The Emerald CrossChapter 12

From the Report of John Kane

As I arrived in Dublin, I found Mr Francis Shackleton inquiring at my hotel after a friend of his, giving a detailed description of the man, who he said was called Count Silvio. On repeating this description to the clerk, he informed me that this description fitted a man who had been resident in the hotel until earlier that day who had given his name as James Hodgson of London. He had told the clerk he was there to see the Exhibition and to meet a business acquaintance who lived in Dublin. From the preliminary report sent to me by the Dublin Metropolitan Police, I know that James Hodgson is the name of a friend of Sir Arthur Vicars, an antique dealer and one of the last people to set eyes on the jewels. I suspect that the man in Dublin was not the real James Hodgson but an impostor, possibly an Italian criminal known as "Count" Silvio. It seems likely that the "business acquaintance" he was here to meet was his accomplice Frank Shackleton who, after giving him all the necessary information about the whereabouts of the safe and the layout of Bedford Tower, stayed away from Dublin until the crime was safely accomplished for the purpose of establishing an alibi. The real James Hodgson would almost certainly have called on Sir Arthur if he had in fact visited Dublin, but I am told he has not been to the Castle since June. Further investigation of Shackleton shows that he has been much more extravagant since the theft than he used to be and has recently settled several long standing debts, both of his own and of his good friend Captain Richard Gorges. His mentor and former friend Sir Arthur Vicars, at first vehemently opposed to the idea of the guilt of anyone on his staff, is now convinced that Shackleton is somehow involved with the crime.

Questioning of the known fences and pawnshops and a search of their premises has been carried out by the DMP with no positive result. However I am sure we will eventually be able to trace the jewels if they have been sold here in Dublin and I am continuing my efforts to this end.

Emily was reading through Inspector Kane's report when Danny came in to tell her that Jason Doyle had been arrested. After yesterday's violence, Jason was the last person she wanted to see. All the same she would have to take charge of the interrogation, if only to show him she was not afraid of him. A moment's thought showed her the best way to handle it. She would be as calm as she could, and resist showing her simmering anger with the man. His attack on her the night before gave her all she needed to lock him up and question him. She took comfort from the fact that now she had him at a disadvantage.

Jason was being held awaiting interrogation in interview room 2. This, like all rooms of its kind, was a small drab room painted an institutional grey-green. They went down to the room together and found Jason there, guarded by two uniformed officers. His suit, the same one he had worn last night, was rumpled and he obviously hadn't had time to shave.

"We caught him at the ferry port," one of the uniformed men told Emily. Jason glared at her but said nothing. He stared at the large bruise that had formed on her face where he had hit her the night before.

"Where were you going, Jason?" Emily asked in a pleasant conversational tone, "was it to Antwerp again?"

From the look of surprise on Jason's face she knew at once that this was not the kind of question he had been expecting. If the theft from the jewellers was not the first thing that came into his guilty mind, what more serious crimes did he have on his conscience? His face soon settled into a deliberately blank expression.

"I'm answering no questions until I have spoken to my lawyer," he said stubbornly. "He's McBride of McKenna McBride."

"Would that be the charming Mr Connor McBride I met last night at that lovely party you so kindly took me to? Because if it is, he might have a conflict of interest. He told me he was Miss Mahoney's solicitor and it may be your best course of action to tell us everything you know about her activities. He can't really act for both of you."

"You'll never learn a thing about Belle from me. I'll never betray her!"

It's like that, is it? thought Emily. Aloud she said, "Why did you steal the emerald cross?"

"I said I'm not answering questions!"

"So you don't deny that it was you who stole it from the jewellers in Antwerp?"

"Stop putting words into my mouth! I'm not admitting anything."

"I'm sure the jeweller will be able to identify you! There's no point denying it. Would you prefer that I ask you about your involvement with the Secret IRB?"

"What's the Secret IRB?"

"Oh, very clever! Are you telling me you're a friend of Belle Mahoney and Paul Robinson and you've never heard of the Secret Irish Republican Brotherhood? They've told you nothing about their secret organisation? Have you never been to one of their meetings?"

