Sir Edward lit a cigarette and leaned back amongst the cushions. With a little gesture he indicated his desire that Inspector Jacks should proceed.
“My object in seeking for a personal interview with you, sir,” Inspector Jacks continued, “is to ask you a somewhat peculiar question. If I find that my investigations lead me in the direction which at present seems probable, it is no ordinary person whom I shall have to arrest when the time comes. The reward which has been offered is a large one, and it is not for me to question the bona fide nature of it. I would not presume, sir, even to ask you whether it was offered by reason of any outside pressure, but there is one question which I must ask. Do you really wish, sir, that the murderer or murderers of these two men shall be brought to justice?”
Sir Edward looked at his companion in steadfast amazement.
“My dear Inspector,” he said, “what is this that you have in your mind? I hold no brief for any man capable of such crimes as these. Representations have been made to us by the American Government that the murder of two of her citizens within the course of twenty-four hours, and the absence of any arrest, is somewhat of a reflection upon our police service. It is for your assistance, and in compliment to our friends across the Atlantic, that the reward was offered.”
Inspector Jacks seemed a little at a loss.
“It is your wish, then, sir,” he said slowly, “that the guilty person or persons be arrested without warning, whoever they may be?”
“By all means,” Sir Edward affirmed. “I cannot conceive, Inspector, what you have in your mind which could have led you for a moment to suspect the contrary.”
The brougham had come to a standstill in front of a house in Downing Street. Inspector Jacks descended slowly. It was hard for him to decide on the spot how far to take into his confidence a person whose attitude was so unsympathetic.
“I am exceedingly obliged to you for your answer to my question, sir,” he said, saluting. “I hope that in a few days we shall have some news for you.”
Sir Edward watched him disappear as he mounted the steps of the Prime Minister’s house.
“I wonder,” he said to himself thoughtfully, “what that fellow can have in his mind!”
Inspector Jacks did not at once return to Scotland Yard. On his way there he turned into St. James’ Square, and stood for several moments looking at the corner house on the far side. Finally, after a hesitation which seldom characterized his movements, he crossed the road and rang the bell. The door was opened almost at once by a Japanese butler.
“Is your master at home?” the Inspector asked.
“His Highness does not see strangers,” the man replied coldly.
“Will you take him my card?” the Inspector asked.
The man bowed, and showed him into an apartment on the ground floor. Then with the card in his hand, he turned reluctantly away.