“See, monsieur!” she cried; “here is the handkerchief of which I told you. It is that which the judge seized when I tried to stop the blood flowing in his breast—look at the corner and you will see that a little bit has been torn off by his almost dead hand. And the revolver—it is that which I picked up on the floor near him. I have had it locked up ever since.”
Crewe examined both articles closely. The revolver was a small, nickel-plated weapon with silver chasing, with the murdered man’s initials engraved in the handle. It had five chambers, and one of the cartridges had been discharged. The other four chambers were still loaded. Crewe carefully extracted the cartridges, and examined them closely. One of them he held up to the light in order to inspect it more minutely.
“Did you do this?” he asked: “Have you been trying to fire off the revolver?”
“No, no, monsieur,” she exclaimed quickly. “I would not fire it, I do not understand it. I have been careful not to touch the little thing that sets it going.”
“The trigger,” said Crewe. He again studied the cartridge that had attracted his attention. It had missed fire, for on the cap was a dint where the hammer had struck it. He placed the four cartridges on the table and turning his attention to the handkerchief examined it minutely. It was one of those filmy scraps of muslin and lace which ladies call a handkerchief—an article whose cost is out of all proportion to its usefulness. Gabrielle, who was watching him keenly as he examined it, exclaimed:
“The handkerchief—a box of them—were given me by Sir Horace because he knew I love pretty things.”
She laid a finger on the missing corner, which might indeed have been torn off in the manner described. A scrap of the lace was missing, and it was evident that it had been removed with violence, for the lace around the gap was loosened, and the muslin slightly frayed.
“You say that the corner was torn off when you wrenched the handkerchief from the dead man’s hold?” said Crewe. “But it was not found in his hand by the police or anyone else. And he was not buried with it, for I examined the body carefully. What became of it?”
Gabrielle looked at him quickly as though she suspected some trap.
“You would play with me,” she said at length. “What became of it? Why, you must surely know that the police of Scot—Scotland Yard have it. The police agent who called on Madame had it. What is his name—Rudolf?”
“Rolfe?” exclaimed Crewe. “Has he got it?”
“Yes,” she replied. “He did not show it to me, but I saw it nevertheless. I dropped my handkerchief when I spoke at the telephone and Monsieur Rolfe picked it up. Quickly he studied my handkerchief—not this one, monsieur, but one of the same kind—and from his pocket-book he took out the missing piece that was in the dead man’s hand and he studied them side by side. He thought I did not see—that my back was turned—but I saw in the mirror which hung on the wall. Then, when I finished my telephone, he bowed and said, ‘Your handkerchief, mademoiselle.’ It was not so badly done—for a clumsy police agent.”