"Never! I don't know what you're talking about."

"Is Belle Mahoney one of the Council of Eleven?"

"If I knew, I wouldn't tell you!"

For a moment they glared at each other in silence. The bruise on Emily's face throbbed, reminding her of how suddenly he could spring to violence.

"Yesterday you committed a violent assault on a Garda officer," she said sternly. "You're going to be spending some time in prison, Jason. Of course, if you give us the information we need about the IRB, we may decide not to push for the maximum sentence. We might even forget to inform the Belgian police that we have the jewel thief they are looking for in our custody. So think carefully before you decide how much you are going to tell us. Even if you have nothing to say about Miss Mahoney, you must know something about the activities of Dr Robinson."

"I think we should go for the maximum penalty," Danny interrupted, "whatever he tells us, he shouldn't get off lightly for what he did to you. A brutal attack on a Garda officer, a woman, too! When I look at that bruise on your face, Emily! No, he doesn't deserve to get one day off his sentence. We've got other sources that can tell us about Robinson."

"I've not got much love for Paul Robinson," Jason hissed, "but even less for the Garda. I'll tell you nothing. I'm not saying another word until I've spoken to McBride."

Emily stood up. "In that case there doesn't seem much point in carrying on with this. I'll be in touch with McBride. I hope he can get here today or it will be a night in a cell for you."

"I'll tell him not to hurry!" Danny sneered. "Keep him locked up until his lawyer gets here."

Meanwhile, Liam had arrived in San Remo, Italy. The slight cold that he had suffered from in the mist and rain of early Spring in Ireland had vanished as soon as he had got out of the plane and into the blazing Mediterranean sunlight. Apart from a trip to London when he was at University, he had never been out of Ireland before, so he was thrilled to get the chance to travel at his employer's expense. He spent the first few hours of his visit just walking around, taking in the sights of the town. He couldn't get over the bright blue skies and the palm trees. Eventually he made his way to the San Remo police headquarters.

When he got there he explained that he was the man from the Garda. Emily had phoned ahead and asked the Italian police for their cooperation, so they were expecting him.

"You need to talk to old Mr Mainwaring? No problem!" The Italian officer, whose name was Rossi, was friendly and spoke English well, luckily for Liam who spoke no Italian at all. "I will telephone to let him know you are coming. He does not go out very much now. I think he will be happy to see you. He likes to talk to people in English, but most people here do not speak it well enough."

After a short conversation on the phone that started in Italian and ended in English, the policeman informed Liam that Keith Mainwaring would see him the next day at his villa. He then insisted on taking Liam to a little restaurant hidden away in a side street that served good wine and excellent pasta. "It gives me a chance to practice my English," he explained. He was very interested in the progress of the peace talks that were going on in Ireland.

"I have been following the news accounts, but now I can get the inside information from a real Irishman!" he exclaimed.

"The Garda don't know that much more about what's going on than the average person with an interest in politics, except of course that it's our job to stop the terrorist groups who want to interfere with the peace process. There is an organisation known as the Secret Irish Republican Brotherhood, who would like to stop the talks completely. They see any negotiations with the British as treacherous. Their aim of course is a united Ireland. They don't hesitate to use violence to get what they want. My visit here will hopefully get some useful information which may help to convict two of these conspirators."

"You don't suspect old Mr Mainwaring, surely?"

"No, not in the least! He may have information about some valuable jewels which were recently sold to raise funds for the Secret IRB. We have reason to think they could have been acquired here in San Remo."

"How exciting! I wish you luck in your investigation."

Luck was certainly on Liam's side. Though optimistic, he had no idea of the important piece of evidence that he would be given the very next day.

Keith Mainwaring owned a beautiful villa surrounded by shady trees and set back from the road at the end of a long drive. Liam's knock at the door was answered at once by a very old man with a bald head and a white beard. Faded blue eyes looked at Liam from under thick white eyebrows.

