Graham held up his hand.
“What’s that? In the corridor!”
There were quiet footsteps in the corridor. Bobby turned quickly, Paredes strolled slowly through the passage, a cigarette held in his slender, listless fingers. Bobby stared at him, remembering his surprise a few minutes ago that the Panamanian should have sat up so late, should have been, probably, in the court when they had followed Katherine to the discovery of this new crime.
Paredes paused in the doorway. He took in the tragic picture framed by the sinister room without displaying the slightest interest. He continued to hold his cigarette until it expired. Then he crossed the threshold. Graham and Bobby watched the expressionless face. Gracefully Paredes raised his finger and pointed to the bed. When he spoke his voice was low and pleasant:
“Appalling! I feared something of the kind when I heard you come to this room.”
He glanced at the broken door.
“The same unbelievable circumstance,” he drawled. “I see you had to break in.”
The colour flashed back to Graham’s face.
“You have taken plenty of time to solve your misgivings.”
“It hasn’t been so long. I fancied everything was all right, and I was immersed in my solitaire. Then I heard a stirring upstairs. As I’ve told you, the house frightens me. It is not natural or healthy. So I came up to investigate this stirring, and there was Miss Katherine in the hall. She told me.”
Graham faced him with undisguised enmity.
“Immersed in your solitaire! We were attracted by a light in the lower hall at such an hour. We looked down. You were not there. The front door was open.”
Paredes glanced at his cold cigarette. He yawned.
“When Howells died precisely as Mr. Blackburn did,” Graham hurried on, “you alone were awake about the house. Weren’t you at that moment in the court?”
Paredes laughed tolerantly.
“It is clear, in spite of my apologies, that we are not friends, Graham; but, may I ask, are you accusing me of this strange—accident?”
“I should like to know what you were doing in the court.”
“Perhaps,” Paredes answered, “I was attracted there by the sounds that aroused Miss Katherine.”
Graham shook his head.
“From her description I doubt if those sounds would have been audible in the hall.”
“No matter,” Paredes said. “I merely suggest that it’s a case for Groom. His hint of a spiritual enmity may be saner than you think.”
Katherine appeared in the doorway. She had evidently overheard Paredes’s comment, for she nodded. The determination in her eyes suggested that she had struggled with the situation during these last moments and had reached a definite conclusions That quality was in her voice.
“At least, Hartley,” she said, “you must send for Doctor Groom before you notify the police.”