Roy Glashan's Library
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ANONYMOUS

THE YOUNG EARL

Cover Image

RGL e-Book Cover 2016



First published in Answers, the Amalgamated Press, London, May 8, 1909
Reprinted under syndication, e.g. in
The Daily News, Perth, Australia, June 17, 1909 (this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2016
Version Date: 2016-12-03
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.

EXTRADITION proceedings in connection with a recently-concluded case had brought Sexton Blake to Brussels. He was staying at the Hotel Leopold, in the Boulevard Anspach, and on this particular afternoon he was returning from the Palace de Justice, and; was just about to turn into the hotel, when a sharp-looking street urchin accosted him.

"Monsieur ees an Englishman?" queried the boy.

"I am," said Sexton Blake.

"Zen I give you this," said the boy.

And he handed Sexton Blake a dirty, mud-stained envelope, on the outside of which was pencilled, in very bad French:


"To the finder. I pray you to give this to the first Englishman you meet."


The detective opened the envelope, and drew out a soiled and crumpled sheet of paper, on which was scribbled, also in pencil, the following startling appeal:


"For Heaven's sake, come at once to No. 37, Rue du Petit Loup, and rescue an unfortunate English girl from a bondage worse than death! I was decoyed to this den more than a month ago, and have never been allowed to cross the threshold since. Do not communicate with the police, for I should die of shame if my escapade got into the papers. A little firmness and a little bluster are all that are needed to frighten the proprietor into giving me my freedom. I am locked up in one of the top rooms. I am going to throw this out of the window in the hope that somebody will find it and give it to one of my countrymen. You who read it, come quickly—quickly—quickly! Mabel Trevor."


"Where did you find this?" asked Sexton Blake.

The boy said he had found the envelope on the pavement, in front of a house in the "Street the Little Wolf." He had read the inscription on the outside of the envelope, had set out in search of an Englishman, and had found. Sexton Blake.

"Where is the 'Street of the Little Wolf'?" asked Sexton Blake.

The boy explained that it was about five minutes' walk away, and connected the Quai aux Briques and the Rue de Flandre.

"If monsieur wishes," said the boy, "I will take him to the street and show him the house."

The detective glanced at his watch. It was half-past five, and he had an appointment at his hotel with the Earl of Glaisdale at seven o'clock. However, if the Rue du Petit Loup was only five unfortunate English girl and get back to the hotel by seven o'clock.

"All right," he said, "Lead the way!"

The Street of the Little Wolf proved to be an evil-looking slum, so narrow that the inmates of the houses on one side could almost have shaken hands through the upper windows with the occupants of the houses on the other side. In the deepening gloom—for the date was mid-October and, although it was only a few minutes after half-past five, it was already growing dark—the street looked particularly uninviting.'

Half-way down the boy came to a halt.

"This is the house," he said, "and this"—pointing to a spot on the pavement—"is where I found the letter."

The detective glanced at the house—a miserable, whitewashed hovel, with a door and a window on the ground floor, and a couple of windows above.

"Are you sure this is the house?" he asked. "I've seen the numbers on several of the houses we've passed, and it seems to me that thirty-seven should be farther along, and on the opposite side."

"This is the house," said the boy confidently. "If Monsieur does not believe me, let him look at the number on the door."

The detective glided up to the door, which was slightly ajar, and glanced at the painted number. It was No. 24, and he was just about to turn round and tell the boy that he must be mistaken, when the boy, with a swift and sudden movement, kicked up his right leg, and planted his bare foot in the small of Sexton Blake's back.

As a natural consequence of this, the detective stumbled forward, and crashed up against the outside of the door. As the door was ajar, it immediately flew open, and, before Sexton Blake had fully realised what was happening, he was lying on his face on the stone floor of a dimly-lighted room, with somebody kneeling on his back and the muzzle of a revolver closely applied to the nape of his neck.


II.

"KEEP quiet! Lie still! You're in no danger if you only act sensibly; but it you struggle, or play any trick, I'll put a bullet into your spinal marrow without a moment's hesitation! I have a certain proposal to make to you, and, if you accept it, no harm will come to you."