"Mr Mainwaring? I'm Liam Murphy, from Ireland. Detective Rossi sends his regards."

"Mr Murphy! Please come in. Would you like coffee?"

He led the way across the marble floor of the hall to a pleasant parlour furnished in an old fashioned style. A pot of coffee and two cups stood ready on a small antique table. When they were seated and the coffee had been poured, the old man declared, "I am extremely curious as to why the Garda should send someone to interview me. I have never even been to Ireland."

"This goes back to some events that happened a very long time ago. Your grandparents lived here then. Your grandfather, Gerald Mainwaring, had a visitor from Ireland who stayed in this house in the year 1907. We suspect that this man had escaped from Ireland with some valuable jewels. I have come to San Remo to trace, if I can, what happened to these jewels."

"Ah! I expect you are referring to Francis Shackleton?"

"Yes! I was hoping you would be able to give me some information about his visit. I know it was a hundred years ago, but perhaps you have heard something from your grandparents? I would particularly like to know where he went and whom he saw on his visit, but I suppose that's too much to hope for."

"I certainly have some information for you!" The old man went to a small antique desk that stood in a corner of the large room. With the slow movements of extreme old age, he bent to open a drawer. He pressed something in the drawer that Liam couldn't see and the base of the drawer slid back, revealing a hidden compartment. From this he took a little blue book which looked very old. "My aunt was only a young girl at the time of Shackleton's visit, but she kept a diary. A few years ago, long after her death, I found it and read it. It has a full account, from her point of view, of the events in this house in 1907. It has lain hidden in this desk for almost a hundred years."

"That's incredible! What amazing luck! You mean that desk has been there for more than a hundred years?"

The old man responded with a wheezing laugh. "Bless you, my boy, I believe it has been there for at least two hundred years."

Liam took the blue book from the old man's hand. It seemed too good to be true. A diary for the very year when Shackleton had visited this house! "May I take it away to read?" he asked.

"Yes, of course, but I would like it returned. It's part of my family history. Mostly, of course, it's about the Mainwarings and the local people of San Remo. I remember my aunt mentions Shackleton a few times, and I think there was something said about jewels, but my memory isn't as good as it was."

Liam left the villa in a jubilant mood. He couldn't wait to get back to his hotel and start reading the diary. He was sure Rossi would allow him to take photocopies at the police station of any pages that held a reference to Frank Shackleton. Then after returning the diary to Keith Mainwaring he could go back to Dublin with his prize.

Walking between two uniformed men to the confinement of a prison cell, Jason gloomily surveyed his prospects for the future. He was not at all sure that McBride would be happy to act on his behalf if his interests conflicted with Belle Mahoney's. He cursed his luck. He had been stupid to assume that Emily was just a pretty woman who he could safely take to a party. I should have killed her while I had the chance, he thought savagely. Now she could lock him up while she looked for evidence against Belle. He shuddered at the thought of beautiful, feminine Belle locked up in prison by brutal guards.

At that that moment the phone of one of the Garda men escorting Jason rang, echoing in the long dark corridor that led to the cells. As the man answered it, Jason saw his chance. He knew it was probably the only chance he would get and he did not hesitate. He hit the other man as hard as he could, then went for the one answering his phone and banged the man's head hard against the wall. Before they could stop him he was running down the corridor, back towards the entrance where they had brought him in. He burst through the reception area with cries of "Stop him!" sounding behind him and in a moment was out in the car park. The first car he reached had the keys left in the ignition. At last a piece of luck! Obviously, people did not expect their cars to get stolen when parked outside Garda Headquarters. In one second he was inside the car and accelerating as fast as he could towards the gate.

The barrier at the gate was down but that did not stop Jason for a moment. Still accelerating, he smashed into the barrier, breaking it into pieces that flew up into the air. The officer on duty at the gate rushed out of the guard room as the car shot through the gateway onto the road. As Jason sped out of Phoenix Park he could hear sirens behind him. As soon as he could he would abandon the car and lose himself in the maze of Dublin's streets.

Garda Headquarters, Dublin 2007