CHAPTER ONE: THE FLAG COMPETITION
"SAY what you like," protested Farmer, "it isn't playing the game."
"What isn't?" asked Neave.
"Deliberately missing a foot putt so that your partner has to sink it and
you get the next drive. Escott says it's permissible and I say it's jolly
"I thought the partners drove at alternate holes," said Bruce.
"Not in a flag competition," explained Farmer. "You carry straight on. So
when one holes out the other has the drive. The fellow purposely missed
his putt. Owned up to it. The girl sank it and he got the next tee shot.
Decent people don't do such things."
"Who did it?" asked someone else.
"Hann. He was partnering Vera King. Not her fault. I was playing with
Maureen Hobart and at the fourteenth both balls were a foot from the pin.
I holed out, but Hann deliberately missed. Played to the side so that his
partner had to play again."
"Cost them a stroke," said Major Escott.
"Yes, but it gave him the drive at 'Hell.' Put it on the green and they
got a three."
"What happened to you?" asked Broughley.
"Maureen went into the far bunker--into a heel mark too. Took us three to
get out. Down in six. But what happened to us is not the point. I say it
was a dirty dodge. It isn't cricket." Henry Farmer undoubtedly felt very
much annoyed about it.
"There you are wrong," declared Escott. "Whether it is golf or not, it
most certainly is cricket. The better player runs one instead of two at
the end of the over to keep the bowling. Do you blame him?"
"Not quite the same," said Dean. "At cricket you are out to make a high
score and at golf a low one. If all my centuries at golf had been made at
cricket I should be near the top of the averages! I agree with Farmer
that to miss a putt purposely is not playing the game."
"But it's the fellow's own loss," remarked Broughley.
"Not when it's done deliberately to get the next drive," said Farmer.
"Have you never played short at a bunker for safety?" demanded Escott.
"What's the difference?"
"A great deal. You play short at a bunker to make sure of doing the hole
in as few as possible. You hope to save something with the next shot."
"Pretty much what Hann did," remarked Neave.
"To miss deliberately violates the whole principle of a mixed foursome,"
"You might say it violates the principle of bridge," remarked someone
else, "to trump your partner's ace. But it may be a sound thing if you
want the lead."
"Bridge is a matter of tricks," retorted Farmer. "Golf should not be."
Others joined in the wrangle and got quite warm about it. The smoking
room of the Barrington Golf Club, like many others of its kind, was
rather pleased when some novel point arose in connection with the game
and could be discussed from all angles. Several of the members agreed
with Farmer that his opponent had violated the spirit of the game, while
others held with Major Escott that it was a matter of tactics and
"What is your opinion, Ross?" asked Broughley at last, turning to the man
at his side who had been listening in silence to the argument. "You are a
lawyer so you ought to be able to tell us."
"Rather depends which party briefs me," laughed Ross. He was a big
fellow, dark, with shrewd, observant eyes and a mouth lined by smiles.
But it could be stiff and severe enough on occasion. "I suppose each pair
has a handicap and you see who can carry the flag furthest?"
"That's right," said Farmer. "Bogey is seventy-two. My partner and I got
eight strokes and had to go as far as possible in eighty. Hann is scratch
and his partner sixteen, so they also got eight. We were all playing well
and there was nothing between us except at 'Hell.' We picked up the flag
at the eighteenth and at the twentieth my partner and I had still one
shot to go and they had two. I hit a beauty--two hundred yards. No--it
was more than that. Must have been at least--"
"Stop!" said Dean. "That, anyway, breaks the rules of golf."
"What do you mean?" demanded Farmer.
"The rule distinctly says you must not do anything to improve a lie!"
There was a general laugh and Farmer looked annoyed at the frivolous
interruption of his story.
"Anyway," he said testily, "I outdrove Hann, but Vera had the extra shot
and put it fifty yards past us. The trick at the fourteenth and our
trouble in 'Hell' just made the difference. No one is likely to go
further. I don't care a bit about the prize, but for a competition to be
won in such a way is not sporting."
"Well," smiled Ross, "I have to pretend to know something of the laws of
England, but I never pose as an expert on the laws of golf. Yet,
honestly, I cannot see where your grouse comes in. You all get strokes
and have to use them to the best advantage. If you think it will pay you
to throw one away on the chance of making good later--why not? Suppose
your opponent, when he got the drive, had put his partner into 'Hell,'
you would have laughed at him--gave away a shot and got nothing for it.
As it was his policy paid. Nothing unfair in it. He took a chance and it
Farmer still looked dissatisfied and, to end the matter amicably, Ross
"I always remember your 'Hell,' though I have only played here once
before. One of your chaps made a very neat remark. It was a four-ball.
Broughley was my partner and was the only one of us to stop on the green.
Our opponents called it a fluke. 'No,' said Broughley, 'I used my head.'
'Oh,' said one of the others, 'I never take wood at a short hole.'"
Again there was a general laugh; golfers are easily amused; but Farmer
was unappeased. "Had it not been for that," he muttered, "we should have
led the field."
"That is where you are wrong, old son. The flag is now planted a hundred
yards past where you left it."
A newcomer, Philip Chase, made the announcement as he walked towards the
seats occupied by Broughley and Ross.
"Who by?" asked several voices.
"Crosbie and Miss Escott. Congratulations, Escott. Your girl played a
"Must have done," said the major. "Never does when she partners me.
Crosbie must have been pretty hot too."
"He was, and my partner and I kept them going. But they sunk an approach
at the eighteenth and so gained one on us." Then he turned to Broughley
and his friend. "Hullo, Ross, you down again? That's good. You must give
me another game." He dropped his voice to a whisper and added, "Come over
here. I want to tell you about it."
Something in his manner made them think he meant more than the
recapitulation of the events of the round, though many men can make a
long story of that! They followed him across the room.
"Have a drink," he added.
To this there was even less objection and they took their glasses out to
"It was the queerest game ever," he murmured as they sat down in a quiet
corner. "Who did you draw for partner, Broughley?"
"Miss Anderson. We ended on the seventeenth green."
"I drew Miss Wilton. A friend of yours, isn't she?
"She is," said Bill.
"Well, Crosbie drew Maidie Escott. He told me before we went out that he
didn't know Miss Wilton. So on the first tee I introduced them. They
stared at one another as though they had both been stung. Then they said
'How d'ye do,' in the coldest possible manner and, believe me, those were
the only words they spoke on the whole round."
"I don't blame anyone," said Broughley, "for not being chatty with
"Maybe not," returned Chase, "but there's more to it than that. At the
start it looked as though for some reason they were both going to play
atrociously. Crosbie had the first drive and he missed it altogether.
Think of that for the fancied man for the captain's prize! I hit a decent
one, but Miss Wilton did an air shot for our second. Looked pretty grim.
They each did another foozle and then there was a change. Pulled
themselves together and played about as perfect golf as I have ever seen.
Maidie was jolly good and it was the toughest game I've known for ages.
And hardly a word spoken all the way."
"Concentration," said Ross. "You should try it. What happened at 'Hell’?”
"Crosbie had to drive against Miss Wilton. Got a beauty, two yards from
the pin. He gave her a devilish look. "Beat that if you can!" He didn't
say it aloud, but one felt it. And she did beat it. Hers stopped dead and
we both got two's."
"That's a help," said Ross. "Farmer was very sore over his six."
"Didn't you talk at all?" asked Broughley. "Rather unlike you!"
"Somehow one couldn't talk much. I asked my partner if she had met
Crosbie before and she said No. But the way she snapped it out seemed to
mean a lot. If you put that question to a girl in the ordinary way she
says, 'No, where does he come from? What is he? He seems very pleasant.'
or something like that. But Miss Wilton said nothing at all. Yet I would
swear she knows all she wants to about him."
"And that probably is too much," said Broughley. "What had Crosbie to
"I asked him the same thing--had he met her before? He looked at me as
though I was a rude little boy and barked, 'No. Why do you ask?' I told
him I had thought from his manner they recognised one another. 'She
reminded me of someone.' Then he shut up and that was that. After the bad
start they played as fiercely as they knew how. Each determined to outdo
"How did it end?" asked Broughley.
"As I told you, thanks to their birdie at the eighteenth, making three in
all to our two, they had a stroke to the good. Miss Wilton played our
last shot at the twentieth. A peach, level with the flag where Farmer's
lot left it. Crosbie was not quite so good, but Maidie had one to go and
finished just short of the green."
"What happened then?"
"Miss Wilton took Maidie's arm, said what a wonderful game she had played
and walked off with her. Just nodded to me and took no notice of
"It certainly was queer," commented Broughley, stubbing out his
cigarette. He hesitated a moment and then went on, "Miss Wilton is a
friend of mine, as you say, and I should be grateful, Chase, if you
wouldn't tell anyone else about it. Most likely there is nothing in it,
but anyway we don't want to start a lot of silly talk. I'll ask her if
she knows anything of Crosbie. Most of us think him a bit of a bounder
and she may have heard tales about him. Be a good chap and leave it till
we know more.
"Silence is my second name," said Chase, "and thirst my third, what about
CHAPTER TWO: TWO GIRLS
BILL BROUGHLEY was a bachelor of simple tastes and ample means. He was
massively built and no one would have called him brainy. He was honest,
good-hearted and hated worry. His father had been the proprietor of a big
printing business and when, on his death, it was sold to a combine, Bill
invested the proceeds in securities that produced a sure and comfortable
income, even after the government had lopped off its very substantial
share. It was an arrangement, free from care, that entirely suited his
Fond of golf and of bridge, life at such places as the Dormy House of the
Barrington Golf Club suited him very well indeed for a good portion of
the year. He was nearing forty and had felt no urge to matrimony. He
invited men friends from town to stay with him and play with him and that
seemed to satisfy his needs. It was only lately that he had begun to ask
himself if he was not missing a good deal.
Simon Ross, a barrister considerably younger than himself, had met him
some years before on a cruising holiday. Similar tastes had led to a firm
friendship. They had played a good deal of golf together, though only
once before at that course. Now Simon had arrived on a Saturday
afternoon, too late for a game, but with the intention of playing on the
"They do you very well here," said the visitor appreciatively, as they
sat at dinner.
"Yes, but I am not sure it was not jollier in the old days, before they
stuck up this Dormy House."
"It's a rattling good course," laughed Simon. "You and your pals wanted
to keep it to yourselves. I don't blame you, but it can't be done when
you are so near town."
"I suppose not," said Broughley. "All the snug little pubs get ousted
sooner or later by the showy hotels where life is about as restful as a
railway terminus. And you get a different class of member. The atmosphere
changes. Even the old members alter."
"How do you mean?"
"It's not easy to explain. I daresay it happens in most clubs. Things run
smoothly for years, then something crops up and the devil is let loose.
Peaceful people get quarrelsome, old differences are remembered and
finally there is an almighty row."
"The gas has to explode. Has there been anything of that sort here?"
Simon was sipping some excellent Chambertin. The changes had certainly
not affected the cellar.
"Very much so. Didn't I tell you about our row over the election of the
captain a few months ago?"
"I think you said there was a contest. I never understood it was anything
"It was all hell and fury," said Bill. "There had never been an opposed
election before, so that alone was a bit of a sensation. The committee
nominated a man called Knight, but a certain section rebelled and put up
Crosbie, the fellow Chase was talking about this afternoon. Every one got
"Why did they object to Knight?"
"Nothing against him personally, they said, but the newer members
declared there was too much wire-pulling, that everything was run by a
clique and it was time the real wishes of the club were expressed. The
usual sort of clap-trap about the old gang keeping everything to
"Is Crosbie popular?"
"Not particularly. He has only belonged for about two years, but someone
nominated him. Feeling ran pretty high and a lot of fellows said they
would support him as a matter of principle."
"The committee was rather high-handed. They talked of resigning in a body
if their man was not elected. The Crosbie-ites said that was either bluff
or a bid for dictatorship."
"World politics in a golf club," said Simon.
"In a concentrated form. You would hardly credit the excitement it
"People jeer at a storm in a tea-cup," smiled his friend, "but I always
think life in a tea-cup would be precious dull if there were no storms."
"There is that. A lot of our resident members, retired service men and
the like, have too little to occupy their minds, so a thing of this sort
becomes almost as big as the great war itself. At last the committee, to
save the situation, got General Cairn, the retiring captain, to accept
nomination for a further year."
"That made three candidates?"
"Knight withdrew but Crosbie did not. Like the pushful fool he is, he
persisted to the end. At the general meeting Cairn, who is really a
splendid old boy, made a topping speech. He said they were all good
sportsmen and at heart were all equally anxious for the success of the
club. If their vote went against him, let every one accept the decision
in the same spirit of good fellowship as he would, and continue to do
their best to make things as happy as in the past. Then he said, in case
it should seem he had abused his privilege as retiring captain in
speaking as he had done, he would ask Mr. Crosbie to address them before
the vote was taken."
"That was sporting anyway."
"Yes. If Crosbie had responded in the right spirit he would have been
thought no end of, and would most likely have been elected next year
without opposition. As it was he chose to attack Cairn. Said he was a
ha'penny Hitler and wanted to crush independent opinion."
"Every one was disgusted. It seemed so petty after what Cairn had said. A
poll was taken and Crosbie hardly got a vote."
"Did that end the trouble?
"Far from it," said Broughley. "The Crosbie section is small but active.
Crosbie entered as usual for the captain's prize, although some of us did
not expect him to, and that looks like ending in blood!"
"How so? You are still in it, aren't you?
"I am. Sixteen qualify and I have managed to get into the last four. So
have Crosbie and Knight. They meet in the semi-final, so you can guess
how they feel about it."
"Whom do you meet?"
"Don't know yet. Hann, the fellow who annoyed Farmer at 'Hell' this
afternoon, meets Sladen. Then I tackle the winner, probably Sladen."
"When will your match be?"
"Sometime next week-end, I expect."
"I must come down to caddie for you," laughed Ross.
"Come down by all means. I'd love you to."
"All right. And I'll come again for the final--when you meet the survivor
of the Crosbie-Knight duel."
"If I survive mine!" said Broughley.
After dinner they played bridge. They believed in the same system and,
what is more, they understood each other's method of applying it. As
they cut together three times they had quite a profitable evening. It was
not until they were having a last drink, before going to bed, that Simon
referred to a matter which had occurred earlier in the day.
"By the way," he said, "what did you make of the story that man Chase
told us? I mean of Crosbie and the girl who would not speak?
"It was very odd," said Broughley. "Chase may have imagined it, though I
hardly think that likely."
"Since Crosbie was such a prominent member," suggested Ross, "surely the
girl must have known him, unless of course she has only just joined."
"She has belonged for about four months, but ladies are not allowed to
play at the week-ends, except in mixed foursomes. So those who can play
during the week leave Saturdays and Sundays to the men. Fellows like
Crosbie, who only come down for week-ends, never meet the mid-weekers."
"Chase said she was rather a friend of yours?"
"She is a friend of mine," said Broughley seriously. "I would like you to
meet her. I doubt if you have ever seen a more beautiful woman."
"Then I certainly must meet her. She evidently plays a good game of golf.
Is she young?"
"She might be thirty, though I doubt it. I think she must have had
trouble. Do you remember the windmill by the sixteenth tee?"
"Rather; one of your landmarks. The only thing visible from the gates of
"She lives in that windmill. Has adapted it wonderfully and made the most
delightful home of it."
"Quite a novel idea. Sounds draughty somehow. Is she eccentric?"
"Not at all, but very artistic. You would be surprised how snug it is. If
you like, I'll take you there to-morrow to tea."
"I'd love it," said Simon. He knew that Bill wanted to go. When a man of
forty falls in love for the first time he gets it badly! Curiosity to see
the young woman his friend thought so beautiful was increased at the
prospect of visiting her windmill home.
In the morning they had a single, playing behind Hann and Crosbie. As
they caught them up on two or three tees, Simon had the opportunity of
noting the two men whose play the day before had occasioned so much
Hann, whose purposely missed putt had so infuriated Farmer, was slight
and fully six feet in height. He was sprucely attired in gay plus fours
with bright tassels to his stockings. His fair skin and his light waxed
moustache hardly suggested the vigour of his play.
"Slow going," Simon remarked to him the second time they caught up.
"Yes," said Hann pleasantly. "Knight and Farmer are two holes ahead. They
always hold up the course. If I stared at my putts as long as they do I
should go blob-eyed and miss them altogether."
Crosbie grunted and said nothing. He was years older than his companion,
about the same height but of much heavier build. He had a parchment-coloured
face with a hard, resolute mouth. The ball travelled when he hit
it; it simply had to. Simon wondered if his grim silence in the previous
day's mixed foursome was his natural manner and not so strange as Chase
had thought. The fact that he was still playing there after his defeat in
the election for a captain showed that he was not unduly sensitive and
probably cared little for the opinion of others.
Bill and Simon, each handicap three, were having a ding-dong battle.
When, in spite of delays, they reached “Hell” they were all square. At
that infamous hole Simon's tee shot was nicely judged for strength, but
it pitched on the footpath that led from the green and bounded into the
chasm beyond. Broughley landed properly and he won the hole.
Climbing up to the sixteenth, Simon took special note of the windmill. It
was less than fifty yards away, a narrow road dividing the land on which
it stood from the boundary of the golf course. Circular in build, around
it, about a third of the way up, there ran a gallery or balcony. This had
evidently been strengthened, for two girls were sitting on it. When
Broughley appeared they recognised him and waved their hands.
"Which of them is Miss Wilton?" asked Simon, as they drove off and strode
after their balls.
"The taller, darker one. The other is Hazel Grantley, a cousin who lives
with her. I believe they do for themselves, with the aid of a local woman
for the heavy work."
"Did you know them before they came here?"
"No," said Broughley, "I rather thrust myself on them. The mill had been
derelict for quite a while and one day I saw some work going on. I went
across to see what was happening and found a girl in trousers and an
overall doing some whitewashing.
“She told me she had bought it and was to live in it when the work was
done. I asked if I could help. She said, 'Yes, move these trestles for
me.' After that I dropped in most days and lent a hand."
"You mean those girls did the work themselves?"
"The interior work. Said they thoroughly enjoyed it. Made a jolly good
job of it too. She is an artist by profession."
"And the other one?"
"Writing a book, I believe."
The match ended all square. As they walked in for lunch Broughley said:
"We shall probably be asked to make up a four-ball. If it's all the same
to you, we will say we have this match to finish. Then we'll play fifteen
holes, send the caddies back with the clubs and go across to the windmill
"O.K. for me if I shall not be in the way," smiled Simon.
"There are two girls," said Bill simply.
CHAPTER THREE: THE WINDMILL
A COMPLETE contrast were the two young women who had fashioned the
windmill for their home. Sylvia Wilton was undoubtedly beautiful. Tall,
dark, with an olive complexion, brown eyes, hair almost black and
features of classic perfection--beautiful was the right and only word.
Hazel Grantley was not beautiful at all, she was only pretty. But it was
the sort of prettiness that affects some men more deeply than does the
severer mould of stately grace.
She was just below middle height, with bright colouring and laughing eyes
that sometimes looked more green than brown, and sometimes grey. She was
quick in speech and movement and her expression was so variable that it
was fascinating to watch her. Such, at any rate, was Simon's feeling when
he was introduced.
The mill certainly made a delightful home. The ground floor had been
divided into three parts; a large lounge, a small dining-room, and a tiny
kitchen. A spiral stairway led to two bedrooms that opened to the outside
gallery, and above them was Sylvia's studio. The walls of the lounge were
panelled and colour washed. The floor had some good rugs and the
furniture was of old mahogany with chairs not too artistic for comfort.
"I do not think I have ever been inside a windmill before," said Simon as
they started on some delicious home-made scones. "Where are the
grindstones? Do the sails keep you awake at night?"
"What do you really know about windmills?" laughed Hazel.
"Nothing. Only that the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind
"Ah!" cried the girl, "and who said that?"
"Well, really, I don't know. It isn't in the Bible, so I suppose it must
"More likely Tennyson or Browning," suggested Broughley.
"Or Byron or Pope," smiled the girl. "I don't suppose one person in five
"Tell us," said Simon.
"Curiously enough two poets used almost the same line at about the same
time. Frederick Von Logau, who died in 1655, used the actual words you
quoted and George Herbert, who died twenty years earlier, wrote 'God's
mills grind slow but sure.'"
"But is it true?" asked Sylvia. "Do you really believe, whatever wrong is
done, that justice eventually, overtakes the wrongdoer?"
Her voice was soft and sweet. She spoke seriously. It seemed to Ross that
she put her question to him and he recalled Bill's phrase that she
probably had faced trouble. It might well be true.
"In the law courts," he said, "we try to give the impression that the tag
is true. Our methods are pretty slow but we grind on and on and as a rule
justice is done in the end. But I suppose you don't quite mean that.
There are lots of things that never go to trial. Whether, in those cases,
nemesis or remorse pursues the wrongdoer, I cannot say. We can only hope
"We can only hope not!" flashed Hazel. "Has your life been so blameless
that there are no little devils who might chase you to pay your just
"I refuse to confess in public," he replied. "Tell me some more about
"The oddest thing about them is that they are almost unknown to the
poets. I defy anyone to give a quotation about windmills, except from Don
Quixote. When the poets talk about mills they always refer to
"Afraid I don't read poetry," said Bill.
"Miss Grantley is so learned, she must be right," laughed Simon.
"My reading," said the girl, "is like our mill, rather a sham. I was
interested in windmills and so consulted a book of quotations and there
was simply nothing about them. As to our grindstones, they and all the
machinery are gone. The sails are fixed; so we are picturesque but
"A good deal quieter that way. What happens when there is a gale?
"Nothing. You see, when they are working, windmills have a revolving cap
so that the sails are sometimes one side and sometimes another. They have
their boards rather like venetian blinds to catch the wind. We reefed
ours and so the wind just rushes through."
"I am woefully ignorant about them. I shall look them up and ask some
more questions when I come down next week--if I may?"
"You mean," she said, "you will try to show I am wrong. By all means!"
He laughed and turned to Sylvia.
"You and your partner won the second prize yesterday. You must have
played a wonderful game. Chase was most enthusiastic."
"He played very well," she said quietly.
"He declared it was the grimmest game he had ever known. You and the
opposing man just glared at each other and then did the most amazing
"Mr. Chase is very imaginative," was her cold response.
"Three birdies in one round!" Simon exclaimed. "Sheer hard fact! And
living so close to the course, I suppose you will get better and better."
"If we stay here."
"If you stay!" cried Bill. "You have made it the sweetest place possible.
Surely you could not think of leaving it?"
"When a thing is done it's done. The charm is gone. It may be more fun to
start something else." She rose abruptly, "If you have finished, let us
go outside for a cigarette." It was apparent to them all she did not wish
further discussion on that matter.
The mill had not much to boast of in the way of a garden. There was a
fair-sized piece of ground and a thick shrubbery fringed it on the
"A windmill couldn't encourage trees," Hazel explained to Ross as the
other two strolled on ahead of them, "it wanted to be exposed to all the
breezes that blow. Now we have finished inside we shall plant some roses
and a lavender walk."
"Then you do not anticipate an immediate move?" he asked.
"No, and I don't think Sylvia does really. She loves it as much as I do."
"Was my remark about her glaring at her opponent yesterday lacking in
"Why should you think so?" She stopped and looked squarely at him. He saw
that despite her laughing eyes she had a very determined little chin.
"I did not think so, or I should not have said it. I meant it in jest,
but she seemed to take it seriously."
"Sylvia is often serious. Have you any hobbies besides golf?"
The wish to change the conversation was again obvious and he had no
objection. He felt more interested in Hazel just then than in her cousin.
"I read a good deal," he said. "Bill tells me you are writing a book.
What is it? A social satire or a crime story?"
"Neither. A historical novel."
"How jolly interesting. What is it to be called? What is the period? How
do you get your material in an out-of-the-way place like this?"
"When you cross-examine your witnesses," she retorted, "do you ask one
question at a time or do you fire off a volley?"
"I don't cross-examine my witnesses but the other fellow's," he laughed.
"May I treat you as a friendly witness?"
"Then, madam, what period in history are you honouring with the
searchlight of your study?"
"Lady Jane Grey is my heroine, the nine days' queen. We have had a lot
lately about the Tudor wenches; it is time she had another turn."
"What is your story to be called?"
"I have not yet decided. What can you suggest?"
"The witness must please answer questions, not ask them. Will it be
published in your own name?"
"I fear the learned counsel is assuming something for which there is no
warrant. It may never be published."
"I refuse to believe so ill of publishers," he said with due gravity. "I
will amend my question. If and when it is published, what will be the
"Is that your full and complete name?"
"Were you christened Hazel because of the colour of your eyes--look this
way, please!--or did your eyes become like it because of your name?"
"I was never consulted. I thought Hazel was just a common little shrub."
"On the contrary, madam, the cultivated variety is rare and much sought
after. As to the meaning of the name--"
"I am not sure of the derivation, but I think Hazel is something between
an imp and an angel."
"Whereat," she said mockingly, "the witness curtsied and left the box."
"But tell me this," he persisted, "do you play golf?"
"Am I still on oath?"
"I want to know the truth."
"I do not play golf in the sense Sylvia does, but sometimes I hit a golf
"That is splendid. When I come down next week to see Bill play his
semi-final, cannot we have a foursome? You and I against him and Sylvia?
Of course they will give us the proper strokes."
"You don't know what you are asking," she laughed.
"Perhaps not, but I am very keen on getting it!"
"Well--I am willing if the others are."
When Simon and Bill walked back together they went for some way in
silence. Then Simon said: "What a delightful girl!"
"Yes," said his friend, "I knew you would think that, but she wasn't
quite herself today."
Simon looked at him and smiled. "I meant Hazel."
"Oh--I was thinking of Sylvia. Something is worrying her. I wish I knew
what it is."
CHAPTER FOUR: THE QUARREL
SIMON Ross was lucky. Every one in the Temple thought that. At the age
when most young barristers, if not briefless, are finding the guineas few
and far between, he had in a modest way begun to make his mark.
One of the assisting counsel in a case conducted by French Norcutt, the
famous criminal K.C., the small part he had to play had been so well done
that the great man had asked for him again. Again he satisfied his leader
and more work followed. Solicitors who were not employing silk sent cases
to him, and he was generally regarded as a coming man. Despite his
growing responsibilities, he never quite lost his boyish sense of humour,
and that perhaps was no inconsiderable asset.
He was looking forward eagerly to his next week-end at Barrington and as
the Easter vacation was commencing he decided to stay on at the Dormy
House for the whole time. He thought a good deal about what had happened
during his last visit. It needed no keen insight to see that his friend
Broughley was much attracted to Sylvia Wilton. And, he felt, a good thing
too. Bill was an excellent fellow and was at an age when married life
would be better for him than a Dormy House existence.
As to Sylvia, he had not quite made up his mind. There was no question as
to her charm and beauty, but there was something mysterious about her.
That question she had put to him--did be believe the adage as to the
mills of God?--it arose naturally enough from their conversation; but
there seemed meaning in the way she asked it. And her eyes, there was
knowledge--suffering perhaps--in them. As Broughley had suggested, she
had faced the world and tasted the cup of bitterness.
But he thought a good deal more about Hazel Grantley than either of the
others. He even looked for references to windmills that he might prove
her wrong. She seemed to be right. Water-mills and millstones were often
met with, but not windmills. She was a bright young person and he was
keenly looking forward to another battle of wits with her.
Yet nothing fell out as he had planned. In the first place he found that
the match between Hann and Sladen had been postponed and therefore the
semi-final between Broughley and the winner, which was the ostensible
reason for his visit, could not be played. Then his friend, though
cordial enough in his welcome, seemed worried and preoccupied. In that
short week some change had come over him.
"Have Knight and Crosbie had their great duel?" asked Simon.
"Not yet. There is plenty of time."
"Why have not Hann and Sladen played?"
"Sladen has been away. Monday is the last day and they say be is coming
back on Sunday night so that he can play the next morning."
"How are the ladies at the windmill? I suppose you have seen them?"
"Yes. They are all right."
"Our game with them stands for to-morrow?
"I think so."
Bill's manner was certainly odd. In the Saturday afternoon round he was
far from doing himself justice, and in the evening there was a spot of
bother in the cardroom that did not show him in a favourable light,
although it appeared that others, too, were rather irritable.
The Dormy House had two cardrooms, one for men only and one for mixed
play. Ross and Broughley went to the men's room and made a total of ten.
So there were two tables and one to cut out at each. Crosbie was playing
and was not having much luck, a fact that was reflected in his manners.
Broughley, having cut out at the other table, stood for a time behind him
to watch his play. Apparently that annoyed him.
"Go away!" he said rudely.
Everybody looked surprised but Bill, without a word, returned to his own
A little later the rubber ended and Crosbie, having lost heavily, blamed
his partner, a man named Foster, for his calls.
"You might at least learn the rudiments of the game before you play here.
Any old grandmother would do better!"
"Not if the cards were against her," said Farmer, one of the winning
"The cards!" retorted Crosbie. "I don't mind the cards. One can at least
say nothing. I don't mind losing, but I can't play against the three of
He spoke loudly and it was undoubtedly a relief to the others when he cut
out and someone took his place. He got himself a strong whisky and sat
down to watch them. His silence was certainly not as conspicuous as Simon
had at one time thought. As the deals ended he commented sneeringly on
the calls and the play, especially that of his previous partner, the
"Shut up, Crosbie!" said Farmer. "It's not your funeral anyway."
Two rubbers were completed and there was another cut to let Crosbie in
"Don't cut," said Farmer. "I'll go. I might be his partner and that would
be worse than playing against him."
"You mean you don't want to play with me?" demanded Crosbie.
"Just that," was the reply.
"I would like to know why?"
"I should think you could guess. I am surprised that anyone plays with
Crosbie, who was standing over him, raised his fist almost as though be
would have struck him. The others stood up to separate them. The men from
the second table, having also finished a game, came over to see what the
"He says I am not fit to play with," cried Crosbie, who had certainly
drunk more than was good for him. "It's a damned insult. I will report
him to the committee and have him turned out."
It was Broughley who replied. As a rule he was a very peaceful man and
far too easy-going to interfere in other people's quarrels. Simon was
surprised at the fury in his eyes.
"You have been behaving all the evening, Crosbie, like the cad that you
are. You ought to go to your room."
Certainly he should not have said it. The whole thing was discreditable.
But he stood there in an attitude almost as threatening as that of
Crosbie to Farmer. The others drew back in surprise, though probably most
of them agreed with him.
