“Hatherell gives his friend six or seven minutes’ start, then he begins the altercation which lasts two or three minutes, and finally rouses the neighbourhood with cries of ‘Murder’ and report of pistol in order to establish that the crime was committed at the hour when its perpetrator has already made out an indisputable alibi.”
“I don’t know what you think of it all, of course,” added the funny creature as he fumbled for his coat and his gloves, “but I call the planning of that murder—on the part of novices, mind you—one of the cleverest pieces of strategy I have ever come across. It is one of those cases where there is no possibility whatever now of bringing the crime home to its perpetrator or his abettor. They have not left a single proof behind them; they foresaw everything, and each acted his part with a coolness and courage which, applied to a great and good cause, would have made fine statesmen of them both.
“As it is, I fear, they are just a pair of young blackguards, who have escaped human justice, and have only deserved the full and ungrudging admiration of yours very sincerely.”
He had gone. Polly wanted to call him back, but his meagre person was no longer visible through the glass door. There were many things she would have wished to ask of him—what were his proofs, his facts? His were theories, after all, and yet, somehow, she felt that he had solved once again one of the darkest mysteries of great criminal London.
THE DE GENNEVILLE PEERAGE
The man in the corner rubbed his chin thoughtfully, and looked out upon the busy street below.
“I suppose,” he said, “there is some truth in the saying that Providence watches over bankrupts, kittens, and lawyers.”
“I didn’t know there was such a saying,” replied Polly, with guarded dignity.
“Isn’t there? Perhaps I am misquoting; anyway, there should be. Kittens, it seems, live and thrive through social and domestic upheavals which would annihilate a self-supporting tom-cat, and to-day I read in the morning papers the account of a noble lord’s bankruptcy, and in the society ones that of his visit at the house of a Cabinet minister, where he is the most honoured guest. As for lawyers, when Providence had exhausted all other means of securing their welfare, it brought forth the peerage cases.”
“I believe, as a matter of fact, that this special dispensation of Providence, as you call it, requires more technical knowledge than any other legal complication that comes before the law courts,” she said.
“And also a great deal more money in the client’s pocket than any other complication. Now, take the Brockelsby peerage case. Have you any idea how much money was spent over that soap bubble, which only burst after many hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds went in lawyers’ and counsels’ fees?”