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The Yellow Streak by Williams, Valentine

Part 2 out of 5

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"Well, Miss, seeing the voices sounded angry-like, I thought perhaps it
would be better not to let any one else hear.... And Mr. Greve looked
upset-like when he passed me. He gave me quite a turn, he did, when I
saw his face under the hall lamp...."

"Did you stay there ... and listen?"

Bude drew himself up.

"That is not my 'abit, Miss, not 'ere nor in hany of the 'ouses where I
'ave seen service...."

The butler broke off. The _h_'s were too much for him in his

"I didn't mean to suggest anything underhand," the girl said quickly. "I
mean, did you hear any more?"

"No, Miss. I emptied the letter-box and took the letters to the
servants' hall."

"But," said Mary in a puzzled way, "why do you say it was Mr. Greve if
you didn't hear his voice?"

Bude spread out his hands in bewilderment.

"Who else should it have been, Miss? Sir Horace and the doctor were in
the lounge at tea. Jay and Robert were in the servants' hall. It could
have been nobody else...."

The girl's head sank slowly on her breast. She was silent. The butler
shifted his position.

"Was there anything more, Miss?" he asked after a little while.

"There is nothing further, thank you, Bude," replied Mary. "About Mr.
Greve, I am sure there must be some mistake. He cannot have understood
Mr. Humphries's question. I'll ask him about it when I see him. I don't
think I should say anything to the Inspector about it, at any rate, not
until I've seen Mr. Greve. He'll probably speak to you about it

Bude made a motion as though he were going to say something. Then
apparently he thought better of it, for he made a little formal bow and
in his usual slow and dignified manner made his exit from the room.



The house telephone, standing on the long and gracefully designed desk
with its elaborately lacquered top, whirred. Mary started from her
reverie in her chair by the fire. By the clock on the mantelshelf she
saw that it was a quarter past eight. She remembered that once her
mother had knocked at her door and bidden her come down to dinner. She
had refused the invitation, declining to unlock the door.

She lifted the receiver.

"That you, Mary?"

Robin was speaking.

"May I come up and see you? Or would you rather be left alone?"

His firm, pleasant voice greatly comforted her. Only then she realized
how greatly she craved sympathy. But the recollection of Bude's story
suddenly interposed itself like a barrier between them.

"Yes, come up," she said, "I want to speak to you!"

Her voice was dispirited,

"I don't want to see him," she told herself as she replaced the
receiver, got up, and unlocked the door, "but I must _know_!"

A gentle tap came at the door. Robin came in quickly and crossed to
where she stood by the fire.

"My dear!" he said and put out his two hands.

Her hands were behind her back, the fingers nervously intertwining. She
kept them there and made no sign that she had observed his gesture.

He looked at her in surprise.

"This has been terrible for you, Mary," he said. "I wish to God I could
make you realize how very, very much I feel for you in what you must be
going through...."

The phrase was formal and he brought it out irresolutely, chilled as he
was by her reception. She was looking at him dispassionately, her
forehead a little puckered, her eyes a trifle hard.

"Won't you sit down," she said. "There is something I wanted to say!"

He was looking at her now in a puzzled fashion. With rather feigned
deliberation he chose a chair and sat down facing the fire. A lamp on
the mantelpiece--the only light in the room--threw its rays on his face.
His chin was set rather more squarely than his wont and his eyes were

"Mary,"--he leant forward towards her,--"please forget what I said this
afternoon. It was beastly of me, but I hardly knew what I was

She made a little gesture as if to wave his apology aside. Then, with
her hands clasped in front of her, scanning the nails, she asked, almost

"What did you say to Hartley Parrish in the library this afternoon?"

Robin stared at her in amazement.

"But I was not in the library!" he answered.

The girl dropped her hands sharply to her side.

"Don't quibble with me, Robin," she said. "What did you say to Hartley
Parrish after you left me this afternoon in the billiard-room?"

He was still staring at her, but now there was a deep furrow between his
brows. He was breathing rather hard.

"I did not speak to Parrish at all after I left you."

His answer was curt and incisive.

"Do you mean to tell me," Mary said, "that, after you left me and went
down the corridor towards the library, you neither went in to Hartley
nor spoke to him!"

"I do!"

"Then how do you account for the fact that, almost immediately after you
had crossed Bude in the hall, he heard the sound of voices in the

Robin Greve stood up abruptly.

"Bude, you say, makes this statement?"


"To whom, may I ask?"

He spoke sharply and there was a challenging ring in his voice. It
nettled the girl.

"Only to me," she said quickly, and added: "You needn't think he has
told the police!"

Very deliberately Robin plucked his handkerchief from his sleeve, wiped
his lips, and replaced it. The girl saw that his hands were trembling.

"Why do you say that to me?" he demanded rather fiercely.

Mary Trevert shrugged her shoulders.

"This afternoon," she said, "when I told you of my engagement to
Hartley, you began by abusing him to me, you rushed from the room making
straight for the library where we all know that Hartley was working, and
a few minutes after Bude hears voices raised in anger proceeding from
there. The next thing we know is that Hartley has ..."

She broke off and looked away.

"Mary,"--Robin's voice was grave, and he had mastered all signs of
irritation,--"you and I have known one another all our lives. You ought
to know me well enough by now to understand that I don't tell you lies.
When I say I haven't seen or spoken to Hartley Parrish since lunch this
afternoon, that is the truth!"

"How can it be the truth?" the girl insisted. "Horace and Dr. Romain
were both in the lounge-hall, Bude was in the hall, the other
menservants were in the servants' hall. You are the only man in the
house not accounted for, and a minute before Bude heard these voices you
go down the corridor towards the library. I can understand you wanting
to keep it from the police, but why do you want to deceive _me_?"

"Mary," answered the young man sternly, "I know you're upset, but that's
no justification for persisting in this stupid charge against me. I tell
you I never saw Parrish or spoke to him, either, between lunch and when
I saw him lying dead in the library. I am not going to repeat the
denial. But you may as well understand now that I am not in the habit of
allowing my friends to doubt my word!"

Mary flamed up at his tone.

"If you are my friend," she cried, "why can't you trust me? Why should I
find this out from Bude? Why should I be humiliated by hearing from the
butler that he kept this evidence from the police in order to please me
because you and I are friends? I am only trying to help you, to shield
you ..."

"That will do, Mary," he said. "No, you must hear what I have to say. If
you insist on disbelieving me, you must. But I don't want you to help
me. I don't want you to shield me. I shall make it my business to see
that Bude's evidence is brought before the detective inspector from
Scotland Yard who is being brought down here to handle the case ..."

"A detective from Scotland Yard?" the girl repeated.

"Yes, a detective. Humphries is puzzled by several points about this
case and has asked for assistance from London. He is right. Neither the
circumstances of Parrish's death nor the motive of his act are clear.
Bude's evidence is sufficient proof that somebody did gain access to the
library this afternoon. In that case...."


"In that case," said Greve slowly, "it may not be suicide...."

Mary put one hand suddenly to her face as women do when they are
frightened. She shrank back.

"You mean...."

He nodded.


The girl gave a little gasp. Then she stretched out her hand and
touched his arm.

"But, Robin," she spoke in quick gasps,--"you can't give the police this
evidence of Bude's. Don't you see it incriminates _you?_ Don't you
realize that every scrap of evidence points to you as being the man that
visited Mr. Parrish in the library this afternoon? You're a lawyer,
Robin. You understand these things. Don't you see what I mean?"

He nodded curtly.

"Perfectly," he replied coldly.

"Bude will do what I tell him," the girl hurried on. "There is no need
for the police to know...."

"On the contrary," said the other imperturbably, "it is essential they
should be told at once."

The girl grasped the lapels of his coat in her two hands. Her breath
came quickly and she trembled all over.

"Are you mad, Robin?" she cried. "Who could have wanted to kill poor
Hartley? Why should you put these ideas into the heads of the police?
Bude may have imagined everything. Now, you'll be sensible, promise

Very gently he detached the two slim hands that held his coat. His mouth
was set in a firm line.

"We are going to sift this thing to the bottom, Mary," he said, "no
matter what are the consequences. You owe it to Parrish and you owe it
to me...."

The telephone trilled suddenly.

Robin picked up the receiver,

"Yes, Bude," he said.

There was a moment's silence in the room broken as the clock on the
mantelpiece chimed nine times. Then Robin said into the telephone:

"Right! Tell him I'll be down immediately!"

He put down the receiver and turned to Mary.

