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28: Final

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Author Topic: 28: Final  (Read 240 times)
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« on: July 07, 2023, 01:30:39 pm »

RICHARD, following closely on the detective’s heels, and secretly somewhat taken aback by his abrupt manner of entrance, was quick to observe the effect he produced on the three persons thus broken in upon. Angelita, who was arranging flowers at a side-table, turned on Liversedge with a look of sudden apprehension; Lansdale, just rising from his desk, a pen in his hand, stared first at the detective, then at Vandelius; Vandelius---at ease in a big chair, a cigar, just lighted, in his mouth, was the only apparently unconcerned person present. He glanced at Richard with a slight recognition of his presence, and then eyed Liversedge over, calmly, and with an amused smile.

“My good man!” he answered in suave, bantering tones. “Aren’t you forgetting yourself---and your manners? What warrant have you for breaking in upon a gentleman, his daughter, and his visitor---in this fashion?”

“I wouldn’t say overmuch about warrants, if I were you, Mr. Vandelius!” retorted Liversedge, standing his ground. “Warrants are not very nice things in certain circumstances---these circumstances, if you wish me to be plain. I’m investigating the murder of Mr. Henry Marchmont, and I’ve good reason for asking you the question I put to you just now!”

“And supposing I tell you to take yourself away?” asked Vandelius. “What then, my man?”

“I should go!---and you would go with me, Mr. Vandelius---to Scotland Yard!” replied the detective. “If you won’t answer here, you’ll have to answer a lot of questions there! That’s flat!---so you’d better think!”

“I am thinking!” said Vandelius. “I am thinking a great deal. The gist of my reflections is that your police methods are elementary and offensive. May I inquire why you force yourself in here---in company with a young gentleman, who, if you don’t, ought to know better!---and discharge a question at me point-blank? There are better ways of doing things, my good fellow!”

“If you’re going to bring me into it,” said Richard suddenly, “I may as well tell you that I think Liversedge is quite right! What were you doing at my uncle’s offices on the evening he was murdered?”

Angelita gave a little gasp, and Lansdale made a sharp exclamation. Richard gave them a nod before he turned again on Vandelius.

“You were there!” he exclaimed hotly. “Why lie about it?”

Vandelius’s dark face flushed, and the whiteness of his teeth suddenly showed.

“I am not accustomed to be addressed by young men in this way!” he said, eyeing Richard offensively. “How do you know I was there?”

“Look here, Mr. Vandelius!” said Liversedge, before Richard could speak. “I may as well tell you that a good deal has taken place since last night. Garner was had up early in the evening---you’ll hear soon enough what happened to him!---and Crench and Simpson a few hours later. Crench and Simpson have both made statements---Simpson’s statement incriminates you----”

“That is impossible!” exclaimed Vandelius. “I do not know Simpson!”

“That’s immaterial,” continued Liversedge. “Simpson’s knowledge of you is better than yours of him. Mr. Vandelius!---you were at Henry Marchmont’s office that evening! You left your card there! Here it is!”

He drew the card from his pocket and held it out. Vandelius glanced at it with a look of annoyance. Before he could speak, Lansdale turned on him.

“You never told me you’d been to Marchmont’s office!” he said. “If you had----”

Vandelius uttered an exclamation of anger---his tone was that of a man contemptuous of trifles.

“Tcha!” he said, waving his hand at Lansdale. “Why should I tell you all my business? Why should I tell----?”

“You’ll tell me, anyway!” broke in Liversedge. “Or, as I said before, you’ll go with me to headquarters! Whichever you like! If you’ve any explanation----”

“Well, well, I did go to Marchmont’s office!” said Vandelius suddenly. “Why not? I had my business to consider---great interest at stake. I wished to persuade Marchmont that Lansdale was an innocent man. I found Marchmont obdurate, pig-headed, stupid---not to be persuaded out of his obsession about Lansdale. So, well, of course seeing there was nothing to be done with him, I left him.”

“Where did you leave him?” asked Liversedge.

“Eh? In his room, of course!” replied Vandelius.

“He didn’t show you out?”

“No---he left me to find my own way out---no manners!”

“You went down the staircase alone?”

“Of course!---how else?”

“Just so!” agreed Liversedge. “But instead of walking out at the front door when you reached the hall, you turned into the room on the right hand---the right hand, that is, as you came downstairs? Didn’t you, now?”

