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First published in Answers, the Amalgamated Press, London, 9 July 1909
Reprinted under syndication, e.g. in
The Daily News, Perth, Australia, 5 September 1910 (this version)

This e-book edition: Roy Glashan's Library, 2021
Version Date: 2021-06-03
Produced by Roy Glashan
Proofread by Gordon Hobley

All original content added by RGL is protected by copyright

Click here for more Sexton Blake stories


IT was on the promenade deck of the world-famous liner Mesopotamia. The grey-moustached old gentleman of military bearing lay back in his arm-chair, and surrendered himself to the humour of the situation. He was found out. Presently, no doubt, the man would approach and speak.

Accordingly, he gave himself up in the meantime to the fascination of a perfect cigar, while he pondered over the last page or two of the bulky volume on his lap.

'Mornin', Mr. Blake!' said a low voice.

'Good-morning, Detective Manby!' Blake replied, smiling. 'I was expecting you.'

The astounded Manby took the deck-chair next to Sexton Blake's.

'You recognised me, then?' he said, helping himself, at Blake's invitation to a cigar.

Blake could not refrain from a smile of amusement at the good detective's dismay.

'You thought it a sound disguise—eh?' he said. 'Well, it might pass with a novice. But, my dear man, those false whiskers are of a perceptibly different tinge from the rest of your hair. I spotted you the first day on board.'

'Well, I'm jolly thankful,' said Manby, 'there's only one Sexton Blake on board this ship! I'd never have spotted you, guv'nor, but for that stall on the middle finger of your left hand. It set me thinking of that scuffle we had with the Italians in the Del Marco affair. Thinks I, it's Sexton Blake!'

'I should have kept on my gloves,' Blake said, with some vexation. 'What brings you so far from London, Manby?'

'I'm off duty for a fortnight, Mr. Blake; but I'm on the track of something which, if it comes off will benefit my pocket to the tune of £200!'

'I see! A reward?'

'A bit of sheer luck. It's a big bank swindle in Liverpool. The rogues got off with some three thousand of the Imperial Bank's money, and they're walking the deck of this boat now!'

He looked at the great detective with an air of triumph. Blake nodded.

'I've got my finger on the very man—and the woman, too,' the other continued, with a brow which suddenly clouded. 'Just one little link of evidence, and I arrest them. I haven't ascertained whether he has the bank notes in his possession. Now, every thing depends on that.'

'You'll have to look sharp, then,' Blake commented. 'To-morrow we land in New York, and they'll slip through your fingers.'

'That's what's worrying me,' Manby blurted out. 'Mr. Blake, I want you to help me.'

'First of all,' laughed Blake, 'put me in possession of the facts.'


THE official drew his chair closer and ticked off the particulars one by one.

'But the suspects,' Blake demanded, '—you are sure of them? Where are they?'

'Be careful,' said Manby, looking round cautiously. 'You notice a young, fresh-coloured man talking to a stout old party under the captain's bridge?'

'Ah,' said Blake, 'so the stout old party is the thief?'

Manby looked at him with pitying wonder.

'Not at all!' he said. 'It's the other fellow—the young 'un. The woman, his accomplice in the swindle, has kept below ever since we sailed, on some story of illness, or what not. Looks fishy—eh?'

'That depends,' Blake said thoughtfully. 'Never mind; I'll help you,' he added, with a smile. 'I'll keep my eyes open, and report.'

'Thanks! See you later,' Manby said, rising with relief. 'My man's gone below, I see, with the stout party.'

The two men referred to had adjourned to the smoking-room, and, when Manby arrived, were having a quiet game of poker.

The assistant purser entered, in some agitation, and crossed at once to Manby's seat.

'A man changed a five-pound note a little while ago,' the young fellow said nervously. 'It's one of those on the list you gave me, sir.'

'Who was it?' asked Manby sharply.

'The young man in the grey suit.'

The detective slapped his thigh.

'Got him!' he said, with a sigh of satisfaction. 'We'll just trot along to the captain, my boy. My real name is Manby— Manby, of Scotland Yard.'


'YOU can't go up there, mum!' said a seaman, barring the ladder to the captain's bridge against a tall young lady who was attempting to ascend.

'I must see the captain at once!' said the girl, her dark eyes flashing. 'Let me pass, I tell you!'

'Orders is orders, mum!' the man replied impassively.

The young lady looked round in despair. Her eyes fell on the grey-moustached, military man in the deck-chair. He was surveying the scene with courteous interest

'Oh, sir,' she said, approaching him hurriedly, 'if you have any influence with these men, kindly use it! I must see the captain!'

'Pray sit down, my dear young lady,' said Blake, politely offering her the chair beside him. 'Please collect yourself. Consider. People are bebeginning to look in this direction.'

