’I think I shall be home to-morrow, but I will not say so for certain. I have been at the Home Office, but they would tell me nothing. A man was very civil to me, but explained that he was civil only because he knew nothing about the case. I think I shall call on Mr. Bagwax at the Post-office to-morrow, and after that return to Folking. Send in for the day-mail letters, and then you will hear from me again if I mean to stay.’
At ten o’clock on the following day he was at the Post-office, and there he found Bagwax prepared to take his seat exactly at that hour. Thereupon he resolved, with true radical impetuosity, that Bagwax was a much better public servant than Mr. Brown. ’Well, Mr. Caldigate,—so we’ve got it all clear at last,’ said Bagwax.
There was a triumph in the tone of the clerk’s voice which was not intelligible to the despondent old squire. ’It is not at all clear to me,’ he said.
‘Of course you’ve heard?’
‘Heard what? I know all about the postage-stamp, of course.’
’If Secretaries of State and judges of the Court of Queen’s Bench only had their wits about them, the postage-stamp ought to have been quite sufficient,’ said Bagwax, sententiously.
‘What more is there?’
’For the sake of letting the world know what can be done in our department, it is a pity that there should be anything more.’
‘But there is something. For God’s sake tell me, Mr. Bagwax.’
’You haven’t heard that they caught Crinkett just as he was leaving Plymouth?’
‘Not a word.’
’And the woman. They’ve got the lot of ’em, Mr. Caldigate. Adamson and the other woman have agreed to give evidence, and are to be let go.’
‘When did you hear it?’
’Well;—it is in the “Daily Tell-tale.” But I knew it last night,—from a particular source. I have been a good deal thrown in with Scotland Yard since this began, Mr. Caldigate, and, of course, I hear things.’ Then it occurred to the squire that perhaps he had flown a little too high in going at once to the Home Office. They might have told him more, perhaps, in Scotland Yard. ’But it’s all true. The depositions have already been made. Adamson and Young have sworn that they were present at no marriage. Crinkett they say, means to plead guilty; but the woman sticks to it like wax.’
The squire had written a letter by the day-mail to say that he would remain in London that further day. He now wrote again, at the Post-office, telling Hester all that Bagwax had told him, and declaring his purpose of going at once to Scotland Yard.
If this story were true, then certainly his son would soon be liberated.
Mr. Smirkie Is Ill-used
It was on a Tuesday that Mr. Caldigate made his visit to the Home Office, and on the Thursday he returned to Cambridge. On the platform whom should he meet but his brother-in-law Squire Babington, who had come into Cambridge that morning intent on hearing something further about his nephew. He, too, had read a paragraph in his newspaper, ’The Snapper,’ as to Crinkett and Euphemia Smith.