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IT was the custom of Mr. Hobbs when he had been on night duty to sleep

till twelve noon on the following day, when he would awaken with a

punctuality at the dinner hour which would shame the fidelity of an alarm

clock.  What was his surprise then to have his slumbers rudely disturbed

at ten o’clock by the high-pitched voice of Mrs. Hobbs.


“What’s the matter, Bell?”


“Wake up, you!  Here’s news!  Who’d have thought it!  Why half the Shore

might be murdered for all you care!”


“What’s that about murdering?”


“Why, the baker boy just told me that at Mrs. Delfosse’s, down on the

Point, three of the boarders, if not more, were murdered in their beds

last night.  The whole neighbourhood is there, and there is such a crowd

you can hardly get by.  And that is your beat, too—I should just like to

know where you were last night?  I’ll be bound packed away in some

corner, smoking.  You need not shake your head.  I know you.  Neither use

nor ornament.  Whatever the Government sees in you to pay you wages I

can’t think.”


“Now, do keep quiet, Bell, and let a fellow have a show.  You have got

hold of some cock-and-bull story that will melt down in the end to a

broken window or a drunken man beating his wife, or some such foolery.”


“No such thing!  You just dress and pack off to the station.  You may be

wanted, and how can you get a chance to show your ability if you are out

of the way?  A clever man like you only a common constable!  I say it’s a

disgrace.  You should speak up, and put yourself forward.”


                                * * * * *


Two hours later Mr. Hobbs returned.


“You were partly right for a wonder, Bell.  One man has been murdered,

and a very strange case it is, too.”


And then he told in detail to his wife those events that have been



“Well, I never!” exclaimed Mrs. Hobbs.  “What shall we have next?  And

you call that a mystery?  Why it is as plain as the nose on your face.

The woman killed him, of course!  Who else could have done it?  That

fainting or swooning is all moonshine.  Why I could faint twenty times a

day if I wanted to.  I know that Mrs. Booth—knew her before she was

married.  A barmaid in a sixpenny bar.  That will tell you what she is.

Why I would not trust the life of a cat to one of those creatures.

Faint, indeed!  It wants a fool of a man to be taken in by that sort of



“That’s just what Detective Dobell says; he’s got the case in hand.  Sent

for him to Sydney.  As though we were all fools here.  Just my luck

again!  He seems to think there is no doubt about it, and that all the

trouble will be to hunt up the corroborative evidence against her.”


“Is that Dobell, the Sydney detective, that took your last chance from



“Yes, that’s the man.”


“Then, in my opinion, he’s a fool!  If he said it was the woman did it,

then you can make up your mind he is wrong.  Is it likely, now, that a

woman that wanted to kill her husband, would get a dagger and stab him in

his sleep?  Suppose I wanted to kill you now, should I go about it like

that?  No indeed!  I should buy some ‘Rough on Rats,’ or something of

that kind, and put it in your tea.  That is our way.  It is only women on

the stage that use knives or daggers.  You take my advice, and pay no

attention at all to what that Dobell says.  That woman no more committed

that deed than I did myself.”


“But you were positive only five minutes ago that she had!”


“I said no such thing, and if you were not the most aggravating man in

the world you would not dare to say so.  That is always your way.  Trying

to make out I contradict myself, when you are too daft to know what to

say.  If you would only take my advice for once you would—”




“Just do a bit of detective work on the quiet.  This affair will make a

great noise, and the man who finds out the riddle will not be that

thick-head Dobell, take my word for it.  While all these wiseacres are

busy over the woman, you just take another track.  Hunt up their history,

hers and his.  You say that there was no robbery.  If so, what was it

done for?  Who would his death benefit?  Trust a woman’s judgment.  I’d

back her to find more out about a case in five minutes than one of you

tall muddle-heads in a week.”


“It’s all very well to talk, Bell.  If it comes to that I give you best.

But how should a woman who has never been out of Sydney in her life

understand these things?  Now, I have had the advantage of a University

education in the metropolis of the world—a B.A. of London.”


“Well, Mr. B.A., if you are so clever just go into the back yard and chop

some wood for the stove if you expect to have your tea.”


The B.A. went, and as he chopped he inwardly resolved that the advice of

his wife was good; that much might be gained and nothing lost by

following it.  Of a truth, that Dobell did hold his nose a trifle too

high—a man who could not construe a page of Latin to save his life.


“Are you going to do what I say about that case?” screamed out Mrs. Hobbs

from the kitchen.


Mr. Hobbs’ only reply as he took in an armful of billets was to mutter—


“Bell, you’re a fool?”


                                * * * * *


On resuming duty some hours later, Mr. Hobbs found himself detailed for

the special service of watching Mrs. Booth.



Status: Ongoing Type: , Author: Native Language: English
A great detective story .........


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not work with dark mode