Inspector Chippenfield continued his study of the mysterious message which had been sent to Scotland Yard. It was written on a sheet of paper which had been taken from a writing pad of the kind sold for a few pence by all stationers. It was flimsy and blue-lined, and the message it contained was smudged and badly printed. But to the inspector’s annoyance, there were no finger-prints on the paper. The finger-print expert at Scotland Yard had examined it under the microscope, but his search for finger-prints had been vain.
“Depend upon it, we’ll hear from this chap again,” said the inspector, tapping the sheet of paper with a finger. “I think I may go so far as to say that this fellow thinks suspicion will be directed to him and he wants to save his neck.”
“It’s a disguised hand,” said Rolfe. “Of course he printed it in order not to give us a specimen of his handwriting. There are telltale things about a man’s handwriting which give him away even when he tries to disguise it. But he’s tried to disguise even his printing. Look how irregular the letters are—some slanting to the right and some to the left, and some are upright. Look at the two different kinds of ‘U’s.’”
“He’s used two different kinds of pens,” said Inspector Chippenfield. “Look at the difference in the thickness of the letters.”
“The sooner he writes again the better,” said Rolfe. “I am curious to know what he’ll say next.”
“My idea is to find out who he is and make him speak,” said the inspector, “Speaking is quicker than writing. I could frighten more out of him in ten minutes than he would give away voluntarily in a month of Sundays.”
Again Rolfe had to admit that his chief’s plan to get at the truth was an ideal one.
“Have you any idea who he is?” he asked.
Inspector Chippenfield had brought his methods too near to perfection to make it possible for him to fall into an open trap.
“I won’t be very long putting my hand on him,” he said.
“But this thing has been in the papers,” said Rolfe. “Don’t you think the murderer will bolt out of the country when he knows his mate is prepared to turn King’s evidence against him?”
“Ah,” said Inspector Chippenfield, “I haven’t adopted your theory.”
“Then you think that the man who wrote this note knew of the murder but doesn’t know who did it?”
“Now you are going too far,” said Inspector Chippenfield.
The inspector was so wary about disclosing what was in his mind in regard to the letter that Rolfe, who disliked his chief very cordially, jumped to the conclusion that Inspector Chippenfield had no intelligible ideas concerning it.
“If it was burglars they took nothing as far as we can ascertain up to the present,” said Inspector Chippenfield after a pause.
“They were surprised to find anyone in the house. And after the shot was fired they immediately bolted for fear the noise would attract attention.”