It was the man who was kneeling on the detective's back who spoke. His voice and accent were those of a well-educated, well-bred Englishman. Before Sexton Blake could make any reply, another voice was heard—the voice of the boy who had lured the detective into the trap.

"My reward, monsieur?" he said excitedly.

"The money is on the stool behind me," answered the man. "I placed it there in readiness for you. Shut the door when you leave."

"The detective heard the jingle of coins; then he heard the boy glide out of the house and close the door behind him.

"So the boy was your confederate?" he said, not because he doubted the fact, but in order to gain time.

"Of course!" replied the man.

"And the note from the unfortunate English girl?" said Sexton Blake.

"Was written by me!" said the man, with a chuckle.

"Do you live here?"

"Not much! I hired this hovel—an empty house, by the way, except for a stool and a lamp—for the purpose of this little comedy."

"And what are your terms?'

"If you'll give me your word of honour that you won't resist, or try to escape, I'll first change clothes with you, and then, after binding, and gagging you, I'll leave you for an hour or two. I'll come back shortly after midnight, and I'll give you your clothes, and set you free, on condition, of course, that you swear not to inform the police or anybody else of what has happened. Those are my terms," he concluded. "Refuse, and I shall be obliged to shoot you here and now."

The detective's answer was a startling one. With a swift and dexterous movement, he unseated his assailant, and sent him floundering on his back. Both men leaped to their feet together, but Sexton Blake got in the first blow, and his opponent, reeling back, stumbled over the stool and struck the back of his head with so much force on the hard stone floor that he was momentarily dazed. And before he had time to collect his scattered wits the rope and gag that had been meant for Sexton Blake had been used to bind and gag the detective's assailant!

By that time Sexton Blake had perceived that his opponent was a young, clean-shaven Englishman, about the same height and build as himself. When, a moment later, he discovered an actor's make-up box in one corner of the hovel, and when he remembered what the man had said about changing clothes with him, he began to have an inkling of the purpose.

"You meant to personate me," he said to the man, who was now quite conscious. "If I had accepted your terms, you intended to disguise yourself as me, and to pass yourself off to somebody as Sexton Blake."

The look of baffled rage which came Into the man's eyes told him more eloquently than words that he was right.

"I shall just leave you here for the present," continued Sexton Blake, "while I walk to the Bureau de Police, and I shall return here by-and-by with half a dozen gendarmes. Au revoir!"

Locking the door behind him, he walked briskly to the end of the street It was then quite dark, and as he turned into the Rue de Flandre he almost ran into a smug-looking and apparently short-sighted Englishman who, at the sight of Sexton Blake, pulled up, with a cry of recognition.

"It's Warren, isn't it?" exclaimed the man, peering and blinking through the gloom. "What a marvellous, disguise! You'd pass for Blake anywhere. So it came off all right, then?"

The detective grasped the situation.

"Yes, it came off all right—for me," he said, imitating Warren's voice.

"Splendid!" said the man "We shall pull it off now, as sure as my name's Monsal! But aren't you surprised to see me here?"

"Very!" said Sexton Blake. "Where are you going?"

"I was coming to tell you," said Monsal, "that our information was at fault. Blake's room at the Leopold isn't forty-nine, but seventy-three. I've only just discovered this fact, and I was hurrying to tell you when I met you. All you've got to do now is to go to the hotel, ask for the key of seventy-three, and wait there till Lord Glaisdale and I arrive."

Lord Glaisdale! The detective started, but, luckily, his short-sighted companion did not notice the start.

"By Jove!" muttered Sexton Blake to himself. "So that's the little game, is it? And this is the tutor, no doubt! Good! Now I know what to do!"

"Does his lordship suspect anything?' he asked aloud.

"Not a thing!" said Monsal. "Why should he?"

"Why should he, indeed!" said Sexton Blake. "Now I must be off. Go back to the young fool, and you'll find me ready for you when you come to the hotel."

