“If you mean did he come in my car,” Granet answered easily, “please let me assure you that he did not. My errand here last night was indiscreet enough, but I certainly shouldn’t have brought another man, especially a stranger, with me.”
“Thank you,” Major Thomson concluded, “that is all I have to say to you for the present.”
“Has there been much damage done?” Granet inquired.
They had reached the corner of the avenue. Granet glanced down towards the road.
“I presume,” he remarked, “that I am at liberty to depart?”
Thomson gave a brief order to the soldier who had been attending them.
“You will find the car in which you came waiting to take you back, Captain Granet,” he announced.
The two men had paused. Granet was on the point of departure. With the passing of his sudden apprehension of danger, his curiosity was awakened.
“Do you mind telling me, Major Thomson,” he asked, “how it is that you, holding, I presume, a medical appointment, were selected to conduct an inquiry like this? I have voluntarily submitted myself to your questioning, but if I had had anything to conceal I might have been inclined to dispute your authority.”
Thomson’s face was immovable. He simply pointed to the gate at the end of the avenue.
“If it had been necessary, Captain Granet,” he said coldly, “I should have been able to convince you that I was acting under authority. As it is, I wish you good-morning.”
Granet hesitated, but only for a moment. Then he shrugged his shoulders and turned away.
He made his way down to the lane, which was still crowded with villagers and loungers. He was received with a shower of questions as he climbed into the car.
“Not much damage done that I can hear,” he told them all. “The corner of the house caught fire and the lawn looks like a sand-pit.”
He was driven in silence back to the Dormy House. When he arrived there the place was deserted. The other men were lunching at the golf club. He made his way slowly to the impromptu shed which served for a garage. His own car was standing there. He looked all around to make sure that he was absolutely alone. Then he lifted up the cushion by the driving-seat. Carefully folded and arranged in the corner were the horn-rimmed spectacles and the silk handkerchief of the man who was lying at Market Burnham with a bullet through his forehead.
Mr. Gordon Jones rose to his feet. It had been an interesting, in some respects a momentous interview. He glanced around the plain but handsomely furnished office, a room which betrayed so few evidences of the world-flung power of its owner.
“After all, Sir Alfred,” he remarked, smiling, “I am not sure that it is Downing Street which rules. We can touch our buttons and move armies and battleships across the face of the earth. You pull down your ledger, sign your name, and you can strike a blow as deadly as any we can conceive.”