“I understand you to mean, Major Ragstaff,” he said deliberately, “that while your struggle with the drunken man was in progress Mr. De Lana fell out of a neighbouring window into the street?”
“Right!” shouted the Major. “Right, sir!”
“Do you know this Mr. De Lana?”
“Never heard of him in my life until the accident occurred. Seems to me the poor devil leaned out to see the fun and overbalanced. Felt responsible, only natural, and made inquiries. He died at six o’clock this evenin’, sir.”
“H’m,” said Harley reflectively. “I still fail to see where I come in. From what window did he fall?”
“Window above a sort of teashop, called Cafe Dame—damn silly name. Place on a corner. Don’t know name of side street.”
“H’m. You don’t think he was pushed out, for instance?”
“Certainly not!” shouted the Major; “he just fell out, but the point is, he’s dead!”
“My dear sir,” said Harley patiently, “I don’t dispute that point; but what on earth do you want of me?”
“I don’t know what I want!” roared the Major, beginning to walk up and down the room, “but I know I ain’t satisfied, not easy in my mind, sir. I wake up of a night hearin’ the poor devil’s yell as he crashed on the pavement. That’s all wrong. I’ve heard hundreds of death-yells, but”—he took up his malacca cane and beat it loudly on the table—“I haven’t woke up of a night dreamin’ I heard ’em again.”
“In a word, you suspect foul play?”
“I don’t suspect anything!” cried the other excitedly, “but someone mentioned your name to me at the club—said you could see through concrete, and all that—and here I am. There’s something wrong, radically wrong. Find out what it is and send the bill to me. Then perhaps I’ll be able to sleep in peace.”
He paused, and again taking out the large silk handkerchief blew his nose loudly. Harley glanced at me in rather an odd way, and then:
“There will be no bill, Major Ragstaff,” he said; “but if I can see any possible line of inquiry I will pursue it and report the result to you.”
A CURIOUS OUTRAGE
“What do you make of it, Harley?” I asked. Paul Harley returned a work of reference to its shelf and stood staring absently across the study.
“Our late visitor’s history does not help us much,” he replied. “A somewhat distinguished army career, and so forth, and his only daughter, Sybil Margaret, married the fifth Marquis of Ireton. She is, therefore, the noted society beauty, the Marchioness of Ireton. Does this suggest anything to your mind?”
“Nothing whatever,” I said blankly.
“Nor to mine,” murmured Harley.
The telephone bell rang.
“Hallo!” called Harley. “Yes. That you, Wessex? Have you got the address? Good. No, I shall remember it. Many thanks. Good-bye.”