“You are sure it was locked?”
“The bolt is still shot.” I showed her.
“Then—where is the key?”
“Certainly. Find the key, and you will find the man who locked you in.”
“Unless,” I reminded her, “it flew out when I broke the lock.”
“In that case, it will be on the floor.”
But an exhaustive search of the cabin floor discovered no key. Jones, seeing us searching, helped, his revolver in one hand and a lighted match in the other, handling both with an abandon of ease that threatened us alternately with fire and a bullet. But there was no key.
“It stands to reason, miss,” he said, when we had given up, “that, since the key isn’t here, it isn’t on the ship. That there key is a sort of red-hot give-away. No one is going to carry a thing like that around. Either it’s here in this cabin—which it isn’t—or it’s overboard.”
“Very likely, Jones. But I shall ask Mr. Turner to search the men.”
She went toward Turner’s door, and Jones leaned over me, putting a hand on my arm.
“She’s right, boy,” he said quickly. “Don’t let ’em know what you’re after, but go through their pockets. And their shoes!” he called after me. “A key slips into a shoe mighty easy.”
But, after all, it was not necessary. The key was to be found, and very soon.
“That’s mutiny "
Exactly what occurred during Elsa Lee’s visit to her brother-in-law’s cabin I have never learned. He was sober, I know, and somewhat dazed, with no recollection whatever of the previous night, except a hazy idea that he had quarreled with Richardson.
Jones and I waited outside. He suggested that we have prayers over the bodies when we placed them in the boat, and I agreed to read the burial service from the Episcopal Prayer Book. The voices from Turner’s cabin came steadily, Miss Lee’s low tones, Turner’s heavy bass only now and then. Once I heard her give a startled exclamation, and both Jones and I leaped to the door. But the next moment she was talking again quietly.
Ten minutes—fifteen—passed. I grew restless and took to wandering about the cabin. Mrs. Johns came to the door opposite, and asked to have tea sent down to the stewardess. I called the request up the companionway, unwilling to leave the cabin for a moment. When I came back, Jones was standing at the door of Vail’s cabin, looking in. His face was pale.
“Look there!” he said hoarsely. “Look at the bell. He must have tried to push the button!”
I stared in. Williams had put the cabin to rights, as nearly as he could. The soaked mattress was gone, and a clean linen sheet was spread over the bunk. Poor Vail’s clothing, as he had taken it off the night before, hung on a mahogany stand beside the bed, and above, almost concealed by his coat, was the bell. Jones’s eyes were fixed on the darkish smear, over and around the bell, on the white paint.