He was feeling well-satisfied with himself, therefore, as he walked to the pond, where his men were waiting for him, and quite in the mood for a little pleasant talk with Mr. Gillingham and his friend, Mr. Beverley. He gave them a cheerful “Good afternoon,” and added with a smile, “Coming to help us?”
“You don’t really want us,” said Antony, smiling back at him.
“You can come if you like.”
Antony gave a little shudder.
“You can tell me afterwards what you find,” he said. “By the way,” he added, “I hope the landlord at ‘the George’ gave me a good character?”
The Inspector looked at him quickly.
“Now how on earth do you know anything about that?”
Antony bowed to him gravely.
“Because I guessed that you were a very efficient member of the Force.”
The inspector laughed.
“Well, you came out all right, Mr. Gillingham. You got a clean bill. But I had to make certain about you.
“Of course you did. Well, I wish you luck. But I don’t think you’ll find much at the pond. It’s rather out of the way, isn’t it, for anybody running away?”
“That’s just what I told Mr. Cayley, when he called my attention to the pond. However, we shan’t do any harm by looking. It’s the unexpected that’s the most likely in this sort of case.”
“You’re quite right, Inspector. Well, we mustn’t keep you. Good afternoon,” and Antony smiled pleasantly at him.
“Good afternoon, sir.”
“Good afternoon,” said Bill.
Antony stood looking after the Inspector as he strode off, silent for so long that Bill shook him by the arm at last, and asked him rather crossly what was the matter.
Antony shook his head slowly from side to side.
“I don’t know; really I don’t know. It’s too devilish what I keep thinking. He can’t be as cold-blooded as that.”
Without answering, Antony led the way back to the garden-seat on which they had been sitting. He sat there with his head in his hands.
“Oh, I hope they find something,” he murmured. “Oh, I hope they do.”
“In the pond?”
“Anything, Bill; anything.”
Bill was annoyed. “I say, Tony, this won’t do. You really mustn’t be so damn mysterious. What’s happened to you suddenly?”
Antony looked up at him in surprise.
“Didn’t you hear what he said?”
“That it was Cayley’s idea to drag the pond.”
“Oh! Oh, I say!” Bill was rather excited again. “You mean that he’s hidden something there? Some false clue which he wants the police to find?”
“I hope so,” said Antony earnestly, “but I’m afraid—” He stopped short.
“Afraid of what?”
“Afraid that he hasn’t hidden anything there. Afraid that—”