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ANONYMOUS

THE TIGER'S EYE

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Ex Libris

First published in
Answers, the Amalgamated Press, London, 27 March 1909

Reprinted under syndication, e.g. in
Manawatu Times, New Zealand, 24 May 1909
(this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2020
Version Date: 2020-12-10
Produced by Roy Glashan

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright.

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I.

IT has already been recorded how the British Minister at Tangier, having been robbed of his official code-book, wired for Sexton Blake, who was then at Gibraltar, and how the detective, in less than twelve hours, found the book and restored it to its delighted owner.

It was late on Saturday night when Sexton Blake achieved this notable triumph, and as the next boat to Gibraltar did not leave until Monday morning, he accepted the Minister's pressing invitation to remain at the Legation as his guest. And it was while he was staying as the guest of the Minister and his wife that the following interesting and peculiar case was brought to his notice.

There were several other guests staying at the Legation, and amongst them a wealthy young American widow named Mrs. Cavendish, who was on her way back to the States after a prolonged tour in the East. She was an extremely pretty and charming woman, but her face wore an ever-present air of profound melancholy, eloquent of some great sorrow that had robbed her life of all its sunshine.

After attending service at the English church on Sunday morning, the Legation guests went for a stroll previous to lunch. Absorbed in their talk, Sexton Blake and Mrs. Cavendish unwittingly became separated from the rest and were sauntering, quite alone, along a secluded by-path leading off the Great Fez Road, when they were accosted by a dirty, ill-clad Moor, who, with an ingratiating smile, asked the detective if he would like to buy "a ver' good curio."

It should here be explained that there are three "Sundays" in Tangier—the Mohammedan "Sunday," on Friday; the Jewish "Sunday," on Saturday; and the Christian Sunday.

The Mohammedans, of course, keep no Sunday but their own, and no surprise need be felt, therefore, at this dirty, ill-clad Moor endeavoring to do a stroke of business on the "Infidels'" Sunday.

"Would your excellency like to buy a ver' good Moorish curio?" asked the man. "I sell him ver' cheap."

Sexton Blake was about to reply in the negative, when his eye fell on the "ver' good Moorish curio," which the man was holding out for his, inspection. To his amused surprise, he perceived that it was a quite modern and very smart-looking scarf-pin, consisting of a short gold pin surmounted by an exquisitely cut and polished stone of the kind which is technically described as a variety of crocidolite, but which is popularly known—on account of its brown color—as "tiger's eye."

"There's not much of the 'curio' about this, my man!" he said, taking it from the Moor's outstretched hand and holding it up to the light. "And not much 'Moorish,' either! Where did you—"

The sentence was never completed, for at that moment Mrs. Cavendish caught sight of the pin, and, to Sexton Blake's bewildered stupefaction, she uttered a wild and incoherent cry, and snatched it out of his hand.

"This pin"—she gasped, quivering from head to foot with emotion and excitement—"this pin—"

Then emotion overcame her, and she stumbled forward, and fell fainting into the detective's arms, whilst, at the same instant, with a look of guilty terror on his face, the Moor spun round and took to his heels.

"Come back!" roared, Sexton Blake, who, with Mrs. Cavendish hanging limply in hie arms, was unable to give chase. "Come back, you scoundrel!"

But the Moor only quickened his pace, and by the time the detective had carried Mrs. Cavendish to the side of the path and had laid her gently down on the grassy bank, the Moor had vanished into a neighboring thicket.

II.

MRS. CAVENDISH'S faint was not of long duration, but was succeeded by a prolonged fit of almost hysterical sobbing, and many minutes elapsed before Sexton Blake could persuade her to calm herself and tell him the cause of her agitation.

"Why were you so excited when you saw this pin?" he asked.

"Because," she said, "the moment I saw it I recognised it as a pin that formerly belonged to my husband. As a matter of fact, I gave it to him for a birthday present before we were married, and he was wearing it on the day that he so mysteriously disappeared."

"Mysteriously disappeared?"

"Yes," said Mm Cavendish. "You have heard the story of my brief married life, haven't you?"

The detective shook his head. He had only met Mrs. Cavendish the previous evening and knew nothing of her history, beyond the fact that somebody had told him she was a widow and an old school-friend of the Minister's wife, who was also an American.

"My husband, who was only two years older than myself," said Mrs. Cavendish, "had inherited a fortune of over half a million from his father, so we had no financial troubles. If I tell you that he was as much in love with me as I was with him, it is only that you may understand that he had no domestic worries.

