Part 3 out of 5
then the only person who could give him away was Miss Norris.
And she of course would only do it innocently not knowing that
the passage had anything to do with it."
"So it was safer to have her out of the way?"
"But, look here, Tony, why do you want to bother about this end
of it? We can always get in at the bowling-green end."
"I know, but if we do that we shall have to do it openly. It
will mean breaking open the box, and letting Cayley know that
we've done it. You see, Bill, if we don't find anything out for
ourselves in the next day or two, we've got to tell the police
what we have found out, and then they can explore the passage for
themselves. But I don't want to do that yet."
"So we've got to carry on secretly for a bit. It's the only
way." He smiled and added, "And it's much more fun."
"Rather!" Bill chuckled to himself.
"Very well. Where does the secret passage begin?"
The Reverend Theodore Ussher
"There's one thing, which we have got to realize at once," said
Antony, "and that is that if we don't find it easily, we shan't
find it at all."
"You mean that we shan't have time?"
"Neither time nor opportunity. Which is rather a consoling
thought to a lazy person like me."
"But it makes it much harder, if we can't really look properly."
"Harder to find, yes, but so much easier to look. For instance,
the passage might begin in Cayley's bedroom. Well, now we know
that it doesn't."
"We don't know anything of the sort," protested Bill.
"We--know for the purposes of our search. Obviously we can't go
tailing into Cayley's bedroom and tapping his wardrobes; and
obviously, therefore, if we are going to look for it at all, we
must assume that it doesn't begin there."
"Oh, I see." Bill chewed a piece of grass thoughtfully.
"Anyhow, it wouldn't begin on an upstairs floor, would it?"
"Probably not. Well, we're getting on."
"You can wash out the kitchen and all that part of the house,"
said Bill, after more thought. "We can't go there."
"Right. And the cellars, if there are any."
"Well, that doesn't leave us much."
"No. Of course it's only a hundred-to-one chance that we find
it, but what we want to consider is which is the most likely
place of the few places in which we can look safely."
"All it amounts to," said Bill, "is the living-rooms downstairs
dining-room, library, hall, billiard-room and the office rooms."
"Yes, that's all."
"Well, the office is the most likely, isn't it?"
"Yes. Except for one thing."
"Well, it's on the wrong side of the house. One would expect the
passage to start from the nearest place to which it is going.
Why make it longer by going under the house first?"
"Yes, that's true. Well, then, you think the dining-room or the
"Yes. And the library for choice. I mean for our choice. There
are always servants going into dining-rooms. We shouldn't have
much of a chance of exploring properly in there. Besides,
there's another thing to remember. Mark has kept this a secret
for a year. Could he have kept it a secret in the dining-room?
Could Miss Norris have got into the dining-room and used the
secret door just after dinner without being seen? It would have
been much too risky."
Bill got up eagerly.
"Come along," he said, "let's try the library. If Cayley comes
in, we can always pretend we're choosing a book."
Antony got up slowly, took his arm and walked back to the house
The library was worth going into, passages or no passages.
Antony could never resist another person's bookshelves. As soon
as he went into the room, he found himself wandering round it to
see what books the owner read, or (more likely) did not read, but
kept for the air which they lent to the house. Mark had prided
himself on his library. It was a mixed collection of books.
Books which he had inherited both from his father and from his
patron; books which he had bought because he was interested in
them or, if not in them, in the authors to whom he wished to lend
his patronage; books which he had ordered in beautifully bound
editions, partly because they looked well on his shelves, lending
a noble colour to his rooms, partly because no man of culture
should ever be without them; old editions, new editions,
expensive books, cheap books a library in which everybody,
whatever his taste, could be sure of finding something to suit
"And which is your particular fancy, Bill?" said Antony, looking
from one shelf to another. "Or are you always playing
"I have a look at 'Badminton' sometimes," said Bill.
"It's over in that corner there." He waved a hand.
"Over here?" said Antony, going to it.
"Yes." He corrected himself suddenly.--"Oh, no, it's not. It's
over there on the right now. Mark had a grand re-arrangement of
his library about a year ago. It took him more than a week, he
told us. He's got such a frightful lot, hasn't he?"
"Now that's very interesting," said Antony, and he sat down and
filled his pipe again.
There was indeed a "frightful lot" of books. The four walls of
the library were plastered with them from floor to ceiling, save
only where the door and the two windows insisted on living their
own life, even though an illiterate one. To Bill it seemed the
most hopeless room of any in which to look for a secret opening.
"We shall have to take every blessed book down," he said, "before
we can be certain that we haven't missed it."
"Anyway," said Antony, "if we take them down one at a time,
nobody can suspect us of sinister designs. After all, what does
one go into a library for, except to take books down?"
"But there's such a frightful lot."
Antony's pipe was now going satisfactorily, and he got up and
walked leisurely to the end of the wall opposite the door.
"Well, let's have a look," he said, "and see if they are so very
frightful. Hallo, here's your 'Badminton.' You often read that,
"If I read anything."
"Yes." He looked down and up the shelf. "Sport and Travel
chiefly. I like books of travel, don't you?"
"They're pretty dull as a rule."
"Well, anyhow, some people like them very much," said Antony,
reproachfully. He moved on to the next row of shelves. "The
Drama. The Restoration dramatists. You can have most of them.
Still, as you well remark, many people seem to love them. Shaw,
Wilde, Robertson--I like reading plays, Bill. There are not many
people who do, but those who do are usually very keen. Let us
"I say, we haven't too much time," said Bill restlessly.
"We haven't. That's why we aren't wasting any. Poetry. Who
reads poetry nowadays? Bill, when did you last read 'Paradise
"I thought not. And when did Miss Calladine last read 'The
Excursion' aloud to you?"
"As a matter of fact, Betty Miss Calladine happens to be jolly
keen on what's the beggar's name?"
"Never mind his name. You have said quite enough. We pass on."
He moved on to the next shelf.
"Biography. Oh, lots of it. I love biographies. Are you a
member of the Johnson Club? I bet Mark is. 'Memories of Many
Courts' I'm sure Mrs. Calladine reads that. Anyway, biographies
are just as interesting as most novels, so why linger? We pass
on." He went to the next shelf, and then gave a sudden whistle.
"What's the matter?" said Bill rather peevishly.
"Stand back there. Keep the crowd back, Bill. We are getting
amongst it. Sermons, as I live. Sermons. Was Mark's father a
clergyman, or does Mark take to them naturally?"
"His father was a parson, I believe. Oh, yes, I know he was."
"Ah, then these are Father's books. 'Half-Hours with the
Infinite' I must order that from the library when I get back.
'The Lost Sheep,' 'Jones on the Trinity,' 'The Epistles of St.
Paul Explained.' Oh, Bill, we're amongst it. 'The Narrow Way,
being Sermons by the Rev. Theodore Ussher' hal-LO!"
"What is the matter?"
"William, I am inspired. Stand by." He took down the Reverend
Theodore Ussher's classic work, looked at it with a happy smile
for a moment, and then gave it to Bill.
"Here, hold Ussher for a bit."
Bill took the book obediently.
"No, give it me back. Just go out into the hall, and see if you
can hear Cayley anywhere. Say 'Hallo' loudly, if you do."
Bill went out quickly, listened, and came back.
"It's all right."
"Good." He took the book out of its shelf again. "Now then, you
can hold Ussher. Hold him in the left hand so. With the right
or dexter hand, grasp this shelf firmly so. Now, when I say
'Pull,' pull gradually. Got that?"
Bill nodded, his face alight with excitement.
"Good." Antony put his hand into the space left by the stout
Ussher, and fingered the hack of the shelf. "Pull," he said.
"Now just go on pulling like that. I shall get it directly. Not
hard, you know, but just keeping up the strain."
His fingers went at it again busily.
And then suddenly the whole row of shelves, from top to bottom,
swung gently open towards them.
"Good Lord!" said Bill, letting go of the shelf in his amazement.
