“Where did he keep his keys?” asked Mr. Bitterworth.
“In the little table-drawer at his elbow, sir. The first day he took to his bed, he wanted his keys, and I got them out of his dressing-gown pocket for him. ‘You needn’t put them back,’ he says to me; ’let them stop inside this little drawer.’ And there they stayed till he died, when I gave them up to Mr. Lionel.”
“You must have allowed somebody to get into the room, Mrs. Tynn,” said Dr. West.
“I never was away from the room above two minutes at a time, sir,” was the woman’s reply, “and then either Mr. Lionel or Tynn would be with him. But, if any of ’em did come in, it’s not possible they’d get picking at the master’s desk to take out a paper. What good would the paper do any of the servants?”
Mrs. Tynn’s question was a pertinent one. The servants were neither the better nor the worse for the codicil; whether it were forthcoming, or not, it made no difference to them. Sir Rufus Hautley inquired upon this point, and the lawyer satisfied him.
“The codicil was to this effect alone,” he explained. “It changed the positions of Mr. Lionel and Mr. John Massingbird, the one for the other, as they had stood in the will. Mr. Lionel came into the inheritance, and Mr. Frederick Massingbird to five hundred pounds only. Mr. John was gone—as everybody knows.”
“These two, Mr. Lionel and Frederick Massingbird, were the only parties interested in the codicil, then?”
“The only two. John Massingbird’s name was mentioned, but only to revoke all former bequests to him.”
“Then—were John Massingbird alive, he could not now succeed to the estate!” cried Sir Rufus.
“He could not, Sir Rufus,” replied the lawyer. “He would be debarred from all benefit under Mr. Verner’s will. That is, provided we can come across the codicil. Failing that, he would succeed were he in life, to Verner’s Pride.”
“The codicil must be found,” cried Mr. Bitterworth, getting heated. “Don’t say, ‘if we can come across it,’ Matiss.”
“Very good, Mr. Bitterworth. I’m sure I should be glad to see it found. Where else are we to look?”
Where else, indeed! That Mr. Verner could not get out of the room to hide the codicil was an indisputable fact; and nobody else seemed to know anything whatever about it. The only one personally interested in the suppression of the codicil was Frederick Massingbird; and he, hundreds of miles away, could neither have secured it nor sent his ghost to secure it. In a less degree, Mrs. Verner and Dr. West were interested; the one in her son, the other in that son’s wife. But the doctor was not an inmate of Verner’s Pride; and Mrs. Tynn could have testified that she had been present in the room and never left it during each of the doctor’s professional visits, subsequent to the drawing out of the codicil. As for Mrs. Verner, she had not been out of her bed. Mr.