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Our Library => Freeman Wills Crofts - The Hog's Back Mystery (1933) => Topic started by: Admin on August 10, 2023, 07:51:42 am



Title: 23: And Establishes It
Post by: Admin on August 10, 2023, 07:51:42 am
“I THINK,” said Sheaf slowly and unexpectedly, “that this occasion merits some more than ordinary notice. Let us mark the starting of the second half in suitable manner.” He took a bunch of keys from his pocket, and going to a cupboard, unlocked it and took out a bottle, three glasses and a cup. “I don’t do this every day, chief inspector,” he went on, “but then we don’t have private entertainments like this every day. Some water, Sheepshanks. I can do a good deal here, but I can’t run to soda at a moment’s notice. Say when, chief inspector.”

Mitchell said when in satisfied tones and French, who in his excitement had allowed his pipe to go out, now refilled and lit it up again. He was delighted with the reception his story was receiving. When Mitchell descended to anything like what might be called sublimated ragging it showed he was pleased, and Mitchell’s pleasure, if caused by French’s activities, was an important matter to French. When Sheepshanks returned with a large jug of water, they said that here was to the story and for French to get on with it, as they didn’t want to sit on those blessed chairs all night. French accordingly got on with it.

“With this theory of the guilt of Campion and Gates in my mind, I turned back to reconsider the murder of Miss Stone. If my idea was correct, Gates must have murdered Miss Stone. I assumed this had happened and tried where it would take me.

“Gates, then, upon this theory, must have stood behind the bush and watched the study, and presumably been seen by Miss Stone. Why should he do so? Obviously, I thought, to wait for the window to be opened for him. If so, who would open it for him? Obviously again, his accomplice, Campion. Had Campion done so?

“If Campion had, it must have been during the visit to St. Kilda, between 5.15 and 6.0 p.m. But Campion was with the others during that visit. This bothered me for long enough.”

“Even I,” murmured Mitchell, “can see the way out of that.”

“Yes, sir: I saw it myself after a while. I was wrong in thinking Campion was with the others all the time. He had left them twice, once at the beginning of the visit and once at the end. The first time he had ‘forgotten’ some doll’s furniture that he had made for Miss Stone. He went to the hall to get it out of his coat pocket. Plenty of time to slip into the study, unlock the french window and give a sign to Gates outside. Incidentally I thought, was it likely a man like Campion, who was so frightfully keen on his hobby, should forget the furniture? I didn’t think it was likely at all.

“The second time Campion left the others was just before they came away. He went out to start up the car. That would have given time to lock the window again, which, though perhaps not quite necessary, would prevent attention being concentrated on the study. It must be noticed here that there was not the slightest necessity to start up the engine before they were ready to leave. The engine was warm. They had come from the Red Cottage and it must then have been hot, and it couldn’t possibly have cooled in the time. So that this leaving the others to start up the engine on the face of it was only an excuse.”

French stopped to finish his whisky, which he had been slowly eking out as he talked. Once again his pipe had gone out, and once again he went through the formality of lighting it. The others sat smoking in silence. The attention they were giving to the story showed how much they thought of it, and French was profoundly satisfied.

“Then something else occurred to me,” he went on, “which, if it had happened, would have drawn all this together. I was wondering how Miss Stone could have come to see Gates. When Mrs. Earle had left her she was lying reading on her bed. Why should she have got up just at the precise moment that Gates should have been at the bush?

“Because, I realised, she would have heard the car. She would have got up to see who was arriving, so as to know whether or not to go downstairs. From her window she would have seen both Campion and Gates, Gates perhaps creeping into the study in a stealthy way. She would naturally go down to find out what he was about.”

“Why should she not have gone to Mrs. Earle?”

“I suggest that she realised from the behaviour of both men that they were in league in something underhand. She wouldn’t then go to Mrs. Earle, because Campion was with Mrs. Earle. I suggest she did not intend to reveal her presence, and I suggest further that when Gates saw that she had learned his secret he murdered her because he had no option.”

“Then you think her murder was not premeditated?”

“I imagine not, sir.”