Antony pushed the shelves back, extracted Ussher from Bill's
fingers, replaced him, and then, taking Bill by the arm, led him
to the sofa and deposited him in it. Standing in front of him,
he bowed gravely.
"Child's play, Watson," he said; "child's play."
"How on earth--"
Antony laughed happily and sat down on the sofa beside him.
"You don't really want it explained," he said, smacking him on
the knee; "you're just being Watsonish. It's very nice of you,
of course, and I appreciate it."
"No, but really, Tony."
"Oh, my dear Bill!" He smoked silently for a little, and then
went on, "It's what I was saying just now a secret is a secret
until you have discovered it, and as soon as you have discovered
it, you wonder why everybody else isn't discovering it, and how
it could ever have been a secret at all. This passage has been
here for years, with an opening at one end into the library, and
at the other end into the shed. Then Mark discovered it, and
immediately he felt that everybody else must discover it. So he
made the shed end more difficult by putting the croquet-box
there, and this end more difficult by--" he stopped and looked at
the other "by what, Bill?"
But Bill was being Watsonish.
"Obviously by re-arranging his books. He happened to take out
'The Life of Nelson' or 'Three Men in a Boat,' or whatever it
was, and by the merest chance discovered the secret. Naturally
he felt that everybody else would be taking down 'The Life of
Nelson' or 'Three Men in a Boat.' Naturally he felt that the
secret would be safer if nobody ever interfered with that shelf
at all. When you said that the books had been re-arranged a year
ago just about the time the croquet-box came into existence; of
course, I guessed why. So I looked about for the dullest books I
could find, the books nobody ever read. Obviously the collection
of sermon-books of a mid-Victorian clergyman was the shelf we
"Yes, I see. But why were you so certain of the particular
"Well, he had to mark the particular place by some book. I
thought that the joke of putting 'The Narrow Way' just over the
entrance to the passage might appeal to him. Apparently it did."
Bill nodded to himself thoughtfully several times. "Yes, that's
very neat," he said. "You're a clever devil, Tony."
"You encourage me to think so, which is bad for me, but very
"Well, come on, then," said Bill, and he got up, and held out a
"Come on where?"
"To explore the passage, of course."
Antony shook his head.
"Why ever not?"
"Well, what do you expect to find there?"
"I don't know. But you seemed to think that we might find
something that would help."
"Suppose we find Mark?" said Antony quietly.
"I say, do you really think he's there?"
"Suppose he is?"
"Well, then, there we are."
Antony walked over to the fireplace, knocked out the ashes of his
pipe, and turned back to Bill. He looked at him gravely without
"What are you going to say to him?" he said at last.
"How do you mean?"
"Are you going to arrest him, or help him to escape?"
"I--I--well, of course, I--" began Bill, stammering, and then
ended lamely, "Well, I don't know."
"Exactly. We've got to make up our minds, haven't we?"
Bill didn't answer. Very much disturbed in his mind, he walked
restlessly about the room, frowning to himself, stopping now and
then at the newly discovered door and looking at it as if he were
trying to learn what lay behind it. Which side was he on, if it
came to choosing sides Mark's or the Law's?
"You know, you can't just say, 'Oh er hallo!' to him," said
Antony, breaking rather appropriately into his thoughts.
Bill looked up at him with a start.
"Nor," went on Antony, "can you say, 'This is my friend Mr.
Gillingham, who is staying with you. We were just going to have
a game of bowls.'"
"Yes, it's dashed difficult. I don't know what to say. I've
been rather forgetting about Mark." He wandered over to the
window and looked out on to the lawns. There was a gardener
clipping the grass edges. No reason why the lawn should be
untidy just because the master of the house had disappeared. It
was going to be a hot day again. Dash it, of course he had
forgotten Mark. How could he think of him as an escaped
murderer, a fugitive from justice, when everything was going on
just as it did yesterday, and the sun was shining just as it did
when they all drove off to their golf, only twenty-four hours
ago? How could he help feeling that this was not real tragedy,
but merely a jolly kind of detective game that he and Antony were
He turned back to his friend.
"All the same," he said, "you wanted to find the passage, and now
you've found it. Aren't you going into it at all?"
Antony took his arm.
"Let's go outside again," he said. "We can't go into it now,
anyhow. It's too risky, with Cayley about. Bill, I feel like
you--just a little bit frightened. But what I'm frightened of I
don't quite know. Anyway, you want to go on with it, don't you?"
"Yes," said Bill firmly. "We must."
"Then we'll explore the passage this afternoon, if we get the
chance. And if we don't get the chance, then we'll try it
They walked across the hall and out into the sunlight again.
"Do you really think we might find Mark hiding there?" asked
"It's possible," said Antony. "Either Mark or--" He pulled
himself up quickly. "No," he murmured to himself, "I won't let
myself think that not yet, anyway. It's too horrible."
A Shadow on the Wall
In the twenty hours or so at his disposal Inspector Birch had
been busy. He had telegraphed to London a complete description
of Mark in the brown flannel suit which he had last been seen
wearing; he had made inquiries at Stanton as to whether anybody
answering to this description had been seen leaving by the 4.20;
and though the evidence which had been volunteered to him had
been inconclusive, it made it possible that Mark had indeed
caught that train, and had arrived in London before the police at
the other end had been ready to receive him. But the fact that
it was market-day at Stanton, and that the little town would be
more full than usual of visitors, made it less likely that either
the departure of Mark by the 4.20, or the arrival of Robert by
the 2.10 earlier in the afternoon, would have been particularly
noticed. As Antony had said to Cayley, there would always be
somebody ready to hand the police a circumstantial story of the
movements of any man in whom the police were interested.
That Robert had come by the 2.10 seemed fairly certain. To find
out more about him in time for the inquest would be difficult.
All that was known about him in the village where he and Mark had
lived as boys bore out the evidence of Cayley. He was an
unsatisfactory son, and he had been hurried off to Australia; nor
had he been seen since in the village. Whether there were any
more substantial grounds of quarrel between the two brothers
than that the younger one was at home and well-to-do, while the
elder was poor and an exile, was not known, nor, as far as the
inspector could see, was it likely to be known until Mark was
The discovery of Mark was all that mattered immediately.
Dragging the pond might not help towards this, but it would
certainly give the impression in court to-morrow that Inspector
Birch was handling the case with zeal. And if only the revolver
with which the deed was done was brought to the surface, his
trouble would be well repaid. "Inspector Birch produces the
weapon" would make an excellent headline in the local paper.
He was feeling well-satisfied with himself, therefore, as he
walked to the pond, where his men were waiting for him, and quite
in the mood for a little pleasant talk with Mr. Gillingham and
his friend, Mr. Beverley. He gave them a cheerful "Good
afternoon," and added with a smile, "Coming to help us?"
"You don't really want us," said Antony, smiling back at him.
"You can come if you like."
Antony gave a little shudder.
"You can tell me afterwards what you find," he said. "By the
way," he added, "I hope the landlord at the 'George' gave me a
The Inspector looked at him quickly.
"Now how on earth do you know anything about that?"
Antony bowed to him gravely.
"Because I guessed that you were a very efficient member of the
The inspector laughed.
"Well, you came out all right, Mr. Gillingham. You got a clean
bill. But I had to make certain about you.
"Of course you did. Well, I wish you luck. But I don't think
you'll find much at the pond. It's rather out of the way, isn't
it, for anybody running away?"
"That's just what I told Mr. Cayley, when he called my attention
to the pond. However, we shan't do any harm by looking. It's
the unexpected that's the most likely in this sort of case."
"You're quite right, Inspector. Well, we mustn't keep you. Good
afternoon," and Antony smiled pleasantly at him.
"Good afternoon, sir."
"Good afternoon," said Bill.
Antony stood looking after the Inspector as he strode off, silent
for so long that Bill shook him by the arm at last, and asked him
rather crossly what was the matter.
Antony shook his head slowly from side to side.
