Chapter 8 – The Chase
When Amelia came down to breakfast early the next morning, still nursing a bruised jaw from the blow she had suffered the night before, she found Robert already there taking his fill. He was still wearing his clothes from the previous night of course and looked very disheveled. There was also a delicate smell emanating from his direction. Amelia asked “Did you manage to sleep alright on my sofa?” he nodded with his mouth full. “Once you have eaten” she continued “we will take you home so that you can have a bath and get a change of clothes.” He shook his head vigorously “No” he replied with his mouth full of food, some of which sprayed onto the floor. “Sorry” he muttered. “No I cannot go home. We have to prevent a felony. I am certain that Pablo or Beech or both are intending to intercept the bonds in some way to prevent them getting to Fellini. If the bonds are stolen, then either the Department of War will lose their precious rifles or HMG will have to pay up a quarter of a million dollars again. We must inform the police and get them to act.” As if on cue there was a ring on the doorbell and soon after Inspector Knott and Sergeant Jones were shown in. With only a cursory nod to Amelia, the Inspector approached Robert. “Are you Robert Garstang?” and without waiting for a reply continued “I understand from my Constable Wilks that you suspect that a number of Bonds with a very high value are about to be stolen from Her Majesty’s Government. Robert finished his mouthful and replied “I am certain that that is going to happen and its going to happen today!”
“Then there is not a moment to lose. How did you find out that this was going to happen, and how do the felons intend to carry out their evil deed?” While Knott was speaking, Jane appeared at the door of the breakfast room, and as she was ignored, except for a cursory nod from Amelia, helped herself from the sideboard and sat down to eat.
“There is not time to tell you how I know suffice to say that when they realised that I had discovered their intention, I was kidnapped and have spent the last 8-10 days in a stinking cellar. I was rescued last night by a colleague of Miss Ecclestone and she has looked after me well since then. Now. It is the convention that large denomination Bonds are signed and issued to the recipient at noon at HM Treasury. The unusual condition in this particular case is that the Bonds will be issued to Pablo and Beech the company which imports the rifles” he waved away an interruption from Knott “and the Treasury is expecting them to hand the Bonds over to Mr Fellini the manufacturer of the rifles. It is one of the most ridiculous exchanges I have come across, but my protestations on behalf of my client Mr Fellini have been totally ignored. This in spite of evidence that Pablo and Beech have been diverting some of the rifles to another customer, although I must add immediately that I cannot prove that beyond reasonable doubt.”
“Then we have time to investigate what happens. Jones, you go back to Scotland Yard and arrange for a team of constables to follow proceedings. From what Mr Garstang has said, they should be leaving the Treasury building some time after noon, so there is time to get into position. Where are they likely to go to meet Fellini? Does he have an office?”
Amelia intervened “We visited Mr Fellini at his hotel, The Dorchester.” Knott raised an eyebrow. He was clearly behind story on this case and he did not like it, but he said “Thanks for the information. Jones you can arrange for someone to be at the Dorchester to make sure there is no foul play there. I will go to the Treasury to see if I can persuade them to do the sensible thing and hand over the Bonds directly to Mr Fellini. Mr Garstang, I understand that your sisters retained Miss Ecclestone to find you after you were kidnapped,” which was a slight distortion of the truth “I don’t suppose that your sisters have been sent the good news of your rescue?” he looked at Amelia who confirmed that was the case. “Well you have time to return home, have a bath and change your clothes, then we would like you to join us so that we can be sure of properly identifying the culprits if something does go amiss. Ladies, we wish you good day. We can take things from here. Please see Mr Garstang home and leave the rest to us!” It sounded like an instruction and Amelia looked at Jane. “We will see Robert safely restored to his sisters,” she said as they left. Amelia wanted Robert to herself to find out how he discovered the proposed fraud and how he ended up incarcerated in Pablo and Beech’s cellar for 8 days.
