How soon would the watches find the body? Having found it, what would they do? Would the body be immediately identified by the clothes upon it? or would doubt on that score arise in the minds of the neighboring folk? Would the disappearance of Adam Lambert be known at once and commented upon in connection with the crime?
Curiosity soon became an obsession; he wandered down into the hall where the serving-wench was plying her duster. He searched her face, wondering if she had heard the news.
The mist of the night had yielded to an icy drizzle, but Sir Marmaduke could not remain within. His footsteps guided him in the direction of Acol, on towards Epple Bay. On the path which leads to the edge of the cliffs he met the watches who were tramping on towards the beach.
The men saluted him and went on their way, but he turned and fled as quickly as he dared.
In the afternoon Master Busy brought the news down from Prospect Inn. The body of the man who had called himself a French prince had been found murdered and shockingly mutilated on the sands at Epple. Sir Marmaduke was vastly interested. He, usually so reserved and ill-humored with his servants, had kept Hymn-of-Praise in close converse for nigh upon an hour, asking many questions about the crime, about the petty constables’ action in the matter and the comments made by the village folk.
At the same time he gave strict injunctions to Master Busy not to breathe a word of the gruesome subject to the ladies, nor yet to the serving-wench; ’twas not a matter fit for women’s ears.
Sir Marmaduke then bade his butler push on as far as Acol, to glean further information about the mysterious event.
That evening he collected all the clothes which had belonged to Lambert, the smith, and wrapping up the leather wallet with them which contained the securities, he carried this bundle to the lonely pavilion on the outskirts of the park.
He was not yet ready to go abroad.
Master Busy returned from his visit to Acol full of what he had seen. He had been allowed to view the body, and to swear before Squire Boatfield that he recognized the clothes as being those usually worn by the mysterious foreigner who used to haunt the woods and park of Acol all last summer.
Hymn-of-Praise had his full meed of pleasure that evening, and the next day, too, for Sir Marmaduke seemed never tired of hearing him recount all the gossip which obtained at Acol and at St. Nicholas: the surmises as to the motive of the horrible crime, the talk about the stranger and his doings, the resentment caused by his weird demise, and the conjectures as to what could have led a miscreant to do away with so insignificant a personage.
All that day—the second since the crime—Sir Marmaduke still lingered in Thanet. Prudence whispered urgent counsels that he should go, and yet he stayed, watching the progress of events with that same morbid and tenacious curiosity.