THE SECOND DISAPPEARANCE
Mr. Lindsey was always one of the coolest of hands at receiving news of a startling nature, and now, instead of breaking out into exclamations, he just nodded his head, and dropped into the nearest chair.
“Aye?” he remarked quietly. “So her ladyship’s disappeared, too, has she? And when did you get to hear that, now?”
“Half an hour ago,” replied Murray. “The butler at Hathercleugh House has just been in—driven over in a hurry—to tell us. What do you make of it at all?”
“Before I answer that, I want to know what’s been happening here while I’ve been away,” replied Mr. Lindsey. “What’s happened within your own province—officially, I mean?”
“Not much,” answered Murray. “There began to be talk evening before last, amongst the fishermen, about Sir Gilbert’s yacht. He’d been seen, of course, to go out with Moneylaws there, two days ago, at noon. And—there is Moneylaws! Doesn’t he know anything? Where’s Sir Gilbert, Moneylaws?”
“He’ll tell all that—when I tell him to,” said Mr. Lindsey, with a glance at me. “Go on with your story, first.”
The superintendent shook his head, as if all these things were beyond his comprehension.
“Oh, well!” he continued. “I tell you there was talk—you know how they gossip down yonder on the beach. It was said the yacht had never come in, and, though many of them had been out, they’d never set eyes on her, and rumours of her soon began to spread. So I sent Chisholm there out to Hathercleugh to make some inquiry—tell Mr. Lindsey what you heard,” he went on, turning to the sergeant. “Not much, I think.”
“Next to nothing,” replied Chisholm. “I saw Lady Carstairs. She laughed at me. She said Sir Gilbert was not likely to come to harm—he’d been sailing yachts, big and little, for many a year, and he’d no doubt gone further on this occasion than he’d first intended. I pointed out that he’d Mr. Moneylaws with him, and that he’d been due at his business early that morning. She laughed again at that, and said she’d no doubt Sir Gilbert and Mr. Moneylaws had settled that matter between them, and that, as she’d no anxieties, she was sure Berwick folk needn’t have any. And so I came away.”
“And we heard no more until we got your wire yesterday from Dundee, Mr. Lindsey,” said Murray; “and that was followed not so very long after by one from the police at Largo, which I reported to you.”
“Now, here’s an important question,” put in Mr. Lindsey, a bit hurriedly, as if something had just struck him. “Did you communicate the news from Largo to Hathercleugh?”
“We did, at once,” answered Murray. “I telephoned immediately to Lady Carstairs—I spoke to her over the wire myself, telling her what the Largo police reported.”
“What time would that be?” asked Mr. Lindsey, sharply.