“Then how did Campion know his part?”

“I’m just coming to that, sir.”

“Shall we pass that, super?”

“Provisionally I think so, chief inspector. We can go back on it if necessary.”

There was a gleam in Mitchell’s eye which pleased French, but all he said was: “Very well, French. Go ahead.”

“This led to a further step. If I was right, Gates must have been engaged in the plot during certain hours. I next considered whether Gates’ statement would work in.

“Gates had the choice of three cars, but none of them were out. He had, however, access to a bicycle. The use of this bicycle seemed to make the thing possible.

“According to the theory, Gates must have reached St. Kilda about 5.10 or 5.15. At, say, twelve miles an hour he would therefore have had to leave his own house, Polperro, about 4.40, and this was just about the time he said he had done so. He would have entered the study, rifled the safe, murdered Miss Stone and carried the body away. Then he would be faced with a nasty problem. Here was the body on his hands: how was he to get rid of it. He would instantly think of the by-pass, as presumably he had helped to bury Earle there. But how was he to get the body to the by-pass? Campion’s car would be needed: he must therefore see Campion. I suggest he put the body down in the first secluded place he came to, Thicket No. 1, and then hurried back to St. Kilda in the hope of being able to communicate with Campion. Whether or not he did so there I don’t know, but it seems evident that he saw him before supper. He might have ridden to the Red Cottage and seen him there. At all events he saw Campion, fixed up a plan with him, went back to the wood, moved the body to Thicket No. 2, where it could be easily picked up by Campion, and rode home.

“Here again I worked out how long all this should take. I made it a little short of two hours, and a little short of two hours was exactly the time Gates said he spent on his walk. So that again worked in. And you remember also that no proof that he took that walk was forthcoming.”

Mitchell moved sharply.

“But look here, French,” he interrupted. “Earle was murdered on Sunday, the 9th of October. Why did those two wait a whole fortnight to get the analysis? Wasn’t that running rather a risk?”

“Yes, sir; very much so. It was important that the safe should be cleared at the first possible moment, and so it was.”

“But it wasn’t. I don’t see that.”

“It was, sir. You’re evidently not aware that Gates was ill during that whole fortnight: an attack of bronchitis. Sunday was the first day since Earle’s murder that they could have tried the safe. It had to be a Sunday owing to the servant being out. I thought that important, because it also worked in.”

Mitchell nodded. “I believe I did read your note about Gates’ illness. Yes, that’s all right. My objection has turned in my hand and become confirmation. That’s as it should be. Very well, French?”

“There was then the question of the burial,” went on French. “If my time-table was correct Campion could not have carried that out. He would only have had time to bring the body to the by-pass. The theory therefore demanded that Gates should have dug the grave and carried out the interment.

“In working out Campion’s suggested movements, I had estimated that he must have reached the by-pass about 8.35. Now Gates admitted leaving his house about 8.30 and returning about nine, and my researches showed that he might have been nearly an hour. That would have enabled him to meet Campion and bury the body.”

“But not, surely, to dig the grave?” Mitchell put in.

“Yes, I think so. Remember the clay was freshly cast and loose and the grave was very shallow.”

“Very well. I think we must agree, super, that all that works in. But we’d like that bit of proof that you’ve promised us, French. What about it?”

“Not quite ready for it yet, sir, I’m afraid.”

“Did you ever hear what hope deferred does to the heart? Ah, well, we can’t help it. We’ll enjoy it all the more when it comes.”

French dutifully grinned. He gave a hurried glance at his notebook, then went on.

“I think, that given an adequate motive in the papers in the safe, that covers the murder of Ursula Stone, and it’s obvious that Campion and Gates in partnership could have murdered Frazer. But there were a good many points about the murders of Earle and Nurse Nankivel still to be cleared up. Of the two, the case of the nurse seemed easier and I took it first.

“It began with the telegram she received, asking her to go to the Hog’s Back on the Sunday evening. As you remember, the message and money was dropped into a letter box at Hampton Common: it was not taken to the post office. Obviously either Campion or Gates could have dropped it in.

