Two men among the crowd approached Mr. Bruff, as soon as he showed himself.
"Well," asked the lawyer. "Have you seen him?"
"He passed us here half an hour since, sir, and went on into the inner office."
"Has he not come out again yet?"
Mr. Bruff turned to me. "Let us wait," he said.
I looked round among the people about me for the three Indians. Not a sign of them was to be seen anywhere. The only person present with a noticeably dark complexion was a tall man in a pilot coat, and a round hat, who looked like a sailor. Could this be one of them in disguise? Impossible! The man was taller than any of the Indians; and his face, where it was not hidden by a bushy black beard, was twice the breadth of any of their faces at least.
"They must have their spy somewhere," said Mr. Bruff, looking at the dark sailor in his turn. "And he may be the man."
Before he could say more, his coat-tail was respectfully pulled by his attendant sprite with the gooseberry eyes. Mr. Bruff looked where the boy was looking. "Hush!" he said. "Here is Mr. Luker!"
The money-lender came out from the inner regions of the bank, followed by his two guardian policemen in plain clothes.
"Keep your eye on him," whispered Mr. Bruff. "If he passes the Diamond to anybody, he will pass it here."
Without noticing either of us, Mr. Luker slowly made his way to the door - now in the thickest, now in the thinnest part of the crowd. I distinctly saw his hand move, as he passed a short, stout man, respectably dressed in a suit of sober grey. The man started a little, and looked after him. Mr. Luker moved on slowly through the crowd. At the door his guard placed themselves on either side of him. They were all three followed by one of Mr. Bruff's men - and I saw them no more.
I looked round at the lawyer, and then looked significantly towards the man in the suit of sober grey. "Yes!" whispered Mr. Bruff, "I saw it too!" He turned about, in search of his second man. The second man was nowhere to be seen. He looked behind him for his attendant sprite. Gooseberry had disappeared.
"What the devil does it mean?" said Mr. Bruff angrily. "They have both left us at the very time when we want them most."
It came to the turn of the man in the grey suit to transact his business at the counter. He paid in a cheque - received a receipt for it - and turned to go out.
"What is to be done?" asked Mr. Bruff. "We can't degrade ourselves by following him."
"I can!" I said. "I wouldn't lose sight of that man for ten thousand pounds!"
"In that case," rejoined Mr. Bruff, "I wouldn't lose sight of you, for twice the money. A nice occupation for a man in my position," he muttered to himself, as we followed the stranger out of the bank. "For Heaven's sake don't mention it. I should be ruined if it was known."
The man in the grey suit got into an omnibus, going westward. We got in after him. There were latent reserves of youth still left in Mr. Bruff. I assert it positively - when he took his seat in the omnibus, he blushed!
The man in the grey suit stopped the omnibus, and got out in Oxford Street. We followed him again. He went into a chemist's shop.
Mr. Bruff started. "My chemist!" he exclaimed. "I am afraid we have made a mistake."
We entered the shop. Mr. Bruff and the proprietor exchanged a few words in private. The lawyer joined me again, with a very crestfallen face.
"It's greatly to our credit," he said, as he took my arm, and led me out - "that's one comfort!"
"What is to our credit?" I asked.
"Mr. Blake! you and I are the two worst amateur detectives that ever tried their hands at the trade. The man in the grey suit has been thirty years in the chemist's service. He was sent to the bank to pay money to his master's account - and he knows no more of the Moonstone than the babe unborn."
I asked what was to be done next.
"Come back to my office," said Mr. Bruff. "Gooseberry, and my second man, have evidently followed somebody else. Let us hope that THEY had their eyes about them at any rate!"
When we reached Gray's Inn Square, the second man had arrived there before us. He had been waiting for more than a quarter of an hour.
"Well!" asked Mr. Bruff. "What's your news?"
"I am sorry to say, sir," replied the man, "that I have made a mistake. I could have taken my oath that I saw Mr. Luker pass something to an elderly gentleman, in a light-coloured paletot. The elderly gentleman turns out, sir, to be a most respectable master iron-monger in Eastcheap."
"Where is Gooseberry?" asked Mr. Bruff resignedly.
The man stared. "I don't know, sir. I have seen nothing of him since I left the bank."
Mr. Bruff dismissed the man. "One of two things," he said to me. "Either Gooseberry has run away, or he is hunting on his own account. What do you say to dining here, on the chance that the boy may come back in an hour or two? I have got some good wine in the cellar, and we can get a chop from the coffee-house."
We dined at Mr. Bruff's chambers. Before the cloth was removed, "a person" was announced as wanting to speak to the lawyer. Was the person Gooseberry? No: only the man who had been employed to follow Mr. Luker when he left the bank.
The report, in this case, presented no feature of the slightest interest. Mr. Luker had gone back to his own house, and had there dismissed his guard. He had not gone out again afterwards. Towards dusk, the shutters had been put up, and the doors had been bolted. The street before the house, and the alley behind the house, had been carefully watched. No signs of the Indians had been visible. No person whatever had been seen loitering about the premises. Having stated these facts, the man waited to know whether there were any further orders. Mr. Bruff dismissed him for the night.
"Do you think Mr. Luker has taken the Moonstone home with him?" I asked.