"A detective inspector has arrived from London. He is asking to see me.
I must go downstairs."

Mary, her elbows on the mantelpiece, was staring into the fire. At the
sound of his voice she swung round quickly.

"Robin!" she cried.

But she spoke too late.

Robin Greve had left the room.



A quality which had gone far to lay the foundations of the name which
Robin Greve was rapidly making at the bar was his strong intuitive
sense. He had the rare ability of correctly 'sensing' an atmosphere, an
uncanny _flair_ for driving instantly at the heart of a situation, which
rendered him in the courts a dexterous advocate and a redoubtable

Now, as he came into the lounge from the big oak staircase, he instantly
realized that he had entered an unfriendly atmosphere. The concealed
lights which were set all round the cornice of the room were turned on,
flooding the pleasantly snug room with soft reflected light. A little
group stood about the fire, Bude, Jay, Hartley Parrish's man, and a
stranger. Jay was engaged in earnest conversation with the stranger. But
at the sound of Greve's foot upon the staircase, the conversation ceased
and a silence fell on the group.

Greve's attention was immediately attracted towards the stranger, whom
he surmised to be the detective from Scotland Yard. He was a big, burly
man with a heavy dark moustache, straight and rather thin black hair,
and coarse features. He looked a full-blooded, plethoric person with
reddish-blue veins on his florid face, and a heavy jowl which
over-feeding, Robin surmised, had made fullish. He was very neatly
dressed in his black overcoat with velvet collar carefully brushed, his
natty black tie with its pearl pin, and well-polished boots. His black
bowler hat, with a pair of heavy dogskin gloves, neatly folded, lay on
the table.

"This Mr. Greve?"

Bude and Jay fell back as Robin joined the group. The detective bent his
gaze on the young barrister as he put his question, and Robin for the
first time noticed his eyes. Keen and clear, they were ill-suited, he
thought, to the rather gross features of the man. By right he should
have had either the small and roguish or the pale and expressionless
eyes which are habitually found in individuals of the sanguine

The detective had a trick of dropping his eyes to his boots. When he
raised them, the effect was to alter his whole expression. His eyes,
well-open, keenly observant, in perpetual motion, lent an air of
alertness, of shrewdness, to his heavy, florid countenance.

"That is my name," said Robin, answering his question. "I am a
barrister. I have met some of your people at the Yard, but I don't

"Detective-Inspector Manderton," interjected the big man, and paused as
though to say, "Let that sink in!"

Robin knew him well by repute. His qualities were those of the bull-dog,
slow-moving, obstinately brave, and desperately tenacious. His was a
name to conjure with among the criminal classes, and his career was
starred with various sensational tussles with desperate criminals, for
Detective-Inspector Manderton, when engaged on a case, invariably "took
a hand himself," as he phrased it, when an arrest was to be made. A
bullet-hole in his right thigh and an imperfectly knitted right
collar-bone remained to remind him of this propensity of his. His motto,
as he was fond of saying, was, "What I have I hold!"

"Well, Mr. Greve," said the detective in a loud, hectoring voice,
"perhaps you will be good enough to tell me what you know of this

Robin flushed angrily at the man's manner. But there was no trace of
resentment in his voice as he replied. He told Manderton what he had
already told Humphries: how he had gone from the billiard-room across
the hall and down the library corridor to the side-door into the
grounds, intending to have a stroll before tea, but, finding that it
was threatening rain, had returned to the house by the front door.

The detective scanned the young man's face closely as he spoke. When
Robin had finished, the other dropped his eyes and seemed to be
examining the brilliant polish of his boots. He said nothing, and again
Robin became aware of the atmosphere of hostility towards him which this
man radiated.

"It is dark at five o'clock?"

Manderton turned to Bude.

"Getting on that way, sir," the butler agreed.

"Are you in the habit, sir,"--the detective turned to Robin now,--"of
going out for walks in the dark?"

Greve shrugged his shoulders.

"I had been sitting in the billiard-room. It was rather stuffy, so I
thought I'd like some air before tea!"

"You left Miss Trevert in the billiard-room?"



Greve put a hand to his throat and eased his collar.

"The gong had sounded for tea," the detective went on imperturbably;
"surely it would have been more natural for you to have brought Miss
Trevert with you?"

"I didn't wish to!"

Mr. Manderton cleared his throat.

"Ah!" he grunted. "You didn't wish to. I should like you to be frank
with me, Mr. Greve, please. Was it not a fact that you and Miss Trevert
had words?"

He looked up sharply at him with contracted pupils.

"You took a certain interest in this young lady?"

"Mr. Manderton,"--Robin spoke with a certain _hauteur_,--"don't you
think we might leave Miss Trevert's name out of this?"

"Mr. Greve," replied the detective bluntly, "I don't!"

Robin made a little gesture of resignation.

"Before the servants...."

"Come, come, sir," the detective broke in, "with all respect to the
young lady and yourself, it was a matter of common knowledge in the
house that she and you were ... well, old friends. It was remarked, Mr.
Greve, I may remind you, that you looked very upset-like when you left
the billiard-room to"--he paused perceptibly--"to go for your stroll in
the dark."

Robin glanced quickly round the group. Jay averted his eyes. As for
Bude, he was the picture of embarrassment.

"You seem to be singularly well posted in the gossip of the servants'
hall, Mr. Manderton!" said Robin hotly.

It was a foolish remark, and Robin regretted it the moment the words had
left his mouth.

"Well, yes," commented the detective slowly, "I am. I shall be well
posted on the whole of this case, presently, I hope, sir!"

His manner was perfectly respectful, but reserved almost to a tone of

"In that case," said Robin, "I'll tell you something you don't know, Mr.
Manderton. Has Bude told you what he heard after I had passed him in the

Interest flashed at once into the detective's face. He turned quickly to
the butler. Robin felt he had scored.

"What did you hear?" he said sharply.

Bude looked round wildly. His large, fish-like mouth twitched, and he
made a few feeble gestures with his hands.

"It was only perhaps an idea of mine, sir," he stammered,--"just a sort
of idea ... I dare say I was mistaken. My hearing ain't what it was,

"Don't you try to hoodwink me," said Manderton, with sudden ferocity,
knitting his brows and frowning at the unfortunate butler. "Come on and
tell us what you heard. Mr. Greve knows and I mean to. Out with it!"

Bude cast a reproachful glance at Robin. Then he said:

"Well, sir, a minute or two after Mr. Greve had passed me, I went back
to the hall and through the open door of the corridor leading to the
library, I heard voices!"

"Voices, eh? Did you recognize them?"

"No, sir. It was just the sound of talking!"

"You told Miss Trevert they were loud voices, Bude!" Robin interrupted.

"Yes, sir," replied the butler, "they were loudish in a manner o'
speaking, else I shouldn't have heard them!"

"Why not?"

The detective rapped the question out sharply.

"Why, because the library door was locked, sir!"

"How do you know that?"

"Because Miss Trevert and Dr. Romain both tried the handle and couldn't
get in!"

"Ah!" said Manderton, "you mean the door was locked _when the body was
found!_ Now, as to these voices. Were they men's voices?"

"Yes, sir, I should say so."


"Because they were deep-like!"

"Was Mr. Hartley Parrish's voice one of them?"

The butler spread out his hands.

"That I couldn't say! I just heard the murmur-like, then shut the
passage door quickly ..."


"Well, sir, I thought ... I didn't want to listen...."

"You thought one of the voices was Mr. Greve's, eh? Having a row with
Mr. Parrish, eh? About the lady, isn't that right?"

"Aren't you going rather too fast?" said Robin quietly.

But the detective ignored him.

"Come on and answer my question, my man," he said harshly. "Didn't you
think it was Mr. Hartley Parrish and Mr. Greve here having a bit of a
dust-up about the young lady being engaged to Mr. Parrish?"

"Well, perhaps I did, but...."

Like a flash the detective turned on Robin.

"What do you know about this?" he demanded fiercely.

"Nothing," said Greve. "As I have told you already, I did not see Mr.
Parrish alive again after lunch, nor did I speak to him. What I would
suggest to you now is that upon this evidence of Bude's depends the
vitally important question of how Mr. Parrish met his death. Though he
was found with a revolver in his hand, none of us in this house know of
any good motive for his suicide. I put it to you that the man who can
furnish us with this motive is the owner of the voice heard by Bude in
conversation with Mr. Parrish, since obviously nobody other than Mr.
Parrish and possibly this unknown person was in the library block at the
time. And I would further remark, Mr. Manderton, that, until the bullet
has been extracted, we do not know that Mr. Parrish killed

"No," said the detective significantly, "we don't!"