“Now we know that the nurse reached the by-pass bridge at six o’clock, the hour of the rendezvous, and drove off in a saloon car. We know also that she was buried that night or shortly afterwards. Further we know----”

“How do you know when she was buried?” Chief Inspector Mitchell interrupted.

“I’ll prove presently, sir, that Earle’s body was buried that Sunday evening. The nurse’s was in the same grave, hence must have been buried at the same time. Besides, the position in the bank proves it approximately. Both bodies were just below the surface of where the tip extended to on that evening.”

“Very good. Go ahead.”

“As I’ve already stated, Campion could have met the nurse on the Hog’s Back at six o’clock, murdered her and hid her body. I cannot prove he did so. I simply show that he could have, and let the proof hinge on the general circumstances of the other murders.”

“Where could he have hidden the body?”

“In the bushes between the road and the by-pass. I’ve been over the ground and there are lots of suitable places. Remember it was dark about six and the burial must have taken place about nine. The body would only have to remain hidden for about three hours.”

“It’s certainly possible. I suppose we might provisionally pass that, super?”

“Pending the proof we’re waiting for, I think so.”

“Ah yes, we must have that proof. Well, French, let’s hear what you have to say about Earle.”

“I found the murder of Earle a much tougher proposition, because both Campion and Gates had alibis and I had tested those alibis and found them watertight.

“I started working at them again, and the more I thought of them, the more watertight they seemed. You remember, sir, what they were? Campion was actually in the presence of his womenfolk and Miss Stone all the evening, except for a short time he spent in his workshop building a dolls’ house; and the whole of the time he spent on the work would have been required for it. Besides that, at the actual hour of the murder, or within a minute or two of it, he was in the drawing-room with the three ladies. Of this there was ample confirmation. Then as to Gates. Gates walked from his own house to Galbraith’s and back. The time he took would all have been required for the walk. Moreover, he actually was at the door of Mr. Galbraith’s house at, or within a minute or two, of the hour of the murder. It seemed impossible that either of these two could have been guilty. However, by this time I was satisfied that somehow or other both alibis had been faked, and I felt it was up to me to find out how.

“The first thing I went into was the question, Must the hour of the murder necessarily correspond with that of the disappearance?

“I came to the conclusion that it must. It seemed to me to be proved by Earle’s clothes. If he had been going any distance to keep an appointment, he would have put on outdoor shoes and a coat and hat. He went out of the sitting-room, I felt sure, because someone came to the window and beckoned him, and I felt equally certain he had then been knocked senseless. Obviously he had expected to be out for a moment only.

“There was then no relief from the difficulty that way, and I just settled down to it.

“I took Campion first, and at once I saw a difference in what I might call the strength of his alibi at various times. Before eight o’clock on that Sunday night, Campion was at dinner with his household. After 9.20 he was again with the three ladies. Also for five minutes from about 8.30 till about 8.35 the same thing applied. This alibi, I felt, simply could not be broken. All three ladies were sure of the facts.

“But I saw that the alibi for the intermediate periods was not so overwhelming. From 8.0 till 8.30 and from 8.35 till 9.20 Campion was not actually in anyone’s presence. He was alone, ostensibly in his workshop, making a dolls’ house. The only proof he had of this presence there was that it would have taken him all the time to carry out the work.

“It therefore occurred to me to wonder, Had he done the work at that time?

“I concentrated on this dolls’ house affair, and presently two things occurred to me which made me suspect I was on the right track. The first was that the thing was entirely Campion’s own suggestion. Nothing had occurred to lead up to his offer. And there was no real reason why he should have done the work then. The house could have been sent after Miss Stone. Admittedly Campion himself had given me a reason: that he was tired of the ladies’ society and wanted an excuse to get away from them, and this of course might be true. At the same time the mere fact that he had thought it necessary to give me this explanation was in itself suspicious.

