The solicitor sat for a moment as though dazed; then he rose impulsively and seized Thorndyke’s hands. “I don’t know what to say to you,” he exclaimed huskily, “except that you have saved my brother’s life, and for that may God reward you!”
The butcher rose from his chair with a slow grin.
“It seems to me,” said he, “as if that ox-gall was what you might call a blind, eh, sir?”
And Thorndyke smiled an inscrutable smile.
* * * * *
When we returned to town on the following day we were a party of four, which included Mr. Harold Stopford. The verdict of “Death by misadventure,” promptly returned by the coroner’s jury, had been shortly followed by his release from custody, and he now sat with his brother and me, listening with rapt attention to Thorndyke’s analysis of the case.
“So, you see,” the latter concluded, “I had six possible theories of the cause of death worked out before I reached Halbury, and it only remained to select the one that fitted the facts. And when I had seen the cattle-truck, had picked up that sequin, had heard the description of the steers, and had seen the hat and the wounds, there was nothing left to do but the filling in of details.”
“And you never doubted my innocence?” asked Harold Stopford.
Thorndyke smiled at his quondam client.
“Not after I had seen your colour-box and your sketch,” said he, “to say nothing of the spike.”
THE MOABITE CIPHER
A large and motley crowd lined the pavements of Oxford Street as Thorndyke and I made our way leisurely eastward. Floral decorations and drooping bunting announced one of those functions inaugurated from time to time by a benevolent Government for the entertainment of fashionable loungers and the relief of distressed pickpockets. For a Russian Grand Duke, who had torn himself away, amidst valedictory explosions, from a loving if too demonstrative people, was to pass anon on his way to the Guildhall; and a British Prince, heroically indiscreet, was expected to occupy a seat in the ducal carriage.
Near Rathbone Place Thorndyke halted and drew my attention to a smart-looking man who stood lounging in a doorway, cigarette in hand.