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The Orchid Of Sleep
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'With the one exception which I have mentioned, during my stay in Nepal and the surrounding districts I failed to obtain a specimen of this orchid. I have twice seen the curious purple stain upon articles of clothing worn by natives who had died suddenly and mysteriously. The Mangars simply say, "He has offended someone. It is the flower of sleep."
'I immediately recognized the colour of the stains upon the enclosed serviette, and also the curious crystalline formation on their surface. The identity of the "someone" to whom the Mangars refer, I never established. I shall welcome any particulars respecting the history of the serviette.
'Very truly yours,
"Sir Charles Abingdon was poisoned," said Wessex in a hushed voice. "For the girl's sake I hate the idea, but we shall have to get an exhumation order."
"It is impossible," returned Innes, shortly. "He was cremated."
"Good heavens," murmured Wessex, "I never knew."
"But after all," continued Inures, "it is just as well for everyone concerned. The known facts are sufficient to establish the murder, together with the report of Dr. Warwick Grey. But, meanwhile, are we any nearer to learning the identity of the murderer?"
"We are not! " said Wessex, grimly. "And what's more, when I get to Scotland Yard, I have got to face the music. First Mr. Harley goes, and now Nicol Brinn has disappeared!"
"It's almost unbelievable!"
"I took him for a white man," said the detective, earnestly. "I accepted his parole for twenty-four hours. The twenty-four hours expired about noon to-day, but since he played that trick on Stokes last night and went out of his chambers, he has vanished utterly."
Innes stood up excitedly.
"Your ideas may be all wrong, Wessex!" he cried. "Don't you see that he may have gone the same way as the chief?"
"He was mightily anxious to get out, at any rate."
"And you have no idea where he went?"
"Not the slightest. Following his performance of last night, of course I was compelled to instal a man in the chambers, and this morning someone rang up from the house of Lord Wolverham; he is commanding officer of one of the Guards battalions, I believe. It appears that Mr. Nicol Brinn not only locked up a representative of the Criminal Investigation Department, but also stole a Rolls Royce car from outside the Cavalry Club!"
"What!" cried Innes. "Stole a car?"
"Stole Lord Wolverham's car and calmly drove away in it. We have failed to trace both car and man!" The detective inspector sighed wearily. "Well, I suppose I must get along to the Yard. Stokes has got the laugh on me this time."
Wearing a very gloomy expression, the detective inspector proceeded on foot to New Scotland Yard, and being informed on his arrival upstairs that the Assistant Commissioner was expecting him, he entered the office of that great man.
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