Fit for a King by Walter Deffenbaugh
Professional Sleuth

Fit for a King

by Walter Deffenbaugh

Black Mask | Dec. 1921 | Vol. 4, No. 3 THE RED FILE | Jan. 15, 2017 | Vol. 1 No. 2 Casefile No: 55ccf75fb3901011515aef4a

Millionaire James J. Plainfield ordered a house ‘fit for a king’ but when four leading industrialists tied to the American war effort disappear, a team of special federal law enforcement officers are called in to investigate the House of a Cliff and its hidden mysteries.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

A House Of Mystery

Men who read books, with whom I have talked more than a little in my spare time, are fond of quoting Shakespeare. Perhaps they quote others, but mine is a mind like President Wilson’s—one poetic train is enough on my single-track—and so I can’t remember the rest. One quotation sticks particularly in my memory.

It is something about “There is a tide in human affairs which, taken at its flood, leads on to victory.” Perhaps that isn’t quite right. It has been a long time since I have read it, because working up and down the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the beaches of the North Pacific, one can’t carry much of a library.

But what made it stick with me was that thing in it about the tide. You know the tide and the waves are like a woman; they can’t keep anything secret for very long. Just give them time and they will tell all about it. A woman can’t keep a secret— neither can the sea.

That fellow knew what he was talking about when he wrote that, but he did not know it half so well as we did, because he did not know how much we depend on the tide and the surf for our tips on what the smugglers and other criminals are doing along our uninhabited coasts. If it were not for the help of the sea we would surely be lost.

It was a wave—a big one, unwelcome at the time, unasked and rough, as waves usually are—that solved for me one of the greatest mysteries our service was ever called upon to run down, and one which had baffled our best men for more than a year.

I’ll tell you about it.

Do you remember James J. Plainfield, the man who made twenty or thirty millions out of railway and steamship lines in the West and died a few years ago? You do, I guess; everybody does. I never met him myself, but at the time I am speaking of it was part of my day’s work to look up him and his past history pretty thoroughly.

Did you ever hear of a place he built out here on the West Coast to entertain a king? He called it the “Aerie”—eagle’s nest, you know. He was that kind of a fellow—big and rough and blustering but with a sort of poet’s imagination. It was that which had brought him up from a common sailor to what he was and which gave him the idea when his chance came to have a real king as a guest, to build this place up on the rocks to take him to and stand with him up there where he could take in the whole Pacific with one sweep of his hand and say, “Here, King, see this ocean? Well, I control that.”

He’s dead now, Plainfield is, but the king isn’t. I’ve got two letters at home from His Royal Highness—one asking for full details of what I found out about his friend’s house on the cliff and the other thanking me for my report. I don’t mind saying that in the second one he says that he feels sure that if I had been on the job he would have been perfectly safe.

Of course that is more of a compliment, like some kings like to make, than anything else, because this king never saw the “Aerie.” He got too busy with a war they were having over in Europe and had to cancel his acceptance of Jim Plainfield’s invitation. Jim Plainfield, himself, got pretty busy in that same war in the shipping end of it, and I guess he and all the rest of the world would have pretty nearly forgotten all about the “Aerie” if a newspaperman in Seattle hadn’t assembled a lot of facts and strung them together in a sensational story he called “The House of Fatal Mystery” which was copied all over the country.

That was the way I got in on it. The big chiefs in Washington read it and, as it was in our territory, we got orders to look into the matter, and it surely did seem serious and mysterious enough for somebody to look into.

It seems that in six months no less than four men, who were last seen in the neighborhood of the “Aerie,” had disappeared off the face of the earth. More than that, two women, who couldn’t tell what had happened to them or the missing men they had accompanied to the House on the Cliff, had been found exhausted and more than half crazy in the big woods that the place on three sides surround.

It was a House of Mystery all right, but as fine a structure as you ever saw. Plainfield had given orders that it was to be “fit for a king”— and it was in more ways than one.

It was a sort of glorified log cabin, something like what I understand they call chalets or hunting lodges in Europe, but I don’t believe there is one in Europe like this House on the Cliff. Jim Plainfield, as I said, had been a common sailor, but he had a soul far above tar and ropes and canvas. He had roamed the far seas and seen a lot. He had studied a lot. And, when the riches came, he kept on traveling and seeing and reading. He loved the sea and his big yacht, the Fir, was a common sight on every ocean.

It was in this way he met the king. I never knew the exact details, but I believe he saved the king’s life or something like that during a yacht club regatta. At any rate, their friendship became common knowledge, and when the king planned a visit to America it was common gossip that he would be Plainfield’s guest when he reached the Coast.

