“I’ll lay two to one that some one was on to him at Sir Edward Bransome’s reception last night,” the other remarked. “I know very well that there was no idea of offering a reward yesterday afternoon. We might have come out with a hundred pounds or so, a little later on, perhaps, but there was nothing of this sort in the air. I’ve no desire to seem censorious, you know, Jacks,” the young man went on, leaning back in his chair and lighting a cigarette, “but it does seem a dashed queer thing that you can’t put your finger upon either of these fellows.”
Inspector Jacks nodded gloomily.
“No doubt it seems so to you,” he admitted. “You forget that we have to have a reasonable amount of proof before we can tap a man on the shoulder and ask him to come with us. It isn’t so abroad or in America. There they can hand a man up with less than half the evidence we have to be prepared with, and, of course, they get the reputation of being smarter on the job. We may learn enough to satisfy ourselves easily, but to get up a case which we can put before a magistrate and be sure of not losing our man, takes time.”
“So you’ve got your eye on some one?” The young man asked curiously.
“I did not say so,” the Inspector answered warily. “By the bye, do you think there would be any chance of five minutes’ interview with your chief?”
The young man shook his head slowly.
“What a cheek you’ve got, Jacks!” he declared. “You’re not serious, are you?”
“Perfectly,” Inspector Jacks answered. “And to tell you the truth, my young friend, I am half inclined to think that when he is given to understand, as he will be by you, if he doesn’t know it already, that I am in charge of the investigations concerning these two murders, he will see me.”
The young man was disposed to consider the point.
“Well,” he remarked, “the chief does seem plaguy interested, all of a sudden. I’ll pass your name in. If you take a seat, it’s just possible that he may spare you a minute or two in about an hour’s time. He won’t be able to before then, I’m sure. There’s a deputation almost due, and two other appointments before luncheon time.”
The Inspector accepted a newspaper and an easy chair. His young friend disappeared and returned almost immediately, looking a little surprised.
“I’ve managed it for you,” he explained. “The chief is going to spare you five minutes at once. Come along and I’ll show you in.”
Inspector Jacks took up his hat and followed his acquaintance to the private room of the Home Secretary. That personage nodded to him upon his entrance and continued to dictate a letter. When he had finished, he sent his clerk out of the room and, motioning Mr. Jacks to take a seat by his side, leaned back in his own chair with the air of one prepared to relax for a moment. He was a man of somewhat insignificant presence, but he had keen gray eyes, half the time concealed under thick eyebrows, and flashing out upon you now and then at least expected moments.