The Yellow Peril : The Japanese Threat

By Bassett Kendall


Scene: The same. Nine o’clock the next morning. Enter Derek L.

Derek. (At phone.) Regent 7041 – please – hullo; is that Sir Reginald? Derek Sherwood speaking. Sometime during last night when my Uncle was working he was chloroformed; the papers you brought here last night are missing. – No, we have no idea who the thief is. – The Japanese? Well, there’s no evidence. Can you do anything? Uncle Robert is feeling too ill to take any active steps. – No, we have not told the police – my Uncle’s one idea seems to be to avoid publicity. – You’ll call at Scotland Yard? Very good. Oh, will you ask John to call round here as soon as he can. Thank you. Goodbye. (Rings off.) (Enter Beale R.)

Beale. Beg pardon, sir, hadn’t you better have some breakfast? There’s some nice grilled kidneys, sir.

Derek. I haven’t time to waste on breakfast.

Beale. You have a trying day before you, sir; and if you’ll excuse me, sir, you can’t work on an empty stomach.

Derek. Mr. Maxwell was conscious when you found him this morning?

Beale. Well, Sir, he was and he wasn’t. When I first came into the room at about 7 o’clock, I noticed a queer smell. “What’s that?” I said to myself. “That reminds me of a dressing station in Flanders.” – I was wounded three times in the War, Sir. Then I knew the smell – chloroform. “That’s funny,” I said. And then I saw the master all huddled up in that chair; he was fast asleep. That gave me rather a scare, Sir.

Derek. Was he still under the influence of the chloroform?

Beale. I think not, Sir. The chloroform had wore off and he was just sleeping off the effects: he woke up as soon as I spoke to him. “Why, Beale,” he says, “I must have dropped asleep” – and then he looks at that board there on the table, Sir, and begins to shake all over. I didn’t know what to do, Sir, so I helps him up, to bed and gets him a strong cup of tea, and then I comes along to tell you, Sir.

Derek. Quite right. Is the room now just as you found it?

Beale. I haven’t moved a thing, Sir. I thought perhaps you would be sending for the police, Sir.

Derek. Possibly – you did quite right, Beale.

Beale. Thank you, Sir. Now do have some breakfast, Sir. I’ll take it in at once.

Derek. Very well, Beale, I’ll take your advice.

Beale. Thank you, Sir. Tea or coffee, Sir.

Derek. Oh, coffee, please. (Exit Beale R.)

(Derek opens top drawer, takes out money. Enter Miss G. with despatch case L.)

Miss G. I’m so sorry for you, Mr. Sherwood.

Derek. Thank you very much.

Miss G. Have you any clue as to the motive of the crime?

Derek. Yes. It wasn’t robbery in the ordinary sense of the word – here’s my Uncle’s loose cash intact in the top drawers where he always leaves it. Some papers have been stolen.

Miss G. I’m sorry to hear of that. Were they very important?

Derek. Papers of the utmost importance to the nation, my Uncle tells me.

Miss G. Have the police been informed?

Derek. No. Mr. Maxwell is anxious to avoid publicity – it might lead to a grave political scandal.

Miss G. But surely a private detective –

Derek. I have rung up the Admiral. He will take the necessary steps.

Miss G. I see. Is there anything I can do?

Derek. Perhaps you might look through the papers in these drawers. You know where everything is kept, don’t you?

Miss G. Yes. There’s nothing of any great importance here. Of course Mr. Maxwell keeps the key of the bottom left hand drawer: I know nothing about that one.

Derek. Well, you might glance through the rest, to see if everything’s in order.

Miss G. I will, certainly.

Derek. Then I’ll go and get a mouthful of breakfast. (Exit Derek R.)

(Miss G. looking at papers mechanically. Enter Beale L.)

Beale. Beg pardon, Miss; there’s a young man called to see you – he gave the name of Hamilton.

Miss G. Hamilton? Did he say what his business was?

Beale. No, Miss. He might come from some shop perhaps, Miss. Shall I enquire.

Miss G. No never mind. Tell him I can only spare him a few minutes – and show him in here.

Beale. Thank you, Miss. (Exit Beale L.) (Re-enter Beale with Hamilton L.)

Ham. Miss Gaskell?

Miss G. Yes?

