Part 4 out of 5
the mere thought of his brother's arrival? But there was the
evidence of the breakfast table. Mark had seemed annoyed at this
resurrection of the black sheep, but certainly not frightened.
No; that was much too thin a story. But suppose Mark had
actually seen his brother and had a quarrel with him; suppose it
could be made to look as if Robert had killed Mark--
Antony pictured to himself Cayley in the passage, standing over
the dead body of his cousin, and working it out. How could
Robert be made to seem the murderer, if Robert were alive to deny
it? But suppose Robert were dead, too?
He looks at his watch again. (Only twenty-five minutes now.)
Suppose Robert were dead, too? Robert dead in the office, and
Mark dead in the passage how does that help? Madness! But if
the bodies were brought together somehow and Robert's death
looked like suicide? .... Was it possible?
Madness again. Too difficult. (Only twenty minutes now.) Too
difficult to arrange in twenty minutes. Can't arrange a suicide.
Too difficult .... Only nineteen minutes ....
And then the sudden inspiration! Robert dead in the office,
Mark's body hidden in the passage--impossible to make Robert seem
the murderer, but how easy to make Mark! Robert dead and Mark
missing; why, it jumped to the eye at once. Mark had killed
Robert--accidentally; yes, that would be more likely--and then
had run away. Sudden panic .... (He looks at his watch again.
Fifteen minutes, but plenty of time now. The thing arranges
Was that the solution, Antony wondered. It seemed to fit in with
the facts as they knew them; but then, so did that other theory
which he had suggested to Bill in the morning.
"Which one?" said Bill.
They had come back from Jallands through the park and were
sitting in the copse above the pond, from which the Inspector and
his fishermen had now withdrawn. Bill had listened with open
mouth to Antony's theory, and save for an occasional "By Jove!"
had listened in silence. "Smart man, Cayley," had been his only
comment at the end.
"Which other theory?"
"That Mark had killed Robert accidentally and had gone to Cayley
for help, and that Cayley, having hidden him in the passage,
locked the office door from the outside and hammered on it."
"Yes, but you were so dashed mysterious about that. I asked you
what the point of it was, and you wouldn't say anything." He
thought for a little, and then went on, "I suppose you meant that
Cayley deliberately betrayed Mark, and tried to make him look
like a murderer?"
"I wanted to warn you that we should probably find Mark in the
passage, alive or dead."
"And now you don't think so?"
"Now I think that his dead body is there."
"Meaning that Cayley went down and killed him afterwards after
you had come, after the police had come?"
"Well, that's what I shrink from, Bill. It's so horribly
cold-blooded. Cayley may be capable of it, but I hate to think
"But, dash it all, your other way is cold-blooded enough.
According to you, he goes up to the office and deliberately
shoots a man with whom he has no quarrel, whom he hasn't seen for
"Yes, but to save his own neck. That makes a difference. My
theory is that he quarrelled violently with Mark over the girl,
and killed him in sudden passion. Anything that happened after
that would be self-defense. I don't mean that I excuse it, but
that I understand it. And I think that Mark's dead body is in
the passage now, and has been there since, say, half-past two
yesterday afternoon. And to-night Cayley is going to hide it in
Bill pulled at the moss on the ground beside him, threw away a
handful or two, and said slowly, "You may be right, but it's all
guess-work, you know."
"Good Lord, of course it is," he said. "And to-night we shall
know if it's a good guess or a bad one."
Bill brightened up suddenly.
"To-night," he said. "I say, to-night's going to be rather fun.
How do we work it?"
Antony was silent for a little.
"Of course," he said at last, "we ought to inform the police, so
that they can come here and watch the pond to-night."
"Of course," grinned Bill.
"But I think that perhaps it is a little early to put our
theories before them."
"I think perhaps it is," said Bill solemnly.
Antony looked up at him with a sudden smile.
"Bill, you old bounder."
"Well, dash it, it's our show. I don't see why we shouldn't get
our little bit of fun out of it."
"Neither do I. All right, then, we'll do without the police
"We shall miss them," said Bill sadly, "but 'tis better so."
There were two problems in front of them: first, the problem of
getting out of the house without being discovered by Cayley, and
secondly, the problem of recovering whatever it was which Cayley
dropped into the pond that night.
"Let's look at it from Cayley's point of view," said Antony. "He
may not know that we're on his track, but he can't help being
suspicious of us. He's bound to be suspicious of everybody in
the house, and more particularly of us, because we're presumably
more intelligent than the others."
He stopped for a moment to light his pipe, and Bill took the
opportunity of looking more intelligent than Mrs. Stevens.
"Now, he has got something to hide to-night, and he's going to
take good care that we aren't watching him. Well, what will he
"See that we are asleep first, before he starts out."
"Yes. Come and tuck us up, and see that we're nice and
"Yes, that's awkward," said Bill. "But we could lock our doors,
and then he wouldn't know that we weren't there."
"Have you ever locked your door?"
"No. And you can bet that Cayley knows that. Anyway, he'd bang
on it, and you wouldn't answer, and then what would he think?"
Bill was silent; crushed.
"Then I don't see how we're going to do it," he said, after deep
thought. "He'll obviously come to us just before he starts out,
and that doesn't give us time to get to the pond in front of
"Let's put ourselves in his place," said Antony, puffing slowly
at his pipe. "He's got the body, or whatever it is, in the
passage. He won't come up the stairs, carrying it in his arms,
and look in at our doors to see if we're awake. He'll have to
make sure about us first, and then go down for the body
afterwards. So that gives us a little time."
"Y-yes," said Bill doubtfully. "We might just do it, but it'll
be a bit of a rush."
"But wait. When he's gone down to the passage and got the body,
what will he do next?"
"Come out again," said Bill helpfully.
"Yes; but which end?"
Bill sat up with a start.
"By Jove, you mean that he will go out at the far end by the
"Don't you think so? Just imagine him walking across the lawn in
full view of the house, at midnight, with a body in his arms.
Think of the awful feeling he would have in the back of the neck,
wondering if anybody, any restless sleeper, had chosen just that
moment to wander to the window and look out into the night.
There's still plenty of moonlight, Bill. Is he going to walk
across the park in the moonlight, with all those windows staring
at him? Not if he can help it. But he can get out by the
bowling green, and then come to the pond without ever being in
sight of the house, at all."
"You're right. And that will just about give us time. Good.
Now, what's the next thing?"
"The next thing is to mark the exact place in the pond where he
drops whatever he drops."
"So that we can fish it out again."
"If we can see what it is, we shan't want to. The police can
have a go at it to-morrow. But if it's something we can't
identify from a distance, then we must try and get it out. To
see whether it's worth telling the police about."
"Y-yes," said Bill, wrinkling his forehead. "Of course, the
trouble with water is that one bit of it looks pretty much like
the next bit. I don't know if that had occurred to you.
"It had," smiled Antony. "Let's come and have a look at it."
They walked to the edge of the copse, and lay down there in
silence, looking at the pond beneath them.
"See anything?" said Antony at last.
"The fence on the other side."
"What about it?"
"Well, it's rather useful, that's all."
"Said Sherlock Holmes enigmatically," added Bill. "A moment
later, his friend Watson had hurled him into the pond."
"I love being Sherlocky," he said. "It's very unfair of you not
to play up to me.
"Why is that fence useful, my dear Holmes?" said Bill obediently.
"Because you can take a bearing on it. You see--"
"Yes, you needn't stop to explain to me what a bearing is."
"I wasn't going to. But you're lying here," he looked up
"underneath this pine-tree. Cayley comes out in the old boat and
drops his parcel in. You take a line from here on to the boat,
and mark it off on the fence there. Say it's the fifth post from
the end. Well, then I take a line from my tree we'll find one
for me directly and it comes on to the twentieth post, say. And
where the two lines meet, there shall the eagles be gathered
together. Q.E.D. And there, I almost forgot to remark, will the
taller eagle, Beverley by name, do his famous diving act. As
performed nightly at the Hippodrome."
