Chapter 63672617

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Chapter NumberIII
Chapter TitleMr. Richard Jenkins.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article63672617
Full Date1893-12-23
Page Number11
Corrections0
Word Count2826
IllustratedY
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleIllustrated Sydney News (NSW : 1853 - 1872)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Jewelled Belt
article text

CHAPTER III.

Mr. Richard Jenkins.

The landlord was evidently in a surly humor. That, indeed, was the normal con- dition of this-excellent man, induced by a bulldog temperament bestowed upon him by nature, which a conscientious devotioTa to his own delectable liquors intensified.

" Ile had a round head clothed in stubby hair of a curious hue, made up of a desperate struggle between its original red and the grey of advancing years. The flesh beneath his eyes was puffy and inflamed, and there and in his little pig eyes the veins ran in angry streaks. Ile had no nose to speak of, but a surplusage of flesh on cheeks and chin which made up in quantity, at least, for the lack of prominence in that useful organ.

Mr. Chester saw that he was a man who

would have to be handled tenderly if any

useful information was to be extracted from him.

" I've called," he remarked blandly,

" with reference to this advertisement. I believe it's yours, Mr. Newton."

<. Yes, it's mine, said the landlord, " and what of that?"

" Well," said Chester, " I want to find out something about him."

" Oh, you do. do you ? " said the landlord, in the same dogged way.

" Yes," contbiued Chester, quietly. " I would like to know, for instance, what kind of looking man he was."

" Come, now," said the landlord, abruptly,

" what's your little game, anyhow ? Are you a' D?"' ,

" Well, no, Mr. Newton, I can't say that I am," replied Chester.

" Then what's your game ?" persisted the landlord. " Did you come to pay his hill. You can do that if you like. I ain't goin' to object."

And the blowsy individual smiled, as a tickled bull-dog might be supposed to smile, at his own ready wit.

" Yes," said Chester, " perhaps I have come to pay his bill if he happens to be the man I'm looking for. That I do not know yet. If you .can satisfy me that your ab- sentee lodger is the person I'm looking for, it is therefore to your interest to do so."

" Well," answered Peter, " I don't see no harm in that. It don't matter to me who

pays, as long as I get my money, lt's

about live weeks since he came here with

his luggage-one big box, locked very fast.

There wasn't much in it besides clothes."

" Oh, you opened it, then, Mr. Newton ?" put in Chester.

The landlord rested his chin on his hand

and glared angrily at Chetter.

" Didn't you say you wasn't a ' D ?' " he asked furiously.

" Of course I did, Mr. Newton," replied Chester in a conciliatory tone.

" Well, then, what does it matter to you whether I opened his box or not ! I didn't take anything out, anyhow," growled the

landlord.

" Of course not, Mr. Newton. Nobody would supect you of such a thing," hur- riedly returned Chester, for he saw by the red light in the landlord's eyes that further negotiations were endangered.

"Well, he had clothes enough in his box to cover a few weeks' board, and, although he didn't pay me, I let him run a bill for a few weeks till I thought he'd about slept and eaten his security out. Ile didn't drink at all hisself, though he'd shout for anybody that asked him, though, you see, as he hadn't the stuff I didn't give all the drinks he ordered. He tc ld me he could lay his hand on any quan- tity of money, so I asked him to settle up one day. He looks a bit put out when I asks him this, and I begun to smell a j*at.'

" ' Come now,' I says, ' I've been had mor'n onct before, and I'm not goin' to be had again ; so pay what you owe, or out you go.'

" He put on a bit of side at this, and said he could buy me out, pub and all.

" 4 You needn't bother about that, mate,' I told him. ' A small matter of a tenner

or so is all I want you to find.'

" Then he told me had a valuable se-

curity which he meant to realise on. I told him there was plenty of pawnshops in Melbourne, but 'e turned up his nose

when I mentioned them.

" * I'll have to go to the best and wealthiest jevv'ller in town,' he says, quite like a swell, and then I knows he was pitching, for he didn't wear no jewellery, and I'll SAvear he

had none in his box."

As he said this he looked half suspiciously at Chester, whose quiet

" Precisely, precisely," reassured him, how-

ever.

" And what happened then ?" inquired

Chester.

" Well, he went out that morning to realise his security and 'e never come back, just as I thort," replied the landlord, bit- terly ; " and that's all I knows of him, and I don't want no more of his sort at the Golden Crown again."

" Very strange proceeding oh his part, certainly," said Chester, absently.

