Both Smeaton and myself started at that—it was a new idea. And I saw that it struck Smeaton with great force.
“True!” he replied, after a pause. “I don’t! It might have been. And in that case—how could one find out what it was?”
Mr. Lindsey got up, shaking his head.
“A big job!” he answered. “A stiff job! You’d have to work back a long way. But—it could be done. What time can I look in this afternoon, Mr. Smeaton, to get a glance at those letters?”
“Three o’clock,” replied Smeaton. He walked to the door of his office with us, and he gave me a smile. “You’re none the worse for your adventure, I see,” he remarked. “Well, what about this man Carstairs—what news of him?”
“We’ll maybe be able to tell you some later in the day,” replied Mr. Lindsey. “There’ll be lots of news about him, one way or another, before we’re through with all this.”
We went out into the street then, and at his request I took Mr. Lindsey to the docks, to see the friendly skipper, who was greatly delighted to tell the story of my rescue. We stopped on his ship talking with him for a good part of the morning, and it was well past noon when we went back to the hotel for lunch. And the first thing we saw there was a telegram for Mr. Lindsey. He tore the envelope open as we stood in the hall, and I made no apology for looking over his shoulder and reading the message with him.
“Just heard by wire from Largo police that small yacht answering description of Carstairs’ has been brought in there by fishermen who found it early this morning in Largo Bay, empty.”
We looked at each other. And Mr. Lindsey suddenly laughed.
“Empty!” he exclaimed. “Aye!—but that doesn’t prove that the man’s dead!”
THE SUIT OF CLOTHES
Mr. Lindsey made no further remark until we were half through our lunch—and it was not to me that he then spoke, but to a waiter who was just at his elbow.
“There’s three things you can get me,” he said. “Our bill—a railway guide—a map of Scotland. Bring the map first.”
The man went away, and Mr. Lindsey bent across the table.
“Largo is in Fife,” said he. “We’ll go there. I’m going to see that yacht with my own eyes, and hear with my own ears what the man who found it has got to say. For, as I remarked just now, my lad, the mere fact that the yacht was found empty doesn’t prove that Carstairs has been drowned! And well just settle up here, and go round and see Smeaton to get a look at those letters, and then we’ll take train to Largo and make a bit of inquiry.”
Mr. Smeaton had the letters spread out on his desk when we went in, and Mr. Lindsey looked them over. There were not more than half a dozen altogether, and they were mere scraps, as he had said—usually a few lines on half-sheets of paper. Mr. Lindsey appeared to take no great notice of any of them but the last—the one that Smeaton had quoted to us in the morning. But over that he bent for some time, examining it closely, in silence.