'You are right,' she said, calming herself with an effort 'But I must see him!'

'Any influence I have is at your service,' Blake said reassuringly.

'It's too awful!' she said, coloring deeply. 'My fiance has been arrested!'

'Dear, dear!' Blake said sympathetically. 'On what charge, may I ask?'

'Forgery!' she said, with drawn features. 'It's too horrible! He's quite incapable of such a thing—I swear it!'

Blake reflected for a moment.

'Let me ask you a question,' he said, fixing his keen eyes full upon her face. 'When in Liverpool, did you call at the Imperial Bank?'

She looked at him wonderingly. He dropped his eyes. She had answered the test.

'Well,' he said, 'you have confided in me. In return, I shall trust you with my secret. I am Sexton Blake. First of all I strongly advise you not to speak to the captain; secondly, I advise you to confide in me frankly and fully.'

The poor girl was overcome with relief, and shed quiet tears of thankfulness.

Blake's adroit questions soon procured for him all the information he needed, and he sent her below.

Manby had been hanging round furtively during this interview.

'You lose no time, Manby,' said Blake, with grave irony, as he approached.

'That's so, sir!' Manby replied cheerfully. 'Sharp's the word with me! I just sent the purser to that young fellow, asked him to step into a private room, and had the handcuffs on him before you could cough.'

'More stolen notes on him, I suppose?' asked Blake quietly.

'Only a couple more!' said the detective, with some heat. 'Oh, he knows the game, I tell you, and so does his young hussy, whom I'll put a watch on as soon as we land!'

'Humph!' said Blake. 'By the way, Manby, what about the stout party?'

'Tut, tut! Impossible!' he said, 'He's a decent old chap, from Liverpool, going over to see his New York correspondent about a matter of cotton shirtings. All above aboard!'

'Exactly! Plays poker a lot, I believe?'

'Oh, a regular old sport!' Manby said, smiling. 'Asked me to join him several times. But I never play for for money, and so I told him.'

'That was a mistake,' Blake remarked, rising. 'Next time he asks you to play poker, you take the opportunity.'


EARLY that evening Blake sat in his accustomed place and opened his book.

'Well!' he said pleasantly to Manby, as he approached. 'Found any more stolen notes?'

The detective sat down in a heap on the deck-chair beside him.

'Mr. Blake,' he said, in a quavering voice, 'that stout chap asked me again to play poker. I didn't want to, but I took your advice.'

'Ah!' said Blake, surveying him with a quiet smile. 'Who won?"

Manby drew out a pocket-book.

'I won two pounds,' he said, fingering the crisp paper as if it burned him. 'He said he had no gold, and asked me to change a fiver.'

He bent forward with a mystified air.

'Mr. Blake,' he said, 'it's a stolen one!'

Instead of replying, Blake drew a crumpled paper from his pocket and handed it to the amazed detective. It was a five-ound note. Manby glanced at the number.

'Good heavens,' he said, 'it's stolen, too!'

'Precisely!' said Blake. 'I also won from our stout friend!'

Manby gasped, and rushed away to remedy his error.

They had now passed Sandy Hook, and a tender was fast approaching the liner.

'You recognise someone on board?' said Blake to the handsome girl by his side, whose face had undergone a sudden transformation. Someone on the tender was waving a handkerchief frantically.

'It's father!' she said, in despair. 'What shall I do?'

'One moment,' said Blake.

He went below, and in a minute or two came on deck, arm-in-arm with the girl's betrothed. Their silent greeting was most affecting to the few who were in the secret.

Behind him came the stout gentleman, all dressed for departure, with a heavy leather bag in his hand. And behind him again, came Manby, nursing something in his pocket. The steps were lowered, and an old gentleman, wearing a neat goatee beard, was the first to ascend them. He kissed his daughter affectionately, and then turned to her fiancé, whom he surveyed with an uncompromising regard.

'Waal, siree,' he said at last stretching, out a large, knotty hand, 'you seem a likely enough young fellow, for an Englishman! We'll see about it!'

Meantime, the stout gentleman was preparing to descend the gangway, clutching his precious bag in his hand. Manby stepped forward and touched him gently on the shoulder.

'One moment, sir,' he said. 'Will you kindly step with me into the captain's room, and bring your bag with you?'

The stout man turned pale.

'Nonsense, my dear sir!' he said. 'The tender is starting! I must go down at once!'

'That won't do!' said Manby brutally. 'You've got to come with me. I'll attend to the lady who waved to you from the tender immediately. It's all up, you know. Imperial Bank, Liverpool.'

Blake's eyes rested appreciatively on the little family party which was preparing to descend into the tender.

'We'll make a good American of you,' the old man was saying; 'and, if you'll persuade your distinguished English friend to join us, Sadie, well let him have a taste of American hospitality!'


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.