At length, releasing the curtain, the gang leader hopped lightly out upon the grating, and disappeared.
In another breath P. Sybarite himself was at the window. A single glance through the curtains showed the grating untenanted; and boldly poking his head forth, he looked down to see the figure of the gunman, foreshortened unrecognisably, moving down the iron tangle already several flights below, singularly resembling a spider in some extraordinary web.
Incontinently, the little man ran back through the dining-room and down the private hall, abandoning every effort to avoid a noise.
No need now for caution, if his premonition wasn’t worthless—if the vengeful spirit of Mrs. Inche had not stopped short of embroiling son with father, but had gone on to the end ominously shadowed forth by the appearance of the gunman in those rooms....
What he saw from the threshold of the lighted room was Bayard Shaynon still in death upon the floor, one temple shattered by a shot fired at close range from a revolver that lay with butt close to his right hand—carefully disposed with evident intent to indicate a case of suicide rather than of murder.
At pains not to stir across the threshold, with quick glances P. Sybarite reviewed scrupulously the scene of November’s crime.
Eventually his nod indicated a contemptuous conclusion: that it should not prove difficult to convict November on the evidence afforded by the condition of the apartment alone. A most superficial inspection ought to convince anybody, even one prone to precipitate conclusions, that Bayard Shaynon had never died by his own hand.
If November, in depositing the instrument of his crime close to the hand of its victim, had meant to mislead, to create an inference of felo de se, he had ordered all his other actions with a carelessness arguing one of three things: cynical indifference to the actual outcome of his false clue; sublime faith in the stupidity of the police; or a stupidity of his own as crass as that said to be characteristic of the average criminal in all ages.
The rooms, in short, had been most thoroughly if hastily ransacked—in search, P. Sybarite didn’t for an instant doubt, of evidence as to the relations between Shaynon and Mrs. Inche calculated to prove incriminating at an inquest; though the little man entertained even less doubt that lust for loot had likewise been a potent motive influencing November.
He found proof enough of this in the turned-out pockets of the murdered man; in the abstraction from the bosom of his shirt of pearl studs which P. Sybarite had noticed there within the hour; in the abraded knuckles of a finger from which a conspicuous solitaire diamond in massive antique setting was missing; in a pigskin bill-fold, empty, ripped, turned inside out, and thrown upon the floor not far from the corpse.