“The other consideration was more convincing. Campion had first shown the separate parts to Miss Stone, as they had arrived from the Handicrafts people. He had then brought the partially assembled house into the drawing-room at half-past eight, when he went in ostensibly to consult Miss Stone on the outside finish. And finally of course he had taken the completed house to St. Kilda when they went to run Miss Stone back. Did this, I asked myself, not show evidences of design? Was it not done to establish the fact that that work at the house had really been in progress at that period? I thought it looked fishy. And I noted incidentally that the conversation about Miss Stone’s returning in the bus looked very like an attempt to fix the hour at which he had been in the drawing-room.”

French made his little pause, but none of the others commented. They were indeed paying him the compliment of a very close and undivided attention. French began to experience the first fruits of his reward.

“By this time I had no doubt at all that I was on the right track, though I still couldn’t see how to break down the alibi. Then I thought, Suppose for argument sake that dolls’ house affair was faked and that Campion had been free during those two periods 8.0 to 8.30 and 8.35 to 9.20, what could he have done?

“Obviously he could not have murdered Earle. Earle was murdered at 8.40, and Campion couldn’t possibly have got to St. Kilda in time. Assume therefore that Gates, in spite of his alibi, had carried out the actual murder, how could Campion have helped?

“This bothered me for long enough, then I thought I saw it. Transport again! Gates was at his house at eight o’clock, and if he was to get to St. Kilda in time, he must have been taken there in a car.”

“Wait a minute,” Sheaf interrupted. “What about the bicycle?”

“I thought of that, super,” French answered. “In the first place the bicycle was locked up at that hour, but there was more in it than that. The body had to be taken back to the by-pass, and that could not have been done on the bicycle: it meant a car. But if a car was going with the body in any case, wouldn’t Gates also go in the car? For this hurry job, to get the body buried before about half-past nine, the bicycle would be too slow. Therefore Gates couldn’t have taken the bicycle to St. Kilda, as he would have had no way of getting it back. Therefore he would have needed a car.

“Could Campion, I thought at last, in his first workshop period have run Gates to St. Kilda, and in his second have run both Gates and Earle’s body to the by-pass?

“Here at once I was on to a snag. It was impossible to take the car out of the garage at the Red Cottage without its being heard from the house. I cursed over this for a while, and then I remembered that the drive was level, and that it would be possible with the Campions’ light car to push it in and out of the garage by hand.”

Sheaf made a movement. “I think this tale deserves another toast,” he rumbled. “Say when, chief inspector.”

“When,” said Mitchell, again in satisfied tones. Then to French: “ ’Pon my soul, French, it’s going like a Sexton Blake. What do you say, super?”

“He should give up his job and take to writing for the films,” Sheaf said heavily. “More money in it than working for the Yard anyhow, chief inspector?”

“There could scarcely be less,” Mitchell agreed smoothly. “Well, French, what about the next chapter?”

Fortified by another tot, French went on with his tale.

“Thinking over the thing in detail, I saw that Campion would just have had time to take out the car, pick up Gates near Polperro, run him to near St. Kilda, return to the Red Cottage, park the car somewhere close by, and take the dolls’ house to the drawing-room. I estimated that he could do it in 28 minutes, and he actually had occupied half an hour. After Campion then had made his alibi he would have taken the car again, gone back to near St. Kilda, picked up Gates and the body, run them to the by-pass, and returned home. Was there time for this?

“I went into it as carefully as I could, and I found myself bothered by something quite unexpected. Campion had occupied too much time. Not a great deal of course, about five minutes. But I thought that where every minute would count, a discrepancy of this kind meant something. I puzzled over it for some time and then suddenly I saw it.”

“I think I see it too,” Mitchell put in, “but I admit only because of all you’ve said. I didn’t see it till you led up to it. You see it, super?”

“I see it now,” Sheaf returned. “You mean Gates’ alibi?”

“Of course. That’s what you’re coming to, isn’t it, French?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Well, go on in your own way. Tell us as if we didn’t know. We may have overlooked some point.”