"A cad, am I?" said Crosbie. "A nice thing to hear in a place like this
before witnesses. A deliberate slander. I don't know what the committee
will say. Friends of yours, I suppose, most of them. But this is
something that concerns a higher authority. I wasn't even playing with
you. You had better apologise or you'll hear more of it."
He spoke steadily. The insult had sobered him, or it may be his
professional instincts had mastered his previous display of boorishness.
Broughley was pale but no less determined.
"I do not apologise. I said you behaved like a cad and I repeat it. A
There was a tense moment of silence. As a visitor Simon did not quite
know what to do. Had Bill gone mad? Of course he would stick by him
whatever happened, but he thought it best not to interfere. Crosbie did
not make any further show of violence. He seemed fully to have recovered
his command of himself. He looked round at the company with something of
a jeering smile.
"I ask you all to remember this. A slander entirely unprovoked. You will
no doubt be called upon to testify to it at the right time and place."
With that he picked up his glass and drained it with an air almost of
triumph and strode from the room.
Again there was a hush that was broken by the gentle voice of Hann who
had been playing at Broughley's table. He was generally regarded as one
of Crosbie's closest friends.
"I don't think you should have said that, Broughley. He is a solicitor,
you know, and I expect it will mean trouble for all of us."
"Anyway it was true," declared Farmer.
Hann shrugged his shoulders. "Sometimes it is not wise to say all we
think is true."
"I don't want to bring trouble to anyone else," said Bill. "No one but a
cad would behave as he did. I am quite prepared to stand the racket for
what I said."
"Don't be a fool, Broughley," urged Hann. "Let me tell him you didn't
mean it, and clear it up.
"I meant every word of it," declared Bill hotly.
"Well, well," said Farmer, "he has gone. Let us start again."
Some of them did start again, but the incident had left an unpleasant
feeling and rather earlier than usual they broke off.
"Did I act like a fool?" Broughley asked Simon as they took their final
"Well, old chap, you certainly rushed in. Whether an angel would have
feared to tread I do not know."
"Crosbie talked of a slander action. If he brings one he will probably
get a verdict, but whether it will do him much good is another matter."
"Every one knows he was drunk."
"A lot will depend on what the other fellows say. Some latitude in the
matter of language is allowed in a quarrel. Abuse is not slander. His
point will be that after the heat of battle he invited you to withdraw
and instead you rubbed it in. Not only a cad, but a damned cad. Unfit, he
will say, to associate with decent people."
"So he is! Did you expect me to apologise?"
"My dear fellow, I was speaking as a lawyer. Most people, I imagine, will
sympathise with you. He may think better of it when he cools down. It
won't do him much credit, however it goes. I am really more worried about
your committee--if the Dormy House is under their jurisdiction. They can
hardly refrain from taking some action if the matter is reported to
"Farmer is on the committee. They ought to back me up."
"Have you ever had any row with him before?"
For a moment Bill was silent. Then he said: "No. We have hardly spoken.
But I tell you, Simon, if you only knew--Never mind! Good-night."
Abruptly again he broke off, turned away and went to bed. When they met
in the morning, although it was obvious that others were busily
discussing the affair, there was no reference to it by themselves. Simon
thought it was not for him to bring it up, and Bill's mood of silence
continued. His friend was sure something was worrying him. Bill was not a
good dissembler. But the afternoon might make things clearer.
They played their morning round and Simon noticed there were no waving
hands from the windmill. The sky was dull and against its background
there was something almost sinister in that still and silent sign of the
cross. In the afternoon Bill did mention the matter that must have been a
good deal in his mind. They were on their way to join Sylvia and Hazel on
the first tee.
"I say, old man, I don't want you to tell the girls about that little
squabble last night."
"Shouldn't dream of such a thing," said Simon cheerily. "Let us hope
every one has forgotten it. How many strokes do Hazel and I receive?"
The handicap was adjusted but the game was not the happy affair he had
anticipated. If Bill was preoccupied and worried, Sylvia was no less so.
There were no signs of a quarrel. Bill was gently attentive to her, and
she seemed to appreciate it, but there was no fun in either of them. Even
Hazel seemed affected by the general air of constraint. Simon rallied her
"What is on your mind? Lady Jane been misbehaving?"
"Lady Jane never misbehaved--not, anyway, in my book."
"That only answers part of my question."
"Aren't you too fond of asking questions? Surely you allow yourself a
holiday sometimes. Shall I play this with an iron or a mashie?"
"The iron. Go for it."
She hit a creditable shot, carrying a bunker and landing on the green.
"Good shot! If I ask questions it is because I am so anxious to be
helpful. Doesn't one of your poets say a worry shared is a worry halved?"
"Does he? I expect it depends a good deal on whom you share it with."
"That is why I am so handy. I expect to be here for ten days."
"Do you? If you sink that putt we shall be two up."
He did not sink it, but as Sylvia missed hers they won the hole all the
same. Apart from that putt he was playing quite well--which, despite
occasional flashes of brilliance, could not be said of any of the others.
On the next fairway he began again:
"About that worry--"
"I have no worries. I want to attend to the game."
They won by four and three, but he did not feel very elated. A girl has
every right to snub a man who, when they meet for the second time only,
expects to share her confidences. Yet it was not exactly that. He had
only been chaffing and she was well able to hold her own. He had the
sensation of being shut out. These others, Sylvia, Bill and Hazel, were
concerned in something and they did not wish to tell him what it was. He
was a little puzzled; perhaps a little hurt; but he asked no more
He was soon to understand things better. There was another incident later
that night that he was also to remember and which was to cause him more
anxiety than anything else.
After dinner Bill seemed restless. "I don't feel like playing cards," he
said. "I think I'll read the paper. Do you mind?"
"Not a bit, old chap," said Simon. "I've booked here for a week or more,
so don't regard me as a guest. I will be quite all right looking after
Bill had the papers but he seemed to turn the leaves without finding
anything to interest him. At last he got up.
"Think I'll go for a bit of a walk," he said.
Simon glanced at the clock. It was a little after nine.
"To the windmill?" he smiled.
"No. At least--I don't know."
"As you so well put it, there are two girls."
He went alone.
CHAPTER FIVE: THE BODY IN THE BUNKER
THERE were very few present when, on the Monday morning, a little before
nine o'clock, Hann and Sladen started out on their great match. Hann had
suggested the early hour as he said he must get back to town and would
have preferred to play the previous day.
Stuart Sladen was an extraordinary being, both as a man and a golfer. He
was tall, with a hairy face and a long beard. Such beards are rare in
these days and his was the subject of much chaff from his friends. There
was a legend that he once mis-hit a ball, that it ran up his club and
was not found until he was combing his beard at bedtime. There was also a
theory that, as he suffered at times from the golfer's most fatal error
of lifting the head, he meant to grow that beard until he could put a
foot on it and so keep his head down. He was an author, but his writings
were too fantastic to be popular. He spoke with a rich Scottish accent
and was really very well liked, as odd characters are when they can take
banter good humouredly. As to his golf, Hann, who was scratch, had to
give him eight strokes and it was generally doubted if he could do it.
Sladen usually played round with only three clubs and carried his own
dilapidated bag. On this occasion, the match being of such importance, he
brought a fourth club, a prodigious mashie-niblick, and he employed a
caddie. So the battle began.
The naming of the holes on a golf course is far more usual in Scotland
than in England. It may be the mystic temperament of the Highlander, with
his Wee Bogle, Witch's Bowster or Mountsion, enters further into the
spirit of the game than the unimaginative southerner, content with the
prosaic eighth, ninth and tenth. It may be, when the links were first
laid out in the grim land beyond the Tweed, nature and legend had already
done their part. Each hole was different and the names were already there
or immediately suggested themselves. Water Kelpie, Trystin' Tree and
Westlin' Wyne tell of fact or experience. As the game spread, and courses
increased in number, distinctive features became more rare. How shall
different names be found for the parallel lines of a gridiron?
The northern golfer not only takes his game seriously but he finds a
gloomy joy in reminding himself of the perils he has to face. Heich o'
Fash (which the caddy tells the ignorant stranger means Height--or
Depth--of Trouble), Howe o' Hope (Grave of Hope) and Glenogle (Valley of
Dread), show with what he has to contend. Could a better name be devised
for the dour seventeenth than Warslin' Lea (Struggling Home)? But there
is hardly a course, north or south, where names are given, that is too
flat or too gentle to possess a Hell.
The shot that falls short of perfection tells why. There may be one
bunker; there may be many. From the tee everything may look alluringly
simple, but a hidden cavern may lie beyond the green. For the wrongdoer
the torments are terrible and escape well-nigh impossible. Generally
there is a local legend of a visiting Bishop who, getting into "Hell" and
playing out with one heroic shot, heard his caddie mutter, "When ye dee
tak' y'I niblick wi' ye."
At Barrington all the holes had names, but Hell was the only one in
general use. It was so well deserved. And yet such a guileless hole it
looked. A tempting green, not unusually small, only a hundred and twenty
yards from the tee. But nature--or a devil in human guise--had placed it
in the centre of a sandy waste. In front, in the shallowest part, the
bunker was only six feet deep. Right and left were footpaths, barely a
yard wide, crossing the sea of sand to the island green, beyond which the
land fell away sharply to a depth of over twenty feet, to rise again
abruptly to the plateau of the sixteenth tee. A perfect "drop and stop"
shot made a three easy, but for anything else the punishment was
incalculable. A lady champion of world-fame visiting the course for the
first time, not sure which club would be the best, asked her caddie--"
What shall I take here?"
"Dunno, miss," was his reply. "A good many take ten." No overstatement,
for he might have added that in one memorable combat the hole (and
accidentally the match) was won in sixteen!
Hann and Sladen were, at the handicap, well matched. All-square when they
left the fourteenth green, they faced the terrors of "Hell," knowing that
what happened there might not improbably determine the issue of the
struggle. One up with three to go is not a winning lead, but it is a big
encouragement at a critical time. Sladen was to receive a stroke--rather
an irony at such a hole; generally entirely unnecessary or hopelessly in
adequate. They did not speak. The fight was too grim for that. It was
Hann's honour. He took his mashie but did not hit the ball firmly enough.
It fell a yard short, into the front bunker.
Sladen had a great chance. He stood there, his red hair blowing in the
wind. His caddie (who, unknown to him, had a bet of a shilling with his
colleague on the result of the match) handed him the mighty
mashie-niblick brought specially for this one shot.
Sladen took it, made a preliminary swing and then hit a tremendous smack,
clean and straight for the green. The ball flew high and it looked as
though he had judged it perfectly. Alas! It was a fraction too good. It
pitched past the pin, on the very edge of the green, and bounded into the
In silence the four of them, the two men and their two caddies, strode
towards the bunkers. Hann, niblick in hand, waited by his ball, and his
caddie stood near on the footpath. The other caddie went to the green
while Sladen passed on and was lost to view in the farther depths. It
might well be that his ball was the farther from the pin. But he did not
play the shot. His ball was resting against an obstruction that ought not
to be found in any bunker. A human body!
A moment later his face was visible above the edge of the green. He
looked startled, almost scared.
"Come her-I-re!" he cried.
Something in his tone made them all move to where he stood. And they saw
it. A human form lying in an untidy heap at the bottom of that vast
bunker. On its back, face upwards, a little to one side; one leg
awkwardly bent under the body; one arm outstretched, the other folded
across the chest. Clad in a grey suit. A grey felt hat a few feet away
and beside it a golf club, its head buried in the sand.
"Mr. Crosbie!" muttered one of the caddies, the first to speak.
They all knew he was right. The features, more grey than white, and
flecked with blood, were unmistakable.
"Is he dead?" whispered Hann.
"Ver-ry dead," said Sladen. "I barely touched him, but he is cauld and
wet. I should eemagine he has been dead for hours."
"What must we do?" asked his opponent, forgetting, as was only natural,
their contest. "Hadn't I better just see--"
"Nobody mustn't touch nothink," said one of the caddies. "Me and Joe will
stay 'ere to keep people away. You gents 'ad best go the club 'ouse and
telephone for the p'lice."
This caddie's name was Toffy Blair--why Toffy none could say. He had been
in the army and earned his stripes. He walked with a limp but no one knew
his job better than he. He was deservedly popular with the players.
"You are I-right," said Sladen in his rich deep tones. "Remain here. We
will stop anyone we meet."
"Suicide, Toffy," muttered Joe, a lad of eighteen, as the men hurried
away. "What d'ye think 'e done it for?
"'Tain't no suicide," said Toffy. "They often talks like it in 'ell, but
they won't do it."
"'Ow d'ye know?"
"That it ain't suicide?"
"Cos there ain't no gun. Any fool could see that. Leastwise unless 'e's
lyin' on it. Murder. That's what it is."
"Murder. Blimy!" Joe was silent a moment. Then he said, "Couldn't I just
go and see where 'e was 'it?
"Certainly, if you wants to--and swing for doin' it! Like to put your
footmarks by the body, would yer?"
Joe looked at him in silent awe. He had never thought of that. Whether
Toffy had read detective stories, or only the Sunday papers, or if his
wartime experiences had put him wise, he could not tell. He felt he had
been saved from a grave peril.
"There ain't no footmarks," he said at last, "Not by the body; only Mr.
"That why yer want to make some?" was the scornful reply. "You go back to
the tee and wait there to prevent anyone else playin'. They'll be along
"Righto, Toffy," said Joe. "I'll stop 'em. But what about our bob?"
"Bets orf," was the terse reply. "Match abandoned."
CHAPTER SIX: INSPECTOR LEE
IT was rather late when Simon Ross and Bill Broughley started their game.
When on holiday the young lawyer made no pretence of being an early riser
and he hoped, when they met at breakfast, that the night's rest would
have made Bill more like his usual good-humoured self. He had not seen
him since he went out for his walk the evening before and he trusted to
find him in better spirits.
In this he was disappointed. Bill was still very moody and he fussed
about in a most unaccountable way. Twice he went to the porter's office
to ask if there was no letter for him, and returned a third time to
inquire if it was possible that something had come and had been given to
someone else in error.
"Important, Bill?" asked Simon.
"No--I only wondered."
Then he hung around the lounge, pretending to read the morning paper.
Meanwhile every one else was, making for the links.
"Playing this morning?" asked Simon at last. "Don't mind me, if you would
rather not. I can easily fix up something."
"I want to play," said Bill. "I want to play."
So they made a belated start and were well away from the club-house, and
also far short of the fifteenth hole, when the news reached them of the
tragedy that had been discovered in "Hell."
"Crosbie found dead," repeated Broughley. "It can't be true." He seemed
"No slander action now," said Simon. "What shall we do--play on or go
back and make inquiries?"
"We can't play on," said Bill. "I wonder if Sylvia knows."
"Pretty sure to. There must be some commotion near the mill if the body
was found just across the road. Shall we go there and see?"
"No," said Bill, "not yet. Those fellows are hurrying for the club house.
Let us first make sure of the facts."
They could see other men abandoning their game and taking the shortest
cuts across the course. Excitement was to be expected. Had any person
been found dead on the links it would have created some stir, but for it
to be a member, and one who had recently been so prominent in their
quarrels and disputes, made it truly sensational.
In view of his own particular clash with the dead man two nights before,
Simon could understand Bill being upset, but he seemed more disturbed
than was really necessary. However, as he had said, the great thing was
to get the facts.
This at first was not easy, as the reports at the club house were rather
contradictory. The tragedy it appeared had been discovered by Hann and
Sladen and the body was not to be moved until the police had examined it.
One story was that Crosbie had fallen into "Hell" in some kind of fit and
had died there. There were also whispers of murder and of suicide. But,
as no one knew anything for certain, a good many of the eager inquirers
were dashing out again to see for themselves what could be learnt at the
scene of the tragedy.
"Hell!" said one of them. "It has justified its name at last!"
"I must go to the windmill," Bill muttered to Simon. "I simply must."
"Why not?" said Simon. "I will go with you, at any rate as far as that
He was not sure that he wished to go farther. Bill had not suggested it
and, although he wanted to see Hazel again, this was not the sort of
thing that would make a pleasing excuse. In addition to which he had the
feeling that there was something between Sylvia Wilton and Bill Broughley
that would make his presence unwelcome.
As they hurried along the narrow and little used roadway that skirted the
links and led to the mill-house two motor cars swept rapidly past them,
travelling in the same direction.
"You go in," said Simon, some minutes later, when they reached their
destination. "I'll see what is happening down there."
Broughley, without a word, opened the gate and went along the pathway to
the mill. His friend turned the other way and joined the crowd clustering
round the famous bunker.
Toffy Blair had done his part well, but now the police had relieved him
of his self-appointed duties. The curious onlookers had been pushed
farther back and a camera--such is the promptitude of official
routine--was already in position taking photographs from all angles of
the undisturbed body. Sladen's ball still lay forlornly against the
Simon recognised the officer in charge of the proceedings. He was
Inspector Lee, a very capable member of the county police. They had met
twice before. Once when the young barrister was on circuit and once in
town when he was assisting French Norcutt in a big case in which Lee was
"Do you remember me, inspector?" Simon stepped forward and put the
"Mr. Ross?" said Lee. "You here, eh? Suppose there is nothing you can
"Depends what you want to know."
"Pretty much everything! When the photographers are finished and the
doctor has made a preliminary examination the body will be taken away and
I'll get a move on. Man's name is Crosbie, I'm told. Know him?"
"Slightly. I've heard a good deal about him."
"You shall tell me later. You know about this game of golf. I don't. One
or two points there you might put me wise about."
"Of course I will," said Simon. "Have you any idea how he died?"
"Hit on the head with a brick! Or kicked by a mule! But I suppose you
don't keep mules in these bunkers?"
"Not as a usual thing. But you mean that? He was murdered?"
"Not a doubt of it," said Lee grimly. He was an alert man with a beaky
nose and a wide, thin-lipped mouth. The idea of murder did not distress
him. If such things had to happen there was no reason that he could see
why they should not take place in circumstances that might eventually
bring credit to himself. On that he was fully determined. No trouble
would be too great. He would see the thing through to the end. "You don't
generally have two players in a bunker at the same time, do you?"
"It has been known," said Simon. "You each go after your ball. But they
say that was not his ball."
He looked for some moments at the figure on the sand, and then he added:
"My opinion, for what it is worth, is that he was not killed in the
bunker. I daresay the footmarks can be accounted for. That sharp slope at
the back leads to the sixteenth tee up above. I should imagine he was
struck there and fell over. Or perhaps was pushed over. That dent in the
sand wall looks as though something had hit it in rolling down and
carried some of the sand with it."
"I had noticed it," said Lee, "but yours is an expert opinion and
confirms my own."
"I wonder how long he has been lying there. As a rule the groundsmen come
round every morning to rake over the bunkers and smooth out the
heel-marks left the day before. If they have been this morning they would
have found the body, had it been there then."
"This man," said the inspector, raising his voice and indicating Toffy
Blair. "This man says someone came to rake the bunker and he sent him
"That's right, sir," said Toffy, who had lingered as near as possible to
the centre of authority. "I told 'em all no one mustn't touch nothink.
Kept 'em all away, I did."
"Was it you that found it?" asked Simon.
"Me and Mr. Sladen."
"Did you keep people away from the tee up there?" He pointed to the
higher ground above them.
"Couldn't prevent 'em goin' there and looking down," said Toffy.
"Footprints in the bunker--that was wot I thought of. Plenty of prints
round about, but none near the body."
"Have you examined up there yet?" Simon put the question in a lower tone
to the inspector.
"Just going to. It was crowded with people when we got here and I had
them herded off. We might go up. But meanwhile what do you call this?"
He had looped a piece of string and by it he held a golf club.
"A wooden shafted niblick. Heavy head. A bit old-fashioned. Where was it
"Beside the body. Included in the first photographs. Think it was done
"I should doubt it," said Simon. "No marks on the blade. But of course
the doctor can tell. I suppose you are testing it for finger-prints?"
"That's the idea. Would it be his own club?"
"I believe it is," said Simon. "I saw him playing yesterday. Perhaps
Toffy can tell us."
The question was put to the caddie and he asserted confidently the club
belonged to Crosbie. Said he had carried it for him many times.
"That doesn't help much," said the inspector. "Let us go up there."
As he led the way up the winding path to the sixteenth tee, he added, "I
think you can take it he has been lying there all night. There was a
little rain shortly before midnight and his clothes are wet. Of course
the doctor will fix the hour as near as possible, but I reckon there will
be no doubt that it happened yesterday. At what time does play stop?"
"A bit difficult to say," was the answer. "Most matches finish at
tea-time, but now that summer time has started people play later and you
get stray folk knocking a ball about until it is dark. The course is not
deserted till dusk."
"Then, if Crosbie was knocking a ball about with that club of his, he
might have been out pretty late and met someone and had a row with them?"
The plateau of the sixteenth tee was a wide one. The direction of the
hole was almost at right angles to that of the fifteenth, so that the
player in driving off had the "Hell" bunker on his right and the roadway
and the windmill behind him. It was useless to consider the question of
footmarks, for not only had the tee been tramped over all the previous
day, but a number of people had climbed there that morning to look into
the bunker beneath.
On the tee were the usual sand-box and the metal discs showing the line
for driving. There was also the L.G.U.'s official mark for ladies, and to
the right of the plateau, a yard or so from the brink of “Hell," was a
rough seat--a straight tree trunk, some seven inches thick, fixed to two
uprights of a similar character. It was to this seat that Inspector Lee
turned his immediate attention. He examined with the most minute care the
grass beneath and all round it. Simon, who was regarded with interest and
perhaps envy by the group of spectators who were now kept at a respectful
distance, was at his side.
"What do you make of this?" Lee asked grimly, pointing to a patch of
discolouration on the turf. The grass was thin and the marks
unmistakable. The effect of the rain had probably been to spread rather
than to obliterate the tell-tale traces.
"Blood, undoubtedly," said Simon. "I suppose you will get tests made?"
"You bet we will. No guess-work. That clod must be cut out." Then he
scrutinised very closely the trunk that formed the seat.
"A stain here too. What do you make of it?"
Simon considered for a moment before he answered the repeated question.
"He might have been sitting down when he was attacked," he suggested.
"Ah, which way was he sitting?"
"You mean was he looking towards the bunker or had he got his back to it?
Ordinarily one sits facing the hole one is to play. But here you might
look back to see what sort of trouble the next fellow is in. They call
that bunker 'Hell' because it is so cruel."
"But surely there would be no next fellow," said Lee. "You don't murder a
man with people looking on!"
"Not as a rule," agreed Simon. "If Crosbie sat there I should say he was
facing the bunker and someone hit him from behind."
"And he fell forward down there?"
"Hardly that," said Simon. "When a man's head is cracked he collapses in
a heap--hence those blood marks. He was pushed over afterwards."
"He might not have been sitting," said Lee. "A stand-up fight and he
falls across the seat."
He looked round again, then he added, "Is there anyone in that windmill?"
"Two ladies live in it. It is really a private house."
"Wonder if they saw or heard anything. I must ask them."
Simon thought if the inspector meant to make inquiries, which it was his
obvious duty to do, it would be a kindly act to go with him.
"The ladies are friends of mine. I can take you across if you like."
"Good. I'll see if they have finished down there." Lee spoke a few words
to the constable who was on duty on the tee and then returned to the
bunker where the photographers had completed their work. A doctor was
busy making a preliminary examination. He promised a formal report
without delay. The inspector gave instructions for the removal of the
While this was being attended to he rejoined Simon and they crossed the
road to the mill. The door was opened by Hazel Grantley.
"Bill has told you what has happened?" Simon said.
"Yes. He has just gone. Will you come in?"
"This is Inspector Lee, who is in charge of the case," he explained as
they entered the lounge. He was surprised to hear that Bill had already
left, but did not comment on it. The girl also said nothing when he told
her who his companion was. Then Sylvia joined them. As she came forward
he was struck by her extreme pallor. It almost seemed as though her
beautiful features were carved in marble. He repeated his introduction of
"Sorry to trouble you, ladies," said Lee politely. "You have heard about
it and I want to know if you can help me at all?"
"How?" asked Hazel.
"Well, miss, this is the only habitation near the scene of the crime and
I should be glad to know if there is anything you can tell me."
"I am afraid not. When did it happen?"
"We have no precise information as yet. We imagine it must have been
sometime last evening. Did you hear or see anything of an unusual
"No," said the girl. "I did not."
"Did you, miss?" he asked Sylvia.
"That's a pity. But think back. You might not take much notice of it at
the time, but was there no strange sound, no cry, or anything of that
sort during the evening or in the night?'
"I heard nothing," said Sylvia.
"Our windows do not look that way," added Hazel.
"I had noticed that," said the inspector. "Did you know the deceased at
all, name of Crosbie?"
"No," said Hazel firmly.
"Nor you, miss?
"No," said Sylvia, in a much lower tone.
"What was the latest time you saw anyone on that tee?"
"We played ourselves in the afternoon," replied Hazel, "with Mr. Ross. We
did not go out again or see or hear anything after we got back."
"And what time might that have been?"
"After tea, between five and six."
"You know nothing after that?"
"Nothing at all," said Hazel.
She was very definite and the inspector had too much to do to spend more
time there. He expressed his regret that he had troubled them and turned
to go. Simon looked at Hazel, half hoping she would say something further
to him, or would offer some excuse for his remaining. She did neither and
he followed his companion to a waiting car. One thought worried him.
Sylvia had declared she knew nothing of Crosbie. Why did she not say she
had once played with him--the game that Chase had thought so curious?
CHAPTER SEVEN: COMING AND GOING
"I HAVE often wondered," said Ross, as they drove away from the mill
house, "how you really set about a job of this sort. Of course I have
read detective stories, and the sleuth is generally a wonderful fellow
who sees everything more or less from the start. But how does the pukka
detective actually get going?"
"Not by inspiration," replied Lee, with something of a grin on his wide
mouth. "It is just a matter of hard work. Collecting all the possible
facts, sorting 'em out and fitting 'em together. Here is a little thing
that is rather bothering me. When you play this golf game you have a bag
of clubs, don't you? If that niblick is Crosbie's own, where are the
"If you are playing a match you have a bag of clubs, but it is no unusual
thing for a man to go out by himself with a single club to practice
special shots. Had Crosbie any balls in his pocket?"
"Don't know yet. The contents of the pockets will be examined. I've given
instructions for that. The ball by the body was said to belong to the man
who found him."
"That was Sladen," said Simon. "Here is another point you might consider.
Crosbie, we believe, was on that tee, but when a man is practising with a
niblick he does not as a rule play from the tees."
"He tries what we call approach shots--short ones over bunkers. He has a
pocketful of balls and plays shot after shot before he picks them up. If
Crosbie was on that tee and had no balls with him it is fairly sure he
was not playing at all, but was carrying a club pretty much as one
carries a stick."
"In other words," said Lee, "he had gone out to meet someone and the club
might have been for defence?
"Yes--or just for something to carry. But Crosbie was in the last four in
the captain's prize and, as I said, it is no uncommon thing for a man to
try to improve a stroke of which he is doubtful."
"But he should not hit them from that tee?"
"No. It would destroy the turf and one generally uses a niblick to
perfect a particular pitch."
"That is something to go on," remarked the inspector. "Balls in his
pocket, he meant to play, but was followed and attacked. No balls, he was
out to meet someone."
"It is a fair assumption," said Simon, "not more than that."
"Was he in business?"
"Staying at this hotel of yours--the Dormy House?
"Yes, but with a town practice. Does that mean calling in Scotland Yard?"
"Probably. Unless we can put our finger on the man who did it, right
away. The Chief Constable will decide about that."
"That is Colonel Matthews, isn't it? I think you will find he is a member
of the club."
"Is he?" said the inspector. "That may be a help. Probably knows him.
Was he popular--Crosbie, I mean?"
"I should hardly say that," answered Ross. "From what I have been told he
had a following at one time but rather upset people." He repeated the
story as given by Bill as to the candidature for the captaincy.
"You say he was in the last four for this prize? I suppose it is not
likely one of his opponents would have knocked him out?"
"They certainly hoped to," laughed Simon, "but not in the sense you mean.
You must give us credit for more sportsmanship than that."
"Does much money go with it?"
"No. A silver cup and a few pounds in the sweepstake. We are all keen to
win our competitions but we do not brain our opponents."
"Someone brained him," said Lee grimly.
"He was due to meet a fellow called Knight, his original rival for the
captaincy. No doubt it would have been a dour struggle, but I do not
think Knight would try that way of winning."
"No harm in finding what Knight was doing at the time," commented the
inspector. "When we know the time, that is. Meanwhile I wonder what they
can tell us of Crosbie's movements at this hotel of yours."
They had reached the Dormy House. He told the driver of the car to pull
up, and Simon followed him into the vestibule.
"Tell me if I am in the way," he said.
"I will," returned Lee, "when you are. At present you may be a help."
The door was swung open by a smart porter named Haines and the inspector
immediately tackled him.
"Were you on duty last night?"
"Yes, sir," said the porter, who recognised his questioner. "Until
"You knew Mr. Crosbie?"
"Very well, sir."
"When did you last see him?"
"Yesterday; after dinner."
"Did he have dinner here?"
"Must have, sir. I saw him go out afterwards."
"About what time?"
"A little before nine."
"Oh, many other people going out or coming in then?
"Not a great many, sir, just then. Busier between eleven and twelve.
Rather quiet otherwise."
"How was that?"
"A few of our residents brought friends in for the evening and a few went
out for the evening. So it was not until late that the visitors went and
the others came back."
"But you saw Mr. Crosbie go out about nine?"
"How was he dressed?" Lee asked the question partly to test the man's
memory and powers of observation. "Dinner suits, I suppose?
"No, sir. A darkish grey suit. A good many gentlemen don't dress unless
there is something special happening."
"Was he carrying anything?"
"A golf club. His bag is in the rack there, ready to be taken in the
morning. He went outside and then he came back and took a club and walked
away with it. I noticed that because I thought it was getting too late
for much play."
"I see. Some people hold a club just for something to carry, don't they?
Instead of a walking stick?
"Yes, sir. Perhaps to play an occasional shot if they feel like it, or to
practise a swing."
"But would they do that at nine o'clock?"
"Well, sir, as I said, I was rather surprised. But gentlemen get so keen
you can never be sure."
The inspector considered that for a moment, but he went on again:
"Did you see Mr. Crosbie come back?"
"He did not come back. His bed was not slept in."
"How do you know that?"
"The boots told me when I came on duty this morning. The chambermaid told
"Not evidence exactly," said Lee, with a glance to Ross. "When he was
missed from his room was anything said or done about it?"