He had dropped his eyes to the ground now and was studying the pattern
of the hearth-rug.

"You say you heard no shot?" he suddenly asked Robin.


"No one other than Miss Trevert, I gather, heard the shot?"

"That is so!"

Mr. Manderton consulted a slip of paper which he drew from his pocket.

"Inspector Humphries," he said, "has drawn up a rough time-table of
events leading up to Mr. Parrish's death, based on the evidence he has
taken here this evening. You will tell me if it tallies."

He read from the slip:

5 P.M. Bude sounds the gong for tea.

5.10 Mr. Greve passes Bude in the hall and goes
down the corridor leading to the library.
Mr. Greve states he went straight out by
the side door into the gardens.

The detective looked up from his reading.

"At 5.12, let us say, Bude comes back from the servants' quarters to the
hall and hears voices from the library. He closes the passage door. Is
that right?"

Bude nodded.

"It would be about two minutes after I saw Mr. Greve the first time," he

"Very well!"

The detective resumed his reading.

5.15 P.M. Miss Trevert goes to fetch Mr. Parrish
in to tea. She finds the library door
locked. Tries the handle and hears a

5.18 (say) Miss Trevert comes into the lounge hall
and gives the alarm.

"Now, sir," said Mr. Manderton briskly, "I should like to ask you one or
two further questions. Firstly, how long were you out on your stroll in
the dark?"

"I should think about two or three minutes."

"That is to say, if you left the house by the side door at 5.10, you
were back in the house by 5.13."

"Yes, that would be right," Robin agreed.

"And what did you do when you came in?"

"I went up to my room to fetch a letter for the post."

"Miss Trevert heard the shot fired at 5.15. Where were you at that

"In my bedroom, I should say. I was there for a few minutes as I had to
write a cheque...."

"And where is your bedroom?"

"In the other wing above the billiard-room."

"Hm! A pistol shot makes a great deal of noise. It seems strange that
nobody in the house should have heard it."

Here Bude interposed.

"Mr. Parrish, sir, was very particular about noise. He had the library
door and the door leading from the front hall to the library corridor
specially felted so that he should not hear any sounds from the house
when he was working in the library. That library wing was absolutely
shut off from the rest of the house. It was always uncommon quiet...."

But the detective, ignoring him, turned to Robin again.

"I have been round the house," he said. "It does not seem to me it
ought to take you three or even two minutes to walk from the side door
to the front door. I should say it would be a matter of about thirty

"Excuse me," Robin answered quickly, "I didn't say I went straight from
the side to the front door. I went through the gardens following the
path that leads to the main drive. There I turned and came back to the
front door."

"And you assert that you heard nothing?"

"I heard nothing."

"Neither the 'loud voices' which the butler heard within two minutes of
your leaving the house nor the shot fired five minutes later?"

"I heard nothing."

Mr. Manderton examined the toes of his boots carefully.

"You heard nothing!" he repeated.

The door opened suddenly and Dr. Romain appeared. With him was the
village practitioner and Inspector Humphries.

Dr. Redstone carried in his hand a little pad of cotton wool. He bore it
over to the fireplace and unwrapping the lint showed a twisted fragment
of lead lying on the bloodstained dressing.

"Straight through the heart and lodged in the spine," he said. "Death
was absolutely instantaneous."

The detective picked up the bullet and scrutinized it closely.

"Browning pistol ammunition," observed Humphries; "it fits the gun he
used. There's half a dozen spare rounds in one of the drawers of his
dressing-room upstairs."

Mr. Manderton drew Inspector Humphries and Dr. Redstone into a corner of
the room where they conversed in undertones. Bude and Jay had vanished.
Dr. Romain turned to Robin Greve, who stood lost in a reverie, staring
into the fire.

"A clear case of suicide," he said. "The medical evidence is conclusive
on that point. A most amazing affair. I can't conceive what drove him to
it. Why _did_ he do it?"

"Ah! why?" said Robin.



A Red sun glowed dully through a thin mist when, on the following
morning, Robin Greve emerged from the side door into the gardens of
Harkings. It was a still, mild day. Moisture from the night's rain yet
hung translucent on the black limbs of the bare trees and glistened like
diamonds on the closely cropped turf of the lawn. In the air was a
pleasant smell of damp earth.

Robin paused an instant outside the door in the library corridor and
inhaled the morning air greedily. He had spent a restless, fitful night.
His sleep had been haunted by the riddle which, since the previous
evening, had cast its shadow over the pleasant house. The mystery of
Hartley Parrish's death obsessed him. If it was suicide,--and the
doctors were both positive on the point--the motive eluded him utterly.

His mind, trained to logical processes of reasoning by his practice of
the law, baulked at the theory. When he thought of Hartley Parrish as he
had seen him at luncheon on the day before, striding with his quick,
vigorous step into the room, boyishly curious to know what the _chef_
was giving them to eat, devouring his lunch with obvious animal
enjoyment, brimful of energy, dominating the table with his forceful,
eager personality....

The sound of voices in the library broke in upon his thoughts. Robin
raised his head and listened. Some one appeared to be talking in a loud
voice ... no, not talking ... rather declaiming.

Stepping quietly on the hard gravel path, Robin turned the corner of the
house and came into view of the library window. The window-pane gaped,
shattered where Horace Trevert had broken the glass on the previous
evening when effecting an entrance into the room. Framed in the ragged
outline of the splintered glass, bulked the large form of Sergeant
Harris. He stood half turned from the window so as to catch the light on
a copy of _The Times_ which he held in his red and freckled hands. He
was reading aloud in stentorian tones from a leading article.

"While this country," he bawled sonorously, "cannot ... in h'our
belief ... hevade ... er ... responsibility ... er ... h'm disquieting
sitwation ..."

"Dear me!" thought Robin to himself, "what a very extraordinary morning
pursuit for our police!"

Suddenly the reading was interrupted.

Robin heard the library door open. Then Manderton's voice cried:

"That'll do, thank you, Sergeant!"

"Did you 'ear me, sir?" asked the sergeant, who seemed very much
relieved to be quit of his task.

"Not a word!" was the reply. "But we'll try with the library door open!
I'll go back to the hall and you start again!"

A thoughtful look on his face, Robin turned quickly and, hurrying round
the side of the house, entered by the front door. Standing by the door
leading to the library corridor he found Manderton.

The detective did not seem particularly glad to see him.

"Good-morning, Inspector," said Robin affably, "you're early to work, I
see. Having a little experiment, eh?"

Manderton nodded without replying. Then the stentorian tones of Sergeant
Harris proclaiming the views of "The Thunderer" on the Silesian
situation rolled down the corridor and struck distinctly on the ears of
the listeners in the hall.

Presently Manderton closed the corridor door, shutting off the sound

"I think you said you could not hear the sergeant with the library door
shut?" queried Robin suavely.

"With the door shut--no," answered the detective shortly. "But with the
door open ..."

He broke off significantly and dropped his eyes to his boots.

"Would it be troubling you," Robin struck in, "if we pushed your
experiment one step farther?"

Manderton lifted his eyes and looked at the young man, Robin met his
gaze unflinchingly.


There was no invitation in his voice, but Robin affected to disregard
the other's coldness.

"Let the library door be shut," said Robin, "but leave the glass door
leading into the garden open. Then give Sergeant Harris another trial at
his reading...."

The detective smiled rather condescendingly.

"With the library door shut, you'll hear nothing," he remarked.

"The library window is open," Robin retorted, "or rather it is as good
as open, as one of the two big panes is smashed...."

His voice vibrated with eagerness. The detective looked at him

"Oh, try if you like," he said carelessly.

Without waiting for his assent, Robin had already plucked open the
corridor door and was halfway down the passage as the other replied. He
was back again almost at once and, motioning the detective to silence,
took his place at his side by the open door. Then the sound of the
policeman's voice was heard from the corridor. It was muffled and
indistinct so that the sense of his words could not be made out. But the
voice was audible enough.

Robin turned to the detective.

"Bude could make out no words," he said.

"But how do we know that the glass door was open?" queried the detective

"Because I left it open myself," Robin countered promptly, "when I went
out for my walk before tea. Sir Horace told me that he found the door
banging about in the wind when he went out lo get into the library by
the window."

Mr. Manderton allowed his fat, serious face to expand very slowly into a
broad, superior smile.