Bill looked at him uneasily.
"I say, really? It's beastly dirty water, you know."
"I'm afraid so, Bill. So it is written in the book of Jasher."
"Of course I knew that one of us would have to, but I hoped,
well, it's a warm night."
"Just the night for a bathe," agreed Antony, getting up. "Well
now, let's have a look for my tree."
They walked down to the margin of the pond and then looked back.
Bill's tree stood up and took the evening, tall and unmistakable,
fifty feet nearer to heaven than its neighbours. But it had its
fellow at the other end of the copse, not quite so tall, perhaps,
but equally conspicuous.
"That's where I shall be," said Antony, pointing to it. "Now,
for the Lord's sake, count your posts accurately."
"Thanks very much, but I shall do it for my own sake," said Bill
with feeling. "I don't want to spend the whole night diving."
"Fix on the post in a straight line with you and the splash, and
then count backwards to the beginning of the fence."
"Right, old boy. Leave it to me. I can do this on my head."
"Well, that's how you will have to do the last part of it," said
Antony with a smile.
He looked at his watch. It was nearly time to change for dinner.
They started to walk back to the house together.
"There's one thing which worries me rather," said Antony. "Where
does Cayley sleep?"
"Next door to me. Why?"
"Well, it's just possible that he might have another look at you
after he's come back from the pond. I don't think he'd bother
about it in the ordinary way, but if he is actually passing your
door, I think he might glance in."
"I shan't be there. I shall be at the bottom of the pond,
sucking up mud."
"Yes .... Do you think you could leave something in your bed
that looked vaguely like you in the dark? A bolster with a
pyjama-coat round it, and one arm outside the blanket, and a pair
of socks or something for the head. You know the kind of thing.
I think it would please him to feel that you were still sleeping
Bill chuckled to himself.
"Rather. I'm awfully good at that. I'll make him up something
really good. But what about you?"
"I'm at the other end of the house; he's hardly likely to bother
about me a second time. And I shall be so very fast asleep at
his first visit. Still, I may as well to be on the safe side."
They went into the house. Cayley was in the hall as they came
in. He nodded, and took out his watch.
"Time to change?" he said.
"Just about," said Bill.
"You didn't forget my letter?"
"I did not. In fact, we had tea there."
"Ah!" He looked away and said carelessly, "How were they all?"
"They sent all sorts of sympathetic messages to you, and and all
that sort of thing."
Bill waited for him to say something more, and then, as nothing
was coming, he turned round, said, "Come on, Tony," and led the
"Got all you want?" he said at the top of the stairs.
"I think so. Come and see me before you go down."
Antony shut his bedroom door behind him and walked over to the
window. He pushed open a casement and looked out. His bedroom
was just over the door at the back of the house. The side wall
of the office, which projected out into the lawn beyond the rest
of the house, was on his left. He could step out on to the top
of the door, and from there drop easily to the ground. Getting
back would be little more difficult. There was a convenient
water-pipe which would help.
He had just finished his dressing when Bill came in. "Final
instructions?" he asked, sitting down on the bed. "By the way,
how are we amusing ourselves after dinner? I mean immediately
"Righto. Anything you like."
"Don't talk too loud," said Antony in a lower voice. "We're more
or less over the hall, and Cayley may be there." He led the way
to the window. "We'll go out this way to-night. Going
downstairs is too risky. It's easy enough; better put on
"Right. I say, in case I don't get another chance alone with you
what do I do when Cayley comes to tuck me up?"
"It's difficult to say. Be as natural as you can. I mean, if he
just knocks lightly and looks in, be asleep. Don't overdo the
snoring. But if he makes a hell of a noise, you'll have to wake
up and rub your eyes, and wonder what on earth he's doing in your
room at all. You know the sort of thing."
"Right. And about the dummy figure. I'll make it up directly we
come upstairs, and hide it under the bed."
"Yes .... I think we'd better go completely to bed ourselves.
We shan't take a moment dressing again, and it will give him time
to get safely into the passage. Then come into my room."
"Right .... Are you ready?"
They went downstairs together.
Mr. Beverley Takes the Water
Cayley seemed very fond of them that night. After dinner was
over, he suggested a stroll outside. They walked up and down the
gravel in front of the house, saying very little to each other,
until Bill could stand it no longer. For the last twenty turns
he had been slowing down hopefully each time they came to the
door, but the hint had always been lost on his companions, and
each time another turn had been taken. But in the end he had
"What about a little billiards?" he said, shaking himself free
from the others.
"Will you play?" said Antony to Cayley.
"I'll watch you," he said, and he had watched them resolutely
until the game, and then another game after that; had been
They went into the hall and attacked the drinks.
"Well, thank heaven for bed," said Bill; putting down his glass.
"Are you coming?"
"Yes," said Antony, and finished his drink. He looked at Cayley.
"I've just got one or two little things to do," said Cayley. "I
shan't be long following you."
"Well, good night, then."
"Good night," called Bill from half-way up the stairs. "Good
Bill looked at his watch. Half-past eleven. Not much chance of
anything happening for another hour. He pulled open a drawer and
wondered what to wear on their expedition. Grey flannel
trousers, flannel shirt, and a dark coat; perhaps a sweater, as
they might be lying out in the copse for some time. And good
idea a towel. He would want it later on, and meanwhile he could
wear it round his waist.
Tennis-shoes .... There Everything was ready. Now then for the
He looked at his watch again before getting into bed.
Twelve-fifteen. How long to wait before Cayley came up? He
turned out the light, and then, standing by the door in his
pyjamas, waited for his eyes to become accustomed to the new
darkness .... He could only just make out the bed in the corner
of the room. Cayley would want more light than that if he were
to satisfy himself from the door that the bed was occupied. He
pulled the curtains a little way back. That was about right. He
could have another look later on, when he had the dummy figure in
How long would it be before Cayley came up? It wasn't that he
wanted his friends, Beverley and Gillingham, to be asleep before
he started on his business at the pond; all that he wanted was to
be sure that they were safely in their bedrooms. Cayley's
business would make no noise, give no sign, to attract the most
wakeful member of the household, so long as the household was
really inside the house. But if he wished to reassure himself
about his guests, he would have to wait until they were far
enough on their way to sleep not to be disturbed by him as he
came up to reassure himself. So it amounted to the same thing,
really. He would wait until they were asleep .... until they
were asleep .... asleep ....
With a great effort Bill regained the mastery over his wandering
thoughts and came awake again. This would never do. It would be
fatal if he went to sleep .... if he went to sleep .... to sleep
.... And then, in an instant, he was intensely awake. Suppose
Cayley never came at all!
Suppose Cayley was so unsuspicious that, as soon as they had gone
upstairs, he had dived down into the passage and set about his
business. Suppose, even now, he was at the pond, dropping into
it that secret of his. Good heavens, what fools they had been!
How could Antony have taken such a risk? Put yourself in
Cayley's place, he had said. But how was it possible? They
weren't Cayley. Cayley was at the pond now. They would never
know what he had dropped into it.
Listen! .... Somebody at the door. He was asleep. Quite
naturally now. Breathe a little more loudly, perhaps. He was
asleep .... The door was opening. He could feel it opening
behind him .... Good Lord, suppose Cayley really was a murderer!
Why, even now he might be--no, he mustn't think of that. If he
thought of that, he would have to turn round. He mustn't turn
round. He was asleep; just peacefully asleep. But why didn't
the door shut? Where was Cayley now? Just behind him? And in
his hand no, he mustn't think of that. He was asleep. But why
didn't the door shut?