“I saw after a long time what you and the super have seen in a moment,” French resumed tactfully, “that that five minutes would have enabled Gates’ alibi to have been established. Gates of course could not have called at Galbraith’s house, but Campion could. The house was actually on his way from the Red Cottage to St. Kilda. All that was necessary was to stick on a false moustache, pad up his clothes, and speak in a low rumble. His height was about right; it was dark; Galbraith would be out so that only the housekeeper would see him; and most important of all, she was expecting Gates to call. I was satisfied Campion could have carried out the deception, and I was just as satisfied he had done so.”

“Quite good, French,” Mitchell approved. “You deserve a leather medal. Now let’s see if I’ve got it all right. Campion and Gates start from their respective homes at the same time, Campion in a car and Gates walking. They meet somewhere near Gates’ home. Campion picks up Gates, drives to near St. Kilda, and sets him down there. Campion drives home, establishes his own alibi in his drawing-room, starts off again, establishes Gates’ alibi at Galbraith’s, and drives back to near St. Kilda and picks up Gates. Gates in the meantime has enticed Earle out of St. Kilda, murdered him, and got the body placed ready to put in the car. The two men drive with the body to the by-pass, and while Campion goes home, Gates buries the body. That right?”

“Dead right, sir. I’ve got out a little statement which I think makes it pretty clear.”

French handed over a sheet, and the other pored over it. “The sketch is not to scale,” French explained, “but the positions are roughly as shown.”

“Ah yes,” said Mitchell, “this is it exactly.” He pondered over the document.

Campion and Gates. Alibi:
Time.   Campion.   - Gates.

8.00.   Reaches workshop. - Leaves home to walk to Compton Corner.   
8.02.   Leaves workshop. - Pushes out car.   
8.07.   Starts car.   
8.10.   Picks up Gates at Compton Corner. - Is picked up by Campion at Compton Corner.
8.15.   Sets down Gates at Tarn Corner.   - Is set down by Campion at Tarn Corner.
8.24.   Reaches the Red Cottage and parks car.   
8.27.   Reaches St. Kilda and awaits opportunity.
8.28.   Regains workshop.   
8.30.   Enters drawing-room, completing own alibi.   
8.35.   Leaves drawing-room. Makes up as Gates.   
8.38.   Leaves workshop.
8.40.    Commits murder.
8.41.   Starts car.   
8.44.   Calls at Galbraith’s.   
8.48.   Completes faking of Gates’ alibi. - Has body on road, ready to load up.
8.56.   Picks up Gates and body near St. Kilda. - Is picked up with body by Campion.
9.08.   Leaves body in grave. - Assists to leave body in grave.
9.14.   Reaches the Red Cottage and puts car in garage.   
9.20.   Reaches drawing-room.   
9.30.   Reaches Polperro after burying body.

+++
8.40.   Time of Earle’s disappearance (murder).

Campion’s Alibi:
8.30 to 8.35.   Is in drawing-room with ladies.

Gates’ Alibi:
8.44 to 8.48.   Is at Galbraith’s door.

+++

“That’s quite good, French,” Mitchell commented, handing back the paper. “Now I wonder if I’ve got your theory of the entire crime? Just let’s see. Campion and Gates, a pretty pair of scoundrels, get into financial difficulties by backing their ill-luck on the race-course. They thereupon get together and devise a scheme to repair their fortunes. Gates has reliable expectations of £30,000 when old Frazer pegs out. Frazer is nearly seventy, in frail health, and only a slight push will be necessary to help him into the next world. No one will be the worse of it. His wife hates him and so does everyone who comes in contact with him. Between them they give him the push. Probably Campion gives Gates the poison to put in the medicine, or Gates gets it from the weed-killer, which he could easily do. Campion’s job is to sign the certificate. Somehow, we may take it, the responsibility is divided.

“This all works very well, and Frazer is got rid of. Unfortunately for our friends, however, the nurse is too wide awake. She suspects, abstracts some of the doubtful medicine, has it analysed, thus having her suspicions confirmed. She tells Earle---very naturally: who else can she tell? But then what happens? Earle, as you suggest, tells Campion the whole story. Campion is naturally upset. He induces Earle not to make an immediate move. Then he meets Gates and fixes up his plan, which he has probably worked out beforehand as a precautionary measure. Campion sends the telegram to the nurse, meets her on the Hog’s Back, murders her and hides her body. The murder of Earle is carried out as you have described. Everything then is complete and satisfactory except for the destruction of the dangerous evidence. Now, French, here’s a point. Why didn’t Campion, as Earle’s partner, simply go to the study in St. Kilda, on the plea of looking for papers concerning the practice?”

