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The Spike: or, Victoria University College Review, June 1929

Chapter III

Chapter III.

The Honourable Citron Peale, High Chief Commissioner of the Blundon Police Force, examined with interest the spherical object that lay on the blotter in front of him.

"It's a human eye-ball all right," he observed. "Anybody know whose it is?"

First Assistant Chief Deputy Divisional Detective Superintendent Orville Wonk and Second Assistant Chief Deputy Divisional Detective Superintendent Ardshott Dagg convinced the Chief by their silence that they were completely uninformed on the point.

"You have advertised it. of course?" prompted the Chief, thoughtfully prodding the eye-ball with the nib of his fountain pen.

"Yes, sir, in next month's Police Gazette, sir," Dagg assured him.

"Good." commended the Chief, "although I shouldn't think its owner would have much further use for it. . . . Where did you get it?" he asked.

"I noticed Bogginson giving it to the Police Cat, sir," Wonk informed him. "Bogg went very snakey when I butted in and took it away. You see. sir, the Orderly of the Cat's Mess is away with the crowd to-day, and the Bogg appeared to think the creature needed food."

"Ghoulish fellow, Bogginson, for a D.D.D.S.," commented the Chief. "I sometimes think that he's a bit of a cat himself, with his queer green eyes and the way he is always on the prowl after something. I shall have to speak to him seriously about pampering that cat. . . . Still, I don't know. It's an estimable cat—a very estimable cat. I know for a fact page 25 that it catches things sometimes. That's more than I can say of you fellows."

He looked expectantly at the others, who, true to their discipline, burst into a loud guffaw.

"Bull's-eye," howled Wonk.

"Lummy, Chief, but you're a caution," gurgled Dagg, wiping his eyes.

The Chief permitted himself a smile and then became serious.

"To get back to our muttons, boys," he said, "did I understand you to say that the lads were away for the day?"

"Yessir," said Wonk. "It's a Policemen's Holiday to-day. There's been a lot of crime lately, sir, and the poor fellows' feet have got so tender from chasing criminals that I thought I might as well let 'em have a day off."

"Um," frowned the Chief, "I can't say that I altogether approve of your action. It leaves me with a feeling of unprotectedness. Suppose a cat burglar were to come around now: what could we do? How many of the men are jollifying?"

"Let me see, now," said Wonk.

"Fifty-two, sir," put in Dagg. Wonk lifted interrogative eyebrows at him. "I saw them fill two buses—one for the cricket ground and one for the football park. Each bus, as you know, is licensed to carry twenty-six passengers. Twice twenty-six is fifty-two. It's quite easy to work it out, sir, if you'd like to try it."

The Chief made some intricate calculations on his blotter.

"By Jove, Dagg, I believe you are right!" he exclaimed. "I must really get you to show me some of your modern methods one of these days."

Dagg looked gratified.

"Oh, by the way," exclaimed the Chief. "There's still this matter of the eye. Do you know where Bogginson got it?"

"I can tell you that, sir," said Wonk. "He found some kids playing marbles with it outside Kant's place this morning."

"What, not that Kant chap who's always trying to take away our customers?"

"The very same, sir."

"Um," mused the Chief. "Come to think of it, there's an evil look about this eye that somehow reminds me of Kant."

"Good heavens!" ejaculated the detectives.

"What's stirring in your mighty brains now?" inquired the Chief.

"Kant hasn't been seen since yesterday," said Wonk, in an awed voice.

"Well, what of that?" inquired the Chief. "I haven't seen Father Christmas since I was a kid, and there's lots of people—mostly Police— that I haven't seen since yesterday."

"Yessir, but we've been keeping this chap Kant under surveillance," explained Wonk.

"Damn good word, I must make a note of it," said the Chief. "And why," he inquired, "have you been keeping this Brummagem sleuth under—er— surveillance?"

"Er—pardon, sir," said Wonk, nervously, "but the reason is confidential."

"Confidential be damned!" roared Peale. "Out with it, man."

Wonk moved round the table and leaned over the Chief.

page 26

"Fact is, sir," he whispered, reluctantly, "we suspect that Kant is the— oh, my God, look!"

The eye-ball on the blotter was glowing with a horrid life. In the circle of the pupil was an image-an image tiny, yet uncannily distinct—the image of a head—the head of a thin man with green eyes!

"The Mucker!" burst from Dagg.

A low chuckle sounded in the room. The three men looked up. The electric light went out and the room was plunged into darkness.

Through the darkness a pair of green eyes glared malevolence at them.


"Flash 'em," barked the Chief.

A beam of light darted from Dagg's torch. In the Chief's hand was a smoking automatic. On the floor, where a pool of blood was slowly forming, twitched the body of—

A cat!

"The pride of the Force," said the Chief, bitterly. "Juggle the switch, Dagg."

Moving to obey, Dagg collided with the table and dropped his torch. The beam shone on the blotter where the eye had lain. But now, in place of one eye, two eyes glittered up at him from their sockets in a decapitated human head!

It was the head of Kruschen Kant!

Dagg hurled himself in the direction of the switch. Someone was fumbling with it. The room was suddenly flooded with light.

In the doorway stood D.D.D.S. Urban Drift, with a sardonic expression on his face. The bewildered Dagg stared at him.

"Nice quiet place to commit suicide in, Dagg," sneered Drift. "What would the Chief think of it, I wonder, if he were here?"

"Why—why—," stammered Dagg, confused by the other's words, "the Chief is here."

He twisted about—and his hair crept at what he saw.

He saw—nothing!

Gone were High Chief Commissioner the Honourable Citron Peale and the First Assistant Chief Deputy Divisional Detective Superintendent Orville Wonk! Gone was the eye! Gone was the body of the cat! Gone was the head from the blotter!

Dagg stood like a man turned to plasticine.

"Who's that?" snapped Drift, pointing to the window.

Peering through the glass was a human face. It was the face of a thin man with green eyes!

"The Mucker!" hoarsely cried Dagg, as his legs gave beneath him.

"Bogginson!" snarled Drift.

(To be continued.)

(Editorial Note.—Mr. Edgah Wallop suggests that we offer a prize of £100 for every successful guess at the identity of The Mucker. We hesitate to do so from a suspicion that Mr. Wallop's collection of characters with thin faces and green eyes is inexhaustible. We have a further suspicion that Mr. Wallop could not himself make a successful guess. Nevertheless, our confident expectation is that the next issue of "The Spike" will sec the threads of the story combined in a fashion that will enable it to fit comfortably into the deepest recesses of our W.P.B.)