"I don't know; really I don't know. It's too devilish what I
keep thinking. He can't be as cold-blooded as that."
Without answering, Antony led the way back to the garden-seat on
which they had been sitting. He sat there with his head in his
"Oh, I hope they find something," he murmured. "Oh, I hope they
"In the pond?"
"Anything, Bill; anything."
Bill was annoyed. "I say, Tony, this won't do. You really
mustn't be so damn mysterious. What's happened to you suddenly?"
Antony looked up at him in surprise.
"Didn't you hear what he said?"
"That it was Cayley's idea to drag the pond."
"Oh! Oh, I say!" Bill was rather excited again. "You mean that
he's hidden something there? Some false clue which he wants the
police to find?"
"I hope so," said Antony earnestly, "but I'm afraid--" He
"Afraid of what?"
"Afraid that he hasn't hidden anything there. Afraid that--"
"What's the safest place in which to hide anything very
"Somewhere where nobody will look."
"There's a better place than that."
"Somewhere where everybody has already looked."
"By Jove! You mean that as soon as the pond has been dragged,
Cayley will hide something there?"
"Yes, I'm afraid so."
"But why afraid?"
"Because I think that it must be something very important,
something which couldn't easily be hidden anywhere else."
"What?" asked Bill eagerly.
Antony shook his head.
"No, I'm not going to talk about it yet. We can wait and see
what the inspector finds. He may find something--I don't know
what--something that Cayley has put there for him to find. But
if he doesn't, then it will be because Cayley is going to hide
something there to-night."
"What?" asked Bill again.
"You will see what, Bill," said Antony; "because we shall be
"Are we going to watch, him?"
"Yes, if the inspector finds nothing."
"That's good," said Bill.
If it were a question of Cayley or the Law, he was quite decided
as to which side he was taking. Previous to the tragedy of
yesterday he had got on well enough with both of the cousins,
without being in the least intimate with either. Indeed, of the
two he preferred, perhaps, the silent, solid Cayley to the more
volatile Mark. Cayley's qualities, as they appeared to Bill, may
have been chiefly negative; but even if this merit lay in the
fact that he never exposed whatever weaknesses he may have had,
this is an excellent quality in a fellow-guest (or, if you like,
fellow-host) in a house where one is continually visiting.
Mark's weaknesses, on the other hand, were very plain to the eye,
and Bill had seen a good deal of them.
Yet, though he had hesitated to define his position that morning
in regard to Mark, he did not hesitate to place himself on the
side of the Law against Cayley. Mark, after all, had done him no
harm, but Cayley had committed an unforgivable offence. Cayley
had listened secretly to a private conversation between himself
and Tony. Let Cayley hang, if the Law demanded it.
Antony looked at his watch and stood up.
"Come along," he said. "It's time for that job I spoke about."
"The passage?" said Bill eagerly.
"No; the thing which I said that I had to do this afternoon."
"Oh, of course. What is it?"
Without saying anything, Antony led the way indoors to the
It was three o'clock, and at three o'clock yesterday Antony and
Cayley had found the body. At a few minutes after three, he had
been looking out of the window of the adjoining room, and had
been surprised suddenly to find the door open and Cayley behind
him. He had vaguely wondered at the time why he had expected the
door to be shut, but he had had no time then to worry the thing
out, and he had promised himself to look into it at his leisure
afterwards. Possibly it meant nothing; possibly, if it meant
anything, he could have found out its meaning by a visit to the
office that morning. But he had felt that he would be more
likely to recapture the impressions of yesterday if he chose as
far as possible the same conditions for his experiment. So he
had decided that three o'clock that afternoon should find him
once more in the office.
As he went into the room, followed by Bill, he felt it almost as
a shock that there was now no body of Robert lying there between
the two doors. But there was a dark stain which showed where the
dead man's head had been, and Antony knelt down over it, as he
had knelt twenty-four hours before.
"I want to go through it again," he said. "You must be Cayley.
Cayley said he would get some water. I remember thinking that
water wasn't much good to a dead man, and that probably he was
only too glad to do anything rather than nothing. He came back
with a wet sponge and a handkerchief. I suppose he got the
handkerchief from the chest of drawers. Wait a bit."
He got up and went into the adjoining room; looked round it,
pulled open a drawer or two, and, after shutting all the doors,
came back to the office.
"The sponge is there, and there are handkerchiefs in the top
right-hand drawer. Now then, Bill, just pretend you're Cayley.
You've just said something about water, and you get up."
Feeling that it was all a little uncanny, Bill, who had been
kneeling beside his friend, got up and walked out. Antony, as he
had done on the previous day, looked up after him as he went.
Bill turned into the room on the right, opened the drawer and got
the handkerchief, damped the sponge and came back.
"Well?" he said wonderingly.
Antony shook his head.
"It's all different," he said. "For one thing, you made a devil
of a noise and Cayley didn't."
"Perhaps you weren't listening when Cayley went in?"
"I wasn't. But I should have heard him if I could have heard
him, and I should have remembered afterwards."
"Perhaps Cayley shut the door after him."
He pressed his hand over his eyes and thought. It wasn't
anything which he had heard, but something which he had seen. He
tried desperately hard to see it again .... He saw Cayley getting
up, opening the door from the office, leaving it open and walking
into the passage, turning to the door on the right, opening it,
going in, and then-- What did his eyes see after that? If they
would only tell him again!
Suddenly he jumped up, his face alight. "Bill, I've got it!" he
"The shadow on the wall! I was looking at the shadow on the
wall. Oh, ass, and ten times ass!"
Bill looked uncomprehendingly at him. Antony took his arm and
pointed to the wall of the passage.
"Look at the sunlight on it," he said. "That's because you've
left the door of that room open. The sun comes straight in
through the windows. Now, I'm going to shut the door. Look!
D'you see how the shadow moves across? That's what I saw the
shadow moving across as the door shut behind him. Bill, go in
and shut the door behind you quite naturally. Quick!"
Bill went out and Antony knelt, watching eagerly.
"I thought so!" he cried. "I knew it couldn't have been that."
"What happened?" said Bill, coming back.
"Just what you would expect. The sunlight came, and the shadow
moved back again all in one movement."
"And what happened yesterday?"
"The sunlight stayed there; and then the shadow came very slowly
back, and there was no noise of the door being shut."
Bill looked at him with startled eyes.
"By Jove! You mean that Cayley closed the door afterwards as an
afterthought and very quietly, so that you couldn't hear?"
"Yes. That explains why I was surprised afterwards when I went
into the room to find the door open behind me. You know how
those doors with springs on them close?"
"The sort which old gentlemen have to keep out draughts?"
"Yes. Just at first they hardly move at all, and then very, very
slowly they swing to well, that was the way the shadow moved, and
subconsciously I must have associated it with the movement of
that sort of door. By Jove!" He got up, and dusted his knees.
"Now, Bill, just to make sure, go in and close the door like
that. As an afterthought, you know; and very quietly, so that I
don't hear the click of it."
Bill did as he was told, and then put his head out eagerly to
hear what had happened.
"That was it," said Antony, with absolute conviction. "That was
just what I saw yesterday." He came out of the office, and
joined Bill in the little room.
"And now," he said, "let's try and find out what it was that Mr.
Cayley was doing in here, and why he had to be so very careful
that his friend Mr. Gillingham didn't overhear him."
The Open Window
Anthony's first thought was that Cayley had hidden something;
something, perhaps, which he had found by the body, and but that
was absurd. In the time at his disposal, he could have done no
more than put it away in a drawer, where it would be much more
open to discovery by Antony than if he had kept it in his pocket.
In any case he would have removed it by this time, and hidden it
in some more secret place. Besides, why in this case bother
about shutting the door?
Bill pulled open a drawer in the chest, and looked inside.
"Is it any good going through these, do you think?" he asked.
Antony looked over his shoulder.
"Why did he keep clothes here at all?" he asked. "Did he ever
change down here?"
