Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is in the Australian public domain.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.

ANONYMOUS

THE BLACK PEARL OF BAHREIN

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover 2018



First published in Answers, the Amalgamated Press, London, 28 August 1909
Reprinted under syndication, e.g. in
Manawatu Times, New Zealand, 29 October 1909 (this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2018
Version Date: 2018-01-07
Produced by Roy Glashan

The text of this book is in the public domain in Australia.
All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

Click here for more Sexton Blake stories



I.

"'Orrible murder in Bond Street! Disappearance of the Black Pearl of Barrin!"

The raucous yells of the newsboys reached Blake's ears as he sat leisurely finishing a late breakfast. He rang, and sent his servant down for a paper. This is what he read:


SENSATIONAL MURDER IN BOND STREET

An extraordinary crime was committed last night in the Bond Street establishment of Mr. Lazarus Rosenthal, the well-known dealer in gems and Eastern curios. Mr. Rosenthal, arriving at his shop at half-past nine this morning, found the door of his strong-room open and the electric light full on. Entering the vault, the first thing that met his eyes was a body which he recognised as that of Horace Minns, who had formerly been an employee of his own, but had been discharged about a week ago. The unfortunate man's skull was horribly crushed, and he was stone dead.

Further investigation proved that the safe door had been opened, apparently by means of skeleton keys, and that the famous gem known as the Black Pearl of Bahrein had been stolen.

The pearl was the property of Sir Curtis Bryan, and had been entrusted to Mr. Rosenthal to he sold. The police theory is that Minns had an accomplice, that the two quarrelled over the spoils, and that the accomplice killed Minns and fled."


"Phew! The Black Pearl of Bahrein! That's worth something!" said Blake aloud. "I wonder...."

And just then the telephone-bell tinkled sharply, cutting short the further reflections of the eminent detective.

"Is that Mr. Blake?" came a voice.

"Yes. Who is it?"

"Harcourt, manager of the United and General Insurance Company. Can you come over at once? It's about the Bond Street robbery."


FIFTEEN minutes later Blake was at the door of the manager's office. Mr. Harcourt, a tall, good-looking man, with a worried face, came forward and shook hands cordially.

"Great luck, catching you at home, Mr. Blake!" he said. Then, glancing at the paper which the detective still had in his hand: "I see you've read the account."

"Yes. And I presume you are the insurers of the stolen gem?"

"Exactly. It's a very serious matter for us."

"It's history appeared in the papers recently when it was announced that Sir Curtis Bryan was selling it; I presume you wish me to attempt to recover it?"

"I hope to goodness you can do so, Mr. Blake!" said the other. "The accomplice, whoever he was, seems to have got clean away!"

"The best thing I can do is to go to Rosenthal's place and have a look round," said Blake.


II.

BLAKE discharged his taxi at the Piccadilly end of Bond Street, and walked rapidly northwards. He knew where Rosenthal's shop was; but, instead of going straight to it, he dropped into a tobacconist's across the street, and asked for a mild Havana. It was a shop he sometimes dealt at, and the man recognised him at once,

"Dreadful business, this, sir!" he began at once. "I saw Mr. Rosenthal go in. I happened to look at the clock, and it was just the quarter past. And then, after a bit, he came out again, with his face like chalk, and called the policeman from the corner, and then I knew something was up."

The police were in possession when Blake reached the shop; but Kent, the inspector in charge, knew Blake well, and made no difficulty about admitting him.

A short, stoutish man, with black, shiny hair, and a very dark complexion, was talking eagerly to a tall, well-groomed young man in the little glass office in the corner of the shop.

"That's Sir Curtis talking to Rosenthal," said Kent aside to Blake. "But the theft won't affect either of them. The pearl was well insured."

"I know," replied Blake. "I am here on behalf of the insurance people."

"I thought as much," said the inspector. "You'll like to see the strongroom?"

"If you please."

He led the way through the shop, down a flight of steps, and through a pair of heavy iron doors into a large vault, which a blaze of electric light showed to be packed with the most amazing collection of Eastern curiosities that Blake had ever, set eyes upon.

"You're in luck, Mr. Blake," said Kent. "Another five minutes, and we should have had the body shifted. At present everything's just as it was when Rosenthal came in at half-past nine this morning."

"Half-past nine?" repeated Blake, in a tone of mild enquiry.

"Yes; that's the time he tells us he came in and found all this mess."

