“That’s it, sir,” he said in a low voice. “That’s what the other was taken from. You know, sir—Mr. James A. Mr. Marshall A. said she said she was going to have it framed. Odd, ain’t it, sir?—if she really is implicated.”
The chief agreed with his man. It was certainly a very odd thing that Miss Slade, alias Mrs. Marlow, if she really had any concern with the murder of James Allerdyke, should put his photograph in a fairly expensive silver frame, and hang it where she could look at it every day. But, as Chettle sagely remarked, you never can tell, and you never can account, and you never know, and meanwhile there was the urgent business on hand.
The business on hand came to nothing. Manager and manageress watched with interested amazement while the two searchers went through everything in that room with a thoroughness and rapidity produced by long practice. They were astounded at the deftness with which the heavy-looking Mr. Chettle explored drawers and trunks, and the military-looking chief peered into wardrobes and cupboards and examined desks and tables. But they were not so much astonished as the two detectives themselves were. For in all that room—always excepting the photograph of James Allerdyke—there was not a single object, a scrap of paper, anything whatever, which connected the Miss Slade of the Pompadour with the Mrs. Marlow of Fullaway’s or bore reference to the matter in hand. The searchers finally retired utterly baffled.
“Drawn blank,” murmured the chief good-humouredly. He turned to the lookers-on. “I suppose you have nothing of Miss Slade’s?” he said. “Nothing confined to your care, eh?”
The manageress glanced at her husband, with whom she had kept up a whispered conversation. The manager nodded.
“Better tell them,” he said. “No good keeping anything back.”
“Ah!” said the chief. “You have something?”
“A small parcel,” admitted the manageress, “which she gave me a few days ago to lock up in our safe. She said it contained something valuable, and she hadn’t anything to lock it up in. It’s in the safe now.”
“I’m afraid we must see it,” said the chief.
At the foot of the stairs the hall-porter accosted the party and looked at the chief narrowly.
“Name of Chettle, sir?” he asked. “You’re wanted at our telephone—urgent.”
The chief motioned to Chettle, who went off with the hall-porter; he himself followed the manageress into her office. She unlocked a safe, rummaged amongst its contents, and handed him a small square parcel, done up in brown paper and sealed with black wax. Before he could open it, Chettle returned, serious and puzzled, and whispered to him. Then, with the shortest of leave-takings, the two officers hurried away from the Pompadour, the chief carrying the little parcel tightly grasped in his right hand.