“We’re going down to Maldon,
in Essex,” Ray Raymond explained as we drove
along in a taxi-cab to Liverpool Street Station late
one grey snowy afternoon soon after our return from
He had been away from London for three
weeks, and I had no idea of his whereabouts, except
that one night he rang me up on the telephone from
the Cups Hotel, at Colchester.
An hour ago he had returned to New
Stone Buildings in the guise of a respectable mechanic
in his Sunday clothes, and, full of bustle and excitement,
urged me to run across to Guilford Street and assume
a similar disguise. Then, each with his modest
bag, we had hailed a motor-cab and given the man instructions
to drive to the Great Eastern terminus.
“You’ve read the affair
in this evening’s paper, I suppose?” my
companion asked; “the mystery at Button’s
“Yes,” I replied. “Are we about
to investigate it?”
“That’s my intention,
my dear Jacox,” was his quick reply, as he handed
me his cigarette-case. Then, ten minutes later,
when we were seated together alone in a third-class
carriage slowly leaving London, he turned to me, and
with a deep earnest look upon his face, said:
“There’s much more behind
what appears in the papers regarding this curious
affair depend upon it, old chap. I’ve
wired to Vera to be prepared to come to Maldon on
receipt of a telegram. The facts, as far as are
at present known, are these,” he went on as he
slowly lit another cigarette: “At an early
hour this morning a farm labourer, on his way to work
between Latchingdon and Southminster, discovered, lying
in a ditch, the body of James Pavely, aged forty-three,
a well-known fisherman and pilot. His head had
been crushed by savage blows, his clothes were soaked
with blood, and he was nearly buried beneath the snow.
The labourer alarmed the police, and the body was
conveyed to Southminster. Pavely, who was very
popular at the waterside at Maldon, was unmarried,
and until recently had been rather well-to-do, but
for the past few months bad luck is said to have persistently
pursued him, and he had been left without a boat,
even without a share in a boat, and more recently
he had been out of a job altogether. Now,”
he added, with a keen look, “I want to fix that
point in your mind. For months, ever since the
summer, he has been known to be on the verge of starvation,
yet the police have found in his trousers’ pocket
a handkerchief in which, carefully tied up, were forty-nine
“His savings?” I suggested.
“No,” declared my companion conclusively.
“But if he was murdered, why wasn’t the
money taken?” I queried.
Ray smiled, his face assuming that
sphinx-like expression by which I knew that he had
formed some theory a theory he was about
to put to the test.
“The reason we have to discover,
Jacox,” he said vaguely. “The dead
man is a pilot,” he added; “and in Maldon
are many German spies.”
“But I don’t see that
the fact of Pavely pursuing the honourable calling
of pilot would arouse the enmity of any secret agent,”
“We shall see,” was my
friend’s response; and he became immersed in
On reaching the prosperous little
town of Maldon we left our bags in the cloak-room.
The snow was lying thickly, but it was no longer falling.
A sharp frost had set in, rendering the roads very
slippery. In the darkness infrequent lights glimmered
here and there in the quaint old streets and among
the barges and coasting vessels which lay along the
Hithe. The tide was nearly full, and the river
covered with half-congealed snow and ice. Few
passengers were abroad that wintry evening, but as
we passed a small low-built public-house called the
“Goat and Binnacle,” at the waterside,
we could hear that there were many customers within,
all of whom seemed to be talking at once.
The red-curtained windows reflected
a ruddy chequer upon the trampled snow, and men were
coming up by twos and threes from the river craft,
one and all wending their way to that low-browed house
which seemed to be doing such a roaring trade.
“Let’s take a look inside,”
Ray suggested in a whisper. “We might hear
So together we turned back, and entered
the low-built, old-fashioned place.
Within, we found them all discussing
the mysterious death of Jim Pavely.
