Holcroft could not endure this style of inquisition and comment another second longer. He rotron price surgese and said, "Mrs. Mumpson, if you want to know just what she said and did, you must go and ask her. I'm very tired. I'll go out and see that the stock's all right, and then go to bed."
Then the child did fly up the stairway. tron wallet chrome (browser extension)The smoke seemed to confirm the words of her mother, who was dressing in hot haste. "Run and tell Mr. Holcroft!" she cried."I won't," said the girl. "If he won't keep us in the house, I don't care if he don't have any house."
"No, no, tell him!" screamed Mrs. Mumpson. "If we save his house he will relent. Gratitude will overwhelm him. So far from turning us away, he will sue, he will plead for forgiveness for his former harshness; his home saved will be our home won. Just put our things in the trunk first. Perhaps the house can't be saved, and you know we must save OUR things. Help me, quick! There, there; now, now"--both were sneezing and choking in a half-strangled manner. "Now let me lock it; my hand trembles so; take hold and draw it out; drag it downstairs; no matter how it scratches things!"Having reached the hall below, she opened the door and shrieked for Holcroft; Jane also began running toward the barn. The farmer came hastily out, and shouted, "What's the matter?""The house is on fire!" they screamed in chorus.To carry out his ruse, he ran swiftly to the house. Mrs. Mumpson stood before him wringing her hands and crying, "Oh, dear Mr. Holcroft, can't I do anything to help you? I would so like to help you and--""Yes, my good woman, let me get in the door and see what's the matter. Oh, here's your trunk. That's sensible. Better get it outside," and he went up the stairs two steps at a time and rushed into his room.
"Jane, Jane," ejaculated Mrs. Mumpson, sinking on a seat in the porch, "he called me his good woman!" But Jane was busy dragging the trunk out of doors. Having secured her own and her mother's worldly possessions, she called, "Shall I bring water and carry things out?""No," he replied, "not yet. There's something the matter with the chimney," and he hastened up to the attic room, removed the clog from the flue, put on the cover again, and threw open the window. Returning, he locked the door of the room which Mrs. Mumpson had occupied and came downstairs. "I must get a ladder and examine the chimney," he said as he passed."The date may be of importance? It is hard to see how. But in that case I should prefer to consult my diary before I reply."
"Approximately?""If you please, I prefer accuracy. I will consult my diary and let you know.""You might help us materially if you would say what drew your suspicions in his direction?"For the first time, the Professor showed signs of embarrassment. "I was afraid," he said, "that you would ask that. It was through a private matter, which I should prefer not to explain."
"I am afraid I must press it."He still hesitated. Kindell, he said at last, is an attractive young man."
"Yes. What of that?""And I have a niece who is still young. . . . Miss Thurlow is younger.""No doubt she is. But I fail to see - - ""Mr. Kindell had engagements he did not, and perhaps could not, explain. You understand that better than I. Curiosity was aroused."
"You are explaining nothing at all.""Perhaps jealousy would be a more adequate word.""Perhaps it might. But I still fail to see - - ""Is it necessary that you should? What I desired to convey was that curiosity - or jealousy - being aroused, things were noticed - perhaps I should say discovered, which would otherwise - I think I must have made myself sufficiently clear."
"No. I can't say that you have. What I asked was what had first caused you to suspect Snacklit.""I am afraid that I must decline to be more specific. I may already have said too much. And it is not, in fact, an explanation that could help you at all. What I thought I ought to tell you is what occurred when I reached Snacklit House, a short while before Mr. Thurlow intervened, perhaps more effectually than I should have been able to do."
"You don't mind our questioning Miss Blinkwell?""About what I have said? It would be a gaucherie which I should regret. But it would not be within my power to prevent If you would imply that it might disclose some indiscretion of mine - which is absurd - no, I should not object at all."
"Very well. . . . Then we will come to what happened at Snacklit House.""I saw Mr. Snacklit in the lounge on the first floor. The girl whom I afterwards heard called Kate, showed me up, or, at least would have announced me, but I followed her without waiting for that."I found him on the couch, his face very badly cut and discoloured, and my first question was naturally to enquire how he had come to be in such a condition. He said something about a hellcat, or some such word, and I replied that Miss Thurlow would certainly not have committed such an act unless the provocation had been extreme. It was a shot in the dark, but it went home."He looked frightened, and, I thought, conscious for the first time of the indiscretion of what he had said before. He said something about not knowing what I meant, and I became seriously alarmed as I considered the kind of scene which must have occurred, and how he could have disposed of her subsequently."I told him that I was enquiring for Miss Thurlow, and that, in view of his condition, and what he had said about it already, it was useless to profess ignorance."I said that I had no wish to create any disturbance and, in view of the punishment he had received, nothing more might be said about the matter, if he would allow me to take her quietly away.
