An old seafaring stranger with a heavy, locked op chest turns up from nowhere seeking lodgings with Hugh Moneylaws and his mother in Berwick-upon-Tweed, a rural English town bordering Scotland. One night he sends Hugh, a young solicitor's clerk, to meet a man instead of him, as he is too ill, but when Hugh arrives at the destination, he finds a man murdered. Hugh's law firm gets involved to resolve the mystery. Joseph Smith Fletcher (1863-1933) was an English author and journalist, one of the leading writers of detective fiction in the Golden Age. After his journalist career Fletcher first started writing poems, then historical fiction, and finally moved on to write detective mysteries.