"After our marriage, which took place five years ago this month, we went to live on a small estate which my husband had bought in Massachusetts. When we had been living there about three months, my husband went out one evening, saying he was going down to the village to post a letter, and from that day to this I have never seen or heard of him."

"Extraordinary!" said Sexton Blake. "You communicated with the police of course?"

"Everything that money and brains could do to solve the mystery of my husband's disappearance was done," she said. "Two of the cleverest detectives in the States were employed on the case for nearly a year, but, as I've already told you, from the moment my husband left the house to go down to the village, no trace of him has ever been discovered.

"And now," she concluded, beginning to cry again, "five years after his disappearance, and five thousand miles from the place where he disappeared I find this scarf-pin—the pin I gave him—the pin he was wearing when he left the house, in the possession of a Moor! What does it mean, Mr. Blake?"

Again the detective shook life head.

"I cannot even guess." he said. "If I could have captured the Moor and forced him to tell me where he got the pin, we might have obtained some light on the problem. But the Moor has disappeared, and with him, I fear, has disappeared our only hope."

"But you will find the man and question him, won't you?" pleaded Mrs. Cavendish.

"I will do my best," said Sexton Blake. "But now that the man has slipped through our fingers, I am bound to confess that my own opinion is we shall never gee him again."

For once, however, Sexton Blake was wrong. When they returned to the Legation and told their story, one of the Minister's secretaries the Hon. Percival Fitzgerald—exclaimed:

"I know the man! He tried to sell me the same pin four days ago! His name is Ben Abdullah, and he was formerly a waiter or something of that kind at the Grand Hotel, Gibraltar. He lives in the Kasbah, and if you want to question him I'll take you to his house after lunch with all the pleasure in the world."

"Not after lunch, but now!" said Sex ton Blake, picking up his hat. "Come along!"

III.

BEN ABDULLAH was cooking his midday couscous when Sexton Blake and the Honorable Percy walked into his dirty and dimly-lighted hovel.

"Don't be alarmed," said the detective, in Arabic. "You have nothing to fear if you only act like a sensible man, I have only come to ask you where and when and how you obtained possession of this scarf-pin."

"I found it in the Suk two days ago," said Ben Abdullah sullenly.

"That's a lie," said the Honorable Percy quietly. "You offered it to me four days ago!"

"I should have said that I found it five days ago," said Ben Abdullah. And in spite of all his visitors could say he would only repeat, "I found it in the Suk five days ago."

"Very, well," said the Honorable Percy. "We have tried to deal fairly with you, but, since you will not tell us the truth, we must take you to the Basha."

It is impossible for an Englishman to understand the terrible meaning of these words. But Ben Abdullah understood! He knew that if he was hauled before the Basha by one of the secretaries of the British Legation, he would be subjected to the most fiendish and malignant tortures until he confessed the truth.

"I will tell you everything!" he cried.

"Then be quick about it!" said the Honorable Percy curtly.

"I stole the pin," said Ben Abdullah.

"When?"

"Six months ago."

"Where?"

"At the Grand Hotel, Gibraltar. As your Excellency knows, I was a waiter there at that time. I stole the pin, and some rings and other things, from one of the bedrooms. I was suspected of the theft, but nothing could be proved against me. I was dismissed, and came to Tangier, and I swear that that is the truth."

"The pin and the rings and other things belonged to some visitor who was staying at the hotel, I suppose?"

"Yes, Excellency."

"Do you know the visitor's name?"

"No, Excellency. I think he was a priest, what, you call in English a clergyman. He and his wife were staying at the hotel, but I do not know their names,"

After questioning the Moor at considerable length, but without eliciting any more information, the detective and the secretary returned to the Legation.

"As you know," said Sexton Blake to Mrs. Cavendish, "I am returning to Gibraltar to-morrow. I will interview the proprietor of the Grand Hotel, and I will let you know if—"

"There will be no need for you to let me know," interrupted Mrs. Cavendish. "I shall come with you."

Nothing that the detective or the Minister could say could alter her decision, and, accordingly, she and Sexton Blake left Tangier next morning, crossed the Straits, and reached Gibraltar in the afternoon. Prom the Waterport they drove to the Grand Hotel, where the manager listened to their story with the deepest interest and attention.

"I remember the theft quite well," he said. "We always suspected Ben Abdullah, but, as the rascal says, we could never bring it home to him. I remember the pin, too, now you show it to me. It belonged to the clergyman's wife, I believe. At any rate, it was she who always wore it."

"What was the name of the clergyman and his wife?" asked Sexton Blake.