"My dear Tony, he had more clothes than anybody in the world. He
just kept them here in case they might be useful, I expect. When
you and I go from London to the country we carry our clothes
about with us. Mark never did. In his flat in London he had
everything all over again which he has here. It was a hobby with
him, collecting clothes. If he'd had half a dozen houses, they
would all have been full of a complete gentleman's town and
"Of course, it might be useful sometimes, when he was busy in the
next room, not to have to go upstairs for a handkerchief or a
more comfortable coat."
"I see. Yes." He was walking round the room as he answered, and
he lifted the top of the linen basket which stood near the wash
basin and glanced in. "He seems to have come in here for a
Bill peered in. There was one collar at the bottom of the
"Yes. I daresay he would," he agreed. "If he suddenly found
that the one he was wearing was uncomfortable or a little bit
dirty, or something. He was very finicking."
Antony leant over and picked it out.
"It must have been uncomfortable this time," he said, after
examining it carefully. "It couldn't very well be cleaner." He
dropped it back again. "Anyway, he did come in here sometimes?"
"Oh, yes, rather."
"Yes, but what did Cayley come in for so secretly?"
"What did he want to shut the door for?" said Bill. "That's what
I don't understand. You couldn't have seen him, anyhow."
"No. So it follows that I might have heard him. He was going to
do something which he didn't want me to hear."
"By Jove, that's it!" said Bill eagerly.
"Yes; but what?"
Bill frowned hopefully to himself, but no inspiration came.
"Well, let's have some air, anyway," he said at last, exhausted
by the effort, and he went to the window, opened it, and looked
out. Then, struck by an idea, he turned back to Antony and said,
"Do you think I had better go up to the pond to make sure that
they're still at it? Because--"
He broke off suddenly at the sight of Antony's face.
"Oh, idiot, idiot!" Antony cried. "Oh, most super-excellent of
Watsons! Oh, you lamb, you blessing! Oh, Gillingham, you
"What on earth--"
"The window, the window!" cried Antony, pointing to it.
Bill turned back to the window, expecting it to say something.
As it said nothing, he looked at Antony again.
"He was opening the window!" cried Antony.
"Cayley, of course." Very gravely and slowly he expounded. "He
came in here in order to open the window. He shut the door so
that I shouldn't hear him open the window. He opened the window.
I came in here and found the window open. I said, 'This window
is open. My amazing powers of analysis tell me that the murderer
must have escaped by this window.' 'Oh,' said Cayley, raising
his eyebrows. 'Well,' said he, 'I suppose you must be right.'
Said I proudly, 'I am. For the window is open,' I said. Oh, you
He understood now. It explained so much that had been puzzling
He tried to put himself in Cayley's place--Cayley, when Antony
had first discovered him, hammering at the door and crying, "Let
me in!" Whatever had happened inside the office, whoever had
killed Robert, Cayley knew all about it, and knew that Mark was
not inside, and had not escaped by the window. But it was
necessary to Cayley's plans--to Mark's plans if they were acting
in concert--that he should be thought so to have escaped. At
some time, then, while he was hammering (the key in his pocket)
at the locked door, he must suddenly have remembered with what a
shock! that a mistake had been made. A window had not been left
Probably it would just have been a horrible doubt at first. Was
the office window open? Surely it was open! Was it? .... Would
he have time now to unlock the door, slip in, open the French
windows and slip out again? No. At any moment the servants
might come. It was too risky. Fatal, if he were discovered. But
servants were stupid. He could get the windows safely open while
they were crowding round the body. They wouldn't notice. He
could do it somehow.
And then Antony's sudden appearance! Here was a complication.
And Antony suggesting that they should try the window! Why, the
window was just what he wanted to avoid. No wonder he had seemed
dazed at first.
Ah, and here at last was the explanation why they had gone the
longest way round and yet run. It was Cayley's only chance of
getting a start on Antony, of getting to the windows first, of
working them open somehow before Antony caught him up. Even if
that were impossible, he must get there first, just to make sure.
Perhaps they were open. He must get away from Antony and see.
And if they were shut, hopelessly shut, then he must have a
moment to himself, a moment in which to think of some other plan,
and avoid the ruin which seemed so suddenly to be threatening.
So he had run. But Antony had kept up with him. They had broken
in the window together, and gone into the office. But Cayley was
not done yet. There was the dressing-room window! But quietly,
quietly. Antony mustn't hear.
And Antony didn't hear. Indeed, he had played up to Cayley
splendidly. Not only had he called attention to the open window,
but he had carefully explained to Cayley why Mark had chosen this
particular window in preference to the office window. And Cayley
had agreed that probably that was the reason. How he must have
chuckled to himself! But he was still a little afraid. Afraid
that Antony would examine the shrubbery. Why? Obviously because
there was no trace of anyone having broken through the shrubbery.
No doubt Cayley had provided the necessary traces since, and had
helped the inspector to find them. Had he even gone as far as
footmarks in Mark's shoes? But the ground was very hard.
Perhaps footmarks were not necessary. Antony smiled as he
thought of the big Cayley trying to squeeze into the dapper
little Mark's shoes. Cayley must have been glad that footmarks
were not necessary.
No, the open window was enough; the open window and a broken twig
or two. But quietly, quietly. Antony mustn't hear. And Antony
had not heard .... But he had seen a shadow on the wall.
They were outside on the lawn again now, Bill and Antony, and
Bill was listening open-mouthed to his friend's theory of
yesterday's happenings. It fitted in, it explained things, but
it did not get them any further. It only gave them another
mystery to solve.
"What's that?" said Antony.
"Mark. Where's Mark? If he never went into the office at all,
then where is he now?"
"I don't say that he never went into the office. In fact, he
must have gone. Elsie heard him." He stopped and repeated
slowly, "She heard him, at least she says she did. But if he was
there, he came out again by the door."
"Well, but where does that lead you?"
"Where it led Mark. The passage."
"Do you mean that he's been hiding there all the time?" Antony
was silent until Bill had repeated his question, and then with an
effort he came out of his thoughts and answered him.
"I don't know. But look here. Here is a possible explanation.
I don't know if it is the right one I don't know, Bill; I'm
rather frightened. Frightened of what may have happened, of what
may be going to happen. However, here is an explanation. See if
you can find any fault with it."
With his legs stretched out and his hands deep in his pockets, he
lay back on the garden-seat, looking up to the blue summer sky
above him, and just as if he saw up there the events of yesterday
being enacted over again, he described them slowly to Bill as
"We'll begin at the moment when Mark shoots Robert. Call it an
accident; probably it was. Mark would say it was, anyhow. He is
in a panic, naturally. But he doesn't lock the door and run
away. For one thing, the key is on the outside of the door; for
another, he is not, quite such a fool as that. But he is in a
horrible position. He is known to be on bad terms with his
brother; he has just uttered some foolish threat to him, which
may possibly have been overheard. What is he to do? He does the
natural thing, the thing which Mark would always do in such
circumstances. He consults Cayley, the invaluable, inevitable
"Cayley is just outside, Cayley must have heard the shot, Cayley
will tell him what to do. He opens the door just as Cayley is
coming to see what is the matter. He explains rapidly. 'What's
to be done, Cay? what's to be done? It was an accident. I
swear it was an accident. He threatened me. He would have shot
me if I hadn't. Think of something, quick!'
"Cayley has thought of something. 'Leave it to me,' he says.
'You clear out altogether. I shot him, if you like. I'll do all
the explaining. Get away. Hide. Nobody saw you go in. Into
the passage, quick. I'll come to you there as soon as I can.'
"Good Cayley. Faithful Cayley! Mark's courage comes back.
Cayley will explain all right. Cayley will tell the servants
that it was an accident. He will ring up the police. Nobody
will suspect Cayley--Cayley has no quarrel with Robert. And then
Cayley will come into the passage and tell him that it is all
right, and Mark will go out by the other end, and saunter slowly
back to the house. He will be told the news by one of the
servants. Robert accidentally shot? Good Heavens!
