Mr. John Phillips of this firm, who is coroner for the district, has desired me to answer the enquiry contained in your official letter of the 13th. The number of inquests held upon bodies recovered from the Thames in the neighbourhood to which you allude, during the present year has been seven. Four of these have been identified. Concerning the remaining three nothing has ever been heard. Such particulars as are on our file will be available to any accredited representative of the police at any time.
Phillips & son.
The taxicab came to a sudden stop. Francis glanced up. Very breathless, Shopland put his head in at the window.
“I dropped a letter,” he gasped.
Francis folded it up and handed it to him.
“What about these three unidentified people, Shopland?” he asked, looking at him intently.
The man frowned angrily. There was a note of defiance in his tone as he stowed the letter away in his pocketbook.
“There were two men and one woman,” he replied, “all three of the upper classes. The bodies were recovered from Wilson’s lock, some three hundred yards from The Walled House.”
“Do they form part of your case?” Francis persisted.
Shopland stepped back.
“Mr. Ledsam,” he said, “I told you, some little time ago, that so far as this particular case was concerned I had no confidences to share with you. I am sorry that you saw that letter. Since you did, however, I hope you will not take it as a liberty from one in my position if I advise you most strenuously to do nothing which might impede the course of the law. Good day, sir!”
Francis, in that pleasant half-hour before dinner which he spent in Margaret’s sitting-room, told her of the dogs’ home near Wardour Street. She listened sympathetically to his description of the place.
“I had never heard of it,” she acknowledged, “but I am not in anyway surprised. My father spends at least an hour of every day, when he is down at Hatch End, amongst the horses, and every time a fresh crock is brought down, he is as interested as though it were a new toy.”
“It is a remarkable trait in a very remarkable character,” Francis commented.
“I could tell you many things that would surprise you,” Margaret continued. “One night, for instance, when we were staying at The Sanctuary, he and I were going out to dine with some neighbours and he heard a cat mewing in the hedge somewhere. He stopped the car, got out himself, found that the cat had been caught in a trap, released it, and sent me on to the dinner alone whilst he took the animal back to the veterinary surgeon at The Walled House. He was simply white with fury whilst he was tying up the poor thing’s leg. I couldn’t