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  • 1922
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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 itself.)

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through the park and were sitting in the copse above the pond, from which the Inspector and his fishermen had now withdrawn.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 of it.”

“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 fifteen years!”

“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 the pond.”

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.”

Antony laughed.

“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 to-night.”

“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 do?”

“See that we are asleep first, before he starts out.”

“Yes. Come and tuck us up, and see that we’re nice and comfortable.”

“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 him.”

“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 bowling-green?”

“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.”

Antony laughed.

“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 peacefully.”

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.”

“Oh, yes.”

Bill waited for him to say something more, and then, as nothing was coming, he turned round, said, “Come on, Tony,” and led the way upstairs.

“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 after dinner.”


“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 tennis-shoes.”

“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.


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 been firm.

“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 played.

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.”

“Good night,” called Bill from half-way up the stairs. “Good night, Tony.”

“Good night.”

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 dummy figure.

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 the bed.

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 was shut.

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.”

Antony laughed.

“I doubt it …. You didn’t turn up your light when you dressed?”

“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 anything together.”

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 to themselves.

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 posts.

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.

Antony nodded.

“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?”

Bill nodded.

“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 past it.”

“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?”

“Quite, thanks.”

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 marks.”

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 landmarks.

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 here.”

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 pockets.

“I shall light a pipe before I open it,” he said. “What about you?”


With great care they filled and lit their pipes. Bill’s hand was a little unsteady. Antony noticed it and gave him a reassuring smile.



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 clothes.”

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 the fact.”

“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, will you?”

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 know.”

Bill was pulled up short, and said, “Oh!” in great disappointment.

“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 brown?”

“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 afterwards.”

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 ourselves.”

“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 ‘George’?”

“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. “Talk away.”

“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 Bill.

“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 you?”

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 him.”

“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 answering.

“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 that?”

“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.”

“Did he?”

“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 help us.

“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 it.”

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 for–“

“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 confessed.

“It was so exciting yesterday,” he said apologetically, “and we seemed to be just getting there, and discovering the most wonderful things, and now–“

“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 again.

“Ridiculous? How?”

“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 eagerly.

“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 much.”

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 Inspector.

“I knew afterwards. I was told. But Mark didn’t read it out at breakfast.”

“You gathered, however, that it was an unwelcome letter?”

“Oh, yes!”

“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 em.

“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 arrival?”

“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 Coroner.

“Almost at once, sir.”

“A minute?”

“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 housekeeper, sir.”

“You didn’t think of going back to the hall to see what had happened?”

“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, it was.”

“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 been.”

“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 England?”

“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?”

“Oh, yes.”

“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?”

“Antony Gillingham!”

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 drive?”


“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 the jury.

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 to himself.

“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.


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 House.

“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.”

“Mark good?”

“Oh, rather. He loves it.”

“Rev. Henry Stutters–Mr. Matthew Cay,” read Antony.

“Was that our friend Cayley?”


“Any good?”

“Well, much better than I expected. He wasn’t keen, but Mark made him.”

“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?”

“Oh, rather!”

“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 want now.”

Bill was suddenly enthusiastic again.

“I say, have you really found it all out?”

Antony nodded.

“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, couldn’t you?”

“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 Monday night.”

“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.”