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look, daring her, so to speak, to be so forward, and Daisy had gone
on with a flushed, angry look on her pretty face.

And then, as young Chandler stepped through into the sitting-room,
it suddenly struck Bunting that the young man looked unlike himself
- indeed, to the ex-butler's apprehension there was something almost
threatening in Chandler's attitude.

"I want a word with you, Mr. Bunting," he began abruptly, falteringly.
"And I'm glad to have the chance now that Mrs. Bunting and Miss Daisy
are out."

Bunting braced himself to hear the awful words - the accusation of
having sheltered a murderer, the monster whom all the world was
seeking, under his roof. And then he remembered a phrase, a
horrible legal phrase - "Accessory after the fact." Yes, he had
been that, there wasn't any doubt about it!

"Yes?" he said. "What is it, Joe?" and then the unfortunate man
sat down in his chair. "Yes?" he said again uncertainly; for young
Chandler had now advanced to the table, he was looking at Bunting
fixedly - the other thought threateningly. "Well, out with it,
Joe! Don't keep me in suspense."

And then a slight smile broke over the young man's face. "I don't
think what I've got to say can take you by surprise, Mr. Bunting."

And Bunting wagged his head in a way that might mean anything - yes
or no, as the case might be.

The two men looked at one another for what seemed a very, very long
time to the elder of them. And then, making a great effort, Joe
Chandler brought out the words, "Well, I suppose you know what it
is I want to talk about. I'm sure Mrs. Bunting would, from a look
or two she's lately cast on me. It's your daughter - it's Miss
Daisy."

And then Bunting gave a kind of cry, 'twixt a sob and a laugh.
"My girl?" he cried. "Good Lord, Joe! Is that all you wants to
talk about? Why, you fair frightened me - that you did!"

And, indeed, the relief was so great that the room swam round as
he stared across it at his daughter's lover, that lover who was
also the embodiment of that now awful thing to him, the law. He
smiled, rather foolishly, at his visitor; and Chandler felt a sharp
wave of irritation, of impatience sweep over his good-natured soul.
Daisy's father was an old stupid - that's what he was.

And then Bunting grew serious. The room ceased to go round. "As
far as I'm concerned," he said, with a good deal of solemnity, even
a little dignity, "you have my blessing, Joe. You're a very likely
young chap, and I had a true respect for your father."

"Yes," said Chandler, "that's very kind of you, Mr. Bunting. But
how about her - her herself?"

Bunting stared at him. It pleased him to think that Daisy hadn't
given herself away, as Ellen was always hinting the girl was doing.

"I can't answer for Daisy," he said heavily. "You'll have to ask
her yourself - that's not a job any other man can do for you, my lad."

"I never gets a chance. I never sees her, not by our two selves,"
said Chandler, with some heat. "You don't seem to understand, Mr.
Bunting, that I never do see Miss Daisy alone," he repeated. "I
hear now that she's going away Monday, and I've only once had the
chance of a walk with her. Mrs. Bunting's very particular, not to
say pernickety in her ideas, Mr. Bunting - "

"That's a fault on the right side, that is - with a young girl,"
said Bunting thoughtfully.

And Chandler nodded. He quite agreed that as regarded other young
chaps Mrs. Bunting could not be too particular.

"She's been brought up like a lady, my Daisy has," went on Bunting,
with some pride. "That Old Aunt of hers hardly lets her out of her
sight."

"I was coming to the old aunt," said Chandler heavily. "Mrs.
Bunting she talks as if your daughter was going to stay with that
old woman the whole of her natural life - now is that right? That's
what I wants to ask you, Mr. Bunting, - is that right?"

"I'll say a word to Ellen, don't you fear," said Bunting abstractedly.

His mind had wandered off, away from Daisy and this nice young chap,
to his now constant anxious preoccupation. "You come along
to-morrow," he said, "and I'll see you gets your walk with Daisy.
It's only right you and she should have a chance of seeing one
another without old folk being by; else how's the girl to tell
whether she likes you or not! For the matter of that, you hardly
knows her, Joe - " He looked at the young man consideringly.

Chandler shook his head impatiently. "I knows her quite as well as
I wants to know her," he said. "I made up my mind the very first
time I see'd her, Mr. Bunting."

"No! Did you really?" said Bunting. "Well, come to think of it,
I did so with her mother; aye, and years after, with Ellen, too.
But I hope you'll never want no second, Chandler."

"God forbid!" said the young man under his breath. And then he
asked, rather longingly, "D'you think they'll be out long now, Mr.
Bunting?"