Plainfield was always a very busy man and depended for details a great deal upon subordinates who had been with him for years, in most cases. So even in so important a matter as the building of this house for a king he only went as far as drawing the plans and giving directions for the furnishings. The actual superintendence of the thing, we learned, had been left to a man named Harry Stanwood, who had been steward of the big yacht, valet to Plainfield and generally his man of affairs in minor business and quite largely in social matters.

So, while the boss planned the house, it was really Stanwood who built it and had it all ready with every convenience to receive a king, and it was some job, too, out in that wilderness. Materials had to be hauled for miles and labor was very scarce. Stanwood, who was something of a mechanic, had to do a good deal of the work himself, but he had plenty of time, so it did not make a great deal of difference.

He was a most interesting sort of character. We found out all about him, because in our investigation we started out with Plainfield himself and gradually took in everybody who had had anything to do with the “Aerie.” Naturally Stanwood came second, because when the war came on and it was found that the king could not come and Plainfield became so busy with his shipping interests, he left Stanwood in charge of the house with permission to do as he pleased—practically gave it to him.

There used to be some gay old times out there, and Harry Stanwood became well known in all the Puget Sound country for his hospitality at the expense of his boss. It was war time and everybody was more or less on edge with war worry and speculation and German spy scares and one thing and another. It seemed to be a great relief to a lot of people to go out to the “Aerie” for a few days and sort of rest up.

Out there one could forget the war. Plainfield, himself, was above suspicion. Stanwood, the financially receptive host of the place, was past fifty years of age, apparently not desired for war duty and by his own statements of many years an Englishman—a statement borne out by his speech, manner and conversation.

Besides that, the State of Washington had voted “dry,” but the “Aerie” never seemed to have heard of the law going into effect. Stanwood ran no bar, but the cellar stock was checked against each paying guest and the cellar itself, in a sort of cave under the cliff, was one of the house’s principal points of interest. It was big enough to house a regiment—a natural formation in the rock upon which the house was built—and upon those notable occasions when Stanwood himself was host to his own particular cronies, he frequently ordered supper served underground where the wine and spirits were handy.

Not many people knew of the place. I have always doubted if Plainfield ever knew anything at all about what went on there, but among those who did know, the “Aerie” was a celebrated rendezvous. That was so until this newspaper article with its array of gruesome facts threw a damper of dark mystery about the whole region, cut off Stanwood’s source of revenue and probably hastened the death of Plainfield, which occurred within a few months and before the mystery surrounding his chalet had been solved.

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Chapter 2

“Aerie”

We were really first drawn into the case in a sort of semi-official and confidential capacity. One of the men who had disappeared thereabout was a former assistant to a Cabinet officer who still had many friends in Washington. The circumstances were such that they did not want to call in the regular peace officers of the State of Washington. There was a matter of a little spree and a woman or two involved. We were called in as much to avoid publicity as anything else, but we got in good and deep—we and our old friend, the sea, after we had watched in vain for it to give up a body.

I won’t mention this man’s name. We succeeded in keeping the facts quiet and avoiding scandal even after we found his body. It’s the way we have in the service. But you must have read in the newspapers about the others. We found them and we also checked up on the two women found half crazy in the woods. I don’t wonder that they were.

Naturally, we were first suspicious of the people at the house itself. There is nothing particularly suspicious about four or five people dying or disappearing in the course of a few weeks or months in this big world of ours, but when they happen to do so in the immediate vicinity of an isolated place up on a cliff looking out over the Pacific and none of them has any connection with one another, save through visiting this spot, something seems to be wrong. It is like there was a regular fog of suspicion clustering about the whole locality and we plunged in first where the fog was thickest.

But the trouble was to find the people who were or had been connected with the “Aerie.” Stanwood was in charge, but it was easily found out that he spent most of his time in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or Victoria. Indeed, the facts stood out like sore thumbs that he had been particularly conspicuous in one or another of these cities upon the dates of the mysterious disappearances, that he had seemed greatly concerned over them and had himself led the searching parties that had recovered the two women but had been unable to find any trace whatever of the four men.

Outside of him we could find no one regularly connected with the place except Song Chin, a Chinaman of the usually mystical age of forty or eighty or thereabout, who so completely “no- sabbied” everything except expert cooking that we had to give him up and put him in the same class with the rocks and the trees and the ocean. Rather, considering the fact that sermons are said to come from stones, that the big firs distinctly sing and that the waves roar in anger when their long ocean trip is ended at the coast, Song was dumbest of them all.