Mostly English were the bronzed, weather-beaten
men of the sea and the longshoremen who were smoking
and drinking, and talking so earnestly, but a few
foreigners were among them. There were two or
three Frenchmen, dapper fellows in well-made pea-jackets
and berets, who had rowed ashore from the big white
yawl flying the tricolour, which had been lying off
Heybridge waiting, so we heard, for a change from the
present icy weather before going to sea again; and
there were also a fair number of Swedes and Norwegians
from the two timber-ships whose spars, we had noticed,
towered above the rows of smaller and stumpier masts
belonging to the local and coasting craft which lay
alongside the Hithe. Then there was the first
mate of one of the timber-ships, supposed by most of
those present to be a German. At any rate, he
seemed to be trying hard to carry on a conversation
with the fair-haired landlord, an undoubted immigrant
from the Fatherland.
From one of the seafaring customers
with whom I began to chat, I learned that the keeper
of the place was named Leopold Bramberger, and that
he had been established in that little river-side
hostelry rather more than a year, and was now a well-known
and more or less respected inhabitant of the borough
of Maldon. He had made a little money so
it was generally understood in the course
of some years’ service at the Carlton Hotel
in London as waiter. And a good waiter he certainly
was, as many people living in that part of the country
could testify; since he found time to go out as “an
extra hand” to many a dinner-party; his services
being much appreciated and bringing him in quite a
comfortable little addition to what he made by the
sale of drink down by the Blackwater. But he
did not seem very anxious to talk with his compatriot;
indeed, so frequent were the demands made for “another
pot of four ’arf,” “two of gin ’ot,”
“another glass of Scotch,” and other delectable
beverages, that he and his better half had all they
could do to grapple with the wants of their customers.
From the conversation about us we
gathered that the dead man, though previously somewhat
abstemious, had lately become rather a constant frequenter
of the “Goat and Binnacle,” and though
no one had seen him actually drunk, there were not
a few who could testify to having seen him in a state
very nearly approaching, in their opinion, to “half-seas-over.”
“Well, I’ give suthing
to lay my ’ands on the blackguard as ’as
done for pore Jim,” remarked a burly longshoreman
to his neighbour. “’E’d never done
no one a bad turn, as I knows on, and a better feller
there wasn’t between ‘ere an’ ’Arwich.”
“No there wasn’t,”
came quite a chorus. Jim Pavely, whatever his
misfortunes, was evidently a favourite.
“And no one wouldn’t have
any idea of robbin’ pore Jim,” interposed
another customer; “every one knows that there’s
bin nothin’ on ’im wuth stealin’
this many a day pore chap.”
“Except that forty-nine pound,”
remarked the German landlord, in very good English.
“As for that,” exclaimed
a little man sitting in the chimney-corner, “I
see Belton, the constable, as I were a-coming down
here a quarter of an hour ago, an’ he says as
how there wasn’t no signs of any attempt at
robbery. Jim had his old five-bob watch in ’is
pocket, not worth pawnin’; the sovereigns and
some silver were in his trousers.”
“Ah! That’s the mystery!”
exclaimed more than one in surprise. “Why
no one wouldn’t have thought as Jim ‘ad
seen the colour o’ gold this three months past.”
“Come on in and shut the door,”
cried some one, as a new-comer entered the tap-room,
followed by an icy blast and a shower of snow, which
was again falling.
“Why, it’s Sergeant Newte!”
exclaimed the publican, as a burly man in a dark overcoat
entered, carefully closed the door, and moved ponderously
towards the bar. A sudden hush fell upon the assembly,
all eyes and ears being turned towards the representative
of the law. All felt that the plain-clothes man
bore news of the tragedy, and waited anxiously for
the oracle to speak.
“Well, sir,” asked Bramberger,
“and what can I have the pleasure of serving
you with? It isn’t often we have the honour
of your company down here.”
“I won’t have anything
to-night, thanks,” answered the man. “It
isn’t a drink I’m after, but just a little
information that I fancy you, or some of these gentlemen
here, may be able to give me. Every one knows
that James Pavely was a pretty frequent customer of
yours, and what I want to find out is, when he was
last in here?”
“Let me see. Last night
about seven, wasn’t it, Molly?” returned
the landlord, turning to his wife. “No,
by the by, he came in and had something about a quarter
to nine. That’s the last we saw of him,
The sergeant in plain clothes produced
his notebook. “Who else was in the bar
“Nobody in particular.
Some of the hands from the barges, I fancy. He
just had his drink and passed the time of day, as you
may say, and was off in five or ten minutes.”