“I thought of that, sir,” French answered. “From what I have seen of Mrs. Earle, I doubt if she would have allowed any investigation at which she was not present, and I suggest Campion realised this. Campion might have proposed conducting a secret search, but if the lady demurred, he could not press his request without suspicion.”

“Very well. Campion had to wait for Gates’ assistance, and Gates was ill. Then came the distressing advent of Ursula Stone to the study at the critical moment, and the necessity for silencing her. I’m sure your reconstruction of what happened is the truth. Now, for the third and last time of asking, your proof.”

French moved uneasily. “I hope you gentlemen will consider it sufficient when you hear it. It’s two-fold and the first point is about the dolls’ house. As I pointed out, the construction of the dolls’ house was Campion’s proof that he had been in his workshop all the time he was away from the ladies. Well, I guessed he might have tried an old trick and I went up to Town and called on the manager of Handicrafts Limited. Enquiries proved that on Saturday, the 8th of October, the day before Earle’s death, a man called at the shop and bought three sets of parts for this particular house. The assistant remembered the affair because there were only two sets in stock of the house the customer had asked for, and rather than wait while a third set was being obtained, the man had taken three sets of a quite different pattern. This was all right, but I was better pleased still when the assistant picked out the customer’s photograph from a bundle I gave him. It was Campion.”

“Good!” said the others in a breath. “The defence will find it hard to explain that. Campion had the three sets prepared beforehand?”

“That’s what I’m going on, sir. As I understand it, Earle got to know of the Frazer affair on the Thursday and told Campion either that evening or next day. Campion saw Gates and fixed up his plan on the Friday, going up on the Saturday morning for the houses. Before the Sunday evening he had prepared them, leaving one set untouched, half finishing another, and completely finishing a third. He showed the appropriate set at the time required, and when the murder was over, destroyed the first two. And this very day,” French added triumphantly, “in the ashes in the fireplace in Campion’s workshop, I found the little door hinges and other metal parts of these two extra sets!

“The second part of my proof was connected with the car. I could not believe that Campion had done all that running without being seen by someone. I worked on this and at last I found a young fellow who on the night in question had waited for his girl close to Galbraith’s house. While there he saw Campion’s car drive up---he was a native of Binscombe and knew the number---and he observed a man whom he thought was Campion get out, call at the house for three or four minutes, and then drive off. That, gentlemen, was just at quarter to nine, and it seems to me to clinch the entire case.”

With the air of a man who has worthily completed that which he set out to do, French drained his whisky. He was exultant, not only in his own achievement, but in the approval of his companions. Mitchell indeed directly congratulated him.

“Not bad that for proof, I will say,” he declared. “The more you think of those two points, the more convincing they become.”

Then, however, he took a little of the wind out of French’s sails by adding: “Now that’s all excellent and you’ve justified the arrests. But I’d like something more for court. You’ll have to go ahead and scrape up some more direct proof.”

As a matter of fact only a very few days later French succeeded in obtaining what he wanted. From his estimate of the character of Nurse Nankivel, based on her actions throughout the affair, he doubted that she would have handed over important documents to Earle without keeping a copy for her own use in case trouble arose. On the chance that such papers might exist, he called first at Bryanston Square, then at the nursing-home, to re-examine the deceased’s rooms, going on to her home near Redruth, where her effects had been sent. It was in Cornwall he made his discovery. In the lining of the nurse’s somewhat antique suitcase there was a tear, a frayed slit which might easily have come through use. Pushed under the lining through this slit he found a folded paper. It read:

“Copy of statement sent to Dr. Earle, St. Kilda, Seale, at his request, after interview at Staines on 6th October.

“Dear Dr. Earle,

“In accordance with your request, I am putting in writing what I told you to-day at Staines.