Ham. I have called from Derry and Toms to know whether you have selected the chintz patterns – (exit Beale L.) Have you got the papers?

Miss G. (Opening despatch case.) Here they are. Any further instructions?

Ham. The Chief will look through them at once. If he thinks there are more papers, he will come round again this morning.

Miss G. It’s too dangerous.

Ham. He says that now he has got so far, he can afford to take the bull by the horns. The duplicate keys will be sent to you. It will be better for you not to see him.

Miss G. I see. You make a convincing shopwalker, Mr. Hamilton.

Ham. Yes. By the way, what is chintz used for?

Miss G. Oh, chair covers sometimes. (Enter Beale. L.)

Beale. Mr. Cooper, Miss.

Ham. Very good Madam, we will put the chair covers in hand immediately – good day, Madam. (Exit Hamilton L. carrying envelope. Beale exit L.)

John. Where’s Derek?

Miss G. He’s having some breakfast.

John. Bad business about Mr. Maxwell.

Miss G. Shocking.

John. That blighted Jap deserves to be shot.

Miss G. Jap?

John. Yes. I suppose there’s no doubt that he’s the criminal.

Miss G. Do you mean the gentleman who was here last night?

John. Yes – the fellow you were playing ‘Hunt the opera hat’ with. He was only nosing around then – I admired the way you stuck to your post till we came in.

Miss G. I was only trying to help him find his hat.

John. It didn’t take him long to find it, when he saw the strong silent man come in. I expect the glint in my eye made me look rather dangerous. (Enter Derek. R.)

Derek. Hullo John – how long have you been here?

John. Rolled in about 38 seconds ago.

Miss G. Everything is in order in the writing table, Mr. Sherwood, just as I left it last night.

Derek. Thank you.

Miss G. You’ll let me know if there is anything else I can do?

Derek. I will – thanks very much. (Exit Miss G. L.)

John. One don at the first hole, Derek.

Derek. I’m afraid so. But seventeen more to play.

John. We must bring our great minds to bear on the problem. Point one: we start with the immense advantage of knowing who our opponent is.

Derek. Well, do we?

John. Of course we do. I dreamt of the blighter’s eye all night. Point two: he has no idea that we even suspect him – and if he had, he would dismiss us as a couple of young asses. That’s a second fact in our favour.

Derek. Point three: we have not a shred of evidence for our suspicions and therefore – point four – we probably are couple of young asses.

John. I don’t want to quarrel with you, Derek; but you must see that unless Fugi- thingmybob is the criminal, we have no starting point at all. We can’t go spying on every house in London and the suburbs. Therefore we must assume that the Fugi-fellow is guilty.

Derek. Isn’t that assuming what we have to prove?

John. Well, you are always allowed a few postulates in solving a theorem – and when you look at his eyes the postulates become axioms.

Derek. Oh, do talk sense.

John. Of course, you’re not a mathematician. Well – will you agree that we both suspect this Japanese?

Derek. Certainly – but we have no grounds for our suspicions. Therefore we must go carefully. We can’t coolly walk into his house and demand back the stolen plans.

John. No, we must nose around a bit first.

Derek. We can keep a watch on his movements and make some enquiries about him in the neighbourhood. We might, if necessary, even call at his house and see what the household consists of. At present we have no idea what we are up against. (Enter Max. L. He looks ill and worried.) Hullo Uncle Robert. I’m glad you feel well enough to come down.

Max. Does the Admiral know what has happened?

Derek. Yes, I rang him up this morning.

John. Oh, rather. He’ll be here soon. When I left home, he was just trotting off to Scotland Yard.

Max. Scotland Yard! He means to put this in the hands of the police?

Derek. I suppose it’s the natural thing to do.

Max. But it’ll get into the papers. I must stop him.

Derek. Surely it can be treated as a confidential case.

John. Oh, there’s not the least need to worry, Sir. In every detective story I’ve ever read the Scotland Yard man always suspects the wrong person. He’ll probably arrest you.

Max. I’m not in a mood to joke about it.

John. But I’m quite serious – a professional detective spends hours cross-questioning all the innocent people in the house before he can make any move at all. Long before he has finished looking for footmarks with his pocket lens, Derek and I will have caught the Jap and recovered the papers.

