‘And why did Mr. Charke kill himself?’ I asked.
’Well, I will tell you first what all are agreed about. The second night after the races, your uncle and Mr. Charke sat up till between two and three o’clock in the morning, quite by themselves, in the parlour. Mr. Charke’s servant was at the Stag’s Head Inn at Feltram, and therefore could throw no light upon what occurred at night at Bartram-Haugh; but he was there at six o’clock in the morning, and very early at his master’s door by his direction. He had locked it, as was his habit, upon the inside, and the key was in the lock, which turned out afterwards a very important point. On knocking he found that he could not awaken his master, because, as it appeared when the door was forced open, his master was lying dead at his bedside, not in a pool, but a perfect pond of blood, as they described it, with his throat cut.’
‘How horrible!’ cried I.
’So it was. Your uncle Silas was called up, and greatly shocked of course, and he did what I believe was best. He had everything left as nearly as possible in the exact state in which it had been found, and he sent his own servant forthwith for the coroner, and, being himself a justice of the peace, he took the depositions of Mr. Charke’s servant while all the incidents were still fresh in his memory.’
‘Could anything be more straightforward, more right and wise?’ I said.
‘Oh, nothing of course,’ answered Lady Knollys, I thought a little drily.
MORE ABOUT TOM CHARKE’S SUICIDE
So the inquest was held, and Mr. Manwaring, of Wail Forest, was the only juryman who seemed to entertain the idea during the inquiry that Mr. Charke had died by any hand but his own.
‘And how could he fancy such a thing?’ I exclaimed indignantly.