"Doesn't it seem a little curious," he said, "that Mr. Hartley Parrish
should choose to sit and work in the library on a gusty and dark winter
evening with the window wide open? You'll allow, I think, that the
window was not broken until after his death ..."

Robin's nerves were ragged. The man's tone nettled him exceedingly. But
he confined himself to making a little gesture of impatience.

"No, no, sir," said Mr. Manderton, very decidedly, "I prefer to think
that the library door was open, left open by the party who went in to
speak to Mr. Parrish yesterday afternoon ... and who knows more about
the gentleman's suicide than he would have people think ..."

Robin boiled over fairly at this.

"Good God, man!" he exclaimed, "do you accept this theory of suicide as
blandly as all that? Have you examined the body? Don't you use your
eyes? I tell you ... bah, what's the use? I'm not here to do your work
for you!..."

"No, sir," said the detective, quite unruffled, "you are not. And I
think I'll continue to see about it myself!"

With that he opened the corridor door and vanished down the passage.

With great deliberation Robin selected a cigarette from his case, lit
it, and walked out through the front door into the fresh air again. More
than ever he felt the riddle of Hartley Parrish's death weighing upon
his mind.

His intuitive sense rebelled against the theory of suicide, despite the
medical evidence, despite the revolver in the dead man's hand, despite
the detective's assurance. And floating about in his brain, like the
gossamer on the glistening bushes in the gardens, were broken threads of
vague suspicions, of half-formed theories, leading from his hasty
observations in the death chamber ...

In itself the death of Hartley Parrish left him cold. Yes, he must admit
that. But the look in Mary Trevert's eyes, as she had urged him to
shield himself from the suspicion of having driven Hartley Parrish to
his death, haunted him. Already dimly he was beginning to realize that
Hartley Parrish in death might prove as insuperable a bar between him
and Mary Trevert as ever he had been in life ...

She was now a wealthy woman. Hartley Parrish's will had ensured that, he
knew. But it was not the barrier of riches that Robin Greve feared. He
had asked Mary Trevert to be his wife before there was any thought of
her inheriting Parrish's fortune. He derived a little consolation from
that reflection. At least he could not appear as a fortune-hunter in her
eyes. But, until he could clear himself of the suspicion lurking in Mary
Trevert's mind that he, Robin Greve, was in some way implicated in
Hartley Parrish's death, the dead man, he felt, would always stand
between them. And so ...

Robin pitched the stump of his cigarette into a rose bush with a little
gesture of resignation. Almost without knowing it, he had strolled into
the rosery up a shallow flight of steps cut into the bank of green
turf, which ran along the side of the house facing the library window to
the corner of the house where it met the clipped box-hedge of the
Pleasure Ground.

The rosery was a pleasant rectangle framed in a sort of rustic bower
which in the summer was covered with superb roses of every hue and
variety. Gravel paths intersected rose-beds cut into all manner of
fantastic shapes where stood the slender shoots of the young rose-trees
each with its tag setting forth its kind, for Hartley Parrish had been
an enthusiastic amateur in this direction.

Robin turned round and faced the house. From his elevation he could look
down into the library through the window with its shattered pane. He
could see the gleaming polish on Hartley Parrish's big desk and the
great arm-chair pushed back as Hartley Parrish had pushed it from him
just before his death.

The bare poles of the woodwork festooned with the black arms of the
creeping roses, standing out dark in the fast falling winter evening,
must, he reflected, have been the last view that Hartley Parrish had had
before ...

But then he broke off his meditations abruptly. His eye had fallen on a
narrow white patch standing out on one of the uprights supporting the
clambering roses.

It was a stout young tree, the light brown bark left adhering to its
surface. It was a long blaze on the bark on the side of the trunk which
had caught his eye. Robin walked round the gravel path until he was
within a foot of the pole to get a better view.

The pole stood almost exactly opposite the library window. The scar in
the bark was high up and diagonal and quite freshly made, for the wood
was dead white and much splintered.

The young man put a hand on the upright for support and leant forward,
carefully refraining from putting his foot on the soft brown mould of
the flower-bed which fringed the path between it and the rustic
woodwork. Then he ran lightly down the steps until he stood with his
back to the library window. From here he carefully surveyed the upright
again, then, returning to the rosery, began a careful scrutiny of the
gravel paths and the beds.

Apparently his search gave little result, for he presently abandoned it
and turned his attention to the wooden framework on the other side of
the rectangular rose-garden. He plunged boldly in among the rose-bushes
and examined each upright in turn. He spent about half an hour in this
meticulous investigation, and then, his boots covered with mould, his
rough shooting-coat glistening with moisture, he walked slowly down the
steps and reentered the house.

As he was wiping the mud off his boots on the great mat in the front
hall, Bude came out of the lounge hall with a pile of dishes on a tray.

"Bude," said Robin, "can you tell me if the fire in the library has been
smoking of late?"

"Well, sir," replied the butler, "we've always had trouble with that
chimdy when the wind's in the southwest."

"Has it been smoking lately?" The young man reiterated his question

The man looked up in surprise.

"Well, sir, now you come to mention it, it has. As a matter o'fact, sir,
the sweep was ordered for to-day ..."


"Well, sir, Mr. Parrish had mentioned it to me ..."


The question came out like a pistol shot.

"Yesterday, sir," answered the butler blandly. "Just before luncheon, it
was, sir. Mr. Parrish told me to have that chimdy seen to at once. And I
telephoned for the sweep immediately after luncheon, sir ..."

"Did Mr. Parrish say anything else, Bude?"

Robin eagerly scanned the butler's fat, unimpressive countenance. Bude,
his tray held out stiffly in front of him, contracted his bushy eyebrows
in thought.

"I don't know as he did, sir ..."

"Think, man, think!" Robin urged.

"Well, sir," said Bude, unmoved, "I believe, now I come to think of it,
that Mr. Parrish did say something about the wind blowing his papers
about ..."

"That is to say, he had been working with the window open?"

Robin Greve's question rang out sharply. It was an affirmation more than
a question.

"Yes, sir, leastways I suppose so, sir ..."

"Which window?"

"Why, the one Mr. Parrish always liked to have open in the warm weather,
sir, ... the one opposite the desk. The other window was never opened,
sir, because of the dictaphone as stands in front of it. The damp
affects the mechanism ..."

"Thank you, Bude," said the young man.

With his accustomed majesty the butler wheeled to go. In the turn of his
head as he moved there was a faint suggestion of a shake ... a shake of
uncomprehending pity.



Dr. Romain was just finishing his breakfast as Robin Greve entered the
dining-room, a cosy oak-panelled room with a bow window fitted with
cushioned window-seats. Horace Trevert stood with his back to the fire.
There was no sign of either Lady Margaret or of Mary. Silence seemed to
fall on both the doctor and his companion as Robin came in. They wore
that rather abashed look which people unconsciously assume when they
break off a conversation on an unexpected entry.

"Morning, Horace! Morning, Doctor!" said Robin, crossing to the
sideboard. "Any sign of Lady Margaret or Mary yet?"

The doctor had risen hastily to his feet.

"I rather think Dr. Redstone is expecting me," he said rapidly; "I half
promised to go over to Stevenish ... think I'll just run over. The
walk'll do me good ..."

He looked rather wildly about him, then fairly bolted from the room.

Robin, the cover of the porridge dish in his hand, turned and stared at

"Why, whatever's the matter with Romain?" he began.

But Horace, who had not spoken a word, was himself halfway to the door.

"Horace!" called out Robin sharply.

The boy stopped with his back towards the other. But he did not turn

Robin put the cover back on the porridge dish and crossed the room.

"You all seem in the deuce of a hurry this morning ..." he said.

Still the boy made no reply.

"Why, Horace, what's the matter?"

Robin put his hand on young Trevert's shoulder. Horace shook him roughly

"I don't care to discuss it with you, Robin!" he said.

Robin deliberately swung the boy round until he faced him.

"My dear old thing," he expostulated. "What does it all mean? _What_
won't you discuss with me?"

Horace Trevert looked straight at the speaker. His upper lip was pouted
and trembled a little.

"What's the use of talking?" he said. "You know what I mean. Or would
you like me to be plainer ..."

Robin met his gaze unflinchingly.

"I certainly would," he said, "if it's going to enlighten me as to why
you should suddenly choose to behave like a lunatic ..."

Horace Trevert leant back and thrust his hands into his pockets.

"After what happened here yesterday," he said, speaking very clearly and
deliberately, "I wonder you have the nerve to stay ..."

