‘I can’t tell you,’ answered Kitty, ‘I only saw the hand.’
‘At all events,’ said Chinston, slowly, ’the poisoner did not know that your nurse was with you, so the poison was meant for Mrs Villiers.’
Tor me?’ she echoed, ghastly pale; ’I knew it,—my husband is alive, and this is his work.’
A STARTLING DISCOVERY
Ill news travels fast, and before noon the death of Selina Sprotts was known all over Melbourne. The ubiquitous reporter, of course, appeared on the scene, and the evening papers gave its own version of the affair, and a hint at foul play. There was no grounds for this statement, as Dr Chinston told Kitty and Madame Midas to say nothing about the poison, and it was generally understood that the deceased had died from apoplexy. A rumour, however, which originated none knew how, crept about among everyone that poison was the cause of death, and this, being added to by some and embellished in all its little details by others, there was soon a complete story made up about the affair. At the Bachelor’s Club it was being warmly spoken about when Vandeloup came in about eight o’clock in the evening; and when he appeared he was immediately overwhelmed with inquiries. He looked cool and calm as usual, and stood smiling quietly on the excited group before him.
‘You know Mrs Villiers,’ said Bellthorp, in an assertive tone, ’so you must know all about the affair.’ ‘I don’t see that,’ returned Gaston, pulling at his moustache, ’knowing anyone does not include a knowledge of all that goes on in the house. I assure you, beyond what there is in the papers, I am as ignorant as you are.’
’They say this woman—Sprotts or Potts, or something—died from poison,’ said Barty Jarper, who had been all round the place collecting information.
‘Apoplexy, the doctor says,’ said Bellthorp, lighting a cigarette; ’she was in the same room with Mrs Villiers and was found dead in the morning.’
‘Miss Marchurst was also in the room,’ put in Barty, eagerly.
‘Oh, indeed!’ said Vandeloup, smoothly, turning to him; ’do you think she had anything to do with it?’
‘Of course not,’ said Rolleston, who had just entered, ’she had no reason to kill the woman.’
‘So logical you are,’ he murmured, ’you want a reason for everything.’
‘Naturally,’ retorted Felix, fixing in his eyeglass, ’there is no effect without a cause.’
‘It couldn’t have been Miss Marchurst,’ said Bellthorp, ’they say that the poison was poured out of a bottle held by a hand which came through the window—it’s quite true,’ defiantly looking at the disbelieving faces round him; ‘one of Mrs Villiers’ servants heard it in the house and told Mrs Killer’s maid.’
‘From whence,’ said Vandeloup, politely, ’it was transmitted to you--precisely.’