"So, greatly reassured, Mark goes into the library. And Cayley
goes to the door of the office .... and locks it. And then he
bangs on the door and shouts, 'Let me in!'"
Antony was silent. Bill looked at him and shook his head.
"Yes, Tony, but that doesn't make sense. What's the point of
Cayley behaving like that?"
Antony shrugged his shoulders without answering.
"And what has happened to Mark since?"
Antony shrugged his shoulders again.
"Well, the sooner we go into that passage, the better," said
"You're ready to go?"
"Quite," said Bill, surprised.
"You're quite ready for what we may find?"
"You're being dashed mysterious, old boy."
"I know I am." He gave a little laugh, and went on, "Perhaps I'm
being an ass, just a melodramatic ass. Well, I hope I am." He
looked at his watch.
"It's safe, is it? They're still busy at the pond?"
"We'd better make certain. Could you be a sleuthhound, Bill--one
of those that travel on their stomachs very noiselessly? I mean,
could you get near enough to the pond to make sure that Cayley is
still there, without letting him see you?"
"Rather!" He got up eagerly. "You wait."
Antony's head shot up suddenly. "Why, that was what Mark said,"
"Yes. What Elsie heard him say."
"Yes I suppose she couldn't have made a mistake, Bill? She did
"She couldn't have mistaken his voice, if that's what you mean.
"Mark had an extraordinary characteristic voice."
"Rather high-pitched, you know, and well, one can't explain,
"Well, rather like this, you know, or even more so if anything."
He rattled these words off in Mark's rather monotonous,
high-pitched voice, and then laughed, and added in his natural
voice, "I say, that was really rather good."
Antony nodded quickly. "That was like it?" he said.
"Yes." He got up and squeezed Bill's arm. "Well just go and see
about Cayley, and then we'll get moving. I shall be in the
Bill nodded and walked off in the direction of the pond. This
was glorious fun; this was life. The immediate programme could
hardly be bettered. First of all he was going to stalk Cayley.
There was a little copse above the level of the pond, and about a
hundred yards away from it. He would come into this from the
back, creep cautiously through it, taking care that no twigs
cracked, and then, drawing himself on his stomach to the edge,
peer down upon the scene below him. People were always doing
that sort of thing in books, and he had been filled with a
hopeless envy of them; well, now he was actually going to do it
himself. What fun!
And then, when he had got back unobserved to the house and
reported to Antony, they were going to explore the secret
passage! Again, what fun! Unfortunately there seemed to be no
chance of buried treasure, but there might be buried clues. Even
if you found nothing, you couldn't get away from the fact that a
secret passage was a secret passage, and anything might happen in
it. But even that wasn't the end of this exciting day. They
were going to watch the pond that night; they were going to watch
Cayley under the moonlight, watch him as he threw into the
silence of the pond what? The revolver? Well, anyhow, they were
going to watch him. What fun!
To Antony, who was older and who realized into what deep waters
they were getting, it did not seem fun. But it was amazingly
interesting. He saw so much, and yet somehow it was all out of
focus. It was like looking at an opal, and discovering with
every movement of it some new colour, some new gleam of light
reflected, and yet never really seeing the opal as a whole. He
was too near it, or too far away; he strained his eyes and he
relaxed his eyes; it was no good. His brain could not get hold
But there were moments when he almost had it .... and then turned
away from it. He had seen more of life than Bill, but he had
never seen murder before, and this which was in his mind now, and
to which he was afraid to listen, was not just the hot-blooded
killing which any man may come to if he lose control. It was
something much more horrible. Too horrible to be true. Then let
him look again for the truth. He looked again but it was all out
"I will not look again," he said aloud, as he began to walk
towards the house. "Not yet, anyway." He would go on collecting
facts and impressions. Perhaps the one fact would come along, by
itself which would make everything clear.
Mr. Beverley Qualifies for the Stage
Bill had come back, and had reported, rather breathless, that
Cayley was still at the pond.
"But I don't think they're getting up much except mud," he said.
"I ran most of the way back so as to give us as much time as
"Well, come along, then," he said. "The sooner, the quicker."
They stood in front of the row of sermons. Antony took down the
Reverend Theodore Ussher's famous volume, and felt for the
spring. Bill pulled. The shelves swung open towards them.
"By Jove!" said Bill, "it is a narrow way."
There was an opening about a yard square in front of them, which
had something the look of a brick fireplace, a fireplace raised
about two feet from the ground. But, save for one row of bricks
in front, the floor of it was emptiness. Antony took a torch
from his pocket and flashed it down into the blackness.
"Look," he whispered to the eager Bill. "The steps begin down
there. Six feet down."
He flashed his torch up again. There was a handhold of iron, a
sort of large iron staple, in the bricks in front of them.
"You swing off from there," said Bill. "At least, I suppose you
do. I wonder how Ruth Norris liked doing it."
"Cayley helped her, I should think .... It's funny."
"Shall I go first?" asked Bill, obviously longing to do so.
Antony shook his head with a smile.
"I think I will, if you don't mind very much, Bill. Just in
"In case of what?"
"Well in case."
Bill, had to be content with that, but he was too much excited to
wonder what Antony meant.
"Righto," he said. "Go on."
"Well, we'll just make sure we can get back again, first. It
really wouldn't be fair on the Inspector if we got stuck down
here for the rest of our lives. He's got enough to do trying to
find Mark, but if he has to find you and me as well--"
"We can always get out at the other end."
"Well, we're not certain yet. I think I'd better just go down
and back. I promise faithfully not to explore."
"Right you are."
Antony sat down on the ledge of bricks, swung his feet over, and
sat there for a moment, his legs dangling. He flashed his torch
into the darkness again, so as to make sure where the steps
began; then returned it to his pocket, seized the staple in front
of him and swung himself down. His feet touched the steps
beneath him, and he let go.
"Is it all right?" said Bill anxiously.
"All right. I'll just go down to the bottom of the steps and
back. Stay there."
The light shone down by his feet. His head began to disappear.
For a little while Bill, craning down the opening, could still
see faint splashes of light, and could hear slow uncertain
footsteps; for a little longer he could fancy that he saw and
heard them; then he was alone ....
Well, not quite alone. There was a sudden voice in the hall
"Good Lord!" said Bill, turning round with a start, "Cayley!"
If he was not so quick in thought as Antony, he was quick enough
in action. Thought was not demanded now. To close the secret
door safely but noiselessly, to make sure that the books were in
the right places, to move away to another row of shelves so as to
be discovered deep in "Badminton" or "Baedeker" or whomever the
kind gods should send to his aid the difficulty was not to decide
what to do, but to do all this in five seconds rather than in
"Ah, there you are," said Cayley from the doorway.
"Hallo!" said Bill, in surprise, looking up from the fourth
volume of "The Life and Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "Have
"The pond," said Bill, wondering why he was reading Coleridge on
such a fine afternoon. Desperately he tried to think of a good
reason .... verifying a quotation--an argument with Antony--that
would do. But what quotation?
"Oh, no. They're still at it. Where's Gillingham?"
'The Ancient Mariner'--water, water, everywhere--or was that
something else? And where was Gillingham? Water, water
everywhere . . .
"Tony? Oh, he's about somewhere. We're just going down to the
village. They aren't finding anything at the pond, are they?"
"No. But they like doing it. Something off their minds when
they can say they've done it."
Bill, deep in his book, looked up and said "Yes," and went back
to it again. He was just getting to the place.
"What's the book?" said Cayley, coming up to him. Out of the
corner of his eye he glanced at the shelf of sermons as he came.
Bill saw that glance and wondered. Was there anything there to
give away the secret?
"I was just looking up a quotation," he drawled. "Tony and I had
a bet about it. You know that thing about--er water, water
everywhere, and--er--not a drop to drink." (But what on earth,
he wondered to himself, were they betting about?)
"'Nor any drop to drink,' to be accurate."