"Strange," echoed Newton scornfully. " Not a bit of it. It ud have been strange if he did come back." And he seized a glass and polished it venomously with his geological towel.

" By the way," said Chester, after a slight pause, " you did not fell me what he was like in appearance."

" That's easily done," said the landlord. " He was about my height, but very thin, ,with grey side levers, and carried hisself

like a soldier. He was a bit bald on the head and had the mark of a knock on it. Dressed in seedy grey tweed, 'lastic side boots, ard brown hard hitter hat. That's his appearance when he left, but if ever Peter Newton meets him again that appearance 'll be slightly altered," and he delivered a vigorous blow at the air as if to indicate beyond the possi- bility of a doubt the means by which the proposed alteration was to be effected.

Chester was somewhat startled by the in- formation supplied by the landlord of the Golden Crown. The description fitted in

exactly with, that of the drowned man. Ile had hardly expected to find his identity out so simply, but it was beyond the possibility of

a doubt in his own mind.

Still his work was only half done. He had to trace the missing man up to the time of his death or murder, as he was determined it really was. Murder ! Could it be pos- sible that the villainous-looking landlord could have had a hand in his taking off ? He looked at Newton again, at the dingy bar with its listless, but evil-looking loafers,ripe for any crime, and decided that it was not at all impossible. His meditations were interrupted by the coarse tones of the land-

lord's voice.

" Is he the chap you were looking for ? If so, here's his bill ; and, when you find him, give him my compliments and tell him that

he'd better not show his nose at the Golden Crown again."

" I am not sure yet, my friend. If it is, you needn't worry about being angry with him. He won't feel it. I suspect, in fact, that he's been killed, perhaps accidentally, and perhaps murdered," and, as he said this, he looked keenly into Newton's face.

No sign of fear or guilt, however, appeared upon that continental expanse of degraded

" A polite individual in a black suit, with a smooth face and the quick eye and supple hands

of the practised jeweller advanced to meet him. Chester handed him his card."

flesh. A faint look of surprise passed over it for a moment, and then it resumed its animal immobility.

" If he is the man I'm looking for I'll pay you, never fear. Meanwhile, give those pleasant-looking customers of yours in the bar a drink, and ha ve one yourself if you're not fiightened."

And, throwing a couple of half-crowns upon the counter, Chester strode out, glad to he rid of the den, with its reeking fumes and degraded inmates.

" Phaugh !" he said, as he spat on the pavement, " what a place for a decent man to put up at ! You could hardly find a worse hole in Whitechapel. No doubt Melbourne is going ahead very fast. I wonder how many such breeding places of moral and physical filth there are in the city?"

But his visit to the Golden Crown had

done a good deal for him in the way of solving the mystery he had become in- terested in. Ile had no doubt that tin» missing lodger from the Golden Crown was identical with the man whose body had been viewed by him in the morgue. De- spite the assertions of Newton, Chester was

convinced that the story of the lodger was correct with regard to having a valuable security in his possession, and the existence of this security must have been known to the murderer or murderers. He had left the Golden Crown in the morning, and he could not have been murdered in the day- time. Had he in the interval visited any of the Melbourne jewellers to realise upon his security ; and what was the nature of that security ?

These were the next points to be solved. Chester had no means of finding out what he wanted than by personal inquiry among the jewellers of the city. This he resolved to enter upon at once.

As the lodger had informed Newton that lie was going to a leading jeweller to realise his security, Chester determined to try the biggest shops first. These are in Collins

street.

The first was a fine establishment, with a grand display of glittering metals and gems in the window, and into this Chester

sauntered.

A polite individual in a black suit, with a smooth face and the quick eye and supple hands of the practical jeweller, advanced to

meet him.

Chester handed him a card.

" I may tell you," he began, " that I am seeking a person in whom I am interested, and who has, I fear, met with an untimely end. I hope that you will not think me exacting if I ask you a few questions on the

matter."

" Certainly not," said the jeweller, politely, " but may I ask first'if you are a member of the Criminal Investigation Branch ? I know most of the officers of the Melbourne detec- tive force.

" No," said Chester, with a smile ; " I fear I can't claim the distinction you mention, though it is the second time to-day that I havo been ashed that question. I am pursuing inquiries which are,however, in the interests of justice, and may before loDg lead to the intervention of the l'olice Department."

" In that case I am at your service," said the jeweller.

" Very well, Mr. --"

" My name is Markham, oiie of the partners, you know," interrupted thc jeweller.