The door was shutting. There was a sigh from the sleeper in the
bed, a sigh of relief which escaped him involuntarily. But it
had a very natural sound a deep breath from a heavy sleeper. He
added another one to it to make it seem more natural. The door
Bill counted a hundred slowly and then got up. As quickly and as
noiselessly as possible he dressed himself in the dark. He put
the dummy figure in the bed, arranged the clothes so that just
enough but not too much of it was showing, and stood by the door
looking at it. For a casual glance the room was just about light
enough. Then very quietly, very slowly he opened the door. All
was still. There was no light from beneath the door of Cayley's
room. Very quietly, very carefully he crept along the passage to
Antony's room. He opened the door and went in.
Antony was still in bed. Bill walked across to wake him up, and
then stopped rigid, and his heart thumped against his ribs.
There was somebody else in the room.
"All right, Bill," said a whispering voice, and Antony stepped
out from the curtains.
Bill gazed at him without saying anything.
"Rather good, isn't it?" said Antony, coming closer and pointing
to the bed. "Come on; the sooner we get out now, the better."
He led the way out of the window, the silent Bill following him.
They reached the ground safely and noiselessly, went quickly
across the lawn and so, over the fence, into the park. It was
not until they were out of sight of the house that Bill felt it
safe to speak.
"I quite thought it was you in bed," he said.
"I hoped you would. I shall be rather disappointed now if Cayley
doesn't call again. It's a pity to waste it."
"He came all right just now?"
"Oh, rather. What about you?"
Bill explained his feelings picturesquely.
"There wouldn't have been much point in his killing you," said
Antony prosaically. "Besides being too risky."
"Oh!" said Bill. And then, "I had rather hoped that it was his
love for me which restrained him."
"I doubt it .... You didn't turn up your light when you
"Good Lord, no. Did you want me to?"
Antony laughed again and took him by the arm.
"You're a splendid conspirator, Bill. You and I could take on
The pond was waiting for them, more solemn in the moonlight. The
trees which crowned the sloping bank on the far side of it were
mysteriously silent. It seemed that they had the world very much
Almost unconsciously Antony spoke in a whisper.
"There's your tree, there's mine. As long as you don't move,
there's no chance of his seeing you. After he's gone, don't come
out till I do. He won't be here for a quarter of an hour or so,
so don't be impatient."
"Righto," whispered Bill.
Antony gave him a nod and a smile, and they walked off to their
The minutes went by slowly. To Antony, lying hidden in the
undergrowth at the foot of his tree, a new problem was presenting
itself. Suppose Cayley had to make more than one journey that
night? He might come back to find them in the boat; one of them,
indeed, in the water. And if they decided to wait in hiding, on
the chance of Cayley coming back again, what was the least time
they could safely allow? Perhaps it would be better to go round
to the front of the house and watch for his return there, the
light in his bedroom, before conducting their experiments at the
pond. But then they might miss his second visit in this way, if
he made a second visit. It was difficult.
His eyes were fixed on the boat as he considered these things,
and suddenly, as if materialized from nowhere, Cayley was
standing by the boat. In his hand was a small brown bag.
Cayley put the bag in the bottom of the boat, stepped in, and
using an oar as a punt-pole, pushed slowly off. Then, very
silently, he rowed towards the middle of the pond.
He had stopped. The oars rested on the water. He picked up the
bag from between his feet, leant over the nose of the boat, and
rested it lightly on the water for a moment. Then he let go. It
sank slowly. He waited there, watching; afraid, perhaps, that it
might rise again. Antony began to count ....
And now Cayley was back at his starting-place. He tied up the
boat, looked carefully round to see that he had left no traces
behind him, and then turned to the water again. For a long time,
as it seemed to the watchers, he stood there, very big, very
silent, in the moonlight. At last he seemed satisfied. Whatever
his secret was, he had hidden it; and so with a gentle sigh, as
unmistakable to Antony as if he had heard it, Cayley turned away
and vanished again as quietly as he had come.
Antony gave him three minutes, and stepped out from the trees.
He waited there for Bill to join him.
"Six," whispered Bill.
"I'm going round to the front of the house. You get back to your
tree and watch, in case Cayley comes again. Your bedroom is the
left-hand end one, and Cayley's the end but one? Is that right?"
"Right. Wait in hiding till I come back. I don't know how long
I shall be, but don't be impatient. It will seem longer than it
is." He patted Bill on the shoulder, and with a smile and a nod
of the head he left him there.
What was in the bag? What could Cayley want to hide other than a
key or a revolver? Keys and revolvers sink of themselves; no
need to put them in a bag first. What was in the bag? Something
which wouldn't sink of itself; something which needed to be
helped with stones before it would hide itself safely in the mud.
Well, they would find that out. There was no object in worrying
about it now. Bill had a dirty night's work in front of him.
But where was the body which Antony had expected so confidently
or, if there were no body, where was Mark?
More immediately, however, where was Cayley? As quickly as he
could Antony had got to the front of the house and was now lying
in the shrubbery which bordered the lawn, waiting for the light
to go up in Cayley's window. If it went up in Bill's window,
then they were discovered. It would mean that Cayley had glanced
into Bill's room, had been suspicious of the dummy figure in the
bed, and had turned up the light to make sure. After that, it
was war between them. But if it went up in Cayley's room--
There was a light. Antony felt a sudden thrill of excitement.
It was in Bill's room. War!
The light stayed there, shining vividly, for a wind had come up,
blowing the moon behind a cloud, and casting a shadow over the
rest of the house. Bill had left his curtains undrawn. It was
careless of him; the first stupid thing he had done, but--
The moon slipped out again .... and Antony laughed to himself in
the bushes. There was another window beyond Cayley's, and there
was no light in it. The declaration of war was postponed.
Antony lay there, watching Cayley into bed. After all it was
only polite to return Cayley's own solicitude earlier in the
night. Politeness demanded that one should not disport oneself on
the pond until one's friends were comfortably tucked up.
Meanwhile Bill was getting tired of waiting. His chief fear was
that he might spoil everything by forgetting the number "six."
It was the sixth post. Six. He broke off a twig and divided it
into six pieces. These he arranged on the ground in front of
him. Six. He looked at the pond, counted up to the sixth post,
and murmured "six" to himself again. Then he looked down at his
twigs. One-two-three-four-five-six-seven. Seven! Was it seven?
Or was that seventh bit of a twig an accidental bit which had
been on the ground anyhow? Surely it was six! Had he said "six"
to Antony? If so, Antony would remember, and it was all right.
Six. He threw away the seventh twig and collected the other six
together. Perhaps they would be safer in his pocket. Six. The
height of a tall man--well, his own height. Six feet. Yes, that
was the way to remember it. Feeling a little safer on the point,
he began to wonder about the bag, and what Antony would say to
it, and the possible depth of the water and of the mud at the
bottom; and was still so wondering, and saying, "Good Lord, what
a life!" to himself, when Antony reappeared.
Bill got up and came down the slope to meet him.
"Six," he said firmly. "Sixth post from the end."
"Good," smiled Antony. "Mine was the eighteenth--a little way
"What did you go off for?"
"To see Cayley into bed."
"Is it all right?"
"Yes. Better hang your coat over the sixth post, and then we
shall see it more easily. I'll put mine on the eighteenth. Are
you going to undress here or in the boat?"
"Some here, and some in the boat. You're quite sure that you
wouldn't like to do the diving yourself?"
They had walked round to the other side of the pond. Coming to
the sixth post of the fence, Bill took off his coat and put it in
position, and then finished his undressing, while Antony went off
to mark the eighteenth post. When they were ready, they got into
the boat, Antony taking the oars.
"Now, Bill, tell me as soon as I'm in a line with your two
He rowed slowly towards the middle of the pond.
"You're about there now," said Bill at last.
Antony stopped rowing and looked about him.