“Eh, but you’re making
a mistake there, Mr. Bramberger,” spoke up a
voice near by; and the officer turned sharply in the
direction of the speaker.
Urged on by those standing round him,
Robert Rait, a big longshoreman, came slowly to the
front. All eyes were upon him, which caused him
to assume a somewhat sheepish aspect.
“Well, Sergeant, true as I’m
standing ’ere, I see pore Jim come out of this
’ere bar just after twelve last night along with
that young gent as is learnin’ farming over
At this every one grew interested.
“Are you sure of what you say?” asked
the officer sharply.
“Sartin sure. I were sittin’
on my barge a-smokin’ my pipe, an’ I ’eard
the clock over at the church, behind ’ere, strike
twelve. I don’t know why, but I remember
I counted the strokes. Five minutes later out
come Pavely with the young gent, who I’ve often
seen in this bar afore, an’ they walked off
round by the Marine Lake. They never took no notice
o’ me. They was too busy a’ talkin’.”
As the policeman slowly rendered this
into writing, most eyes sought Bramberger, who, feeling
that he was the object of an attention perhaps not
too favourable, remarked:
“Ah, yes. I believe I’m
wrong, after all. It was twelve o’clock
I meant not nine.”
“And what about this young gent?”
queried the constable quickly. “Who is
he, anyway? Was he here with Pavely?”
“He might have gone out with
him, I didn’t take particular notice of him,”
the German replied.
“But who is he?”
“Oh, you know him well enough.
He’s often in Maldon. It’s young Mr.
Freeman, who’s learning estate work with Mr.
Harris, near Southminster. He does drop in here
now and again.”
“Yes, I know him. A fellow-countryman
of yours, ain’t he?”
“No; he’s English. I’d know
a German well enough.”
“Well, I’ve heard him
speak. Mr. Jones, the schoolmaster, told me once
he thought he spoke with a German accent,” replied
“So he do, Sergeant,”
spoke up a sailorman, “now you mention it.
I’m often in Hamburg, an’ I know the German
“You don’t know anything
about that forty-nine pounds, I suppose?” asked
the blundering local sergeant of police, for, as is
usually the case, the aid of New Scotland Yard had
not been invoked. The police in our small country
towns are always very loath to request assistance from
London, as such action is admission of their own incompetence.
Many a murder mystery could be solved and the criminal
brought to justice by prompt investigation by competent
detectives. But after blunt inquiries such as
those now in progress, success is usually rendered
Raymond exchanged glances with me
and smiled. How different, I reflected, were
his careful, painstaking, and often mysterious methods
“Those sovereigns in ’is
’andkerchief are a puzzle,” declared the
man Rait, “but somehow I fancy there’s
been a bit o’ mystery about pore Jim of late.
Teddy Owen told me a week ago ’e see ’im
up in London, a-talkin’ with a foreigner on
the platform at Liverpool Street.”
“Where is Owen?” asked the sergeant eagerly.
“Gone over to Malmoe on a Swedish
timber-ship,” was Robert Rait’s reply.
“’E won’t be back for a couple of
months, I dare say.”
This statement of the man Owen was
to Raymond and myself very significant and suspicious.
Could it be that the pilot Pavely had sold some secret
to a foreign agent, and that the money he carried with
him on the previous night was the price of his treason?
It was distinctly curious that the assassin had not
possessed himself of that handkerchief full of sovereigns.
We lingered in the low-pitched inn
for yet another half-hour, my companion accounting
for our visit by telling one of the men a fictitious
story that we had been sent to install the electric
light in some new premises at the back of the old
church. We heard several more inquiries made
by the sergeant, and many were the wild theories advanced
by those seafaring loungers. Then, having listened
attentively to all that passed, we retraced our steps
to the station, obtained our bags, and drove to the
King’s Head Hotel, where we duly installed ourselves.
“There’s something very
big behind the cruel murder of the pilot that’s
my belief!” declared Raymond before we parted
for the night. “Nobody here dreams the
truth a truth that will be found as startling
as it is strange.”
I told him of my suspicions that the
publican Bramberger was a spy. But he shook his
“Don’t form any immature
conclusions, my dear Jacox. At present the truth
is very cunningly concealed. It remains for us
to lift the veil and expose the truth to the police
and the public. Good-night.”