The man hesitated. "I believe it was reported, sir. But there was nothing
to do. We never imagined--"
"What you did imagine, I suppose, was that he had spent the night with
"Although you knew he had no clothes with him, only that club?
"Well, sir," said the man a little uncomfortably, "gentlemen do
sometimes--I mean it was no business of ours. He might have suddenly
decided to return to town."
"I understand. There had been no telephone call for Mr. Crosbie, so far
as you know?"
"You are sure he dined here?" put in Simon.
"Oh yes, Mr. Ross. And after dinner he went out just as I said."
"Well, now," went on the inspector, "who else went out during the
evening, more or less at that time?"
"There was Mr. Knight, Mr. Farmer and Mr. Broughley."
"Before or after Mr. Crosbie?"
"Mr. Farmer was before him and the others after. Mr. Broughley was the
last. He went at about nine-fifteen."
Simon knew that was more or less correct and he was a little surprised at
the porter's accuracy.
"Isn't it rather curious," he said pleasantly, "that you notice so
particularly just when we come and go?"
"Matter of habit, sir," said the man. "Before I came here I was
doorkeeper in a business place where I had to check everybody in and out.
So I still do it more or less automatic."
"Did you see these men come back?" asked Lee. "When would that be?"
"Mr. Knight was the first, a little after ten. Then Mr. Broughley. And
Mr. Farmer--I don't quite know. When we were busy. I think about eleven."
"Is there a night porter?"
"Yes, sir. He comes on at twelve."
"Did you tell him that Mr. Crosbie was still out?
"No, sir. I don't think I did."
"But, Haines," put in Ross again, "this front door of yours is not the
only way in and out, is it?"
"Well, sir, there is a back door past the gent's lavatory that we don't
lock until quite late. But it isn't used in the evening."
"It might be used without your knowledge? It is there to be used?”
"Well, yes, sir, but not at night. There are no lights that way."
"All the better if one did not want to be seen?"
"You might say that," agreed Haines doubtfully.
"Tell me this," said the inspector, "did anyone to your knowledge arrive
after Mr. Crosbie went out who had not previously been here?"
"Only Mr. Sladen. He had been away and he drove up in his car about a
quarter-past nine. Just after Mr. Broughley went out. He told me he had
come for an important match in the morning and would go to bed early."
"He is the man who found Mr. Crosbie--playing that match?"
"So I am told, sir."
"You are a very good witness, Haines," said Lee. "I want you to write
down just what you have told me. The names of the people who went in and
out, and the times. Also, as far as you can remember them, the other
people who went earlier and returned later. It is just possible one of
them saw something."
"Very good, sir." The porter was pleased with his task, for he prided
himself on his memory.
"That is our trouble," remarked the inspector to Simon, when they were
alone. "We have to question a hundred people to find the one who knows
"I suppose," said Simon, "if you could be sure of the precise time when
Crosbie was attacked you could check the movements of most of the people
staying here. I mean a good many were at bridge, and so would answer for
one another. Some were in the billiard-room and would equally be
accounted for. But there is nothing to prove that anyone here really had
any hand in it."
"You have a golf club and a golf hotel," said Lee, "right in the country.
Except for that windmill there is hardly a residence within a mile of the
place where it happened. The village is six miles away. He might have
been followed from London. He might have been set on by a passing tramp.
We must keep an open mind. But he was here among a lot of people who knew
him and knew his habits. It's an odds-on chance--long odds--that someone
here will know all there can be known about it."
"I grant the odds," said Simon, "but murder is an altogether incalculable
thing. What is the next step?"
"Lunch," declared Lee.
"Will you have it here or at the club house?"
"I sent Sergeant Green to get some particulars from the club secretary.
If we can get lunch there we might see what he has learnt. I've given in
for Crosbie's room here to be locked. I shall examine it later."
They were quitting the Dormy House when a man ran up to them. It was
Sladen, the player who had first discovered the tragedy. He wore no cap.
His red hair was ruffled, that and his long red beard gave him rather a
"Are you Inspector Lee?" he asked in his broad tone, addressing Simon's
companion. "They told me it was your car outside here."
"That's right. What can I do for you?"
"There is something I ought to tell you. It may mean nothing, but that is
for you to decide."
"We shall find a quiet corner in the cardroom." said Simon. "No one will
be using it now."
CHAPTER EIGHT: WHO SAW HIM LAST
HE was right. The cardroom proved to be empty and the three men sat at
one of the tables.
"Maybe you have heard," began Sladen in a rather deliberate manner, "that
it was I who found the body. Directly I realised the man was dead I saw
to it that nothing was touched. We came back--I was playing with Hann--to
let you know about it."
"What time was it?" asked Lee.
"Do you mean when I found him or when we telephoned?"
"I could not say precisely. We started out a little before nine and got
along pretty quickly. It must have been about half-past ten when we
reached the fifteenth. It might have been eleven when we 'phoned."
"And you have something to tell me?"
"Just this," said Sladen impressively. "It is my opeenion that Crosbie
had been there all night. Mind you, I am not a doctor and I barely
touched him. But I saw him in that place twelve hours before and I should
say he never came away--till you moved the body."
The inspector looked at him keenly. He was rather like a bird of prey
when he leant forward to snap at a particular point.
"You saw him there--in that bunker?"
"Not in the bunker, but in the roadway close by."
"Near the windmill?"
"Yes. In the roadway between the windmill and the sixteenth tee."
"What were you doing?"
"I drove by in my car."
"Is it not rather unusual to come that way by car?" asked Simon. "A bad
road, isn't it?"
"I missed the turning off the London Road, and so went on to the village
and then up past Farrer's Farm. Had I known how bad a road it was I would
have turned back."
"You drove past Crosbie," said Lee. "Was he alone? What was he doing?"
"He was not alone. He was talking with another man."
"Do you know who it was?"
Sladen hesitated a moment, stroking his beard the while. "A member of the
club. A Mr. Knight. Please do not think I am suggesting that Knight knows
anything about his death. I am sure he would not harm anyone. But I
imagine it is necessary to trace Crosbie's movements, and Knight will be
able to let you know just when and where he left him."
"Did I not understand," said Lee meaningly, "that Knight and Crosbie were
"I cannot say what you understood," replied Sladen slowly, "but the
impleecation is hardly accur-r-rate. It may be they were not friends. But
I would not say they were enemies."
"Were you surprised to see them together?"
"I would not have expected it," was the cautious reply.
"I see. What time was it when you passed them?"
"As near as I can surmise it was a quarter-past nine."
"And when did you reach this hotel?"
"A minute or two later."
Lee made notes of these times, which tallied fairly well with the
recollections of the porter.
"You did not stop to speak to Crosbie or Knight?"
"No. They are not particular friends of mine and I wanted to get in."
"Did you see anyone else, near there or on the way to the hotel?"
Sladen again took a handful of his beard and passed his fingers down it.
As an aid to contemplation beards seem to have something to commend them.
Perhaps that is why a smooth-chinned age is impulsive and so little
productive of the deeper thought.
"Before I saw Crosbie," he said slowly, "I passed a young fellow and a
girl. They were sitting on the stile at the footpath just past the farm."
"Do you know who they were?"
"I believe it was the assistant professional, with one of the maids from
here. But I could not swear to it."
"We will inquire," said the inspector. "Anyone else?"
"Nearer the Dormy House I passed another of our members, a Mr.
"Which way was he going?"
"Along the lane, towards the mill."
"Then he must have met Crosbie and Knight?"
"Provided they remained long enough in the place where I saw them,"
agreed Sladen, with his usual caution.
"Is there anything else you can tell me?"
The beard had a little more of the bell rope treatment.
"A matter of hearsay evidence only. Maybe I should not repeat it."
"Let me have it," said Lee. "I can get confirmation later."
"I was told there was a quarrel in the cardroom on Saturday night and
Crosbie was concerned in it."
"Oh," said Lee quickly, "who was he quarrelling with?"
"I would rather not say as I was not there. I understood Mr. Ross was
"Is that so?" The inspector's beak jerked quickly to his companion.
"Yes," said Simon. "I can tell you all about that, but I do not think it
will help." It seemed to him as he said it that Sladen, who was again
stroking his beard, was smiling rather maliciously.
"I will want to know," declared Lee. Then he turned again to the author.
"You saw no one else?"
"Not near there. Only those lovers and Knight and Broughley."
"Did you notice if either of them--or anyone of the four--was carrying a
stick or anything of that sort?"
Once more the hairs of memory were stimulated with gentle caresses.
"Knight maybe carried an umbrella and Broughley a stick. Broughley, by
the way, wasn't wearing a hat."
"Oh--did you notice anything else about him?"
"He was walking quickly, that was all." Sladen had nothing more to tell
them, but Simon asked if he might put a question.
"You have told us when and where you saw Crosbie and you say he never
left there alive. What are your grounds for that opinion?"
"The body was found nearby and he had clearly been dead some time."
"But that would not preclude the possibility of his going away and
returning--or being brought back--some hours later?
"It would not," Sladen admitted.
When he had left them Lee turned to his companion. "You did not tell me
about that quarrel, Mr. Ross."
"Should have come to it in time," said Simon. He could see that suspicion
might easily be directed towards his friend. A quarrel on Saturday night
and on Sunday Bill was seen hurrying to the place where Crosbie was
killed, more or less at the time when the killing might have been done.
There was also his restlessness in the morning--though no one but himself
knew of that. Of Bill's entire innocence he had no shadow of doubt, but
as to the quarrel, it would be best to be frank about it lest Lee should
get an exaggerated account from a more unkindly source.
"It was Farmer's quarrel in the first place. Crosbie had been making
himself objectionable, a bit too much to drink, I think, and perhaps he
is not a good loser. Anyway, Farmer refused to play with him and Crosbie
got excited. Said it was an insult and he would report it to the
committee. He was so noisy that he disturbed the rest of us. Broughley
told Farmer he was quite right to refuse to play with a fellow who was
behaving like a cad."
"Not exactly pouring oil on troubled waters. What happened next? Any
"No. Crosbie demanded if Broughley called him a cad and Broughley said he
did. Crosbie threatened to take proceedings and then left the room.
Probably a bit of bluff to cover his retreat."
"He certainly won't take proceedings now," said Lee significantly. "This
man Broughley seems to have interfered rather unnecessarily. Were he and
Crosbie already unfriendly?"
"Crosbie had been rude to him earlier in the evening. Otherwise I believe
they hardly knew one another."
The inspector walked across to the window and looked out. He seemed to be
thinking over and digesting what he had heard.
"How far is Sladen reliable?" he asked. "Rather weird looking. People who
look odd generally are odd."
"I don't really know him," said Simon. "A bit of a crank, I believe. He
wrote a curious book a little while back."
"A crime story?
"No," was the laughing reply, "very much the reverse. A vision of the
future. He called it Travail and Triumph. A braver new world, with all
cut out. A world composed only of women."
"Wouldn't last long!"
"I don't know. The idea is that after another world war and a series of
strikes and revolutions in which men only combine in one thing--to show
what fools they can be--someone discovers the secret of sex
determination. Women are so disgusted with the mess men have made of
things that all the babies are girls."
"Which, as I said, would soon bring the world to an end."
"Not at all," replied Ross. "The women knew what they were about and kept
enough men for breeding purposes. Only the fittest, of course. The prize
specimens. And only selected young women were chosen for mating. So love
and all that it implies--jealousy, hate and envy, disappeared. Illness
was lessened, quarrels were forgotten, and the world devoted itself to
social and artistic development and improvement."
"Sladen wrote did he?" commented Lee. "Thought he looked a bit cracked.
He'd be a specimen, with that beard of his that some of the women would
be crazy for! Then the troubles would start again. But we must be getting
on. I am more than ready for that lunch."
Once again his justifiable appetite was thwarted. The porter came in and
said Mr. Hann was starting for London and wished to know if the inspector
desired to see him before he went.
"It was Hann and Sladen who found the body," added Simon. "I believe Hann
knew Crosbie pretty well."
"Better see him then," said Lee. "Bring him in."
"I ought to have been in town before this." Hann began speaking the
moment he entered the room, evidently in a hurry. "I arranged to play
early, as I had an appointment, but I did not like to go without seeing
you. Is it true that Crosbie was murdered?"
"There seems little doubt of it," replied the inspector.
"It is terrible. Hardly believable."
Hann was, as usual, sprucely dressed, having changed his golfing clothes
for a dark brown suit. His waxed moustache, the gold tie-pin and a gold
ring on the little finger of each hand gave him rather a foppish
appearance. But the fate of his friend evidently distressed him.
"You were present when the body was found?" asked the inspector.
"Yes, but if you've seen Sladen I don't suppose there is anything I can
tell you about that. I knew Crosbie personally. I mean apart from golf.
It is a shocking blow to me. I can hardly realise it. But I thought
perhaps I could tell you something about him."
"I want to know all I can," said Lee. "Where did he live? What was he by
"He was a solicitor. His office is in Theobald Square, No. 157. He has a
service flat in Jacobus Court, Buckingham Gate."
"I believe not."
"Do you know of any relations?"
"I am afraid I do not. I wanted to ask you if it would be all right for
me to go to Theobald Square and tell his clerk, Samuel Jenks, what has
happened. Jenks of course knows more than anyone else as to his private
"Someone will see Jenks," said Lee, who had duly noted the information
given, "but there is no harm in your taking him the news."
"It will shock him," said Hann. "They have been together for years."
"Although Crosbie was a solicitor," remarked Ross, "I do not seem to have
heard of him professionally--of course that doesn't mean much."
"I can quite understand it," said Hann. "Crosbie was one of those lucky
ones--though that is an odd thing to say now--whose work almost did
itself. I mean he was solicitor to some good companies and to three or
four big trust estates. He had their affairs to look after and it
provided a satisfactory income without his having to get outside work. If
there ever was litigation he instructed those who specialise in it."
"Should have thought litigation was in his line," commented the
inspector. "Rather quarrelsome, wasn't he?"
"Not at all," replied Hann, with an indignant glance at Simon. "It is
most unjust to say such a thing. Were you referring to the quarrel of
"I am not saying things," said Lee. "I am only asking. I thought there
had been some trouble before Saturday. Is that wrong?"
"It depends what you mean by trouble. On Saturday he was grossly
insulted. Before that there was the affair of the captaincy. Have you
been told about it?"
"It was mentioned, but I'd like to hear your view of it."
"He was very badly treated. A lot of men wanted him to stand and he did
so as a matter of principle. The committee tried to burke the issue by
putting forward the old captain again. But Crosbie stood to his guns.
Every one but Elkington and myself deserted him. He was a thoroughly good
fellow. Ask Elkington."
This warm defence presented a new point of view, and Lee could see that
the dead man's friends might well see matters in that way. But it did not
greatly concern him.
"Can you suggest any reason why Crosbie should be killed?"
"Can you suggest any person who had a motive for killing him?"
"Knowing him as you did, would you imagine the cause of his death--if not
due to some chance encounter--would more likely be attributable to his
London life or to something down here?"
Hann looked at him for some moments in silence. "That is a wide and a
difficult question," he said at last. "Had I been asked before, I would
have said his murder in any circumstances was inconceivable. But it has
happened. It still remains inexplicable. My first idea was that he had
been knocked down by a passing motor and whoever did it got scared when
they discovered what they had done and threw the body into that bunker.
It is not far from the road. Is that impossible?"
Lee had seen the wound and remembered the blood marks on the seat and on
the turf of the sixteenth tee. "I am afraid it is," he said. "Besides,
the first thought of the motorist who does that sort of thing is to drive
on. Not much traffic on that road, is there?"
"Very little. That might make a pedestrian careless."
"There is that," agreed the inspector. "Did you know Crosbie was going
out that evening?"
"What do you mean by not exactly?"
Hann glanced again at Simon. "I asked Crosbie if he would play bridge and
he said he would not. As Mr. Ross heard and saw what happened on Saturday
he will be able to tell you it was not surprising. That, I suppose, is
why he went out."
"Did you play bridge yourself?"
"No. Not as he wouldn't. I stayed in the smoking-room."
"You do not know if he was to meet anyone?"
"No. I did not know that he was going out. Only that he would not play
"There is nothing you can tell me that will help me to trace his
murderer--assuming, of course, that he was murdered?"
Hann shook his head. "It is a diabolical thing," he said, "whoever did
it. I hope you will get to the bottom of it. I will help in any way I
can, but I really have nothing on which to base a tangible suspicion. I
expect to be down again in two days' time and if I learn anything
anywhere I will let you know."
"Do," said Lee. "Just one thing more. When you say you know him in town
do you mean in business or socially?
"In business. I am a surveyor and he put quite a lot of things in my way.
Valuations, you know. His death will be a big loss for me. We got to be
fairly intimate and, as a matter of fact, it was I who put him up for
"You mentioned a Mr. Elkington, was he a business friend too?"
"I believe Crosbie did a little legal work for him, but they met here
when Crosbie joined two years ago. He found Elkington was a neighbour in
Jacobus Court and they often came down together."
CHAPTER NINE: A LONG LANE
LUNCH at last; a man's lunch. A good cut of cold sirloin, some flowery
potatoes, a chunk of Cheshire cheese and a foaming tankard of brown beer.
Inspector Lee introduced Simon Ross to his assistant, Sergeant Green, and
the three of them tackled their fare with healthy appetites, quite
unaffected by the nature of the case on which they were engaged.
Green, a typical officer of the sort that blusters with inferiors and is
very deferential to those above them, also knew Ross slightly. He
realised the young lawyer's help might be valuable in a case where he was
acquainted with so many of the parties concerned and was rather pleased
at meeting him on such friendly terms. He adopted a heavily humorous air.
"Must be careful what we say," he muttered, with a wink to Lee. "Maybe
we'll have him against us presently."
"All in the interests of justice," commented Simon.
"Not so sure of that," returned Green. "We get what looks like a
fool-proof case and one of you gentlemen discovers some tricky little
point and gets the jury to say not guilty. Benefit of the doubt--when
there's one speck of doubt to a pint of proof."
"When it's a hanging case," said Simon, "you've got to be sure. You can't
put it right afterwards."
"Well," said Green complacently, killing the natural flavour of his food
with a mass of yellow pickle, "I don't think we are going to have much
trouble this time. Getting on pretty quick considering."
"What have you found out so far?" demanded Lee.
"Three things. I had the contents of the pockets examined, like as you
told me. This is what we found." He passed a sheet of paper across the
table. It contained a list of items, the first being gold watch and
"His valuables was intact. Wallet with notes to the value of eight
"No letters?" asked Lee.
"No letters, but the valuables being intact shows he was not robbed. It
disposes of the idea of a hold-up for plunder. Fancy! Lying there all
night with that money and a gold watch and chain on him!"
"Is it sure he was there all night?" inquired Simon.
"That's number two. The doc swears he was dead not less than twelve
hours. That takes us back to last night all right. When they open the
stomach they'll know how long after his last meal it was." The sergeant
rolled a lump of fat in some lean, pushed it through the pickle and
shoved it into his mouth. "Horrid thought, isn't it?"
"There were no golf balls in his pocket?" asked Simon.
"None at all," said Green.
Lee and Ross exchanged glances and the former said, "What is the third
thing you have found out?
"Someone who saw the man who did it. Can't absolutely swear to his
identity, but we're not doing badly in the time."
"Who was it?" asked Lee.
"Did he see it done?" inquired Simon at almost the same instant.
"Otherwise how does he know?"
Green was obviously enjoying his big moment. He raised his tankard to his
red face, took a good pull at his beer and wiped his thick black
"Reg Richards is the assistant pro," he said. "Keeping company with one
of the maids at the Dormy Hotel. Queer name that, for a hotel. They had
been walking out, down to Farrer's Farm, and on the way back he saw a man
hiding in a clump of bushes this side of the windmill."
Sladen had seen the lovers but he had not seen the man in the bushes.
"How did Richards know the man was hiding?" asked Simon.
"That is surmise," said Green, "but it stands to reason. At the time
Richards thought he was there for a natural purpose. So he walked past
quickly that his young lady might not see."
"I expect the young lady saw all he did," commented Lee, "and looked away
"But he did not recognise the man?" persisted Simon.
"Not then. But he did later."
"How was that?" demanded his superior officer.
"The young couple strolled down the lane, loiterin', as you might say,
and the man caught them up and walked quickly past them, as though he was
in a hurry."
"And then they recognised him?" said Lee. "Who was it?"
"Richards says it was one of the members, a Mr. Broughley."
The inspector glanced significantly at Simon. "Begins to look
interesting. Broughley quarrels with Crosbie. He is seen by Sladen
hurrying after him along the lane. Richards sees him lurking in the
bushes and a little later sees him hurrying back again."
"Beware of what the sergeant calls surmise," said Simon. "Since Richards
did not really look at the man in the bushes how could he tell it was the
same man who hurried past him afterwards?"
"I said he couldn't absolutely swear to it," replied Green, "but it
stands to reason." That was a favourite phrase of his. "For one thing he
wasn't wearing a hat, either time."
"It is dangerous to identify a man by the hat he wears," said Simon.
"Hats are too much alike. But to identify a man by the hat he does not
wear is more than dangerous, it is impossible."
"Still, we've got this," remarked Lee. "Sladen recognised a bare-headed
man hurrying along the lane. Richards didn't meet him, but he recognised
him hurrying back. If he was not the man in the bushes where had he got
"The question of time may come into it," said Simon.
"That is true," said the inspector. "Did you ask Richards about that?"
"I did," replied Green. "The girl has to be in at ten and so they had to
keep their eyes on the clock. It was a little after half-past nine when
this Mr. Broughley hurried past them. They was then a few minutes' walk
from the hotel. So they strolled on a bit further and got back punctual."
"That fits in pretty well with Sladen's story," said Lee. "I will see
Richards myself and we must get a written statement. Did he meet anyone
else in the lane?"
"He did. Two others. First, a Mr. Knight walking past the windmill
towards the farm, and then Crosbie himself."
"Where was Crosbie?"
"Richards says he was on the sixteenth tee--that bit of ground opposite
"Then we get this," said Lee. "Sladen sees this couple sitting on a stile
at one end of the lane. He drives past them and sees Crosbie and Knight
talking near the mill. Further on he meets Broughley hurrying that way.
The couple, starting a little later, and of course going slower, meet Mr.
Knight, who has evidently finished his talk. Then they see Crosbie,
standing more or less where he was killed, and they see a man hiding in
the bushes on the other side of the road. They stroll on and are caught
up by Broughley, again in a hurry, coming back from wherever he had been
going to. We don't know yet as a fact exactly when Crosbie was killed,
but if it was then--as seems likely--Broughley will have a lot to
"Clear case to me," observed Green, scooping up some crumbs of cheese.
"That's a long lane but, as it happens, there are no turnings out of
it. So Broughley must be the man in the bushes. And why was he there? It
stands to reason. He was waiting till the coast was clear."
"Broughley is a friend of mine," said Simon. "He is here and will answer
for himself. I am quite sure he didn't kill Crosbie, but of course you
will want to question him."
"You bet I will," said Lee.
"Quite right. But before you jump to conclusions ask yourself this
question. There are others, but consider this first. If a man, planning
murder, hid in the bushes to prevent himself being seen before he did it,
would he, when he had done it, hurry past the very people he had hidden
from, so that they could not fail to recognise him?"
It was an awkward point and neither officer was prepared with an
"All murderers make mistakes," muttered Green, after a time. "Loss of
"It is not for me to put forward theories," said Simon, "but taking all
the facts as stated, what was to prevent Knight going back to Crosbie
after these lovers had passed and having another talk with him, perhaps
with a fight to finish it? Don't think I am suggesting that is what did
happen. If it had, Crosbie would most likely have done the killing. It
only shows there are other possibilities. If--" He stopped suddenly. "By
the way, that is Knight over there in the corner, feeding by himself.
Shall I ask him to come across?"
"It is Broughley I want to talk to," said Lee, "but I'll have to see this
fellow too. Looks a bit small for a prize winner at any game. But little
men can be very fierce!"
"Golf is played on handicap, at least the competition for the captain's
prize is. Knight is said to be a very hot ten."
Golfers are certainly not made to any particular pattern. Even among
professionals there are long men and short men, stout men and lean men,
but a short, stout man would seem to possess few natural advantages.
Ernest Knight, the committee's first choice for the vacant captaincy, was
distinctly tubby, a fact that was emphasised by his lack of inches. He
wore gold-rimmed glasses and had a round good-natured face. But there was
something about him that suggested tenacity of purpose. At golf he hit a
fair ball and kept it straight. His short game was good, and, as Simon
had implied, with a due allowance of strokes, he was difficult to beat.
He was not exactly a popular member of the club, but was regarded as a
very worthy one. No one had anything against him.
"Those two men I am lunching with are police officers concerned in this
Crosbie business," Simon explained when he went across to his table.
"They wondered if you would have anything to tell them."
"A shocking thing," said Knight. "Has quite upset me. I was expecting to
play Crosbie to-morrow and now . . . but I am afraid I know nothing that
will help them."
"You will answer any questions they want to put?"
"Why, of course. I would do anything I could. But the more I think about
it the more it puzzles me. Can it not have been an accident?"
"They do not think so."
"I'll come over at once."
He got up and a few moments later the four of them were sitting together
and three were smoking. Knight was a teetotaller and did not smoke.
"When did you last see Crosbie, Mr. Knight?" asked Lee, when Simon had
"Last evening, after dinner."
"In the mill lane."
"Somewhere near where his body was found? I believe you call it the Hell
"It was near there. In the roadway, as a matter of fact. I need not say
how shocked I am. It is a terrible thing. Terrible."
"Did you meet him there by appointment, or was it by chance?"
"Entirely by chance. I was strolling along and I saw him in front of me.
I hurried a bit and caught him up. I suppose it is two months since I
last spoke to him, but I felt no ill-will. As it happened, he and I were
to meet in the semi-final of the captain's prize. So I thought it would
be a good opportunity to make an appointment and say I hoped for a
pleasant game. I did not want there to be any bitterness about things
that were over and done with."
"Was he pleasant to you?"
"Well," Knight beamed at him, "I would not exactly say that. He was a bit
stand-offish. But we arranged to play to-morrow."
"Can you say what time this conversation took place?"
"I'm afraid I can't. It was between nine and ten. Nearer nine than ten, I
The inspector glanced at his notebook, at the time suggested by Sladen.
"Would nine-fifteen be about right?"
"It couldn't be far wrong."
"Then what happened?"
"I walked on and left him there."
"But wasn't that rather curious?" pecked Lee, bending forward. "You might
have walked on together. Why, when you caught him up, did he stay there?"
"I don't think he wanted to walk with me. Perhaps it was natural after
what had happened. He said he was meeting someone."
"You are sure of that? He said he was meeting someone?"
"He did not say who?"
"No. As a matter of fact I thought it was just an excuse to get rid of
"It looks as though you were right," said Lee. "Let us go back a bit. Why
did you go out last evening? Did you expect to see Crosbie? Were you
meeting someone else? What was the idea?"
"It was quite by chance I saw Crosbie. I told you that. I was not meeting
anyone. I--I suppose I am old-fashioned. I do not play cards on Sundays
and so I either read a book after dinner or, if it is fine and I am not
too tired, I go for a quiet stroll. I love God's stars on a peaceful
"Hm--so you met Crosbie. What happened when you left him?"
"I strolled on."
"Where to? Did you meet anyone?"
"Let me think." Knight gave his beaming smile. "I went on towards the
stile near Farrer's Farm and I met Reg Richards and his young lady. Then
I climbed the stile and walked on the links."
Lee regarded him suspiciously. "Rather dark for a cross-country walk,
"It was bright at first and there is a footpath. It clouded over, so I
"The same way?"
"Yes. To the stile and then down the lane."
The beak-face lent a little nearer. "So you met Crosbie again?
"No. He was gone."
"Gone, was he? How do you know that?"
"He was no longer in the place where I saw him before. In fact he was not
in the lane at all."
"Now," said the inspector impressively, "this is very important. How long
after your talk with Crosbie was it when you passed that spot again?"
"I am afraid it is impossible for me to say," answered Knight uneasily.
"It must have been approximately half an hour, but I really cannot be
sure. I was back at the Dormy House a little after ten, but I did not
To Simon this seemed reasonable enough, but Lee was not satisfied. "Try
and think. A lot may depend on it."
""I am sorry, but I was not thinking of time. I had no reason to do so."
"Remember, Mr. Knight," said Lee solemnly, "you, so far as we know,
except for the murderer, were the last person to see Crosbie alive, to
speak to him. He was killed more or less at the spot where you and he
parted. If he was to meet someone, that might well be the person we want.
Can you suggest nothing that will throw light on his death?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," answered Knight, obviously affected. "Have you
asked Richards? He might have seen him after I passed?"
"We, of course, will see Richards," said Lee. "I suppose he was gone when
"Richards? I did not see him again. I only met one person."
"Who was that?"
"One of our members, a Mr. Broughley." Each of the other three men looked
at him in surprise.
"Where exactly did you meet him?" asked Lee.
"It must have been about half-way between the Dormy House and the mill."
"He was going towards the mill?"
"That is right."
"The time," said Simon, "if you left Crosbie at nine-fifteen and came
back half an hour later, would have been about a quarter to ten?"
"Thereabouts," agreed Knight.
"Sure it was Broughley?" inquired Lee.
"Quite sure. I said good-night to him."
"Did you notice anything queer about him?"
Knight looked at him doubtfully. "How do you mean queer? He was walking
rather fast and I believe he was bareheaded."
The two officers exchanged glances. Lee turned over the leaves of his
"It isn't sense," muttered Green.
"While you were talking with Crosbie," said the inspector, "did a motor
car pass you, going towards the hotel?"
"Yes," said Knight, "it did. I noticed it because cars so seldom go that
way. I did not see who was in it."
"If I tell you Mr. Sladen was in it and, after passing you and Crosbie,
he met Broughley hurrying towards you, bareheaded--half an hour earlier
than you saw him coming that way--what would you say?"
"It certainly seems odd. I can only suggest Broughley came that way
"Both times going in the same direction?"
"Apparently; you must ask him."
"Be sure we will," said Lee grimly.
To Simon Bill's double journey did not appear inexplicable. No doubt he
had been to the windmill. Possibly on his first call Sylvia and Hazel
were out, so he went back again. But he did not offer any explanation.
Bill could do that when necessary. Inspector Lee was asking Knight
another question. "You can tell us nothing more?"
"I am afraid not."
"It amounts to this then. At about nine-fifteen you were talking with
Crosbie somewhere near the place where his body was subsequently found.
He seemed his normal self and arranged a game with you for two days
later. He said he was expecting to meet someone and you left him. You
passed that way again at about a quarter to ten and he was gone?"
