“The police have a theory already about Phillips,” remarked Mr. Lindsey. “They think he was followed from Peebles, and murdered for the sake of money that he was carrying in a bag he had with him. And my experience,” he added with a laugh, “is that if the police once get a theory of their own, it’s no use suggesting any other to them—they’ll ride theirs, either till it drops or they get home with it.”
Sir Gilbert nodded his head, as if he agreed with that, and he suddenly gave Mr. Lindsey an inquiring look.
“What’s your own opinion?” he asked.
But Mr. Lindsey was not to be drawn. He laughed and shrugged his shoulders, as if to indicate that the affair was none of his.
“I wouldn’t say that I have an opinion, Sir Gilbert,” he answered. “It’s much too soon to form one, and I haven’t the details, and I’m not a detective. But all these matters are very simple—when you get to the bottom of them. The police think this is going to be a very simple affair—mere vulgar murder for the sake of mere vulgar robbery. We shall see!”
Then Sir Gilbert went away, and Mr. Lindsey looked at me, who stood a little apart, and he saw that I was thinking.
“Well, my lad,” he said; “a bit dazed by your new opening? It’s a fine chance for you, too! Now, I suppose, you’ll be wanting to get married. Is it that you’re thinking about?”
“Well, I was not, Mr. Lindsey,” said I. “I was just wondering—if you must know—how it was that, as he was here, you didn’t tell Sir Gilbert about that signature of his brother’s that you found on Gilverthwaite’s will.”
He shared a sharp look between me and the door—but the door was safely shut.
“No!” he said. “Neither to him nor to anybody, yet a while! And don’t you mention that, my lad. Keep it dark till I give the word. I’ll find out about that in my own way. You understand—on that point, absolute silence.”
I replied that, of course, I would not say a word; and presently I went into the office to resume my duties. But I had not been long at that before the door opened, and Chisholm put his face within and looked at me.
“I’m wanting you, Mr. Moneylaws,” he said. “You said you were with Crone, buying something, that night before his body was found. You’d be paying him money—and he might be giving you change. Did you happen to see his purse, now?”
“Aye!” answered I. “What for do you ask that?”
“Because,” said he, “we’ve taken a fellow at one of those riverside publics that’s been drinking heavily, and, of course, spending money freely. And he has a queer-looking purse on him, and one or two men that’s seen it vows and declares it was Abel Crone’s.”
THE MAN IN THE CELL
Before I could reply to Chisholm’s inquiry, Mr. Lindsey put his head out of his door and seeing the police-sergeant there asked what he was after. And when Chisholm had repeated his inquiry, both looked at me.