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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
THE FOUR-FIFTEEN EXPRESS by AMELIA B. EDWARDS.
"He used to be down here two or three times a week, about three months ago," said he, "when the new line was first set afoot; but since then, you know, gentlemen--"
He paused, significantly.
Jelf flushed scarlet.
"Yes, yes," he said hurriedly, "we know all about that. The point now to be ascertained is whether anything has been seen or heard of him lately."
"Not to my knowledge," replied the station-master.
"He is not known to have been down the line any time yesterday, for instance?"
The station-master shook his head.
"The East Anglian, sir," said he, "is about the last place where he would dare to show himself. Why, there isn't a station-master, there isn't a guard, there isn't a porter, who doesn't know Mr. Dwerrihouse by sight as well as he knows his own face in the looking-glass; or who wouldn't telegraph for the police as soon as he had set eyes on him at any point along the line. Bless you, sir! there's been a standing order out against him ever since the twenty-fifth of September last."
"And yet," pursued my friend, "a gentleman who travelled down yesterday from London to Clayborough by the afternoon express testifies that he saw Mr. Dwerrihouse in the train, and that Mr. Dwerrihouse alighted at Blackwater station."
"Quite impossible, sir," replied the station-master, promptly.
"Because there is no station along the line where he is so well known, or where he would run so great a risk. It would be just running his head into the lion's mouth. He would have been mad to come nigh Blackwater station; and if he had come, he would have been arrested before he left the platform."
"Can you tell me who took the Blackwater tickets of that train?"
"I can, sir. It was the guard,--Benjamin Somers."
"And where can I find him?"
"You can find him, sir, by staying here, if you please, till one o'clock. He will be coming through with the up express from Crampton, which stays at Blackwater for ten minutes."
We waited for the up express, beguiling the time as best we could by strolling along the Blackwater road till we came almost to the outskirts of the town, from which the station was distant nearly a couple of miles. By one o'clock we were back again upon the platform, and waiting for the train. It came punctually, and I at once recognized the ruddy-faced guard who had gone down with my train the evening before.
"The gentlemen want to ask you something about Mr. Dwerrihouse, Somers," said the station-master, by way of introduction.
The guard flashed a keen glance from my face to Jelf's, and back again to mine.
"Mr. John Dwerrihouse, the late director?" said he, interrogatively.
"The same," replied my friend. "Should you know him if you saw him?"
"Do you know if he was in the 4.15 express yesterday afternoon?"
"He was not, sir."
"How can you answer so positively?"
"Because I looked into every carriage, and saw every face in that train, and I could take my oath that Mr. Dwerrihouse was not in it. This gentleman was," he added, turning sharply upon me. "I don't know that I ever saw him before in my life, but I remember _his_ face perfectly. You nearly missed taking your seat in time at this station, sir, and you got out at Clayborough."
"Quite true, guard," I replied; "but do you not also remember the face of the gentleman who travelled down in the same carriage with me as far as here?"
"It was my impression, sir, that you travelled down alone," said Somers, with a look of some surprise.