"That is it exactly," said Knight, "except that the times may be
"And a little further along you met Mr. Broughley hurrying towards the
"That is so."
"What else can you tell us?"
"Only that I am sure I am expressing the views of us all when I hope you
will soon learn all you want to know. It is a most unhappy affair and we
shall not be satisfied until you have got to the bottom of it."
CHAPTER TEN: FLIGHT?
"QUEER little man," remarked Lee, as Knight, with a bow and a beaming
smile, left their table. "Seems straight enough, but he was with Crosbie
on the spot and more or less at the time. Also they were not friends. We
must remember that."
"I reckon he's all right," said the sergeant. "I told you Broughley was
our man. It stands to reason. What do we do next?"
"I must use the 'phone," said Lee, "and perhaps see the club secretary.
Do you think you can get Broughley for us, Mr. Ross?"
"Certainly," said Simon. "I'll bring him here."
"Good. You, Green, fetch that young Richards."
Simon was glad that it fell to him to find Bill. He was convinced that
his friend knew nothing of the crime, but he wanted to let him know just
what had so far been discovered. Bill was in a queer mood and if he
fenced with the inspector it would do him no good. He had had a quarrel
with Crosbie; he had been seen hatless following him along the mill lane;
a hatless man had been noted lurking in the bushes near the spot where
the murder was committed and, still hatless, Bill had been recognised
hurrying from that same spot and later again back to it. Neither Sladen
nor Richards nor Knight was likely to have made a mistake. Certainly they
could not all have been wrong.
The man in the bushes was no doubt someone entirely different. Bill had
probably called at the windmill. He, of course, would explain his
movements in a perfectly satisfactory way. But it would be kindest to let
him see clearly that it was up to him to do so, and then to take him to
face the official questioner.
But something of a shock was coming. When he reached the Dormy House
Porter Haines stopped him.
"Got a note for you, sir," he said.
Simon took it. It consisted of two hastily written lines.
'Going away for a few days. Write again later. Bill.'
Simon stared at the brief message. What on earth had induced Bill to dash
off without a word of warning just at that critical moment? It was the
most unfortunate thing he could possibly have done.
"When did you get this?" he asked the porter.
"About an hour ago, sir. Mr. Broughley asked me to let you have it when
you came in."
"And what did he do then?"
"He went off in his car."
"Do you know where?"
"No, sir. He didn't say."
What should be done? It was quite evident that Bill could not realise the
impression his sudden departure would cause. His quarrel with Crosbie was
naturally the talk of the place, and, when Crosbie was murdered, he chose
to run away without a word of explanation to anyone. Could anything be
better calculated to centre attention on himself and perhaps divert it
from the real criminal? Of course he would not know how things had been
shaping. His act was probably the outcome of supreme innocence, but it
looked like supreme folly. He must come back.
He had not only gone, he did not say where he was going. Would Sylvia or
Hazel be likely to know? Bill had been with them that morning and would
hardly have left without some sort of farewell. They surely could throw
light on the matter. Simon decided his first step must be to make
inquiries at the windmill.
To save time he got out his car and ran along the lane to the mill. On
the links side for part of the way there was a high hedge; on the other
only occasional bushes. He noticed as he passed it, the cluster of thorn
to which Sergeant Green had alluded, close to the mill and almost
opposite the sixteenth tee. That tee was now deserted. The police had
evidently taken all they required and there was no play in progress. One
man was still on duty beside the bunker.
Then Simon saw someone coming into the lane from the mill. It was Hazel.
He jammed on his brakes and jumped down to meet her. "I was just going to
call," he said. "When Bill was with you this morning, did he mention
anything about going away?"
He thought she looked at him rather queerly. She shook her head. "No. He
did not. Has he been back since?"
"He has gone. He left me this note."
He produced the letter the porter had handed to him. Hazel read it.
"Well, what about it? Why shouldn't he go?" Her tone was almost hard and
there was a definite challenge in the gaze that met his so squarely. It
was not an easy question to answer. He did not desire to be the first to
mention suspicions that others might entertain.
"Unusual to leave a pal like that, isn't it? As a matter of fact, there
is something I want to see him about. I wondered if you or Miss Wilton
could tell me where I should be likely to get into touch with him? The
only other address I know is his London club."
"Perhaps he is there," said the girl coldly.
"I say, Hazel. I thought we were going to be friends. Why are you
treating me like this?"
"How am I treating you?" Just a gleam of the old fun shone in her eyes.
"As though I was a mud bank and you were using a barge-pole to push
"I did not mean to do that," she smiled.
"I know we have only met twice, but that is not all that counts. Suppose
I could ever help you in any way, wouldn't you let me do it?"
"Charming of you to suggest it. Why suppose such a thing? Do I look so
"You look--never mind that! I feel you are anxious about something."
For a moment she hesitated. Then came a glint of mischief. "A man once
proposed to a girl, saying he would share her worries. She told him she
had none. 'Marry me and you will have,' he said. Pretty true in most
Simon laughed. "Heaven forbid that I should bring you worries. You are
sure everything is all right?"
"Haven't I said so? Why do you imagine otherwise?"
"Well," he murmured resignedly, "keep me at a distance if you must, but
drop the barge-pole. Surely an arm's length is enough."
"All right," she smiled again. "An arm's length."
She held out her hand so that he literally was at arm's length.
He gripped the hand and then--why he did it he hardly knew. He was not
given to that sort of thing. But her smile was so alluring, so provoking,
that he drew the captured hand nearer and he kissed her.
"Now what do I do?" she cried furiously, her little head held high and
her eyes sparkling with indignation.
"Isn't there something in the Bible about turning the other cheek also?"
"Oh!--it will have to be the barge-pole," she said, "or something
She turned on her heel and, making the most of her height, re-entered the
He watched her in silence. Of course he ought not to have done it. It was
inexcusable. But why, when she was setting out to go somewhere, had she
turned back? Was it to escape from him? Or was it to take to Sylvia the
news he had brought about Bill?
It was useless to stand there and stare after her. He jumped into his
car, turned it round and made for the club house. He must find Bill, but
he did not want to see Inspector Lee. There might be awkward questions.
He left a message that as Bill had returned to London he had gone after
Then he set off. He thought a good deal about Hazel. He hoped she was not
really offended at what he had done. He must see her again and beg her
forgiveness. But at the moment he was concerned about Bill. And there
again Hazel puzzled him. In fact, the whole week-end had been puzzling.
Bill was keen on Sylvia; he had admitted as much. And she had seemed to
like him. Yet he had gone without a word, just at the moment when
Crosbie's death made his departure look so peculiar. And Hazel's attitude
to the affair was utterly baffling.
His little Austin was capable of a pretty considerable speed and having
left the country lanes and struck the main road for town, he went along
as quickly as he could. He wanted to get back to Barrington before night
and if he could catch Bill and bring him too, that would be all to the
Then suddenly he saw matters from a new angle. Naturally Crosbie's death
had impressed him and he had been regarding everything from a supposed
connection with that tragic happening. Had he been entirely wrong?
Unless his reading of the symptoms had been wholly at fault, Bill
Broughley had meant to ask Sylvia Wilton to marry him. Suppose he had
done so and she had refused him? Would not his natural impulse be to go
away? That would account for the vague letter he had left behind. It
would also account for Hazel's curiously non-committal attitude. She
would not wish to discuss her cousin's affairs. If Sylvia had kept Bill
on tenterhooks for days and had finally said No on the Sunday evening,
that would explain his moodiness all the week-end and his hurryings along
the lane on the fatal night. It would also explain the restlessness of
that morning and the vain hope for a letter. When the tidings of
Crosbie's death, so near the mill, were received, he had thought it his
duty to take the news. Perhaps it was an excuse to see her again. Then he
The more he thought it over, the more Simon was satisfied that his
solution was somewhere near the truth. These three people were worried
about their own concerns and Crosbie's death had no interest for them,
except as a local sensation.
But that did not alter the fact that Bill's disappearance, after his
quarrel with the dead man, would look queer to others. Therefore, his
return was highly desirable, even if he went away again later. He might
find it painful to explain matters to Lee, but, in view of the
inspector's justifiable suspicions, it was necessary for him so to do.
There was a car in front. Simon took no notice of it for a time, then he
realised it was a blue Sunbeam saloon--Bill's car! He knew it well
To have caught it up was a bit of luck. He tried to get an extra turn of
speed and was soon gaining on it. As he drew nearer, he did a little
fancy work on his horn to attract his friend's attention so that he might
get level and then explain his purpose.
The result was not as he expected. It seemed that the driver in the
Sunbeam, seeing in his mirror that he was being followed, decided to
leave his pursuer behind. He shot ahead, the space between the two cars
Simon did his best. He knew the Sunbeam, if it went all out, could beat
him, but he must not lose his man now that he had found him, and it was
annoying to think that every minute was adding to the mileage they would
have to return. That Bill would return when he knew why he was wanted he
did not doubt.
There is always a thrill in a race. It was a good road and there was
little traffic, but, do what he could, Simon was unable to get nearer. If
by chance he gained a bit, the Sunbeam always shot on again and, at last,
the distance widened till his quarry was lost to his view.
Then fortune favoured him. He kept on and on and after some miles he saw
in front of him a road side petrol station. The blue Sunbeam had pulled
in there. Evidently Bill had run short of juice. Simon slowed down and
turned in beside him. He jumped out and ran to the other car just as its
driver was handing some money to the garage attendant and the supply pipe
was being removed.
"Bill!" he cried.
But it was not Bill. There is more than one blue Sunbeam in the world and
the owner of this was the man Elkington, the member of the Barrington
club who had been described as Crosbie's closest friend.
"Hullo," he said. "You run short too? I thought I saw you behind me some
"I took you for someone else," said Simon. "That was why I tried to catch
"Oh, I never let anyone pass me, if I can help it." He pressed his
Simon followed him out. He had plenty of petrol and did not want to waste
time, but he did not race quite as wildly as before. Elkington evidently
had his own reasons for hurrying to town and, although Simon felt he had
been rather foolish in the mistaken chase, it was all to the good. He
pushed along and soon reached the outskirts of London.
He ran quickly to the club near Trafalgar Square of which Bill was a
member. There another disappointment awaited him.
"Yes," said the porter, "Mr. Broughley has been in to-day; about an hour
ago. He did not stop."
"Did he say where he was going?"
"No, sir. I asked if he would want a room tonight and he said not. He
took a few letters and drove off."
That was that. The whole world to choose from--where had Bill gone? If he
decided to lose himself in some jungle because Sylvia had turned him
down, and at the same time there was a hue and cry for him over the
Crosbie affair, it would be a pretty comedy. But what, Simon asked
himself, could he do next?
Was it possible that, after all, the Crosbie affair did in some way come
into it? If so, what could be Bill's purpose in coming to town? Did his
friend know more of Crosbie than he had imagined? Had they by any chance
had business differences? Simon recalled the scene on Saturday night.
Bill had flared up in a very queer manner. Crosbie had been rude to him,
but the actual quarrel was not his affair, yet he had burst into it as
though he could not contain himself.
At a more moderate pace he pushed on to Theobald Square. It was not
likely Bill had been there, but it might be possible to ascertain whether
or not he and Crosbie had ever had dealings together. Any light on the
problem would be welcome. It would be annoying to return to Barrington
with nothing done and nothing learnt.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THEOBALD SQUARE
THE lawyers of London have an eye for attractive quarters and no doubt
quiet is a desirable thing--though an increasingly rare one--for offices
where documents of surpassing importance have to be discussed and
Simon Ross found that Theobald Square, like others of its age and kind,
had many charming old houses overlooking a well kept garden. Each house
appeared to be let in suites or floors and the door that was inscribed
Arthur Crosbie, Solicitor and Commissioner for Oaths, opened to a suite
of three communicating rooms.
The outer room, a very small one, contained two chairs, a copying press
and an office boy. The middle room usually accommodated Samuel Jenks, the
managing clerk; Nora Youle, a typist; and Edgar Rossiter, the articled
pupil, away just then on holiday. From it was approached the third room,
Arthur Crosbie's private office.
Mr. Jenks was a thin man, with a long neck set on sloping shoulders. His
face was colourless and his head devoid of hair. His eyebrows were so
invariably raised in doubt or inquiry that his forehead had become
permanently waved with corrugations that, starting above his large round
nose, faded away in the whiteness of his shiny scalp.
It had certainly been one of the most agitating days in his experience.
He had served Arthur Crosbie faithfully for fifteen years. His duty had
been to carry out his employer's behests and to save that employer from
annoyances and irritations. Such had been his life. He had never thought
or looked beyond it. Now the news that the master mind had gone left him
distressed and bewildered. He hardly knew what was his duty in the
present; he visualised still less what was to happen to him in the
When Simon entered the door from the staircase he found he was not the
first to bring the evil tidings. The small office boy had the inner door
a little way open and was listening with startled eyes and dropping chin
to what was being said to and by Mr. Jenks.
Through the crack Simon saw Hann. He was not surprised that he was there,
for Hann had arranged with Inspector Lee that he should take the news to
town. But it was not Hann who was talking. The voice was harsh and angry.
"I must have them," it was saying. "I am sure Mr. Crosbie, if he could
have foreseen such a terrible thing, would have been the first to tell
"I am very sorry, sir," began Jenks.
Simon pushed open the door. He thought he knew the harsh voice and he
must make sure. The office boy had drawn back guiltily on being detected
in his spying.
"Oh, you are engaged. I am sorry."
Simon took in the situation at a glance. Hann was waiting, listening. The
typist in the far corner sat very still, listening too. The man arguing
angrily with Jenks was the owner of the blue Sunbeam he had chased that
afternoon, Mr. Elkington.
"Is the whole golf club coming?" asked Elkington irritably, glaring at
"I don't know of anyone else," returned Simon coolly. Then he added to
Jenks, "I see the bad news has already reached you."
"Yes, sir. It has upset me terribly. I have never had such a shock
before. It is hardly possible to believe it can be true. And it is
difficult to know what I ought to do."
"You can do nothing at present," said Simon kindly, "except to explain
the position. Every one will understand."
"You think so, sir?" The ridges on the forehead grew a little less acute.
Jenks welcomed a possible supporter. "I had a telephone message from the
police informing me what had happened, and saying I must lock Mr.
Crosbie's office and not allow anyone to touch anything. So you see,
sir,"--he was now addressing Elkington--"I really can't let you have
"They are my papers, my deeds," said Elkington, "and I want them at once.
Crosbie cannot do the business. You cannot do it and it is urgent. Give
me my papers."
There is no doubt that Jenks felt himself in a very difficult position.
Mr. Elkington was a big man, as big as Mr. Crosbie himself, heavy browed
and domineering. He spoke as one who was used to being obeyed. To anger
him, seeing that he had been his master's friend and valued client, would
be very unfortunate. To defy him almost unthinkable.
"Really, sir, I don't see that I can. Can I, gentlemen?" He turned to
Hann and Ross in the hope of support.
"What did the police tell you?" said Hann.
"That I was to lock the door of the room and shut up everything until
they came along and took charge."
Simon could see the hand of Inspector Lee. He had lost no time and no
doubt the message would soon be enforced.
"I say," said Elkington loudly, "that you are to open the door and let me
have what is mine. You can see what I take and I'll give you a proper
receipt for it. It is most urgent."
Had he been alone, Jenks might have been bullied into submission, but he
tried again to get some moral support.
"I am very sorry, Mr. Elkington, I am really. If you will tell me exactly
what the papers are, I will inform the police and do my best to get them
for you. I really mustn't do more than that--must I, gentlemen?"
This time he looked to Simon, who nodded encouragingly.
"You must do what the police have told you," he said. "It is, of course,
unfortunate and inconvenient. These affairs always are. But lawyers above
all must help the law."
"Who the devil are you?" demanded Elkington angrily.
"Another lawyer," said Simon. Then he added soothingly, "You mustn't
blame Mr. Crosbie's clerk. His duty is clear enough."
"And if I lose hundreds of pounds by being unable to complete a contract
on a given date, who will make that good to me?"
"That is a question I cannot answer without full information," replied
Simon pleasantly. "Your best course is to go at once to another solicitor
and explain your position. He will make the proper application."
"Wanting the job yourself, I suppose?" was the sneering suggestion.
"No," said Simon, refusing to take offence, "I am not a solicitor.
Probably you know several."
"You all work together! I want--"
He was interrupted by the opening of the door and the entry of an alert
looking young man in private clothes accompanied by a constable in
uniform. The former singled out Mr. Jenks and said he had come from
Scotland Yard. Everything was to be sealed up and he was leaving the
constable in charge pending further instructions.
"But am I--is Miss Youle--are we--turned out?" stammered Jenks.
"No. You can carry on so far as answering inquiries is concerned. What do
these gentlemen want?"
"Mr. Elkington," began Jenks, looking round. But Mr. Elkington had gone.
"I came," said Hann, "to bring the news. I arranged to do so with
Inspector Lee. But I found he had 'phoned already. Mr. Crosbie was a
friend of mine, as Mr. Jenks will tell you."
"I thought my friend Broughley might be here," Simon put in. "He has not
been, I suppose?"
"Mr. Broughley, sir?" asked Jenks. "No one of that name. Do we know him?"
"I suppose that means you do not?"
"Afraid we don't, sir. That is, I don't myself. What might he have been
"It doesn't matter now," said Simon. His question was answered, though
the result was not helpful. He turned to the door and Hann followed him
"Looks as though we both had rather a wasted journey."
"Not more so than Elkington," returned Simon.
"That is true," laughed Hann. "Disappeared pretty quickly when that
detective arrived, didn't he? Perhaps he thought old Jenks would denounce
him for trying to get inside Crosbie's room. Have a drink?"
"I could do with some tea."
"That'll suit me."
There was a tea shop handy and they ordered their innocent beverage.
Simon never took alcohol in the afternoon. There was a moment of silence.
Each perhaps was rather curious about the other.
"Why did you suppose Broughley might be there?" asked Hann, as he filled
"I didn't. I had to give some excuse for calling." Simon did not want to
tell of Bill's sudden departure and his efforts to catch him.
"But why were you calling?" persisted Hann. "You were with that
inspector, and I gathered you met Crosbie for the first time yesterday. I
suppose you know what every one is saying?"
"What are they saying?" Simon ignored the rest of the inquiry.
"That Broughley did it. There was that row on Saturday when they almost
flew at each other's throats. Broughley was seen last night going towards
the place where the body was found. The idea is they met, quarrelled
again, and Broughley hit too hard!"
"Who saw him?" asked Simon.
"Sladen for one, and he has been talking. Don't quite believe it myself."
"What is your idea?"
Hann stared at his tea and did not immediately reply. He had in some ways
an almost effeminate appearance, but Simon knew that although a man who
is scratch at golf need not be intellectual, he must have some strength
of character, some grit and a lot of determination.
"Perhaps I ought not to say it, but my own suspicions point to Sladen
"Anything to support them?" asked Simon.
"To be quite frank, precious little. I did not like his being so quick to
put it on to Broughley, and it was odd his coming that way at all. So
much farther and so much worse going. And although, when he was talking
to us, he said a lot about the people he saw in the lane, he said nothing
of the fact that after he had put up his car he went out again himself by
the back way."
"You are sure of that? He told Inspector Lee he went to bed early because
of his match with you."
"Maybe he did go to bed early," replied Hann, "but there was plenty of
time for a little stroll first."
Simon, somehow, had not pictured the bearded author as a likely murderer,
but he knew no one was immune from suspicion.
"Knight," he remarked, "says that Crosbie declared he was meeting
someone. I suppose you have no idea who that was? Could it have been
"It could have been," answered Hann. "You cannot say more than that. If
Sladen, coming that way, saw Crosbie with Knight he might have pushed on,
to come back later when Knight had gone. I knew Crosbie pretty well, but
he was a close sort of fellow. He didn't tell much."
"Was there anything between Crosbie and Sladen?"
"A big row a year ago. They were playing a match. Crosbie accused Sladen
of cheating. Said he moved his ball from a divot hole with his foot.
Sladen denied it. Both hot-tempered men, you know. Strong words on both
sides. They never spoke afterwards."
"But you don't suggest it would lead to murder a year later?"
"No," said Hann, "not unless something else happened more recently of
which I have not heard. Sladen's behaviour was a bit queer on our round,
before we found the body."
"In what way?"
"It's hard to define." Hann paused and smiled. "I ought not to say it,
for I only thought of it subsequently. That is the worst of things of
this sort, you look back and start imagining! But Sladen did press along
as though he was expecting something, if you know what I mean. At ‘Hell’ he
hit a tremendous shot that almost carried the green. And then he didn't
seem as startled at his discovery in the bunker as most people would have
been. But I may be quite wrong. It was only afterwards that it seemed
Simon was anxious to find a solution to the crime that would put Bill's
position beyond doubt. Any suggestion, however unlikely, deserved
"You and Sladen were both playing pretty well, weren't you?" he asked.
"Not too well, but it was level pegging. We were all square at that
"If a man had done a murder and he was playing round to the place where
he had left the body, could he play a normal game? Would he not anyway
take good care to avoid the place where the body was and let someone else
"I asked myself just those questions," said Hann, "and frankly I don't
know. It is a matter of temperament and Sladen is a queer fellow. I am
not accusing him. You mustn't think that. I am only wondering. I can
conceive that there might be an impatience to get round to see if the
body was still there--whether or not someone else had already discovered
it--even to be sure that the man really was dead and had not recovered
and got away."
"That is all possible," said Simon, "but it would not conduce to good
golf. I am inclined to think the police will have to look away from the
club for their criminal. The affair was probably planned from town by
someone who saw a chance of directing suspicion in the wrong direction."
"It is not unlikely," agreed Hann. "I always say every man leads two
lives. His home life and his business life. In the city here we meet a
fellow and think we know him pretty well; yet we have no idea of his home
surroundings, the church he goes to, or how he gets on with his wife. In
the same way he may dwell in Croydon or Bromley or some other suburb, and
the people there believe he is perfectly respectable, but have no idea
what he does when he gets off his train in the morning. Of course his
sports may sometimes provide a link."
There is a lot of truth in that," said Simon. "Does it apply in Crosbie's
"More than in most, I should say. How many people at Barrington know
anything of his town life? I suppose I was as much his friend as anyone
there. I have had business with him and played golf with him for years.
Yet I never met him socially. I don't know a word about his relations, or
even if he has any. Elkington may be a help as to that."
"If there are documents Elkington wants to get hold of," said Simon, "he
must approach the police and they will certainly ask him some questions.
Of course, the whole thing may prove very simple when they get down to
it. Do you live in town or are you returning to the club?"
"I shall be returning there sometime. Perhaps to-morrow. I shall attend
the inquest, though I don't suppose I'll be called." Hann paused a moment
and added, "A thing of this sort in your life somehow grips you. It is a
big shock when a man you know is taken like that. Whatever your regard
for him, you feel you must see it through, must somehow get to the bottom
"You do," agreed Simon. "I am getting back there now."
CHAPTER TWELVE: THE COMMITTEE DOES NOTHING
WHILE Simon was away the committee of the golf club was holding an
emergency meeting to decide what should be done in the strange and tragic
circumstances that had arisen.
There were eleven members of the committee and of these Speed, the
energetic secretary, had been able to get hold of seven. The captain,
General Cairn, was available, and Farmer, Knight, Cromer, Escott,
Wynnstay and Rawson were also present.
"You have all heard of the cause of our meeting," said Cairn solemnly, as
he opened the proceedings. "It must be a thing almost without precedent
in the annals of any golf club. We have to decide what steps we ought to
"What is Colonel Matthews doing?" asked Farmer.
"I telephoned Colonel Matthews," explained the secretary, "and he said
that as Chief Constable of the county the matter was receiving his most
urgent attention, but he thought his fellow members of this committee
would realise it would be impossible for him to come here and discuss
with them an affair that he had to deal with in his official capacity. He
relied on them to support in every way they could the efforts he and his
officers were making to get at the full facts of the case."
"I am sure we understand his position," said the chairman, "and will do
as he asks."
"Hear, hear," said Cromer.
"Did Matthews say if it was a matter of murder or of accidental death?"
The question was put by Rawson, a blunt and well-nourished stockbroker.
"He did not say," replied Speed, "and naturally I did not ask him."
"That surely is a question for the coroner," remarked Major Escott.
"But if we are not to consider it," said Rawson, "what exactly are we
"The dead body of one of our members is found in one of our bunkers,"
said Wynnstay. "I suggest we ought to know how it got there. Surely that
is our concern." He was tall, thin-faced and inquisitive. He was fond of
pressing awkward questions and was often rather a trial to the chairman.
By profession a manufacturing chemist, he was said to have patented a
Purple Pill for Perfect Putting. But it was so effective that he would
not put it on the market. That is the sort of man he was.
"Several points arise for our consideration," said Cairn, disregarding
these remarks. "I think, in the first place, we might stand in silence as
a tribute of respect to our late member and in sympathy with his
relations." They all stood.
As they resumed their seats Farmer asked, "Are there any relations?"
"I have not heard of any," said Speed.
"Have you made inquiry?" asked Wynnstay.
"I asked Elkington, who is a near neighbour. He says Mr. Crosbie lived
alone in a service flat and he knows of no relations."
"Next," said Cairn, "there is the question of the course. Should it be
closed for any length of time, or not at all?"
"Do the police wish the fifteenth and sixteenth holes closed?" asked
"Not, I understand, after to-day," answered the chairman.
"Then surely no further step by us is necessary," said Farmer.
"I think that is where my question comes in," said Rawson. "Is it murder,
or is it not? When a member meets an accident, here or elsewhere, we
carry on. We record our regret and that is all. Murder is another
"Hear, hear," said Cromer. He was one of those useful members found in
all committees who seldom say anything else. Sladen once declared he had
the brain of an under-nourished nit. But that was no disqualification and
business would never get done if all committee-men were equally
"I feel we ought to close the course on the day of the funeral,"
"If we do," objected Farmer, "are we not showing we do not regard it as
an accident? Have we ever closed before in such circumstances?"
"I have no record," said Speed, "but these circumstances are
"Don't we all know it was murder?" demanded Wynnstay. "Why beat about
the bush? Sladen says--"
"We cannot go into that," said the chairman firmly.
"In my view," said Rawson, "it is a matter to leave to the wishes of
individual members. If they desire to play, how can we stop them? A good
many did not know Crosbie. Some who did will not regard him as a great
loss to the club, although his death in such a manner shocks every one.
But let us be honest about it."
"Hear, hear," said Cromer.
"I have no strong opinion either way," remarked the chairman. "Crosbie
held no official position and perhaps, therefore, no definite action is
This, after a little further discussion, was agreed to. Then the chairman
"Now as to the captain's prize. Crosbie was one of the last four. Should
the competition be abandoned or should it go on?"
On this question opinion was more evenly divided. "As the one who would
most immediately benefit by Crosbie's withdrawal," said Knight, "I say
"I do not agree," said Rawson doggedly. "If we are to regard it as
murder, and he may have been murdered by a possible opponent, I would
certainly wash out the whole thing. But since we are not to consider that
aspect of the case, I hold that Knight gets a walk over, as he did in the
first round when Dean twisted his ankle and had to scratch."
"Only wants one more casualty for Knight to win," commented Farmer. "A
bad look out for somebody. But I have never heard of competitions being
abandoned because of the disablement of a competitor."
"This is not an ordinary case," said Escott. "What does our chairman say?
He gives the prize."
"For that reason," replied Cairn, "I would rather express no opinion. It
is in your hands."
"Call it murder," said Rawson, "and abandon it. I will move that the
murderer be expelled from the club If you don't, or won't, call it
murder, I say carry on."
"How about Sladen and Hann?" asked the secretary. "They would play again
and there would have to be an extension of time?"
"Give them another week," suggested Knight.
"Would they resume at the fifteenth where they broke off," inquired
Farmer, "or begin afresh?"
"Start again at the first," said Rawson. "I believe they were all square,
and it would be fairest anyway."
Once more his view prevailed. Then Wynnstay raised another matter.
"Is the committee proposing," he asked, "to take any step with regard to
the quarrel in the cardroom on Saturday night?"
"Have we had any complaints about that?" asked the chairman.
"No, sir," said the secretary.
"Everybody is talking about it," declared Wynnstay.
"I think Farmer knows as much as anyone," observed Knight slyly, beaming
at him through his glasses. Farmer had had a dig at him, so he got one in
Farmer glared back. He was a burly man with a heavy black moustache and
had a forceful way with him. "We cannot well do anything without
censuring the dead man," he said. "I suppose we do not wish to do that?
He had had too much to drink and was quarrelsome. I refused to play with
him and he became threatening. Then Broughley intervened and said he was
behaving like a cad. Crosbie talked of taking proceedings for slander."
"Was it not Broughley," asked Wynnstay, "who was seen following him up
the lane when he was killed?"
"I protest!" cried Escott. "That, Mr. Chairman, is a most improper
observation. Broughley is one of the straightest men in the club. If this
committee proposes to hold a court of inquiry I am sure Broughley will
come out of it as creditably as anyone. If it does not, insinuations
should be avoided."
"Hear, hear," said Cromer.
"I did not insinuate anything," said Wynnstay. "I only asked a question
on a detail of fact."
"An improper question," said the chairman severely. "It does not arise."
"I agree with Escott," declared Rawson. "We are not holding a court of
inquiry, but other authorities are--or will be. Therefore I say we should
do nothing until their findings are published. The secretary was right to
call this meeting, but we have expressed our regret and we can send a
wreath. Leave it at that."
"Perhaps you have not heard what Reg Richards says," muttered Wynnstay.
"How are we to help Matthews as he asked if we are gagged when we mention
anything? I think anyway this committee ought to clear itself."
"What do you mean by that?" asked several voices.
Wynnstay looked round at his fellow members almost maliciously.
"Our quarrel with Crosbie is not forgotten. We all hated him and this
talk of sympathy and regret is flapdoodle. Which of you is really sorry
he was killed last night? Both Farmer and Knight were out there with him,
and Cairn, although he lives miles away, was seen late in the evening
crossing the links with what looked like a heavy weapon. I am not
accusing anyone, but I am no hypocrite. Either we are to make a proper
inquiry or our proceedings are a farce."
When he finished there was uproar. Every one started speaking at once.
Explanations, angry protests and indignant denials tumbled over one
another. It was some minutes before the chairman restored order.