"Yes, that's pretty well right." He turned the boat's nose round
until it was pointing to the pine-tree under which Bill had lain.
"You see my tree and the other coat?"
"Yes," said Bill.
"Right. Now then, I'm going to row gently along this line until
we're dead in between the two. Get it as exact as you can--for
your own sake."
"Steady!" said Bill warningly. "Back a little .... a little more
.... a little more forward again .... Right." Antony left the
oars on the water and looked around. As far as he could tell,
they were in an exact line with each pair of landmarks.
"Now then, Bill, in you go."
Bill pulled off his shirt and trousers, and stood up.
"You mustn't dive from the boat, old boy," said Antony hastily.
"You'll shift its position. Slide in gently."
Bill slid in from the stern and swam slowly round to Antony.
"What's it like?" said Antony.
"Cold. Well, here's luck to it."
He gave a sudden kick, flashed for a moment in the water, and was
gone. Antony steadied the boat, and took another look at his
Bill came up behind him with a loud explosion. "It's pretty
muddy," he protested.
"No, thank the Lord."
"Well, try again."
Bill gave another kick and disappeared. Again Antony coaxed the
boat back into position, and again Bill popped up, this time in
front of him.
"I feel that if I threw you a sardine," said Antony, with a
smile, "you'd catch it in your mouth quite prettily."
"It's awfully easy to be funny from where you are. How much
longer have I got to go on doing this?"
Antony looked at his watch.
"About three hours. We must get back before daylight. But be
quicker if you can, because it's rather cold for me sitting
Bill flicked a handful of water at him and disappeared again. He
was under for almost a minute this time, and there was a grin on
his face when it was visible again.
"I've got it, but it's devilish hard to get up. I'm not sure
that it isn't too heavy for me.
"That's all right," said Antony. He brought out a ball of thick
string from his pocket. "Get this through the handle if you can,
and then we can both pull."
"Good man." He paddled to the side, took one end of the string
and paddled back again. "Now then."
Two minutes later the bag was safely in the boat. Bill clambered
in after it, and Antony rowed back. "Well done, Watson," he said
quietly, as they landed. He fetched their two coats, and then
waited, the bag in his hand, while Bill dried and dressed
himself. As soon as the latter was ready, he took his arm and
led him into the copse. He put the bag down and felt in his
"I shall light a pipe before I open it," he said. "What about
With great care they filled and lit their pipes. Bill's hand was
a little unsteady. Antony noticed it and gave him a reassuring
They sat down, and taking the bag between his knees, Antony
pressed the catch and opened it.
"Clothes!" said Bill.
Antony pulled out the top garment and shook it out. It was a wet
brown flannel coat.
"Do you recognize it?" he asked.
"Mark's brown flannel suit."
"The one he is advertised as having run away in?"
"Yes. It looks like it. Of course he had a dashed lot of
Antony put his hand in the breast-pocket and took out some
letters. He considered them doubtfully for a moment.
"I suppose I'd better read them," he said. "I mean, just to see
--" He looked inquiringly at Bill, who nodded. Antony turned on
his torch and glanced at them. Bill waited anxiously.
"Yes. Mark .... Hallo!"
"What is it?"
"The letter that Cayley was telling the Inspector about. From
Robert. 'Mark, your loving brother is coming to see you--' Yes,
I suppose I had better keep this. Well, that's his coat. Let's
have out the rest of it." He took the remaining clothes from the
bag and spread them out.
"They're all here," said Bill. "Shirt, tie, socks, underclothes,
shoes--yes, all of them."
"All that he was wearing yesterday?"
"What do you make of it?"
Bill shook his head, and asked another question.
"Is it what you expected?"
Antony laughed suddenly.
"It's too absurd," he said. "I expected--well, you know what I
expected. A body. A body in a suit of clothes. Well, perhaps
it would be safer to hide them separately. The body here, and
the clothes in the passage, where they would never betray
themselves. And now he takes a great deal of trouble to hide the
clothes here, and doesn't bother about the body at all." He
shook his head. "I'm a bit lost for the moment, Bill, and that's
"Anything else there?"
Antony felt in the bag.
"Stones and--yes, there's something else." He took it out and
held it up. "There we are, Bill."
It was the office key.
"By Jove, you were right."
Antony felt in the bag again, and then turned it gently upside
down on the grass. A dozen large stones fell out--and something
else. He flashed down his torch.
"Another key," he said.
He put the two keys in his pocket, and sat there for a long time
in silence, thinking. Bill was silent, too, not liking to
interrupt his thoughts, but at last he said:
"Shall I put these things back?"
Antony looked up with a start.
"What? Oh, yes. No, I'll put them back. You give me a light,
Very slowly and carefully he put the clothes back in the bag,
pausing as he took up each garment, in the certainty, as it
seemed to Bill, that it had something to tell him if only he
could read it. When the last of them was inside, he still waited
there on his knees, thinking.
"That's the lot," said Bill.
Antony nodded at him.
"Yes, that's the lot," he said; "and that's the funny thing about
it. You're sure it is the lot?"
"What do you mean?"
"Give me the torch a moment." He took it and flashed it over the
ground between them. "Yes, that's the lot. It's funny." He
stood up, the bag in his hands. "Now let's find a hiding-place
for these, and then--" He said no more, but stepped off through
the trees, Bill following him meekly.
As soon as they had got the bag off their hands and were clear of
the copse, Antony became more communicative. He took the two
keys out of his pocket.
"One of them is the office key, I suppose, and the other is the
key of the passage cupboard. So I thought that perhaps we might
have a look at the cupboard."
"I say, do you really think it is?"
"Well, I don't see what else it can be."
"But why should he want to throw it away?"
"Because it has now done its work, whatever it was, and he wants
to wash his hands of the passage. He'd throw the passage away if
he could. I don't think it matters much one way or another, and
I don't suppose there's anything to find in the cupboard, but I
feel that we must look."
"Do you still think Mark's body might be there?"
"No. And yet where else can it be? Unless I'm hopelessly wrong,
and Cayley never killed him at all."
Bill hesitated, wondering if he dare advance his theory.
"I know you'll think me an ass--"
"My dear Bill, I'm such an obvious ass myself that I should be
delighted to think you are too."
"Well, then, suppose Mark did kill Robert, and Cayley helped him
to escape, just as we thought at first. I know you proved
afterwards that it was impossible, but suppose it happened in a
way we don't know about and for reasons we don't know about. I
mean, there are such a lot of funny things about the whole show
that--well, almost anything might have happened."
"You're quite right. Well?"
"Well, then, this clothes business. Doesn't that seem rather to
bear out the escaping theory? Mark's brown suit was known to the
police. Couldn't Cayley have brought him another one in the
passage, to escape in, and then have had the brown one on his
hands? And thought it safest to hide it in the pond?"
"Yes," said Anthony thoughtfully. Then: "Go on."
Bill went on eagerly:
"It all seems to fit in, you know. I mean even with your first
theory--that Mark killed him accidentally and then came to Cayley
for help. Of course, if Cayley had played fair, he'd have told
Mark that he had nothing to be afraid of. But he isn't playing
fair; he wants to get Mark out of the way because of the girl.
Well, this is his chance. He makes Mark as frightened as
possible, and tells him that his only hope is to run away. Well,
naturally, he does all he can to get him well away, because if
Mark is caught, the whole story of Cayley's treachery comes out."
"Yes. But isn't it overdoing it rather to make him change his
underclothes and everything? It wastes a good deal of time, you
Bill was pulled up short, and said, "Oh!" in great
"No, it's not as bad as that, Bill," said Antony with a smile.
"I daresay the underclothes could be explained. But here's the
difficulty. Why did Mark need to change from brown to blue, or
whatever it was, when Cayley was the only person who saw him in
"The police description of him says that he is in a brown suit."