"My dear Horace," said Kobin quite impassively, "would you mind being a
little more explicit? What precisely are you accusing me of? What have I

"Done?" exclaimed the young man heatedly. "Done? Good God! Don't you
realize that you have dragged my sister into this wretched business?
Don't you understand that her name will be bandied about before a lot of
rotten yokels at the inquest?"

Robin Greve's eyes glittered dangerously.

"I confess," he said, with elaborate politeness, "I scarcely understand
what it has to do with me that Hartley Parrish should apparently commit
suicide within a few days of becoming engaged to your sister ..."


Horace Trevert snorted indignantly.

"You don't understand, don't you? We don't understand either. But, I
must say, we thought _you_ did!"

With that he turned to go. But Robin caught him by the arm.

"Listen to me, Horace," he said. "I'm not going to quarrel with you in
this house of death. But you're going to tell here and now what you
meant by that remark. Do you understand? I'm going to know!"

Horace Trevert shook himself free.

"Certainly you shall know," he answered with _hauteur_, "but I must say
I should have thought that, as a lawyer and so on, you would have
guessed my meaning without my having to explain. What I mean is that,
now that Hartley Parrish is dead, there is only one man who knows what
drove him to his death. And that's yourself! Do you want it plainer than

Robin took a step back and looked at his friend. But he did not speak.

"And now," the boy continued, "perhaps you will realize that your
presence here is disagreeable to Mary ..."

"Did Mary ask you to tell me this?" Robin broke in.

His voice had lost its hardness. It was almost wistful. The change of
tone was so marked that it struck Horace. He hesitated an instant.

"Yes," he blurted out. "She doesn't want to see you again. I don't want
to be offensive, Robin.."

"Please don't apologize," said Greve. "I quite understand that this is
your sister's house now and, of course, I shall leave at once. I'll ask
Jay to pack my things if you could order the car ..."

The boy moved towards the door. Before he reached it Robin called him

"Horace," he said pleasantly, "before you go I want you to answer me a
question. Think before you speak, because it's very important. When you
got into the library yesterday evening through the window, you smashed
the glass, didn't you?"

Horace Trevert nodded.

"Yes," he replied, looking hard at Robin.


"To get into the room, of course!"

"Was the window bolted?"

The boy stopped and thought.

"No," he said slowly, "now I come to think of it, I don't believe it
was. No, of course, it wasn't. I just put my arm through the broken pane
and shoved the window up. But why do you ask?"

"Oh, nothing," answered Robin nonchalantly. "I just was curious to know,
that's all!"

Horace stood and looked at him for an instant. Then he went out.

A quarter of an hour later, Hartley Parrish's Rolls-Royce glided through
the straggling main street of Stevenish. A chapel bell tinkled
unmusically, and on the pavements, gleaming with wet, went a procession
of neatly dressed townsfolk bound, prayer-book in hand, for their
respective places of worship. A newsboy, sorting out the Sunday
newspapers which had just come down by train from London, was the only
figure visible on the little station platform. Kobin bought a selection.

"There's all about Mr. Parrish," said the boy, "'im as they found dead
up at 'Arkings las' night. And the noospapers 'asn't 'arf been sendin'
down to-day ... reporters and photographers ... you oughter seen the
crowd as come by the mornin' train ..."

"I wonder what they'll get out of Manderton," commented Robin rather
grimly to himself as his train puffed leisurely, after the habit of
Sunday trains, into the quiet little station.

In the solitude of his first-class smoker he unfolded the newspapers.
None had more than the brief fact that Hartley Parrish had been found
dead with a pistol in his hand, but they made up for the briefness of
their reports by long accounts of the dead man's "meteoric career."
And, Robin noted with relief, hitherto Mary Trevert's name was out of
the picture.

He dropped the papers on to the seat, and, as the train steamed serenely
through the Sunday calm of the country towards London's outer suburbs,
he reviewed in his mind such facts as he had gleaned regarding the
circumstances of his late host's death.

He would, he told himself, accept for the time being as _facts_ what, he
admitted to himself, so far only seemed to be such. Hartley Parrish,
then, had been seated in his library at his desk with the door locked.
The fire was smoking, and therefore he had opened the window. According
to Horace Trevert, the window had not been bolted when he had entered
the library, for, after smashing the pane in the assumption that the
bolt was shot, he had had no difficulty in pushing up the window.
Hartley Parrish had opened the window himself, for on the nail of the
middle finger of his left hand Robin had seen, with the aid of the
magnifying-glass, a tiny fragment of white paint.

Who had closed it? He had no answer ready to _that_ question.

Now, as to the circumstances of the shooting. The suicide theory invited
one to believe that Hartley Parrish had got up from his desk, pushing
back his chair, had gone round it until he stood between the desk and
the window, and had there shot himself through the heart. Why should he
have done this?

Robin had no answer ready to this question either. He passed on again.
Bude had heard loud voices a very few minutes before Mary had heard the
shot. That morning's experiments had shown that Bude could have heard
these sounds only by way of the open window of the library and the open
doors of the garden and the library corridor. Additional proof, if Bude
had heard aright, that the library window was open.

Leaning back in his seat, his finger-tips pressed together, Robin Greve
resolutely faced the situation to which his deductions were leading him.

"The voice heard at the open window," he told himself, "was the voice of
the man who murdered Parrish and who closed the window, that is, of
course, if the murder theory proves more conclusive than that of

This brought him back to his investigations in the rosery. The abrasure
he had discovered on the timber upright was the mark of a bullet and a
mark freshly made at that. Moreover, it had almost certainly been fired
from the library window--from the window which Parrish had opened; the
angle at which it had struck and marked the tree showed that almost

Yet there had been but one shot! If only he had been able to find that
bullet in the rosery! Robin thought ruefully of his long hunt among the
sopping rose-bushes.

Yes, there had been only one shot. Mary Trevert had stated it
definitely. Besides, the bullet that had killed Hartley Parrish had been
fired from his own revolver and had been found in the body. Robin Greve
felt the murder theory collapsing about him. But the suicide theory did
not stand up, either. What possible, probable motive had Hartley Parrish
for taking his own life?

"He wasn't the man to do it!"

The wheels of the train took up the rhythm of the phrase and dinned it
into his ears.

"He wasn't the man to do it!"

The riddle seemed more baffling than ever.

Robin thrust one hand into his right-hand pocket to get his pipe, his
other hand into his left-hand pocket to find his pouch. His left hand
came into contact with a little ball of paper.

He drew it out. It was the little ball of slatey-blue paper he had found
on the floor of the library beside Hartley Parrish's dead body.



Horace Trevert walked abruptly into Mary's Chinese boudoir. Lady
Margaret and the girl were standing by the fire.

"Well," said Horace, dropping into a chair, "he's gone!"

"Who?" said Lady Margaret.

"Robin," answered the boy, "and I must say he took it very well ..."

"You don't mean to tell me, Horace," said his mother, "that you have
actually sent Robin Greve away ...?"

Mary Trevert put her hand on her mother's arm.

"I wished it, Mother. I asked Horace to send him away ..."

"But, my dear," protested Lady Margaret.

Mary interrupted her impatiently.

"Robin Greve was impossible here. I had to ask him to go. I suppose he
can come back if ... if they want him for the inquest ..."

Lady Margaret was looking at her daughter in a puzzled way. She was a
woman of the world and had brought her daughter up to be a woman of the
world. She knew that Mary was not impulsive by nature. She knew that
there was a wealth of good sense behind those steady eyes.

In response to a look from his mother, Horace got up and left the room.

"Mary, dear," said the older woman, "don't you think you are making a

The girl turned away, one slim shoe tapping restlessly against the brass
rail of the fireplace.

"My dear," her mother went on, "remember I have known Robin Greve all
his life. His father, the Admiral, was a very old friend of mine. He was
the very personification of honour. Robin is very fond of you ... no, he
has told me nothing, but I _know_. Don't you think it is rather hard on
an old friend to turn him away just when you most want him?"

There was a heightened colour in the girl's face as she turned and
looked her mother in the face.

"Robin has not behaved like a friend, Mother," she answered. "He knows
more than he pretends about ... about this. And he lets me find out
things from the servants when he ought to have told me himself. If he is
suspected of having said something to Hartley which made him do this
dreadful thing, he has only himself to thank. I _did_ try to shield
him--before I knew. But I'm not going to do so any more. If he stays I
shall have the police suspecting me all the time. And I owe something
to Hartley ..."

Her mother sighed a soft little sigh. She said nothing. She was a very
wise woman.