Vandelius twisted in his chair with a sudden searching look at his questioner.

“How do you know?” he began. “How----?”

A knock on the door interrupted whatever he was going to say. Richard, being close by, opened it. There stood Pryke, ushered by a hotel servant.

“Come in, Pryke!” said Liversedge. “Lucky you’ve come!” he whispered as Pryke strode up to him. “I may want you. Well---found anything?”

Pryke produced a small canvas bag, and a sealed letter.

“There!” he said. “In a small suit-case, locked, in his bedroom. There’s gold in that bag---sovereigns! About----”

Liversedge interrupted him with a sharp exclamation and a glance at Richard.

“Gold!” he said. “Good heavens!---that’ll be the gold that was on Simpson’s desk! In that case---but this letter----”

“I didn’t break the seal,” said Pryke. “I thought I’d bring it to you. You see?---it’s addressed to Crench, at Chancery Lane, and stamped, as if Garner had meant to post it before sailing this morning.”

“I see,” muttered Liversedge. He turned the letter over, broke the seal, and drawing out the folded sheet glanced hurriedly at its contents. Suddenly his face changed, and he gave Pryke a warning look which indicated Vandelius. “Watch that man, Pryke!” he whispered. “This concerns him! Mr. Marchmont!---look here!”

Richard drew close to the detective’s elbow. Liversedge held the letter under his eyes, pointing to something in it.

“This is evidently a letter from Garner to Crench!” he murmured. “Read it!---by George, Mr. Marchmont---I believe we’ve solved the mystery at last. Read!”

“Dear Crench,---Now that the thing’s over, and we’re not likely to meet again, I’ll tell you exactly what happened at Bedford Row on the night Henry Marchmont met his death---and if you want to know who actually shot him, I’ll tell you---that is, in my opinion, for I didn’t see the shooting. Personally, I have no doubt on the point. The guilty man is Vandelius!

“After Lansdale had told Vandelius, you, and me, at your office, about the possible bother with Henry Marchmont, Vandelius, walking with me up Chancery Lane, asked me for information about Henry Marchmont; where Bedford Row was; the situation of the office, and so on. He didn’t say as much, but I formed the opinion that he meant to go there himself. Being curious on the point, I went myself to Bedford Row after it was dark. There was nobody about, and I concealed myself in the porch of Cripsdale and Peldridge’s, opposite, and watched. I saw Vandelius arrive, not long after I’d taken up my position. He went in. After a while, Lansdale came---he went in. I thought Vandelius and Lansdale would leave together. They didn’t. Lansdale came out alone, and walked very swiftly up the street, towards Theobald’s Road. A woman came on the scene and hung about---I couldn’t make out what she was up to. Then Henry Marchmont emerged, and went down the street to a post-box. He came back and went into his office door again. Almost simultaneously, the woman ran across the street, and looked in at the door, after him, and Lansdale reappeared, walking quicker than ever, and coming down the street. He’d passed Henry Marchmont’s door a few yards, when there was a sound which I knew to be a shot. Lansdale half-paused; then hurried forward towards Holborn; a second later, the woman ran from the door, crossed the street, and ran round the corner into Gray’s Inn Passage. I waited, wondering what had happened. Quite ten minutes passed. Then Vandelius came out. He made straight across the Row, and, as far as I could judge, turned the corner of Princeton Street, a little way up. After a little more waiting, I went across, and finding the outer door slightly ajar, I pushed it open and went in. There was a light in the hall, and I saw Henry Marchmont, just as they described at the first inquest. I took a quiet look---incidentally, I found a small bag of sovereigns on a desk in the front room and put it in my pocket for safety!---and went away, after turning out the lights. It seemed to me that considering all I’d seen, it would be a wise thing to do. Also, I carefully closed the front door: I thought it foolish to leave it open---a passing policeman might have noticed it.

“Yours, E. G.”

Liversedge folded up the letter and put it carefully in his pocket.

“That’s enough, Mr. Marchmont!” he whispered. “There’s only one thing to do---and we’ll do it at once! Now, Mr. Vandelius!” he continued, turning and raising his voice. “If you’re ready, we’ll take you round to Scotland Yard! I wouldn’t make any resistance, if I were you, Mr. Vandelius---it’s quite useless!”

When Vandelius had gone, protesting, the three people left together looked at each other. There was a question in the eyes of father and daughter, but for the first time for many days Richard felt that his question was answered.

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