“I regard Wynnstay's speech as most regrettable," he said, "and entirely
out of place. It shows the danger of listening to ill-natured gossip,
which is a thing we should do our utmost to discourage. As to my being on
the links last night with a weapon, I had promised Speed to mark the
position of a new bunker I had suggested to him, near the eleventh green,
and had forgotten to do so. I remembered it after dinner and so drove
over with a small bundle of sticks to peg it out. You will find the
sticks there. It is near the road or I should not have gone. It is a long
way, as you know, from the fifteenth. I will not insult other members by
asking them to explain their movements. Information as to facts can be
given to the proper quarter."
"Hear, hear," said Cromer.
"May I add one thing?" asked Escott. "Last night I saw Wynnstay in the
lavatory washing blood from his hand. What about that?"
"What about that?" Other members repeated the words almost joyfully and
glared at Wynnstay.
"Absurd," he said. "I cut my hand in opening a tobacco tin."
"The police may believe you," said Rawson mischievously, "but two men at
least saw you hiding a bloodstained towel!"
"I didn't hide it. I only--"
"Order, order," said the chairman. "There is no further business. The
meeting is ended."
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: BAG SNATCHING
LIFE at the windmill would have been rather difficult but for the
presence of the daily help, Mrs. Wicks. When two girls have their minds
filled with one theme and both shrink from discussing it, long spells of
silence are inevitable, and the patches of forced conversation accentuate
rather than lessen the strain. The chatter of Mrs. Wicks offered some
relief, though the topic of her talk was not happily chosen.
"Mrs. Wicks is doing the floor to-day," said Hazel cheerily to her
cousin. "Shall we play golf?"
"I don't want to go on the links," answered Sylvia.
"What about a good sharp walk, then? You must have some exercise."
"I shall be all right. I have some work to do." She showed little
inclination to do it. She sat in the lounge apparently reading the
"Let it wait," said Hazel. "Come for a run in the car." A comfortable
two-seater was housed in a shed behind the mill.
"A little later perhaps," said Sylvia.
Then Mrs. Wicks got busy. She moved all the furniture from one corner of
the lounge and started on the job of polishing the parquet.
"Just heard, miss," she said to Hazel, "that the inquest on that pore Mr.
Crosbie is to take place to-morrow."
"Really?" The reply was not encouraging.
"Yes, miss, and they do say some startling revelations is to come out. I
say it was a passing tramp what done it. There are such queer characters
about nowadays. No one ain't safe. But Mrs. Evans told Mrs. Hopkins that
Mary Partridge, who is a maid at the hotel, saw a member of the club
lurkin' in the bushes, and she swears it must have been him."
"Did Mary Partridge recognise the member?" demanded Sylvia, looking up
from her paper.
"No, miss. Not to say recognise. She only saw him back view."
"Then how can she tell it was a member at all?"
The question was put sharply and, Mrs. Wicks not being prepared with a
reply, there was an interlude while some more furniture was shifted.
"Tell me when you want me to move," said Hazel pleasantly. She had a
writing pad on her knee, but ideas were not flowing very freely. Lady
Jane's troubles had somehow become less absorbing.
"Yes, miss. The coroner, Dr. Erie that is, he's a terrible stern man. I
worked once for him and Mrs. Erie. Gimlick eyes he has. Sees right
through you. Forces the truth to come."
"But people are there to tell the truth," suggested Hazel. "They are on
"That's so, miss, but when he gets askin' questions you tell things you
never knew you knew. I remember once one of his socks was lost in the
wash and the way he worrited us to find out what could have happened to
it was hardly believable. And not quite gentlemanlike. 'It's lost,' I
said, but did that satisfy him? No. He wanted to know who saw it last,
when and how it was parted from its fellow, and no end of other things.
Quite a commotion and all about a darned sock."
Hazel was rather amused. The view of the home-life of a coroner and the
inquest on the sock had its humorous side. But the subject did not seem
to appeal to Sylvia.
"I will go up and fill in that sketch I was doing," she said.
She threw down the paper and ascended the spiral stairs that led to the
bedrooms and to her own little studio. She had not been gone more than
fifteen minutes when the postman came with the second delivery of
letters. He had only one for the windmill. It was addressed in
typewriting to Miss Wilton. Hazel at once went up with it.
Sylvia had her sketch in front of her, but she was not working at it. Her
hands were on her lap and she was gazing out through the little window.
"A letter, dear," said Hazel, handing it to her. Sylvia did not
immediately open it. Her cousin bent down and kissed her.
"I wish you would come out for a bit," she whispered. "Things are bound
to be all right. It is no use worrying."
"Later, perhaps," said Sylvia, for the second time. She spoke in a
listless sort of way.
"Sure there is nothing I can do for you, darling?"
Hazel lingered. She wanted to help. She did not like leaving her cousin
alone, even though she would rather be left. As Sylvia made no sign she
moved slowly towards the door. But she was recalled.
"Look at this."
Sylvia had opened her letter and had read its strange contents at a
glance. She handed it to the other girl.
It, like the address, was in typewriting, on a half sheet of cheap paper.
It had neither date nor address. Nor was it signed.
'If Miss Wilton will come to the seat outside the hut near the seventh
green at eight o'clock to-morrow, Wednesday evening, she will hear
something she ought to know. She must come alone.'
"That is to-night," said Hazel. "You won't go?"
Sylvia did not immediately reply. Her beautiful face was almost paler
"Why should I not go?" she said at last.
"Because it is so late. It will be getting dark. It is the loneliest part
of the course."
"I must go. It might be--something important."
"Then I will go with you," declared Hazel.
“It says come alone."
"Yes, but what difference can it make? I will wait a little way off, so
that I cannot hear anything, but I'll be there in case."
"In case what?"
"In case I ought to be there," said Hazel firmly.
"It says come alone," repeated Sylvia. "Suppose two of us were there--we
could be seen quite a long way off--perhaps we should not be told
"But what difference can it make?" persisted the other girl.
"It may be the person, whoever it is, does not want to be recognised
except by me."
"Do you think it is Bill?" asked Hazel suddenly. "Mr. Ross said he had
A little colour came to Sylvia's cheeks. "I don't know who it is. But I
Neither argument nor persuasion could alter her determination. It was
perhaps the vagueness of the summons that made it so imperative. Yet it
was clear enough on one point. She was to come alone.
"Will you take any money?" asked Hazel, thinking that the news, whatever
it might be, if from a stranger, might have to be paid for.
"Not much," said Sylvia. "I haven't much in hand."
The day slipped by and when evening came the younger girl renewed the
plea that she should go as companion. She did not like to put the thought
into words, but there was the fact that murder had just been done on
those links, and for her cousin to cross them alone, towards dusk, to
reach the most desolate part of the course, was a risky and very
unpleasant thing. Sylvia seemed to have no fear, and her determination
"Let me take you in the car as far as I can," said Hazel at last.
"It is sweet of you, dear, but there is really nothing to be afraid of,"
said Sylvia. "You cannot get there with a car and the nearest way is by
the footpath. I'll be back sooner than you expect."
"It will be dark for coming back, and that is dangerous over the rough
"I'll put a torch in my bag."
So she set out. If she had any apprehensions as she climbed the stile and
strode along the narrow way that led towards the hut, she kept them well
under control. The course was deserted, for the holiday crowd had
lessened and few people play in the April evenings.
She started in good time and arrived at the rendezvous a little before
the hour mentioned. She could see the hut and the seat outside it from a
considerable distance, and was not surprised that no one was yet there to
meet her. She was purposely early, for she thought she would then get a
good view of her unknown correspondent as he--or she--approached.
The seat, like that on the sixteenth tee, was merely a tree trunk
supported on two stumps. It was two or three yards from the hut. She
looked carefully all round her and then sat down to wait.
The waiting was not for long! Noiselessly the door of the hut was opened.
Two stealthy steps reached her side. Some sort of rough cloth was flung
over her head and two strong arms seized her round the body. She was
dragged the short distance to the hut and thrown to the floor. Her bag
was torn from her grasp and the door of the hut was closed.
It had only been a matter of moments, and it was a matter of moments,
too, for her to tear off the evil-smelling cloth and get to her feet. Her
sensation was of anger rather than fear. A trap to rob her, and she had
fallen into it, thinking the message to be true.
The hut was dark, but she knew where the door was. She got to it and
pulled and pushed. It did not yield. She beat on it with her hands, but
that made only the feeblest of sounds. She tore off her gloves and hit it
again, crying aloud as she did so. But the only result was to bruise her
She would not let terror gain the mastery. She ceased her futile efforts
and considered what she could do. The thief would have run off, so there
was nothing more to fear from him. And the hut did not seem quite so dark
as she had thought. Over the door there was a narrow slit of very dirty
glass and, as her eyes became accustomed to the gloom, it gave light
enough for her to see that the place was bare and empty. It had at one
time been used to keep lawn-mowers and the like--before motor mowers were
adopted. Then it had been disused, except as a shelter. There was no lock
to it now, only a hasp and hook outside, but that was as sure a fastening
for anyone confined there as a padlock would have been.
What must she do? She blamed herself for disregarding Hazel's advice.
There was just a chance that someone might pass that way, but it was
unlikely. Unless Hazel, growing uneasy, came to see what had happened,
she would almost certainly be kept there all the night. Hazel would be
uneasy. There was no doubt of that. Hazel would come for her. She must
not let herself get scared. Her cigarettes, her matches, her electric
torch, all were in the stolen bag. If she had had them it would not be so
bad. As it was she must wait as best she could.
Then, walking backwards and forwards in her narrow prison in the fast
deepening gloom, she trod on something. She stooped and picked it up. It
was a short thick stick about fifteen inches long. Seizing it in both
hands, she beat vigorously on the door and cried aloud again. There was
now more chance of her being heard. She waited a few minutes and then
beat again. It might be useless, but it was better than doing nothing.
She broke the glass slip. The space was too narrow to get through, even
if she could climb up to it, but her cries would travel farther.
How long her attack on the door continued she could not tell. It seemed a
great while to her, but at last she heard a cry.
"Coming, Sylvia! I'm coming!"
A moment later Hazel had raised the hook and had her arms round her.
"What happened, darling? I got so frightened when you didn't return. I
had to come."
"The simplest dodge to rob me," said Sylvia bitterly. "My bag was taken."
"Only your bag?"
"Thank goodness, yes. But that's bad enough. What a fool I was!"
"Never mind, darling. You are unhurt. We'll get back and the police will
recover it for you."
If we tell them," said Sylvia rather grimly, as by the light of Hazel's
torch they made their way homeward.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: THE VEILED WOMAN
A SHORT, thick-set, bull-necked man was Dr. Erie, the coroner. His eyes
were keen and without attributing to them all the "gimlick" properties
Mrs. Wicks suggested, it is certain that very little escaped them. He had
strong opinions of his own, and those opinions were not altogether of an
orthodox character, as his opening remarks to his jury indicated. The
court was crowded and there was a profound hush when he rapped on the
table to open the proceedings. He was not unaware of the large company
that listened to his words; witnesses, journalists, officials and those
drawn only by curiosity; but he addressed himself solely and quietly to
his jurors, as if they only had been present.
"The Coroners Act of 1887 ordains that where there is reasonable cause to
suspect that a person has died a violent or unnatural death an inquiry
shall be held to ascertain what precisely was the cause of that death.
The evidence you are to hear will, I think, satisfy you that the deceased
in this case did die a violent and unnatural death and that the injury
causing that death could neither have been self-inflicted nor accidental.
In that case, being satisfied with the evidence of identity, you may feel
compelled to record by your verdict that Arthur Melrose Crosbie was
He paused for a moment, shuffled a few papers on his table and then went
"The Act provides further that if any person is found guilty of murder
the coroner, on receiving a verdict to that effect, shall commit such
person to prison for trial. You will note, therefore, that if you find a
person guilty, it does not follow that he is guilty, but only that he is
charged, arrested and tried.
"This in my view is unsatisfactory. You may think that suspicion points
this way or that, but you must remember, in an inquiry held so soon after
a death, it is seldom possible to get all the facts. The witnesses in
many cases are not cross-examined and the accused, not knowing they are
accused, call no rebutting evidence and may not be represented by
He paused again, fixed a monocle in his left eye and resumed.
"In poison cases an inquiry as to the cause of death is often protracted
because the possibility of suicide, or death from misadventure, requires
the utmost consideration. If, as I suggest is likely in this case, such
possibilities do not arise, then your duty is clear. You must say how the
deceased died, but you need not say who killed him. The police have other
methods than a coroner's warrant for making arrests and other methods too
for obtaining evidence. I would never willingly be a party to a verdict
that brands anyone a murderer without a fuller trial and investigation
than is possible here."
His words created a little buzz of comment among the reporters and other
old hands. They saw they were not to get as big a sensation as they had
hoped. Probably, one of the newspaper men whispered to his neighbour, the
police had put him up to it to cover the fact that they had failed as yet
to get anything of a case.
Simon Ross was sitting at the back of the court and had a good view of
all who were there. He looked round, hoping to see Bill Broughley. He did
not really expect him, inexplicable as his absence was. There was no sign
of him. Simon had not met Inspector Lee since his fruitless dash to town,
but they had spoken on the telephone. He had been compelled to say that
Bill had gone away before he knew he was wanted and had left a note that
he would write soon. The inspector had not disguised his opinion as to
the cause of flight, but that could not be helped. The promised note was
It also was not surprising that neither Sylvia nor Hazel was in the
court. He recognised many of the members of the golf club and, naturally,
Inspector Lee and Sergeant Green were there. He was also interested to
note with them a member of the C.I.D., Inspector O'Grady. Evidently
Scotland Yard had been called in. That, on the whole, was satisfactory.
It showed, whatever their suspicions of Bill, the local police were not
fully satisfied with that solution of their problem and were prepared to
look further afield.
There were not many women present, but Simon found that one of the few
was seated next to himself. She was dressed in black and, although the
room was warm, she kept a veil over her face. He could not judge
precisely of her age or looks, but his impression was that she could not
be old, possibly in her thirties. He wondered if she was related to the
dead man, an idea that the first witness seemed to deny.
This was William Elkington. He identified the body as that of Arthur
Crosbie whom he had known intimately for two years. They occupied flats
in the same building in London and had done business together. They were
both members of the Barrington Golf Club.
"Do you know anything of his relations?" asked the coroner.
"No, sir. He never mentioned any to me. He lived alone."
"When did you last see him alive?"
"On Sunday. We played together in the afternoon and had dinner together."
"And after that?"
"After dinner he told me he was going out for a stroll. That would have
been between eight-thirty and nine."
"Did he tell you that he was to meet anyone? Or indicate why he was going
"He did not."
"Did it seem peculiar to you for him to go out after dinner?"
"Not altogether. Not in the circumstances."
"What," said Dr. Erie slowly, "what exactly do you mean by in the
Elkington glanced at the jury and seemed for a moment to hesitate.
"He generally played cards. There had been some unpleasantness the
previous evening in the cardroom, and I thought that was why he did not
wish to go there."
"Were you present when this unpleasantness occurred?"
"No," said Elkington, "I was not."
"What did you do after he left you?"
"I sat in the smoking-room for a time. Then I went in my car to call on
some friends. They were out, so I came back."
"You did not see Crosbie again?"
"I did not."
"Did you go to his room, or look for him?"
"I did not go to his room and I did not look for him. He was not about
and I did not give the matter a thought."
"His failure to return would not lead you to suspect anything was amiss?"
"I was unaware that he had not returned. We had arranged to go together
to town the next day. I imagined he had come in and gone to bed."
The next witness, Samuel Jenks, gave confirmatory evidence of identity,
stating that Crosbie was a solicitor practising in Theobald Square and he
was his managing clerk.
"Were there any matters of late that had been especially worrying him?"
asked the coroner.
Jenks corrugated his forehead and shook his bald head. "Not more than
"He had received no threatening letters or been faced with anything that
might in your mind account for what happened to him?"
"No, sir. It came as a complete surprise to me and a great shock."
Ross had the impression that the woman at his side listened very intently
while Jenks was in the box and gave a soft sigh of relief when he left
it. His curiosity was quickened and he determined to try to get a word
with her when a suitable opportunity arose.
Sladen, the bearded author, then related how he had discovered the body
and had summoned the police. Simon noticed he was not questioned as to
his movements on the night of the crime. Toffy Blair, the caddie, told
how he had kept watch until the police arrived and caused a smile by his
repeated assertion that he hadn't let nobody touch nothing.
Then came Dr. Trenton.
His evidence was likely to be important. He was the police surgeon and
stated that he had been called to see the body at about eleven-thirty on
Monday morning. He found life extinct and thought death had occurred
about twelve hours previously. On making an examination he found evidence
that a hearty meal had been taken about two hours before death. If the
deceased had finished dinner at eight-thirty he should say that the blow
that killed him had probably been struck about an hour later, say at
nine-thirty. It was not possible to be more precise.
"That may be a little confusing to the jury," remarked Erle. "Do you mean
that the deceased probably lived for an hour after he was struck?"
"What was the actual cause of death?"
"A compound comminuted fracture of the skull, with laceration of the
"Will you tell the jury what a comminuted fracture is?"
Dr. Trenton turned to the jury. "Comminuted means reduced to minute
fractions, broken into many pieces."
"An injury that could only be done," suggested the coroner, "with a heavy
weapon used with great force?
"That is so."
"How was the injury in this instance produced?"
"By a blow struck on the side of the head above the right ear. The victim
would be rendered unconscious and would die probably an hour later
without recovering consciousness."
"Was there one blow or many?"
"Only one blow. The victim would immediately collapse. His attacker might
suppose that death was instantaneous, though that would not, in fact, be
"If the body had been found at once could life have been saved?"
"No. The blow killed him. It is only in a technical and medical sense
that he lived an hour afterwards."
"What sort of weapon was in your opinion used to strike the blow?"
"A hammer. It is impossible to be absolutely certain, but a short heavy
hammer seems the most likely thing."
The coroner then picked up an object lying on his table.
"This," he said, "is a golf club, called, I am told, a niblick. It will
be identified presently as having been found by the side of the body. I
think you examined this club, Dr. Trenton. Will you tell the jury if you
think the fatal blow was struck with it?"
"I am sure it was not," was the reply. "That club has a sharp edge and
would have made quite a different kind of wound. The blow was struck with
something that had a flat surface about two inches in diameter."
"Assuming, doctor, that the weapon was as you describe and the injuries
as you mention, could the blow have been struck by a woman?"
Trenton hesitated. "I should hardly think so," he said.
"Do you mean because it was not the sort of action we expect from a
woman, or for any more precise reason?"
"Partly for that and also because of the great violence employed."
"I suppose," said Dr. Erie dryly, "if an inquest had been held on Sisera
after he was discovered with a nail in his head, driven in with a hammer,
the coroner might have been told it was not a characteristic act of a
woman. Yet a woman did it! Having regard to the athletic development of
the modern female, do you suggest the jury and the police can disregard
the possibility of a woman as the assailant?"
"I could not go so far as that," said Trenton.
As he gave his answer, the woman by Simon's side made a little sound, a
suppressed exclamation. Simon glanced at her, but her eyes were on the
doctor. She seemed unconscious of him.
"Another point, Dr. Trenton," the coroner was saying. "You tell us the
victim, when hit, would immediately collapse. Would there be much loss of
"Did you find bloodstains?"
"The body was in a sand bunker and there were distinct bloodstains in the
sand. I was taken later on to higher ground above this bunker, the
sixteenth tee, I believe. There were more bloodstains on the grass."
"What conclusion would you draw from that?"
"That the blow was struck on the high ground and the body pushed over the
"Thank you. That is all at present. Inspector Lee."
"May I ask the doctor a question?"
A juryman stood up as Trenton was leaving the box. The coroner nodded and
the man said,
"Suppose a stone had been thrown, doctor, could not that have done the
"No," said Trenton decidedly, "not unless it had been fired from a
"A stone," commented the coroner, "would have fallen beside the object
struck and would have remained there. I understand there was no stone. If
there had been it could not have rolled the body into the bunker."
The juryman, somewhat abashed, sat down. His colleagues smiled and the
coroner repeated, "Inspector Lee."
Lee produced photographs of the body as it lay in the bunker when he
first saw it and a plan of the adjoining ground. He said the money and
the other valuables found in the pockets of the deceased put robbery as a
motive out of question.
"Have you any theory as to how the crime was committed?" asked Erle.
"I think there is little doubt," answered the inspector. "If the deceased
was sitting on the seat on the sixteenth tee shown on the plan, looking
towards the bunker, and was struck from behind, he would collapse and
fall forward, leaving the bloodstains just where we found them. He was
then pushed into the bunker, disturbing the sand as marked in the
"Do you agree with that, Dr. Trenton?" the coroner asked the surgeon, who
was seated at the table.
"Entirely," was the reply.
"The blow being on the right side of the head would have been struck by a
right-handed person?" The question was to Lee.
"I think that is so. A left-handed person would have had to make a
back-handed blow, which is not so likely."
A few more questions were asked and Lee stood down. Dr. Erie had some
words in whispered undertones with the man Simon knew was from Scotland
Yard and then turned to his jury.
"That concludes all the evidence I am proposing to call."
“Surely they will not leave it like that!" The woman next to Simon
muttered the words, almost fiercely, partly to herself, partly to him.
"He only wants sufficient evidence to decide as to the cause of death,"
Simon whispered back. "The rest is up to the police."
An interruption, however, came from another quarter. A man stood up in
the body of the court and asked if he might make a statement. It was
Farmer, and a hush of expectancy followed. Dr. Erie did not look pleased,
but he waved him to the box and had him sworn.
"An allusion has been made," Farmer said, "to an unpleasantness in the
cardroom on Saturday evening last in which the deceased was concerned. As
that unpleasantness was a quarrel with myself, I think it right to state
the fact to clear away any possible thought that it had anything to do
with his death."
"What was the cause of the unpleasantness?" asked the coroner.
"Mr. Crosbie was in a quarrelsome mood and I declined to play with him.
That was all."
"Was anyone else concerned?"
"Some of those present supported me, but the affair had nothing to do
with what happened after."
Simon had been a little surprised at his intervention. The police would
have called him had they thought it necessary. But since he chose to
speak it was very decent of him not to drag in Bill's name. The coroner
evidently felt obliged to ask a few more questions.
"Did you see Mr. Crosbie the following evening?"
"I saw him at dinner, but we did not speak."
"What did you do after dinner?"
"I have friends who live in Farrer's Farm, at the end of the mill lane,
some little distance from the club house. I walked over and spent the
evening with them."
"You walked along the mill lane?"
"At what time?"
"I went out before nine and started back about ten-thirty."
"Did you see Mr. Crosbie on either occasion?"
"I did not."
He left the box and the coroner briefly summed up. He said the police
were following various lines of inquiry but in his view it would serve no
useful purpose to arouse unjustifiable suspicions. Nor would it be fair
to adjourn the case and require the attendance of the jurors again at
some unknown future date. Therefore, as he had intimated at first, he
wished them to confine their attention to the cause of death. The
evidence they had heard placed that beyond reasonable doubt and, with
certain general instructions, he asked them to consider their verdict.
The jurors whispered together. It was hardly necessary for them to leave
the box. While they were conferring, Simon turned to his neighbour.
"You are interested in the case?" he ventured.
"Should I be here otherwise?" was the reply.
"I hope Crosbie was no relation of yours? Just a friend?"
"I knew him pretty well."
She did not seem inclined to say more, but Simon persevered.
"I thought you were rather surprised--or annoyed--that the coroner did
not ask more questions."
He had the impression she was regarding him with suspicion. "I suppose he
knows his business," she said guardedly.
"Of course he does, but I believe the trouble is they don't know as much
about Crosbie as they would like to."
Again there was a pause and again he felt that the eyes through the veil
were regarding him keenly.
"Who are you, young man? One of the police?"
"Indeed, no!" said Simon with a smile. "I am a lawyer, a friend of some
of these people. A member of the club. If you know anything of Crosbie it
might be useful if you would tell it."
"I don't think," she began, and then she stopped.
"He was murdered," Simon said gravely. "The jury will declare so
presently. You would wish his murderer brought to justice?"
"Certainly I would!"
"Well, why not let me talk to you about it?"
"Sometimes least said soonest mended," murmured the woman.
"I feel sure the murderer would think so!" retorted Simon.
Then there was a cry for silence. The jurors had concluded their brief
consultation and the foreman announced their unanimous and obvious
verdict that Arthur Melrose Crosbie had been wilfully murdered by some
person unknown. The coroner accepted their finding and a few moments
later there was a general movement as the crowd began to disperse.
Simon turned to his neighbour. She was opening her little bag.
"You are a lawyer," she muttered. "I don't know you. I may not tell you
anything. Perhaps there is nothing to tell. But if you are in London,
this is my address. You may be able to tell me something."
She thrust a card into his hand and moved quickly away. Before he could
look at it, another hand had seized his arm.
"Mr. Ross, can you spare us a minute? There is something we want to show
It was Inspector Lee who had hurried to his side with the request.
"Of course," said Simon.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: WHO IS SYLVIA?
"I EXPECT YOU have met Inspector O'Grady," said Lee to Simon as they
entered a small room where the C.I.D. man was waiting for them.
"Often," and Simon extended his hand. "How are you, inspector?
"Fine, thanks. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Ross. We've had a few tussles in
the past, but no ill-will on either side. You're early on the job this
time. Who are you reckoning to defend?"
O'Grady was a big man hailing from the north of Ireland. He had a keen
sense of humour, but could be absolutely ruthless when it suited his
purpose. The contrast between the two inspectors was remarkable. Lee,
with his beaked nose and his thin lips, might have been a member of a
medieval inquisition. O'Grady, fat-faced and florid, looked more
good-natured than he really was. Tenacity was his chief characteristic
and it generally got him what he wanted.
"Who are you going to accuse?" laughed Simon, in reply to his question.
"Sure to be some innocent devil with a perfect alibi." A successful alibi
had been set up in the last case in which they had appeared in opposite
"Not this time," chuckled O'Grady, "not with all the lawyers in Lincoln's
Inn to work it. I don't think we have really far to go."
Then Inspector Lee spoke. Simon had the impression that while O'Grady was
cheerful and well pleased with himself, the local man was not quite so
happy. The explanation was soon forthcoming.
"You will remember that I told Sergeant Green to examine the contents of
the pockets of the dead man?"
"You did," said Simon. "I imagine it is a routine job, always done."
"That is so. Green made a list of everything he found. The watch and the
wallet were there. No golf balls. He assured me he had been most careful
about it, and he had missed nothing."
"Quite true. Had he missed anything?"
"He had. The very clue that will probably make the whole thing clear. It
is most annoying. One cannot do everything one's self. One must rely on
one's assistants a little. And then they let you down."
Lee undoubtedly was upset and his chagrin evidently added to O'Grady's
complacency. As Simon well knew, there is a certain degree of rivalry
between country inspectors and their London colleagues. The local men
often declare the fellows from the Yard give themselves airs. It would be
galling for Lee to have to admit a mistake that the newcomer had
detected. Simon guessed he had been called there, not so much for any
assistance he could give, as to confirm the story of Lee's instructions
to his subordinate and to justify him to some extent in the eyes of the
"What is the clue?" he asked. "Who found it?
"Inspector O'Grady found it," said Lee. "He wished to see the clothes
that Crosbie had been wearing and he then felt in the pockets. In the
watch pocket he found something that Green had missed. Green has a spot
of bother coming his way!"
"Don't take it too hard," said O'Grady magnanimously. He no doubt felt he
could afford to be generous. "Not your fault anyway. If you find a watch
in a watch pocket you don't expect much else, and a scrap of paper lies
flat. Not that Green doesn't deserve what he'll get. Now, Mr. Ross, what
do you make of this?"
He took from his pocket-book four torn bits of paper and spread them out
and fitted them together until they made a complete sheet, or rather half
sheet, of notepaper.
Simon stared at the words. "Will meet you on Sunday Evening. The
Sixteenth Tee at 9.30. Sylvia."
What did it mean? In the background of his mind there had always been
some misgiving, some dread, however much he sought to hide it from
himself, that in some way Sylvia and Bill were involved in Crosbie's
fate. His theory of the proposal of marriage and the refusal, although it
met many aspects of the case, did not satisfy all of them. It did not
explain Chase's account of what he had called the queerest game he ever
played, or Sylvia's manner when asked about it. It did not quite explain
Hazel's attitude to the whole affair.
"I only got down here last night," O'Grady was saying. "I had been busy
in town. But I found that this morning. It made a lot of difference. Lee
was bringing evidence about the men who had been seen near the place at
the time it happened, but we decided to hold it up. The coroner was
willing. He doesn't like murder verdicts anyway. Says he has seen too
many proved wrong after wards. But the first thing we want to know is:
Who is Sylvia?"
"I told him you know a good many people here," added Lee, "and could
perhaps put us right."
Simon did a bit of quick thinking. He had never seen Sylvia's writing,
but that the note came from her he did not doubt. Nor did he fail to
realise the importance--the danger--of such a discovery. What part had it
played in Bill's disappearance? His conviction that his friends were
innocent did not waver, but he saw the seriousness of their position. He
must help them in every way he could, yet to attempt to mislead these men
would not really be a help. Sooner or later Lee and O'Grady would get the
information they wanted. If he sought to balk them it would only make
them distrust him. He would forfeit their confidence and so would lessen
his chance of being of assistance should Sylvia and Bill and Hazel need
"Sylvia is not an uncommon name," he said slowly. "There is only one lady
I know of in these parts who is so called, but there must be hundreds in
London, where Crosbie lived."
"Who is your lady?" asked O'Grady.
"Miss Sylvia Wilton."
"Miss Wilton," cried Lee excitedly. "That settles it! She is one of the
girls in the windmill. On the opposite side of the road. The tall dark
one. A good looker too. Very convenient for her to meet him there. We
know he was to meet someone and the appointment is for the very hour when
he was done in! I questioned her and the other girl. You were with me,
Mr. Ross. They both swore they had heard nothing and Crosbie was unknown
to them. I guess they'll have a different story now. What liars women can
"You're right there," said O'Grady. "If the devil is the father of lies
who is the mother? The sooner we see this young lady the better."
"There's just one thing that puzzles me," said Simon. "I am not saying
Miss Wilton is not the Sylvia you want. I don't know, as I have never
seen her handwriting. But that bit of paper is torn in four pieces."
"What of that?" asked Lee.
"If a man gets an appointment to meet a young woman at a certain time and
place he may rely on memory, or he may take the note with him. But why
tear it up?"
"Changed his mind," suggested O'Grady.
"I suppose no one had access to the clothes after Green went through
"No one but ourselves," said Lee. "We take good care of that. What about
going along there now?" This was to his fellow inspector.
