“Is that you, Inspector Chippenfield?”
“Yes. That you, Seldon? Have you heard anything of a murder out your way?”
“Can’t say that I have. Have you?”
“Yes. We have information that Sir Horace Fewbanks has been murdered—shot.”
“Mr. Justice Fewbanks shot—murdered!” Inspector Seldon gave expression to his surprise in a long low whistle which travelled through the telephone. Then he added, after a moment’s reflection, “There must be some mistake. He is away.”
“In Scotland. He went there for the Twelfth—when the shooting season opened.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“Yes; he rang me up the day before he left to ask us to keep an eye on his house while he was away.”
There was a pause at the Scotland Yard end of the telephone. Inspector Chippenfield was evidently thinking hard.
“We may have been hoaxed,” he said at length. “But I have been ringing up his house and can get no answer. You had better send up a couple of men there at once—better still, go yourself. It is a matter which may require tactful handling. Let me know, and I’ll come out immediately if there is anything wrong. Stay! How long will it take you to get up to the house?”
“Not more than fifteen minutes—in a taxi.”
“Well, I’ll ring you up at the house in half an hour. Should our information be correct see that everything is left exactly as you find it till I arrive.”
Inspector Seldon hung up the receiver of his telephone, bundled up the papers scattered on his desk, closed it, and stepped out of his office into the next room.
“Anyone about?” he hurriedly asked the sergeant who was making entries in the charge-book.
“Yes, sir. I saw Flack here a moment ago.”
“Get him at once and call a taxi. Scotland Yard’s rung through to say they’ve received a report that Sir Horace Fewbanks has been murdered.”
“Murdered?” echoed the sergeant in a tone of keen interest. “Who told Scotland Yard that?”
“I don’t know. Who was on that beat last night?”
“Flack, sir. Was Sir Horace murdered in his own house? I thought he was in Scotland.”
“So did I, but he may have returned—ah, here’s the taxi.”
Inspector Seldon had been waiting on the steps for the appearance of a cab from the rank round the corner in response to the shrill blast which the sergeant had blown on his whistle. The sergeant went to the door of the station leading into the yard and sharply called:
In response a police-constable, without helmet or tunic, came running up the steps from the basement, which was used as a gymnasium.
“Seldon wants you. Get on your tunic as quick as you can. He is in a devil of a hurry.”