Rawlins grinned joyously.
“You ought to have a medal for getting away with this, young fellow. Things didn’t look so happy for you an hour or so ago.”
“And I had half a mind,” Robinson confessed, “to refuse you the chance. Glad I didn’t. Glad as I can be you made good.”
With the egotism any man is likely to draw from his efforts in the detection of crime he added easily:
“Of course I’ve suspected this spigotty all along. I don’t have to remind you of that.”
“Sure,” Rawlins said. “And didn’t I put it up to him strong enough to-night?”
Paredes laughed lightly.
“All credit where it is due. You also put it up to Miss Perrine.”
“The details will straighten all that out,” Robinson said. “I don’t pretend to have them yet.”
“I gather not,” Paredes mused, “with old Blackburn’s ghost still in the offing.”
“That talk,” Rawlins said, “won’t go down from you any more. I daresay you’ve got most of the details in your head.”
“I daresay,” Paredes answered dryly.
He fought farther back against the detaining hands.
“Is there any necessity for this exhibition of brute strength? You must find it very exhausting. You may think me dangerous, and I thank you; but I have no gun, and I’m no match for four men and a woman. Besides, you hurt my arm. Bobby was none too tender with that. I ought to have used my good arm. You’ll get no details from me unless you take your hands off.”
Robinson’s hesitation was easily comprehensible. If Paredes were responsible for the abnormalities they had experienced at the Cedars he might find it simple enough to trick them now, but the man’s mocking smile brought the anger to Robinson’s face.
“Of course he can’t get away. See if there’s anything on his clothes, Rawlins. He ought to have the hatpin. Then let him go.”
The detective, however, failed to find the hatpin or any other weapon.
“You see,” Paredes smiled. “That’s something in my favour.”
He stepped back, brushing his clothing with his uninjured hand. He lighted a cigarette. He drew back the coat sleeve of his left arm and readjusted the bandage. He glanced up as heavy footsteps heralded Doctor Groom.
“Hello, Doctor,” he called cheerily. “I was afraid you’d nap through the show. It seems the bloodhounds of the law left us out of their confidence.”
“What’s all this?” the doctor rumbled.
Paredes waved his hand.
“I am a prisoner.”
The doctor gaped.
“You mean you—”
“Young Blackburn caught him,” Robinson explained. “He was in a position to finish him just as he did Howells.”
“Except that I had no hatpin,” Paredes yawned.
The doctor’s uneasy glance sought the opening in the wall.
“I thought you had examined all these walls,” he grumbled. “How did you miss this?”