“That’s all right,” he said, and I could see he was relieved. “I don’t want mixing up with these matters—I should very much dislike it. What’s Lindsey trying to get at in his defence of this man Carter?”
“I can’t think,” I replied. “Unless it is that he’s now inclining to the theory of the police that Phillips was murdered by some man or men who followed him from Peebles, and that the same man or men murdered Crone. I think that must be it: there were some men—tourists—about, who haven’t been found yet.”
He hesitated a moment, and then glanced at our office door.
“Lindsey in?” he asked.
“No, Sir Gilbert,” I replied. “He’s gone out of town and given us a holiday.”
“Oh!” he said, looking at me with a sudden smile. “You’ve got a holiday, have you, Moneylaws? Look here—I’m going for a run in my bit of a yacht—come with me! How soon can you be ready?”
“As soon as I’ve taken my dinner, Sir Gilbert,” I answered, pleased enough at the invitation. “Would an hour do?”
“You needn’t bother about your dinner,” he said. “I’m having a lunch basket packed now at the hotel, and I’ll step in and tell them to put in enough for two. Go and get a good thick coat, and meet me down at the front in half an hour.”
I ran off home, told my mother where I was going, and hurried away to the river-side. The Tweed was like a mirror flashing back the sunlight that day, and out beyond its mouth the open sea was bright and blue as the sky above. How could I foresee that out there, in those far-off dancing waters, there was that awaiting me of which I can only think now, when it is long past, with fear and horror?
I had known for some time that Sir Gilbert Carstairs had a small yacht lying at one of the boathouses on the riverside; indeed, I had seen her before ever I saw him. She was a trim, graceful thing, with all the appearance of an excellent sea-boat, and though she looked like a craft that could stand a lot of heavy weather, she had the advantage of being so light in draught—something under three feet—that it was possible for her to enter the shallowest harbour. I had heard that Sir Gilbert was constantly sailing her up and down the coast, and sometimes going well out to sea in her. On these occasions he was usually accompanied by a fisherlad whom he had picked up somehow or other: this lad, Wattie Mason, was down by the yacht when I reached her, and he gave me a glowering look when he found that I was to put his nose out for this time at any rate. He hung around us until we got off, as a hungry dog hangs around a table on the chance of a bone being thrown to him; but he got no recognition from Sir Gilbert, who, though the lad had been useful enough to him before, took no more notice of him that day than of one of the pebbles on the beach. And if I had been more of a student of human nature, I should have gained some idea of my future employer’s character from that small circumstance, and have seen that he had no feeling or consideration for anybody unless it happened to be serving and suiting his purpose.