"I have it," he gasped to his secretary. "The mystery is solved.
I have pieced it together. By sheer analysis I have reasoned it out.
Listen—hind legs, hair on back, wet snout, pup—eh, what? does that suggest nothing to you?"
"Nothing," said the secretary; "it seems perfectly hopeless."
The Great Detective, now recovered from his excitement, smiled faintly.
"It means simply this, my dear fellow. The Prince of Wurttemberg is a dog, a prize Dachshund. The Countess of Dashleigh bred him, and he is worth some 25,000 pounds in addition to the prize of 10,000 pounds offered at the Paris dog show. Can you wonder that–"
At that moment the Great Detective was interrupted by the scream of a woman.
The Countess of Dashleigh dashed into the room.
Her face was wild.
Her tiara was in disorder.
Her pearls were dripping all over the place.
She wrung her hands and moaned.
"They have cut his tail," she gasped, "and taken all the hair off his back. What can I do? I am undone!!"
"Madame," said the Great Detective, calm as bronze, "do yourself up.
I can save you yet."
"Listen. This is how. The Prince was to have been shown at Paris."
The Countess nodded.
"Your fortune was staked on him?"
The Countess nodded again.
"The dog was stolen, carried to London, his tail cut and his marks disfigured."
Amazed at the quiet penetration of the Great Detective, the Countess kept on nodding and nodding.
"And you are ruined?"
"I am," she gasped, and sank to the floor in a heap of pearls.
"Madame," said the Great Detective, "all is not lost."
He straightened himself up to his full height. A look of inflinchable unflexibility flickered over his features.
The honour of England, the fortune of the most beautiful woman in
England was at stake.
"I will do it," he murmured.
"Rise dear lady," he continued. "Fear nothing. I WILL IMPERSONATE
That night the Great Detective might have been seen on the deck of the Calais packet boat with his secretary. He was on his hands and knees in a long black cloak, and his secretary had him on a short chain.
He barked at the waves exultingly and licked the secretary's hand.
"What a beautiful dog," said the passengers.
The disguise was absolutely complete.
The Great Detective had been coated over with mucilage to which dog hairs had been applied. The markings on his back were perfect. His tail, adjusted with an automatic coupler, moved up and down responsive to every thought. His deep eyes were full of intelligence.
Next day he was exhibited in the Dachshund class at the International show.
He won all hearts.
"Quel beau chien!" cried the French people.
"Ach! was ein Dog!" cried the Spanish.
The Great Detective took the first prize!
The fortune of the Countess was saved.
Unfortunately as the Great Detective had neglected to pay the dog tax, he was caught and destroyed by the dog-catchers. But that is, of course, quite outside of the present narrative, and is only mentioned as an odd fact in conclusion.
II. – "Q." A Psychic Pstory of the Psupernatural
I CANNOT expect that any of my readers will believe the story which I am about to narrate. Looking back upon it, I scarcely believe it myself. Yet my narrative is so extraordinary and throws such light upon the nature of our communications with beings of another world, that I feel I am not entitled to withhold it from the public.
I had gone over to visit Annerly at his rooms. It was Saturday, October 31. I remember the date so precisely because it was my pay day, and I had received six sovereigns and ten shillings. I remembered the sum so exactly because I had put the money into my pocket, and I remember into which pocket I had put it because I had no money in any other pocket. My mind is perfectly clear on all these points.
Annerly and I sat smoking for some time.
Then quite suddenly—
"Do you believe in the supernatural?" he asked.
I started as if I had been struck.
At the moment when Annerly spoke of the supernatural I had been thinking of something entirely different. The fact that he should speak of it at the very instant when I was thinking of something else, struck me as at least a very singular coincidence.
For a moment I could only stare.
"What I mean is," said Annerly, "do you believe in phantasms of the dead?"
"Phantasms?" I repeated.
"Yes, phantasms, or if you prefer the word, phanograms, or say if you will phanogrammatical manifestations, or more simply psychophantasmal phenomena?"
I looked at Annerly with a keener sense of interest than I had ever felt in him before. I felt that he was about to deal with events and experiences of which in the two or three months that I had known him he had never seen fit to speak.
I wondered now that it had never occurred to me that a man whose hair at fifty-five was already streaked with grey, must have passed through some terrible ordeal.
Presently Annerly spoke again.
"Last night I saw Q," he said.
"Good heavens!" I ejaculated. I did not in the least know who Q was, but it struck me with a thrill of indescribable terror that Annerly had seen Q. In my own quiet and measured existence such a thing had never happened.
"Yes," said Annerly, "I saw Q as plainly as if he were standing here. But perhaps I had better tell you something of my past relationship with Q, and you will understand exactly what the present situation is."
Annerly seated himself in a chair on the other side of the fire from me, lighted a pipe and continued.