“The Sahib is right. I did sail upon the Dalmatia, due at New York on the 21st of April. This steamer, as you are perhaps aware, is propelled by twin screws. On the trip in question she broke one of her propellers in mid-Atlantic and in consequence, arrived in New York on the 24th of April, three days late, without the transference of any of her passengers to other boats. If you will take the trouble to at once verify this statement at the steamship office, you will be able to relieve me of the annoyance of further detention.”
All this was said with a rare command of language and a cold, cynical politeness which cut like a knife. I at first thought it was merely a ruse to gain time, but the steamship officials substantiated every word uttered by Ragobah relative to their vessel. The Dalmatia had steamed into New York at eleven o’clock on the morning of the 24th day of April with a broken screw!
Imagine my amazement! The net of circumstantial evidence wound around Ragobah seemed to be such as to leave no possibility of escape, and yet, the very first effort made to draw it tighter about him had resulted in his walking, with the utmost ease, right through its meshes! There is no gainsaying such an alibi, and I am, therefore, forced to acknowledge that Rama Ragobah could not, by any possibility, have murdered John Darrow. That he may have planned the deed and that he may have intended to be present at its execution is quite possible, but we may at once dismiss the idea of his having personally committed the act. You will immediately appreciate that nearly all of the evidence which we secured against Ragobah was directed against him as the assassin, and is of little or no use to prove his complicity in an affair committed by another. In his hatred of Mr. Darrow we have, I believe, a sufficient motive for the act, but what evidence have we to support the theory that the murder was committed by anyone acting in his interests? I must confess my inability to detect, at present writing, the slightest evidence that Ragobah acted through an accomplice. So, here the matter rests.