“I do not know. What does it matter? It has gone.” She shrugged her shoulders lightly and indifferently.
“Do you know who stole the pocket-book?”
“No, monsieur. I thought it was stolen in the train.”
“That is the police theory,” replied Crewe. “But let that go. Have you, since the night of the murder, seen anything of Pierre?”
“Monsieur, I have not. It is as though the earth has him swallowed. He keeps silent with the silence of the grave.”
“He is wise to do so,” responded Crewe. “Now, mademoiselle, I have no more questions to ask you. Your confidence is safe; you need be under no apprehensions on that score.”
“I care not for myself, Monsieur Crewe, so long as Madame Holymead is freed from the persecutions of the police agents,” replied Gabrielle, rising from her seat as she spoke. “If, after hearing my story, you could but give me the assurance—”
“I think I can safely promise you that Mrs. Holymead will not be troubled with any further police attentions,” said Crewe, after a moment’s pause.
Gabrielle broke into profuse expressions of gratitude as she turned to go.
“For the rest then, I care not what happens. I am—how do you say it—I am overjoyed. Je vous remercie, monsieur, I beg you not, I can find my way out unattended.”
But Crewe showed her to the stairs, where again he had to listen to her profuse thanks before she finally departed. He watched her graceful figure till it was lost to sight in the winding staircase, and then he turned back to his office. In the outer office he stopped to speak to Joe, who, perched on an office-footstool, was tapping quickly on the office-table with his pen-knife, swaying backwards and forwards dangerously on his perch in the intensity of his emotions as he played the hero’s part in the drama of saving the runaway engine from dashing into the 4.40 express by calling up the Red Gulch station on the wire.
“Joe,” said Crewe, “I’ll see nobody for an hour at least—nobody. You understand?”
Joe came out of the cinema world long enough to nod his head in emphatic understanding of the instructions. In his own room Crewe pulled out his notebook and once more gave himself up to the study of the baffling Riversbrook mystery, in the new light of Gabrielle’s confession.
Part of her story, he reflected, must be true. She had produced Sir Horace’s revolver, and, still more important, a handkerchief which he had clutched in his dying struggles. It was obvious that she or some other woman had been at Riversbrook the night of the murder, and in the room with the murdered man before he died. That tallied with Birchill’s statement to Hill that he had seen a woman close the front door and walk along the garden path while he was hiding in the garden. Crewe, recalling Gabrielle’s description of the room, came to the conclusion that it was probably she who had been with the judge in his dying moments. No one but a person who had actually seen it could have described the room with such minuteness.