After long consideration, Rolfe decided to go and see Mrs. Holymead and question her about the packet of letters which Hill declared she had removed from Riversbrook after the murder. He realised that this was rather a risky course to pursue, for Mrs. Holymead was highly placed and could do him much harm if she got her husband to use his influence at the Home Office, for then he would have to admit that he had gone to her without the knowledge of his superior officer, on the statement of a discredited servant who had arranged a burglary in his master’s house the night he was murdered. Nevertheless, Rolfe decided to take the risk. The chance of getting somewhere nearer the solution of the Riversbrook mystery was worth it, and what a feather in his cap it would be if he solved the mystery! He was convinced that Chippenfield had shut out important light on the mystery by doggedly insisting, in order to buttress up his case against Birchill, that the piece of handkerchief which had been found in the dead man’s hand was a portion of a handkerchief which had belonged to the girl Fanning, and had been brought by Birchill from the Westminster flat on the night of the murder. It was more likely, in view of Hill’s story of the letters, that the handkerchief belonged to Mrs. Holymead. Rolfe had not made up his mind that Mrs. Holymead had committed the murder, but he was convinced that she and her letters had some connection with the baffling crime, and he determined to try and pierce the mystery by questioning her. Having arrived at this decision, he replaced his notebook in his coat pocket, knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and went to bed.
Rolfe went to Hyde Park next day and walked from the Tube station to Holymead’s house at Princes Gate. The servant who answered his ring informed him, in reply to his question, that Mrs. Holymead was “Not at home.”
“Do you know when she will be home?” persisted Rolfe, forestalling an evident desire on the servant’s part to shut the door in his face.
The man looked at Rolfe doubtfully. Well-trained English servant though he was, and used to summing up strangers at a glance, he could not quite make out who Rolfe might be. But before he could come to a decision on the point a feminine voice behind him said:
“What is it, Trappon?”
The servant turned quickly in the direction of the voice. “It’s a er—er—party who wants to see Madam, mademoiselle,” he replied.
“Parti? What mean you by parti? Explain yourself, Trappon.”
“A person—a gentleman, mademoiselle,” replied Trappon, determined to be on the safe side.
“Open the door, Trappon, that I may see this gentleman.”
Trappon somewhat reluctantly complied, and a young lady stepped forward. She was tall and dark, with charming eyes which were also shrewd; she had a fine figure which a tight-fitting dress displayed rather too boldly for good taste, and she was sufficiently young to be able to appear quite girlish in the half light.