“She behaved with remarkable courage and coolness, but she overlooked the glove in the room of the tragedy, and Holymead’s stick in the hall-stand. Later in the night we have Birchill’s entry into the house, his alarm at finding your father had been killed, and his return to the flat where Hill was waiting for him.”
When Crewe had finished he looked at the girl. She had followed his statement with breathless interest.
“You have been wonderfully clever,” she said. “It is perfectly marvellous.”
Crewe’s eyes had wandered to the inlaid chess-table and the Japanese chessmen set in prim rows on either side. Mechanically he began to arrange a problem on the board. His interest in the famous murder mystery seemed to have evaporated.
“I was very fortunate,” he said absently, in reply to Miss Fewbanks. “Everything seemed to come right for me.”
“You made everything come right,” she replied. “I do not know how to thank you for giving so much of your time to unravelling the mystery.”
“It was fascinating while it lasted,” he replied, his fingers still busy with the chessmen. “Of course, I am pleased with my success, but in a way I am sorry the work has come to an end. I thought that the knowledge that Holymead was the guilty man would come as a great shock to you. But I am glad you are able to take it so well.”
“A few minutes before you arrived I learned that it was Mr. Holymead. But what has been more of a shock to me, Mr. Crewe, is the discovery that my father had ruined his home. Oh, Mr. Crewe, it is terrible for me to have to hold my dead father up to judgment, but it is more terrible still to know that he was not faithful even to his lifelong friendship with Mr. Holymead.”
“Your nerves are unstrung,” he said. “You want rest and quiet—you want a long sea voyage.”
“Yes, I want to forget,” she said. “But there are others who want to forget, too. Cannot we bury the whole thing in forgetfulness?”
Crewe’s growing interest in the chessboard and his problem suddenly vanished. His eyes became instantly riveted on her face in a keen, questioning look.
“What is it to me or you that Mr. Holymead should be publicly proved guilty of this terrible thing?” she went on, passionately. “Why drag into the light my father’s conduct in order to make a day’s sensation for the newspapers? For his sake, what better thing could I do than let his memory rest?”
“Do you mean that Holymead should be allowed to go free?” he asked, in astonishment.
“I’m extremely sorry,” he said slowly.
“Won’t you let it all drop?” she pleaded.
“I could not take upon myself the responsibility of condoning such a crime—the responsibility of judging between your father and his murderer,” he said solemnly. “But even if I could it is too late to think of doing so. There is already a warrant out for Holymead’s arrest”