Three days passed. Ray Raymond
remained practically inactive, save that we both attended
the inquest at Southminster as members of the public
and listened to the evidence. The revelation that
a man apparently in a state of great destitution carried
forty-nine sovereigns upon him struck the coroner
as unusual, and at his direction the jury adjourned
the inquiry for a week, to allow the police to make
As soon as this was decided my companion
at once became all activity. He found the man
Rait, a big, clumsy seafarer, and questioned him.
But from him he obtained nothing further. With
the publican Bramberger he contrived to strike up
a friendship, loudly declaring his theory that the
motive of the murder of poor Pavely was jealousy, it
being now known that he had been courting the pretty
daughter of an old boatman over at Burnham.
My position was, as usual, one of
silent obedience. Hither and thither I went at
his bidding, leaving to his, the master mind, the gradual
solution of the mystery. He was one of those secretive
men who delighted in retaining something up his sleeve.
The expression upon his face was never indicative
of what was passing within his mind.
The adjourned inquest was held at
last, and again we were both present at the back of
the room. The police practically admitted their
inability to solve the mystery, and after a long deliberation
the twelve tradesmen returned a verdict of “wilful
murder,” leaving the constabulary to further
prosecute their inquiries.
Nearly a fortnight had passed since
the sturdy North Sea pilot had been so cruelly done
to death, and many were the new theories advanced
nightly in the smoke-room of the “Goat and Binnacle.”
I still remained at the “King’s
Head,” but Raymond was often absent for whole
days, and by his manner I knew the spy-seeker to be
busy investigating some theory he had formed.
He had been absent a couple of days,
staying over at the “White Hart” at Burnham-on-Crouch,
that place so frequented by boating men in summer,
when one afternoon I ran over to Chelmsford to call
upon a man I knew. It was about ten o’clock
at night when I left his house to walk to the station
to catch the last train, when, to my surprise, I saw
close to the Town Hall a smart female figure in a
black tailor-made gown and big black hat, walking
before me, accompanied by a tall, thin, rather well-dressed
young man in breeches and gaiters, who seemed to be
something of a dandy.
The girl’s back struck me as
familiar, and I crossed the road and went forward
so as to get a glance at her face beneath the street-lamp.
Yes, I was not mistaken. It was
Vera Vallance! Her companion, however, was a
complete stranger to me a well-set-up, rather
good-looking young fellow, with a small black moustache,
whose age I guessed to be about twenty-eight or so,
and whose dark eyes were peculiarly bright and vivacious.
He walked with swaggering gait, and seemed to be of
a decidedly horsey type.
From their attitude it appeared that
they were intimate friends, and as they walked towards
the station, I watched his hand steal into her astrachan
The incident was certainly puzzling.
Was this man Vera’s secret lover? It certainly
Therefore, unseen by her, I kept close
vigilance upon the pair, watching them gain the platform
where stood the train by which I was to travel back
to Maldon. He entered a first-class carriage,
while she remained upon the platform. Therefore
it was evident that she was not accompanying him.
The train moved off, and, with a laugh,
she actually kissed her hand to the stranger.
Then I sat back in my corner greatly puzzled and disturbed.
Surely Ray Raymond could not know of these clandestine
I was well aware how devoted my friend
was to her. Surely she was not now faithless
to her vow!
It was not my place to speak, so I
could only patiently watch the progress of events.
The dark-eyed man alighted with me
at Witham, but did not enter the Maldon train.
Therefore I lost sight of him.
Three days later I caught sight of
him in the main street at Maldon, still in gaiters
and riding-breeches, and wearing a black and white
check coat and crimson knitted vest. Unnoticed,
I watched him come forth from a saddler’s shop,
and after making several purchases, he strolled to
my hotel, the “King’s Head,” where
he was met by an elderly clean-shaven man of agricultural
type, with whom he had luncheon in a corner of the
Ray was still absent. Would that
he had been present, and that I dared to point out
to him the man who had apparently usurped his place
in Vera’s heart!
At three o’clock, after his
friend had left, the young man sat for some time writing
a letter in the smoking-room, and afterwards called
the boots and gave it to him, with orders to deliver
Then he left for the station apparently
on his return to Witham.