"He said I could take anyone away as far as he was concerned, but as he didn't know who I was talking about he couldn't say more than that."I told him that I must take that as permission to search the house, and he told me to go to hell.
"He gave me the impression of a man who was in such a state of combined mental desperation and physical pain that he was hardly conscious of what he said."I left him then, and went down some back stairs, and found myself in a lighted passage. I went along that, and came to a large incinerator built out from the house, and a man was there stoking up."
"You mean Wilkes?""I did not have occasion to ask his name."
"We arrested him for murder an hour ago.""From his appearance and manner I cannot say that it is an incredible charge. But when I told him that I was looking for a young lady who was known to be on the premises, he said he could probably take me to the right place, and that he certainly did."I must find some satisfaction in thinking that I should almost certainly have been in time, even if Mr. Thurlow had not been there, though I might not have been able to intervene so effectually, and what assistance I might have received from Wilkes can be a matter of conjecture only.""You say you left Snacklit on the couch in the lounge?"
"Yes.""He showed no sign of following you?"
"No. Nor did he look equal to doing it. I should have said that he was incapable of great exertion. . . . He might, of course, have got into a car.""We know he didn't do that."
"Am I to conclude that it was for his murder that you have arrested Wilkes?""Not at all. We have no reason to suppose that he has been murdered. But the man who drove Miss Thurlow certainly was. She saw his body being wheeled to the incinerator, and when we drew the fire there were obvious human remains, which a few further hours would have reduced to unrecognizable ashes. No doubt it was done on Snacklit's orders, and that's probably why he disappeared in the way he did."
"Do I understand," the Professor asked, "that the heat of the incinerator would be sufficient to destroy a human body - even the bones - beyond recognition within so short a time?""Yes. That is so. The wonder really was that we were able to secure such definite evidence after the time which had elapsed. But you can understand why Wilkes was busy stoking the fire."Professor Blinkwell said that that was certainly what he would be likely to do. He observed silently (it was not a matter to be spoken aloud) that Wilkes and Burfoot would probably be most justly hanged - as in fact they were - for the murder of the taxi-driver, on the unjust evidence of the remains of Mr. Snacklit which the furnace had been allowed insufficient time to consume entirely. Would Wilkes try to save himself by asserting the truth that it was Snacklit's body, and that Professor Blinkwell had pushed him in? It would be a most improbable thing, and, even if it were believed, it would be worse than useless to him, for he would have to admit that he had done nothing to intervene or denounce the crime. It would be to make his fate sure, even beyond the faint hope of reprieve which may follow conviction for the foulest crime, if a doubt of guilt, however slender, can be suggested to the Home Secretary's mind. . . .Mr. Allenby rose. With a toneless forn;ality, he thanked Professor Blinkwell for the information he had given. Actually he saw no reason to doubt its substantial accuracy, apart only from the nature and extent of his knowledge of Snacklit, and his reasons for supposing that Irene would have been in his hands.
Professor Blinkwell rose also. He spoke with simple sincerity when he said that there was no occasion for thanks. Whatever little he had been able to do at Snacklit House had been a pleasure to him.Chapter 41 But Myra Felt Differently
IT WAS TEN days later that the ambassador gave a dinner to some prominent Englishman whom his country desired to honour.It was the first day, after her experiences at Snacklit House, on which Irene had been visible at the Embassy, some physical blemishes, which had been reductive of her usual charms, having prompted an anonymous visit to a South Coast town, which it is better to leave unmentioned, owing to an experience she had there - one of the dubious consequences of anonymity - of which she thought it best that her father should not be told.
Her health, owing to the buoyant quality of her sanguine youth, had been unaffected throughout, and, when this evening came, she showed no trace of the experiences she had undergone excepting an inconspicuous scar near her left eye, and that she would have had patience to remain secluded until that should disappear would have been an extreme improbability, even apart from the event which we must not be drawn aside to observe, beyond the discreet allusion already made.To the only guest who was audibly curious concerning the cause of the injury, she replied, with impregnable veracity, that it is always foolish to collide with open doors in the dark, and having put that enquiry so lightly aside she proceeded to enjoy herself as much as is possible to an ambassador's daughter who shares the responsibility of entertaining her father's guests.