With this, the two men parted, and Sexton Blake, after a visit to the Bureau de Police, returned to the Hotel Leopold.


III.

IT has already been mentioned that Sexton Blake had an appointment at his hotel at seven o'clock that evening with the Earl of Glaisdale. It must now be explained that Lord Glaisdale was a brainless young fool who, on attaining his majority, had succeeded to a noble fortune, with which he had forthwith proceeded to play ducks and drakes In this task be had been ably assisted by his former tutor—a man named Monsal—who had obtained an influence over the young earl that some people did not hesitate to describe as hypnotic.

Lord Glaisdale's friends had tried by every means in their power to persuade him to shake himself free of Monsal's influence; but the more they said against the man, the more the young earl loaded him with favours. At last, to get rid of the importunities of his friends, he started off on a Continental tour, taking Monsal with him.

In Brussels they made the acquaintance of a man named Warren, who, as afterwards appeared, was a notorious "swell mobsman," and a bosom friend of Monsal's. The three men played cards, and Lord Glaisdale was fleeced of no less a sum than 17,000. This gave the young earl pause, as Shakespeare would say, and, although he never for a moment suspected his trusted tutor of any share in the swindle, he was convinced that Warren was a card-sharper. Knowing that Sexton Blake was in Brussels at the time, the young earl decided to consult him, in the hope that the detective might be able to expose Warren and force him to disgorge his ill-gotten gains. Without telling Monsal of his intention, he telephoned to the Hotel Leopold in the morning, and arranged to call on Sexton Blake at seven that evening. Afterwards he told Monsal of what he had done, with tho resuit that the latter immediately interviewed Warren and rigged up the plot already described—the idea being that Warren should personate Sexton Blake at the interview and should assure Lord Glaisdale that his suspicions were entirely groundless. As Monsal and Lord Glaisdale were leaving Brussels that night, Warren and Monsal concluded that, if they could only tide matters over until midnight, they would have nothing more to fear; for they knew the young earl would implicitly follow any advice which the supposed Sexton Blake gave him.


Punctually on the stroke of seven, Lord Glaisdale and Monsal were ushered into Sexton Blake's private sitting-room at the Hotel Leopold. The detective, keeping his face averted as far as possible from Monsal's view, signed to them to be seated. Then he turned to the young earl.

"From what you said over the telephone this morning," he began, "I gather that your Lordship suspects that you were robbed at cards last might. What is the name of the man you suspect?"

"Warren," said Lord Glaisdale. "He was introduced to me by Mr. Monsal; but, of course, I'm not suggesting that Mr. Monsal knew the fellow was a card-sharper."

"Quite so!" said the detective suavely. "Mr. Monsal, of course, wouldn't dream, of introducing you to anybody who—"

He had no time to say more, for at that moment Monsal, who had meanwhile, donned his glasses, rose hurriedly to his feet. He had discovered the fact that the detective was the real Sexton Blake!

"I—I think I'll leave your lordship to discuss this matter alone with Mr. Blake," he stammered.

"Just as you like," said Sexton Blake, as Monsal moved towards the door. "Allow me to open the door for you."

He opened the door, and Monsal found himself confronted by two Belgian gendarmes, who had been mounting guard outside.

"This Is the man," said the detective quietly. "Arrest him."

The handcuffs clicked, and Monsal was a prisoner. Lord Glaisdale sprang to his feet, furious with indignation.

"What is the meaning of this outrage?" echoed Monsal weakly.

The detective smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm afraid it means that the game is up," he said to Monsal. "It means that Warren is now on custody, and you are going to join him!"

Then he turned to Lord Glaisdale, and briefly told him all that had happened. It was some time before the young earl could believe that his beloved tutor was the scoundrel his actions had proved him to be. After the trial, however, he was not only convinced of the truth, but he profited so well by the lesson that at the present day there is no steadier or more respected member of the British peerage than Lord Glaisdale. The credit for which, as he freely admits, is entirely due to Sexton Blake.


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.