“That’s just where I’m coming with you,” he answered. “I’ve my bicycle close by, and we’ll ride into the town together at once. For, do you see, Mr. Hugh, there’s just one man hereabouts that can give us some light on this affair straightaway—if he will—and that the lodger you were telling me of. And I must get in and see the superintendent, and we must get speech with this Mr. Gilverthwaite of yours—for, if he knows no more, he’ll know who yon man is!”
I made no answer to that. I had no certain answer to make. I was already wondering about a lot of conjectures. Would Mr. Gilverthwaite know who the man was? Was he the man I ought to have met? Or had that man been there, witnessed the murder, and gone away, frightened to stop where the murder had been done? Or—yet again—was this some man who had come upon Mr. Gilverthwaite’s correspondent, and, for some reason, been murdered by him? It was, however, all beyond me just then, and presently the sergeant and I were on our machines and making for Berwick. But we had not been set out half an hour, and were only just where we could see the town’s lights before us in the night, when two folk came riding bicycles through the mist that lay thick in a dip of the road, and, calling to me, let me know that they were Maisie Dunlop and her brother Tom that she had made to come with her, and in another minute Maisie and I were whispering together.
“It’s all right now that I know you’re safe, Hugh,” she said breathlessly. “But you must get back with me quickly. Yon lodger of yours is dead, and your mother in a fine way, wondering where you are!”
THE BRASS-BOUND CHEST
The police-sergeant had got off his bicycle at the same time that I jumped from mine, and he was close behind me when Maisie and I met, and I heard him give a sharp whistle at her news. And as for me, I was dumbfounded, for though I had seen well enough that Mr. Gilverthwaite was very ill when I left him, I was certainly a long way from thinking him like to die. Indeed, I was so astonished that all I could do was to stand staring at Maisie in the grey light which was just coming between the midnight and the morning. But the sergeant found his tongue more readily.
“I suppose he died in his bed, miss?” he asked softly. “Mr. Hugh here said he was ill; it would be a turn for the worse, no doubt, after Mr. Hugh left him?”
“He died suddenly just after eleven o’clock,” answered Maisie; “and your mother sought you at Mr. Lindsey’s office, Hugh, and when she found you weren’t there, she came down to our house, and I had to tell her that you’d come out this way on an errand for Mr. Gilverthwaite. And I told her, too, what I wasn’t so sure of myself, that there’d no harm come to you of it, and that you’d be back soon after twelve, and I went down to your house and waited with her; and when you didn’t come, and didn’t come, why, I got Tom here to get our bicycles out and we came to seek you. And let’s be getting back, for your mother’s anxious about you, and the man’s death has upset her—he went all at once, she said, while she was with him.”