And Bunting woke up to a due sense of hospitality. "Sit down, sit
down; do!" he said hastily. "I don't believe they'll be very long.
They've only got a little bit of shopping to do."

And then, in a changed, in a ringing, nervous tone, he asked, "And
how about your job, Joe? Nothing new, I take it? I suppose you're
all just waiting for the next time?"

"Aye - that's about the figure of it." Chandler's voice had also
changed; it was now sombre, menacing. "We're fair tired of it -
beginning to wonder when it'll end, that we are!"

"Do you ever try and make to yourself a picture of what the master's
like?" asked Bunting. Somehow, he felt he must ask that.

"Yes," said Joe slowly. "I've a sort of notion - a savage,
fierce-looking devil, the chap must be. It's that description that
was circulated put us wrong. I don't believe it was the man that
knocked up against that woman in the fog - no, not one bit I don't.
But I wavers, I can't quite make up my mind. Sometimes I think it's
a sailor - the foreigner they talks about, that goes away for eight
or nine days in between, to Holland maybe, or to France. Then,
again, I says to myself that it's a butcher, a man from the Central
Market. Whoever it is, it's someone used to killing, that's flat."

"Then it don't seem to you possible - ?" (Bunting got up and walked
over to the window.) "You don't take any stock, I suppose, in that
idea some of the papers put out, that the man is" - then he
hesitated and brought out, with a gasp - "a gentleman?"

Chandler looked at him, surprised. "No," he said deliberately.
"I've made up my mind that's quite a wrong tack, though I knows that
some of our fellows - big pots, too - are quite sure that the fellow
what gave the girl the sovereign is the man we're looking for. You
see, Mr. Bunting, if that's the fact - well, it stands to reason the
fellow's an escaped lunatic; and if he's an escaped lunatic he's got
a keeper, and they'd be raising a hue and cry after him; now,
wouldn't they?"

"You don't think," went on Bunting, lowering his voice, "that he
could be just staying somewhere, lodging like?"

"D'you mean that The Avenger may be a toff, staying in some
West-end hotel, Mr. Bunting? Well, things almost as funny as that
'ud be have come to pass." He smiled as if the notion was a funny
one.

"Yes, something o' that sort," muttered Bunting.

"Well, if your idea's correct, Mr. Bunting - "

"I never said 'twas my idea," said Bunting, all in a hurry.

"Well, if that idea's correct then, 'twill make our task more
difficult than ever. Why, 'twould be looking for a needle in a
field of hay, Mr. Bunting! But there! I don't think it's
anything quite so unlikely as that - not myself I don't." He
hesitated. "There's some of us" - he lowered his voice - "that
hopes he'll betake himself off - The Avenger, I mean - to another
big city, to Manchester or to Edinburgh. There'd be plenty of
work for him to do there," and Chandler chuckled at his own grim
joke.

And then, to both men's secret relief, for Bunting was now
mortally afraid of this discussion concerning The Avenger and
his doings, they heard Mrs. Bunting's key in the lock.

Daisy blushed rosy-red with pleasure when she saw that young
Chandler was still there. She had feared that when they got home
he would be gone, the more so that Ellen, just as if she was doing
it on purpose, had lingered aggravatingly long over each small
purchase.

"Here's Joe come to ask if he can take Daisy out for a walk,"
blurted out Bunting.

"My mother says as how she'd like you to come to tea, over at
Richmond," said Chandler awkwardly, "I just come in to see whether
we could fix it up, Miss Daisy." And Daisy looked imploringly at
her stepmother.

"D'you mean now - this minute?" asked Mrs. Bunting tartly.

"No, o' course not" - Bunting broke in hastily. "How you do go on,
Ellen!"

"What day did your mother mention would be convenient to her?"
asked Mrs. Bunting, looking at the young man satirically.

Chandler hesitated. His mother had not mentioned any special day
- in fact, his mother had shown a surprising lack of anxiety to
see Daisy at all. But he had talked her round.

"How about Saturday?" suggested Bunting. "That's Daisy's birthday.
'Twould be a birthday treat for her to go to Richmond, and she's
going back to Old Aunt on Monday."

"I can't go Saturday," said Chandler disconsolately. "I'm on duty
Saturday."

"Well, then, let it be Sunday," said Bunting firmly. And his wife
looked at him surprised; he seldom asserted himself so much in her
presence.

"What do you say, Miss Daisy?" said Chandler.

"Sunday would be very nice," said Daisy demurely. And then, as the
young man took up his hat, and as her stepmother did not stir, Daisy
ventured to go out into the hall with him for a minute.

