Page:Guy Boothby--A Bid for Fortune.djvu/255

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"Very likely," said the inspector; "but I want a little explanation from you. How do you come to know anything about this business?"

"What—about this 'ere message, d'you mean?"

"Yes, about this message. Where is it from? Who gave it to you?"

"Well, I'll tell you all about it," growled the man. "I was up at the Hen and Chickens just afore dark takin' a nobbier along with a friend. Presently in comes a cove in a cloak. He beckons me outside and says, 'Do you want to earn a sufring?' A sufring is twenty bob; so I says, 'My word I do!' Then he says, 'Will you go out in the harbour to-night, and be down agin Shark Point at ten?' I said I would and so I was. 'You'll see a boat there with an old gent in it. He'll strike three matches and you do the same. Then ask him if he's Mr. Wetherell. If he says "Yes," ask him if the money's all right? And, if he says "Yes" to that, tell him to pull in towards Circular Quay and find the Maid of the Mist barque. He's to take his money down to the cuddy, and he'll get his answer there.' There, that's the truth so 'elp me bob. I don't know what you wants to go arrestin' of an honest man for."

The inspector turned to the water police.

"Does any man here know James Burbidge?"

Two or three voices answered in the affirmative, and this seemed to decide the officer, for he turned to the waterman again and said, "As some of my men seem to know you I'll let you go. But for your own sake keep a silent tongue in your head."

He thereupon got back into his own boat and bade the man be off. In less time than it takes to tell he was out of sight. We then drew up alongside the police boat.