"Yes, because Cayley told the police. You see, even if Mark had
had lunch in his brown suit, and the servants had noticed it,
Cayley could always have pretended that he had changed into blue
after lunch, because only Cayley saw him afterwards. So if
Cayley had told the Inspector that he was wearing blue, Mark
could have escaped quite comfortably in his brown, without
needing to change at all."
"But that's just what he did do," cried Bill triumphantly. "What
fools we are!"
Antony looked at him in surprise, and then shook his head.
"Yes, yes!" insisted Bill. "Of course! Don't you see? Mark did
change after lunch, and, to give him more of a chance of getting
away, Cayley lied and said that he was wearing the brown suit in
which the servants had seen him. Well, then he was afraid that
the police might examine Mark's clothes and find the brown suit
still there, so he hid it, and then dropped it in the pond
He turned eagerly to his friend, but Antony said nothing. Bill
began to speak again, and was promptly waved into silence.
"Don't say anything more, old boy; you've given me quite enough
to think about. Don't let's bother about it to-night. We'll
just have a look at this cupboard and then get to bed."
But the cupboard had not much to tell them that night. It was
empty save for a few old bottles.
"Well, that's that," said Bill.
But Antony, on his knees with the torch in his hand, continued to
search for something.
"What are you looking for?" asked Bill at last.
"Something that isn't there," said Antony, getting up and dusting
his trousers. And he locked the door again.
The inquest was at three o'clock; thereafter Antony could have no
claim on the hospitality of the Red House. By ten o'clock his
bag was packed, and waiting to be taken to the "George." To
Bill, coming upstairs after a more prolonged breakfast, this
early morning bustle was a little surprising.
"What's the hurry?" he asked.
"None. But we don't want to come back here after the inquest.
Get your packing over now and then we can have the morning to
"Righto." He turned to go to his room, and then came back again.
"I say, are we going to tell Cayley that we're staying at the
"You're not staying at the 'George,' Bill. Not officially.
You're going back to London."
"Yes. Ask Cayley to have your luggage sent in to Stanton, ready
for you when you catch a train there after the inquest. You can
tell him that you've got to see the Bishop of London at once.
The fact that you are hurrying back to London to be confirmed
will make it seem more natural that I should resume my
interrupted solitude at the 'George' as soon as you have gone."
"Then where do I sleep to-night?"
"Officially, I suppose, in Fulham Place; unofficially, I suspect,
in my bed, unless they've got another spare room at the 'George.'
I've put your confirmation robe--I mean your pyjamas and brushes
and things--in my bag, ready for, you. Is there anything else
you want to know? No? Then go and pack. And meet me at
ten-thirty beneath the blasted oak or in the hall or somewhere. I
want to talk and talk and talk, and I must have my Watson."
"Good," said Bill, and went off to his room.
An hour later, having communicated their official plans to
Cayley, they wandered out together into the park.
"Well?" said Bill, as they sat down underneath a convenient tree.
"I had many bright thoughts in my bath this morning," began
Antony. "The brightest one of all was that we were being damn
fools, and working at this thing from the wrong end altogether."
"Well, that's helpful."
"Of course it's very hampering being a detective, when you don't
know anything about detecting, and when nobody knows that you're
doing detection, and you can't have people up to cross-examine
them, and you have neither the energy nor the means to make
proper inquiries; and, in short, when you're doing the whole
thing in a thoroughly amateur, haphazard way.
"For amateurs I don't think we're doing at all badly," protested
"No; not for amateurs. But if we had been professionals, I
believe we should have gone at it from the other end. The Robert
end. We've been wondering about Mark and Cayley all the time.
Now let's wonder about Robert for a bit."
"We know so little about him."
"Well, let's see what we do know. First of all, then, we know
vaguely that he was a bad lot--the sort of brother who is hushed
up in front of other people."
"We know that he announced his approaching arrival to Mark in a
rather unpleasant letter, which I have in my pocket."
"And then we know rather a curious thing. We know that Mark told
you all that this black sheep was coming. Now, why did he tell
Bill was thoughtful for a moment.
"I suppose," he said slowly, "that he knew we were bound to see
him, and thought that the best way was to be quite frank about
"But were you bound to see him? You were all away playing golf."
"We were bound to see him if he stayed in the house that night."
"Very well, then. That's one thing we've discovered. Mark knew
that Robert was staying in the house that night. Or shall we put
it this way--he knew that there was no chance of getting Robert
out of the house at once."
Bill looked at his friend eagerly.
"Go on," he said. "This is getting interesting."
"He also knew something else," went on Antony. "He knew that
Robert was bound to betray his real character to you as soon as
you met him. He couldn't pass him off on you as just a travelled
brother from the Dominions, with perhaps a bit of an accent; he
had to tell you at once, because you were bound to find out, that
Robert was a wastrel."
"Yes. That's sound enough."
"Well, now, doesn't it strike you that Mark made up his mind
about all that rather quickly?"
"How do you mean?"
"He got this letter at breakfast. He read it; and directly he
had read it he began to confide in you all. That is to say, in
about one second he thought out the whole business and came to a
decision--to two decisions. He considered the possibility of
getting Robert out of the way before you came back, and decided
that it was impossible. He considered the possibility of
Robert's behaving like an ordinary decent person in public, and
decided that it was very unlikely. He came to those two
decisions instantaneously, as he was reading the letter. Isn't
that rather quick work?"
"Well, what's the explanation?"
Antony waited until he had refilled and lighted his pipe before
"What's the explanation? Well, let's leave it for a moment and
take another look at the two brothers. In conjunction, this
time, with Mrs. Norbury."
"Mrs. Norbury?" said Bill, surprised.
"Yes. Mark hoped to marry Miss Norbury. Now, if Robert really
was a blot upon the family honour, Mark would want to do one of
two things. Either keep it from the Norburys altogether, or
else, if it had to come out, tell them himself before the news
came to them indirectly. Well, he told them. But the funny
thing is that he told them the day before Robert's letter came.
Robert came, and was killed, the day before yesterday--Tuesday.
Mark told Mrs. Norbury about him on Monday. What do you make of
"Coincidence," said Bill, after careful thought. "He'd always
meant to tell her; his suit was prospering, and just before it
was finally settled, he told her. That happened to be Monday.
On Tuesday he got Robert's letter, and felt jolly glad that he'd
told her in time."
"Well, it might be that, but it's rather a curious coincidence.
And here is something which makes it very curious indeed. It
only occurred to me in the bath this morning. Inspiring place, a
bathroom. Well, it's this--he told her on Monday morning, on his
way to Middleston in the car."
"Sorry, Tony; I'm dense this morning."
"In the car, Bill. And how near can the car get to Jallands?"
"About six hundred yards."
"Yes. And on his way to Middleston, on some business or other,
Mark stops the car, walks six hundred yards down the hill to
Jallands, says, 'Oh, by the way, Mrs. Norbury, I don't think I
ever told you that I have a shady brother called Robert,' walks
six hundred yards up the hill again, gets into the car, and goes
off to Middleston. Is that likely?"
Bill frowned heavily.
"Yes, but I don't see what you're getting at. Likely or not
likely, we know he did do it."
"Of course he did. All I mean is that he must have had some
strong reason for telling Mrs. Norbury at once. And the reason I
suggest is that he knew on that morning--Monday morning, not
Tuesday--that Robert was coming to see him, and had to be in
first with the news.
"And that would explain the other point--his instantaneous
decision at breakfast to tell you all about his brother. It
wasn't instantaneous. He knew on Monday that Robert was coming,
and decided then that you would all have to know."
"Then how do you explain the letter?"
"Well, let's have a look at it."
Antony took the letter from his pocket and spread it out on the
grass between them.
"Mark, your loving brother is coming to see you to-morrow, all
the way from Australia. I give you warning, so that you will be
able to conceal your surprise but not I hope your pleasure.
