“Highly so!” agreed Bryce. He yawned, and glanced at the inspector. “What’s your news, Mitchington?” he asked, almost indifferently.
“Oh, well!” answered Mitchington. “As the Herald’s published tomorrow you’ll see it in there, doctor—I’ve supplied an account for this week’s issue; just a short one—but I thought you’d like to know. You’ve heard of the famous jewel robbery at the Duke’s, some years ago? Yes?—well, we’ve found all the whole bundle tonight—buried in Paradise! And how do you think the secret came out?”
“No good at guessing,” said Bryce.
“It came out,” continued Mitchington, “through a man who, with Braden—Braden, mark you!—got in possession of it—it’s a long story—and, with Braden, was going to reveal it to the Duke that very day Braden was killed. This man waited until this very morning and then told his Grace—his Grace came with him to us this afternoon, and tonight we made a search and found—everything! Buried—there in Paradise! Dug ’em up, doctor!”
Bryce showed no great interest. He took a leisurely sip at his liquor and set down the glass and pulled out his cigarette case. The two men, watching him narrowly, saw that his fingers were steady as rocks as he struck the match.
“Yes,” he said as he threw the match away. “I saw you busy.”
In spite of himself Mitchington could not repress a start nor a glance at Jettison. But Jettison was as imperturbable as Bryce himself, and Mitchington raised a forced laugh.
“You did!” he said, incredulously. “And we thought we had it all to ourselves! How did you come to know, doctor?”
“Young Bewery told me what was going on,” replied Bryce, “so I took a look at you. And I fetched old Harker to take a look, too. We all watched you—the boy, Harker, and I—out of sheer curiosity, of course. We saw you get up the parcel. But, naturally, I didn’t know what was in it—till now.”
Mitchington, thoroughly taken aback by this candid statement, was at a loss for words, and again he glanced at Jettison. But Jettison gave no help, and Mitchington fell back on himself.
“So you fetched old Harker?” he said. “What—what for, doctor? If one may ask, you know.”
Bryce made a careless gesture with his cigarette.
“Oh—old Harker’s deeply interested in what’s going on,” he answered. “And as young Bewery drew my attention to your proceedings, why, I thought I’d draw Harker’s. And Harker was—interested.”
Mitchington hesitated before saying more. But eventually he risked a leading question.
“Any special reason why he should be, doctor?” he asked.
Bryce put his thumbs in the armholes of his waistcoat and looked half-lazily at his questioner.
“Do you know who old Harker really is?” he inquired.
“No!” answered Mitchington. “I know nothing about him—except that he’s said to be a retired tradesman, from London, who settled down here some time ago.”