Chettle opened a square cardboard box in which certain personal effects belonging to Lydenberg had been placed—one or two rings, a pocket-knife, his purse and its contents, a cigar-case, his watch and chain. He took up the watch, detached it from the chain, and held it towards Allerdyke, who was regarding these proceedings with intense curiosity.
“You see this watch, Mr. Allerdyke,” he said. “It’s a watch of foreign make—Swiss—and it’s an old one, a good many years old, I should say. Consequently, it’s a bit what we might call massive. Now, I was looking at it yesterday—late last night, in fact—and an idea suddenly struck me. In consequence of that idea, I opened the back of the watch, and discovered—that!”
He snapped open the case of the watch as he spoke and showed Allerdyke, neatly cut out to a circle, neatly fitted into the case, a photograph—the photograph of James Allerdyke! And Allerdyke started as if he had been shot, and let out a sharp exclamation.
“My God!” he cried. “James! James, by all that’s holy—and in there!”
“You recognize it, of course?” said Chettle, with a grim smile. “No doubt of it, eh?”
“Doubt! Recognize!” exclaimed Allerdyke. “Lord, man—why, I took it myself, not two months ago!”
Chettle laughed—a low, suggestive, satisfied chuckle. He laid the watch, its case still open, on the table at which they were standing, and tapped the photograph with the point of his finger.
“That may be the first step to the scaffold—for somebody,” he said, with a meaning glance. “Ah—it’s extraordinary what little, innocent-looking things help to put a bit of rope round a man’s neck! So you took this, Mr. Allerdyke?—took it yourself, you say?”
“Took it myself, some eight or nine weeks ago,” answered Allerdyke. “I took it in my garden one Sunday afternoon when my cousin James happened to be there. I do a bit in that way—amusement, you know. I just chanced to have a camera in my hand, and I saw James in a very favourable light and position, and I snapped him. And it was such a good ’un when developed that I printed off a few copies.”
The detective’s face became anxious.
“How many, now?” he asked. “How many, Mr. Allerdyke? I hope you can remember?—it’s a point of the utmost seriousness.”
“Naught easier,” answered Allerdyke readily. “I’ve a good memory for little things as well as big ’uns. I printed off four copies. One of ’em I pasted into an album in which I keep particularly good photographs of my own taking; the other three I gave to him—he put ’em in his pocket-book.”
“All unmounted—like this?” asked Chettle.