“What are these for?” said the captive, regarding them sullenly.
“You’ll know soon enough when we get you upstairs,” replied the inspector. “Now then, up you go.”
They reascended the stairs in silence, Inspector Chippenfield and Rolfe walking on each side of their prisoner holding him by the arms, in case he tried to make another bolt. They reached the flat and found the front door open as they had left it. The inspector entered the hall and unlocked the drawing-room door.
The girl was sitting on the chair where they had left her, with her head bowed down in an attitude of the deepest dejection. She straightened herself suddenly as they entered, and launched a terrified glance at the young man.
“Oh, Fred!” she gasped.
“They were too good for me, Doris,” he responded, as though in reply to her unspoken query. “I would have got away from this chap”—he indicated Rolfe with a nod of his head—“but I ran into the other one.”
He stooped as he spoke to brush with his manacled hands some of the dirt from his clothes, which he had doubtless gained in his perilous climb down the side of the house, and then straightened himself to look loweringly at his captors. He was a tall, slender young fellow of about twenty-five or twenty-six, clean-shaven, with a fresh complexion and a rather effeminate air. He was well dressed in a grey lounge suit, a soft shirt, with a high double collar and silk necktie. He looked, as he stood there, more like a dandified city clerk than the desperate criminal suggested by Hill’s confession.
“Come on, what’s the charge?” he demanded insolently, with a slight glance at his manacled hands.
“Is your name Frederick Birchill?” asked Inspector Chippenfield.
The young man nodded.
“Then, Frederick Birchill, you’re charged with burglariously entering the house of Sir Horace Fewbanks, at Hampstead, on the night of the 18th of August.”
“Burglary?” said Birchill “Anything else?”
“That will do for the present,” replied the inspector. “We may find it necessary to charge you with a more serious crime later.”
“Well, all I can say is that you’ve got the wrong man. But that is nothing new for you chaps,” he added with a sneer.
“Surely you are not going to charge him with the murder?” said the girl imploringly.
The inspector’s reply was merely to warn the prisoner that anything he said might be used in evidence against him at his trial.
“He had nothing whatever to do with it—he knows nothing about it,” protested the girl. “If you let him go I’ll tell you who murdered Sir Horace.”
“Who murdered him?” asked the inspector.
“Hill,” was the reply.
Doris Fanning got off a Holborn tram at King’s Cross, and with a hasty glance round her as if to make sure she was not followed, walked at a rapid pace across the street in the direction of Caledonian Road. She walked up that busy thoroughfare at the same quick gait for some minutes, then turned into a narrow street and, with another suspicious look around her, stopped at the doorway of a small shop a short distance down.