Max. You suspect Fugijiro?

John. Well, don’t you?

Max. I do. But we have no evidence. I saw nothing of my assailant last night.

Derek. Do you mind our taking the matter up, Uncle Robert?

Max. I should much prefer it to a professional detective.

John. I’m afraid Father won’t. He doesn’t appreciate my intelligence as much as you do.

Derek. And you think we shall be wise to start with Fugijiro?

Max. Yes – yes, I feel sure it was he – (Suddenly.) Oh, my boys, bring back the plans and save my good name!

Derek. We’ll do our best, Sir. What is Fugijiro’s address?

Max. There’s a card of his on that table.

John. (Reading.) 31A Hyde Park Gardens.

Derek. Right. Call a taxi, will you, John.

John. Right you are. (Exit L.)

Derek. I’m awfully sorry for your trouble, Uncle Robert.

Max. (Brokenly.) I believe you, Derek. You are undertaking a dangerous job, my boy; I can only pray you will be successful.

Derek. Well, we’ve put our hand to the plough, and we’ll not turn back. (Exit L.)

(Max. left alone unlocks bottom drawer, finds it empty and sits staring at it, quite motionless. Then he suddenly gets up and crosses to the fireplace, slides back a panel and takes out a bunch of papers. He quickly glances through them.)

Max. Thank Heaven! (He replaces them. Then rings. Takes up time table. Enter Miss G.) Miss Gaskell, I have to go abroad tonight on important business.

Miss G. But you are not well enough, Mr. Maxwell. Let me send a wire to say you are prevented by illness.

Max. I am feeling much better – and my business is urgent – Government Work.

Miss G. Surely someone else –

Max. No, my mind is made up. Now I want you to go to Victoria and book me a first class ticket to Paris – the boat train leaves at 7.5 – you’ll find money in the usual place. Take a taxi.

Miss G. Very well. Shall I tell Beale to pack for you?

Max. No, thanks. I’ll give him orders myself.

(Enter Beale R.)

Beale. I have put your Bovril in the Dining Room, Sir.

Max. Thank you, Beale. I want you to pack my suitcase. The usual weekend clothes. I have to go to Paris for a couple of days.

Beale. Very good, Sir. (Exit Max. R.) Excuse me, Miss, I think I heard the front door bell.

Miss G. If it should be the Japanese gentleman who called last night, show him in here. Mr. Maxwell wishes to see him and doesn’t want to be interrupted.

Beale. Very good, Miss. (Exit Beale L.)

(Miss G. takes money from drawer. Enter Beale. L.)

Beale. Mr. Fugijiro. (Enter Fugi L. He bows slightly to Miss G.)

Beale. Shall I tell Mr. Maxwell the gentleman’s here, Miss?

Miss G. Perhaps Mr. Fugijiro would not mind waiting till Mr. Maxwell has finished his lunch.

Fugi. Not at all. Not at all. I can wait, with pleasure.

Miss G. Will you call me a taxi please, Beale?

Beale. Yes, Miss. (Exit Beale L.)

Fugi. The papers from the drawer are only duplicates. He still has the originals. I’ve come to get them.

Miss G. He leaves for Paris by the 7.5 this evening.

Fugi. Then I must play a bold game. Don’t be found talking to me.

(Miss G. exit L.) (Fugi. sits in armchair down L.)

(Enter Maxwell R. He crosses to writing table. Fugi. rises.)

Fugi. Ah, Mr. Maxwell.

Max. (Starts violently.) I can’t see you.

Fugi. One moment. Sit down. (They are standing at each side of the writing table – Fugi. talks quietly throughout this scene.) Sit down. (Max. sits, also Fugi.) Listen: we are quite alone and there is no witness of our conversation; therefore nothing that I say can be used as evidence against me. Is that clear? (Pause.) Is that clear?

Max. Quite.

Fugi. Good. Moreover, if you try to take action against me – woe betide you. Now we know where we are. Last night some important plans were left at your house: you were making tracings of these when you were attacked and chloroformed. You did not see your assailant. The drawings were stolen as well as several other papers. All these documents save come into my possession.

Max. You stole them yourself, you dog!

Fugi. Let it suffice that they are now in my possession – Now it is not sufficient for my purposes to have copies: you must give me the original documents.