"I forget, but I can soon find out," replied the manager. "They were a newly-married couple, I believe, and had been spending their honeymoon in the south of Spain. They left here for England two days after the robbery."

He sent for the hotel register and turned over several pages in silence. Then an exclamation rose to his lips.

"Here they are!" he said, quoting from the entry in the register. "Rev. C. Knight and wife, the Vicarage, Micklethorpe, Surrey, England."

The detective turned to Mrs. Cavendish.

"This doesn't help us much, does it?" he said. "Are you quite sure this is the pin your husband was wearing at the time of his disappearance?"

"Absolutely certain!" she replied, "The tiger's eye was found in South Africa by my father, and the pin was made to my order by a jeweller in New York. I doubt if there is such another pin in the world. At any rate, I could swear to this out of ten thousand; but how it passed out of my husband's possession, and came into that of an English clergyman's wife, I confess I can't imagine."

"Nor I," said Sexton Blake. "We will leave here to-morrow by P. and O. and go to Micklethorpe and interview Mrs Knight."

IV.

LEAVING Gibraltar on Tuesday, the detective and Mrs. Cavendish reached London on Saturday morning, and Micklethorpe about half-past two on Saturday afternoon.

"Before I explain why we have come to see you," said Sexton Blake to Mrs. Knight, who received them in the drawing-room at the vicarage, "do you recognise this?"

"Yes," said Mrs. Knight, when he showed her the tiger's eye pin. "It is mine! It was stolon from me on my honeymoon, at the Grand Hotel, Gibraltar, about six months ago."

"Would you mind telling us how the pin came into your possession?" asked Blake.

"It was given to me, several years ago, by a patient at the cottage hospital," said Mrs. Knight. "But why do you ask? Is there any mystery connected with the pin?"

By way of reply. Mrs. Cavendish told her the story of her husband's disappearance. Long before she had finished, Mrs. Knight was trembling with excitement, and her eyes were glistening with happy tears.

"Wonderful wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Surely it must have been the hand of Providence that directed you here!"

She rang the bell, and a housemaid appeared.

"Tell John I wish to see him, please!" said Mrs. Knight. The housemaid retired, and Mrs. Knight turned to Mrs. Cavendish.

"About four years and a-half ago," she said, "I was nurse in charge of the cottage hospital here. One day a man was brought in whom the constable had found lying in the roadway in a semi-unconscious state. He was suffering from pneumonia, due to cold and starvation, and for several weeks his life hung in the balance. Eventually, however, he recovered, and when he left the hospital he gave me that pin—the only article of value he possessed—as a token of gratitude.

"At that time I was already engaged to be married to my present husband, who was then, as he is now, the vicar of this parish. Being interested in my patient, and in his strange, sad story, I persuaded the vicar to find him employment. To make a long story short, the vicar took him into his service as an under-gardener, and he is under-gardener here at the present time.

"I have spoken of the man's strange, sad story," she continued, "and a strange, sad story it was! When he recovered from his illness he told me that he did not know who he was or where he came from. About a week before he was admitted to the hospital he said, he had awakened, as it were, from a trance, and had found himself in a strange country amongst a strange people. How he had got there, where he had lived before, who he was, even his own name, he had absolutely forgotten. All his past life was a blank. For a week he had wandered aimlessly about the country, trying to remember who he was and where he came from, Then, as I have already told you, he succumbed to cold and starvation, and was brought to the hospital.

"We christened him John Smith," she concluded; "but after hearing your story, Mrs. Cavendish, I have not the slightest doubt that—"

There was a knock at the drawing-room door,

"Come in!" cried Mrs. Knight, her eyes sparkling with expectancy. The door slowly opened, and the under-gardener came in—a handsome young fellow, whose good looks, however, were, marred by the dull and vacant expression of his face.

"The housemaid says you wish—" he began, when Mrs. Cavendish, with a half-delirious cry of rapture, sprang to her feet and rushed towards him.

"Arthur!" she cried—"Arthur! Don't you know me?"

For a moment, but only for a moment, the under-gardener gazed at her in blank bewilderment. Then a sudden light leaped into his eyes, the vacant look died out of his face, and his whole appearance underwent a startling transformation.

"Ethel, my wife!" he cried; and again, "Ethel, my wife!"

A moment lately husband and wife were sobbing in each other's arms, and Sexton Blake and Mrs. Knight were quietly stealing from the room.


THE END


Roy Glashan's Library
Non sibi sed omnibus
Go to Home Page
This work is out of copyright in countries with a copyright
period of 70 years or less, after the year of the author's death.
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.