“Have you got them?” she whispered.
“Yes,” was the reply. “I followed out your plan—it worked without a hitch.”
“Ah, I knew you would manage it,” said the girl. “I would have gone, but it was best that you should go. These police agents do not like foreigners—they would be suspicious if I had gone.”
“There was a big red-faced man in charge—Inspector Chippenfield, they called him,” said Mrs. Holymead. “He was in the library as you said he would be—he was sitting there calmly as if he did not know what nerves were. He knew me as a friend of the family and was quite nice to me. I saw as soon as I went in that the desk was open—he had been examining Sir Horace’s private papers. I asked him to tell me about the—about the tragedy. He piled horror on horror and then I pretended to faint. He ran down stairs for a glass of water, and that gave me time to open the secret drawer. They are here,” she added, patting the hand-bag affectionately; “let us go upstairs and burn them.”
There was unpleasant news for Inspector Chippenfield when Miss Fewbanks arrived at Riversbrook accompanied by the housekeeper, Mrs. Hewson. In the first place, he learnt with considerable astonishment that it was Miss Fewbanks’s intention to stay at the house until after the funeral, and for that purpose she had brought the housekeeper to keep her company in the lonely old place. Although they had taken up their quarters in the opposite wing of the rambling mansion to that in which the dead body lay, it seemed to Inspector Chippenfield—whose mind was very impressionable where the fair sex was concerned—that Miss Fewbanks must be a very peculiar girl to contemplate staying in the same house with the body of her murdered father for nearly a week. He was convinced that she must be a strong-minded young woman, and he did not like strong-minded young women. He preferred the weak and clinging type of the sex as more of a compliment to his own sturdy manliness.
His unfavourable impression of Miss Fewbanks was deepened when he saw her and heard what she had to tell him. The girl had come up from the country filled with horror at the crime which had deprived her of a father, and firmly determined to leave no stone unturned to bring the murderer to justice. It was true that she and her father had lived on terms of partial estrangement for some time past because of his manner of life, but all the girl’s feelings of resentment against him had been swept away by the news of his dreadful death, and all she remembered now was that he was her father, and had been brutally murdered.
When she sent for Inspector Chippenfield she had visited the room in which lay the body of her father. It had been placed in a coffin which was resting on the undertaker’s trestles in the bay embrasure of the big room with the folding doors. There was nothing in the appearance of the corpse to suggest that a crime had been committed, but it had been impossible for the undertaker’s men to erase entirely the distortion of the features so that they might suggest the cold, calm dignity of a peaceful death. The ordeal of looking on the dead body of her father had nerved her to carry through resolutely the task of discovering the author of the crime.