"I think so," said O'Grady, and then hummed the air 'Where is Sylvia?'
"I introduced you when you went before," said Simon. "I'd like to come
again. If it proves a mistake I can take the blame."
"It is no mistake," declared Lee grimly. "I'll wager a lot on that. There
is a good deal leading up to it that you don't know. And it all points
one way. But perhaps as a friend you can tell 'em to talk!"
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: ADMISSIONS
MRS. WICKS had done her work for the day when the three men reached the
windmill. Simon, feeling pretty unhappy about it all, led the way to the
door and it was Hazel who opened it to him. If there was a smile in her
eyes it froze when she saw his companions. Inspector Lee she recognised
and she no doubt guessed that O'Grady was also from the police.
"What do you want?" she asked.
"I am sorry," said Simon, "but these inspectors have a few more questions
they wish to put to Miss Wilton."
"Can't be done." Hazel's tone was very definite. "She is lying down with
a headache. Perhaps I can tell you anything you want to know."
"I am Inspector O'Grady of Scotland Yard," said that individual, stepping
forward. "My business is with Miss Sylvia Wilton. Will you please tell
"She is not well enough to see you," replied Hazel, undaunted.
"You please give her my message. I'll send for a doctor if you like, but
I am staying here until I see her."
His tone was very determined. The girl looked at Simon. Was he for them
or for her? The question was unspoken, but he understood. It did not make
"She had better come down if she can," he said gently.
Hazel hesitated and then, without a word, she went in and crossed the
lounge to the narrow stairway, leaving them standing at the door. It was
some minutes before she reappeared. Sylvia was with her. The story as to
her headache seemed true. Her face was void of colour. But neither beauty
nor illness deters a man like O'Grady from doing his duty.
"Please come in and sit down," she said, with cold dignity. "I understand
there is something you wish to ask me."
She took no particular notice of Simon and the three men followed her in.
She and Hazel sat together on a settee and Simon and Lee found chairs.
O'Grady remained standing. He felt it gave him a more dominant position.
"You are Miss Sylvia Wilton?" he asked.
"Now, Miss Wilton, I want you to tell me the truth and no doubt
everything can be satisfactorily cleared up. When Inspector Lee called
here a few days ago respecting the death of Arthur Crosbie, you said you
did not know him."
"That is so."
"Do you still say it?"
"If it was true then it would be true now, wouldn't it?" put in Hazel.
"Yes, miss," said O'Grady sharply. "And if it was a lie then it would be
a lie now. And a very foolish one. I am asking Miss Wilton. I know the
truth, but I want to give her--to give you both--the chance of
recalling--shall we say?--a mistake."
O'Grady knew how to handle people and his quiet confidence was not
without effect. The girls looked at one another. Hazel might still have
been defiant but Sylvia realised that she must face facts.
"I did know him," she said in a low but distinct tone.
"And you wrote him to come here and meet you on the night he died?"
The dark eyes looked tragically at him. There was no reply.
"You wrote him to come here on the night he died," repeated the
inspector, more firmly than before.
"What makes you say so?" The voice was little more than a whisper.
"I have your letter. Do not think I am bluffing. This is deadly serious
and we must get to the bottom of it.'
As he spoke he produced the four scraps that made up her brief note. She
stared at him in horror. It was hardly possible for her to look whiter
than before, but an expression almost of despair was in her eyes. Hazel,
who was close beside her, passed an arm round her waist and still
regarded the questioner with defiance.
"He was not asked to come here," said the little cousin, fighting to the
"He was asked to come to that tee on the other side of the road," O'Grady
went on sternly, disregarding Hazel and addressing Sylvia. "He was killed
there and we have just been told at the inquest he was killed at about
9.30--the exact time you asked him to come. What is your explanation?"
"He did not come."
"Do not trifle with me. He came and he died there. He was seen by other
"Not at that time. Or I should have gone to speak to him."
"You did not speak to him?"
"I did not. He was not there."
"He was there, I say. Are you telling me you did not cross the road to
keep your own appointment?"
He thundered the question and Sylvia made an effort to meet his accusing
"He did not keep the appointment," she said firmly. "From this door I can
see across the road. I looked out and he was not there. I waited a
considerable time but he did not come."
"Where did you wait?"
"At this door."
Now it was O'Grady who paused. He glanced at Inspector Lee. Could this be
"Are you prepared to swear that at nine-thirty you stood at your door and
Crosbie was not on that tee?
"That is so. I swear it."
"Was anyone else there?"
"On the tee? No one at all. You can see for yourself that it is
impossible for anyone to be there and not be seen."
"You did not cross the road?"
"I did not. It was unnecessary. He was not there."
"How long did you wait, watching?"
"I cannot say. Five minutes, perhaps more. I looked again twice, a little
later. Still there was no one there."
Once more O'Grady paused. He knew the time factor was inexact where
minutes were concerned. If someone else had struck the blow a little
before 9.30 this story might be true. Then Hazel gave him another point
to think about.
"What Sylvia tells you is right," she said, "except for one thing. She
meant to go there at nine-thirty but I hated her meeting the man and I
determined he should wait a little while for her. So I put this clock
back six minutes without telling her. It was really six minutes past the
half-hour when we opened the door and looked out."
She pointed to the grandfather clock that was ticking serenely in a
corner of the room. There was a dramatic silence as Simon took out his
watch and compared its time with that of its big brother. Lee glanced at
his wrist and O'Grady drew a time piece from his trousers pocket.
"I forgot to alter it afterwards," said Hazel.
That, anyway, was true. Each man saw for himself that the right time was
six minutes in advance of that shown by the grandfather. What strange
things might have happened during those six minutes on the fatal night?
"All that may be true," said O'Grady. "We will assume for the moment it
is. We now come to the real question. Why was Crosbie to meet you, Miss
Wilton, at that time and in that place?"
Sylvia was silent. She seemed unable or unwilling to reply. But Hazel was
again ready in her defence.
"Since we did not see Mr. Crosbie," said she, "what can it matter?
O'Grady turned to her almost fiercely. "I am not asking you, young lady.
This is a case of murder, not a parlour game! Now, Miss Wilton, remember
our inquiry has not yet begun. Before we are through we shall have
investigated every detail of Crosbie's life. If you can help us, it is
your duty to do so. If you refuse, you may do yourself more harm than you
imagine. Knowingly or unknowingly, you brought that man to his death. Why
did you do it?"
For some moments no one uttered a word. Sylvia sat motionless, her eyes
fixed unseeing on the closed window. What was passing in her mind none
could tell. Simon felt miserable. He longed to help, but he knew O'Grady
was doing his duty. Hazel looked mutinous, but even she could find
nothing to say.
Then, without moving her head, and still with that far-away look in her
eyes, Sylvia spoke.
"Arthur Crosbie was my husband."
The detectives glanced quickly at one another, the same thought in each
mind. A motive at last! Simon was amazed. They all waited to hear more.
"Three years ago he divorced me. We drifted out of each other's lives and
a few months back I came to live here. One day in a golf match I was
drawn to play against him. It was a shock to us both, as we neither knew
the other belonged to the club. Then he wished to see me. I made that
appointment, but--so far as I know--he never kept it."
"I see," said O'Grady icily. "To meet like that must indeed have been a
surprise to you both. But there are a few points I would like to be clear
about. He divorced you--not you him?"
"He divorced me," replied Sylvia, in the same emotionless tone, "but he
never went through with it."
"Oh--what exactly do you mean, please?"
"He got his decree, but he never had it made absolute."
"Three years ago?" asked Simon, speaking for the first time.
"But why did not you take the necessary steps?" inquired Inspector Lee,
who had previously left the questions to his colleague from town.
Sylvia did not answer and Simon said quietly, "Perhaps if I understand
the matter aright, I can explain. The party who brings the action
obtains, if successful, a decree nisi. That party can at the end of six
months apply for the decree to be made absolute. But should no
application be made the matter remains as it is. The parties, in a sense,
are neither married nor divorced. The petitioner cannot be compelled to
make the application and the respondent has no power to do so. The law
grants no rights to the one it has regarded as the wrongdoer. It is a
malevolent thing to start the action and not go through with it. And it
is very rare, for the petitioner usually desires to be free to marry
again. But unless he takes the necessary steps neither party can
"Luckily divorce is not in my line," said Lee. "Doesn't sound right
somehow. Wouldn't the woman get a monetary allowance? A man wouldn't go
on paying longer than he need."
"That," said Simon, "would depend on circumstances. If the woman in such
a case had no private means she could apply for an allowance until the
decree absolute was granted. An incentive to the husband to apply for it,
as then his liability would end. The customary allowance is one-fifth of
the joint income of husband and wife. If her private income is equal to
that amount she would get no allowance. Probably she would not apply for
Both the other men seemed to be thinking this over. The case was assuming
a new aspect. Hazel regarded Simon in a more friendly way than before.
Sylvia made no sign.
"Did you," inquired O'Grady, turning again to her, "never ask your
husband to complete the business?"
"No," said Sylvia.
"I will tell you." She faced him deliberately and there was more
animation in her voice. "You may not believe me, but you will no doubt
look up the case and at least you shall hear the truth about a good man.
Arthur Crosbie was as bad as a husband could be. I do not say he was
unfaithful, but he was jealous, suspicious, vindictive, quarrelsome, and
cruel in everything except personal violence. I had a friend, Edward
Irman. My husband was jealous of him. He had no cause to be, except that
Edward Irman was all that he was not. A gentleman in the truest sense. My
husband brought his action against myself and Edward Irman. There was no
justification for it, but when it was started Mr. Irman told me, for the
first time, that he loved me. He persuaded me not to defend it. He wanted
to marry me as soon as he could. I agreed. I did not love him, but I
respected him, and we might have been happy together. Anything would have
been better than a degraded existence as Arthur Crosbie's wife. I could
not fight to retain what I abhorred. But three months after the case was
heard Edward Irman was killed in a motor accident. Mr. Crosbie took no
further action. My lawyers advised me, as Mr. Ross has told you, that I
could do nothing. I did not desire to do anything. I thought I was done
with all such things. I had money of my own."
Again there was silence as, for a moment, they thought over the tragedy
of these tangled lives. But O'Grady persisted with his particular point.
"Then you met Mr. Crosbie at golf in the way you describe. What happened
"He called here. And I ordered him out."
"Did he give any explanation for calling?"
"He hinted that he might release me if I made it worth his while."
"You mean that? He asked for payment to complete the divorce?"
"He was not so open as that," said Sylvia scornfully, "but it seemed to
be the idea. I told him to go."
"Then what happened?"
"He wrote to me and said, as I might have misunderstood him, he would
like to meet me, when perhaps we could arrange something for our mutual
"Have you his letter?"
"May I see it?"
It was Hazel who went to the bureau in the corner of the room and brought
the note. She gave it to Sylvia who handed it to O'Grady. It was
addressed from Theobald Square.
'To meet as suddenly and as unexpectedly as we did on Saturday last was
something of a shock to us both. Your attitude when I called on you
afterwards was, in the circumstances, not unnatural. But, on thinking it
over, was it really for the best? We are older than we were three years
ago and perhaps wiser. Is it not now possible to consider matters without
passion and from a practical point of view? If we met and talked things
over it could do no harm and it would be my earnest wish to effect a
happy settlement of outstanding questions.
'I shall be at the Dormy House again next week-end and could call on you,
but if you do not wish that and you desire our relationship to remain
unknown, I would meet you anywhere and at any time.
'You would resent any reference to affection so I will only subscribe
myself without bitterness
'Arthur M. Crosbie.'
O'Grady read the note in silence and handed it to Lee. Undoubtedly it had
been penned with care. Was it intended as a prelude to a demand for money
or had the husband meditated a reconciliation? Certainly he had not
foreseen it would lead him to his death.
"In reply you sent the note I have already got--making the appointment
for Sunday evening at nine-thirty?"
In the silence that followed it is possible that each of the men was
considering the damaging effect of these admissions. If Crosbie still
refused to complete the divorce what a strong motive there might be for
his removal. And the previous denials and evasions of the wife, who was
no wife, made the probability of such a thing look stronger.
"I think," said Inspector Lee to O'Grady, "that I can help here." He
turned to Sylvia, his hook nose bending closer to her.
"Did you tell anyone else of this proposed meeting with Mr. Crosbie?"
"No," said Sylvia after a moment's hesitation.
"Are you sure?"
"She said no!" flashed Hazel.
"Very well. Did anyone else know that Crosbie was your husband and had
refused to complete the divorce?"
For the first time Sylvia's face showed a little colour. "These cases are
public," she said. "How can I tell if anyone knew?"
"Did you tell anyone?" persisted Lee.
Again there was a perceptible hesitation. Simon felt she was not speaking
the truth and he almost dreaded the next question. Why would not these
girls, whatever their motives, see that it was useless to fight against
"I think you know William Broughley?" suggested Lee.
"He has of late been paying you marked attentions?"
"By what right do you say so?" demanded Sylvia.
"It is common knowledge. We make our inquiries and it would be wiser for
you to be frank with us. He called on you every day last week. He played
golf with you. You went out with him in his car and that car frequently
stood at your gate. You cannot deny it."
"Why should I deny it?" she returned.
"Do you still deny--would you on your oath deny--that you told Broughley
that Crosbie was your husband, that he had refused to complete your
divorce, and that you were to meet him last Sunday at nine-thirty?"
Sylvia did not reply.
You must tell us that, Miss Wilton," said O'Grady sternly. "Could you on
oath deny those things?"
"Don't tell them, darling," cried Hazel, again putting a protecting arm
round her. "It is disgraceful for three men to come to bully a girl. We
know nothing of Mr. Crosbie's death. Sylvia was here with me all that
evening. I will swear it on my oath in any court you like! We know
nothing more and we will say nothing more."
"You are not quite fair," said Simon unhappily. He did not like being
included as one of the three bullies. "Crosbie may have been utterly bad.
Probably he was. But he was murdered and these men have their duty to do.
As to Bill, he is my friend as well as yours and I shall fight for him.
You may be sure of that. But I do not think it will really help him to
conceal the truth. Let us face the thing squarely and know what we are up
His words had an effect on both the girls. Hazel said nothing, but Sylvia
faced Lee bravely.
"You can take it that Mr. Broughley knew everything," she said firmly. "I
did not tell him, but I gave him certain papers to read. What I did tell
him was to keep away until after I had seen Mr. Crosbie and I would
write. I did not write because Mr. Crosbie did not come. And the next
morning Mr. Broughley informed us he had been found dead."
"We may believe your part of the story," said Lee, well pleased with his
success, "but Broughley did not keep away. He was seen by three different
people in the lane at about nine-thirty that night and now he has
disappeared. Do you know where he has gone?" There was another forward
jerk of the hawk-like face.
The girl's eyes had dilated with fear or horror when it was asserted
where Broughley had been at the time of the tragedy and for a moment she
could not reply.
"I do not," she said at last.
"Is that true?" snapped Lee, "or are you still keeping something back."
"It is true," she said, and this time they all believed her.
"We shall find him!" declared the inspector. "Nothing else, is there?" he
added to O'Grady.
"Only this," said the London man. "You have been calling yourself Miss
Wilton. I suppose that was resuming your maiden name?"
"No," answered Sylvia. "My name was Melton. It was misprinted Wilton in
an art show catalogue and I adopted it for my work--and since."
"I see. If we want you again we will let you know. Meanwhile don't you
try to run away!"
With that the two detectives departed, but Simon remained.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN: ALLIES
SIMON closed the door behind the other two men and turned to face the
"I want you to understand…" he began, but he said no more. Sylvia had
collapsed to the floor in a faint. Hazel bent over her and he hurried
across to help to raise the unconscious form to the settee. Hazel ran for
water and eau de cologne, and bathed her forehead.
"Get some brandy," said Simon.
He could see that the effort that had carried her through the ordeal of
the detectives' questioning was spent. Some of the stimulant was forced
between her closed lips and it had its effect. Sylvia opened her eyes and
in a minute or two was able to sit up.
"How foolish of me," she muttered. "I think--I think I will go to my
"Can you, darling?" asked Hazel.
The older girl rose unsteadily to her feet and made her way to the
staircase. Hazel helped, and slowly they ascended the narrow stairs and
disappeared. Simon sat down. He must see Hazel and get things straight
with her before he went.
The minutes passed, but he did not move. He took a pipe from his pocket
and lit it.
"Why did you not go with your friends?"
He had not heard Hazel return and her abrupt question almost startled
him. Her tone was hostile.
"They are not my friends," he said slowly, "and they are not your
enemies. Please remember that. They are two men with a difficult job to
do. Is Sylvia better?"
"Never mind Sylvia! Why did you bring them here? Why did you tell them
she was the writer of that note?
"I did not tell them she was the writer of that note. I told them her
name was Sylvia. They would soon have discovered it for themselves. It is
surprising they did not know it already, seeing how they had been
inquiring about Bill Broughley and his calls here last week."
"If you are his friend and ours what have you done to help us?"
"Not much, I am afraid," he admitted, "but I may have been more use than
you think. They might have been less gentle had I not been here."
"Gentle!" she flashed ironically.
"Now, look here, Hazel," he said firmly, his eyes meeting hers with a
glance as direct as her own, "we must have this out. You have called me a
bully and other unpleasant things. Bill is my pal and, despite what you
may think, I want to help him and Sylvia. They are likely to be in a
pretty awkward mess. Are we to work together, or do you wish me to go?"
For some moments their gaze held. There was no yielding in his and at
last she looked down.
"I am sorry, Mr. Ross. I should not have said what I did. We want your
Her tone was softer, humbler, and he was exultant. But he knew better
than to show it.
"You called me a bully. Say 'I am sorry, Simon.'"
She raised her eyes with something of her old spirit. "You are a bully. I
am sorry, Simon!"
Then he had to laugh. "That is better. Now suppose you tell me just what
happened during that week while I was away. I don't believe Bill had
anything to do with Crosbie's death. You don't believe it either. But it
looks bad for him. What are the facts?"
"I think you pretty well know, or after what those men said, you can
guess. Last week Bill asked Sylvia to marry him. She loves him, so she
had to tell him everything about Arthur Crosbie. He declared Crosbie was
an utter cad to treat her in such a way, leaving her in an impossible
position, neither one thing nor the other."
So his theory as to a proposal of marriage had not been wrong after all.
He could not have guessed the complications it would unfold.
"He called Crosbie an utter cad," he observed. "That explains one thing.
Crosbie had a bit of a tiff with another man in the cardroom and Bill
barged in and told him just what he thought of him. It seemed odd at the
time, but evidently he was pretty near bursting point."
"Like Bill. He's almost too honest and out spoken. When Sylvia told him
she was to see Crosbie, Bill wanted to tackle him instead. But Sylvia
said that would never do. You see, she has never wanted to marry anyone
before. She supposed she never would want to, and so Crosbie's
beastliness did not worry her. Then, when she did want to, if Bill showed
up, or Crosbie got to know about him, he would have been more difficult
than ever, just out of spite. So she told Bill to keep away and she would
let him know what happened. After that, it was all just as we told those
detectives. I made her six minutes late. We stood at the door together
and there was no one on that tee. We waited five minutes and then came
in. We looked out again a little later. There was still no one there.
That is all we know."
"I suppose," said Simon gravely, "someone else was more punctual than
Sylvia, a little before the half-hour perhaps, and when you looked out
the thing had already been done and the body pushed into the bunker. It
would not take long!"
"It is horrible," shuddered the girl. "We only thought it was another act
of rudeness and he had decided not to come."
"But the thing is," said Simon, "why has Bill disappeared? Where has he
gone? How can we get him back? What happened when he came here last
"He had just heard of the murder. He came to tell us about it. He was
rather queer in his manner and only stayed a few minutes. We haven't
heard from him since. You can imagine what a state Sylvia has been in."
"Did Sylvia believe he had done it?" asked Simon bluntly.
Hazel hesitated. "She did not know what to believe. She would not let
herself think such a thing possible. Yet Bill can be impetuous when he is
roused and he was the only person besides ourselves who knew Crosbie was
to be there. She has hardly slept since it happened."
"And suppose," said Simon slowly, "suppose Bill thinks she did it?"
"He couldn't," whispered the girl. "He wouldn't. Do you think he does?"
"If he did not do it himself, and if the man was killed at the time and
place where he was secretly meeting her, the thought would be almost
inevitable. Just as it was with Sylvia. He would refuse to believe it,
and yet it would be there. It's a devil of a business and still I cannot
quite understand his running away, unless he wanted to divert suspicion
to himself. He may blunder, but he is no coward."
"We must get him back," said Hazel, "whatever it means. Why is Sylvia so
unlucky? She's as sweet and good as she is lovely, and all the time
things go wrong for her. That hateful marriage, and the abominable way he
treated her. Then Edward Irman dying. And when she was getting happy
again, she met Crosbie and all this has happened. Only two days ago she
was decoyed out at night and robbed."
"What was that?" asked Simon.
Hazel told him of the episode of the lonely rendezvous and the snatched
handbag. "She thought that she was to meet Bill or someone from him. She
did not say so, but I knew it and that was why I let her go."
"A queer business," said Simon thoughtfully. "Bag snatching is common
enough in town but it is the first time I've heard of anyone called out
for a bogus appointment on the chance of robbery in the country. Was she
asked to take money with her?"
"No. But she did take some, in case it would be wanted."
"That, of course, was in the bag. How much? Was there anything else?"
"There was five pounds in cash, her cigarette case, a torch and just the
usual personal things."
"What did the police say when you reported it?"
"We did not report it," said Hazel. "Just at present we wanted to have as
little to do with the police as possible. Sylvia thought it better to
lose her things than to have them asking lots of questions. And the
things were gone anyway."
Simon nodded. "I quite understand, though it's rather a pity. I suppose
you haven't got the letter?"
"She has, but I don't want to disturb her. It was typewritten and it said
if she went there alone she would hear something she ought to know."
"Suppose," said Simon, "that you, living a perfectly ordinary life, had
received such a summons, would you have gone?"
Hazel considered the point for a moment. "No," she said, "I don't think
so. Not alone."
"I doubt if any girl would. But Sylvia did and the writer evidently
expected her to. Therefore the writer knew something of her private
"And so guessed she might bring something worth stealing?"
"That is where the puzzle comes in," said Simon. "But let us go back to
the real problem. If Bill had nothing to do with the killing of Crosbie,
who had? I suppose Sylvia made no inquiries as to his mode of life since
"Certainly not. She just tried to forget him. She never thought of
marrying again till Bill blew along. Then--you know how things happen."
"I do." For a moment he was tempted to digress and give the remark a
personal application. But he decided not to. "At the inquest I sat next
to a lady who seemed very interested. She wore black and she gave me this
card. Ever heard of her?"
'MRS. CONSTANCE WARWICK, 247 ROYAL MANSIONS, BATTERSEA PARK.'
Hazel read the inscription and shook her head. "What was she like?"
"She was veiled and, as I was sitting next to her, I could not stare. She
had rather a pleasing ear. But the scent she used was more powerful than
I like. A shade on the buxom side and probably somewhere in the
"Why did she give you her card?"
"I asked if she could tell anything that would throw light on Crosbie's
life and death. She implied that she could if she would, but she might
decide not to. If I called she would see how she felt about it."
"You could take those nice friends of yours with you, the inspectors,"
suggested Hazel, mischievously.
"I should go alone first," he said.
"I suppose she said come up and see me some time? She may be just
wonderful when she lifts the veil."
"Now, my dear," said Simon, "you are getting frivolous. I have a hunch
that this Mrs. Warwick is going to mean something."
"That sort of woman generally does," declared Hazel. "Tell me this.
Things being as they were between Crosbie and Sylvia, what would happen
if Crosbie had wanted to marry again, or if, without marrying, he had
carried on with this woman?"
"Should a nice little girl talk of such things?" he teased.
"Who is being frivolous now?" she retorted. "When I was a nice little
girl--years and years ago--I found it was generally when people did not
know the answer to a question that they pretended it was improper."
"Well," he laughed, "no one can quite know the answer to your question,
as it leaves too much to the imagination. Crosbie could get his decree
made absolute at any time and then could re-marry. On one point Sylvia
was not quite right. She says her lawyers advised her she could do
nothing. That was true at the time, but if years go by and still the
husband takes no step, she might apply for the case to be dismissed."
"Then she would really be his wife again? How truly horrible. Anything
rather than that! What about Mrs. Warwick?"
"We know nothing," said Simon, "but if Crosbie had been living with
another woman and the King's Proctor heard of it, the whole proceedings
might be quashed. If Sylvia knew of it, she could ask the courts to annul
the findings against herself and let her start afresh against her
husband. Whether they would or not would depend on circumstances."
"I wonder if Mrs. Warwick will tell you the truth," said Hazel. "Anyway,
if you mean to see her, why not do it at once? Will you let us know if it
"Then we are friends again," said Simon, holding out his hand. "At arm's
length, I suppose?"
"That is certainly best," she said, putting her hand in his and standing
He held it. "Would you believe me, Hazel, if I told you I had never
kissed a girl before?"
"I would not."
"And you would be right. But, honestly, my dear, I am not given to that
sort of thing. Somehow you seem different to other girls."
That arm's length grew shorter--and shorter--"You must go," said Hazel,
freeing herself. "I must see to Sylvia."
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN: BILL'S RETURN
"A LETTER for you, sir," said Porter Haines to Simon when he got back to
the Dormy House, "and those detectives are in the sitting-room. They said
they would like a word with you when you came in."
"Right," said Simon.
The sitting-room was a small apartment available for those who from time
to time wanted, and were willing to pay for, privacy. Now it served Lee
and O'Grady for their consultations and interviews. Before going to them
Simon opened his letter. It was addressed from the Crown & Mitre Hotel,
'I am here for a few days. I hope S. is well. If there is any news of her
please let me know.
'W. B. Orford.'
From Bill! W. B. stood for William Broughley and the Orford was the name
of the boat on which they had first met! Poor dear blundering Bill! What
on earth had made him dash away to Huntingdon of all places, and put up
there in an assumed name? Of course he wanted news of Sylvia. He should
have it, but not by letter. Simon determined to go to him that night.
"Ah, Mr. Ross, we are much obliged for what you have done for us. That,
and what I learned about Broughley, makes it all pretty clear."
This was Inspector Lee's greeting as Simon entered the sitting-room.
O'Grady took up the story. He did not grudge Lee his final success in the
windmill interview, but it was just as well that his own share should be
"Yes," he said, "when I found the Sylvia letter the others had missed, I
thought we were near the end of the trail. It was lucky you could lead us
immediately to the right party. Of course I should soon have dug out that
divorce business, though it might have taken time to identify Miss Wilton
as that is not her real name. There you certainly helped."
Their praise, perhaps, did not gratify Simon as much as it should have
"So you think it is all over, bar the shouting," he said. "How exactly do
you figure it out?
"We've got to find Broughley," answered Lee, "and that's all there is to
it. Very simple really. Crosbie refused to divorce his wife--or anyway to
make her free to marry again. She and Broughley wanted to marry. Crosbie
is given an appointment at a lonely place after dark and Broughley goes
there and kills him. We have her note that fixed the place and he was
seen there at the time. Then his nerve fails and he runs away. That, and
the behaviour of the woman, lies at first and unwilling admissions later,
leave no room for doubt."
"Do you regard Miss Wilton as an accessory, or do you believe Broughley
did it without her knowledge?"
"I shall report to the Chief Constable," said Lee. "My advice will be to
charge them both."
"Is that your view too?" Simon inquired of the London man.
"Yes, I think so. That little spit-fire friend will swear Sylvia Wilton
never left the house, but she wouldn't need to if the man was busy!"
"Well," said Simon, "I am not denying it is a strong case, but don't give
up your other lines of inquiry too quickly. If Miss Wilton thought
Broughley had done it, and Broughley thought she had, they might both be
innocent and yet both act in a queer manner."
"Queer manner it is!" grinned O'Grady. "Where else can we find an equally
strong motive and the same opportunity? Who else knew Crosbie was to be
there at that time? It was no matter of chance. People do not stroll
round the country on a Sunday evening carrying hammers in their hand! '
"You haven't yet traced the hammer--if it was a hammer?" asked Simon.
"No," replied Lee. "The head greenkeeper of the golf course says a hammer
is missing from his tool house. That's a sort of shed behind the
professional's shop and is generally open. Broughley was seen in it last
"I've been in it myself," said Simon. "Used a hammer too! Wanted to knock
in a nail in my shoe."
"You didn't take the hammer away with you?" asked O'Grady.
"I did not. What is the missing one like?"
"Much as the doctor described," said Lee. "Short, heavy; the sort that
men on the roads use to break stones."
"Pretty effective when used on the head!" remarked O'Grady.
"But accessible to all the members of the club, to the visitors, the
groundsmen and possibly to casual strangers," commented Simon. "What
about the London end? I suppose that is your particular part?"
"It is," said O'Grady. "If things were not so clear here I might expect
to find something there. Crosbie's affairs, by the look of it, are in
rather a mess, though it's early to say. We are only just getting down to
it. There was an attempted burglary, too, in his London flat the night
after the crime. Nothing taken."
"You didn't have a man on the premises?"
"No. We locked the place up and held the keys. Someone got in at the back
from the fire escape staircase. There is not much portable stuff and
nothing is missing."
"Might have been someone concerned in the crime, trying to destroy
"That's guessing," shrugged the detective. "Flat burglaries are common
enough. So far we cannot find a will. You might say that was taken, but
we had looked first, and the desk was not disturbed. Still locked and
sealed as we left it. Wills are important where a valuable estate is
concerned. Always a possible motive."
"Is the estate valuable?" asked Simon.
"So far there is precious little sign of it. Small bank balance and not
much else. Apparently there is no will. Jenks at the office knows nothing
of one. Never witnessed it."
"Lawyers often put off for themselves things they advise other people
must not be delayed," observed Simon.
"That, as a matter of fact, was the thing we wanted to ask you about, Mr.
Ross," said Lee. "The will, I mean. O'Grady and I had a little discussion
on the subject and we thought you could tell us. If there is an estate,
and no will, would the wife who is in Miss Wilton's position--that is
Mrs. Crosbie's position--benefit?"
"What is the idea?" asked Simon. "Trying to ginger up the motive?”
"Well, it might be a pointer. I say she would inherit as next of kin.
O'Grady says the decree nisi washes that out."
"I am afraid," said the young barrister, "O'Grady--no doubt for the first
time in his life--is wrong. The decree nisi does limit a wife's rights
but she remains, in law, a wife until the decree is made absolute. If
therefore the husband dies in the meantime, she inherits a share of his
estate, provided there is no will. Should there be no other relations she
"Seems all wrong to me," said O'Grady.