After I got back to the “King’s
Head” I sought James, the boots, and inquired
the addressee of the letter.
“I took it round to Mr. Bramberger
at the ‘Goat and Binnacle,’ sir,”
was the servant’s reply.
“You know the young gentleman eh?”
“Oh yes, sir. He’s
Mr. Freeman, from Woodham Ferris. He’s what
they call a ‘mud-pupil’ of Mr. Harris,
Lord Croyland’s agent. He’s learning
“And he knows Mr. Bramberger?”
“I suppose so. I’ve
often taken notes for him to the ’Goat and Binnacle.’”
I was silent, recollecting the curious
allegation made by the man Rait, that he had seen
the dead man in Freeman’s company.
Some other questions I put to the
boots, but he could tell me but little else, only
that young Freeman was undoubtedly a gentleman, that
he spent his money freely, and possessed a large circle
of friends in the district.
I learned that he lived in a small
furnished cottage outside the dull little town of
Woodham Ferris, and that he had an elderly man-servant
who generally “did” for him.
Had I been mistaken in Vera’s
motive? Had she become acquainted with him as
part of a preconceived plan, some ingenious plan formed
by that fearless hunter of the Kaiser’s spies,
who was my most intimate friend?
Yes, I could only think that I had sorely misjudged
Hearing nothing from Raymond on the
following day, and noticing that the sensation caused
by the death of the pilot had, by this time, quite
subsided, I went again over to Chelmsford and lunched
at the old-fashioned “Saracen’s Head.”
To my satisfaction, I learned that
Vera had been staying there for the past ten days,
and was still there. Whereupon I left the hotel
and watched it during the remainder of that afternoon.
At dusk she came forth neat and pretty
as usual, her face with its soft fair hair half concealed
by her flimsy veil. At the door of the hotel
she hesitated for a second, then she strolled to the
other side of the town, where, at an unfrequented
corner, she was joined by the dark-eyed man Freeman.
From the warm manner of his greeting
it was apparent that he was charmed by her, and together
they strolled along the quiet byways, she allowing
him to link his arm in hers.
Knowing her ready self-sacrifice wherever
the interests of her lover were concerned, I could
only surmise that her present object was to watch
this man, or to learn from him some important facts
concerning the mystery which Ray was so silently investigating.
Therefore, fearing to be observed if I followed the
pair along those quiet thoroughfares, I turned on
my heel, and half an hour later left Chelmsford for
That same night, soon after eleven,
Ray Raymond returned to the “King’s Head,”
arriving by the last train from London.
“We must keep a wary eye upon
that publican Bramberger, Jacox,” he whispered
when we were alone together in my bedroom. “You
must deal with him. Frequent the ‘Goat
and Binnacle,’ and see what’s in progress
“Vera is at Chelmsford, I see,” I remarked
“Yes,” he said, “she’s
already on friendly terms with Freeman. You’ve
seen her, I suppose?”
I responded in the affirmative.
“Well, to-morrow I shall leave
here again, to reappear in Maldon as a river-side
labourer,” he said. “You will retain
your rôle of electrician, and patronise the homely
comforts of our friend Bramberger’s house.”
He spoke with that clear decision
which characterised all his actions, for in the investigation
of any suspicion of the presence of spies, he first
formed his theory, and then started straight away to
prove it to his own satisfaction.
Next day soon after one o’clock
I re-entered the low-built little river-side inn and
found within a few bargemen and labourers gossiping,
as such men will gossip. The landlord who served
me eyed me up and down as though half inclined to
recognise me, so I recalled the fact that I had been
in his house a week or so ago.
Whereupon he immediately became communicative,
and we had a friendly glass together. I told
him that I had concluded my job in order
to account for my hours of idleness in the days that
were to follow and I then became a regular
customer, seldom leaving before the house closed.
Bramberger was one day visited by
the German mate of the timber-ship which had just
come in, the man of his own nationality who had been
in the bar on the night of our arrival at Maldon,
and who seemed to be well known to his usual customers,
for apparently he made regular visits from across
the North Sea.
