“We’ve not come to that,” retorted Bryce. “You’re a bit mistaken. If I have my price, it’s not in the same commodity that Glassdale would want. But before we do any talking about that sort of thing, I want to add to my stock of knowledge. Look here! We’ll be candid. I don’t care a snap of my fingers that Brake, or Braden’s dead, or that Collishaw’s dead, nor if one had his neck broken and the other was poisoned, but—whose hand was that which the mason, Varner, saw that morning, when Brake was flung out of that doorway? Come, now!—whose?”
“Not mine, my lad!” answered Folliot, confidently. “That’s a fact?”
Bryce hesitated, giving Folliot a searching look. And Folliot nodded solemnly. “I tell you, not mine!” he repeated. “I’d naught to do with it!”
“Then who had?” demanded Bryce. “Was it the other man—Flood? And if so, who is Flood?”
Folliot got up from his chair and, cigar between his lips and hands under the tails of his old coat, walked silently about the quiet room for awhile. He was evidently thinking deeply, and Bryce made no attempt to disturb him. Some minutes went by before Folliot took the cigar from his lips and leaning against the chimneypiece looked fixedly at his visitor.
“Look here, my lad!” he said, earnestly. “You’re no doubt, as you say, a good hand at finding things out, and you’ve doubtless done a good bit of ferreting, and done it well enough in your own opinion. But there’s one thing you can’t find out, and the police can’t find out either, and that’s the precise truth about Braden’s death. I’d no hand in it—it couldn’t be fastened on to me, anyhow.”
Bryce looked up and interjected one word.
“Nor that, neither,” answered Folliot, hastily. “Maybe I know something about both, but neither you nor the police nor anybody could fasten me to either matter! Granting all you say to be true, where’s the positive truth?”
“What about circumstantial evidence,” asked Bryce.
“You’d have a job to get it,” retorted Folliot. “Supposing that all you say is true about—about past matters? Nothing can prove—nothing!—that I ever met Braden that morning. On the other hand, I can prove, easily, that I never did meet him; I can account for every minute of my time that day. As to the other affair—not an ounce of direct evidence!”
“Then—it was the other man!” exclaimed Bryce. “Now then, who is he?”
Folliot replied with a shrewd glance.
“A man who by giving away another man gave himself away would be a damned fool!” he answered. “If there is another man—”
“As if there must be!” interrupted Bryce.
“Then he’s safe!” concluded Folliot. “You’ll get nothing from me about him!”
“And nobody can get at you except through him?” asked Bryce.
“That’s about it,” assented Folliot laconically.