‘Read the book long ago,’ retorted Gollipeck, gruffly, more moved by the argument than he cared to show; ’I will keep silent about this if you leave the colony at once.’
‘I agree,’ said Vandeloup, pointing to the floor; ’you see I had already decided to travel before you entered. Any other stipulation?’
‘None,’ retorted the doctor, putting on his scarf again; ’with Octave Braulard I have nothing to do: I want to find out who killed Selina Sprotts, and if you did, I won’t spare you.’
‘First, catch your hare,’ replied Vandeloup, smoothly, going to the door and unlocking it; ’I am ready to stand the test of a trial, and surely that ought to content you. As it is, I’ll stay in Melbourne long enough to give you the satisfaction of hanging this woman for the murder, and then I will go to America.’
Dr Gollipeck was disgusted at the smooth brutality of this man, and moved hastily to the door.
‘Will you not have a glass of wine?’ asked Vandeloup, stopping him.
‘Wine with you?’ said the doctor, harshly, looking him up and down; ‘no, it would choke me,’ and he hurried away.
‘I wish it would,’ observed M. Vandeloup, pleasantly, as he reentered the room, ’whew! this devil of a doctor—what a dangerous fool, but I have got the better of him, and at all events,’ he said, lighting another cigarette, ’I have saved Vandeloup from suffering for the crime of Braulard.’
There was no doubt the Sprotts’ poisoning case was the sensation of the day in Melbourne. The papers were full of it, and some even went so far as to give a plan of the house, with dotted lines thereon, to show how the crime was committed. All this was extremely amusing, for, as a matter of fact, the evidence as yet had not shown any reasonable ground for supposing foul play had taken place. One paper, indeed, said that far too much was assumed in the case, and that the report of the Government analyst should be waited for before such emphatic opinions were given by the press regarding the mode of death. But it was no use trying to reason with the public, they had got it into their sage heads that a crime had been committed, and demanded evidence; so as the press had no real evidence to give, they made it up, and the public, in private conversations, amplified the evidence until they constructed a complete criminal case.
‘Pshaw!’ said Rolleston, when he read these sensational reports, ’in spite of the quidnuncs the mountain will only produce a mouse after all.’