Max. Do you think I will hand over important Government papers?

Fugi. They are as important to my Government as to yours. Be reasonable, Mr. Maxwell; the game is in my hands. The loss of the submarine drawings is sufficient to ruin your career.

Max. I shall recover them. Your admissions have given you into my power. I shall call in the police to search your house, while I detain you here. (Picks up telephone.)

Fugi. You will find it wiser not to employ the police against me. (Pause. Max. puts down phone – pause.) You do not appear to be in good training – I am. I could strangle you with ease – and I should have great pleasure in doing so, if you were so unwise as to cross me.

Max. You wouldn’t dare to. There is a law against murder.

Fugi. You are acquainted with the customs of my country and you know that these things can be done quite silently – before your body was found I should have walked quietly out of the house – and then I should disappear. The police would search for me in vain. That is what may happen, if you touch your telephone or attempt to call for help. (Pause.)

Max. What do you want?

Fugi. I have told you my friend. The original documents from which those copies were taken.

(Max pretending to be beaten gets up and turns to the cupboard behind him L. He unlocks it, takes out revolver and turns quickly, facing Fugi.)

Max. Hands up! Now I’ve got you, you snake! (Fugi hands up.) Now it’s my turn. (Sits down, still pointing revolver.) Here we sit until someone comes to my help. As soon as that happens you will be handed over to the police and your house will be searched for the missing papers. They at least will be sufficient evidence to convict you as a spy – and the punishment of spies is death.

Fugi. Excuse me: do you mind if I smoke? (Lowering hands.)

Max. Keep your hands up. (He does so.) That’s too old a trick to deceive me..

Fugi. You seem to be up to all the dodges. I assure you I am not armed – at present.

Max. You intend to try and get this revolver from me?

Fugi. Certainly, if you give me an opening.

Max. Well, try away. (Enter Derek quickly, L. He pauses astonished. Max looks up quickly as he enters and Fugi seizes his revolver.)

Fugi. Thank you, sir, you have rescued me from an uncomfortable position.

(Derek rushes at Fugi and seizes his right wrist. He transfers the revolver to his left hand and by a jujitsu throw puts Derek on the ground, Fugi’s foot on Derek’s throat.)

Fugi. (To Max.) The game is not played out yet, Mr. Maxwell. Perhaps I shall have the pleasure of meeting you again.

Max. Possibly – at the trial.

Fugi. Ah. I wish you both a very good morning. I think I will use your convenient window. Thank you for this little toy. I will keep it as a memento. (Exit C.) (Derek leaps up to follow him. Maxwell stops him.)

Max. Stop. Keep cool, my boy. He’s armed and you’re not.

Derek. I don’t care. Let me get at the beast.

Max. You must listen to me. We’re up against a very clever and a very dangerous man. Even if we could stop him now we have still not a scrap of evidence against him. The fact that you came in and found me threatening him with a revolver would tell in his favour. Before we have any case against him we must trace and recover the stolen papers. It is a battle of brains, not of force.

Derek. You’re right, Uncle Robert. I was a fool. I felt rather annoyed when he played that old trick on me.

(Enter Beale, L.)

Beale. Sir Reginald Cooper has called, Sir, with Inspector Dodd. Will you see them?

Max. I will see Sir Reginald, ask the Inspector to wait in the Morning Room.

(Exit and re-enter Beale, L.)

Beale. Sir Reginald Cooper. (Enter Adm. L. Exit Beale L.)

Adm. (after shaking hands.) Well, this is a bad business, Maxwell. As soon as I heard of it I went straight round to Scotland Yard – and the shrewdest detective in England is waiting in the next room.

Max. You might have consulted me before you took such a step.

Adm. But what on earth’s the harm? The case will be handled in strict confidence.

Max. But if the police make an arrest, the whole matter will be made public.

Adm. Not at all. The papers will merely state that Scotland Yard have solved the Japanese mystery. Our names will not be mentioned.

Max. Still, I should have preferred to take steps privately.

Adm. You forget that while the loss of the drawings may be a misfortune to you, to me it would be ruin and disgrace. My career in the Service would be at an end – is at an end – unless they are recovered.

Max. Very well, I give in. Derek, ask the Inspector to come in. (Exit Derek, L.)