There were a couple of young Indians who puttered about the place occasionally, cutting firewood and sometimes acting as guides in the woods or handling a few canoes and a motorboat that were kept in a sheltered cove about half a mile down the coast from the rocky crest where the house stood. But they were no different from a couple of hundred other young bucks along the coast and indeed Stanwood seemed to have employed a lot of them rather indifferently from time to time. It was true, as he explained, that a month’s pay was enough to last one of them half a year and they usually quit on pay day.

There was a garage, but no chauffeur or mechanic. Stanwood was fully qualified to act in both of these capacities and indeed that was one of the reasons Plainfield had put him in charge of the house. He was a whole crew of servants in himself. During the time that guests were on the cliff, we found that it had been the custom for them to bring their own servants—a couple of Japanese boys or a maid sufficing for these visits, which were generally of a sort in which the utmost privacy seemed to be desirable.

So we were up against it, so far as the house staff was concerned, and forced to attack at the mysterious house itself.

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Chapter 3

A Hair-Raising Trip

It was a twelve-mile ride through a huge forest of firs over a private road to reach the place and outside of a few scattered and tangled wood trails this was the only way to reach the “Aerie.” Loggers had never penetrated that section and the underbrush was too thick to make the country attractive either for hunters or for deer or bear themselves. It was one of those places where the forest remains just as God planted it, waiting its turn to serve its purpose in the world.

From the sea, as we finally saw it, the place seemed the most inaccessible spot in the world. Standing high on a great cliff, the waves beat interminably on jagged rocks that formed its base. Always the spray seemed to dash halfway up this great 300-foot pedestal upon which the house stood. Down below was the little cove in which the canoes and the motorboats were stored, but even these had been dragged to the spot through the forest and the nearest really safe havens for watercraft were fifty miles south and in Barclay Sound beyond the Strait of Juan de Fuca far to the north.

It was heart-breaking work, but it had to be done. We quartered and crisscrossed that whole tangled section of primeval forest. We made trails through parts of it that not even a pheasant had ever seen, so thick was it. Ahead of us we drove Indian guides and Scandinavian axemen until they were reeling with weariness, wet with perspiration and soaked with the eternal dampness of these woods, and nothing could we find. Finally, absolute exhaustion drove us back to the “Aerie” to rest up, but principally we went there to collect our frazzled wits and think things over.

Naturally, we had made a complete search of the house—or as complete as we could. Stanwood had not been there at the time. He had pleaded important business in Seattle and as we had him constantly shadowed in the city, we were rather glad of his absence, but he came out while we were there the second time and with him along with us we went through the house again with a fine-toothed comb, to say nothing of flashlights, jimmies and other tools. We had said we were going to tear the whole house apart until we had solved the mystery. But we didn’t find anything.

The house itself was a beauty. Built all on one floor, with the exception of an observatory on the roof to give it a little touch of distinction, I imagine, it was apparently hewn out of solid logs from the little clearing behind it. Even the floors were of solid slabs of cedar and so was the woodwork with which the interior was finished.

From the rear, or the land side, you stepped into an entrance hall alongside the kitchen and from there into a great combined living- and dining-room that took up the whole center of the house. To the right were four or five bedrooms and to the left the private suite built for the personal use of the king. In front of this was a sort of sun-parlor and study and a private dining-room, and along the side a huge bedchamber with a massive bed in it made out of native cedar.

Most of the beds in the house were of the usual brass variety but the royal couch was a huge and most interesting affair. Stanwood confided to us that he had made it himself for Plainfield’s room, but the boss had done him the honor of selecting it for the king because it was such a fine example of the craftsman’s skill. It was, indeed. We all had to take our hats off to Stanwood as a master at carpenter work.

He had a marvelous set of woodworking tools and he seemed to be more worried about them than about anything else as we searched the house, ruining the edge of one after another as we tested floors and walls and sought to pry up huge timbers with delicate chisels. We tapped and tested and sawed and bored until the house was pretty near a wreck. And still we could not find anything.

At last, as the best boatman in the party, I volunteered to make a search of the ocean front. We had done it before from the motorboat, keeping well off the rocks and searching the face of the cliff through binoculars. But I wanted to get in closer and finally persuaded an Indian to go with me in a canoe. It was plain he did not want to go. I had to talk real rough to him, but he knew about the federal prison on McNeil Island and he recognized my badge. He figured that the sea was safer than my anger and we started out.