"Robin left me to go to the library ... I am sure of that ..." Mary went
on breathlessly.

"Why?" her mother asked.

The girl hesitated.

Then she said slowly:

"You and I have always been good pals, Mother, so I may as well tell
you. Robin had just asked me to marry him. So I told him I was engaged
to Hartley. He went on in the most awful way, and said that I was
selling myself and that I would not be the first girl that Hartley had
kept ..."

She broke off and raised her hands to her face. Then she put her elbows
on the mantel-shelf and burst into tears.

"Oh, it was hateful," she sobbed.

Her mother put her arm round her soothingly.

"Well, my dear," she said, "Robin was always fond of you, and I dare say
it was a shock to him. When men feel like that about a girl they
generally say things they don't mean ..."

Mary Trevert straightened herself up and dropped her hands to her side.
She faced her mother, the tear-drops glistening on her long lashes.

"He meant it, every word of it. And he was perfectly right. I _was_
selling myself, and you know I was, Mother. Do you think we can go on
for ever like this, living on credit and dodging tradesmen? I meant to
marry Hartley and stick to him. But I never thought ... I never
guessed ... that Robin ..."

"I know, my dear," her mother interposed, "I know. Perhaps it doesn't
sound a very proper thing to say in the circumstances, but now that poor
Hartley is gone, there is no reason whatsoever why you and Robin ..."

The Treverts were a hot-tempered race. Lady Margaret's unfinished
sentence seemed to infuriate the girl.

"Do you think I'd marry Robin Greve as long as I thought he knew the
mystery of Hartley's death!" she cried passionately. "I was willing to
give up my self-respect once to save us from ruin, but I won't do it
again. I'm not surprised to find you thinking I am ready to marry Robin
and live happy ever after on poor Hartley's money. But I've not sunk so
low as that! If you ever mention this to me again, Mother, I promise you
I'll go away and never come back!"

"My dear child," temporized Lady Margaret, eyebrows raised in protest
at this outburst, "of course, it shall be as you wish. I only
thought ..."

But Mary Trevert was not listening. She leant on the mantel-shelf, her
dark head in her hands, and she murmured:

"The tragedy of it! My God, the tragedy of it!"

Lady Margaret twisted the rings on her long white fingers.

"The tragedy of it, my dear," she said, "is that you have sent away the
man you love at a time when you will never need him so badly again ..."

There was a discreet tapping at the door.

"Come in!" said Lady Margaret.

Bude appeared.

"Mr. Manderton, the detective, my lady, was wishing to know whether he
might see Miss Trevert ..."

"Yes. Ask him to come up here," commanded Lady Margaret.

"He is without--in the corridor, my lady!"

He stepped back and in a moment Mr. Manderton stepped into the room,
big, burly, and determined.

He made a little stiff bow to the two ladies and halted irresolute near
the door.

"You wished to see my daughter, Mr. Manderton," said Lady Margaret.

The detective bowed again.

"And you, too, my lady," he said. "Allow me!"

He closed the door, then crossed to the fireplace.

"After I had seen you and Miss Trevert last night, my lady," he began,
"I had a talk with Mr. Jeekes, Mr. Parrish's principal secretary, who
came down by car from London as soon as he heard the news. My lady, I
think this is a fairly simple case!"

He paused and scanned the carpet.

"Mr. Jeekes tells me, my lady," he went on presently, "that Mrs Fairish
had been suffering from neurasthenia and a weak heart brought on by too
much smoking. It appears that he had consulted, within the last two
months, two leading specialists of Harley Street about his health. One
of these gentlemen, Sir Winterton Maire, ordered him to knock off all
work and all smoking for at least three months. He will give evidence to
this effect at the inquest. Mr. Parrish disregarded these orders as he
was wishful to put through his scheme for Hornaway's before taking a
rest. Mr. Jeekes can prove that. In these circumstances, my lady...."


Lady Margaret, in her black crêpe de chine dress, setting off the
silvery whiteness of her hair, was a calm, unemotional figure as she sat
in her lacquer chair.

"Well?" she asked again.

"Well," said the detective, "the verdict will be one of 'Suicide whilst
of unsound mind,' and in my opinion the medical evidence will be
sufficient to bring that in. There will not be occasion, I fancy, my
lady, to probe any farther into the motives of Mr. Parrish's action...."

"And are you personally satisfied"--Mary's voice broke in clear and
unimpassioned--"are you personally satisfied, Mr. Manderton, that Mr.
Parrish shot himself?"

The detective cast an appealing glance at the tips of his well-burnished

"Yes, Miss, I think I may say I am...."

"And what about the evidence of Bude, who said he heard voices in the

Mr. Manderton gave his shoulders the merest suspicion of a shrug, raised
his hands, and dropped them to his sides.

"I had hoped, my lady," he said, throwing a glance at Lady Margaret,
"and you, Miss, that I had made it clear that in the circumstances we
need not pursue that matter any further...."

Lady Margaret rose. Her dominating personality seemed to fill the room.

"We are extremely obliged to you, Mr. Manderton," she said, "for the
able and discreet way in which you have handled this case. I sometimes
meet the Chief Commissioner at dinner. I shall write to Sir Maurice and
tell him my opinion."

Mr. Manderton reddened a little.

"Your ladyship is too good," he said.

Lady Margaret bowed to signify that the interview was at an end. But
Mary Trevert left her side and walked to the door.

"Will you come downstairs with me, Mr. Manderton," she said. "I should
like to speak to you alone for a minute!"

She led the way downstairs through the hall and out into the drive. A
pale sun shone down from a grey and rainy sky, and the damp breeze
blowing from the sodden trees played among the ringlets of her dark

"We will walk down the drive," she said to the detective, who, rather
astonished, had followed her. "We can talk freely out of doors."

They took a dozen steps in silence. Then she said:

"Who was it speaking to Mr. Parrish in the library?"

"Undoubtedly Mr. Greve," replied the man without hesitation.

"Why undoubtedly?" asked the girl.

"It could have been no one else. We know that he left you hot to get at
Mr. Parrish and have words with him. Bude heard them talking with voices
raised aloud...."

"But if the door were locked?"

"Mr. Parrish may have opened it and locked it again, Mr. Greve getting
out by the window. But there are no traces of that ... one would look to
find marks on the paint on the inside. Besides, a little test we made
this morning suggests that Mr. Greve spoke to Mr. Parrish through the

"Was the window open?"

"Yes, Miss, it probably was. The fire had been smoking in the library.
Mr. Parrish had complained to Bude about it. Besides, we have found Mr.
Parrish's finger-prints on the inside of the window-frame. Outside we
found other finger-prints ... Sir Horace's. Sir Horace was good enough
to allow his to be taken."

The girl looked at the detective quickly.

"Were there any other finger-prints except Horace's on the outside?" she

Mr. Manderton shook his head.

"No, Miss," he answered.

They had reached the lodge-gates at the beginning of the drive and
turned to retrace their steps to the house.

"Then we shall never know exactly why Mr. Parrish did this thing?"
hazarded Mary.

Mr. Manderton darted her a surreptitious glance.

"We shall see about that," he said.

There was menace in his voice.

Mary Trevert stopped. She put her hand on the detective's arm.

"Mr. Manderton," she said, "if you are satisfied, then, believe me, I

The detective bowed.

"Miss Trevert," he said,--and he spoke perfectly respectfully though his
words were blunt,--"I can well believe that!"

The girl looked up quickly. She scanned his face rather apprehensively.

"What do you mean?" she asked, "I don't understand...."

"I mean," was the detective's answer, given in his quiet, level voice,
"that when you attempted to mislead Inspector Humphries you did nobody
any good!"

The girl bent her head without replying, and in silence they regained
the house. At the house door they parted, Mary going indoors while the
detective remained standing on the drive. Very deliberately he produced
a short briar pipe, cut a stub of dark plug tobacco from a flat piece he
carried in his pocket, crammed the tobacco into his pipe, and lit it.
Reflectively he blew a thin spiral of smoke into the still air.

"_He_ told me about that fat butler's evidence," he said to himself;
"_he_ put me wise about that window being open; _he_ gave me the office
about the paint on the finger-nails of Mr. H.P."

He ticked off each point on his fingers with the stem of his pipe.

"Why?" said Mr. Manderton aloud, addressing a laurel-bush.



