“Just so, Mr. Coulson,” the Inspector answered. “At the same time nothing that you told him throws any light at all upon the circumstances which led to the poor fellow’s death.”
“That,” Mr. Coulson declared, “is not my fault. What I don’t know I can’t tell you.”
“You were acquainted with Mr. Fynes some years ago?” the Inspector asked. “Can you tell me what business he was in then?”
“Same as now, for anything I know,” Mr. Coulson answered. “He was a clerk in one of the Government offices at Washington.”
“Government offices,” Inspector Jacks repeated. “Have you any idea what department?”
Mr. Coulson was not sure.
“It may have been the Excise Office,” he remarked thoughtfully. “I did hear, but I never took any particular notice.”
“Did you ever form any idea as to the nature of his work?” Inspector Jacks asked.
“Bless you, no!” Mr. Coulson replied, brushing his hair vigorously. “It never entered into my head to ask him, and I never heard him mention it. I only know that he was a quiet-living, decent sort of a chap, but, as I put it to our young friend the newspaper man, he was a crank.”
The Inspector was disappointed. He began to feel that he was wasting his time.
“Did you know anything of the object of his journey to Europe?” he asked.
“Nary a thing,” Mr. Coulson declared. “He only came on deck once or twice, and he had scarcely a civil word even for me. Why, I tell you, sir,” Mr. Coulson continued, “if he saw me coming along on the promenade, he’d turn round and go the other way, for fear I’d ask him to come and have a drink. A c-r-a-n-k, sir! You write it down at that, and you won’t be far out.”
“He certainly seems to have been a queer lot,” the Inspector declared. “By the bye,” he continued, “you said something, I believe, about his having had more money with him than was found upon his person.”
“That’s so,” Mr. Coulson admitted. “I know he deposited a pocketbook with the purser, and I happened to be standing by when he received it back. I noticed that he had three or four thousand-dollar bills, and there didn’t seem to be anything of the sort upon him when he was found.”
The Inspector made a note of this.
“You believe yourself, then, Mr. Coulson,” he said, closing his pocketbook, “that the murder was committed for the purpose of robbery?”
“Seems to me it’s common sense,” Mr. Coulson replied. “A man who goes and takes a special train to London from the docks of a city like Liverpool—a city filled with the scum of the world, mind you—kind of gives himself away as a man worth robbing, doesn’t he?”
The Inspector nodded.
“That’s sensible talk, Mr. Coulson,” he acknowledged. “You never heard, I suppose, of his having had a quarrel with any one?”
“Never in my life,” Mr. Coulson declared. “He wasn’t the sort to make enemies, any more than he was the sort to make friends.”