It was a hair-raising trip, although we had selected the ebbing tide of a fairly calm day for our exploration. Even on the ebb the swells of the wide Pacific were torn into surf by great hidden rocks and dashed into foaming spray as they were broken by the claws of the cliff. We could only edge in a way, then turn and paddle for our lives —turn back and try it over again the same way.

Not much satisfaction in that sort of work, I soon decided, but the sea has always been my ally in duty along the coast and I had a hunch it would help us out in this baffling case and I was playing that hunch strong. Just as we edged in for the last time I saw something—a shadow, it might have been, or a discoloration in the cliff, but at any rate it was something—and dropped my glasses to seize my paddle to swing in closer, but before I could dip we were nearly capsized on a hidden rock and only the caution of the Indian, whose muscles had already been set for flight, saved us from death as the vision was snatched from my eyes.

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Chapter 4

Four Invited Guests

When I got back the other fellows listened politely enough but they were too busy with another angle of the case to take my fleeting vision very seriously. Brierly and Campbell were seated at the big table in the living-room with the notes and papers they had taken from their pockets before them. Stanwood was in his room and Corrigan was keeping watch on things outside, as one of us always did.

Brierly was talking, or rather thinking aloud, as he reviewed the facts we all knew and sought to find some hidden meaning in them.

“There was Adams,” he said, “the first one to drop out, Seattle shipbuilder, supposed to be a millionaire, bachelor and privileged to have brought this Miss Johnson here with him if he wanted to, I suppose. No discoverable reason for running away or committing suicide. No idiot would try to run away from here on foot anyway.

“The Johnson girl knows nothing about it or I’m a Dutchman. Says he went to the king’s room to go to bed, she heard him scream and the room was empty when she got there. Windows all closed—no other door. No one here who could run the car and after two day’s of it she went sort of off her head and tried to get out on foot.

“Then come Hunt and Terwilliger. They were here together and alone except for a Jap valet and chauffeur. No one knows what door they went through. The Jap says he had gone to his room over the garage after eating his supper and that they were gone in the morning. Certainly they left the car behind. Both were good friends, prosperous business men, happily married, out here, apparently, just for a little rest.

“Now we come to the boss’s friend. What happened to him? Successful lawyer, fine record, brilliant future, no troubles that we know of. Bit of a rounder, he was, they say, and I guess it’s true if that Kilmer girl came out here with him. Tried to find him, she says, after he vanished. Doesn’t remember where she last saw him, she says, but thinks it was some place inside the house here. Now what became of him?”

“What in hell became of any of them?” Campbell answered with a shrug of his shoulders.

We were silent for several minutes. Then Brierly shifted his position suddenly and hurriedly relighted his pipe— a sign that he had an idea, or at least thought he had.

“What business was Adams in?” he demanded of us.

“Shipbuilding, you idiot,” I answered, because he knew as well as I did.

“And what business were Hunt and Terwilliger in?” was his second question.

“Airplane spruce—what’s the idea?” I grunted in reply.

“And the boss’s friend. What was his game? Lawyer, wasn’t he, but what kind of clients did he have?”

That set Campbell and me to thinking. Who were his clients?

“Corporation lawyer, wasn’t he?” Brierly asked, eagerly. “Handled things in a legal way for big firms, gave advice to big manufacturers, didn’t he?”

We agreed that he did.

“Was he attorney for Adams’s shipyard?” Brierly went on. “He was. Here’s his name on the letterhead as one of the directors. He was general counsel for Hunt and Terwilliger’s lumber company, wasn’t he? You bet he was and a stockholder in it, too.

“Is it just a coincidence or is there anything funny in the fact that all four of these men were big figures in the munitions business out here?”

Campbell took his feet down from the table and I started scratching my head as this new angle soaked in. They were in the munitions business—all four of them—but who—how—what connection was there between that fact and their mysterious disappearances? Neither Campbell nor myself are particularly quick thinkers. We sat silently, waiting for Brierly to go on.

“Why did these men come out here?” he asked. “Was this place advertised for rent? No. Very few people knew anything about it and you know that Stanwood refused several pretty good oilers from people who did know, but whom he didn’t want out here for some reason or other. Some people asked to come and were allowed to do so. We know who they were and know that they paid well for the privilege. They got back all right and told some of their friends about the place.

“But how did these missing men get out here? Tell me that.”

I turned to Campbell. He had done most of that end of the investigation and I was not quite sure of this angle of the case myself.

“Stanwood invited them,” he answered.

“Sure of that?” asked Brierly.

