Maitland had asked them to send to the station for a woman to search Gwen and she had just arrived. We all requested that a most thorough examination should now be made to assure the officers that no one of us possessed the missing weapon. This done, the officers and departed for the night, assuring Gwen that there was nothing further to be done till morning, and Osborne, doubtless with a view to consoling her, said: “It may be a relief to you, miss, to know that there is scarcely a doubt that your father took his own life.” This had an effect upon Gwen very different from that which had been intended. Her face contracted, and it was plain to see she was beginning to think everyone was determined to force a falsehood upon her. Herne and Browne also prepared to take their leave. A glance from Maitland told me he wished me to remain with him a moment after the others had departed, and I accordingly did so.
When we were alone with Gwen he said to her: “I think I understand your feeling with regard to Mr. Osborne’s remark, as well as your conviction that it does not represent the truth. I foresaw they would come to this conclusion, and know very well the pains they will take to prove their hypothesis.” “Can nothing be done?” she asked beseechingly. “It is that of which I wish to speak,” he replied. “If you have sufficient confidence in me to place the case in my hands, I will do everything in my power to establish the truth,—on one condition,” and he glanced at her face, now pale and rigid from her long-continued effort of self-control. “And that condition is?” she said quickly. “That you follow my directions and permit me to order your movements in all things, so long as the case remains in my hands; if at any time I seek to abuse your faith, you are as free to discharge me as if I were a paid detective.” Gwen looked searchingly at him; then, extending her hand to him, she said impulsively: “You are very kind; I accept the condition. What shall I do?”