But he realized something else. On the surface, there was a strong case of suspicion against Ransford. It had been suggested that very morning before a coroner and his jury; it would grow; the police were already permeated with suspicion and distrust. Would it not pay him, Bryce, to encourage, to help it? He had his own score to pay off against Ransford; he had his own schemes as regards Mary Bewery. Anyway, he was not going to share in any attempts to clear the man who had bundled him out of his house unceremoniously—he would bide his time. And in the meantime there were other things to be done—one of them that very night.
But before Bryce could engage in his secret task of excavating a small portion of Paradise in the rear of Richard Jenkins’s tomb, another strange development came. As the dark fell over the old city that night and he was thinking of setting out on his mission, Mitchington came in, carrying two sheets of paper, obviously damp from the press, in his hand. He looked at Bryce with an expression of wonder.
“Here’s a queer go!” he said. “I can’t make this out at all! Look at these big handbills—but perhaps you’ve seen ’em? They’re being posted all over the city—we’ve had a bundle of ’em thrown in on us.”
“I haven’t been out since lunch,” remarked Bryce. “What are they?”
Mitchington spread out the two papers on the table, pointing from one to the other.
“You see?” he said. “Five Hundred Pounds Reward!—One Thousand Pounds Reward! And—both out at the same time, from different sources!”
“What sources?” asked Bryce, bending over the bills. “Ah—I see. One signed by Phipps & Maynard, the other by Beachcroft. Odd, certainly!”
“Odd?” exclaimed Mitchington. “I should think so! But, do you see, doctor? that one—five hundred reward—is offered for information of any nature relative to the deaths of John Braden and James Collishaw, both or either. That amount will be paid for satisfactory information by Phipps & Maynard. And Phipps & Maynard are Ransford’s solicitors! That bill, sir, comes from him! And now the other, the thousand pound one, that offers the reward to any one who can give definite information as to the circumstances attending the death of John Braden—to be paid by Mr. Beachcroft. And he’s Mr. Folliot’s solicitor! So—that comes from Mr. Folliot. What has he to do with it? And are these two putting their heads together—or are these bills quite independent of each other? Hang me if I understand it!”