Chandler shut the door behind them, and so was spared the hearing
of Mrs. Bunting's whispered remark: "When I was a young woman folk
didn't gallivant about on Sunday; those who was courting used to
go to church together, decent-like - "



CHAPTER XXV

Daisy's eighteenth birthday dawned uneventfully. Her father gave
her what he had always promised she should have on her eighteenth
birthday - a watch. It was a pretty little silver watch, which
Bunting had bought secondhand on the last day he had been happy -
it seemed a long, long time ago now.

Mrs. Bunting thought a silver watch a very extravagant present but
she was far too wretched, far too absorbed in her own thoughts, to
trouble much about it. Besides, in such matters she had generally
had the good sense not to interfere between her husband and his
child.

In the middle of the birthday morning Bunting went out to buy
himself some more tobacco. He had never smoked so much as in the
last four days, excepting, perhaps, the week that had followed on
his leaving service. Smoking a pipe had then held all the exquisite
pleasure which we are told attaches itself to the eating of forbidden
fruit.

His tobacco had now become his only relaxation; it acted on his
nerves as an opiate, soothing his fears and helping him to think.
But he had been overdoing it, and it was that which now made him
feel so "jumpy," so he assured himself, when he found himself
starting at any casual sound outside, or even when his wife spoke
to him suddenly.

Just now Ellen and Daisy were down in the kitchen, and Bunting
didn't quite like the sensation of knowing that there was only
one pair of stairs between Mr. Sleuth and himself. So he quietly
slipped out of the house without telling Ellen that he was going
out.

In the last four days Bunting had avoided his usual haunts; above
all, he had avoided even passing the time of day to his
acquaintances and neighbours. He feared, with a great fear, that
they would talk to him of a subject which, because it filled his
mind to the exclusion of all else, might make him betray the
knowledge - no, not knowledge, rather the - the suspicion - that
dwelt within him.

But to-day the unfortunate man had a curious, instinctive longing
for human companionship - companionship, that is, other than that
of his wife and of his daughter.

This longing for a change of company finally led him into a small,
populous thoroughfare hard by the Edgware Road. There were more
people there than usual just now, for the housewives of the
neighbourhood were doing their Saturday marketing for Sunday. The
ex-butler turned into a small old-fashioned shop where he generally
bought his tobacco.

Bunting passed the time of day with the tobacconist, and the two
fell into desultory talk, but to his customer's relief and surprise
the man made no allusion to the subject of which all the
neighbourhood must still be talking.

And then, quite suddenly, while still standing by the counter, and
before he had paid for the packet of tobacco he held in his hand,
Bunting, through the open door, saw with horrified surprise that
Ellen, his wife, was standing, alone, outside a greengrocer's shop
just opposite.

Muttering a word of apology, he rushed out of the shop and across
the road.

"Ellen!" he gasped hoarsely, "you've never gone and left my little
girl alone in the house with the lodger?"

Mrs. Bunting's face went yellow with fear. "I thought you was
indoors," she cried. "You was indoors! Whatever made you come out
for, without first making sure I'd stay in?"

Bunting made no answer; but, as they stared at each other in
exasperated silence, each now knew that the other knew.

They turned and scurried down the crowded street. "Don't run," he
said suddenly; "we shall get there just as quickly if we walk fast.
People are noticing you, Ellen. Don't run."

He spoke breathlessly, but it was breathlessness induced by fear
and by excitement, not by the quick pace at which they were walking.

At last they reached their own gate, and Bunting pushed past in
front of his wife.

After all, Daisy was his child; Ellen couldn't know how he was
feeling.

He seemed to take the path in one leap, then fumbled for a moment
with his latchkey.

Opening wide the door, "Daisy!" he called out, in a wailing voice,
"Daisy, my dear! where are you?"

"Here I am, father. What is it?"

"She's all right." Bunting turned a grey face to his wife. "She's
all right, Ellen."

He waited a moment, leaning against the wall of the passage. "It
did give me a turn," he said, and then, warningly, "Don't frighten
the girl, Ellen."

Daisy was standing before the fire in their sitting room, admiring
herself in the glass.