Expect him at three or thereabouts."
"No date mentioned, you see," said Antony. "Just to-morrow."
"But he got this on Tuesday."
"Well, he read it out to us on Tuesday."
"Oh, yes! he read it out to you."
Bill read the letter again, and then turned it over and looked at
the back of it. The back of it had nothing to say to him.
"What about the postmark?" he asked.
"We haven't got the envelope, unfortunately."
"And you think that he got this letter on Monday."
"I'm inclined to think so, Bill. Anyhow, I think--I feel almost
certain--that he knew on Monday that his brother was coming."
"Is that going to help us much?"
"No. It makes it more difficult. There's something rather
uncanny about it all. I don't understand it." He was silent for
a little, and then added, "I wonder if the inquest is going to
"What about last night? I'm longing to hear what you make of
that. Have you been thinking it out at all?"
"Last night," said Antony thoughtfully to himself. "Yes, last
night wants some explaining."
Bill waited hopefully for him to explain. What, for instance,
had Antony been looking for in the cupboard?
"I think," began Antony slowly, "that after last night we must
give up the idea that Mark has been killed; killed, I mean, by
Cayley. I don't believe anybody would go to so much trouble to
hide a suit of clothes when he had a body on his hands. The body
would seem so much more important. I think we may take it now
that the clothes are all that Cayley had to hide."
"But why not have kept them in the passage?"
"He was frightened of the passage. Miss Norris knew about it."
"Well, then, in his own bedroom, or even, in Mark's. For all you
or I or anybody knew, Mark might have had two brown suits. He
probably had, I should think."
"Probably. But I doubt if that would reassure Cayley. The brown
suit hid a secret, and therefore the brown suit had to be hidden.
We all know that in theory the safest hiding-place is the most
obvious, but in practice very few people have the nerve to risk
Bill looked rather disappointed.
"Then we just come back to where we were," he complained. "Mark
killed his brother, and Cayley helped him to escape through the
passage; either in order to compromise him, or because there was
no other way out of it. And he helped him by telling a lie about
his brown suit."
Antony smiled at him in genuine amusement.
"Bad luck, Bill," he said sympathetically. "There's only one
murder, after all. I'm awfully sorry about it. It was my fault
"Shut up, you ass. You know I didn't mean that."
"Well, you seemed awfully disappointed."
Bill said nothing for a little, and then with a sudden laugh
"It was so exciting yesterday," he said apologetically, "and we
seemed to be just getting there, and discovering the most
wonderful things, and now--"
"Well, it's so much more ordinary."
Antony gave a shout of laughter.
"Ordinary!" he cried. "Ordinary! Well, I'm dashed! Ordinary!
If only one thing would happen in an ordinary way, we might do
something, but everything is ridiculous." Bill brightened up
"Every way. Take those ridiculous clothes we found last night.
You can explain the brown suit, but why the under clothes. You
can explain the underclothes in some absurd way, if you like--you
can say that Mark always changed his underclothes whenever he
interviewed anybody from Australia--but why, in that case, my
dear Watson, why didn't he change his collar?"
"His collar?" said Bill in amazement.
"His collar, Watson."
"I don't understand."
"And it's all so ordinary," scoffed Antony.
"Sorry, Tony, I didn't mean that. Tell me about the collar."
"Well, that's all. There was no collar in the bag last night.
Shirt, socks, tie--everything except a collar. Why?"
"Was that what you were looking for in the cupboard?" said Bill
"Of course. 'Why no collar?' I, said. For some reason Cayley
considered it necessary to hide all Mark's clothes; not just the
suit, but everything which he was wearing, or supposed to be
wearing, at the time of the murder. But he hadn't hidden the
collar. Why? Had he left it out by mistake? So I looked in the
cupboard. It wasn't there. Had he left it out on purpose? If
so, why?--and where was it? Naturally I began to say to myself,
'Where have I seen a collar lately? A collar all by itself?'
And I remembered--what, Bill?"
Bill frowned heavily to himself, and shook his head.
"Don't ask me, Tony. I can't--By Jove!" He threw up his head,
"In the basket in the office bedroom!"
"But is that the one?"
"The one that goes with the rest of the clothes? I don't know.
Where else can it be? But if so, why send the collar quite
casually to the wash in the ordinary way, and take immense
trouble to hide everything else? Why, why, why?"
Bill bit hard at his pipe, but could think of nothing to say.
"Anyhow," said Antony, getting up restlessly, "I'm certain of one
thing. Mark knew on the Monday that Robert was coming here."
The Coroner, having made a few commonplace remarks as to the
terrible nature of the tragedy which they had come to investigate
that afternoon, proceeded to outline the case to the jury.
Witnesses would be called to identify the deceased as Robert
Ablett, the brother of the owner of the Red House, Mark Ablett.
It would be shown that he was something of a ne'er-do-well, who
had spent most of his life in Australia, and that he had
announced, in what might almost be called a threatening letter,
his intention of visiting his brother that afternoon. There
would be evidence of his arrival, of his being shown into the
scene of the tragedy--a room in the Red House, commonly called
"the office"--and of his brother's entrance into that room. The
jury would have to form their own opinion as to what happened
there. But whatever happened, happened almost instantaneously.
Within two minutes of Mark Abletts entrance, as would be shown in
the evidence, a shot was heard, and when--perhaps five minutes
later--the room was forced open, the dead body of Robert Ablett
was found stretched upon the floor. As regards Mark Ablett,
nobody had seen him from the moment of his going into the room,
but evidence would be called to show that he had enough money on
him at the time to take him to any other part of the country, and
that a man answering to his description had been observed on the
platform of Stanton station, apparently waiting to catch the 3.55
up train to London. As the jury would realize, such evidence of
identity was not always reliable. Missing men had a way of being
seen in a dozen different places at once. In any case, there was
no doubt that for the moment Mark Ablett had disappeared.
"Seems a sound man," whispered Antony to Bill. "Doesn't talk too
Antony did not expect to learn much from the evidence--he knew
the facts of the case so well by now--but he wondered if
Inspector Birch had developed any new theories. If so, they
would appear in he Coroner's examination, for the Coroner would
certainly have been coached by the police as to the important
facts to be extracted from each witness. Bill was the first to
be put through it.
"Now, about this letter, Mr. Beverley?" he was asked when his
chief evidence was over. "Did you see it at all?"
"I didn't see the actual writing. I saw the back of it. Mark was
holding it up when he told us about his brother."
"You don't know what was in it, then?"
Bill had a sudden shock. He had read the letter only that
morning. He knew quite well what was in it. But it wouldn't do
to admit this. And then, just as he was about to perjure
himself, he remembered: Antony had heard Cayley telling the
"I knew afterwards. I was told. But Mark didn't read it out at
"You gathered, however, that it was an unwelcome letter?"
"Would you say that Mark was frightened by it?"
"Not frightened. Sort of bitter--and resigned. Sort of 'Oh,
Lord, here we are again!'"
There was a titter here and there. The Coroner smiled, and tried
to pretend that he hadn't.
"Thank you, Mr. Beverley."
The next witness was summoned by the name of Andrew Amos, and
Antony looked up with interest, wondering who he was.
"He lives at the inner lodge," whispered Bill to him.
All that Amos had to say was that a stranger had passed by his
lodge at a little before three that afternoon, and had spoken to
him. He had seen the body and recognized it as the man.
"What did he say?"
"'Is this right for the Red House?' or something like that, sir.
"What did you say?"
"I said, 'This is the Red House. Who do you want to see?' He
was a bit rough-looking, you know, sir, and I didn't know what he
was doing there."