"The remedy is in the man's hands," Simon explained. "He can make a will
at any time. He can disinherit his wife without waiting for a divorce.
Many people think that wrong and want the law altered."
"But what a motive!" cried Lee, pleased to find he was correct. "Kill
Crosbie and so not only be able to marry a new husband but get the estate
of the old one!"
"Aren't you going ahead a bit too fast?" suggested Simon. "No one is
permitted to benefit from their own crime. You will say they rely on not
being found out. But you will not find it easy to explain how a wife, who
has not seen her husband for three years, can know that he made no will."
"That anyway doesn't matter," said O'Grady briskly. "Sylvia Wilton has
money of her own. She told us so herself. And it is not so sure Crosbie
has any. It is Broughley we want. We have traced him from here to his
London club. Travelling in a blue Sunbeam saloon. The car number has been
circulated and the police everywhere are on the look out. Won't be long
before we have him."
"I don't think it will," chuckled Lee. "We shall watch Mrs. Crosbie and
if the one doesn't lead us to the other, I'm no judge of human nature."
Simon knew it might be regarded as his duty to show “W. B. O's” letter to
these men, but he had no thought of doing so. Bill was safe at Huntingdon
at the moment and probably would remain safe so long as his car stood in
the garage. If he ventured out in it he would not get far. But it was
better for him to come back of his own accord, and that must be insisted
on. Another matter was of more immediate interest.
"You say," he remarked to O'Grady, "that Crosbie's affairs seem in rather
a mess. Is it allowed to ask what you mean?"
"Too early to say yet," shrugged the C.I.D. man. "The Public Trustee will
probably have to wind things up. There seems to have been a lot of
realisation of trust estate holdings that Crosbie managed and we cannot
trace what happened to the proceeds. Everything may of course be in
"Anyway," said Lee, "if he had been up to tricks, that sort of thing may
lead a man to abscond, or it may even drive him to suicide. It does not
make someone else murder him, not before he is found out. Whatever his
business troubles, they had nothing to do with Sylvia and Broughley. That
is a watertight case by itself."
When Simon left them he asked Porter Haines which was the room Crosbie
had taken for the week-end.
"I suppose those inspectors have been pretty busy there?" he suggested.
"Yes, sir," said Haines. "He had number thirteen. Rather unlucky, when
you think of it. But he had the same room every week, like a lot more. We
shan't use it for a time, but now that the inquest is over I suppose they
will let us clear it up. The inspector still has the key."
"Number thirteen is on the first floor, in a side passage, isn't it? Who
was next to him?"
"Mr. Elkington one side and Mr. Sladen the other."
"Mr. Farmer, Mr. Hann and Mr. Knight. Then the staircase."
As he made his cross-country way to the charming old town of Huntingdon,
famous as the birthplace of Oliver Cromwell, Simon had plenty to think
about. He knew that the proper people to solve murder mysteries were the
experts at Scotland Yard and the other police headquarters. He knew too,
although popular fiction might not give the impression, that not one case
in five hundred is cleared up by an amateur sleuth. The police have an
enormous organisation, almost limitless resources and an untiring
patience. Also they enjoy powers and privileges possessed by no private
person. Yet he could not blind himself to the fact that the too ready
acceptance of an obvious solution to a complicated affair might lead to a
lessening of those persistent searches that alone would discover the
And this Crosbie affair was complicated. If, as he honestly believed,
Sylvia and Bill were innocent, where was the guilty party to be found?
Those few words from O'Grady had shown that there might well be a London
side to the case as well as the local one.
There were Crosbie's quarrels with Farmer, Knight, Sladen and others.
They--apart from Bill and Sylvia--made up what might be called the golf
club aspect of the case. What of the decoying and robbery of Sylvia--did
that come into it?
As Hazel had said, an ordinary girl in normal circumstances would have
disregarded such a message. Therefore the person who sent it must have
had special reasons for believing Sylvia would not disregard it. On the
other hand, how could the theft of her handbag have any bearing on
What of the London side? So far there was only O'Grady's hint that
Crosbie's affairs were irregular and there had been an attempted burglary
at his flat.
There was also Elkington's dash to London to secure the papers entrusted
to Crosbie. Did that have a meaning? Was it on the town or country side?
Obviously the murder might be purely a local matter and have no more to
do with what happened in Theobald Square than his own golf had to do with
his appearances in court. If the two were connected, would it be possible
to find the necessary link? Could Mrs. Constance Warwick supply the
answer? That seemed to be his only hope. He must visit her as soon as
these more pressing duties permitted.
Huntingdon consists in the main of one street a mile in length. In the
centre is the Market Square. Near the square was the hostelry for which
he was bound and in a glorified bar parlour sat a dejected looking Bill.
"So here you are, you dear old lunatic!" Simon cried. "Get your bag. You
are coming back in my car. I will tell you all about it as we go along.
If you travel in your own you will probably spend the night in some local
"But don't you see," began Bill.
"Don't argue, my lad. Sylvia is in trouble and she wants you."
That settled the matter. In a very short time the bag was packed, the
bill paid, some refreshment swallowed and the return journey started.
Briefly Simon explained the developments of the affair; the finding at
the inquest, the discovery of Sylvia's note to Crosbie and the
revelations at the windmill of the marriage tangle.
"I won't deny," he concluded, "that things look bad. You must not be
surprised if there is a warrant out for your arrest. You have been asking
for it. What on earth made you run away?"
"I did not want to be questioned," said Bill simply.
"Can't you see? All you have said is true enough. I asked Sylvia to marry
me. She is the most wonderful woman in the world, as well as the most
beautiful. She told me everything. She said she loved me but she did not
believe Crosbie would ever set her free. She implored me to keep away as,
if he suspected she wanted to re-marry, he would be more than ever set on
"Did you keep away?" asked Simon dryly.
I couldn't--and yet I did. I was too anxious about it all to be able to
settle down to anything. I went out in the lane--"
"Without your hat?"
Very likely. I don't know. I walked nearly as far as the sixteenth tee. I
did stand for a time in that clump of bushes. I saw Crosbie on the tee,
but Sylvia was not there. Then I compelled myself to go away. If I had
seen them together it would have been impossible not to have interfered,
and I had promised Sylvia not to. I had said I would wait till I heard
from her. The mill is not yet on the phone, so I decided I must wait till
"In the morning," said Simon, "there was no letter and you hung about
hoping for some sort of message. That was why I found you apparently
unwilling to play?"
"That is so," said Bill. "I decided to play and stop at the sixteenth.
But we got the news halfway round."
"Yes, and now we come back to the first question. Why did you run away?"
"Because I did not want to be questioned. I knew Sylvia hadn't done it.
She couldn't do such a thing, however much the human vermin deserved it.
But I am no good at keeping things back. If I had been asked about
Crosbie, why I was there, and things like that, I should have blurted it
out. Sylvia's marriage, the 9.30 appointment and all the rest. It might
have looked as though she--I mean I just did not dare talk about it. So I
"That," said Simon, "is what you have to tell Inspector Lee. I hope he
will believe it as fully as I do."
CHAPTER NINETEEN: FACING THE MUSIC
"MR. Ross says you want to see me?"
Inspector Lee looked up with surprise and, perhaps, not altogether with
pleasure as Bill Broughley and his friend stood before him. There is some
satisfaction in tracking a fugitive, but if the man you are making vast
efforts to trace walks quietly into your room and suggests a chat it is
"I do. Why did you run away?"
"Isn't that rather an assumption?" said Simon. "I don't want to
interfere, but I ought to tell you that Broughley came along directly I
told him you had some questions to ask. Let us all sit down and he can
tell you his story in his own way."
Simon lit his pipe and made himself comfortable. Bill obviously was
nervous and Lee certainly was suspicious. The manner of the young lawyer,
he told himself, was rather too pleasant. He knew Broughley was Ross's
friend and if they thought they were going to pull wool over his eyes
there was another guess coming. Broughley was the murderer. His story was
not likely to be true, but it would be good to hear it. Then perhaps a
little sharp questioning would lead to the admission of facts! He got out
his notebook so that he could refer to the other statements when
necessary to refresh his memory.
"Now then, Mr. Broughley," he said brusquely. "Tell it me verbally and
we'll have it written down and signed later. It is a voluntary statement
and you understand it may be used in evidence?"
"I do," said Bill, "but it won't help you. Rather more than a week ago I
asked Miss Wilton to marry me. She refused, although she admitted she
cared for me. I pressed for the reason and at last she told me about
Crosbie. That she was Mrs. Crosbie and that for three years he had left
her in a most unfair position, neither married nor free. By a strange
chance they met on these links. He found out that she lived in that
windmill and called to see her. She told him to clear out. He had been
such a blackguard that his presence polluted the place. She did not want
any thought of him in her new home. He said, 'All right. I'll go. But
you'll be sorry. Things are not too good with me and you have a fair
income. I thought we might have come to some arrangement. You are a young
woman and still beautiful. Some day you may want to marry again.'"
Lee's thin lips curled in a sneer. "How do you know Crosbie said that?
"I do not mean," answered Bill, "that those were the exact words. I was
not there and of course I did not hear what he said. But Miss Grantley
was present with Miss Wilton, and they both told me."
"Go on," said Lee. It was very much what Miss Wilton had told O'Grady and
himself. There were no contradictions so far.
"Then Crosbie wrote a letter from London that Miss Wilton showed to me.
It did not hint at anything about money. No doubt he was too wise to put
that in writing. It just said he would be down here again at the week-end
and it might be for their mutual happiness to talk things over. If she
preferred their relationship to remain unknown he would meet her quietly
"She showed you that letter?" asked Lee.
"She did. We talked it over together. I said if it was money he wanted I
would pay anything in reason. Sylvia said she would not let me pay a
penny. It was her affair entirely."
"I do not know that we are much concerned as to where the money was to
come from," commented the inspector, "but you maintain it was money
"I do. That anyway was our impression."
"I see." The beak-like face stared at him. The demand for money certainly
would not lessen the motive. "Would a solicitor be likely to make such a
proposition? What do you say, Mr. Ross? Would it not be irregular? What
about the King's Proctor?
"Certainly it would be irregular," said Simon, "but it is not connivance
in the same sense as it might be before the case was started, and we may
be dealing with someone who was out for all he could get."
"Well--go on, Mr. Broughley."
"Miss Wilton replied that she would meet him on the Sunday evening at
9.30 on the sixteenth tee, the ground just opposite her home. I asked her
to let me be there instead of herself, or with her. She would not agree.
She said it was her affair and she would see it through. If Crosbie knew
she really had any thought of marrying again it would make him more
difficult. She made me promise to do nothing at all until I heard from
"Where was her letter sent?" asked Simon. "To London or to the Dormy
"To the Dormy House, to be there on the Saturday when he came down."
"Well," said the inspector, "what happened next?"
"I am afraid that is all I can tell you. I was to wait till I heard from
her. I did not hear."
"Ah," said Lee meaningly, "I want a good deal more than that. Tell me
exactly what you did on the Sunday evening."
"I was very worried. I wandered into the lane and saw Crosbie on the tee.
I watched for a time. Then I walked away."
"When you saw Miss Wilton join him?" Lee thought he had caught him at
"No. I did not wait for that."
"Why not? Surely it was only natural to make sure that they did meet?"
"If I had seen them together I might not have been able to resist the
impulse to interfere."
"What did you do?"
"I walked away and came back later. He had gone. I then returned to the
Dormy House to wait for a letter in the morning. I did not get one. That
is all I know."
"You say that you were there twice. Which time did you go to the mill?"
"I did not go to the mill. I had promised Miss Wilton to keep away. I
thought, when I did not see them on the tee, it was just possible she had
invited him in. If I had called I should be doing just what she did not
"I see." Lee's manner showed he was far from accepting as true what he
was told, but there was no flaw in the story. It tallied very much with
all he had heard from others. That, in a way, was disappointing. When you
are dealing with the villain of the piece, you expect to catch him
tripping somewhere. "You say you watched Crosbie for a time. Where were
you when you did that?"
"In the cluster of bushes on the opposite side of the road, just before
you get to the mill."
No prevarication there. It confirmed the account given by Reg Richards.
"What time was it?
"I came away just five minutes before the half-hour."
"You are very precise!" flashed Lee. "How do you know?"
"I looked at my watch," said Bill simply. "The meeting was to be at
half-past nine. As he had arrived, I went away according to my promise."
"And at what time did you return?"
"At a quarter to ten."
"Looked again at your watch, I suppose?"
"I did. That time I walked past. No one was about."
"So you went into the mill?"
"I walked past, as I told you. I would have gone in but I thought Crosbie
was possibly there."
"Oh, I thought his presence was polluting "
"It was, but if anything had been agreed, there might be some writing to
"You did not look into that 'Hell' bunker?"
"I had no reason to. It is not visible from the road."
"Now, Mr. Broughley, between nine-twenty-five and a quarter to ten is a
matter of twenty minutes only. Everything points to the fact that it was
during that twenty minutes that Crosbie was killed. You realise that?"
"You still say you know nothing of his death?"
"For the whole of that twenty minutes, according to your own story, you
were in that lane, walking backwards and forwards between the golf hotel
and the windmill?"
"How many people passed you on the road?"
"I don't know."
"Did anyone pass you?"
"I really don't know."
"Come, come! Try and think. Don't you see how important it is? Crosbie
was killed. You saw him alone on that tee. Anyone going to meet him, or
coming from him, must have passed you. Was there anyone? If you didn't
kill him, you know, there must have been someone else."
"I was too worried about other things to take notice," said Bill. "I
believe someone did go by while I was in the bushes, but I don't know who
it was. And on my way back a man said good-night as he passed me."
"Then you do remember! What do you mean by the way back?"
"On the way back to the mill the second time."
"At a quarter to ten?"
"Yes, or a little later."
"Why do you say a little later?" asked Lee sharply. "You told me a
quarter to ten just now."
"It is nearly half a mile from the club house to the mill. It was about a
quarter to ten when I turned back."
"Well, what was the man like?"
"I don't know. I didn't see his face. My mind was occupied."
"Can't you describe him at all?"
"No. I have no idea who it was. I was thinking of other things."
"Someone has told us that he passed you, and spoke. We will take it that
was the man. Was there anyone else?"
"Not to my knowledge."
"Now, Mr. Broughley. I put it to you. Two people only, yourself and Mrs.
Crosbie, knew that Crosbie was to be there then. You both had the
strongest motive for getting rid of him. Can you suggest anyone else who
may have killed him?"
"No," said Bill doggedly. "I cannot. But I did not kill him and I am
equally sure she did not."
"And you expect me to believe this story of your wandering up and down
the road? Of your not going to the mill? Of your running away the next
day, although you had no complicity in the matter?"
"I can't make you believe it, but it is true. I hoped Miss Wilton's name
would be kept out of it. That is why I went away."
"You mean," and Lee bent forward with his bird of prey peck, "You mean
you thought she had done it?"
"No," said Bill unhappily. "I knew that was impossible, but I realised
you might think it if you heard of their relationship."
"What did you do with the hammer?" The question was jerked out suddenly,
but it failed of its intent.
"What hammer?" was the reply.
"The hammer that killed Crosbie."
"I had no hammer and I did not kill Crosbie."
Lee felt he had not made much progress. All the suspicions remained.
There was no denial of the motive. There was indeed no denial of any of
the facts he had garnered with such care, but the proof still lacked
"When did you last see Mrs. Crosbie?" he asked abruptly.
"On the Monday morning, before I went away."
"But I mean since you came back--when she told you what you were to say?"
"I have not seen her since I came back. Mr. Ross brought me straight to
"So he told you!" And Lee looked suspiciously at Simon. "I shall report
all you say to my chief. He will decide what must be done next. Meanwhile
don't try to go away again. If you do we shall take steps to prevent it."
"I shall not go away," said Bill. "I mean to keep near Miss Wilton, now
you know all we can tell you."
CHAPTER TWENTY: NO ALTERNATIVE
SIMON Ross was in town early the next day and he drove straight to
Scotland Yard. Before calling on Mrs. Warwick he was anxious to know if
by any chance Inspector O'Grady had got into touch with that mysterious
lady. If he had, there was no point in troubling her further. If he had
not, an interview suggested considerable possibilities.
The great man of the C.I.D. was disengaged and apparently was also a bit
"I thought I would let you know," Simon began, "that Broughley has
returned and has explained his movements to Inspector Lee."
"So Lee 'phoned me," replied O'Grady.
"Does the explanation satisfy you?"
"It does not! Lee says you put him wise as to what he ought to say."
"That is not quite fair," said Simon, "I wouldn't have the nerve to come
to you if I weren't honestly trying to get at the truth. I told Broughley
that Miss Wilton had owned to making the 9.30 appointment and had
explained as to her marriage and divorce. But I did not prompt him as to
his own movements. The account he gave Lee was just as he told it to me.
I think Lee was a bit disappointed at his being so truthful."
"Truthful remains to be seen! The woman lied copiously to begin with and
the man ran away lest his lies should contradict hers."
"Put it that way if you like, but isn't Broughley's story the only one
that fits the facts? Your witnesses make contact with him at four points.
Sladen sees him walking up the lane at 9.15. Richards sees him in the
bushes at 9.25. A little later he walks quickly past the loitering
lovers, towards the hotel. Then fifteen or twenty minutes after that
Knight meets him coming back again. Broughley's unprompted statement
accounts for all these things. His actions were erratic, but that was due
to his state of mind. If you assume he committed the murder, it would be
mad for him to rush past Richards and his young lady at a time when it
was so vital to conceal his presence there. And to come back again, and
so meet Knight, would be even more unthinkable."
"Credit us with a scrap of intelligence," said O'Grady. "Of course there
is some truth in Broughley's story. He is no fool. It only means that
Crosbie was not killed at 9.30 but a little later. On Broughley's second
walk up the lane, not the first."
"And where was Crosbie in the meantime?"
"In the mill. This is why Knight did not see him."
"Miss Wilton and Miss Grantley deny it."
"Liars both!" said O'Grady.
"You have no right to call Miss Grantley a liar," said Simon. "She fenced
with you, but she did not lie."
"We won't split hairs," commented the inspector. "The whole thing is too
simple. It all hangs together. The motive, the appointment, the
"It doesn't hang together," asserted Simon. "That is why I want to find
the alternative explanation."
"There is no alternative," said O'Grady rather gloomily. "In a way I wish
there was. Why doesn't it hang together?"
"You agree that Crosbie met his wife to settle terms for completing the
divorce? That she was anxious he should do so in order that she might be
free to marry Broughley?"
"That part of the story is probably true."
"Then, putting it on the lowest lines, surely they would wait to hear his
terms before thinking of murder? The man who killed Crosbie came armed
with a hammer ready to do it."
O'Grady did not immediately reply. He seemed to be considering whether or
not he should discuss the matter at all.
"I am prepared to believe that Crosbie asked money to complete the
divorce," he said after a pause. "He was apparently getting hold of all
the cash he could. Probably he asked too much. They all met in the mill.
Crosbie either refused to do what they wanted, or his price was too high.
A hammer was there--most homes possess one – Broughley used it. That
meets all the facts and is common sense."
"As Sergeant Green would say, it stands to reason? If you think so, why
don't you arrest him?"
"The assistant commissioner is waiting a few days."
"Till you find the hammer--or some more definite connection between the
suspects and the victim?
"That might be a help, though we are pretty well satisfied there. He says
it is to give me a chance."
"You mean," suggested Simon, "that there is something about Crosbie's
affairs that necessitates other lines of inquiry?
O'Grady nodded. "A hundred thousand pounds vanished! That is what I am
after, but there is no trace of it. Lee has a nice straightforward murder
and will get plenty of kudos from it, even if it was I who found the
Sylvia letter for him. It is now up to me to discover the money, and I am
not getting on with, it. If I could see a connection between the murder
and the missing money it would please me quite a lot. But it does not
"You mean if Crosbie was misappropriating the money, he might have been
meditating flight? It would not account for someone else killing him?"
"Exactly," said O'Grady moodily. "As Lee put it, the murder is a
watertight case, all by itself."
"Unless Crosbie was trusting the money to the someone else--someone who
thought he was better out of the way."
"That is the chief's idea and is why we have not taken Broughley. But
there are two things against it. Who is going to steal all that money and
let someone else hold it? And how can such things be done without
something to show for it somewhere?"
"You haven't traced anything?"
"Not a brown cent. Crosbie has been realising--buying bearer securities
and foreign currencies; but what he did with them there is simply nothing
"Did his clients discover the frauds--assuming they were frauds?"
"Hadn't a breath of suspicion. He was sole trustee for two estates. One
of them would have been brought to account very shortly, the party
concerned coming of age. Till then he was safe."
"Was he living extravagantly, or gambling?"
"No sign of it. Lived carefully, realised his assets--and other
people's--and hid the proceeds."
"Sent it abroad," suggested Simon, "in some other name, meaning to
"Exactly! China to Peru, Norway to New Zealand--and nothing to show
"Precious hard on the people whose affairs he handled."
"Yes, and some nice muddles to clear up. One of his tricks was to
mortgage the same property to each of the estates. One lent twenty
thousand on it, and so did the other. Hann made the valuations but he had
a letter, which I have seen, to the effect that the first estate had
called in the mortgage made two years ago and a new valuation was
required for the fresh advance. So each estate has parted with twenty
thousand. The borrower got the first lot of money. The second has
"What fees did Hann get?" asked Simon.
"Ordinary scale. I've been through his bank account."
"In a recent appeal," said Simon, "the judge declared that suspicions,
however grave, were not enough. The real test of circumstantial evidence
was to exclude the possibility that someone else committed the crime. In
view of what you have now discovered, can you hold that such is the case
so far as Broughley and Miss Wilton are concerned?"
"I am afraid we must. As I told you, I'd like to link my business on to
it, but it can't be done. The murder is complete by itself. We know when
and where Crosbie was killed, and no one but those two knew of the 9.30
appointment. No one else but Knight and Richards was in the lane at the
"That's not quite right," said Simon. "Obviously the murderer must have
been there at the time and neither Broughley nor Miss Wilton told others
of the appointment, but who can say that Crosbie himself did not? As to
the lane, you and Lee are looking too closely at that part of it between
the mill and the club house. Your man may have come and gone in the other
"As it happens, according to our information, that was bottled too."
"How do you mean?"
O'Grady did not immediately reply, and Simon added: "There is the third
possibility that the attacker avoided the lane and cut across the links
to the hotel, or to a waiting car."
"Don't imagine I haven't thought of all that," returned the inspector, a
little wearily. "Before you came in I was considering some of our notes.
You can see if they bring any new light to you. I won't trouble you with
the details regarding Broughley and Mrs. Crosbie."
He took up some sheets of paper, each of which was headed with a
different name. Simon read the first.
SAMUEL JENKS. Managing clerk to Crosbie and a qualified solicitor. Might
get the goodwill of the business. Appears ignorant of irregularities and
always acted under instructions. May know more than he admits. Has sound
alibi for the night of the crime, handing the bag round in his chapel.
"I never suspected Jenks," remarked Simon, putting down the sheet headed
with his name. "He lacks initiative."
"He lacked opportunity," said O'Grady dryly. "That is more convincing."
ERNEST KNIGHT. Admits speaking to Crosbie before 9.30 on the night of the
crime and at the place. Says he arranged for a game two days later.
Returned a little before ten and Crosbie was gone (in mill or already in
bunker). Had quarrelled as to captaincy. No business connection.
"One cannot deny that Knight had the opportunity," commented Simon. "The
motive appears inadequate, and a little man does not attack one twice his
O'Grady grunted and the next sheet was considered.
HENRY FARMER. Quarrelled with Crosbie at cards the night before and
almost came to blows. Was in the lane about the same time. Went to
Farrer's Farm. Stayed a short time and left a little after half-past
nine. Returned there just before ten, saying he had forgotten his stick.
Remained till half-past ten. Distance from Farrer's Farm to mill-house
can be covered in seven or eight minutes. Admits he got so far before he
turned back, but saw nothing of Crosbie. Story confirmed by Dale of
Farrer's Farm. Farmer is a director of Ashmills Limited, that lost a
lawsuit some months ago, Crosbie acting for the other side.
"Possibilities there!" said Simon. "When he gave evidence he said nothing
about leaving the farm and going back again."
"We tackled him on that," said O'Grady. "He swore he met no one and
thought it of no importance. Of course it brings him among the possibles,
but he gains nothing by Crosbie's death and the people at the farm say he
was perfectly normal when he returned. No sign of a struggle, no
bloodstains and no hammer!"
"It is he then who bottles the other end?"
"Exactly. If his tale is true, no one killing Crosbie at nine-thirty can
have passed up the lane that way immediately after."
"If his tale is true!" echoed Simon. Then he took the next sheet.
GENERAL CAIRN. Lives eight miles away. Seen to enter the links from the
London road about 9.15 carrying what looked like a bludgeon. Says he had
promised to mark out a new bunker and took a bundle of stick to do it.
Drove himself, chauffeur being off duty on Sunday night. (? why not have
left it till morning). On bad terms with Crosbie, who insulted him at
"You may resent being called a Ha'penny Hitler," commented Simon, "but
you would hardly kill a man for it. Did he stake out that bunker?"
"There were some sticks there. It meets your waiting car theory."
"I don't suspect General Cairn." He took another sheet.
SIDNEY HANN. Intimate with Crosbie in golf and business. Business (so far
as Hann is concerned) seems straightforward. Says he knew nothing of his
private affairs. Was at the golf hotel on night of crime, but did not go
out. Partial alibi. Says he went to bed early. Claims to have lost a
friend and a valuable business client.
"What do you mean by partial alibi?" inquired Simon.
"He was not playing cards or billiards. He was seen about the place, but
there is no precise evidence as to time."
"I suppose that would apply to a lot of us. We chat to a number of people
but no one notices the time, unless asked to do so. Which is always
suspicious where alibis are concerned. I suppose Hann did not do that?"
"No He says he was there from eight-thirty to ten-thirty and then went to
bed. The porter did not see him go out."
WILLIAM ELKINGTON. Crosbie's neighbour at Jacobus Court. Played golf with
him and had business relations. Known him two years, but ignorant of his
private affairs. Was at golf hotel during the week-end and dined with him
on Sunday evening. Went out alone in car (about nine) to visit friends at
Capston Grange, fifteen miles distant. Found they were away. Drove on
farther and returned and went to bed. Caretaker at Grange confirms call
at about ten o'clock. (? why did not Elkington 'phone before calling).
Simon read this through twice. "Fifteen miles an hour is slow going."
"Very," said O'Grady. "The times, however, are only approximate. He got
his car out himself and no one saw him. He says he started a little after
nine and the caretaker admits he possibly arrived a bit before ten."
"That looks rather more like alibi building," said Simon. "He might have
done a lot besides covering fifteen miles in fifty minutes! A bit of a
scorcher too. Never lets a car pass him; he told me so. How long had the
people from the Grange been away?"
"And yet he went over on the chance, without 'phoning. You know, of
course, he dashed to London immediately after Crosbie's death and
demanded access to his private office to get some papers?"
"Papers of his are there. He has applied for them."
Simon took the next sheet.
STUART SLADEN. Arrived at Dormy House on Sunday night soon after 9.15
using the mill lane--which is unusual for motors. Saw Knight and Crosbie
talking close to the sixteenth tee. Nearer the hotel met Broughley
walking towards the mill. Put up his car and entered hotel. Went out
again by the back way. Says he had left some books in his car and wanted
them. Was perhaps ten minutes in the garage, examining the engine. Went
in and straight to his room. No one witnessed his return. Found the body
in the morning and duly reported same. Had quarrelled with Crosbie in the
past. No evidence of recent quarrel or of any business between them.
"At first I judged we had a line on him," commented O'Grady. "He had
noticed Crosbie and might have gone back. But then he would have been
seen by some of the others in the lane."
"It would seem so," said Simon thoughtfully.
REGINALD RICHARDS. Assistant professional. Was in lane with Doris
Travers, his sweetheart. Left stile about 9.15 and walked slowly to
clubhouse and farther. Met Knight near stile and saw Crosbie on tee. Also
saw man hiding in bushes opposite. Broughley (? man in bushes) hurried
past them a few minutes later. Was at hotel about ten. Disliked Crosbie
who had reported him for alleged insolence. Girl's story (if true) clears
There was no comment to make on that, but Simon gave a little cry of
surprise when he saw the name on the next sheet.
HAZEL GRANTLEY. Knew of the 9.30 appointment. Disliked Crosbie and would
do anything to help her cousin. Hot-tempered but doubtful if physically
able to strike the blow. Possibly an accessory.
"Not hot-tempered," he said. "High-spirited, perhaps."
O'Grady grinned. "May mean the same thing. Anyway, that's the lot so far.
You cannot show that any of them knew of the appointment or had the
tremendous motive of Broughley and the woman."
"You have no other women in the case?" asked Simon.
"No. They say cherchez la femme, and Miss Wilton, rather Mrs. Crosbie,
fills the bill."
It was evident then that so far he knew nothing of Mrs. Warwick. But
there was another point.
"Any further news of the supposed burglary?"
"No. There are often bits of the puzzle that don't quite fit. Sometimes
they belong to other puzzles."
"Nothing was taken?"
"We missed nothing," was the more cautious reply.
"Well, here's another bit of the puzzle." Simon then told of Sylvia's
summons to the lonely hut and the theft of her bag, she being shut in the
hut till her cousin rescued her. "What do you make of that?"
"Why did she not report it?"
"She was suffering already from an overdose of police."
Yes," said O'Grady grimly, "If the tale is true, I can still understand
her wishing us to forget her. But that is not likely."
Simon rose to go. After the very frank and friendly manner of the eminent
detective he felt he ought to tell him about Mrs. Warwick. And yet what
was there to tell? That lady might close like an oyster if the police
approached her, but would possibly be more communicative with him.
"I have heard of something that may be of interest to you," he said. "It
may even show that your line is the one, after all, that really matters."
"Better tell me."
"You have no time to chase mare's nests," laughed Simon. "If there is
anything in it, I'll be only too glad to let you do the hatching!"
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: CONSTANCE WARWICK
SHAPELY, buxom, well-rounded, matronly, generously proportioned, a fine
figure of a woman. Such words and phrases have been used at various times
to describe those ladies who combine a certain dignity of bearing and
grace of movement with an undoubted solidity of build. Ladies who
delighted the artists of a bygone age as much as they amuse the slimming
sisterhood of to-day.
