Bryce went back to Wrychester firmly convinced that Mark Ransford had killed John Braden. He reckoned things up in his own fashion. Some years must have elapsed since Braden, or rather Brake’s release. He had probably heard, on his release, that Ransford and his, Brake’s, wife had gone abroad —in that case he would certainly follow them. He might have lost all trace of them; he might have lost his original interest in his first schemes of revenge; he might have begun a new life for himself in Australia, whence he had undoubtedly come to England recently. But he had come, at last, and he had evidently tracked Ransford to Wrychester—why, otherwise, had he presented himself at Ransford’s door on that eventful morning which was to witness his death? Nothing, in Bryce’s opinion, could be clearer. Brake had turned up. He and Ransford had met—most likely in the precincts of the Cathedral. Ransford, who knew all the quiet corners of the old place, had in all probability induced Brake to walk up into the gallery with him, had noticed the open doorway, had thrown Brake through it. All the facts pointed to that conclusion—it was a theory which, so far as Bryce could see, was perfect. It ought to be enough—proved—to put Ransford in a criminal dock. Bryce resolved it in his own mind over and over again as he sped home to Wrychester—he pictured the police listening greedily to all that he could tell them if he liked. There was only one factor in the whole sum of the affair which seemed against him—the advertisement in the Times. If Brake desired to find Ransford in order to be revenged on him, why did he insert that advertisement, as if he were longing to meet a cherished friend again? But Bryce gaily surmounted that obstacle—full of shifts and subtleties himself, he was ever ready to credit others with trading in them, and he put the advertisement down as a clever ruse to attract, not Ransford, but some person who could give information about Ransford. Whatever its exact meaning might have been, its existence made no difference to Bryce’s firm opinion that it was Mark Ransford who flung John Brake down St. Wrytha’s Stair and killed him. He was as sure of that as he was certain that Braden was Brake. And he was not going to tell the police of his discoveries—he was not going to tell anybody. The one thing that concerned him was—how best to make use of his knowledge with a view to bringing about a marriage between himself and Mark Ransford’s ward. He had set his mind on that for twelve months past, and he was not a man to be baulked of his purpose. By fair means, or foul—he himself ignored the last word and would have substituted the term skilful for it—Pemberton Bryce meant to have Mary Bewery.
Mary Bewery herself had no thought of Bryce in her head when, the morning after that worthy’s return to Wrychester, she set out, alone, for the Wrychester Golf Club. It was her habit to go there almost every day, and Bryce was well acquainted with her movements and knew precisely where to waylay her. And empty of Bryce though her mind was, she was not surprised when, at a lonely place on Wrychester Common, Bryce turned the corner of a spinny and met her face to face.