Before they set off to be reunited with his sisters, Amelia persuaded Robert to take a bath. She asked Joseph to lend Robert a suit of his clothes. They quite overwhelmed him and made him look faintly ridiculous, but at least both he and they were clean and the smell had gone. Before they left, she penned a note to Ruddock, including the photograph of Pablo which Fellini had given her and asking him to go round to the War Department as soon as he could to keep his eye on the place. She was hoping very much that she, Robert and Jane would get to liaise with Ruddock well before the noon deadline. In the cab Amelia asked Robert to tell her the story. He started rather haltingly “Mr Fellini came to consult me regarding the fact that the government was not paying him for all the rifles he had dispatched to Pablo and Beech. The War Department was not very happy at what they said was my interference in a matter of national security, but I persisted. I went through the paperwork in great detail and it was clear to me that it was the rifles, rather than the WD were trying to cheat Fellini. It was quite clear that Pablo and Fellini were into some scheme of their own. I obtained a Magistrates warrant to search their office. I carried out a very thorough search of their paperwork and it showed clearly that they were not forwarding all of the rifles from Fellini to the WD. Incidentally, I discovered that a consignment of pottery from the Midlands was dispatched to an address in Ireland always around the same time the rifles were forwarded to the WD. Unfortunately I didn’t put two and two together until I had plenty of time to think in the cellar I was kept. It was doubly unfortunately for me that behind my back the War Department was reaching an agreement with Fellini regarding the purchase of all of his rifles for the next two years. Even Fellini kept that from me, I Don’t know why. So, having analysed all the documents, I put together my case to charge Pablo and Fellini with fraud. I had the suspicion at the back of my mind that there was someone at the War Department who was also in on the conspiracy, but I have no evidence and as I said the WD were totally un-cooperative. I went into the office on the Wednesday to put my papers together ready to present to the police on the Thursday morning, one of my usual days at the office. I did not stay long and decided to visit the Billiard hall before going home. Clearly, Pablo and Beech had worked out that I had rumbled them and I was kidnapped soon after leaving the office and incarcerated in that basement. I didn’t know at the time that they would be trying to get their hands on the Bonds, which I knew nothing about, but I pieced it together from things I overheard, when they brought me my food. The rest you probably know.” Amelia noticed with growing alarm that Robert was looking unwell and as he came to the end of his story, his voice became slurred and he slumped down in his seat. They had nearly arrive at his home, and as they pulled to a stop, Amelia told Jane to fetch someone from the house to help bring Robert inside. She checked his breath and pulse and although he was unconscious his breathing and pulse were steady. Perhaps he was just exhausted. The butler came to the door of the cab, and with relief Amelia noticed that he was a big, strong looking man. She pushed the comatose Robert into the man’s arms and the butler carried him into the house. His sisters had been alerted by this time and were laughing and crying at the same time. Pleased that he was home at last, worried sick that he was dying. Shouting above the din to make herself heard, Amelia tried to calm them down. Once they has stopped their loud bawling she told them that she did not think it was serious, he was just exhausted from his ordeal. The important thing was to get him upstairs into bed and send for the doctor. After further persuasion, the sisters calmed down and order was restored which allowed Amelia to explain to the sisters what had happened to Robert and to stress how important it was that they take great care of him so that he was restored to full health. Having received ethusive agreement from the sisters and belated thanks for rescuing their brother, Amelia and Jane took their leave. They were keen to get back to the action, and urged the cab driver to make haste to the War Department.
It was just after half past eleven when Amelia asked the cab driver to put them down just round the corner from the War Department. They were in plenty of time and Amelia wanted to have a word with Ruddock whom she had asked to discretely watch the entrance, to asked if he had seen anything. She told Jane that they should not make a fuss of greeting Ruddock and to make their conversation appear as a casual exchange of pleasantries. He saw them coming along the street, but showed no sign of recognition. Amelia paused momentarily as she passed him. Had he seen anything? He said quietly that he had seen Pablo enter the Department with another man around half an hour before. Amelia smiled her thanks and turned to Jane. “They are in the building. We can catch them. I hope the police turn up on time.” Jane smiled and tapped the truncheon hidden deep in the pocket of her skirt. She was up to any fisticuffs that may ensue. Controlling their excitement they crossed the road and mounted the steps of the War Department. There were two sentries on duty either side of the entrance who did not move as the women passed between them. They were met by a sergeant as they entered the door. He asked their business. Amelia had been thinking hard about what she should say but now she was here, she was not all that confident. However, striking her most authoritative pose and voice she said “We have come to collect some papers.” The sergeant directed them towards a reception desk and as they approached it four men came down the steps from above. They paused in the lobby and shook hands. Three of the men left and the fourth man turned and returned the way he had come. While this was happening, Amelia was telling the receptionist in a low conspiratorial voice that they had come to join a Mr Pablo and Mr Beech to collect some Bonds. The receptionist looked surprised, and turned to consult a colleague, which gave Amelia the chance to have a quick look at the visitors book. There clearly were the names of Pablo and Beech together with the name of the person they were due to see, a Mr Knightly. When the receptionist turned back to them, Amelia gave him her most winning smile and said “I understand the meeting was with Mr Knightly.” The receptionist checked the register and replied “If you will wait on a seat over there,” he indicated “I will send someone to check if you are expected.” A person was dispatched and he returned a few minutes later accompanied by a young man. The young man approached them “My name is Charles Wilson, and Mr Knightly has asked me to come down to see you. We have no record of your names and Mr Beech did not mention that anyone else was expected. Regretfully, the meeting was concluded a few minutes ago and they have just left with the Bonds. They are to be handed over to a Mr Fellini, I understand, and our man Cousins has gone along with them to supervise the handover. The Bonds represent a lot of money and we cannot be too careful.”
