“With no effect?” asked Bryce.
“He’s a surly sort of man,” said Mitchington. “The sort that takes refuge in silence. He made no answer beyond a growl.”
“You really think he knows something?” suggested Bryce. “Well—if there is anything, it’ll come out—in time.”
“Oh, it’ll come out!” assented Mitchington. “I’m by no means satisfied with that verdict of the coroner’s inquiry. I believe there was foul play—of some sort. I’m still following things up—quietly. And—I’ll tell you something —between ourselves—I’ve made an important discovery. It’s this. On the evening of Braden’s arrival at the Mitre he was out, somewhere, for a whole two hours—by himself.”
“I thought we learned from Mrs. Partingley that he and the other man, Dellingham, spent the evening together?” said Bryce.
“So we did—but that was not quite so,” replied Mitchington. “Braden went out of the Mitre just before nine o’clock and he didn’t return until a few minutes after eleven. Now, then, where did he go?”
“I suppose you’re trying to find that out?” asked Bryce, after a pause, during which the listeners heard the caller rise and make for the door.
“Of course!” replied Mitchington, with a confident laugh. “And—I shall! Keep it to yourself, doctor.”
When Bryce had let the inspector out and returned to his sitting-room, Ransford and Mary had come from behind the curtains. He looked at them and shook his head.
“You heard—a good deal, you see,” he observed.
“Look here!” said Ransford peremptorily. “You put that man off about the call at my surgery. You didn’t tell him the truth.”
“Quite right,” assented Bryce. “I didn’t. Why should I?”
“What did Braden ask you?” demanded Ransford. “Come, now?”
“Merely if Dr. Ransford was in,” answered Bryce, “remarking that he had once known a Dr. Ransford. That was—literally —all. I replied that you were not in.”
Ransford stood silently thinking for a moment or two. Then he moved towards the door.
“I don’t see that any good will come of more talk about this,” he said. “We three, at any rate, know this—I never saw Braden when he came to my house.”
Then he motioned Mary to follow him, and they went away, and Bryce, having watched them out of sight, smiled at himself in his mirror—with full satisfaction.
MURDER OF THE MASON’S LABOURER
It was towards noon of the very neat day that Bryce made a forward step in the matter of solving the problem of Richard Jenkins and his tomb in Paradise. Ever since his return from Barthorpe he had been making attempts to get at the true meaning of this mystery. He had paid so many visits to the Cathedral Library that Ambrose Campany had asked him jestingly if he was going in for archaeology; Bryce had replied