Bill looked at him in surprise. Then a happy smile came on his
"Quite sure?" he said.
"Then you've saved me a lot of trouble. That's, what the bet was
about." He closed the book with a slam, put it back in its
shelf, and began to feel for his pipe and tobacco. "I was a fool
to bet with Tony," he added. "He always knows that sort of
So far, so good. But here was Cayley still in the library, and
there was Antony, all unsuspecting, in the passage. When Antony
came back he would not be surprised to find the door closed,
because the whole object of his going had been to see if he could
open it easily from the inside. At any moment, then, the
bookshelf might swing back and show Antony's head in the gap. A
nice surprise for Cayley!
"Come with us?" he said casually, as he struck a match. He
pulled vigorously at the flame as he waited for the answer,
hoping to hide his anxiety, for if Cayley assented, he was done.
"I've got to go into Stanton."
Bill blew out a great cloud of smoke with an expiration which
covered also a heartfelt sigh of relief.
"Oh, a pity. You're driving, I suppose?"
"Yes. The car will be here directly. There's a letter I must
write first." He sat down at a writing table, and took out a
sheet of notepaper.
He was facing the secret door; if it opened he would see it. At
any moment now it might open.
Bill dropped into a chair and thought. Antony must be warned.
Obviously. But how? How did one signal to anybody? By code.
Morse code. Did Antony know it? Did Bill know it himself, if it
came to that? He had picked up a bit in the Army not enough to
send a message, of course. But a message was impossible, anyhow;
Cayley would hear him tapping it out. It wouldn't do to send
more than a single letter. What letters did he know? And what
letter would convey anything to Antony? .... He pulled at his
pipe, his eyes wandering from Cayley at his desk to the Reverend
Theodore Ussher in his shelf. What letter?
C for Cayley. Would Antony understand? Probably not, but it was
just worth trying. What was C? Long, short, long, short.
Umpty-iddy-umpty-iddy. Was that right? C yes, that was C. He
was sure of that. C. Umpty-iddy-umpty-iddy.
Hands in pockets, he got up and wandered across the room, humming
vaguely to himself, the picture of a man waiting for another man
(as it might be his friend Gillingham) to come in and take him
away for a walk or something. He wandered across to the books at
the back of Cayley, and began to tap absent-mindedly on the
shelves, as he looked at the titles. Umpty-iddy-umpty-iddy. Not
that it was much like that at first; he couldn't get the rhythm
of it .... Umpt-y-iddy-umpt-y-iddy. That was better. He was
back at Samuel Taylor Coleridge now. Antony would begin to hear
him soon. Umpt-y-iddy-umpt-y-iddy; just the aimless tapping of a
man who is wondering what book he will take out with him to read
on the lawn. Would Antony hear? One always heard the man in the
next flat knocking out his pipe. Would Antony understand?
Umpt-y-iddy-umpt-y-iddy. C. for Cayley, Antony. Cayley's here.
For God's sake, wait.
"Good Lord! Sermons!" said Bill, with a loud laugh.
(Umpt-y-iddy-umpt-y-iddy) "Ever read 'em, Cayley?"
"What?" Cayley looked up suddenly. Bill's back moved slowly
along, his fingers beating a tattoo on the shelves as he walked.
"Er no," said Cayley, with a little laugh. An awkward,
uncomfortable little laugh, it seemed to Bill.
"Nor do I." He was past the sermons now past the secret door but
still tapping in the same aimless way.
"Oh, for God's sake sit down," burst out Cayley. "Or go outside
if you want to walk about."
Bill turned round in astonishment.
"Hallo, what's the matter?"
Cayley was slightly ashamed of his outburst.
"Sorry, Bill," he apologized. "My nerves are on edge. Your
constant tapping and fidgeting about--"
"Tapping?" said Bill with an air of complete surprise.
"Tapping on the shelves, and humming. Sorry. It got on my
"My dear old chap, I'm awfully sorry. I'll go out in the hall."
"It's all right," said Cayley, and went on with his letter. Bill
sat down in his chair again. Had Antony understood? Well,
anyhow, there was nothing to do now but wait for Cayley to go.
"And if you ask me," said Bill to himself, much pleased, "I ought
to be on the stage. That's where I ought to be. The complete
A minute, two minutes, three minutes .... five minutes. It was
safe now. Antony had guessed.
"Is the car there?" asked Cayley, as he sealed up his letter.
Bill strolled into the hall, called back "Yes," and went out to
talk to the chauffeur. Cayley joined him, and they stood there
for a moment.
"Hallo," said a pleasant voice behind them. They turned round
and saw Antony.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Bill."
With a tremendous effort Bill restrained his feelings, and said
casually enough that it was all right.
"Well, I must be off," said Cayley. "You're going down to the
"That's the idea."
"I wonder if you'd take this letter to Jallands for me?"
"Thanks very much. Well, I shall see you later."
He nodded and got into the car.
As soon as they were alone Bill turned eagerly to his friend.
"Well?" he said excitedly.
"Come into the library."
They went in, and Tony sank down into a chair.
"You must give me a moment," he panted. "I've been running."
"Well, of course. How do you think I got back here?"
"You don't mean you went out at the other end?"
"I say, did you hear me tapping?"
"I did, indeed. Bill, you're a genius."
I knew you'd understand," he said. "You guessed that I meant
"I did. It was the least I could do after you had been so
brilliant. You must have had rather an exciting time."
"Exciting? Good lord, I should think it was."
"Tell me about it."
As modestly as possible, Mr. Beverley explained his
qualifications for a life on the stage.
"Good man," said Antony at the end of it. "You are the most
perfect Watson that ever lived. Bill, my lad," he went on
dramatically, rising and taking Bill's hand in both of his,
"There is nothing that you and I could not accomplish together,
if we gave our minds to it."
"Silly old ass."
"That's what you always say when I'm being serious. Well,
anyway, thanks awfully. You really saved us this time."
"Were you coming back?"
"Yes. At least I think I was. I was just wondering when I heard
you tapping. The fact of the door being shut was rather
surprising. Of course the whole idea was to see if it could be
opened easily from the other side, but I felt somehow that you
wouldn't shut it until the last possible moment--until you saw me
coming back. Well, then I heard the taps, and I knew it must
mean something, so I sat tight. Then when C began to come along
I said, 'Cayley, b'Jove'--bright, aren't I?--and I simply hared
to the other end of the passage for all I was worth. And hared
back again. Because I thought you might be getting rather
involved in explanations--about where I was, and so on."
"You didn't see Mark, then?"
"No. Nor his-- No, I didn't see anything."
Antony was silent for a moment.
"I didn't see anything, Bill. Or rather, I did see something; I
saw a door in the wall, a cupboard. And it's locked. So if
there's anything we want to find, that's where it is."
"Could Mark be hiding there?"
"I called through the keyhole in a whisper 'Mark, are you there?'
he would have thought it was Cayley. There was no answer.
"Well, let's go down and try again. We might be able to get the
Antony shook his head.
"Aren't I going at all?" said Bill in great disappointment.
When Antony spoke, it was to ask another question:
"Can Cayley drive a car?"
"Yes, of course. Why?"
"Then he might easily drop the chauffeur at his lodge and go off
to Stanton, or wherever he wanted to, on his own?"
"I suppose so if he wanted to."
"Yes." Antony got up. "Well, look here, as we said we were
going into the village, and as we promised to leave that letter,
I almost think we'd better do it."
"Oh! .... Oh, very well."
"Jallands. What were you telling me about that? Oh, yes; the
"That's right. Cayley used to be rather keen on the daughter.
The letter's for her."
"Yes; well, let's take it. Just to be on the safe side."
"Am I going to be done out of that secret passage altogether?"
asked Bill fretfully.
"There's nothing to see, really, I promise you."
"You're very mysterious. What's upset you? You did see
something down there, I'm certain of it."
"I did and I've told you about it."
"No, you haven't. You only told me about the door in the wall."
