‘And I was in London this morning!’ said Merton, drawing a long breath.
‘You’re over Tweed, now, old man,’ answered Logan, with patriotic satisfaction.
‘Don’t go yet,’ said Merton. ’You examined the carpet of the room; no traces there of these odd muffled foot-coverings you found in the snow?’
’Not a trace of any kind. The salt was spilt, some of it lay on the floor. The plate was not broken.’
‘If they came in, it would be barefoot,’ said Merton.
‘Of course the police left traces of official boots,’ said Logan. ’Where are they now—the policemen, I mean?’
‘Two are to sleep in the kitchen.’
‘They found out nothing?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Let me look at the hole in the wall.’ Merton climbed on to the bed and entered the hole. It was about six feet long by four wide. Stones had fallen in, at the back, and had closed the passage in a rough way, indeed what extent of the floor of the passage existed was huddled with stones. Merton examined the sides of the passage, which were mere rubble.
‘Have you looked at the floor beneath those fallen stones?’ Merton asked.
‘No, by Jove, I never thought of that,’ said Logan.
’How could they have been stirred without the old woman hearing the noise?’
‘How do you know they were there before the marquis’s death?’ asked Merton, adding, ’this hole was not swept and dusted regularly. Either the entrance is beneath me, or—“the Enemy had power”—as Mrs. Bower says.’
‘You must be right,’ said Logan. ’I’ll have the stones removed to-morrow. The thing is clear. The passage leads to somewhere outside of the house. There’s an abandoned coal mine hard by, on the east. Nothing can be simpler.’
‘When once you see it,’ said Merton.
‘Come and have a whisky and soda,’ said Logan.
Merton slept very well in the turret room. He was aroused early by noises which he interpreted as caused by the arrival of the London detectives. But he only turned round, like the sluggard, and slumbered till Logan aroused him at eight o’clock. He descended about a quarter to nine, breakfast was at nine, and he found Logan looking much disturbed.
‘They don’t waste time,’ said Logan, handing to Merton a letter in an opened envelope. Logan’s hand trembled.
‘Typewritten address, London postmark,’ said Merton. ’To Robert Logan, Esq., at Kirkburn Keep, Drem, Scotland.’
Merton read the letter aloud; there was no date of place, but there were the words:
’March 6, 2.45 P.M.
‘SIR,—Perhaps I ought to say my Lord—’
‘What a fool the fellow is,’ said Merton.
‘Shows he is an educated man.’