“Well—about the purse?” demanded Mr. Lindsey shortly. “No lies, now!”
The prisoner shook his head at that, and growled—but it was evident he was growling at himself.
“That’s right enough,” he confessed. “I felt in his pockets, and I did take the purse. But—I didn’t put him in the water. True as I’m here, guv’nor. I did no more than take the purse! I left him there—just as he was—and the next day I got drinking, and last night I stopped in that hut again, and today I was drinking, pretty heavy—and I sort of lost my head and pulled the purse out, and—that’s the truth, anyway, whether you believe it or not. But I didn’t kill yon man, though I’ll admit I robbed his body—like the fool I am!”
“Well, you see where it’s landed you,” remarked Mr. Lindsey. “All right—hold your tongue now, and I’ll see what I can do. I’ll appear for you when you come before the magistrate tomorrow.”
He tapped at the door of the cell, and Chisholm, who had evidently waited in the corridor, let us out. Mr. Lindsey said nothing to him, nor to the superintendent—he led me away into the street. And there he clapped me on the arm.
“I believe every word that man said!” he murmured. “Come on, now—we’ll see this Nance Maguire.”
THE IRISH HOUSEKEEPER
I was a good deal surprised that Mr. Lindsey should be—apparently—so anxious to interview Crone’s housekeeper, and I said as much. He turned on me sharply, with a knowing look.
“Didn’t you hear what the woman was saying when we came across her there outside the police-station?” he exclaimed. “She was saying that Crone had said to her that there was some man who would give his two eyes to be seeing his corpse! Crone’s been telling her something. And I’m so convinced that that man in the cells yonder has told us the truth, as regards himself, that I’m going to find out what Crone did tell her. Who is there—who could there be that wanted to see Crone’s dead body? Let’s try to find that out.”
I made no answer—but I was beginning to think; and to wonder, too, in a vague, not very pleasant fashion. Was this—was Crone’s death, murder, whatever it was—at all connected with the previous affair of Phillips? Had Crone told me the truth that night I went to buy the stuff for Tom Dunlop’s rabbit-hutches? or had he kept something back? And while I was reflecting on these points, Mr. Lindsey began talking again.
“I watched that man closely when he was giving me his account of what happened,” he said, “and, as I said just now, I believe he told us the truth. Whoever it was that did Crone to death, he’s not in that cell, Hugh, my lad; and, unless I’m much mistaken, all this is of a piece with Phillips’s murder. But let’s hear what this Irishwoman has to say.”
Crone’s cottage was a mean, miserable shanty sort of place down a narrow alley in a poor part of the town. When we reached its door there was a group of women and children round it, all agog with excitement. But the door itself was closed, and it was not opened to us until Nance Maguire’s face had appeared at the bit of a window, and Nance had assured herself of the identity of her visitors. And when she had let us in, she shut the door once more and slipped a bolt into its socket.