“Positive. He urged all four of them to come. Why? What the devil are you driving at anyway?”

For answer, Brierly leaped from his chair and ran softly from the room over to the bedroom wing of the house. He opened the door into the hall noiselessly and disappeared for a moment.

“It’s all right,” he reported as he resumed his seat. “Stanwood’s in his room, reading.”

“What of it?” Campbell wanted to know.

“Just that we’ve got to make sure that he stays there or some place else where we can find him when we want him,” was the reply. “Go tell Corrigan to keep an extra eye open and then hustle back here.”

We smoked in silence until Campbell came back and Brierly was ready with a new line of questions. He was a man who thought a lot and let his thoughts sort of simmer in his head until they jelled. Then he was ready to talk and when he talked it was to some purpose. “Who is Stanwood?” he demanded. “Englishman,” I answered. “Sort of upper-class servant. Has worked for Plainfield for years. Gambles, drinks and runs with women when the boss isn’t here.”

“How do you know he’s English?”

“Well, I don’t,” I admitted. “But lie’s been accepted as English here and over in Canada for a long time. Talks about England and all that sort of thing.”

“Humph,” grunted Brierly. “Remember that Austrian chap we rounded up after he blew up that ship in Seattle harbor last month? What was his name?”

“Good-looking, well educated chap,” I muttered. “Why it was—Stan— Stan—,” and I turned to Campbell, who had made the arrest.

“Goshamighty, Stanwich,” Campbell exploded.

“Exactly,” said Brierly, with an air of great satisfaction. “Stanwich. And do you remember that our friend inside there showed a particularly keen interest in that case and that he was asking about it only this morning?”

“Yes,” I nodded; “but what possible connection is there between that and this case here?”

“Just this,” said Brierly, slowly and distinctly: “I’ve a lot more than a hunch that our friend is no more English than Song Chin, that his name is Stanwich and not Stanwood, that these two men are either brothers or cousins and both on the same job.”

“You mean—?” I asked.

“I mean that the fellow in jail down in Seattle destroys munitions ships and the fellow in here destroys munitions makers and that they both work for the same boss. These four men were all munitions makers and Stanwood either murdered them or knows how they were murdered.”

It was a little too much for me and I sat still, thinking hard. Campbell started up and made for the hall door, but Brierly halted him.

“What are you going to do?” he called.

“Sweat it out of the devil,” he answered.

Brierly shook his head.

“Can’t be done,” he said. “He’s too deep for that. There’s a trap in this house some place and we’ve got to find it.” Then he turned to me. “What was that again you thought you saw on the side of the cliff?”

I explained again and we waited for Brierly. He was senior man and besides had the clearest head in the party and we readily agreed as he outlined his plan.

“Campbell,” he said, “you and Corrigan go through the king’s bedroom again. It’s the most likely place and that’s where the girl says Adams disappeared with a scream. Mac, I hate to ask you to do it, because I know how dangerous it is, but you’re the best boatman and we ought to know what that thing is you saw. I’ll relieve Corrigan outside and think things over.”

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Chapter 5

Four Dead Men

Campbell and Corrigan went at their job at once, but I had to wait for the next ebb tide, and before I left I made sure that one man at least would be on the edge of the cliff with a coil of rope in case things went wrong. I knew there wasn’t much chance for a capsized man among those rocks, but if I did hit trouble a rope was the only possible chance for my life.

I couldn’t find an Indian anywhere about the place. I think they had an idea I might want to go out there again. And so I had to go alone in a lighter canoe. The sea was a little smoother than before, or rather a little less rough. You couldn’t call it smooth at all. I crept in closer and closer, while Campbell watched from the top of the cliff. I didn’t dare use the glasses because the paddle took both hands, but I found the spot I had seen and kept my eyes on it. Plainer and plainer it grew as I edged toward it and I let out a whoop of satisfaction as I saw a narrow opening in the rock.

I waved an arm at Campbell and turned my head to make sure of the back track through the surf when I saw a big comber almost on top of me. I don’t know where it came from. They happen that way sometimes. But it was coming all right and I would have said my prayers if I had had time. It caught the little canoe like a barrel at the crest of Niagara, and in a huge surge of water and blinding spray, I dashed straight at the cliff.

I didn’t guide the canoe. God, or somebody else did that. But the next thing I knew, I flew between jagged rocks that scraped the sides of the canoe and then with a sickening lurch and a flop I slid into quiet water, twilight and then darkness. I had hit the fissure in the rocks and was inside a huge cave.

