm afraid. I'm very much obliged to you, sir."

"You're welcome," Mr. Levy replied, accompanying his visitor to the swing doors and looking out with increased surprise at the Rolls-Royce standing there. "If ever you come across the young lady, give her my respects and tell her her place is always open."

"I won't forget," Angus promised.


UPON a grassy bluff above the small Devonshire village of Sidtree a man and a girl were seated arm in arm, with their faces turned seaward. The breeze from the Atlantic, after a hot day, fanned their cheeks. The peace of the whole countryside, fading gradually away with the setting sun, seemed somehow reflected in their contented faces.

The man was ordinary-looking except for his eyes, which had in them something of the visionary. The girl's expression of complete and unalloyed happiness made her almost beautiful. Down below them was the open gate of the cottage, through which they had issued, with its tiny garden a flare of color.

"I never believed that heaven could be like this," the girl murmured.

The man smiled. No less happy than his companion but more practical, he withdrew his arm from her waist and lit a cigarette.

"I hope too many tourists won't find this place out," he remarked, looking at the Rolls-Royce which had come to a standstill upon the road above.

"I hope not," she murmured.

Then Angus descended and walked into their paradise. The man started as he heard approaching footsteps. The girl's hand stole into his. They hated strangers. Fear came to them when Angus paused in front of them. He looked steadily at the man and then at the girl.

"May I sit down and talk to you both for a few minutes?" he asked unexpectedly.

"Why?" the man demanded.

"Because I have been looking for you for some time. Your name, I think, is Mr. King."

"My name is John Dorwood," the man declared, "and this is my wife."

"In Devonshire, perhaps, Angus said, "In Chiswick I think your name was William King."

They were both silent, and as the light was passing from the day, so the expression seemed to fade from their faces. The man King half rose to his feet, but Angus sat down.

"Look here," he said, "I'm not a detective. I'm not connected with the law. I'm an ordinary human being, and I've been piecing your story together on my way down here. I'd like you to tell it to me."

The man King leaned over and looked eagerly into the newcomer's face.

"I will," he said at last. "You look as though I could tell it to you."

"Tell him everything," the girl begged, clinging to her companion.

"You know who I was," King began—"a clerk at Gutteridge's, a steady fellow, married to a good woman—a good, hard woman. I'd a good, silly daughter, a steady, silly son. I worked week in and week out for twenty-five years. I did my duty always, brought my money back, saved, made a home for them, and all the time there was something inside empty. I never knew what it was. One day I met—the woman who is my wife now," he went on, passing his arm around her waist. "We just talked for a few moments. I felt something different. I met her—met her again—and I knew what I'd been missing in life. I'd no thought of anything wrong. I just cared for her as she cared for me, and Chiswick became hell, my life in my ugly little house with my wife and son and my daughter was hell. It wasn't my fault. I couldn't help it. They just were hell, and every moment I spent with Grace here was such happiness as I had never known: new, softening things in my life, wonderful, beautiful things."

"Go on," Angus begged sympathetically.

"I invented an excuse that one night a week I had to stay at the office late. That Thursday evening I spent always with Grace. In the winter we amused ourselves in London; in the summer on the river. The time came when to leave was agony. I felt that I was capable of any crime just to live the last few years of my life in heaven, and what I did wasn't a crime exactly, although I suppose it was the same thing. One evening—it didn't happen to be a Thursday, but I simply couldn't wait till then to see her—I called round at Grace's rooms and took her down the river. We got as far as Bourne End when it began to mist. I was keeping in close to the bank, and the boat struck something. I put my hand over the side. It was a man."

The girl began to shiver. He patted her encouragingly.

"That's all right, dear," he said... "I dragged him ashore, but he was too far gone. I worked over him half an hour. I know how. And then, as I stood wondering how to get the body to a police station, or where to find help, I seemed to have a wonderful idea. I did it. Grace was against it at first, but I did it. I stripped and I changed clothes with the man. Oh, it was ghastly!" he went on, his voice breaking for a moment. "I put my pocketbook in his pocket and all my trinkets. I wore his clothes, threw his body back into the river, and rowed down to an inn where I told them I'd been overboard and had a ducking. We made a parcel of the clothes, and I got a ready-made suit in the village. It all worked out so well for us. Grace had left her place a week before. She had some money. I had drawn some out of the bank a year ago meaning to keep it for something like this. We just came down here, in an ordinary train like ordinary people, and I've been here ever since—and not a soul has disturbed me."

"And we have been happy," the girl cried—"happier than I ever dreamed was possible."

"And now," King demanded, "What are you going to do about it?"

Angus sat for a few moments in silence. He thought of his last visit to the Chiswick house, the sour-faced woman, the simpering flirtatious daughter. He looked around, and he caught a glimpse of the sweetness of the girl's face. He saw the passionate cling of her arms to her companion, caught the inner meaning of those deep-set, wistful eyes.

"I'm not going to do a thing," he answered, "except to shake hands with you both and wish you happiness."


WELL, any luck?" Peter Bragg asked, as Angus walked into the office two days later. Angus shook his head.

"I'm dead out of luck," he confessed. "I thought I'd really made a discovery, thought I was in for a big sensation, and I found it's a mare's nest."

Peter Bragg concealed his disappointment admirably.

"Well, well," he said. "Better luck next time!"


THE END