The Clue of the Twisted Candle


"When I say promissory note," he went on easily, as though he had noticed nothing, "I mean, of course, the securities which the debtor invariably gives to one from whom he or she has borrowed large sums of money."Kara made no answer, but opening a drawer of his desk he took out a key and brought it across to where T.X.was sitting.

"Here is the key of my safe," he said quietly."You are at liberty to go carefully through its contents and discover for yourself any promissory note which I hold from Lady Bartholomew.

My dear fellow, you don't imagine I'm a moneylender, do you?" he said in an injured tone.

"Nothing was further from my thoughts," said T.X., untruthfully.

But the other pressed the key upon him.

"I should be awfully glad if you would look for yourself," he said earnestly."I feel that in some way you associate Lady Bartholomew's illness with some horrible act of usury on my part -will you satisfy yourself and in doing so satisfy me?"Now any ordinary man, and possibly any ordinary detective, would have made the conventional answer.He would have protested that he had no intention of doing anything of the sort; he would have uttered, if he were a man in the position which T.X.occupied, the conventional statement that he had no authority to search the private papers, and that he would certainly not avail himself of the other's kindness.But T.X.was not an ordinary person.He took the key and balanced it lightly in the palm of his hand.

"Is this the key of the famous bedroom safe?" he said banteringly.

Kara was looking down at him with a quizzical smile."It isn't the safe you opened in my absence, on one memorable occasion, Mr.

Meredith," he said."As you probably know, I have changed that safe, but perhaps you don't feel equal to the task?""On the contrary," said T.X.,calmly, and rising from the chair, "I am going to put your good faith to the test."For answer Kara walked to the door and opened it.

"Let me show you the way," he said politely.

He passed along the corridor and entered the apartment at the end.

The room was a large one and lighted by one big square window which was protected by steel bars.In the grate which was broad and high a huge fire was burning and the temperature of the room was unpleasantly close despite the coldness of the day.

"That is one of the eccentricities which you, as an Englishman, will never excuse in me," said Kara.

Near the foot of the bed, let into, and flush with, the wall, was a big green door of the safe.

"Here you are, Mr.Meredith," said Kara."All the precious secrets of Remington Kara are yours for the seeking.""I am afraid I've had my trouble for nothing," said T.X., making no attempt to use the key.

"That is an opinion which I share," said Kara, with a smile.

"Curiously enough," said T.X."I mean just what you mean."He handed the key to Kara.

"Won't you open it?" asked the Greek.

T.X.shook his head.

"The safe as far as I can see is a Magnus, the key which you have been kind enough to give me is legibly inscribed upon the handle 'Chubb.' My experience as a police officer has taught me that Chubb keys very rarely open Magnus safes."Kara uttered an exclamation of annoyance.

"How stupid of me!" he said, "yet now I remember, I sent the key to my bankers, before I went out of town - I only came back this morning, you know.I will send for it at once.""Pray don't trouble," murmured T.X.politely.He took from his pocket a little flat leather case and opened it.It contained a number of steel implements of curious shape which were held in position by a leather loop along the centre of the case.From one of these loops he extracted a handle, and deftly fitted something that looked like a steel awl to the socket in the handle.Looking in wonder, and with no little apprehension, Kara saw that the awl was bent at the head.

"What are you going to do?" he asked, a little alarmed.

"I'll show you," said T.X.pleasantly.

Edgar Wallace