"Well, sir, he said, 'Is Mister Mark Ablett at home?' It doesn't
sound much put like that, sir, but I didn't care about the way he
said it. So I got in front of him like, and said, 'What do you
want, eh?' and he gave a sort of chuckle and said, 'I want to see
my dear brother Mark.' Well, then I took a closer look at him,
and I see that p'raps he might be his brother, so I said, 'If
you'll follow the drive, sir, you'll come to the house. Of
course I can't say if Mr. Ablett's at home.' And he gave a sort
of nasty laugh again, and said, 'Fine place Mister Mark Ablett's
got here. Plenty of money to spend, eh?' Well, then I had
another look at him, sir, because gentlemen don't talk like that,
and if he was Mr. Ablett's brother--but before I could make up my
mind, he laughed and went on. That's all I can tell you, sir."
Andrew Amos stepped down and moved away to the back of the room,
nor did Antony take his eyes off him until he was assured that
Amos intended to remain there until the inquest was over.
"Who's Amos talking to now?" he whispered to Bill.
"Parsons. One of the gardeners. He's at the outside lodge on
the Stanton road. They're all here to-day. Sort of holiday for
"I wonder if he's giving evidence too," thought Antony. He was.
He followed Amos. He had been at work on the lawn in front of
the house, and had seen Robert Ablett arrive. He didn't hear the
shot--not to notice. He was a little hard of hearing. He had
seen a gentleman arrive about five minutes after Mr. Robert.
"Can you see him in court now?" asked the Coroner. Parsons
looked round slowly. Antony caught his eye and smiled.
"That's him," said Parsons, pointing.
Everybody looked at Antony.
"That was about five minutes afterwards?"
"About that, sir."
"Did anybody come out of the house before this gentleman's
"No, sir. That is to say I didn't see 'em."
Stevens followed. She gave her evidence much as she had given it
to the Inspector. Nothing new was brought out by her
examination. Then came Elsie. As the reporters scribbled down
what she had overheard, they added in brackets "Sensation" for
the first time that afternoon.
"How soon after you had heard this did the shot come?" asked the
"Almost at once, sir."
"I couldn't really say, sir. It was so quick."
"Were you still in the hall?"
"Oh, no, sir. I was just outside Mrs. Stevens' room. The
"You didn't think of going back to the hall to see what had
"Oh, no, sir. I just went in to Mrs. Stevens, and she said, 'Oh,
what was that?' frightened-like. And I said, 'That was in the
house, Mrs. Stevens, that was.' Just like something going off,
"Thank you," said the Coroner.
There was another emotional disturbance in the room as Cayley
went into the witness-box; not "Sensation" this time, but an
eager and, as it seemed to Antony, sympathetic interest. Now
they were getting to grips with the drama.
He gave his evidence carefully, unemotionally--the lies with the
same slow deliberation as the truth. Antony watched him
intently, wondering what it was about him which had this odd sort
of attractiveness. For Antony, who knew that he was lying, and
lying (as he believed) not for Mark's sake but his own, yet could
not help sharing some of that general sympathy with him.
"Was Mark ever in possession of a revolver?" asked the Coroner.
"Not to my knowledge. I think I should have known if he had
"You were alone with him all that morning. Did he talk about
this visit of Robert's at all?"
"I didn't see very much of him in the morning. I was at work in
my room, and outside, and so on. We lunched together and he
talked of it then a little."
"In what terms?"
"Well--" he hesitated, and then went on. "I can't think of a
better word than 'peevishly.' Occasionally he said, 'What do you
think he wants?' or 'Why couldn't he have stayed where he was?'
or 'I don't like the tone of his letter. Do you think he means
trouble?' He talked rather in that kind of way.
"Did he express his surprise that his brother should be in
"I think he was always afraid that he would turn up one day."
"Yes .... You didn't hear any conversation between the brothers
when they were in the office together?"
"No. I happened to go into the library just after Mark had gone
in, and I was there all the time."
"Was the library door open?"
"Did you see or hear the last witness at all?"
"If anybody had come out of the office while you were in the
library, would you have heard it?"
"I think so. Unless they had come out very quietly on purpose."
"Would you call Mark a hasty-tempered man?"
Cayley considered this carefully before answering.
"Hasty-tempered, yes," he said. "But not violent-tempered."
"Was he fairly athletic? Active and quick?"
"Active and quick, yes. Not particularly strong."
"Yes .... One question more. Was Mark in the habit of carrying
any considerable sum of money about with him?"
"Yes. He always had one 100 pound note on him, and perhaps ten
or twenty pounds as well."
"Thank you, Mr. Cayley."
Cayley went back heavily to his seat. "Damn it," said Antony to
himself, "why do I like the fellow?"
Again the eager interest of the room could be felt. Who was this
stranger who had got mixed up in the business so mysteriously?
Antony smiled at Bill and stepped up to give his evidence.
He explained how he came to be staying at the "George" at
Waldheim, how he had heard that the Red House was in the
neighbourhood, how he had walked over to see his friend Beverley,
and had arrived just after the tragedy. Thinking it over
afterwards he was fairly certain that he had heard the shot, but
it had not made any impression on him at the time. He had come
to the house from the Waldheim end and consequently had seen
nothing of Robert Ablett, who had been a few minutes in front of
him. From this point his evidence coincided with Cayley's.
"You and the last witness reached the French windows together and
found them shut?"
"You pushed them in and came to the body. Of course you had no
idea whose body it was?"
"Did Mr. Cayley say anything?"
"He turned the body over, just so as to see the face, and when he
saw it, he said, 'Thank God.'"
Again the reporters wrote "Sensation."
"Did you understand what he meant by that?"
"I asked him who it was, and he said that it was Robert Ablett.
Then he explained that he was afraid at first it was the cousin
with whom he lived--Mark."
"Yes. Did he seem upset?"
"Very much so at first. Less when he found that it wasn't Mark."
There was a sudden snigger from a nervous gentleman in the crowd
at the back of the room, and the Coroner put on his glasses and
stared sternly in the direction from which it came. The nervous
gentleman hastily decided that the time had come to do up his
bootlace. The Coroner put down his glasses and continued.
"Did anybody come out of the house while you were coming up the
"Thank you, Mr. Gillingham."
He was followed by Inspector Birch. The Inspector, realizing
that this was his afternoon, and that the eyes of the world were
upon him, produced a plan of the house and explained the
situation of the different rooms. The plan was then handed to
Inspector Birch, so he told the world, had arrived at the Red
House at 4.42 p.m. on the afternoon in question. He had been
received by Mr. Matthew Cayley, who had made a short statement to
him, and he had then proceeded to examine the scene of the crime.
The French windows had been forced from outside. The door
leading into the hall was locked; he had searched the room
thoroughly and had found no trace of a key. In the bedroom
leading out of the office he had found an open window. There
were no marks on the window, but it was a low one, and, as he
found from experiment, quite easy to step out of without touching
it with the boots. A few yards outside the window a shrubbery
began. There were no recent footmarks outside the window, but
the ground was in a very hard condition owing to the absence of
rain. In the shrubbery, however, he found several twigs on the
ground, recently broken off, together with other evidence that
some body had been forcing its way through. He had questioned
everybody connected with the estate, and none of them had been
into the shrubbery recently. By forcing a way through the
shrubbery it was possible for a person to make a detour of the
house and get to the Stanton end of the park without ever being
in sight of the house itself.
He had made inquiries about the deceased. Deceased had left for
Australia some fifteen years ago, owing to some financial trouble
at home. Deceased was not well spoken of in the village from
which he and his brother had come. Deceased and his brother had
never been on good terms, and the fact that Mark Ablett had come
into money had been a cause of great bitterness between them. It
was shortly after this that Robert had left for Australia.
He had made inquiries at Stanton station. It had been market-day
at Stanton and the station had been more full of arrivals than
usual. Nobody had particularly noticed the arrival of Robert
Ablett; there had been a good many passengers by the 2.10 train
that afternoon, the train by which Robert had undoubtedly come
from London. A witness, however, would state that he noticed a
man resembling Mark Ablett at the station at 3.53 p.m. that
afternoon, and this man caught the 3.55 up train to town.