"That's it, Bill. And it's locked. And I'm frightened of what's
"But then we shall never know what's there if we aren't going to
"We shall know to-night," said Antony, taking Bill's arm and
leading him to the hall, "when we watch our dear friend Cayley
dropping it into the pond."
Mrs. Norbury Confides in Dear Mr. Gillingham
They left the road, and took the path across the fields which
sloped gently downwards towards Jallands. Antony was silent, and
since it is difficult to keep up a conversation with a silent man
for any length of time, Bill had dropped into silence too. Or
rather, he hummed to himself, hit at thistles in the grass with
his stick and made uncomfortable noises with his pipe. But he
noticed that his companion kept looking back over his shoulder,
almost as if he wanted to remember for a future occasion the way
by which they were coming. Yet there was no difficulty about it,
for they remained all the time in view of the road, and the belt
of trees above the long park wall which bordered its further side
stood out clearly against the sky.
Antony, who had just looked round again, turned back with a
"What's the joke?" said Bill, glad of the more social atmosphere.
"Cayley. Didn't you see?"
"The car. Going past on the road there:"
"So that's what you were looking for. You've got jolly good
eyes, my boy, if you recognize the car at this distance after
only seeing it twice.
"Well, I have got jolly good eyes.
"I thought he was going to Stanton."
"He hoped you'd think so obviously."
"Then where is he going?"
"The library, probably. To consult our friend Ussher. After
making quite sure that his friends Beverley and Gillingham really
were going to Jallands, as they said."
Bill stopped suddenly in the middle of the path.
"I say, do you think so?"
Antony shrugged his shoulders.
"I shouldn't be surprised. We must be devilishly inconvenient
for him, hanging about the house. Any moment he can get, when
we're definitely somewhere else, must be very useful to him."
"Useful for what?"
"Well, useful for his nerves, if for nothing else. We know he's
mixed up in this business; we know he's hiding a secret or two.
Even if he doesn't suspect that we're on his tracks, he must feel
that at any moment we might stumble on something."
Bill gave a grunt of assent, and they went slowly on again.
"What about to-night?" he said, after a lengthy blow at his pipe.
"Try a piece of grass," said Antony, offering it to him. Bill
pushed it through the mouthpiece, blew again, said, "That's
better," and returned the pipe to his pocket.
"How are we going to get out without Cayley knowing?"
"Well, that wants thinking over. It's going to be difficult. I
wish we were sleeping at the inn .... Is this Miss Norbury, by
Bill looked up quickly. They were close to Jallands now, an old
thatched farmhouse which, after centuries of sleep, had woken up
to a new world, and had forthwith sprouted wings; wings, however,
of so discreet a growth that they had not brought with them any
obvious change of character, and Jallands even with a bathroom
was still Jallands. To the outward view, at any rate. Inside,
it was more clearly Mrs. Norbury's.
"Yes Angela Norbury," murmured Bill. "Not bad-looking, is she?"
The girl who stood by the little white gate of Jallands was
something more than "not bad-looking," but in this matter Bill
was keeping his superlatives for another. In Bill's eyes she
must be judged, and condemned, by all that distinguished her from
Betty Calladine. To Antony, unhampered by these standards of
comparison, she seemed, quite simply, beautiful.
"Cayley asked us to bring a letter along," explained Bill, when
the necessary handshakings and introductions were over. "Here
"You will tell him, won't you, how dreadfully sorry I am about
what has happened? It seems so hopeless to say anything; so
hopeless even to believe it. If it is true what we've heard."
Bill repeated the outline of events of yesterday.
"Yes .... And Mr. Ablett hasn't been found yet?" She shook her
head in distress. "It still seems to have happened to somebody
else; somebody we didn't know at all." Then, with a sudden grave
smile which included both of them, "But you must come and have
"It's awfully decent of you," said Bill awkwardly, "but we--er--"
"You will, won't you?" she said to Antony.
"Thank you very much."
Mrs. Norbury was delighted to see them, as she always was to see
any man in her house who came up to the necessary standard of
eligibility. When her life-work was completed, and summed up in
those beautiful words: "A marriage has been arranged, and will
shortly take place, between Angela, daughter of the late John
Norbury ...." then she would utter a grateful Nunc dimittis and
depart in peace to a better world, if Heaven insisted, but
preferably to her new son-in-law's more dignified establishment.
For there was no doubt that eligibility meant not only
eligibility as a husband.
But it was not as "eligibles" that the visitors from the Red
House were received with such eagerness to-day, and even if her
special smile for "possibles" was there, it was instinctive
rather than reasoned. All that she wanted at this moment was
news--news of Mark. For she was bringing it off at last; and, if
the engagement columns of the "Morning Post" were preceded, as in
the case of its obituary columns, by a premonitory bulletin, the
announcement of yesterday would have cried triumphantly to the
world, or to such part of the world as mattered: "A marriage has
very nearly been arranged (by Mrs. Norbury), and will certainly
take place, between Angela, only daughter of the late John
Norbury, and--Mark Ablett of the Red House." And, coming across
it on his way to the sporting page, Bill would have been
surprised. For he had thought that, if anybody, it was Cayley.
To the girl it was neither. She was often amused by her mother's
ways; sometimes ashamed of them; sometimes distressed by them.
The Mark Ablett affair had seemed to her particularly
distressing, for Mark was so obviously in league with her mother
against her. Other suitors, upon whom her mother had smiled, had
been embarrassed by that championship; Mark appeared to depend on
it as much as on his own attractions; great though he thought
these to be. They went a-wooing together. It was a pleasure to
turn to Cayley, that hopeless ineligible.
But alas! Cayley had misunderstood her. She could not imagine
Cayley in love until she saw it, and tried, too late, to stop it.
That was four days ago. She had not seen him since, and now here
was this letter. She dreaded opening it. It was a relief to
feel that at least she had an excuse for not doing so while her
guests were in the house.
Mrs. Norbury recognized at once that Antony was likely to be the
more sympathetic listener; and when tea was over, and Bill and
Angela had been dispatched to the garden with the promptness and
efficiency of the expert, dear Mr. Gillingham found himself on
the sofa beside her, listening to many things which were of even
greater interest to him than she could possibly have hoped.
"It is terrible, terrible," she said. "And to suggest that dear
Antony made suitable noises.
"You've seen Mr. Ablett for yourself. A kinder, more warmhearted
Antony explained that he had not seen Mr. Ablett.
"Of course, yes, I was forgetting. But, believe me, Mr.
Gillingham, you can trust a woman's intuition in these matters."
Antony said that he was sure of this.
"Think of my feelings as a mother."
Antony was thinking of Miss Norbury's feelings as a daughter, and
wondering if she guessed that her affairs were now being
discussed with a stranger. Yet what could he do? What, indeed,
did he want to do except listen, in the hope of learning? Mark
engaged, or about to be engaged! Had that any bearing on the
events of yesterday? What, for instance, would Mrs. Norbury have
thought of brother Robert, that family skeleton? Was this
another reason for wanting brother Robert out of the way?
"I never liked him, never!"
"Never liked?" said Antony, bewildered.
"That cousin of his Mr. Cayley."
"I ask you, Mr. Gillingham, am I the sort of woman to trust my
little girl to a man who would go about shooting his only
"I'm sure you wouldn't, Mrs. Norbury."
"If there has been any shooting done, it has been done by
Antony looked at her inquiringly.
"I never liked him," said Mrs. Norbury firmly. "Never."
However, thought Antony to himself, that didn't quite prove that
Cayley was a murderer.
"How did Miss Norbury get on with him?" he asked cautiously.
"There was nothing in that at all," said Miss Norbury's mother
emphatically. "Nothing. I would say so to anybody."
"Oh, I beg your pardon. I never meant--"
"Nothing. I can say that for dear Angela with perfect
confidence. Whether he made advances--" She broke off with a
shrug of her plump shoulders.
Antony waited eagerly.
