Glassdale, journeying into Wrychester half an hour after Bryce had left him at the Saxonsteade Arms, occupied himself during his ride across country in considering the merits of the two handbills which Bryce had given him. One announced an offer of five hundred pounds reward for information in the Braden-Collishaw matter; the other, of a thousand pounds. It struck him as a curious thing that two offers should be made —it suggested, at once, that more than one person was deeply interested in this affair. But who were they?—no answer to that question appeared on the handbills, which were, in each case, signed by Wrychester solicitors. To one of these Glassdale, on arriving in the old city, promptly proceeded —selecting the offerer of the larger reward. He presently found himself in the presence of an astute-looking man who, having had his visitor’s name sent in to him, regarded Glassdale with very obvious curiosity.
“Mr. Glassdale?” he said inquiringly, as the caller took an offered chair. “Are you, by any chance, the Mr. Glassdale whose name is mentioned in connection with last night’s remarkable affair?”
He pointed to a copy of the weekly newspaper, lying on his desk, and to a formal account of the discovery of the Saxonsteade jewels which had been furnished to the press, at the Duke’s request, by Mitchington. Glassdale glanced at it —unconcernedly.
“The same,” he answered. “But I didn’t call here on that matter—though what I did call about is certainly relative to it. You’ve offered a reward for any information that would lead to the solution of that mystery about Braden—and the other man, Collishaw.”
“Of a thousand pounds—yes!” replied the solicitor, looking at his visitor with still more curiosity, mingled with expectancy. “Can you give any?”
Glassdale pulled out the two handbills which he had obtained from Bryce.
“There are two rewards offered,” he remarked. “Are they entirely independent of each other?”
“We know nothing of the other,” answered the solicitor. “Except, of course, that it exists. They’re quite independent.”
“Who’s offering the five hundred pound one?” asked Glassdale.
The solicitor paused, looking his man over. He saw at once that Glassdale had, or believed he had, something to tell—and was disposed to be unusually cautious about telling it.
“Well,” he replied, after a pause. “I believe—in fact, it’s an open secret—that the offer of five hundred pounds is made by Dr. Ransford.”
“And—yours?” inquired Glassdale. “Who’s at the back of yours—a thousand?”
The solicitor smiled.
“You haven’t answered my question, Mr. Glassdale,” he observed. “Can you give any information?”
Glassdale threw his questioner a significant glance.
“Whatever information I might give,” he said, “I’d only give to a principal—the principal. From what I’ve seen and known of all this, there’s more in it than is on the surface. I can tell something. I knew John Braden—who, of course, was John Brake—very well, for some years. Naturally, I was in his confidence.”