“I am not aware, as yet,” he said, “of the precise nature of Mr. Fynes’ occupation. I only knew that it was, in some shape or form, Government work.”
“You know as much about it,” she answered, “as I do.”
“We have sent,” the Inspector continued smoothly, “a special man out to Washington to make all inquiries that are possible on the spot, and incidentally, to go through the effects of the deceased, with a view to tracing any complications in which he may have been involved in this country.”
Penelope opened her lips, but closed them again.
“I am not, however,” the Inspector continued, “very sanguine of success. In the case of Mr. Vanderpole, for instance, there could have been nothing of the sort. He was too young, altogether too much of a boy, to have had enemies so bitterly disposed towards him. There is another explanation somewhere, I feel convinced, at the root of the matter.”
“You do not believe, then,” asked Penelope, “that robbery was really the motive?”
“Not ordinary robbery,” Mr. Jacks answered. “A man who was capable of these two crimes is capable of easier and greater things. I mean,” he explained, “that he could have attempted enterprises of a far more remunerative character, with a prospect of complete success.”
“Will you forgive me,” she said, “if I ask you to go on with your questions, providing you have any more to ask me? Notwithstanding the excellence of your disguise,” she remarked with a faint curl of the lips, “I might find it somewhat difficult to explain your presence if my aunt or any visitors should come in.”
“I am sorry, Miss Morse,” the Inspector said quietly, “to find you so unsympathetic. Had I found you differently disposed, I was going to ask you to put yourself in my place. I was going to ask you to look at these two tragedies from my point of view and from your own at the same time, and I was going to ask you whether any possible motive suggested itself to you, any possible person or cause, which might be benefited by the removal of these two men.”
“If you think, Mr. Jacks,” Penelope said, “that I am keeping anything from you, you are very much mistaken. Such sympathy as I have would certainly be with those who are attempting to bring to justice the perpetrator of such unmentionable crimes. What I object to is the unpleasantness of being associated with your inquiries when I am absolutely unable to give you the least help, or to supply you with any information which is not equally attainable to you.”
“As, for instance?” the Inspector asked.
“You are a detective,” Penelope said coldly. “You do not need me to point out certain things to you. Mr. Hamilton Fynes was robbed and murdered—an American citizen on his way to London. Mr. Richard Vanderpole is also murdered, after a call upon Mr. James B. Coulson, the only acquaintance whom Mr. Fynes is known to have possessed in this country. Did Mr. Fynes share secrets with Mr. Coulson? If so, did Mr. Coulson pass them on to Mr. Vanderpole, and for that reason did Mr. Vanderpole meet with the same death, at the same hands, as had befallen Mr. Fynes?”