“I hadn’t. I gave it away! I lent it!” panted Silver, crying with terror.
“You lent it—you gave it—you liar! Who to?”
Silver looked round again for some way of escape, but could see none. “To Miss Greeby. She—she—she—she shot Pine. I swear she did.”
It was late in the afternoon when Lambert got back to the village inn, and he felt both tired and bewildered. The examination of Silver had been so long, and what he revealed so amazing, that the young man wished to be alone, both to rest and to think over the situation. It was a very perplexing one, as he plainly saw, since, in the light of the new revelations, it seemed almost impossible to preserve the name of the family from disgrace. Seated in his sitting room, with his legs stretched out and his hands in his pockets, Lambert moodily glared at the carpet, recalling all that had been confessed by the foxy secretary of Miss Greeby. That he should accuse her of committing the crime seemed unreasonable.
According to Silver, the woman had overheard by chance the scheme to lure Pine to The Manor. Knowing that the millionaire was coming to Abbot’s Wood, the secretary had propounded the plan to Garvington long before the man’s arrival. Hence the constant talk of the host about burglars and his somewhat unnecessary threat to shoot any one who tried to break into the house. The persistence of this remark had roused Miss Greeby’s curiosity, and noting that Silver and his host were frequently in one another’s company, she had seized her opportunity to listen. For some time, so cautious were the plotters, she had heard nothing particular, but after her recognition of Hearne as Pine when she visited the gypsy camp she became aware that these secret talks were connected with his presence. Then a chance remark of Garvington’s—he was always loose-tongued—gave her the clue, and by threats of exposure she managed to make Silver confess the whole plot. Far from thwarting it she agreed to let them carry it out, and promised secrecy, only extracting a promise that she should be advised of the time and place for the trapping of the millionaire. And it was this acquiescence of Miss Greeby’s which puzzled Lambert.
On the face of it, since she was in love with him, it was better for her own private plans that Pine should remain alive, because the marriage placed Agnes beyond his reach. Why, then, should Miss Greeby have removed the barrier—and at the cost of being hanged for murder? Lambert had asked Silver this question, but had obtained no definite answer, since the secretary protested that she had not explained her reasons. Jokingly referring to possible burglars, she had borrowed the revolver from Silver which he had obtained from Garvington, and it was this action which first led the little secretary to suspect her. Afterward, knowing that she had met Pine in Abbot’s Wood, he kept a close watch on her every action to see if she intended to take a hand in the game. But Silver protested that he could see no reason for her doing so, and even up to the moment when he confessed to Lambert could not conjecture why she had acted in such a manner.