“Then—who killed Hollins?” I said in sheer amazement. “Are there others in at all this?”
“You may well ask that, lad,” he responded, shaking his head. “Indeed, though we’re nearing it, I think we’re not quite at the end of the lane, and there’ll be a queer turning or two in it, yet, before we get out. But here’s Murray come to an end of the present business.”
Murray had finished his inspection of the cases and was helping Chisholm to replace the lids. He, Chisholm, and the detective were exchanging whispered remarks over this job; Mr. Elphinstone and Mr. Gavin Smeaton were talking together in low voices near the door. Presently Murray turned to us.
“We can do no more here, now, Mr. Lindsey,” he said, “and I’m going to lock this place up until daylight and leave a man in the gateway below, on guard. But as to the next step—you haven’t the least idea in your head, Moneylaws, about Hollins’s assailant?” he went on, turning to me. “You heard and saw—nothing?”
“I’ve told you what I heard, Mr. Murray,” I answered. “As to seeing anything, how could I? The thing happened on the stair there, and I was in this corner unlocking the inner door.”
“It’s as big a mystery as all the rest of it!” he muttered. “And it’s just convincing me there’s more behind all this than we think for. And one thing’s certain—we can’t search these grounds or the neighbourhood until the light comes. But we can go round to the house.”
He marched us all out at that, and himself locked up the room, leaving the dead man with the chests of gold; and having stationed a constable in the gateway of the old tower, he led us off in a body to the habited part of the house. There were lights there in plenty, and a couple of policemen at the door, and behind them a whole troop of servants in the hall, half dressed, and open-mouthed with fright and curiosity.
THE DARK POOL
As I went into that house with the rest of them, I had two sudden impressions. One was that here at my side, in the person of Mr. Gavin Smeaton, was, in all probability, its real owner, the real holder of the ancient title, who was coming to his lawful rights in this strange fashion. The other was of the contrast between my own coming at that moment and the visit which I had paid there, only a few evenings previously, when Hollins had regarded me with some disfavour and the usurper had been so friendly. Now Hollins was lying dead in the old ruin, and the other man was a fugitive—and where was he?
Murray had brought us there to do something towards settling that point, and he began his work at once by assembling every Jack and Jill in the house and, with the help of the London detective, subjecting them to a searching examination as to the recent doings of their master and mistress and the butler. But Mr. Lindsey motioned Mr. Elphinstone, and Mr. Gavin Smeaton, and myself into a side-room and shut the door on us.