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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 7 (October 1, 1936)

The Thirteenth Clue

page 49

The Thirteenth Clue

(Continued on page 15.)

Gillespie said he did.

“They fit in. Another important blind, Gill; another false clue to delude us. But I feel at last we are unravelling these false clues more quickly than the murderer is laying them. The lines, you remember, were:

The belfry bats knelt to a passing dray

While Sense and System slyly slunk away.'

“Now, Gill, what do you think he meant us to infer from that first phrase—The belfry bats'?”

“Pat Lauder, the crooner.”

“Right; absolutely right. How did you manage it?” There was a hint of sarcasm in the tone. The best of us are not entirely free from professional jealousy. Gill waved his hand vaguely

“It just sort of came to me,” he said, and added modestly, “things do, sometimes, you know.”

“And the second phrase, ‘knelt to à passing dray'?” There was a perceptible sneer now.

But Gill's mind had done its dash. He was mute. Imp's face cleared. He said more cheerfully, “Well, I'll tell you. It is an attempt to make us believe that Lauder was in some way involved in a road accident with a dray—that some heartless hit-and-run dray-driver had carried the body into this lonely cabin and gone on his way. This false clue fits in with the entire horsemotif I have been working on. It remains for us to find the Death Weapon, the club with a horse-shoe nailed upon it.”

“But, chief, the last line of verse?”

“Oh, you mean ‘Sense and System?’ That's I.” (He never said ‘That's me'). “But I shall not slink slyly away. Oh, no! The murderer has much to reckon with yet.”

“Sure,” said Gill obediently.

“Come,” cried Impskill Lloyd, and, repacking his brief-case as he went, he dashed out the door, down the steps, and made for a point one hundred and fifty feet from the Signal Cabin. He was closely followed by his companion whose stertorious breathing soon broke in upon the country calm. At exactly a hundred and fifty feet from the Signal Cabin he stopped so abruptly that Gill, who had considerable way on, almost ran him down.

“I suspect,” said Imp, “that the murderer threw the weapon from the Signal Cabin window. It could not have gone more than one hundred and fifty feet. Therefore, from here,” he went on, “I am going to travel in ever decreasing circles with the Cabin as my ultimate centre. You will double back and travel from the Cabin in ever increasing circles until you meet me. Our primary object is to find the horse-shoe mailed club, but bring in anything else you may find.” With these brief but concise directions Impskill made off at a slow jog-trot, taking with his left leg a stride two and one-half inches shorter than with his right, thus causing himself to describe an accurate circle about the Signal-box. Meanwhile Gill hurried to the Cabin and proceeded, with cruder judgment, to circle the place. Fourteen minutes later they met.

“Let us line up the finds,” suggested Impskill.

“Two sheep got away from me, chief,” Gillespie reported penitently.

“Of no material importance,” said Lloyd brusquely, surveying the evidence of their search. Aloud he ran over the objects in his typically brisk way:

“Item. One bath-plug suitable for plug-hole. Dismissed.

Item. One set of uppers, in disrepair, the eye teeth missing. Hold pending further enquiry.

Item. An intimate garment. Feminine. Probably blown from passing train. Dismissed.

Item. One piece of blotting paper used. Hold.

Item. One mangle-wurzle. Chewed. Dismissed.

Item. Handle of an axe. Nail holes near base. Of vast importance.

Item. A sheep's skull. Dismissed.

Item. One draught horse. Immensely important.”

As Impskill Lloyd's keen eyes found this last, he cried out, “Gillespie, where did you find this?”

(Photo, courtesy Dr. Teichelmann.) Kahikaten Bush, Mahinapua Creek, Westland, New Zealand.

(Photo, courtesy Dr. Teichelmann.)
Kahikaten Bush, Mahinapua Creek, Westland, New Zealand.

“Tied up, chief, on the other side of the cabin.”

“It fits in!” cried the detective gleefully, “It all fits in. Gill, hold up its near hind leg. I must see its shoe.”

Gillespie, grasping the leg indicated, leaned heavily against the draught horse, which staggered slightly and then obediently lifted a ponderous foot. Impskill studied the shoe minutely with the aid of his powerful lens. At last he straightened himself and with an air of triumph said, “Gillespie, upon this shoe are signs of blood. The murderer, cunning beyond belief, took this means to dispose of the most valuable evidence in a murder case, the weapon of assault. At the same time he attempted to move the blame upon this innocent animal, by leaving the series of clues we have discovered. He removed the shoe from this draught horse, nailed it to the axe handle, committed the crime, and then replaced the shoe. Gill, we have a genius with whom to deal! I reason that the man who could do all this in all probability owns the animal, and it is this noble beast which is about to take us to him. Now that he is no longer tethered he will wander to his home and there we may hope to find invaluable clues. Perhaps even the murderer. Come, Gill.” With that he leapt lightly upon the broad and glossy back. Gillespie, with a supreme effort, jumped up behind him. When the horse recovered its feet they remounted more carefully, and the animal began to move slowly towards the Signal Cabin.