You see, of course, the significance of all this. If David Stewart dies, as he’s likely to do, before young Arthur’s return, Captain S. gets the money.
The second fact I learned was that Miss Benham did not tell her uncle about her semi-engagement to you or about your volunteering to search for the boy. She thinks her grandfather must have told him. I didn’t say so to her, but that is hardly possible in view of the fact that Stewart came on here to your rooms very soon after you had reached them yourself.
So that makes two lies for our gentle friend—and serious lies, both of them. To my mind, they point unmistakably to a certain conclusion. Captain S. has been responsible for putting his nephew out of the way. He has either hidden him somewhere and is keeping him in confinement, or he has killed him.
I wish we could talk it over to-day, but, as you see, I’m helpless. Remain in to-night, and I’ll come as soon as I can get rid of these confounded people of mine.
One word more. Be careful! Miss B. is, up to this point, merely puzzled over things. She doesn’t suspect her uncle of any crookedness, I’m sure. So we shall have to tread softly where she is concerned.
I shall see you to-night. R.H.
Ste. Marie read the closely written pages through twice, and he thought how like his friend it was to take the time and trouble to put what he had learned into this clear, concise form. Another man would have scribbled, “Important facts—tell you all about it to-night,” or something of that kind. Hartley must have spent a quarter of an hour over his writing.
Ste. Marie walked up and down the room with all his strength forcing his brain to quiet, reasonable action. Once he said, aloud:
“Yes, you’re right, of course. Stewart has been at the bottom of it all along.” He realized that he had been for some days slowly arriving at that conclusion, and that since the night before he had been practically certain of it, though he had not yet found time to put his suspicions into logical order. Hartley’s letter had driven the truth concretely home to him, but he would have reached the same truth without it—though that matter of the will was of the greatest importance. It gave him a strong weapon to strike with.
He halted before one of the front windows, and his eyes gazed unseeing across the street into the green shrubbery of the Luxembourg Gardens. The lace curtains had been left by the femme de menage hanging straight down, and not, as usual, looped back to either side, so he could see through them with perfect ease, although he could not be seen from outside.