I noticed that during the afternoon
they were closeted together in the landlord’s
private room, and during the evening they drank in
The return of this German at once
aroused my suspicions, therefore at ten o’clock,
instead of returning to the “King’s Head,”
I concealed myself at the waterside and there waited.
It was an intensely cold vigil, and as the time crept
by, and the church clock struck hour after hour, I
began to fear that my suspicions were unfounded.
At last, however, from the timber-craft
lying in the Blackwater came a boat noiselessly into
the deep shadow, and from it landed two men, each
carrying a heavy box upon his shoulder. They walked
straight over to the “Goat and Binnacle,”
the side door of which opened noiselessly, and having
deposited their loads, they returned to the boat.
This journey to and fro they repeated four times.
Then they rowed away, and though I waited the greater
part of the night, they did not return.
I reported this in a note I sent round
to Ray at his lodging in the poorer quarter of the
town, and in reply I received a message that he would
meet me at the river-side at eleven that night.
Part of that evening I spent smoking
in the inn, and an hour after closing-time I came
upon my friend with whispered greeting at the appointed
“Have you seen Freeman?”
was his first question, and when I replied in the
negative, he told me that he had just been admitted
“You’ve got your revolver, I suppose?”
“I always carry it nowadays,” was my reply.
“Well, old chap, to-night promises to be exciting.”
“Why!” I exclaimed.
“Look! There are three men lurking under
that wall over yonder!”
“I know,” he laughed.
“They’re our friends. To-night we
shall avenge the death of the poor pilot Pavely.
But remain silent, and you’ll see!”
I noted that the three dark figures
concealed near us were water-side labourers, fellows
whose rough-looking exteriors were the reverse of
reassuring. Yet I recollected that every man who
worked on the Blackwater or the Crouch was a patriot,
ready to tear the mask from the spies of England’s
We must have waited in patience fully
three hours, when again from the timber-ship lying
in the Blackwater came the laden boat, and again were
similar boxes landed and carried in the shadow up to
the inn, the door of which opened silently to receive
them. Wherever the Customs officers or police
were, they noticed nothing amiss.
The two men had made their second
journey to the “Goat and Binnacle,” when
Ray Raymond suddenly exclaimed:
“We’re going to rush the
place, Jacox. Have your gun ready”; and
then he gave a low whistle.
In a moment fully a dozen men, some
of whom I recognised as Customs officers in mufti
and police in plain clothes, together with several
longshoremen, emerged from the shadow, and in a moment
we had surrounded the public-house.
The door had closed upon the two men
who carried up the boxes, and a demand that it should
be reopened met with no response. Therefore a
long iron bar was procured from somewhere, and two
policemen working with it soon prised the door
from its hinges.
The lights within had all been suddenly
extinguished, but finding myself in the little bar-parlour
with two others of the party, I struck a vesta and
relit the gas.
Two of the mysterious wooden cases
brought from the ship were standing there.
We heard loud shouts in German, and
a scuffle upon the stairs in the darkness, followed
by a shot. Then a woman’s scream mingled
with the shouts and curses of my companions, and I
found myself in the midst of a wild melee, in which
furniture and bottles were being smashed about me.
My friends were trying to secure Bramberger and Freeman,
while both were fighting desperately for their lives.
Ray made a sudden spring upon the
young man who had been so attracted by Vera Vallance,
but for his pains received a savage cut in the arm
from a knife.
The man stood at bay in the corner
of the smoke-room with half a dozen of us before him.
The fellow had set his jaws fiercely, and there was
murder in his black eyes. Bramberger, however,
had already been secured, and handcuffs had been slipped
upon him by the police.
“Now,” cried Ray Raymond,
“tell your story, Richardson. These two
blackguards must hear it before we hand them over.”
And I noticed that near me were two policemen, who
had covered Freeman with their revolvers.
From among us a rough man in a shabby
pea-jacket, whom I had seen once or twice in that
inn, came forward, and without a word of preliminary
“Jim Pavely, the poor fellow
whom these accursed foreigners murdered, was my brother-in-law.
The night before he was killed he slept at my house.
He was drunk, but he told me something that at first
I didn’t believe. He told me that on the
previous day, spending so much time about this place,
he had stumbled on the fact that a certain German
timber-ship was in the habit of bringing up among its
cargo a quantity of saccharine which was smuggled
ashore at night and stored in the cellars below here.
