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When the Sea Gives Up Its Dead

A Thrilling Detective Story

Mrs. George Corbett

281 pages
Library of Alexandria
“Confound that upset! I shall be two minutes behind time—I wish I had walked all the way, instead of trusting to the supposed extra speed of a ’bus, when the streets are so slippery that horses cannot keep their feet.” Thus soliloquised Harley Riddell, ruefully, as he hurriedly picked his way through the somewhat aggressive conglomeration of wagons, hansoms, ’buses and fourwheelers, which threatened to still further belate his arrival at the establishment of his employers, Messrs. Stavanger, Stavanger and Co., diamond merchants, of Hatton Garden. By dint of an extra spurt from the corner of Holborn Viaduct, he managed to be less unpunctual than he had expected; but, somewhat to his surprise, he fancied that the assistants whom he encountered betrayed signs of suppressed excitement, which were not at all in keeping with the usual decorous quietude of Messrs. Stavanger’s aristocratic establishment. Still more astonished was he to notice that, whatever the reason for the unusual excitement may have been, it became intensified by his arrival. But there was just a tinge of alarm mingled with his astonishment when he perceived that both the Brothers Stavanger and Mr. Edward Lyon, who was the “Co.” in the business, were here before him. As not one of these gentlemen had ever been known to come to business before eleven o’clock in the forenoon, Harley may be excused for thinking it odd that they should all be here on this particular morning before the city clocks had boomed ten, and that, furthermore, they should all stand gazing at him with expressions which suggested suspicion and anathema. “Nothing wrong, I hope, sirs?” was Harley’s impulsive question. “You are no doubt the best judge of that,” said Mr. David Stavanger, who, being a vicar’s churchwarden, systematically cultivated a dignified bearing and an impressive mode of speech. “Probably the atrocious injury to which we have been subjected has been exposed to the light of detection sooner than you bargained for. You perceive, Mr. Detective,” he continued, turning to a short, but very well-built man of middle age, who was also contemplating our hero with unusual interest, “you perceive the instantaneous working of an evil conscience! No sooner does this ingrate see us here a few moments before our usual time than he jumps to the very natural conclusion that he is at the end of his criminal tether.” “I beg your pardon,” interrupted the detective, whose name was John Gay. “Your deductions, Mr. Stavanger, are possibly more decided than correct. We have yet to hear what this gentleman has to say for himself, and you will perhaps let me remind you that it is dangerous to make statements that we perhaps may be unable to prove.”