Bryce saw no reason for concealment and producing the scrap of paper laid it on the table between himself and his host. Harker peered inquisitively at it.
“Latin!” he said. “You can read it, of course. What does it say?”
Bryce repeated a literal translation.
“I’ve found the place,” he added. “I found it this morning. Now, what do you suppose this means?”
Harker was looking hard at the two lines of writing.
“That’s a big question, doctor,” he answered. “But I’ll go so far as to say this—when we’ve found out what it does mean, we shall know a lot more than we know now!”
THE DOUBLE OFFER
Bryce, who was deriving a considerable and peculiar pleasure from his secret interview with the old detective, smiled at Harker’s last remark.
“That’s a bit of a platitude, isn’t it?” he suggested. “Of course we shall know a lot more—when we do know a lot more!”
“I set store by platitudes, sir,” retorted Harker. “You can’t repeat an established platitude too often—it’s got the hallmark of good use on it. But now, till we do know more —you’ve no doubt been thinking a lot about this matter, Dr. Bryce—hasn’t it struck you that there’s one feature in connection with Brake, or Braden’s visit to Wrychester to which nobody’s given any particular attention up to now—so far as we know, at any rate?”
“What?” demanded Bryce.
“This,” replied Harker. “Why did he wish to see the Duke of Saxonsteade? He certainly did want to see him—and as soon as possible. You’ll remember that his Grace was questioned about that at the inquest and could give no explanation—he knew nothing of Brake, and couldn’t suggest any reason why Brake should wish to have an interview with him. But—I can!”
“You?” exclaimed Bryce.
“I,” answered Harker. “And it’s this—I spoke just now of that man Glassdale. Now you, of course; have no knowledge of him, and as you don’t keep yourself posted in criminal history, you don’t know what his offence was?”
“You said—forgery?” replied Bryce.
“Just so—forgery,” assented Harker. “And the signature that he forged was—the Duke of Saxonsteade’s! As a matter of fact, he was the Duke’s London estate agent. He got wrong, somehow, and he forged the Duke’s name to a cheque. Now, then, considering who Glassdale is, and that he was certainly a fellow-convict of Brake’s, and that I myself saw him here in Wrychester on the day of Brake’s death—what’s the conclusion to be drawn? That Brake wanted to see the Duke on some business of Glassdale’s! Without a doubt! It may have been that he and Glassdale wanted to visit the Duke, together.”
Bryce silently considered this suggestion for awhile.
“You said, just now, that Glassdale could be traced?” he remarked at last.