“I’m glad to hear it. It is a shame that we have missed the meeting. Mr Pablo in particular was very keen that we should attend the meeting.” and she gave Wilson a knowing look. “We were told that the meeting would be a noon, but it seems to have taken place early.”
Wilson replied “Yes it’s usual to handover Bonds at noon, but they specifically requested that we meet at 11 am, one hour early. If Mr Pablo was so keen for your to attend, he should have let you know that, but now I recall, the request to bring the meeting forward was made late yesterday afternoon and rather caught us by surprise.” Amelia was beginning to get anxious. She wanted to get off to the Dorchester to catch the felons while they were still there. If they handed over the Bonds at least that was one good thing, but they still had to answer for kidnapping Robert Garstang. She thanked Wilson, a very nice young man who had caught Jane’s eye and they left to find a cab. A cab drew up and who should emerge but Knott and Jones. They expressed surprise at seeing Amelia and Jane, but Amelia silence them and quickly explained the situation. The got back into the cab accompanied by the two ladies and by Ruddock, who Amelia had indicated to join them. The cab set off for the Dorchester Hotel. They had just turned into Oxford Street when Knott noticed that there was a commotion on the pavement with two constables in attendance. He called on the cab to stop, and he and Jones jumped out. Amelia was annoyed. She was worried that they would miss catching the felons at the hotel before they left. But Knott had noticed that the man lying on the ground who was the centre of attention, was smartly dressed in the manner of a civil servant. One of the policemen was helping the man to his feet. Knott questioned him “What is your name?” and when he replied Felix Cousins demanded an explanation.
Between moans and having to be held up by the Constable, Cousins said “I was accompanying Mr Pablo and Mr Beech and I was carrying a locked attache case containing some very valuable Bonds which we were due to deliver to Mr Fellini at the Dorchester. When we got into the coach there was a fourth man sitting there and soon after we left the WD he attacked me. I had a chain from the attache case round my wrist, but the man he had cutters and I was unable to stop him cutting the chain. One of the others, I don’t know which, hit me over the head and they threw me out onto the pavement, where the constable found me. As they left I heard one of the men call out to the coach driver ‘Waterloo Station and step on it!'”
“They’re fleeing to the continent” called out the Inspector and urging Jones to hurry, jumped back into the cab. Amelia thought quickly. “Look” she said to Knott, “Ruddock has a photograph of Pablo.” turning to Ruddock “Hand it over. You and Jones go on to Waterloo and see if you can catch him. We will go and see Fellini. I think he deserves to know what is happening, and he may be able to guess where they are aiming for. We will get another cab and head for the Dorchester.” She, Jane and Ruddock got out and the cab set off post haste to Waterloo.
Jane turned at look at poor Cousins, who everyone seemed to have forgotten. “I think that we should get Mr Cousins off to hospital.” she said to Amelia, who admitted that she had quite forgotten him in their haste. They called a cab and she suggested that one of the Constables accompany Cousins. Once he was safely on his way, they called a second cab and set off for the Dorchester. Once their, they were quickly shown to Mr Fellini’s room and told him the bad news. Amelia described what had happened and asked Fellini where he thought Pablo would be heading for. His reply was surprising “I would be surprised if he was going to Italy. He is known there and as I told you, we are distantly related and I know his contacts. If he goes elsewhere in Italy, there is still someone who is bound to notice him and once news of his crime is broadcast, someone will give him away to the police.”
“Damn!” burst out Amelia “If telling the cab driver to go to Waterloo was to put us off the scent, where else could they be aiming for? London is going to be too hot for them to lie low here.” Then she remembered what they had seen in the warehouse. “Its Ireland then are headed for. They have sent some of the rifles to that address in Ireland and the best way to get to Ireland is through Liverpool. My guess is that is where they are headed. St Pancras is the station for Liverpool. Let’s head there. Will you come with us Mr Fellini, you will find it much easier to spot Pablo if he is there with Beech?” Fellini agreed and as soon as he had collected his hat, coat and cane, they set off!