“The fellow’s magnificent, at any rate,” Wilmore remarked.
His host smoked furiously for a moment.
“That’s the worst of these multi-millionaires,” he declared. “They think they can rule the world, traffic in human souls, buy morals, mock at the law. We shall see!”
“Do you know the thing that I found most interesting about him?” Wilmore asked.
“His black opals,” the other suggested. “You’re by the way of being a collector, aren’t you?”
Wilmore shook his head.
“The fact that he is the father of Oliver Hilditch’s widow.”
Francis sat quite still for a moment. There was a complete change in his expression. He looked like a man who has received a shock.
“I forgot that,” he muttered.
Francis met Shopland one morning about a week later, on his way from Clarges Street to his chambers in the Temple. The detective raised his hat and would have passed on, but Francis accosted him.
“Any progress, Mr. Shopland?” he enquired.
The detective fingered his small, sandy moustache. He was an insignificant-looking little man, undersized, with thin frame and watery eyes. His mouth, however, was hard, and there were some tell-tale little lines at its corners.
“None whatever, I am sorry to say, Mr. Ledsam,” he admitted. “At present we are quite in the dark.”
“You found the weapon, I hear?”
“It was just an ordinary service revolver, dating from the time of the war, exactly like a hundred thousand others. The enquiries we were able to make from it came to nothing.”
“Where was it picked up?”
“In the middle of the waste plot of ground next to Soto’s. The murderer evidently threw it there the moment he had discharged it. He must have been wearing rubber-soled shoes, for not a soul heard him go.”
Francis nodded thoughtfully.
“I wonder,” he said, after a slight pause, “whether it ever occurred to you to interview Miss Daisy Hyslop, the young lady who was with Bidlake on the night of his murder?”
“I called upon her the day afterwards,” the detective answered.
“She had nothing to say?”
“Indirectly, of course,” Francis continued, “the poor girl was the cause of his death. If she had not insisted upon his going out for a taxicab, the man who was loitering about would probably have never got hold of him.”
The detective glanced up furtively at the speaker. He seemed to reflect for a moment.
“I gathered,” he said, “in conversation with the commissionaire, that Miss Hyslop was a little impatient that night. It seems, however, that she was anxious to get to a ball which was being given down in Kensington.”
“There was a ball, was there?” Francis asked.