Adm. I submitted these drawings to you unofficially. They are lost: oh, I’m not blaming you – but the loss of them makes me guilty of a serious official crime.

(Enter Derek, L., with Dodd.)

Adm. Inspector Dodd – Mr. Maxwell.

Max. Sit down, Mr. Dodd.

Dodd. Thank you. (Sits R. of writing table. He takes complete charge of everything to end of scene.) Sir Reginald has give me an outline of the case as far as it goes. There seems on the face of it to be very little direct evidence: it will be my business to find some. I must trouble you to answer a few questions, Mr. Maxwell.

Max. Certainly. (Dodd taking notes.)

Dodd. At what time were you assaulted last night?

Max. I should think it was about 11:20.

Dodd. Had the rest of the household retired to bed?

Max. Yes. My nephew, Mr. Sherwood, (Dodd gives him a searching look.) went upstairs only a few minutes before I was attacked.

Dodd. Where is Mr. Sherwood’s room.

Max. Right at the other side of the house, two storeys up.

Dodd. Is there a bedroom immediately above this room?

Max. Yes. My Secretary, Miss Gaskell, sleeps there.

Dodd. Indeed. How long has Miss Gaskell been with you?

Max. About three months.

Dodd. Did she come to you with good recommendations?

Max. Exceptionally good.

Dodd. It is curious that she heard nothing.

Max. I was attacked quite silently.

Dodd. Quite so. But still, it is curious. Besides these drawings, was anything else stolen?

Max. A few papers. Nothing of great importance.

Dodd. Where were they kept?

Max. In this drawer. I keep the key on my watch chain.

Dodd. They were of sufficient importance to be locked up?

Max. Yes.

Dodd. Were any of the other drawers opened?

Max. Not to my knowledge.

Derek. Everything was in perfect order in the other drawers. I asked Miss Gaskell to look through them this morning.

Dodd. Thank you, Mr. Sherwood. That’s very important. We may conclude then that the thief knew exactly where you keep your private papers. That rather points to an accomplice in the house.

Max. But good heavens! Who?

Dodd. I am not yet in a position to arrive at a definite conclusion. Would your servants know that you kept important papers in that particular drawer?

Max. They might know that I kept it locked: no one except myself knew what papers were in it.

Dodd. Not your Secretary?

Max. No.

Adm. Look here, Mr. inspector, why all these questions, when we know perfectly well who the thief is?

Dodd. Excuse me Sir Reginald, I must handle this case in my own way. However, let us consider that point. This Japanese gentleman – let me see (refers to notes.) – yes, Fugijiro: what reason have you to suspect him?

Max. I had no definite cause until this morning. Half an hour ago, he called on me and admitted that the papers were now in his possession.

Adm. Well, there you are. What more do you want? Go to his house and arrest him at once.

Dodd. Quite impossible, Sir Reginald. We have no legal evidence against him, unless we can lay hands on the papers.

Adm. But he has admitted his guilt.

Dodd. I agree that the case looks black against him. But an entirely private conversation between two parties is not evidence in a court of law. If Mr. Maxwell said one thing, Mr. Fugijiro would probably say the exact opposite.

Adm. But surely an Englishman’s word would be taken against the statement of a confounded Japanese?

Dodd. The British Courts are very impartial, Sir Reginald.

Max. Mr. Dodd is quite right, Admiral. There is no legal evidence.

Dodd. The most I can do is to apply for an order to search his house. This order I can obtain during the afternoon: in the meantime, I should like to ask a few more questions. Mr. Sherwood, did you hear anything unusual last night?

Derek. Nothing at all.

Dodd. What time did you go up to bed?

Derek. About 10 past 11:00

Dodd. Then you knew nothing of the outrage until this morning?

Derek. No. The footman, Beale, came into my room at about a quarter past seven and told me about it. I went to see my Uncle at once. Later I rang up Sir Reginald and left matters in his hands.

Dodd. You said just now that you asked Miss Gaskell to look through Mr. Maxwell’s writing table. Why did you not do that yourself?

Derek. Miss Gaskell knew how my Uncle’s papers were arranged. I looked into the top drawer to see whether any money had been stolen. Nothing had been taken.

Dodd. Thank you, Mr. Sherwood: now may I see Beale.

