Hill took the card in to Miss Fewbanks, and on coming out went to the front door and escorted Mr. Holymead to his young mistress. Crewe, as was his habit, looked closely at Holymead. The eminent K.C. was a tall man, nearly six feet in height, with a large, resolute, strongly-marked face which, when framed in a wig, was suggestive of the dignity and severity of the law. In years he was about fifty, and in his figure there was a suggestion of that rotundity which overtakes the man who has given up physical exercise. He was correctly, if sombrely, dressed in dark clothes, and he wore a black tie—probably as a symbol of mourning for his friend. His gloves were a delicate grey.
Crewe sought out Hill again and questioned him closely about the relations which had existed between Sir Horace Fewbanks and Mr. Holymead, whose enormous practice brought him in an income three times as large as the dead judge’s, and kept him constantly before the public. Hill was able to supply the detective with some interesting information regarding the visitor, and, in contrast to his manner when previously questioned at random by Crewe, concerning his young mistress’s habits, seemed willing, if not actually anxious, to talk. He had heard from Sir Horace’s housekeeper that his late master and Mr. Holymead had been law students together, and after they were called to the Bar they used to spend their holidays together as long as they were single.
When they were married their wives became friends. Mrs. Holymead had died fourteen years ago, but Mrs. Fewbanks—Sir Horace had not been a baronet while his wife was alive—had lived some years longer. Mr. Holymead had married again. His second wife was a very beautiful young lady, if he might make so bold as to say so, who had come from America. The butler added deprecatingly that he had been told that both Sir Horace and Mr. Holymead had paid her some attention, and that she could have had either of them. She was different to English ladies, he added. She had more to say for herself, and laughed and talked with the gentlemen just as if she was one of themselves. Hill mentioned that she had been out to see Miss Fewbanks the previous day, but that Miss Fewbanks had not come up from Dellmere then, so she had seen Inspector Chippenfield instead.
While Crewe and the butler were talking a boy of about fourteen, with the shrewd face of a London arab, approached them with an air of mystery. He came down the hall with long cautious strides, and halted at each step as if he were stalking a band of Indians in a forest.
“Well, Joe, what is it?” asked Crewe, as he came to a halt in front of them.
“If you don’t want me for half an hour, sir, I’d like to take a run up the street. There is a real good picture house just been opened.” The boy spoke eagerly, with his bright eyes fixed on Crewe.
“I may want you any minute, Joe,” replied Crewe. “Don’t go away.”