“As you are aware, there is an ante-room from which the late Mr. Frazer’s bedroom opens. On the wall of this ante-room hangs a mirror, and it just happens that if the door between the two rooms is open, a person entering the ante-room from the lobby can see through the mirror into the bedroom.

“On the afternoon of 16th September, on unexpectedly entering the ante-room about five o’clock to get a letter I had forgotten to post, I saw through the mirror Mr. Gates, who was sitting with his uncle, hastily corking and setting down a bottle. I kept my eye on the bottle and saw that it was one of Mr. Frazer’s medicines. Mr. Frazer was asleep. At the time I thought nothing of the matter, but from then I noticed that after taking that medicine Mr. Frazer grew rapidly worse. It had occurred to me how like the symptoms of Mr. Frazer’s disease were to those of arsenic poisoning, and though I didn’t exactly suspect anything, I experimented with the medicine. Once or twice I didn’t give it, pouring the doses into another bottle, which I determined to keep for analysis, should such seem necessary. On these occasions Mr. Frazer seemed better than when he had the medicine. I didn’t know what to do, and was very unhappy.

“Then before I could do anything, Mr. Frazer died. Again I didn’t know what to do. I suspected, but I wasn’t sure, and to make a mistake in such a thing would have ruined me. I did nothing. Perhaps I was wrong. I’m not trying to justify myself, only to say what happened. Dr. Campion gave the certificate and I left Polperro and got another job.

“On Thursday, 29th Sept., I had a letter from the gardener’s wife, with whom I had made friends. Among other things she told me Mr. Gates was reputed to have come in for £30,000. This made me think, and all my suspicions came back. I didn’t know what to do, but at last I felt I should not be justified in withholding what I knew. I sent the bottle of medicine to be analysed, and on Tuesday, 4th Oct., got the analysis.

“I thought first of telling Dr. Campion, but somehow I never liked him and I was afraid he might not be sympathetic. Then I thought of you, Dr. Earle, and I thought I should be safe in your hands. So I wrote you that letter asking you to meet me.

“This, I think, covers all I told you, and I am sure that if you take any action, you won’t let it injure me.

“Yours sincerely, “Helen Nankivel.”

But one more incident remains to be told, an incident which gave the authorities any further proof they required and incidentally demonstrated the true nature of Howard Campion. When he saw how things were going he attempted to turn King’s evidence, declaring that Gates, to whom he was heavily in debt, had put the poison into the medicine unknown to him, and that when he, Campion, had become suspicious, Gates had insisted on his giving the certificate, as the alternative to ruin.

On this statement Campion could be questioned, and French by a searching interrogation succeeded in breaking it down and establishing that Campion himself had been the moving spirit in the affair. Campion had used arsenic, partly because the symptoms fitted in with the disease Frazer actually had, but also because in case of discovery the use of this poison would not be attributed to a doctor, but probably to Gates, who had ready access to the weed-killer. Actually he had given the arsenic to Gates, who in his turn had put it into the medicine. Campion’s attempt to save himself at the expense of his accomplice therefore failed.

Neither man could deny the motive, which French’s further investigation fully established. Campion was in debt about four thousand pounds, and Gates about seven. The scheme to murder Frazer had been broached in a conversation on their joint troubles. Neither man, however, felt he could carry through the affair alone, and they formed a criminal conspiracy to commit the deed, sharing the spoils. After a trial of world-wide interest, both men suffered the extreme penalty of the law.

As a result of the case two unexpected alliances materialised. Mrs. Frazer, seized with a loathing of Polperro and everything connected with it, sold it and went to the Argentine, taking with her as companion no less a person than Alice Campion. Alice had always hated her brother, and had kept house for him solely for financial reasons. Julia Earle, much softened by what she had gone through, married Slade and went after them.

For French what remained? At first he thought the consciousness of work well done. But then came congratulations from his chief and friend, Sir Mortimer Ellison, Assistant Commissioner at the Yard, with---ah no, it couldn’t be!---a hint that the next vacancy . . .

But it was!

THE END