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Very Odd Fellows - No. 1
The Detective of Genius
A Sherlock Holmes in Real Life
By VAUGHAN DRYDON
IGNATIUS POLLAKY went to England some years ago. He
settled in the Paddington dis- trlct of London near the Great Western Railway ter-
minus and let it be known that he undertook private investi- gations. This insignificant looking Pole with the queer name was not the ordinary private detective who is willing to provide evidence for divorce and other purposes to anybody who will pay well.
He was a man of no ordinary educa-
tion since he spoke six languages fluently. Those who employed him were amazed at the way in which he handled a case. His sagacity seemed super-
human. W. S. Gilbert in one of his operettas has a line referring to "the keen penetration of Paddington Pollaky" - so famous did the detective become. This penetration of his was one of his most striking traits. He seemed to solve mysteries by a kind of instinct.
He was well equipped for his trade also by reason of a wide acquaintance with the criminals of the Continent of Europe and their methods. Where had he acquired the sinister knowledge? He would never tell for he did not confine himself to the ordinary investigations of the private inquiry agent but dealt also
in criminal matters
The chiefs of Scotland Yard were glad to consult this mysterious foreigner with the gift of tongues and the knowledge of the underworld. Police officials from other countries would pay visits to Lon- don to seek the advice of "Paddington Pollaky". As his reputation grew, so
did his income. The alien from Poland became rich but he did not alter his mode of living.
What did he do with his money? That question is soon answered. He was anxious to retire from business and he saved and invested every penny he could toward that end. The risks in his trade were great and he went in fear of his life. His enemies in the underworld were many and desperate. Several had sworn to have his life and he had had many warn- ings. Pollaky always went armed and frequently he changed his bedroom. A revolver lay on his desk while clients con- sulted him. He was successful, well known, and rich but it was all poisoned by fear. For years he knew neither peace of mind by day nor unbroken sleep at night.
Jewel Mystery Solved
Pollaky was instrumental in solving some mysterious thefts of jewels. A gang of international jewel thieves had estab- lished itself in the West End and com- mitted several daring robberies. Pollaky, in conjunction with Scotland Yard, broke up the gang and helped to send them to penal servitude. One of the jewel mysteries dealt with by Pollaky might furnish a plot for a short story. A widely known woman needed money to pay her racing losses. She hit upon a bright idea. She would have her tiara imitated in paste by a clever jeweller and raise money on the real article. When it was necessary to appear at balls and parties in her tiara she could wear the artificial gems, and nobody would know the dif-
ference. She was especially anxious to keep her racing losses from her husband. He was certain to be angry if he knew she had been losing money on the Turf, though perhaps he might have been more indulgent had she won.
At the jewellers a dreadful shock awaited her. The tiara was paste and she was proposing to have an imitation of an imitation! What had happened and how had paste gems been substi-
tuted for the real ones? Save when it was at the bank the tiara had never left the small safe in the wall of her boudoir. Scotland Yard believed that someone in- side the house was responsible, but no evidence was forthcoming.
The puzzle was entrusted to "Padding- ton Pollaky" who arrived at a solution. The sly substitution of paste for diamonds had been made by the woman's husband who had his own reasons for wanting some ready money.
From his peculiar knowledge of the Continental underworld, Pollaky was suc-
cessful in unmasking foreign adventurers and swindlers. A self-styled marquess
who had been a hairdresser's assistant in Paris the last time he worked, was shown up in time to prevent his marriage to a wealthy man's daughter in London. Cer- tain of her friends had become suspicious of the "marquess" and they called in Pollaky to investigate his claims and dis-
cover his real social standing. This was soon done, and the so-called nobleman vanished from the scene.
People who were being blackmailed or threatened went to Pollaky as a matter of course. He must have been instru- mental in saving many a poor harried soul from desperation. Most black- mailers have shady pasts and Pollaky had a diabolical skill in digging up their little secrets and inducing them to leave their prey alone. If all people who are blackmailed would seek advice, this des-
picable form of crime would soon be all but stamped out.
Fear of Revenge
Pollaky's unpopularlty with the criminal classes, the shady rogues and adventurers grew with the years. Most of them were too cowardly to seek open revenge, but there were others who had resolved to make the famous detective suffer for his
activities. The detective, revolver ever handy, went on with his work, but the knowledge that he was a marked man was preying on his mind. His house was barred and bolted at night like a fortress, and burglar alarms of various ingenious types were installed throughout.
Pollaky wns entrusted often with deli- cate negotiations by foreign Governments. The French and the Austrian Chancel- lories knew the retiring man with the sharp eyes. He was as much at home with diplomats and financiers as he was with adventurers, although he used to boast that he was personally acquainted with every criminal in four countries. Not even Pinkertons Detective Agency in its best days could claim superiority to "Pad-
dington Pollaky". Sometimes he would be mysteriously absent from his home in London, and it might be surmised that some foreign potentate had summoned him to assist in unravelling some knot.
He was a Sherlock Holmes in real life, but possibly on an even larger scale. Like
Conan Doyle's hero, he had little use for
disguises, and, like him also, he pre- ferred to work alone. He could reason like Edgar Allan Poe's Dupin, and he knew enough of criminals' methods to be able to name the probable author of a crime by the manner of his working.
Pollaky deserved well of the community, but his end was sad. His brain was overworked at last and began to degener- ate. Doubtless the constant strain of his warfare against the evildoer increased the mischief. He had attained his object
and had made sufficient money to retire.
He left his fortress in London and took a large house at Brighton. Here his brain trouble increased rapidly. He lost his memory, and could not remember the faces of his friends. It is sad to think of the memory that had served him so well - had indeed been one of his chief weapons - failing him at the last. Ulti- mately he acquired the idea that every caller at his house was a criminal wishing to murder him. He would come to the door and threaten visitors with a re- volver. His faculties decayed more and more rapidly, and he died without recog- nising anybody around his bed.
[Thls is the first of a brief series of articles on "Very Odd Fellows". Another article will appear shortly.]