“Yes, sir,” said Mrs. Perrigo dutifully. “If you please, sir. Well, when I see those pictures in the papers—several papers, sir—of the young lady with the foreign name I says to myself, and to my neighbour, Mrs. Watson, which is all I ever talk much to, ‘That,’ I says, ’is the young woman I see in Kensington Gardens a time or two and remarks of for her elegant figure and smart air in general—I could have picked her out from a thousand,’ I says. Which there was, and is a particular spot, sir, in Kensington Gardens where I used to sit, and you pays a penny for a chair, which I did, and there’s other chairs about, near a fallen tree, which is still there, for I went to make sure last night, and there, on three afternoons while I was there, this young lady came at about, say, four o’clock each time, and was met by this here young man what I don’t remember as clear as I remember her, me not taking so much notice of him. And—”
“Another moment, Mrs. Perrigo.” The chief turned again to Celia. “Did your maid ever go out in the afternoons about that time?” he asked.
“Probably every afternoon,” replied Celia. “I myself was away from London from the 11th to the 18th of March, staying with friends in the country. I didn’t take her with me—so, of course, she’d nothing to do but follow her own inclinations.”
The chief turned to Mrs. Perrigo again.
“Yes?” he said. “You saw the young woman whose photograph you have seen in the papers meet a young man in Kensington Gardens on three separate occasions. Yes?”
“Three separate occasions, close by—on penny chairs, sir, where they sat and talked foreign, which I didn’t understand—and on another occasion, when I see ’em walking by the Round Pond, me being at some distance, but recognizing her by her elegant figure. I took particular notice of the young woman’s face, sir, me being a noticing person, and I’ll take my dying oath, if need be, that this here picture is hers!”
Mrs. Perrigo here produced a much worn and crumpled illustrated newspaper and laid her hand solemnly upon it. That done, she shook her head.
“But I ain’t so certain about the young man as met her,” she said sorrowfully. “Him I did not notice with such attention, being, as I say, more attracted to her. All the same, he was a young man—and spoke the same foreign language as what she did. Of them facts, sure I am, sir.”
“They sat near you, Mrs. Perrigo?”
“As near, sir, as I am now to that lady. And paid their pennies for their chairs in my presence; leastways, the young man paid. Always the same place it was, and always the same time—three days all within a week, and then the day when I see ’em walking at a distance.”
“Can’t you remember anything about the young man, Mrs. Perrigo?” asked the chief. “Come!—try to think. That is the really important thing. You must have some recollection of him, you know, some idea of what he was like.”