As he spoke he stooped and lifted the sheet which covered the body of the murdered man.

Minns' body lay flat on its back in that extraordinarily rigid position often seen on battlefields where men have died with extreme suddenness. The eyes were wide open; the fists were clenched by the sides.

The spot where he had fallen was an open space at the far end of the vault. Beyond him, set in the wall, was the safe—a large and massive, but not particularly modern arrangement. Behind was a curiously-carved chair of some black Eastern wood, and in front, staring vacantly across the vault, towered a Hindu idol of amazing hideousness and gigantic proportions. Blake dropped upon his knees beside the body, and began a rapid examination. For a moment he fingered the head; then he looked up to Kent.

"Whoever dealt the blow must have been very strong," he said. "The man's skull is a pulp. I see there are blood-marks on the floor all the way across from the base of that idol," went on Blake. "Minns must have been standing close by it when the other hit him!"

"Perhaps he was admiring it?" said the inspector.

"It's not beautiful," replied Blake. "I think it's Kala, the Hindu god of death. See, he has the trident in his right hand, and a necklet of skulls. Yes, it's Kala without a doubt."

"Afraid I'm sadly ignorant of Hindu mythology," said Kent, repressing a yawn. "Now I must leave you, Mr, Blake. One of my men will remain in the shop; if it's all the same to you, we'll shift the body now to the mortuary."

"By all means, I have seen as much of it us I need." As Blake spoke he covered the remains again with the sheet. "But I sha'n't he leaving just yet. I want to have a good look round."

There was a ghost of a smile on Sexton Blake's lips as he watched the inspector depart, but the moment the latter was through the iron doors the detective was all alert. Out came a tiny ivory rule, and he once more removed the sheet, and took quick but accurate measurements of the wound in the head. He had hardly replaced the sheet for the second time before the constables arrived with a stretcher, and carried away the crushed remains. Then Blake was again left alone in this strange underground museum, with its glaring electric lights and its heavy, Eastern atmosphere. But he did not move about, searching for the weapon with which the murder had been committed. Instead, he stood .. for some minutes on the very spot where Minns' body had lain, and gazed up at the inscrutable eyes of the huge idol, which stood opposite.

Then suddenly he became alive again. Out came the rule, pencil, paper, and a small but powerful magnifying-glass, and Blake set to work with sudden silent energy.

It was twenty minutes before Blake heard footsteps on the stairs, and Lazarus Rosenthal came into the vault. "Haf you found anything!" he asked. "Chiefly dirt," replied Blake. "Have you any place where I could wash my hands?"

There was a little dressing-room at the back of the shop, fitted with a fixed basin and hot and cold taps. Blake washed his hands, and when he had done so his next proceeding was to clip off a tiny morsel of the cake of soap, and, placing it in an empty envelope, drop the envelope into his breast-pocket. Then he rejoined Rosenthal.

"I can't do anything more here at present," said the detective. "I may drop in again."

"You will find me here any time up to seven," Rosenthal assured him.


III.

LESS than a quarter of an hour later he was in the British Museum, enquiring for Professor Haden.

"Ha! you, Blake?" said the professor.

"I'd like to have a translation of this inscription." Blake took out from his inner pocket a long strip of paper, on which was a rubbing in pencil.

The professor glanced at it.

"Pali, the sacred language of India. A child could read it!" he said.

"Not this child," replied Blake, good-humoredly, "Take pity on my ignorance, professor, and tell me the meaning."

"Here it is, then!" snapped the professor. And Blake whipped out his note-book.

"'In my heart are the treasures of the Temple; but seek not to open, lest death come upon thee.' Got it?" "Yes, thanks," said Blake. "Good-bye, professor, and many thanks."


BLAKE drove back to Bond Street, stopping at a post office on the way. Rosenthal seemed surprised to see the detective back so soon.

"I want to have one more look round to see if I can find the weapon Minns' murderer used," explained Blake. "And, by-the-by, Mr, Rosenthal, can you tell me anything of the past history of the man? Was he ever in the Army?"

"I belief he was," replied Rosenthal. "But I do not know. He came to me from Strombergs'. They can perhaps tell you more."

Blake nodded, and passed down into the vault, where he began a search through the forest of curiosities with which the place was stocked. Rosenthal watched him for a little while, and then a customer came in—a smart-looking young man, who, if the curio-dealer had only known it, was in reality Tinker, Blake's clever assistant, to whom his chief had telephoned on his way back from the museum.

