“Glassdale! That man!” exclaimed Bryce, who was puzzling his brain over possible developments.
“That man, sir!” repeated Harker. “That’s why Glassdale was in Wrychester the day of Braden’s death. And that’s why Braden, or Brake, came to Wrychester at all. He and Glassdale, of course, had somehow come into possession of the secret, and no doubt meant to tell the Duke together, and get the reward—there was 95,000 offered! And as Brake’s dead, Glassdale’s spoken, but”—here the old man paused and gave his companion a shrewd look—“the question still remains: How did Brake come to his end?”
TO BE SHADOWED
Dick Bewery burst in upon his sister and Ransford with a budget of news such as it rarely fell to the lot of romance-loving seventeen to tell. Secret and mysterious digging up of grave-yards by night—discovery of sealed packets, the contents of which might only be guessed at—the whole thing observed by hidden spectators—these were things he had read of in fiction, but had never expected to have the luck to see in real life. And being gifted with some powers of imagination and of narrative, he made the most of his story to a pair of highly attentive listeners, each of whom had his, and her, own reasons for particular attention.
“More mystery!” remarked Mary when Dick’s story had come to an end. “What a pity they didn’t open the parcel!” She looked at Ransford, who was evidently in deep thought. “I suppose it will all come out?” she suggested.
“Sure to!” he answered, and turned to Dick. “You say Bryce fetched old Harker—after you and Bryce had watched these operations a bit? Did he say why he fetched him?”
“Never said anything as to his reasons,” answered Dick. “But, I rather guessed, at the end, that Bryce wanted me to keep quiet about it, only old Harker said there was no need.”
Ransford made no comment on this, and Dick, having exhausted his stock of news, presently went off to bed.
“Master Bryce,” observed Ransford, after a period of silence, “is playing a game! What it is, I don’t know—but I’m certain of it. Well, we shall see! You’ve been much upset by all this,” he went on, after another pause, “and the knowledge that you have has distressed me beyond measure! But just have a little—a very little—more patience, and things will be cleared—I can’t tell all that’s in my mind, even to you.”
Mary, who had been sewing while Ransford, as was customary with him in an evening, read the Times to her, looked down at her work.
“I shouldn’t care, if only these rumours in the town—about you—could be crushed!” she said. “It’s so cruel, so vile, that such things—”
Ransford snapped his fingers.
“I don’t care that about the rumours!” he answered, contemptuously. “They’ll be crushed out just as suddenly as they arose—and then, perhaps, I’ll let certain folk in Wrychester know what I think of them. And as regards the suspicion against me, I know already that the only people in the town for whose opinion I care fully accept what I said before the Coroner. As to the others, let them talk! If the thing comes to a head before its due time—”