" Thank you," proceeded Chester. " The person fer whom I am looking called him

self Richard Jenkins. He left his lodging3 about 10 day s ago, in the morning, with the avowed intention of seeking some first-clas3 jeweller's establishment to raise money upon something in his possession. Have you had anybody in during that time with that object?""

The jeweller hesitated.

" Yes," he said, after a pause, " there was a man in here about the time you mention upon just such an errand."

" Very good," said Chester. " What was the security?"

" Excuse me," said the jeweller, politely, " there are difficulties in the way of reveal- ing that. As you know*, it is necessary in our business to preserve secresy with refer- ence to transactions of this kind at times.

They are, in fact, confidential as between

ourselves and our clients."

" Is that a case of that description ?"

asked Chester.

" Well, it is in a way," replied Mr. Mark- ham. " The person in question hound me over to secrecy. Of course, if you were a police officer, and required this information, I would only be too happy to. give it. But you have informed me that it is not so. And unless I understand more about the matter than I do at present, I could not justify myself in breaking confidence in the way you suggest."

" In that case," said Chester, " was your client a man of this description ?" And he proceeded to describe the personal appear- ance of Richard Jenkins, together with the clothes he had worn, as described by the landlord of the Golden Crown that morning.

" That certainly is an accurate descrip- tion of the person with whom I had deal- ings upon the day in question," said Mr.

Markham.

" Very well," went on Chester, " Would you feel justified in telling me why he de- sired you to keep the nature of his security a

secret?"

Markham remained silent.

" At least, you can tell me whether he was afraid that if his possession of the security in question were known he might be in danger of some kind."

" Perhaps," said Mr. Markham, cautiouslj*. " Was ho afraid of being robbed ?" asked

Chester.

" Worse," said Mr. Markham. " How ?" inquired Chester.

" He was afraid of being murdered," said the jeweller.

" And God help him," said Chester, solemnly, " I fear that he has been mur-

dered."

" You don't mean to say so," said 'the jeweller, agitatedly.

I do, indeed, unfortunately," Chester went on, " A person answering his de- scription was found in the Yarra. Tho inquest resulted in complete ignorance as to the identity of the deceased, who was evidently a stranger in Melbourne, and a

verdict of accidental death was returned

quite unjustifiably, in my own opinion. This body found in the Yarra had a depressed mark about the middle, such as might have been produced by a metal belt worn tightly in life. Do you happen to

know whether Mr. Jenkins wore such ii belt ?" inquired Chester.

" He did," replied Markham at once.

" That belt was the security he wished to realise upon ?" inquired Chester.

" Yes," said the jeAveller ; " it Avas a jewelled belt of great value, consisting of two thin plates of gold, enclosing a quan- tity of precious stones, quite £10,000 Avorfch."

" Indeed," exclaimed Chester, surprised at thc jeAveller's statement, "so much! Then, as he was here before he was murdered and realised upon the belt, it is something at least to know that his assassins Avere foiled in the object for which they committed tho

crime."

"On the contrary," said Markham, "I gave him £100 for one stone only-a diamond-and he then left my establish-

ment with the belt of treasure still about him."

" Is that so ?" said Chester. " Then our

next step must be in the direction of tracing the murderers. I am afraid that Avili bc a pretty stiff piece of work."

" If it is any use to you," said tho jeAveller, " I can tell' you who made and

riA'etted the belt on the unfortunatu

man."

" Yes, that might be valuable," said

Chester.

" The work Avas A'ery neatly done, and Avas of so unusual a character that I asked Jenkins Avho did it. Ile told me it Avas

Finks and Company, of London. It was done by one Of their best workmen, and only

the manager and this workman knew that Jenkins carried so much wealth about with

him."

" Ah," said Chester, " then it must have been discovered by somebody in Melbourne.

< I think," he added, his thoughts returning x :) the ruffianly company at the Golden { rown-" I think I know who might have ¡nade the discovery and done the deed."

" I hope you will be successful, Mr. i hester, in bringing them to justice," said the jeweller. " Of course, you know where f » find me should you want my evidence at

tiytime."

" Yes," said Chester, rising and proffering his hand to the jeweller. " Allow me to thank you for your courtesy. The body was found on the day succeeding his visit to your shop. He must consequently have been destroyed and robbed upon the night of that visit. Your information is most important in establishing the man's identity and his possession of treasure. I think I can show the police sufficient grounds for re-opening the case. Good-day."