He had had words with the landlord Bramberger, but
the latter had made him promise to keep his secret
till next morning, when he would pay him a certain
sum to say nothing to the Customs officers. Next
afternoon at four o’clock he went to the ’Goat
and Binnacle’ to receive the money, and I entered
after him, intending to assist him in getting all
he could out of the German. But that fellow Freeman,
yonder whom I know to be also a German was
with his compatriot, and the three had consultation
together in the back room. Half an hour later
Jim Pavely came back to my house and showed me fifty
pounds, and a written agreement signed by Bramberger
to pay one hundred and fifty pounds more in gold in
Calais, on condition that he remained abroad and held
Then the informer paused.
“Go on,” I urged. “What then?”
“Pavely told me something something
he had discovered. But I foolishly laughed his
statement to scorn. He added that he was to sail
in a French schooner that night, and that Freeman,
who was in partnership with Bramberger, was to go
over to Latchingdon with him that evening and introduce
him to the skipper, who would land him at Calais.
When he had gone, the story he had told me struck
me as very astounding; therefore I resolved to follow
him. I saw him come with Freeman out of this place
just after midnight, and I followed them. When
they got to Button’s Hill, on that lonely stretch
of road, I saw with my own eyes Freeman suddenly attack
him with a life-preserver, and having smashed his skull
before I could interfere, he stole the German’s
undertaking from his pocket.”
At this, the man accused, standing
in the corner covered by several revolvers, turned
livid. He tried to protest, but his voice was
only faint and hollow before the living witness of
He had collapsed.
“My first impulse was to denounce
the assassin, but what the dead man had told me caused
me to hesitate, and I resolved to first get at the
truth, which I have done with Mr. Raymond’s aid,”
Richardson went on. “The story of the schooner
was true,” he added, “except that it was
a steam schooner-rigged yacht which was about to land
some stuff for another depot at Burnham.”
“What stuff?” I asked quickly.
“Ammunition ready for the German
army when it lands upon this coast. It was that
fact which Pavely had discovered and told me.
After agreeing to keep the secret of the saccharine,
it seems that he discovered that the boxes really
contained cartridges, a fact which he urged me to
communicate to the War Office after he had secured
the German’s bribe.”
“Yes,” declared Raymond,
“the extensive cellaring under this place is
packed to the ceiling with ammunition ready for the
Day of Invasion. See this, which has just been
After prising open one of the boxes,
many rounds of German rifle-cartridges were revealed.
“That man Freeman before you, though brought
up in England and passing as an Englishman, is, I have
discovered, a German agent, who, in the guise of estate-pupil,
has been busy composing a voluminous report upon supplies,
accommodation, forage, possible landing-places, and
other information useful to the invader. His
district has been the important country between the
Blackwater and the Crouch, eastward of Maldon and
Purleigh. Bramberger, who is also in the German
Secret Service, has been accumulating this store of
ammunition as well as forwarding his coadjutor’s
reports and plans to Berlin, for, being German, it
excited no suspicion that he posted many bulky letters
to Germany. He is often in direct communication
with our friend in Pont Street. My secret investigations
revealed all this, Jacox, hence I arranged this raid
“You’ll never take me!”
cried Freeman in defiance. But next moment these
men, all of them constables in plain clothes, closed
For a moment there was another desperate
struggle, when with startling suddenness a shot rang
out, and I saw Bramberger drop to the floor like a
stone at my feet.
Freeman had wrested a weapon from
one of his assailants and killed his fellow-spy; while,
next instant, without reflection, he turned the revolver
upon himself, and, before they could prevent him, had
put a shot through his own brain, inflicting a wound
that within half a minute proved mortal.
When we searched the cellars of the
“Goat and Binnacle” we found no fewer
than eighty-two cases of rifle cartridges; while next
morning, in a small cottage within a stone’s-throw
of the “White Hart” at Burnham, we discovered
sixty-odd cases of ammunition for various arms, together
with ten cases of gun cotton and some other high explosives.
Also we found six big cases full of proclamations,
printed in English, threatening all who opposed the
German advance with death. The document was a
very remarkable one, and deeming it of sufficient interest,
I have reproduced it in these pages.