"Oh, father," she exclaimed, without turning round, "I've seen the
lodger! He's quite a nice gentleman, though, to be sure, he does
look a cure. He rang his bell, but I didn't like to go up; and so
he came down to ask Ellen for something. We had quite a nice
little chat - that we had. I told him it was my birthday, and he
asked me and Ellen to go to Madame Tussaud's with him this
afternoon." She laughed, a little self-consciously. "Of course,
I could see he was 'centric, and then at first he spoke so funnily.
'And who be you?' he says, threatening-like. And I says to him,
'I'm Mr. Bunting's daughter, sir.' 'Then you're a very fortunate
girl' - that's what he says, Ellen - 'to 'ave such a nice
stepmother as you've got. That's why,' he says, 'you look such
a good, innocent girl.' And then he quoted a bit of the Prayer
Book. 'Keep innocency,' he says, wagging his head at me. Lor'!
It made me feel as if I was with Old Aunt again."

"I won't have you going out with the lodger - that's flat."

Bunting spoke in a muffled, angry tone. He was wiping his forehead
with one hand, while with the other he mechanically squeezed the
little packet of tobacco, for which, as he now remembered, he had
forgotten to pay.

Daisy pouted. "Oh, father, I think you might let me have a treat
on my birthday! I told him that Saturday wasn't a very good day -
at least, so I'd heard - for Madame Tussaud's. Then he said we
could go early, while the fine folk are still having their dinners."
She turned to her stepmother, then giggled happily. "He particularly
said you was to come, too. The lodger has a wonderful fancy for you,
Ellen; if I was father, I'd feel quite jealous!"

Her last words were cut across by a tap-tap on the door.

Bunting and his wife looked at each other apprehensively. Was it
possible that, in their agitation, they had left the front door
open, and that someone, some merciless myrmidon of the law, had
crept in behind them?

Both felt a curious thrill of satisfaction when they saw that it
was only Mr. Sleuth - Mr. Sleuth dressed for going out; the tall
hat he had worn when he had first come to them was in his hand, but
he was wearing a coat instead of his Inverness cape.

"I heard you come in" - he addressed Mrs. Bunting in his high,
whistling, hesitating voice - "and so I've come down to ask you if
you and Miss Bunting will come to Madame Tussaud's now. I have
never seen those famous waxworks, though I've heard of the place
all my life."

As Bunting forced himself to look fixedly at his lodger, a sudden
doubt bringing with it a sense of immeasurable relief, came to
Mr. Sleuth's landlord.

Surely it was inconceivable that this gentle, mild-mannered
gentleman could be the monster of cruelty and cunning that Bunting
had now for the terrible space of four days believed him to be!

He tried to catch his wife's eye, but Mrs. Bunting was looking away,
staring into vacancy. She still, of course, wore the bonnet and
cloak in which she had just been out to do her marketing. Daisy
was already putting on her hat and coat.

"Well?" said Mr. Sleuth. Then Mrs. Bunting turned, and it seemed
to his landlady that he was looking at her threateningly. "Well?"

"Yes, sir. We'll come in a minute," she said dully.



CHAPTER XXVI

Madame Tussaud's had hitherto held pleasant memories for Mrs. Bunting.
In the days when she and Bunting were courting they often spent there
part of their afternoon-out.

The butler had an acquaintance, a man named Hopkins, who was one of
the waxworks staff, and this man had sometimes given him passes for
"self and lady." But this was the first time Mrs. Bunting had been
inside the place since she had come to live almost next door, as it
were, to the big building.

They walked in silence to the familiar entrance, and then, after
the ill-assorted trio had gone up the great staircase and into the
first gallery, Mr. Sleuth suddenly stopped short. The presence of
those curious, still, waxen figures which suggest so strangely death
in life, seemed to surprise and affright him.

Daisy took quick advantage of the lodger's hesitation and unease.

"Oh, Ellen," she cried, "do let us begin by going into the Chamber
of Horrors! I've never been in there. Old Aunt made father promise
he wouldn't take me the only time I've ever been here. But now that
I'm eighteen I can do just as I like; besides, Old Aunt will never
know."

Mr. Sleuth looked down at her, and a smile passed for a moment over
his worn, gaunt face.

"Yes," he said, "let us go into the Chamber of Horrors; that's a
good idea, Miss Bunting. I've always wanted to see the Chamber of
Horrors."

They turned into the great room in which the Napoleonic relics were
then kept, and which led into the curious, vault-like chamber where
waxen effigies of dead criminals stand grouped in wooden docks.

Mrs. Bunting was at once disturbed and relieved to see her husband's
old acquaintance, Mr. Hopkins, in charge of the turnstile admitting
the public to the Chamber of Horrors.

"Well, you are a stranger," the man observed genially. "I do believe
that this is the very first time I've seen you in here, Mrs. Bunting,
since you was married!"

