“I wish you’d tell me all you know about Brake,” said Bryce after a pause during which he had done some thinking. “Between ourselves, of course.”
“Oh—I don’t know that there’s so much secrecy!” replied Glassdale almost indifferently. “Of course, I knew him first when we were both inmates of—you understand where; no need for particulars. But after we left that place, I never saw him again until we met in Australia a few years ago. We were both in the same trade—speculating in wool. We got pretty thick and used to see each other a great deal, and of course, grew confidential. He told me in time about his affair, and how he’d traced this Wraye to the United States, and then, I think, to New Zealand, and afterwards to Australia, and as I was knocking about the country a great deal buying up wool, he asked me to help him, and gave me a description of Wraye, of whom, he said, he’d certainly heard something when he first landed at Sydney, but had never been able to trace afterwards. But it was no good—I never either saw or heard of Wraye—and Brake came to the conclusion he’d left Australia. And I know he hoped to get news of him, somehow, when we returned to England.”
“That description, now?—what was it?” asked Bryce.
“Oh!” said Glassdale. “I can’t remember it all, now—big man, clean shaven, nothing very particular except one thing. Wraye, according to Brake, had a bad scar on his left jaw and had lost the middle finger of his left hand—all from a gun accident. He—what’s the matter, sir?”
Bryce had suddenly let his pipe fall from his lips. He took some time in picking it up. When he raised himself again his face was calm if a little flushed from stooping.
“Bit my pipe on a bad tooth!” he muttered. “I must have that tooth seen to. So you never heard or saw anything of this man?”
“Never!” answered Glassdale. “But I’ve wondered since this Wrychester affair if Brake accidentally came across one or other of those men, and if his death arose out of it. Now, look here, doctor! I read the accounts of the inquest on Brake—I’d have gone to it if I’d dared, but just then I hadn’t made up my mind about seeing the Duke; I didn’t know what to do, so I kept away, and there’s a thing has struck me that I don’t believe the police have ever taken the slightest, notice of.”
“What’s that?” demanded Bryce.
“Why, this!” answered Glassdale. “That man who called himself Dellingham—who came with Brake to the Mitre Hotel at Wrychester—who is he? Where did Brake meet him? Where did he go? Seems to me the police have been strangely negligent about that! According to the accounts I’ve read, everybody just accepted this Dellingham’s first statement, took his word, and let him—vanish! No one, as far as I know, ever verified his account of himself. A stranger!”
Bryce, who was already in one of his deep moods of reflection, got up from his chair as if to go.