DECREE CONCERNING THE
POWER OF COUNCILS OF WAR.
WE, GOVERNOR-GENERAL OF EAST ANGLIA,
by virtue of the powers conferred upon us by
His Imperial Majesty the German Emperor, Commander-in-Chief
of the German Armies, order, for the maintenance
of the internal and external security of the counties
of the Government-General:
ARTICLE I. Any individual
guilty of incendiarism or of wilful inundation,
of attack, or of resistance with violence, against
the Government-General or the agents of the civil
or military authorities, of sedition, of pillage,
of theft with violence, of assisting prisoners
to escape, or of inciting soldiers to treasonable
acts, shall be PUNISHED BY DEATH.
In the case of any extenuating
circumstances, the culprit may
be sent to penal servitude
with hard labour for twenty years.
ARTICLE II. Any
person provoking or inciting an individual to
commit the crimes mentioned
in Article I. will be sent to penal
servitude with hard
labour for ten years.
ARTICLE III. Any
person propagating false reports relative to
the operations of war
or political events will be imprisoned
for one year, and fined
up to L100.
In any case where the affirmation or
propagation may cause prejudice against the German
army, or against any authorities or functionaries
established by it, the culprit will be sent to hard
labour for ten years.
ARTICLE IV. Any
person usurping a public office, or who
commits any act or issues
any order in the name of a public
functionary, will be
imprisoned for five years, and fined L150.
ARTICLE V. Any person who
voluntarily destroys or abstracts any documents,
registers, archives, or public documents deposited
in public offices, or passing through their hands in
virtue of their functions as government or civic
officials, will be imprisoned for two years,
and fined L150.
ARTICLE VI. Any person obliterating,
damaging, or tearing down official notices, orders,
or proclamations of any sort issued by the German
authorities will be imprisoned for six months, and
ARTICLE VII. Any resistance
or disobedience of any order given in the interests
of public security by military commanders and other
authorities, or any provocation or incitement to commit
such disobedience, will be punished by one year’s
imprisonment, or a fine of not less than L150.
ARTICLE VIII. All
offences enumerated in Articles I. VII.
within the jurisdiction
of the Councils of War.
ARTICLE IX. It is within
the competence of Councils of War to adjudicate
upon all other crimes and offences against the internal
and external security of the English provinces occupied
by the German Army, and also upon all crimes against
the military or civil authorities, or their agents,
as well as murder, the fabrication of false money,
of blackmail, and all other serious offences.
ARTICLE X. Independent of
the above, the military jurisdiction already
proclaimed will remain in force regarding all actions
tending to imperil the security of the German
troops, to damage their interests, or to render
assistance in the Army of the British Government.
Consequently, they will
be PUNISHED BY DEATH, and we expressly
repeat this, all persons
who are not British soldiers and
(a) Who serve
the British Army or the Government as spies, or
receive British spies,
or give them assistance or asylum.
(b) Who serve
as guides to British troops, or mislead the
German troops when charged
to act as guides.
(c) Who shoot,
injure, or assault any German soldier or
(d) Who destroy
bridges or canals, interrupt railways or
telegraph lines, render
roads impassable, burn munitions of
war, provisions, or
quarters of the troops.
(e) Who take
arms against the German troops.
ARTICLE XI. The organisation
of Councils of War mentioned in Articles VIII.
and IX. of the Law of May 2, 1870, and their procedure
are regulated by special laws which are the same as
the summary jurisdiction of military tribunals.
In the case of Article X. there remains in force
the Law of July 21, 1867, concerning the military
jurisdiction applicable to foreigners.
ARTICLE XII. The
present order is proclaimed and put into
execution on the morrow
of the day upon which it is affixed in
the public places of
each town and village.
OF EAST ANGLIA.
Copy of the German Proclamation
found in the Secret Store of
Arms at Burnham-on-Crouch.
The affair caused the greatest consternation
at the War Office, at whose instigation it was instantly
hushed up by the police for fear of creating undue
But the truth remains a
very bitter, serious, and significant truth of
Germany’s hostile intentions at a not distant
date, a date when an Englishman’s home will,
alas! no longer be his castle.