“A light! let us have a light!” cried Mr. Fenton, speaking for the first time since his entrance. “These moonbeams are horrible; see how they cling to the bodies as if they delighted in lighting up these wasted and shrunken forms.”
“Could it have been hunger?” began Abel, tremblingly following Knapp’s every movement as he struck a match and lit a lantern which he had brought in his pocket.
“God help us all if it was!” said Fenton, in a secret remorse no one but Dr. Talbot understood. “But who could have believed it of men who were once so prosperous? Are you sure that one of them has gnawed this bread? Could it not have been—”
“These are the marks of human teeth,” observed Knapp, who was examining the loaf carefully. “I declare, it makes me very uncomfortable, notwithstanding it’s in the line of regular experiences.” And he laid the bread down hurriedly.
Meantime, Mr. Fenton, who had been bending over another portion of the table, turned and walked away to the window.
“I am glad they are dead,” he muttered. “They have at least shared the fate of their victims. Take a look under that old handkerchief lying beside the newspaper, Knapp.”
The detective did so. A three-edged dagger, with a curiously wrought handle, met his eye. It had blood dried on its point, and was, as all could see, the weapon with which Agatha Webb had been killed.
LOCAL TALENT AT WORK
“Gentlemen, we have reached the conclusion of this business sooner than I expected,” announced Knapp. “If you will give me just ten minutes I will endeavour to find that large remainder of money we have every reason to think is hidden away in this house.”
“Stop a minute,” said the coroner. “Let me see what book John is holding so tightly. Why,” he exclaimed, drawing it out and giving it one glance, “it is a Bible.”
Laying it reverently down he met the detective’s astonished glance and seriously remarked:
“There is some incongruity between the presence of this book and the deed we believe to have been performed down yonder.”
“None at all,” quoth the detective. “It was not the man in the chair, but the one on the floor, who made use of that dagger. But I wish you had left it to me to remove that book, sir.”
“You? and why? What difference would it have made?”
“I would have noticed between what pages his finger was inserted. Nothing like making yourself acquainted with every detail in a case like this.”
Dr. Talbot gazed wistfully at the book. He would have liked to know himself on what especial passage his friend’s eyes had last rested.
“I will stand aside,” said he, “and hear your report when you are done.”
The detective had already begun his investigations.
“Here is a spot of blood,” said he. “See! on the right trouser leg of the one you call James. This connects him indisputably with the crime in which this dagger was used. No signs of violence on his body. She was the only one to receive a blow. His death is the result of God’s providence.”