“What was the cause of the quarrel?”
“That I don’t know, sir.”
“Didn’t Birchill tell you?”
“Well, not in so many words. But I gathered from things he dropped that Sir Horace had found out that he was a friend of Miss Fanning’s and didn’t like it.”
“Naturally,” said the philosophic police official. “Is Birchill still at this flat and is the girl still there?”
“The last I heard of them they were, sir. Of course they had been talking of moving after Sir Horace stopped the allowance.”
“Well, Hill, I’ll investigate this story of yours,” said the inspector, as he rose to his feet and placed his note-book in his pocket. “If it is true—if you have given us all the assistance in your power and have kept nothing back, I’ll do my best for you. Of course you realise that you are in a very serious position. I don’t want to arrest you unless I have to, but I must detain you while I investigate what you have told us. You will come up with us to the Camden Town Station and then your statement will be taken down fully. I’ll give you three minutes in which to explain things to your wife.”
“Do you think Hill’s story is true?” Rolfe asked Inspector Chippenfield, as they left the Camden Town Police Station and turned in the direction of the Tube station.
“We’ll soon find out,” replied the inspector. “Of course, there is something in it, but there is no doubt Hill will not stick at a lie to save his own skin. But we are more likely to get at the truth by threatening to arrest him than by arresting him. If he were arrested he would probably shut up and say no more.”
“And are you going to arrest Birchill?”
“For the murder?” asked Rolfe.
“No; for burglary. It would be a mistake to charge him with murder until we get more evidence. The papers would jeer at us if we charged him with murder and then dropped the charge."’
“Do you think Birchill will squeak?”
“On Hill?” said the inspector. “When he knows that Hill has been trying to fit him for the murder he’ll try and do as much for Hill. And between them we’ll come at the truth. We are on the right track at last, my boy. And, thank God, we have beaten our friend Crewe.”
Inspector Chippenfield’s satisfaction in his impending triumph over Crewe was increased by a chance meeting with the detective. As the two police officials came out of Leicester Square Station on their way to Scotland Yard to obtain a warrant for Birchill’s arrest, they saw Crewe in a taxi-cab. Crewe also saw them, and telling the driver to pull up leaned out of the window and looked back at the two detectives. When they came up with the taxi-cab they saw that Crewe had on a light overcoat and that there was a suit-case beside the driver. Crewe was going on a journey of some kind.