Mr. Albert Edward Jeekes, Hartley Parrish's principal private secretary,
lunched with Lady Margaret, Mary and Horace. Dr. Romain seemed not to
have got over his embarrassment of the morning, for he did not put in an

Mr. Jeekes was an old young man who supported bravely the weight of his
Christian names, a reminder of his mother having occupied some small
post in the household of Queen Victoria the Good. He might have been any
age between 35 and 50 with his thin sandy hair, his myopic gaze, and his
habitual expression of worried perplexity.

He was a shorthand-writer and typist of incredible dexterity and speed
which, combined with an unquenchable energy, had recommended him to
Hartley Parrish. Accordingly, in consideration of a salary which he
would have been the first to describe as "princely," he had during the
past four years devoted some fifteen hours a day to the service of Mr.
Hartley Parrish.

He was unmarried. When not on duty, either at St. James's Square,
Harkings, or Hartley Parrish's palatial offices in Broad Street, he was
to be found at one of those immense and gloomy clubs of indiscriminate
membership which are dotted about the parish of St. James's, S.W., and
to which Mr. Jeekes was in the habit of referring in Early-Victorian
accents of respect.

"When I heard the news at the club, Miss Trevert," said Jeekes, "you
could have knocked me down with a feather. Mr. Parrish, as all of us
knew, worked himself a great deal too hard, sometimes not knocking off
for his tea, even, and wore his nerves all to pieces. But I never
dreamed it would come to this. Ah! he's a great loss, and what we shall
do without him I don't know. There was a piece in one of the papers
about him to-day--perhaps you saw it?--it called him 'one of the
captains of industry of modern England.'"

"You were always a great help to him, Mr. Jeekes," said Mary, who was
touched by the little man's hero-worship; "I am sure you realized that
he appreciated you."

"Well," replied Mr. Jeekes, rubbing the palms of his hands together, "he
did a great deal for _me_. Took me out of a City office where I was
getting two pound five a week. That's what he did. It was a shipping
firm. I tell you this because it has a bearing, Miss Trevert, on what
is to follow. Why did he pick me? I'll tell you.

"He was passing through the front office with one of our principals when
he asked him, just casually, what Union Pacific stood at. The boss
didn't know.

"'A hundred and eighty-seven London parity,' says I. He turned round and
looked at me. 'How do you know that?' says he, rather surprised, this
being in a shipping office, you understand.

"'I take an interest in the markets,' I replied. 'Do you?' he says.
'Then you might do for me,' and tells me to come and see him."

"I went. He made me an offer. When I heard the figure ... my word!"

Mr. Jeekes paused. Then added sadly:

"And I had meant to work for him to my dying day!"

They were in the billiard-room seated on the selfsame settee, Mary
reflected, on which she and Robin had sat--how long ago it seemed,
though only yesterday! Mary had carried the secretary off after luncheon
in order to unfold to him a plan which she had been turning over in her
mind ever since her conversation with the detective.

"And what are you going to do now, Mr. Jeekes?" she asked.

The little man pursed up his lips.

"Well," he said, "I'll have to get something else, I expect. I'm not
expecting to find anything so good as I had with Mr. Parrish. And things
are pretty crowded in the City, Miss Trevert, what with all the boys
back from the war, God bless 'em, and glad we are to see 'em, I'm sure.
I hope you'll realize, Miss Trevert, that anything I can do to help to
put Mr. Parrish's affairs straight...."

"I was just about to say," Mary broke in, "that I hope you will not
contemplate any change, Mr. Jeekes. You know more about Mr. Parrish's
affairs than anybody else, and I shall be very glad if you will stay on
and help me. You know I have been left sole executrix...."

"Miss Trevert,"--the little man stammered in his embarrassment,--"this
is handsome of you. I surely thought you would have wished to make your
own arrangements, appoint your own secretaries...."

Mr. Jeekes broke off and looked at her, blinking hard.

"Not at all," said Mary. "Everything shall be as it was. I am sure that
Mr. Bardy will approve. Besides, Mr. Jeekes, I want your assistance in
something else...."

"Anything in my power...." began Jeekes.

"Listen," said Mary.

She was all her old self-composed self now, a charming figure in her
plain blue serge suit with a white silken shirt and black tie--the best
approach to mourning her wardrobe could afford. Already the short winter
afternoon was drawing in. Mysterious shadows lurked in the corners of
the long and narrow room.

"Listen," said Mary, leaning forward. "I want to know why Mr. Parrish
killed himself. I mean to know. And I want you, Mr. Jeekes, to help me
to find out,"

Something stirred ever so faintly in the remote recesses of the
billiard-room. A loose board or something creaked softly and was silent.

"What was that?" the girl called out sharply. "Who's there?"

Mr. Jeekes got up and walked over to the door. It was ajar. He closed

"Just a board creaking," he said as he resumed his seat.

"I want your aid in finding out the motive for this terrible
deed,"--Mary Trevert was speaking again,--"I can't understand.... I
don't see clear...."

"Miss Trevert," said Mr. Jeekes, clearing his throat fussily, "I fear we
must look for the motive in the state of poor Mr. Parrish's nerves. An
uncommonly high-strung man he always was, and he smoked those long
black strong cigars of his from morning till night. Sir Winterton Maire
told him flatly--Mr. Parrish, I recollect, repeated his very words to me
after Sir Winterton had examined him--that, if he did not take a
complete rest and give up smoking, he would not be answerable for the
consequences. Therefore, Miss Trevert...."

"Mr. Jeekes," answered the girl, "I knew Mr. Parrish pretty well. A
woman, you know, gets to the heart of a man's character very often
quicker than his daily associates in business. And I know that Mr.
Parrish was the last man in the world to have done a thing like that. He
was so ... so undaunted. He made nothing of difficulties. He relied
wholly on himself. That was the secret of his success. For him to have
killed himself like this makes me feel convinced that there was some
hidden reason, far stronger, far more terrible, than any question of

Leaning forward, her hands clasped tightly in front of her, Mary Trevert
raised her dark eyes to the little secretary's face.

"Many men have a secret in their lives," she said in a low voice. "Do
you know of anything in Mr. Parrish's life which an enemy might have
made use of to drive him to his death?"

Her manner was so intense that Mr. Jeekes quite lost his
self-composure. He clutched at his _pince-nez_ and readjusted them upon
his nose to cover his embarrassment. The secretary was not used to
gazing at beautiful women whose expressive features showed as clearly as
this the play of the emotions.

"Miss Trevert," he said presently, "I know of no such secret. But then
what do I--what does any one--know of Mr. Parrish's former life?"

"We might make enquiries in South Africa?" ventured the girl.

"I doubt if we should learn anything much through that," said the
secretary. "Of course, Mr. Parrish had great responsibilities and
responsibility means worry...."

A silence fell on them both. From somewhere in the dark shadows above
the fire glowing red through the falling twilight a clock chimed once.
There was a faint rustling from the neighborhood of the door. Mr. Jeekes
started violently. A coal dropped noisily into the fireplace.

"There was something else," said Mary, ignoring the interruption, and
paused. She did not look up when she spoke again.

"There is often a woman in cases like this," she began reluctantly.

Mr. Jeekes looked extremely uncomfortable.

"Miss Trevert," he said, "I beg you will not press me on that

"Why?" asked the girl bluntly.

"Because ... because"--Mr. Jeekes stumbled sadly over his
words--"because, dear me, there are some things which really I couldn't
possibly discuss ... if you'll excuse me...."

"Oh, but you can discuss everything, Mr. Jeekes," replied Mary Trevert
composedly. "I am not a child, you know. I am perfectly well aware that
there's a woman somewhere in the life of every man, very often two or
three. I haven't got any illusions on the subject, I assure you. I never
supposed for a moment that I was the first woman in Mr. Parrish's

This candour seemed to administer a knock-out blow to the little
secretary's Victorian mind. He was speechless. He took off his
_pince-nez_, blindly polished them with his pocket-handkerchief and
replaced them upon his nose. His fingers trembled violently.

"I have no wish to appear vulgarly curious," the girl went on,--Mr.
Jeekes made a quick gesture of dissent,--"but I am anxious to know
whether Mr. Parrish was being blackmailed ... or anything like that...."

"Oh, no, Miss Trevert, I do assure you," the little man expostulated in
hasty denial, "nothing like that, I am convinced. At least, that is to
say ..."

He rose to his feet, clutching the little _attaché_ case which he
invariably carried with him as a kind of emblem of office.

"And now, if you'll excuse me, Miss Trevert," he muttered, "I should
really be going. I am due at Mr. Bardy's office at five o'clock. He is
coming up from the country specially to meet me. There is so much to
discuss with regard to this terrible affair."

