“I saw you with the doctor just now,” she said, using the term by which she and her brother always spoke of their guardian. “Why hasn’t he come home?”
Dick came close to her, touching her arm.
“I say!” he said, almost whispering. “Don’t be frightened —the doctor’s all right—but there’s something awful just happened. At Folliot’s.”
“What” she demanded. “Speak out, Dick! I’m not frightened. What is it?”
Dick shook his head as if he still scarcely realized the full significance of his news.
“It’s all a licker to me yet!” he answered. “I don’t understand it—I only know what the doctor told me—to come and tell you. Look here, it’s pretty bad. Folliot and Bryce are both dead!”
In spite of herself Mary started back as from a great shock and clutched at the table by which they were standing.
“Dead!” she exclaimed. “Why—Bryce was here, speaking to me, not an hour ago!”
“Maybe,” said Dick. “But he’s dead now. The fact is, Folliot shot him with a revolver—killed him on the spot. And then Folliot poisoned himself—took the same stuff, the doctor said, that finished that chap Collishaw, and died instantly. It was in Folliot’s old well-house. The doctor was there and the police.”
“What does it all mean?” asked Mary.
“Don’t know. Except this,” added Dick; “they’ve found out about those other affairs—the Braden and the Collishaw affairs. Folliot was concerned in them; and who do you think the other was? You’d never guess! That man Fladgate, the verger. Only that isn’t his proper name at all. He and Folliot finished Braden and Collishaw, anyway. The police have got Fladgate, and Folliot shot Bryce and killed himself just when they were going to take him.”
“The doctor told you all this?” asked Mary.
“Yes,” replied Dick. “Just that and no more. He called me in as I was passing Folliot’s door. He’s coming over as soon as he can. Whew! I say, won’t there be some fine talk in the town! Anyway, things’ll be cleared up now. What did Bryce want here?”
“Never mind; I can’t talk of it, now,” answered Mary. She was already thinking of how Bryce had stood before her, active and alive, only an hour earlier; she was thinking, too, of her warning to him. “It’s all too dreadful! too awful to understand!”
“Here’s the doctor coming now,” said Dick, turning to the window. “He’ll tell more.”
Mary looked anxiously at Ransford as he came hastening in. He looked like a man who has just gone through a crisis and yet she was somehow conscious that there was a certain atmosphere of relief about him, as though some great weight had suddenly been lifted. He closed the door and looked straight at her.
“Dick has told you?” he asked.
“All that you told me,” said Dick.
Ransford pulled off his gloves and flung them on the table with something of a gesture of weariness. And at that Mary hastened to speak.