Two or three minutes later I had managed to pull myself together enough to look about. I was shivering more from the shock of being alive than anything else. But I managed to find matches and scrambled out into the shallow tide pool. I couldn’t see any roof about me, but I threw pebbles as high as I could without striking anything and when I shouted I decided from the sound that it must be mighty high. I had slid in about fifty feet and, lighting one match after another, I felt my way back into the darkness to see what was there.

Only a few steps had I taken when I came to a wall, which I could see was a sort of a shelf about twenty feet high, and climbed it. There on the rocky floor was the solution of our mystery, if not the key to it.

Four bodies. Four dead men twisted and broken as they fell to their death from far above. Adams, Hunt, Terwilliger and the boss’s friend, I had not a doubt, but I did not stop to make sure. My last match was in my fingers and I had some job ahead if I were not to join them.

Scrambling down the wall I splashed toward the sunlight at the mouth of the cave where the surf still boiled about the jagged rocks. To swim through it was impossible. My only chance was to find a pinnacle I could climb and trust to Campbell and his rope. Fortunately, there was one a few feet out of the opening, and, watching for a calmer moment, I leaped and caught it in my arms and clung there drenched and lacerated but above the pull of the receding waves.

Finally I managed to squirm around so I could look up and saw Campbell and Corrigan, flat on their stomachs, leaning over the edge of the cliff and waving to me. In a minute the rope was lowered with a loop on the end of it and into this I thrust my arms. They hauled me up with a few more bruises and cuts, but I was alive and the rest didn’t matter much.

Breathlessly I told Brierly what I had found and gave him the approximate measurements and directions of the cave. Quickly he paced it off and where do you think we located the spot above the pile of bodies? The bed in the king’s chamber!

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Chapter 6

A House Fit For A King

We didn’t waste any more time then but went for Stanwood. He knew that something unusual was going on and was nervously pacing up and down the big living-room. Campbell and Corrigan grabbed him and we hustled him in beside the bed he had told us he had built.

“Stanwich,” Brierly snarled, and the man winced at the name, “you are standing directly above the bodies of four men you murdered. How did you do it and why?”

The words shook the man to his marrow, but he still kept part of his nerve. He denied the charge, denied his name, denied everything, but as I described what I had seen, he broke still further in a sort of superstitious terror, which I couldn’t understand for a time. Brierly was an adept at the game and as he picked up an axe and attacked the bed, the fellow leaped back with a squeal of alarm.

“So that’s it, eh?” said Brierly with a grin. “Come now, show us how it was done and save a lot of trouble.”

He gave up at that and showed the devil’s trap. Hidden in the head of the bed was a spring which, when he pressed it, released another spring in the side of the couch, just where a man’s knee would rest when he climbed into bed. Securing a pole, he pressed this spring from a safe distance and swiftly the bed tilted at a sharp angle while a black hole opened in the floor for an instant and then closed again into its perfect jointures.

The scheme, he explained, as he grew calmer, was to set the spring at the head of the bed only when the trap was to receive a victim. At other times the room was perfectly safe. He might have set it for us, but did not believe we could ever prove anything against him and also feared that the fall of one of us would reveal his secret to the others.

His terror at my story, he explained, was due to the news that the bodies were still under the house. He had found the chimney opening into the cave when he came there to build the house and the trap was a culmination of the discovery, but he could hear the waves washing down below and believed that the bodies that fell through it would be washed away with the next tide. Then, if they were ever found, it would be supposed that they had tumbled from the cliff.

“But why did you kill these men?” Brierly demanded.

“I didn’t kill them,” he answered. “They fell while I was not here.”

“True, but you set the trap and then invited them here. Why did you do it?” He was silent for a moment, then set his jaws and straightened his shoulders.

“They were enemies of my country,” he said. “They were making munitions to destroy my brothers. Why should I not destroy them?”

“But this house was built before the war,” Brierly insisted. “Why did you build this infernal trap?”

“Because,” he answered slowly, “Mr. Plainfield ordered this house built to entertain a king. I do not believe in kings. They are the enemies of mankind. He ordered a house ‘fit for a king.’ I made it so.”

We drew back, startled at the hate that gleamed in his eyes and at the cruel cunning of the radical bared before us. He saw his chance, and before we could stop him, leaped through the window. Another instant and he had thrown himself over the cliff to the rocks and surf below.

There isn’t much else to tell. We never found out who he really was. No, I haven’t said what king it was who sent me those letters. Perhaps you can figure it out for yourself.

~ The End ~

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