He glanced at his watch.

"With the roads as greasy as they are," he added, "it will take me all
my time in the car to ..."

He cast a panic-striken glance around him. But Mary Trevert held him

"You didn't finish what you were saying about Mr. Parrish, Mr. Jeekes,"
she said impassively. The secretary made no sign. But he looked a trifle

"I don't think you realize, Mr. Jeekes," she said, "that other people
besides myself are keenly interested in the motives for Mr. Parrish's
suicide. The police profess to be willing to accept the testimony of the
specialists as satisfactory medical evidence about his state of mind.
But I distrust that man, Manderton. He is not satisfied, Mr. Jeekes. He
won't rest until he knows the truth."

The secretary cast her a frightened glance.

"But Mr. Manderton told me himself, Miss Trevert," he affirmed, "that
the verdict would be, 'Suicide while temporarily insane,' on Sir
Winterton Maire's evidence alone ..."

Mary Trevert tapped the ground impatiently with her foot.

"Manderton will get at the truth, I tell you," she said. "He's that kind
of man. Do you want me to find out from them? At the inquest, perhaps?"

The secretary put his _attaché_ case down on the lounge again.

"Of course, that would be most improper, Miss Trevert," he said. "But
your question embarrasses me. It embarrasses me very much ..."

"What are you keeping back from me, Mr. Jeekes?" the girl demanded

The secretary mopped his forehead with his handkerchief. Then, as though
with an effort, he spoke.

"There is a lady, a French lady, who draws an income from Mr. Parrish ..."

The girl remained impassive, but her eyes grew rather hard.

"These payments are still going on?" she asked.

Jeekes hesitated. Then he nodded,

"Yes," he said.

"Well? Was she blackmailing ... him?"

"No, no," Mr. Jeekes averred hastily. "But there was some unpleasantness
some months ago ... er ... a county court action, to be precise, about
some bills she owed. Mr. Parrish was very angry about it and settled to
prevent it coming into court. But there was some talk about it ... in
legal circles ..."

He threw a rather scared glance at the girl.

"Please explain yourself, Mr. Jeekes," she said coldly. "I don't
understand ..."

"Her lawyer was Le Hagen--it's a shady firm with a big criminal
practice. They sometimes brief Mr. Greve ..."

Mary Trevert clasped and unclasped her hands quickly.

"I quite understand, Mr. Jeekes," she said. "You needn't say any more ..."

She turned away in a manner that implied dismissal. It was as though she
had forgotten the secretary's existence. He picked up his _attaché_ case
and walked slowly to the door.

A sharp exclamation broke from his lips.

"Miss Trevert," he cried, "the door ... I shut it a little while
back ... look, it's ajar!"

The girl who stood at the fire switched on the electric light by the

"Is ... is ... the door defective? Doesn't it shut properly?"

The little secretary forced out the questions in an agitated voice.

The girl walked across the room and shut the door. It closed perfectly,
a piece of solid, well-fitting oak.

"What does it mean?" said Mr. Jeekes in a whisper. "You understand, I
should not wish what I told you just now about Mr. Parrish to be
overheard ..."

They opened the door again. The dusky corridor was empty.



The sight of that crumpled ball of slatey-blue paper brought back to
Robin's mind with astonishing vividness every detail of the scene in the
library. Once more he looked into Hartley Parrish's staring, unseeing
eyes, saw the firelight gleam again on the heavy gold signet ring on the
dead man's hand, the tag of the dead man's bootlace as it trailed from
one sprawling foot across the carpet. Once more he felt the dark cloud
of the mystery envelop him as a mist and with a little sigh he smoothed
out the crumpled paper.

It was an ordinary quarto sheet of stoutish paper, with a glazed
surface, of an unusual shade of blue, darker than what the stationers
call "azure," yet lighter than legal blue. At the top right-hand corner
was typewritten a date: "Nov. 25." Otherwise the sheet was blank.

The curious thing about it was that a number of rectangular slits had
been cut in the paper. Robin counted them. There were seven. They were
of varying sizes, the largest a little over an inch, the smallest not
more than a quarter of an inch, in length. In depth they measured about
an eighth of an inch.

Robin stared at the paper uncomprehendingly. He remembered perfectly
where he had found it on the floor of the library at Harkings, between
the dead body and the waste-paper basket. The basket, he recalled, stood
out in the open just clear of the desk on the left-hand side. From the
position in which it was lying the ball of paper might have been aimed
for the waste-paper basket and, missing it, have fallen on the carpet.

Robin turned the sheet over. The back was blank. Then he held the paper
up to the light. Yes, there was a water-mark. Now it was easily
discernible. "EGMONT FF. QU." he made out.

The train was slowing down. Robin glanced out of the window and saw that
they were crossing the river in the mirky gloom of a London winter
Sunday. He balanced the sheet of paper in his hands for a moment. Then
he folded it carefully into four and stowed it away in his
cigarette-case. The next moment the train thumped its way into Charing

A taxi deposited him at the Middle Temple Gate. He walked the short
distance to the set of chambers he occupied. On his front door a piece
of paper was pinned. By the rambling calligraphy and the phonetic
English he recognized the hand of his "laundress."

Dere sir [it ran], mr rite call he want to see u
pertikler i tole im as you was in country & give im ur
adress hope i dun rite mrs bragg

Robin had scarcely got his key in the door of his "oak" when there was a
step on the stair. A nice-looking young man with close-cropped fair hair
appeared round the turn of the staircase.

"Hullo, Robin," he exclaimed impetuously, "I _am_ glad to have caught
you like this. Your woman gave me your address, so I rang up Harkings at
once and they told me you had just gone back to town. So I came straight
here. You remember me, don't you? Bruce Wright ... But perhaps I'm
butting in. If you'd rather see me some other time...."

"My dear boy," said Robin, motioning him into the flat, "of course I
remember you. Only I didn't recognize you just for the minute. Shove
your hat down here in the hall. And as for butting in,"--he threw open
the door of the living-room,--"why! I think there is no other man in
England I would so gladly see at this very moment as yourself."

The living-room was a bright and cheery place, tastefully furnished in
old oak with gay chintz curtains. It looked out on an old-world paved
court in the centre of which stood a solitary soot-laden plane-tree.

"What's this rot about Parrish having committed suicide?" demanded the
boy abruptly.

Robin gave him in the briefest terms an outline of the tragedy.

"Poor old H.P., eh?" mused young Wright; "who'd have thought it?"

"But the idea of suicide is preposterous," he broke out suddenly. "I
knew Parrish probably better than anybody. He would never have done a
thing like that. It must have been an accident...."

Robin shook his head.

"That possibility is ruled out by the medical evidence," he said, and
stopped short.

Bruce Wright, who had been pacing up and down the room, halted in front
of the barrister.

"I tell you that Parrish was not the man to commit suicide. Nothing
would have even forced him to take his own life. You know, I was working
with him as his personal secretary every day for more than two years,
and I am sure!"

He resumed his pacing up and down the room.

"Has it ever occurred to you, Robin," he said presently, "that
practically nothing is known of H.P.'s antecedents? For instance, do you
know where he was born?"

"I understand he was a Canadian," replied Robin with a shrewd glance at
the flushed face of the boy.

"He's lived in Canada," said Wright, "but originally he was a Cockney,
from the London slums. And I believe I am the only person who knows

Robin pushed an armchair at his companion.

"Sit down and tell me about it," he commanded.

The boy dropped into the chair.

"It was after I had been only a few months with him," he began, "shortly
after I was discharged from the army with that lung wound of mine. We
were driving back in the car from some munition works near Baling, and
the chauffeur took a wrong turning near Wormwood Scrubs and got into a
maze of dirty streets round there...."

"I know," commented Robin, "Notting Dale, they call it...."

"H.P. wasn't noticing much," Wright went on, "as he was dictating
letters to me,--we used to do a lot of work in the Rolls-Royce in those
rush days,--but, directly he noticed that the chauffeur was uncertain of
the road, he shoved his head out of the window and put him right at
once. I suppose I seemed surprised at his knowing his way about those
parts, for he laughed at me and said: 'I was born and brought up down
here, Bruce, in a little greengrocer's shop just off the Latimer Road.'
I said nothing because I didn't want to interrupt his train of thought.
He had never talked to me or Jeekes or any of us like that before.

"'By Gad,' he went on, 'how the smell of the place brings back those
days to me--the smell of decayed fruit, of stale fish, of dirt! Why, it

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