(Derek rings. Enter Beale, L.)

Dodd. Now Beale, I want you to answer a few questions as shortly as possible. Stick to the point and don’t exaggerate.

Beale. I quite understand, Sir.

Dodd. What time did you go to be last .night?

Beale. Just before 11:00, Sir.

Dodd. You heard nothing unusual during the night?

Beale. No, Sir.

Dodd. What time did you find Mr. Maxwell this morning?

Beale. A few minutes after 7:00, Sir.

Dodd. Did you notice anything unusual about the room?

Beale. Yes, Sir; there was a smell of chloroform.

Dodd. Where was Mr. Maxwell?

Beale. In that chair, Sir.

Dodd. (To Max.) Were you sitting there when you were attacked?

Max. Yes.

Dodd. Was he asleep?

Beale. Yes, Sir. His head was resting on the table. He woke up when I spoke to him.

Dodd. And then?

Beale. I helped him up to bed and called Mr. Sherwood, Sir.

Dodd. I suppose the room has been tidied?

Beale. No, Sir. I thought it better to leave everything as it was.

Dodd. Quite right.

Beale. That board was on the table, Sir, with the four drawing pins in it. Otherwise everything was as usual.

Dodd. (To Max.) That was the board on which you were making the tracings, I suppose?

Max. Yes.

Dodd. Thank you, Beale. (Beale about to go.) Oh, one thing more. Has anyone called this morning?

Beale. Yes, Sir; a Japanese gentleman and Mr. John Cooper.

Adm. My son, Inspector.

Dodd. Thank you. No one else?

Beale. No, Sir. Oh yes, I beg pardon, Sir, a young man called to see Miss Gaskell, Sir.

Dodd. Oh? Did he give any name?

Beale. Yes, Sir: he said his name was Hamilton.

Dodd. Do you know what he came about?

Beale. He came from some shop, Sir. He mentioned something about chintz; I think Miss Gaskell gave him an order for some chair covers.

Max. That’s odd. Her chairs were covered two months ago. She chose the stuff herself.

Dodd. Did this Mr. Hamilton bring anything with him?

Beale. No, Sir – but he took away an envelope.

(Dodd looks interested for the first time.)

Dodd. What sort of envelope.

Beale. Rather a bulky one, Sir: patterns, I suppose. I know I thought at the time it was rather unusual to stick up an envelope with patterns in it.

Dodd. Thank you, Beale: that’s all.

Beale. Thank you, Sir. (Exit L.)

Dodd. Smart fellow, that. Got his head screwed on right. How long have you had him?

Max. Ever since I returned to England two years ago.

Dodd. He’s trustworthy, I suppose.

Max. Oh, perfectly.

Dodd. Now I’ll have a look at that drawer, if you’ll allow me?

Max. It’s quite empty.

Dodd. Well, let’s see if I can find anything in it. May I have the key? (Max hands it.)

Dodd. (Unlocks and takes out drawer.) Lock hasn’t been forced, therefore your key was used: no one has a duplicate, I suppose?

Max. No.

Dodd. (Peers into it with lens.) Do you use Violet soap?

Max. No – Pears.

Dodd. Who uses Violet?

Max. Really. (Max crosses.) I have no idea.

Dodd. Violet soap has a strong scent. That’s the smell in this drawer. Now I should like to have a look round upstairs, if I may.

Max. Is it worthwhile? The crime was committed in this room. The man must have come in through that window as the front door was locked.

Dodd. Who locked it?

Derek. I did.

Max. While I was working I thought I heard a sound in the garden. I looked out of the window but saw nothing. The key was not in the lock.

Dodd. But the window was locked?

Max. Yes, I tried it.

Dodd. The key’s there now. That again looks like an accomplice inside the house. I’ll ask Beale about the key: I think, all the same, I’ll go upstairs if I may. Beale can show me the way. (Derek rings.)

Adm. Do you mind if I come with you?

Dodd. Not in the least, Sir Reginald. But we must proceed from step to step in a delicate case like this. It’s no use jumping to hasty conclusions. (Enter Beale L.)

Max. Beale, Mr. Dodd would like to look round upstairs.

Beale. Very good, Sir. (Exit Dodd, with Adm. and Beale, L.)

