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Shibina 1


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My first impulse, after Sydney’s
disappearance was to laugh. Why should he

display anxiety on my behalf merely
because I was to the sole occupant of an otherwise empty house for a few
minutes more or

less,–and in board daylight too! to say
the least, the anxiety seemed unwarranted.


I lingered at the gate, for a moment or
two, wondering what was at the bottom of

Mr Holt’s singular proceeding, and what
Sydney really proposed to gain by

acting as a spy upon his wandering. Then
I turned to re-enter the house. As I did

so, another problem suggested itself to
my mind –what connection, of the slightest

importance, could man in Paul
Lessingham’s position have with the eccentric

being who had established himself in s
such an unsatisfactory dwelling-place? Mr

Holt’s story I had only dimly
understood,–it struck me that it would require a

deal of understanding. It was more like
a farrago of nonsense, an outcome of

delirium, than a plain statement of solid
facts. To tell the truth, Sydney had taken

it more seriously than I expected. He
seemed to see something in it which I

emphatically did not. What was double
Dutch to me, seemed clear as print to him.

So far as I could judge, he actually had
the presumption to imagine that Paul

–my Paul!–Paul Lessingham!–the great
Paul Lessingham!–was  mixed up in the

very mysterious adventures of poor,
weak-minded, hysterical Mr Holt, in a

manner which was hardly to his credit.


Of course, any idea of the kind was
purely and simply balderdash. Exactly what

bee Sydney had got in his bonnet, I
could not guess. But I did know Paul. Only let

me find myself  face 
to face with the fantastic author of Mr Holt’s weird

tribulations, and I, a woman single
-handed would do my best to show him that whoever played pranks with Paul
Lessingham trifled with edged tools.


I had returned to that historical front
room which according to Mr Holt, had been

the scene of his most disastrous
burglarious entry. Whoever had furnished it had

had original notions of the resources of
modern upholstery. There was not a table

in the place,–no chair or couch,
nothing to sit down upon except the bed. On the floor there was a marvellous
carpet which was apparently of eastern

manufacture. It was so thick, and so
pliant to the thread, that moving over it was like walking on thousand- year
old turf. It was woven in gorgeous colours, and

covered with–


When I discovered what it actually was
covered with, I was conscious of a


disagreeable sense of surprise. It was
covered with beetles!


All over it, with only a few inches of
space between each, were representations of

peculiar kind of beetle,–it was the same beetle, over, and over. The





Shibina 2




On the afternoon of Friday, June 2,
18–, I was entering in my case-book some

memoranda having reference to the very
curious matter of the Duchess of

Datchet’s  Deed-box. It was about two o’clock. Andrews
came in and laid a card

upon my desk. On it was inscribed ‘Mr
Paul Lessingham’.


‘Show Mr Lessingham in. ‘


Andrews showed him in. I was of course
familiar with Mr Lessingham’s

appearance, but it was the first time I
had with him any personal

communication. He held out his hand to


‘you are Mr


Champnell?’ ‘I am.’


‘I believe that I have not had the
honour of meeting you before, Mr Champnell,

but with your father, the earl of
Glenlivet, I have the pleasure of some



I bowed. He looked at me, fixedly, as if
he were trying to make out what sort of

man I was. ‘You are very young, Mr


I have been told that an eminent
offender in that respect once asserted that


Youth is not of necessity a crime.’ ‘And
you have chosen a singular profession,–


one in which one hardly looks for


‘You yourself, Mr Lessingham, are  not old. In a statesman one expects

grey hairs.–I trust that I am
sufficiently ancient to be able to do you



He smiled.


‘I think it possible. I have heard
of  you more than once, Mr Champnell,
always to

your advantage. My friend, Sir John
Seymour, was telling me, only the other day,

that you have recently conducted for him
some business, of a very delicate nature,

with much skill and tact; and he warmly
advised me, if ever I found myself in a

predicament, to come to you. If find myself
in a predicament now.’


Again I bowed.

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