There was a pond in the grounds of the Red House. He had dragged
this, but without result ....
Antony listened to him carelessly, thinking his own thoughts all
the time. Medical evidence followed, but there was nothing to be
got from that. He felt so close to the truth; at any moment
something might give his brain the one little hint which it
wanted. Inspector Birch was just pursuing the ordinary.
Whatever else this case was, it was not ordinary. There was
something uncanny about it.
John Borden was giving evidence. He was on the up platform
seeing a friend off by the 3.55 on Tuesday afternoon. He had
noticed a man on the platform with coat collar turned up and a
scarf round his chin. He had wondered why the man should do this
on such a hot day. The man seemed to be trying to escape
observation. Directly the train came in, he hurried into a
carriage. And so on.
"There's always a John Borden at every murder case, said Antony
"Have you ever seen Mark Ablett?"
"Once or twice, sir."
"Was it he?"
"I never really got a good look at him, sir, what with his collar
turned up and the scarf and all. But directly I heard of the sad
affair, and that Mr. Ablett was missing, I said to Mrs. Borden,
'Now I wonder if that was Mr. Ablett I saw at the station?' So
then we talked it over and decided that I ought to come and tell
Inspector Birch. It was just Mr. Ablett's height, sir."
Antony went on with his thoughts ....
The Coroner was summing up. The jury, he said, had now heard all
the evidence and would have to decide what had happened in that
room between the two brothers. How had the deceased met his
death? The medical evidence would probably satisfy them that
Robert Ablett had died from the effects of a bullet-wound in the
head. Who had fired that bullet? If Robert Ablett had fired it
himself, no doubt they would bring in a verdict of suicide, but
if this had been so, where was the revolver which had fired it,
and what had become of Mark Ablett? If they disbelieved in this
possibility of suicide, what remained? Accidental death,
justifiable homicide, and murder. Could the deceased have been
killed accidentally? It was possible, but then would Mark Ablett
have run away? The evidence that he had run away from the scene
of the crime was strong. His cousin had seen him go into the
room, the servant Elsie Wood had heard him quarrelling with his
brother in the room, the door had been locked from the inside,
and there were signs that outside the open window some one had
pushed his way very recently through the shrubbery. Who, if not
Mark? They would have then to consider whether he would have run
away if he had been guiltless of his brother's death. No doubt
innocent people lost their heads sometimes. It was possible that
if it were proved afterwards that Mark Ablett had shot his
brother, it might also be proved that he was justified in so
doing, and that when he ran away from his brother's corpse he had
really nothing to fear at the hands of the Law. In this
connection he need hardly remind the jury that they were not the
final tribunal, and that if they found Mark Ablett guilty of
murder it would not prejudice his trial in any way if and when he
was apprehended .... The jury could consider their verdict.
They considered it. They announced that the deceased had died as
the result of a bullet-wound, and that the bullet had been fired
by his brother Mark Ablett.
Bill turned round to Antony at his side. But Antony was gone.
Across the room he saw Andrew Amos and Parsons going out of the
door together, and Antony was between them.
Mr. Beverley is Tactful
The inquest had been held at the "Lamb" at Stanton; at Stanton
Robert Ablett was to be buried next day. Bill waited about
outside for his friend, wondering where he had gone. Then,
realizing that Cayley would be coming out to his car directly,
and that a farewell talk with Cayley would be a little
embarrassing, he wandered round to the yard at the back of the
inn, lit a cigarette, and stood surveying a torn and
weather-beaten poster on the stable wall. "GRAND THEATRICAL
ENTER" it announced, to take place on "Wednesday, Decem." Bill
smiled to himself as he looked at it, for the part of Joe, a
loquacious postman, had been played by "William B. Beverl," as
the remnants of the poster still maintained, and he had been much
less loquacious than the author had intended, having forgotten
his words completely, but it had all been great fun. And then he
stopped smiling, for there would be no more fun now at the Red
"Sorry to keep you waiting," said the voice of Antony behind him.
"My old friends Amos and Parsons insisted on giving me a drink."
He slipped his hand into the crook of Bill's arm, and smiled
happily at him.
"Why were you so keen about them?" asked Bill a little
resentfully. "I couldn't think where on earth you had got to."
Antony didn't say anything. He was staring at the poster.
"When did this happen?" he asked.
Antony waved to the poster.
"Oh, that? Last Christmas. It was rather fun."
Antony began to laugh to himself.
"Were you good?"
"Rotten. I don't profess to be an actor."
"Oh, rather. He loves it."
"Rev. Henry Stutters--Mr. Matthew Cay," read Antony.
"Was that our friend Cayley?"
"Well, much better than I expected. He wasn't keen, but Mark
"Miss Norris wasn't playing, I see."
"My dear Tony, she's a professional. Of course she wasn't."
Antony laughed again.
"A great success, was it?"
"I'm a fool, and a damned fool," Antony announced solemnly. "And
a damned fool," he said again under his breath, as he led Bill
away from the poster, and out of the yard into the road. "And a
damned fool. Even now--" He broke off and then asked suddenly,
"Did Mark ever have much trouble with his teeth?"
"He went to his dentist a good deal. But what on earth--"
Antony laughed a third time.
"What luck!" he chuckled. "But how do you know?"
"We go to the same man; Mark recommended him to me. Cartwright,
in Wimpole Street."
"Cartwright in Wimpole Street," repeated Antony thoughtfully.
"Yes, I can remember that. Cartwright in Wimpole Street. Did
Cayley go to him too, by any chance?"
"I expect so. Oh, yes, I know he did. But what on earth--"
"What was Mark's general health like? Did he see a doctor much?"
"Hardly at all, I should think. He did a lot of early morning
exercises which were supposed to make him bright and cheerful at
breakfast. They didn't do that, but they seemed to keep him
pretty fit. Tony, I wish you'd--"
Antony held up a hand and hushed him into silence.
"One last question," he said. "Was Mark fond of swimming?"
"No, he hated it. I don't believe he could swim. Tony, are you
mad, or am I? Or is this a new game?"
Antony squeezed his arm.
"Dear old Bill," he said. "It's a game. What a game! And the
answer is Cartwright in Wimpole Street."
They walked in silence for half a mile or so along the road to
Waldheim. Bill tried two or three times to get his friend to
talk, but Antony had only grunted in reply. He was just going to
make another attempt, when Antony came to a sudden stop and
turned to him anxiously.
"I wonder if you'd do something for me," he said, looking at him
with some doubt.
"What sort of thing?"
"Well, it's really dashed important. It's just the one thing I
Bill was suddenly enthusiastic again.
"I say, have you really found it all out?"
"At least, I'm very nearly there, Bill. There's just this one
thing I want now. It means your going back to Stanton. Well, we
haven't come far; it won't take you long. Do you mind?"
"My dear Holmes, I am at your service."
Antony gave him a smile and was silent for a little, thinking.
"Is there another inn at Stanton--fairly close to the station?"
"The 'Plough and Horses'--just at the corner where the road goes
up to the station--is that the one you mean?"
"That would be the one. I suppose you could do with a drink,
"Rather!" said Bill, with a grin.
"Good. Then have one at the 'Plough and Horses.' Have two, if
you like, and talk to the landlord, or landlady, or whoever
serves you. I want you to find out if anybody stayed there on
"Robert?" said Bill eagerly.
"I didn't say Robert," said Antony, smiling. "I just want you to
find out if they had a visitor who slept there on Monday night.
A stranger. If so, then any particulars you can get of him,
without letting the landlord know that you are interested--"
"Leave it to me," broke in Bill. "I know just what you want."