But that was no time for philosophic reflection; already those outside were beating at the door. He flung it open, and the foremost men started in surprise at the sight of him. But Bryce bent forward to Mitchington—anxious to play a part to the last.
“He’s upstairs!” he whispered. “Up there! He’ll bluff it out if he can, but he’s just admitted to me—”
Mitchington thrust Bryce aside, almost roughly.
“We know all about that!” he said. “I shall have a word or two for you later! Come on, now—”
The men crowded up the stairway into Folliot’s snuggery, Bryce, wondering at the inspector’s words and manner, following closely behind him and the detective and Glassdale, who led the way. Folliot was standing in the middle of the room, one hand behind his back, the other in his pocket. And as the leading three entered the place he brought his concealed hand sharply round and presenting a revolver at Glassdale fired point-blank at him.
But it was not Glassdale who fell. He, wary and watching, started aside as he saw Folliot’s movement, and the bullet, passing between his arm and body, found its billet in Bryce, who fell, with little more than a groan, shot through the heart. And as he fell, Folliot, scarcely looking at what he had done, drew his other hand from his pocket, slipped something into his mouth and sat down in the big chair behind him ... and within a moment the other men in the room were looking with horrified faces from one dead face to another.
THE GUARDED SECRET
When Bryce had left her, Mary Bewery had gone into the house to await Ransford’s return from town. She meant to tell him of all that Bryce had said and to beg him to take immediate steps to set matters right, not only that he himself might be cleared of suspicion but that Bryce’s intrigues might be brought to an end. She had some hope that Ransford would bring back satisfactory news; she knew that his hurried visit to London had some connection with these affairs; and she also remembered what he had said on the previous night. And so, controlling her anger at Bryce and her impatience of the whole situation she waited as patiently as she could until the time drew near when Ransford might be expected to be seen coming across the Close. She knew from which direction he would come, and she remained near the dining-room window looking out for him. But six o’clock came and she had seen no sign of him; then, as she was beginning to think that he had missed the afternoon train she saw him, at the opposite side of the Close, talking earnestly to Dick, who presently came towards the house while Ransford turned back into Folliot’s garden.
Dick Bewery came hurriedly in. His sister saw at once that he had just heard news which had had a sobering effect on his usually effervescent spirits. He looked at her as if he wondered exactly how to give her his message.