Derek. Clever chap, that.

Max. Too clever – he can’t see the wood for the trees. He keeps pottering about over trivial details.

Derek. He seems to have his knife into Miss Gaskell.

Max. That’s what I mean. Even supposing her to be an accomplice – which I don’t believe – she’s not the real criminal. It is Fugijiro (sits down.) who now has the papers. Dodd seems to disregard Fugijiro. It’s the delay that I can’t bear, Derek: while he’s getting orders to search the fellow’s house and is wasting his time arresting accomplices, Fugijiro will have despatched the papers to Japan. Can’t you do anything?

Derek. John is making enquiries now – we mean to beard the lion in his den this afternoon. (Enter John quickly, L.)

John. Well, I’ve found out all about the Japanese bird. I know every detail down to where he buys his sausages.

Derek. What does his household consist of?

John. A cook-house-keeper, two maids, a Japanese boy and a fellow who acts as a sort of combined valet and chauffeur.

Derek. Anything else?

John. I called at the house: he wasn’t in. They expect him back about half past five.

Derek. Then we call at 6.00. Cheer up, Uncle Robert: we’ll have those papers before the poor professional has been able to move at all. Come into the club, John: we must talk thing over.

John. Wigs and beards, I hope, Derek.

Derek. I think not. They tickle so. (Exeunt L.)

(As they go out Miss G. enters L.)

Miss G. I hope you’re feeling better, Mr. Maxwell.

Max. I’m almost myself again now, thanks.

Miss G. Here’s your ticket. I have booked a seat in the Pullman by the 7.05 – and a cabin on the boat. Shall I order the car for you?

Max. No, thank you; I’ll take a taxi.

(Enter Dodd and Adm.)

Dodd. Is this your secretary, Mr. Maxwell?

Max. Yes, Mr. Dodd – Miss Gaskell.

Dodd. Perhaps Miss Gaskell would not mind answering a few questions?

Miss G. Of course not.

Dodd. (Pleasantly.) Your room is above this one, I think?

Miss G. Yes.

Dodd. Yet you heard nothing last night?

Miss G. No. I am a very sound sleeper.

Dodd. I see. What time did you go to bed?

Miss G. About half past ten, I think. I must have been asleep before a quarter past eleven.

Dodd. Why do you mention a quarter past eleven particularly?

Miss G. (Seeing she has blundered.) I understood that was the time Mr. Maxwell was attacked.

Dodd. Quite so. I think you looked through the writing table this morning?

Miss G. Yes, Mr. Sherwood asked me to.

Dodd. Everything was in order?

Miss G. Absolutely.

Dodd. Including the bottom drawer on the right?

Miss G. I did not look there. Mr. Maxwell keeps private papers in that drawer: he has the key.

Dodd. Thank you, Miss Gaskell. I need not detain you. (Exit Miss G. L.) That’s all I can do here, Mr. Maxwell. I will spend the afternoon getting the order to search Fugijiro’s house and a warrant for Miss Gaskell’s arrest.

Max. You have no case against her.

Dodd. A much better case than we have against the Japanese. Not conclusive, perhaps, but strong enough to obtain a warrant. The first piece of evidence is this blotting pad: fortunately it has not been much used. I turned it round to the looking glass and found these words “papers to Japan.” The second point was the soap dish; in it was a cake of Violet soap. Men have swung on lighter evidence than that. (Enter Beale, L.)

Beale. I beg pardon, Sir, have you seen Miss Gaskell?

Max. She was in here a moment ago. What is it?

Beale. Only a parcel from the ironmonger, Sir. It’s marked “urgent,” so I thought she might want it at once.

(Dodd whispers to Max.)

Max. Put it on the table, Beale. I will see that she has it. (He does so.)

Dodd. Will you ask Miss Gaskell not to go out; there is another question I should like to ask her.

Beale. Very good, Sir. (Exit L.)

Dodd. Now we’ll have a look at this urgent parcel. (All together while he unpacks it.) Keys, by George. Show me your bunch, Mr. Maxwell. (Maxwell does so.) Exact duplicates, newly made.

Adm. Well, I’m hanged. (Enter Beale, L.)

Beale. Beg pardon, Sir; Miss Gaskell left the house five minutes ago in a taxi.