"Yes," she said, "that is so. And this is my husband's daughter,
Daisy; I expect you've heard of her, Mr. Hopkins. And this" - she
hesitated a moment - "is our lodger, Mr. Sleuth."

But Mr. Sleuth frowned and shuffled away. Daisy, leaving her
stepmother's side, joined him.

Two, as all the world knows, is company, three is none. Mrs.
Bunting put down three sixpences.

"Wait a minute," said Hopkins; "you can't go into the Chamber of
Horrors just yet. But you won't have to wait more than four or
five minutes, Mrs. Bunting. It's this way, you see; our boss is
in there, showing a party round." He lowered his voice. "It's
Sir John Burney - I suppose you know who Sir John Burney is?"

"No," she answered indifferently, "I don't know that I ever heard
of him."

She felt slightly - oh, very sightly - uneasy about Daisy. She
would have liked her stepdaughter to keep well within sight and
sound, but Mr. Sleuth was now taking the girl down to the other
end of the room.

"Well, I hope you never will know him - not in any personal sense,
Mrs. Bunting." The man chuckled. "He's the Commissioner of Police
- the new one - that's what Sir John Burney is. One of the
gentlemen he's showing round our place is the Paris Police boss -
whose job is on all fours, so to speak, with Sir John's. The
Frenchy has brought his daughter with him, and there are several
other ladies. Ladies always likes horrors, Mrs. Bunting; that's
our experience here. 'Oh, take me to the Chamber of Horrors' -
that's what they say the minute they gets into this here building!"

Mrs. Bunting looked at him thoughtfully. It occurred to Mr. Hopkins
that she was very wan and tired; she used to look better in the old
days, when she was still in service, before Bunting married her.

"Yes," she said; "that's just what my stepdaughter said just now.
'Oh, take me to the Chamber of Horrors' - that's exactly what she
did say when we got upstairs."

******

A group of people, all talking and laughing together; were advancing,
from within the wooden barrier, toward the turnstile.

Mrs. Bunting stared at them nervously. She wondered which of them
was the gentleman with whom Mr. Hopkins had hoped she would never be
brought into personal contact; she thought she could pick him out
among the others. He was a tall, powerful, handsome gentleman, with
a military appearance.

Just now he was smiling down into the face of a young lady.
"Monsieur Barberoux is quite right," he was saying in a loud,
cheerful voice, "our English law is too kind to the criminal,
especially to the murderer. If we conducted our trials in the
French fashion, the place we have just left would be very much
fuller than it is to-day. A man of whose guilt we are absolutely
assured is oftener than not acquitted, and then the public taunt
us with 'another undiscovered crime!'"

"D'you mean, Sir John, that murderers sometimes escape scot-free?
Take the man who has been committing all these awful murders this
last month? I suppose there's no doubt he'll be hanged - if he's
ever caught, that is!"

Her girlish voice rang out, and Mrs. Bunting could hear every word
that was said.

The whole party gathered round, listening eagerly. "Well, no."
He spoke very deliberately. "I doubt if that particular murderer
ever will be hanged."

"You mean that you'll never catch him?" the girl spoke with a touch
of airy impertinence in her clear voice.

"I think we shall end by catching him - because" - he waited a moment,
then added in a lower voice - "now don't give me away to a newspaper
fellow, Miss Rose - because now I think we do know who the murderer
in question is - "

Several of those standing near by uttered expressions of surprise and
incredulity.

"Then why don't you catch him?" cried the girl indignantly.

"I didn't say we knew where he was; I only said we knew who he was,
or, rather, perhaps I ought to say that I personally have a very
strong suspicion of his identity."

Sir John's French colleague looked up quickly. "De Leipsic and
Liverpool man?" he said interrogatively.

The other nodded. "Yes, I suppose you've had the case turned up?"

Then, speaking very quickly, as if he wished to dismiss the subject
from his own mind, and from that of his auditors, he went on:

"Four murders of the kind were committed eight years ago - two in
Leipsic, the others, just afterwards, in Liverpool, - and there were
certain peculiarities connected with the crimes which made it clear
they were committed by the same hand. The perpetrator was caught,
fortunately for us, red-handed, just as he was leaving the house of
his last victim, for in Liverpool the murder was committed in a
house. I myself saw the unhappy man - I say unhappy, for there is
no doubt at all that he was mad" - he hesitated, and added in a
lower tone - "suffering from an acute form of religious mania.
I myself saw him, as I say, at some length. But now comes the really
interesting point. I have just been informed that a month ago this
criminal lunatic, as we must of course regard him, made his escape
from the asylum where he was confined. He arranged the whole


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