The moment Rosenthal was away Blake deftly closed the iron doors and went straight to the giant idol, the black god Kala.

He climbed on to the pedestal, and, catching hold of the left arm of the monstrous image with his own right hand, began feeling with his left over the wide expanse of the deity's chest. Presently, amid the carved drapery, his cautious fingers encountered a small metal ring.

"Got it!" he muttered in triumph.

And, whipping out a piece of stout cord from his pocket, he tied one end firmly to the ring, and, holding the other, walked back some paces.

"My head's pretty thick," he chuckled grimly, "but I'm not taking any risk?, thank you!"

So saying, he gave the cord a sharp tug.

The result was startling. As a square section of the idol's chest fell open, the huge right arm dropped with a silent but terrifying force, and the ponderous trident club fairly whizzed through the air.

"No wonder Minns' skull was pulped!" exclaimed Blake.

And, drawing himself up to the opening in the idol's chest, he thrust his hand in, and, after a moment's fumbling in the cavity, drew out a small morocco case.

"I thought so!" he exclaimed triumphantly, as there, in its nest of white velvet, shone and glistened with iridescent lustre the famous Black Pearl of Bahrein.

Rapidly pocketing the pearl, he jumped down, and carefully examined the trident club, ending by putting his nose close to it and smelling it.

Then, climbing back on to the pedestal, he pressed the open flap back with all his force. Slowly the giant right arm, and the club it gripped in its giant fingers, rose to its former position. Presently there was a slight snap, and all was as before.

Another minute, and Blake was back in the shop, where the smart young man was still deep in conversation with Rosenthal.

"I have quite finished for the present, Mr. Rosenthal," said Blake. "I'll let you know if any further developments occur."


LEAVING the shop, Blake went straight to the insurance office, where he amazed Harcourt by asking him to ring up Rosenthal at once and request his immediate presence.

When the manager had done so, Blake spoke again, giving exact directions on what to say when Rosenthal appeared.

It seemed a very long time, but was not really quite half an hour, before the curio-dealer, with a jaunty air but puzzled face, was ushered in.

Harcourt greeted him gravely.

"Mr. Rosenthal," he said abruptly, "I wished to tell you that we are not satisfied about this business of the stolen pearl. We mean to fight the case!"

"Fight the case!" exclaimed the dealer. "Why, you haf not a leg to stand upon! It is as clear a case of burglary as effer was seen!"

"Quite so," returned Harcourt drily. "But the question is, who was the burglar?"

"That is for you to find out," said Rosenthal.

"We have found out," replied Harcourt quietly. "At least, this gentleman has"—pointing to Sexton Blake.

Sexton Blake came forward.

"Yes, Mr. Rosenthal. When you arrived at your shop this morning at a quarter past nine, not half-past, as you told Mr. Kent, you found this man Minns dead on the floor, and the idea occurred to you that here was a chance in a million to steal the pearl. You opened the safe yourself and took out the pearl. Then you washed the idol's club clean of the blood which bespattered it, and pushed it back to its former position. Then you hid the pearl and called the police. Those are my deductions." "Those are your deductions, are they?" Rosenthal remarked scornfully. "And whot proof haf you? Where is der pearl?" For answer, Blake drew from his pocket the little red morocco case and snapped it open. There lay the great black pearl on its bed of white velvet. Rosenthal's face went an ugly ash colour; his prominent eyes goggled horribly. Then suddenly down he went flop on his knees On the floor. "Haf pity!" he begged. "I will confess it all!"


"IT was all simple enough," said Blake afterwards, in reply to a question from Harcourt, "from the moment that I realised that the wound on Minns' head had been made by the idol's club. Minns, you see, had been a soldier, and had served in India, where he had evidently picked up enough of the Pali language to decipher the inscription on the base of the image, Of course, he did not come after the pearl. As a matter of fact, he probably knew nothing about the gem, for he was discharged at a moment's notice two days before Sir Curtis left it with Rosenthal.

"Equally, of course, Minns had no accomplice. He broke in with the object of stealing the treasure which he believed to be in the idol's heart. The moment he pulled the ring the hidden mechanism caused the club to fall and kill him. The rest you know."


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is in the Australian public domain.
If it is under copyright in your country of residence,
do not download or redistribute this file.
Original content added by RGL (e.g., introductions, notes,
RGL covers) is proprietary and protected by copyright.