"Naturally they met. Possibly he might have--I don't know. But
my duty as a mother was clear, Mr. Gillingham."
Mr. Gillingham made an encouraging noise.
"I told him quite frankly that--how shall I put it?--that he was
trespassing. Tactfully, of course. But frankly."
"You mean," said Antony, trying to speak calmly, "that you told
him that--er--Mr. Ablett and your daughter--?"
Mrs. Norbury nodded several times.
"Exactly, Mr. Gillingham. I had my duty as a mother."
"I am sure, Mrs. Norbury, that nothing would keep you from doing
your duty. But it must have been disagreeable. Particularly if
you weren't quite sure--"
"He was attracted, Mr. Gillingham. Obviously attracted."
"Who would not be?" said Antony, with a charming smile. "It must
have been something of a shock to him to--"
"It was just that which made me so glad that I had spoken. I saw
at once that I had not spoken a moment too soon."
"There must have been a certain awkwardness about the next
meeting," suggested Antony.
"Naturally, he has not been here since. No doubt they would have
been bound to meet up at the Red House sooner or later."
"Oh,--this was only quite lately?"
"Last week, Mr. Gillingham. I spoke just in time.
"Ah!" said Antony, under his breath. He had been waiting for it.
He would have liked now to have gone away, so that he might have
thought over the new situation by himself; or, perhaps
preferably, to have changed partners for a little while with
Bill. Miss Norbury would hardly be ready to confide in a
stranger with the readiness of a mother, but he might have learnt
something by listening to her. For which of them had she the
greater feeling, Cayley or Mark? Was she really prepared to
marry Mark? Did she love him or the other--or neither? Mrs.
Norbury was only a trustworthy witness in regard to her own
actions and thoughts; he had learnt all that was necessary of
those, and only the daughter now had anything left to tell him.
But Mrs. Norbury was still talking.
"Girls are so foolish, Mr. Gillingham," she was saying. "It is
fortunate that they have mothers to guide them. It was so
obvious to me from the beginning that dear Mr. Ablett was just
the husband for my little girl. You never knew him?"
Antony said again that he had not seen Mr. Ablett.
"Such a gentleman. So nice-looking, in his artistic way. A
regular Velasquez--I should say Van Dyck. Angela would have it
that she could never marry a man with a beard. As if that
mattered, when--" She broke off, and Antony finished her sentence
"The Red House is certainly charming," he said.
"Charming. Quite charming. And it is not as if Mr. Ablett's
appearance were in any way undistinguished. Quite the contrary.
I'm sure you agree with me?"
Antony said that he had never had the pleasure of seeing Mr.
"Yes. And quite the centre of the literary and artistic world.
So desirable in every way."
She gave a deep sigh, and communed with herself for a little.
Antony was, about to snatch the opportunity of leaving, when Mrs.
Norbury began again.
"And then there's this scapegrace brother of his. He was
perfectly frank with me, Mr. Gillingham. He would be. He told
me of this brother, and I told him that I was quite certain it
would make no difference to my daughter's feelings for him ....
After all, the brother was in Australia."
"When was this? Yesterday?" Antony felt that, if Mark had only
mentioned it after his brother's announcement of a personal call
at the Red House, this perfect frankness had a good deal of
wisdom behind it.
"It couldn't have been yesterday, Mr. Gillingham. Yesterday--"
she shuddered, and shook her head.
"I thought perhaps he had been down here in the morning."
"Oh, no! There is such a thing, Mr. Gillingham, as being too
devoted a lover. Not in the morning, no. We both agreed that
dear Angela-- Oh, no. No; the day before yesterday, when he
happened to drop in about tea-time."
It occurred to Antony that Mrs. Norbury had come a long way from
her opening statement that Mark and Miss Norbury were practically
engaged. She was now admitting that dear Angela was not to be
rushed, that dear Angela had, indeed, no heart for the match at
"The day before yesterday. As it happened, dear Angela was out.
Not that it mattered. He was driving to Middleston. He hardly
had time for a cup of tea, so that even if she had been in--"
Antony nodded absently. This was something new. Why did Mark go
to Middleston the day before yesterday? But, after all, why
shouldn't he? A hundred reasons unconnected with the death of
Robert might have taken him there.
He got up to go. He wanted to be alone--alone, at least, with
Bill. Mrs. Norbury had given him many things to think over, but
the great outstanding fact which had emerged was this: that
Cayley had reason to hate Mark,--Mrs. Norbury had given him that
reason. To hate? Well, to be jealous, anyhow. But that was
"You see," he said to Bill, as they walked back, "we know that
Cayley is perjuring himself and risking himself over this
business, and that must be for one of two reasons. Either to
save Mark or to endanger him. That is to say, he is either
whole-heartedly for him or whole-heartedly against him. Well,
now we know that he is against him, definitely against him."
"But, I say, you know," protested Bill, "one doesn't necessarily
try to ruin one's rival in love."
"Doesn't one?" said Antony, turning to him with a smile.
"Well, of course, one never knows, but I mean--"
"You mightn't try to ruin him, Bill, but you wouldn't perjure
yourself in order to get him out of a trouble of his own making."
"So that of the two alternatives the other is the more likely."
They had come to the gate into the last field which divided them
from the road, and having gone through it, they turned round and
leant against it, resting for a moment, and looking down at the
house which they had left.
"Jolly little place, isn't it?" said Bill.
"Very. But rather mysterious."
"In what way?"
"Well, where's the front door?"
"The front door? Why, you've just come out of it."
"But isn't there a drive, or a road or anything?"
"No; that's the beauty of it to some people. And that's why it's
so cheap, and why the Norburys can afford it, I expect. They're
not too well off."
"But what about luggage and tradesmen and that kind of thing?"
"Oh, there's a cart-track, but motor-cars can't come any nearer
than the road" he turned round and pointed "up there. So the
week-end millionaire people don't take it. At least, they'd have
to build a road and a garage and all the rest of it, if they
"I see," said Antony carelessly, and they turned round and
continued their walk up to the road. But later on he remembered
this casual conversation at the gate, and saw the importance of
Getting Ready for the Night
What was it which Cayley was going to hide in that pond that
night? Antony thought that he knew now. It was Mark's body.
From the beginning he had seen this answer coming and had drawn
back from it. For, if Mark had been killed, it seemed such a
cold-blooded killing. Was Cayley equal to it? Bill would have
said "No," but that was because he had had breakfast with Cayley,
and lunch with him, and dinner with him; had ragged him and
played games with him. Bill would have said "No," because Bill
wouldn't have killed anybody in cold blood himself, and because
he took it for granted that other people behaved pretty much as
he did. But Antony had no such illusions. Murders were done;
murder had actually been done here, for there was Robert's dead
body. Why not another murder?
Had Mark been in the office at all that afternoon? The only
evidence (other than Cayley's, which obviously did not count) was
Elsie's. Elsie was quite certain that she had heard his voice.
But then Bill had said that it was a very characteristic voice
--an easy voice, therefore, to imitate. If Bill could imitate it
so successfully, why not Cayley?
But perhaps it had not been such a cold-blooded killing, after
all. Suppose Cayley had had a quarrel with his cousin that
afternoon over the girl whom they were both wooing. Suppose
Cayley had killed Mark, either purposely, in sudden passion, or
accidentally, meaning only to knock him down. Suppose that this
had happened in the passage, say about two o'clock, either
because Cayley had deliberately led him there, or because Mark
had casually suggested a visit to it. (One could imagine Mark
continually gloating over that secret passage.) Suppose Cayley
there, with the body at his feet, feeling already the rope round
his neck; his mind darting this way and that in frantic search
for a way of escape; and suppose that suddenly and irrelevantly
he remembers that Robert is coming to the house at three o'clock
that afternoon--automatically he looks at his watch--in half an
hour's time .... In half an hour's time. He must think of
something quickly, quickly. Shall he bury the body in the
passage and let it be thought that Mark ran away, frightened at