Inspector Jacks moved his head thoughtfully.
“It is admirably put,” he assented, “and to continue?”
“It is not my place to make suggestions to you,” Penelope said. “If you are able to connect Mr. Fynes with the American Government, you arrive at the possibility of these murders having been committed for some political end. I presume you read your newspapers?”
Inspector Jacks smiled, picked up his hat and bowed, while Penelope, with a sigh of relief, moved over to the bell.
“My dear young lady,” he said, “you do not understand how important even the point of view of another person is to a man who is struggling to build up a theory. Whether you have helped me as much as you could,” he added, looking her in the face, “you only can tell, but you have certainly helped me a little.”
The footman had entered. The Inspector turned to follow him. Penelope remained as she had been standing, the hand which had touched the bell fallen to her side, her eyes fixed upon him with a new light stirring their quiet depths.
“One moment, Morton,” she said. “Wait outside. Mr. Jacks,” she added, as the door closed, “what do you mean? What can I have told you? How can I have helped you?”
The Inspector stood very still for a brief space of time, very still and very silent. His face, too, was quite expressionless. Yet his tone, when he spoke, seemed to have taken to itself a note of sternness.
“If you had chosen,” he said slowly, “to have become my ally in this matter, to have ranged yourself altogether on the side of the law, my answer would have been ready enough. What you have told me, however, you have told me against your will and not in actual words. You have told me in such a way, too,” he added, “that it is impossible for me to doubt your intention to mislead me. I am forced to conclude that we stand on opposite sides of the way. I shall not trouble you any more, Miss Morse.”
He turned to the door. Penelope remained motionless for several moments, listening to his retreating footsteps.
CHAPTER X. MR. COULSON OUTMATCHED
Mr. James B. Coulson settled down to live what was, to all appearance, a very inoffensive and ordinary life. He rose a little earlier than was customary for an Englishman of business of his own standing, but he made up for this by a somewhat prolonged visit to the barber, a breakfast which bespoke an unimpaired digestion, and a cigar of more than ordinary length over his newspaper. At about eleven o’clock he went down to the city, and returned sometimes to luncheon, sometimes at varying hours, never later, however, than four or five o’clock. From that time until seven, he was generally to be found in the American bar, meeting old friends or making new ones.
On the sixth day of his stay at the Savoy Hotel the waiter who looked after the bar smoking room accosted him as he entered at his usual time, a little after half past four.