Mrs. Constance Warwick deserved some, at any rate, of the old-fashioned
adjectives. She was big in every way, but not clumsy. She appeared
pleasant and good-natured and, as Simon Ross looked at her, he thought
she was just the type of woman to appeal to the middle-aged man desiring
comfort with moderate indulgence. Voluptuous is another term for
something of the sort, but it conveys a suggestion of sinfulness that did
not seem quite suitable in this particular case.
There had been no difficulty in finding the Battersea flat and Mrs.
Warwick fortunately was at home. He was admitted by a neat-looking maid
and his quick eye noted that her dwelling-place, while boasting little in
the way of luxury, had all that was necessary for a quiet easy life. But
nothing more. Whatever part Arthur Crosbie had played in the
establishment, he had squandered no thousands there.
"I thought you would come," murmured the lady, as she invited him to sit
down. "I understand you are a lawyer and anything I say to a lawyer is
absolutely confidential. Like a priest and the confessional, though," she
smiled, "I have nothing to confess."
She was decidedly good-looking. Now that the veil was gone, Simon saw
that his ideas had not been far wrong. Blue eyes and a smooth, fair skin;
placid and unwrinkled; perhaps a little older than he had imagined.
"Let me make that quite clear," he replied. "I am a barrister, not a
"What is the difference?"
"A solicitor advises clients on affairs in which a knowledge of law is
needed, and if a case has to be fought he instructs a barrister to appear
in court to fight it. That is a rough idea."
"I do not think it matters," said the lady, "provided you observe the
"There again I don't wish to mislead you. Arthur Crosbie was murdered. I
want to find out who killed him and so, I am sure, do you. It is our duty
to tell the police anything we know that will help the cause of justice."
"But it is not our duty to tell things that are better untold, if they
will not really help."
"That is true in a way," he said, "but no one, knowing only a small part
of a case, can judge of its importance. Sometimes a thing that seems
trivial by itself can be just the missing piece of the puzzle that makes
everything else fit together."
"I don't think it can," she began. "The coroner wasn't sure, but the
doctor did not believe a woman could have done it." Then she stopped and
asked in a different tone, "Why do you want to find out who killed him?"
"Because a friend of mine, who is innocent, is under suspicion."
"So, if I tell you anything, you will repeat it to the police and it will
appear in all the papers?"
"The two things are very different," said Simon earnestly. "I hope you
will decide to trust me. I will promise not to tell the police anything
that it is not needful and right for them to know. As to the papers, we
will tell them nothing."
Mrs. Warwick considered the matter for a few moments. "You see, there is
no one to advise me now," she said. "Mr. Crosbie did everything for me.
That is why, when you told me you were a lawyer, I thought I would like
to talk to you."
Simon waited. He was pretty sure she would tell her story, even if it was
of no importance to anyone but herself.
"I don't know what you will have thought of me," she began again. "I am
not really that sort of woman. He would have married me if he could."
"Why didn't he?" asked Simon gently. "Your husband is still alive?"
"My husband died four years ago. Mr. Crosbie--I only just knew him
then--attended to his affairs for me. Then we became friends. After a
time he explained why he could not marry me, and so, as we were fond of
one another, we had to make the best of things."
Her meaning was plain enough, but there was something more important that
was not so clear.
"Why could he not marry you?"
"Because of the other woman. The woman who hated him. She was spiteful
and cruel. I do not want to be mixed up in it, but the police ought to
know about her. I don't say she did it, but she might have done, and they
ought to be told. She divorced him and never completed the matter. So he
was neither married nor free. Such women should be punished. Not wanting
a proper home themselves, they try to prevent the man having one. That
was why I agreed to what he wanted. And she--she may have murdered him.
They ought to find her."
So that was it. A curiously muddled idea of the whole affair. Crosbie had
thrown on to Sylvia the odium that was rightly his, and had in that way
got this simple but decent woman to yield to him without marrying her.
She did not want that fact to be known and yet she wished the wife, whom
she blamed for it, to be brought to account.
"Did you ever see a report of the divorce proceedings?" he asked.
"They don't publish them now, do they? He showed me some papers about
"What would you say if I told you the facts were just the other way
round? Crosbie divorced his wife and it was his spitefulness that refused
to complete the matter. He could have done it at any time had he wished
to do so. Then he could have married you."
There was a long pause. Those wide blue eyes were gazing at him
"It isn't true," she whispered.
"It is perfectly true. There is no possible question about it."
"He was lying to me all the time? I will not believe it."
"I have met his wife," said Simon quietly, but very firmly, "and I looked
up the case in the papers. I can show it you, if you like. There is no
long report, but it proves clearly and beyond question that he brought
the suit, not she."
"Then she was a bad woman?" Constance Warwick, simple, easy-going soul
that she was, mistress of this man who had deceived her, was at heart
highly moral. She had lived with a bitter inward resentment for the woman
who was, she thought, to be blamed for her own irregular position. If,
after all, that woman was not to be blamed, it was some feminine
consolation to find she was by no mean spotless, that she had been the
"I should not call her bad," Simon said. "She did not defend the case
because they were not happy together." He was a little surprised that
Mrs. Warwick so readily accepted what he had told her. Perhaps there had
been secret misgivings that his words confirmed.
"There must have been a man. There could not be a divorce otherwise. Is
she a friend of yours?"
Simon saw he would have to be careful. If he attacked Crosbie too
severely, or defended Sylvia too warmly, he would get no help from Mrs.
War wick. She might even think he had been "the man!"
"Hardly a friend. I have only seen her two or three times. The police
know all about her and know the facts as to the divorce. The person they
suspect is a male friend of mine."
"Why do they suspect him?"
There again he must tread warily. If he told of Bill's feeling for Sylvia
this woman would certainly believe the worst. "Because he was near the
place at the time."
He thought she would ask more questions on that subject, but, luckily
perhaps, she was more concerned in another aspect of the case. "If the
police know about Mrs. Crosbie, there is nothing for me to say. I shall
keep out of it."
Simon could understand her wish for privacy, her dread perhaps of seeing
her name and her photograph in the papers as the dead man's "friend."
Sensitiveness is still to be met with even in these days of publicity.
But he must learn what he could.
"May I ask a few questions? They may help us to get at the truth, without
involving you at all."
"What do you want to know?"
"The police cannot find Mr. Crosbie's will. Do you know anything about
"No. He never discussed it with me."
"Perhaps he made a settlement on you?
She shook her head. "I have my own money."
"Did he invest it for you?
"Some of it."
Simon hoped those investments anyway were intact. "You had better ask
your banker to inquire about it. His affairs are, of course, rather
complicated." He did not wish to say more than that. "I suppose he
contributed to your expenses here?"
Mrs. Warwick flushed. "What has that to do with it?" She was naturally
"Nothing, in a way. I was wondering if in his general mode of living he
was what you would call lavish?"
"Certainly not. But he was never mean. As a matter of fact he was saving.
He hoped very soon to retire."
"Probably this year. In the next month or two."
That certainly was interesting. If Crosbie intended to "retire" the
disappearance of his clients' property might be accounted for. Yet it did
not explain the murder.
"What was he meaning to do when he retired?"
"He was going abroad. He had always wanted to travel."
"You, of course, were going with him?"
"Yes. He said he would find a place where we could get married."
Undoubtedly she wished to be an "honest woman."
"You had not decided where?"
"No. We used to talk of all sorts of places. I got particulars for him.
He rather favoured South America."
She spoke quite simply. Hers was not a suspicious nature and she saw
nothing strange in a middle-aged professional man suddenly abandoning his
business and quitting the country. She was happy in believing the real
purpose lay in finding a land where marriage laws were easier. Simon
decided that it was not for him to suggest other reasons that might lie
behind such intentions. Sooner or later she would learn of them, but she
had received a sufficient shock for one day. Yet there was one thing he
"As he was about to retire he must of course have had a good deal of
"He said he would be quite comfortably off."
"I suppose you don't know how his money was invested?
"No. He never discussed business with me."
"The police cannot find a will and beyond a few pounds in the bank they
cannot find any property."
"There must be property," she said. "They haven't looked in the right
That probably was true! He turned to another matter. "Did you ever meet
any of his relations?"
"He had none. He said his only brother died unmarried and there was no
"You met his friends sometimes?"
"No," she said shortly.
That perhaps had been rather a sore point. To her, not being a wife, it
was not improbably a source of unhappiness that she could not be
introduced to his friends. Simon saw it otherwise. Obviously Crosbie, in
fear of the King's Proctor, would keep his affair with her as secret as
possible. But it was disappointing, for it lessened the chance of his
learning anything important from her. Then, how ever, there came a
startling piece of news.
"I did meet his partner once or twice," said Mrs. Warwick.
"His partner? I was told he had no partner. What is his name?"
"Robert M'Whirter," said the lady. Adding somewhat unnecessarily, "He is
"If a Scotsman therefore a golfer?" smiled Simon, dissembling his keen
"I believe he played golf. When Mr Crosbie was away at the week-ends he
sometimes said he was meeting Mr. M'Whirter."
Simon had never heard of anyone named M'Whirter at the golf club, but he
did not know all the members.
"At the Barrington club?" he asked.
"Yes, that is right."
This again was rather exciting. Could it be possible that he had actually
found the missing piece of the puzzle?
"Mr. Crosbie," he said, "as you know, was a solicitor and had no partner
in the business. There is no question as to that. Can you be mistaken
"He called him his partner," said Mrs. Warwick positively. "Perhaps it
was in some other business."
"Solicitors don't have other businesses. But they are sometimes directors
of companies and that sort of thing. Do you know where Mr. M'Whirter
"I am afraid I don't."
"Nor his business address?"
She shook her head, "We only met twice."
"First about a year ago, and then last month."
"And Mr. Crosbie introduced him and said 'This is my partner'?
"No, not quite like that," said the woman thoughtfully. "The first time
we were all three to have met in a restaurant for lunch. I was waiting in
the lounge and a gentleman came up and asked if I was Mrs. Warwick. He
said he was Mr. M'Whirter and Mr. Crosbie was sorry he would be late. He
would meet me at the theatre instead. We were going to a matinee. Mr.
M'Whirter said he could not stay either, as he had an unexpected
appointment. We chatted for a little time and then he left me."
"Mr. Crosbie duly arrived at the theatre?"
"Oh, yes. He asked what I thought of his Scottish friend and said I ought
to have insisted on his staying."
"What about the second time, last month?" said Simon.
"That was a disappointment too. We were all to meet for tea. Mr.
M'Whirter was there and, while we were waiting, Mr. Crosbie telephoned
that he was detained."
"Who took the message?"
"Mr. M'Whirter was called to the 'phone. Then he stayed with me and was
"As he ought to be," remarked Simon genially. "What is he like?"
"Well, he is a big man, rather stout, you know. But I am afraid I am not
very good at describing people."
"You would know him if you saw him again?"
"Oh, yes. I am sure I should."
"Is he tall or short? Dark or fair? Clean shaven or hairy?
"He is tall and dark, quite dark. He has a black moustache and you can
tell he is Scottish. He talks like Harry Lauder or Ramsay Macdonald on
"Sure he has not got a beard?" Simon suddenly thought of Sladen, the only
Scotsman he knew at Barrington.
"Oh, no. I am sure of that."
"Was there anything noticeable in the way he was dressed?"
"I really don't remember. I don't think so. Oh, he wore those big
spectacles and he had a light fawn overcoat."
"That is something. You cannot think of any way in which I can get hold
"Not unless you found him at the golf club."
"You are pretty sure he is a member?"
"Oh, yes. Arthur told me a lot about the golf club. He said he was badly
treated there. They ought to have made him captain."
"And he used to play with Mr. M'Whirter."
"Yes. After I met Mr. M'Whirter I used to ask if he played with him."
"Then, Mrs. Warwick, that is where I want you to help me. It is an odd
thing, if he was really Crosbie's partner, that he should keep away like
this after the murder--don't you think so? The police know nothing about
him. Have never heard of him. That is what you must let me tell them. You
were a friend of Mr. Crosbie's and you met this Mr. M'Whirter, who was in
some way a partner of his. You don't mind my telling them that?"
"Not if you think it will help," she said doubtfully.
"I think it will help enormously. His partner ought to know something of
his doings, if anyone does. Where his property is. If he had enemies, and
so on. But there is one thing that might help me to keep your name out of
"What is that?" she asked eagerly. "I don't want to be in the papers."
"Come with me to the golf club next Sunday. If Mr. M'Whirter is there,
point him out to me."
"I don't generally go to places like that on Sunday. I know Mr. Crosbie
did, but I never liked it."
Another queer kink in human nature, thought Simon. The good lady was
"living in sin," but she would not break the Sabbath.
"Saturday might do," he said. "Most of the members are there then. Let me
take you down to lunch. It is very pleasant on the lawn and an afternoon
in the country will do you good."
"All right," she said. "I will come on Saturday."
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: THE BAG
SLICING at golf is a distressing trouble that the experts account for in
various ways. The ball, struck from the tee, soars into the air as though
meaning to make a direct journey towards the green, then it changes its
mind. It begins an offside curve whose graceful sweep might delight an
artist but is the despair of the player. Standing too far behind; pulling
in the hands; not following through. These are some of the explanations
of those who know. The ball, curling on its wilful way, has an uncanny
knack of coming to rest in the worst possible lie. It may even end up in
some wild and unknown country never before trodden by foot of man.
Sometimes maledictions pursue it, but occasionally the Finger of Fate or
the Will of Providence is directing its flight.
But this not being a treatise on golf, it is best to narrate events in
their due sequence.
Simon, of course, told Hazel of his meeting with Mrs. Warwick and of her
proposed visit to the golf club to identify the elusive M'Whirter.
"The trouble is," he added, "I have been through the list of members and
the name M'Whirter does not appear. The secretary has never heard of
"Then what's the use of Mrs. Warwick coming?" asked the girl.
"It may be an assumed name. Possibly one of our members trades as
M'Whirter. It is a chance we must try."
"What is Mrs. Warwick like?" inquired Hazel.
"Easy-going, rather lazy, and at heart virtuous and sweet. Seems to have
got on very well with Crosbie. For every man there is a mate."
"Do you mean it was Sylvia's fault that she did not get on with him?"
"Not at all," he laughed. "I love your loyalty to Sylvia. 'Except I be by
Sylvia in the night, there is no music in the nightingale.' I admire her
almost as much as you do, but that does not prevent my saying that a
placid sort of person like Constance Warwick might suit Crosbie. You see,
my dear, oil and vinegar can never really blend. It may be perfectly good
oil and perfectly good vinegar, but they won't mix. You may shake them up
together for a time, but when they settle down in the bottle of matrimony
they are bound to separate. If one of them is rank bad, as Crosbie was,
the separation may be more violent. Mrs. Warwick was too easy-going to
find him out."
"What an ideal wife!" said Hazel. "When does she come?"
"For lunch. That is where I want your help. You must lunch with us. She
may or she may not recognise M'Whirter, but I shall leave her with you. I
have learnt all I can, but after a good lunch, and with you, she may be
more expansive. Then I'll join you again at tea. Don't tell her Sylvia is
your cousin. She has always regarded her as the unkind person who stood
between her and respectability. In fact, it is better she should not know
that Sylvia belongs here at all."
"I'll do my best," said Hazel. "What will you be up to?"
"I am asked to play in a four-ball with Colonel Matthews. He is the local
Chief Constable, you know. I think it may be useful. I suppose Bill and
Sylvia will be together and can spare you? They must keep out of Mrs.
Warwick's way, or I will not answer for the consequences."
Lunch time on Saturday at the Dormy House was usually well patronised.
For one thing there was a special tariff for week-enders starting with
that meal and ending with the Monday breakfast. Simon secured a table
from which it was possible to view all who entered and he was there in
good time with Mrs. Warwick and Hazel. He introduced the latter as a
friend, explaining that he thought his visitor might be more comfortable
if there was another lady with them. It was also in his mind that it
would disabuse her of any fancy connecting himself with Sylvia.
Mrs. Warwick, dressed in grey, looked quite handsome, and was evidently
much interested in a place she had no doubt heard a deal about, but had
never seen. Hazel was charming to her and they all had their eyes open
for the possible M'Whirter.
The first of Inspector O'Grady's suspects who passed near them was Ernest
Knight. He nodded in his friendly way to Simon, but Mrs. Warwick declared
him too small a man to fit the part.
Then Farmer came in. He stared at them and crossed to the farther end of
"Not him?" questioned Simon.
"Oh, no," said Mrs. Warwick.
Others trickled past them, but although the lady took a good look at each
she could recognise none.
One or two people stopped at their table and spoke. A pretty girl like
Hazel has friends, and naturally they had a word to say as they went by.
"Good-morning, Miss Grantley," said Philip Chase. "Playing this
"I don't think so."
"What about Miss Wilton? I hope to get another game with her sometime.
She is quite wonderful."
That was dangerous ground with Mrs. Warwick listening. "She is not here
to-day," said Hazel shortly and Chase passed on.
"Not him?" inquired Simon.
"Much too young," said Mrs. Warwick.
Major Escott had a greeting for them and was also acquitted of the
Then Hann and Elkington came in together. They paused for a moment beside
the table, as they glanced round for vacant seats. Elkington's eyes met
Simon's and with something of a scowl he turned away. He evidently had
not forgotten the scene at Crosbie's office when the young lawyer sided
against him. Hann, however, smiled and came nearer.
"Oh, Miss Grantley," he said, "they want entries for the mixed foursomes
cup. I was wondering if you would play with me?"
"I am not good enough," said Hazel.
"But it's a handicap. We should get a lot of strokes. I think we'd have
quite a chance."
"Miss Grantley is playing with me," said Simon.
"Sorry I'm too late," laughed Hann. "Perhaps we'll meet in the final."
He moved on and Hazel turned to Mrs. Warwick, but with a mischievous eye
for Simon. "What are you to do with men who take for granted everything
"Humour them," said Simon quickly. "Do you know Hann?"
"I have played with him once or twice. He's too terribly good. Makes me
"I'm not good enough for that." Then he turned to Mrs. Warwick. "Neither
of those was M'Whirter?
"No. The one who turned away is not unlike. About the right size, but he
has no moustache. The other is too fair and slight."
As she spoke there was a voice behind her. Someone had entered while Hann
was talking to them.
"Cr-rowded on Satur-r-days. Always is. Will they never learrn to put
It was a low indignant growl and Mrs. Warwick dropped her fork. She
looked round, and so did the speaker. She met the displeased gaze of
Stuart Sladen, the bearded author.
"His voice," she whispered to Simon, "but he hadn't a beard and his hair
"He certainly did not grow that beard in a month," said Simon, as the
dour Scot passed up the room.
"False!" said Hazel dramatically.
"I don't think so," he laughed. "You can get away with false beards on
the stage, but not in real life. Any sort of beard attracts notice in
these days and I defy anyone to eat and drink in a false one and escape
"I'll try!" said Hazel.
The meal was pleasant but its practical value nil. Mrs. Warwick did not
recognise a single person she knew. The elusive M'Whirter had still to be
"I have an important match," Simon said to her, "but Miss Grantley will
look after you. If you care to stroll round the course you may see some
good play and there will be some players who were not in for lunch. Then
I suggest we have tea at the club house. That will give us another
There is no standard size for chief constables. Colonel Matthews was a
small man with a fierce grey moustache. Efficiency was his watchword and
even when he played golf he had his problems in mind and sought
information that might be useful. That perhaps accounted for his asking
Simon Ross to play with him. Their opponents were Major Escott and young
Chase. It was Chase who referred first to the matter that was not far
from the minds of any of them.
"I hear Hann beat Sladen in the replay in the captain's prize," he said.
"So now he meets Broughley. The winner meets Knight."
"Knight was lucky," remarked Escott. "I don't think he would have beaten
Crosbie, if they had met."
"I once heard," said Matthews, "of a man who got into a final without
playing at all. Each opponent got ill in turn and had to scratch."
"Better that than a murder!" declared Chase. "Some people thought we
ought to have abandoned the competition altogether."
"The committee considered it," said Escott, "and decided to carry on.
Murders are outside our jurisdiction, but until you clear it up for us,
Matthews, we are all possible criminals."
"You'll remain that, whatever I do!" said the colonel.
Simon won the first hole for his side with a "birdie" four. When they had
driven off at the second his partner strode down the fairway with him.
"You have worked with French Norcutt, haven't you?"
"In a few cases," said Simon.
"You've been giving my inspector a bit of help in this Crosbie business?"
"Been trying to, sir."
"You know Broughley?"
"I have known him for years."
They reached their balls which were lying near together and both got iron
shots on to the green.
"We seem a bit stuck about it," Matthews proceeded. "What is your idea?"
"I think the solution is more likely to be found in London than here,"
"The murder was here and therefore so was the murderer! Do you mean
someone came down who doesn't play golf?"
"I mean we've got to look in London for the motive."
"You want to clear Broughley and the woman?"
"Yes. And I realise the only way to do it is to find the party really
The hole was halved in four. At the short third Simon drove over the
green and his partner pulled into the rough. Their pathways parted and
the hole was lost, Escott getting a neat three. The fairway of the fourth
saw them together again.
"You know the theory," said the colonel. "I think it is practically an
established fact that Crosbie was on that seat with his back to the
sixteenth tee, facing the ‘Hell’ bunker. What do you deduce from that?"
"First that the killer knew he was to be there at 9.30."
"Could a Londoner know that?"
"If Crosbie told him."
"A big if! Think again."
Two holes later, when they were one down, the Chief Constable expounded
his own views.
"It is no good looking for a stranger to these parts who was chasing him
round with a hammer, like a Red Indian on the prowl with a tomahawk. He
stood behind him. He could hardly have got there without Crosbie seeing
or hearing him, and Crosbie didn't turn round. Therefore it was someone
Crosbie was not surprised at seeing, and therefore it was a member of the
club. How does that strike you?"
"Very sound, sir, though I see a possible alternative. Anyway it lets
Broughley and Miss Wilton out."
"You don't suggest, sir, he would turn his back on the lady? And if he
had a dispute with Broughley--it would have been a warm one--he would
have faced him."
They were playing pretty well, considering there was less concentration
than is generally advisable. At the seventh, where the match was again
all square, Simon glanced at the shed that had been Sylvia's temporary
prison, but he did not refer to it. His partner, in fact, was not
following the straight and narrow way of golfing virtue. Simon won the
hole to make them one up.
At the eighth he had the honour. He was a big hitter. On his day he was
hard to beat, but, like other big hitters, he had a vast capacity for
error when he went astray. It was there that he did his mighty slice. The
ball flew high and curved wide. It seemed to fall in a thick patch of
undergrowth, far from the line of play. Matthews sliced his too, though
not so prodigiously. They were playing without caddies.
You talked of a possible alternative," said the colonel, as they went off
together. "What do you mean?"
"Well, sir, I don't suggest the man was a stranger, but if it happened
before 9.30, when Crosbie was expecting the lady, he might have
deliberately turned his back as a hint to the fellow, whoever he was, to
"That is possible."
Matthews located his ball and played it. Simon rooted about for his in
the farther undergrowth. There was little chance of his finding it, but
his quick eye saw something else.
A leather bag with the silver initial S on it. He opened it. Inside was a
torch, an enamelled cigarette case with " Sylvia" in gold across the
corner, some vanity accessories, a purse with five pounds, some odd
coppers, a latch key and, to render doubt impossible, a card-case with
visiting cards inscribed "Miss Sylvia Wilton."
"Look at this, sir!" he cried with some excitement.
"What is it?
Simon told him the story of Sylvia's summons to the lonely hut and of her
"This is her bag. The thief took it and threw it, with the contents,
among these bushes, where it might have lain for years. What on earth is
the meaning of that?"
"Why was not the loss reported?" asked the colonel.
"Because she was not on happy terms with the police. There may be
something missing. I will ask her. But to throw away the money is the
He abandoned his ball and was impatient to get on. Their opponents had
also lost a ball and so had not noticed the delay. They all moved forward
and at last he had the satisfaction of winning the match for his side by
sinking a long putt on the eighteenth green. He could not wait to receive
the usual liquid tribute at the nineteenth.
"You must excuse me," he said as he ran off. "Friends are waiting."
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE: DISCOVERIES
"HAZEL, I have a surprise for you!"
"Simon, I have a surprise for you!"
He whispered the words as he joined them in the club lounge for tea. He
could not mention Sylvia's bag before Mrs. Warwick, and whatever Hazel's
surprise might be, she evidently did not want to talk of it in the
hearing of their guest.
"Have you come across Mr. M'Whirter?" he inquired.
"No," said Mrs. Warwick, "Miss Grantley has been very kind to me. We have
seen some of the play and she has explained how it is done, but I have
not seen anyone I could recognise."
"If you are thinking of taking up golf," said Simon, "you could not find
a better guide than Miss Grantley."
"He means," explained Hazel, "that I play so badly that you would not be
"I am sure, my dear, you would play beautifully. It is very good of you
to have given your afternoon to me. But I must be getting home. If Mr.
Ross would take me to the station there will still be time for you to get
a little play, won't there?"
The idea was an excellent one and they did not try to make her change her
mind. Simon had brought her all the way by road in the morning, but it
was understood she would return by train, as he was staying there for the
night. Directly the meal was finished he got his car. Hazel said she
would go to the station with them.
"It was good of you to come," said Simon, as they waited on the platform.
"I am disappointed we did not spot M'Whirter, but he has got to be found.
I am sure he will help us to get at the bottom of the business, whoever
"He must know something," said Mrs. Warwick nervously. "Shall I have to
see the police?"
"If we cannot find him ourselves," answered Simon, "we must get them to
do so." Then the train pulled in. "Should you have to see the police," he
added, "I will be there too, if you wish it."
"You were quite right," said Hazel to him, as they got back in the car.
"She's a well-meaning old thing, and although her ideas of Sylvia are
wrong, that is Crosbie's fault. It worried her all the time that they
were not married, but she thought he deserved pity! All he did deserve
was what he got."
"Now for your surprise," he said, as they started off.
"Yours first, please."
"Mine isn't something to tell you but to show you. I don't quite know
what it means."
"That sounds thrilling. I will wait."
She was really rather excited about her own surprise and was fully
determined not to spoil it by letting him cap it with another. It did not
take many minutes to return to the club house. The lounge was deserted.
"Stay here," he said. "I will be back in a moment."
He had put the bag in his locker. He fetched it and laid it on the table
in front of her.
"Sylvia's!" she exclaimed.
"See what's in it," he said.
She undid the clasp and placed the contents, article by article, on the
table in front of them. As she did so two men passed through the lounge
to the smoking-room, Farmer and Elkington. The latter strode by with a
glance, but Farmer paused. Then, seeing that they seemed to be occupied,
he also turned away, though not before Simon had noted the surprise in
his eyes as he saw what was covering the table.
"Everything is here," said Hazel. "Even the money. How did you get it
"Sure there is nothing missing?"
"Quite sure. At least, as sure as I can be. Sylvia will know. Have you
discovered who took it?
"I have not," and he told the story of the wild slice into the
unfrequented bushes. "As Colonel Matthews said to me this afternoon about
something else, 'What do you deduce from that?'"
"It beats me," said the girl. "Why should anyone take all that trouble to
steal the bag and then throw it away?
"It beats me too," admitted Simon. "One thing is clear. It was no
ordinary thief and theft was not the object with which Sylvia was decoyed
"You do not think "--the question came in horrified gasps--" you do not
think he meant to kill her--and was disturbed?"
"I don't know what to think, but it can hardly have been that. Had he
been disturbed, Sylvia would probably have seen the other person, and her
knocking and calling would have been heard before you got there."
"There might have been something in her bag you don't know about. Or
perhaps he hoped there would be something that was not there. Sylvia will
tell us. No doubt the bag was thrown away after its contents were
examined. It was no ordinary thief and he did not want to carry anything
that would be a possible means of identification."
"Not even the money?"
"Not even the money. Which shows we are not dealing with a needy person."
It seemed a singularly objectless outrage. The more they discussed it the
less purpose for it could be discovered.
"Let us ask Sylvia," said Simon, putting the various articles back into
the bag. "But what was your surprise?"
"I am afraid it will not seem so exciting after this," laughed Hazel,
"but it is rather comic, though I don't know how important it may be."
"Tell me as we walk to the mill," he said.
She evidently enjoyed his suspense, though she was too anxious to tell,
and to know what he thought of it, to keep it back for long.
"It's about Mr. M'Whirter," she began, as they entered the mill lane.
"You think it is important to find him?"
"I do. I believe we shall learn a lot from him. The fact that he has kept
away all the time is suggestive."
"Yes," she smiled, "it is suggestive, though it suggests something quite
different from what you suppose."
"Don't tantalise me!"
"Well--I have discovered who Mr. M'Whirter is."
"But I thought Mrs. Warwick couldn't find him and didn't know where he
was to be found?"
"Quite right. She doesn't know. But I do!"
"Have you seen him?"
"No. I can't exactly say I have seen him."
She looked at him mischievously with laughter in her eyes. "You see,
Simon, Mr. M'Whirter is--or was--Arthur Crosbie."
"My dear Hazel, you don't mean that? It isn't possible."
"Why isn't it possible?"
"Mrs. Warwick would know. She met them both. M'Whirter was a Scotsman."
"That is partly how I identified him," she smiled. "You say Mrs. Warwick
met them both. Quite true, but she didn't meet them together. Didn't you
notice that? She only saw M'Whirter twice, and both times he told her
Crosbie could not come."
"But the second time Crosbie telephoned from his office while M'Whirter
was with her?"
"Oh, Simon, surely you could see through that? Before he left his office
Crosbie told his clerk to ring up the tea-room at four o'clock and give a
message to a Mr. M'Whirter. He then put on his disguise and got his own
message. Mrs. Warwick could not tell who was speaking. She only knew what
M'Whirter told her."
"But why should Crosbie deceive Mrs. Warwick?"
"Trying it on the dog! If he could deceive her, it would show he could
get away with it with anyone."
"By Jove, Hazel, that's jolly clever. I believe you are right. How did
the Scotsman business put you on to it?"
"Mrs. Warwick said M'Whirter spoke like Harry Lauder. Sylvia has told me
that in the earlier and more decent days Crosbie used to fancy himself as
an imitator of Harry Lauder. Sang his songs and rolled off the patter. So
if he wanted to lead a double life, why not be a Scotsman with a good
"That sounds likely enough. The spectacles would help. Crosbie had a
pasty skin, but I suppose it could easily be dyed. The moustache--I said
at lunch a man could not wear a false beard and get away with it, but a
moustache is rather different."
"Don't forget the fawn coat," laughed Hazel, "used only for the
impersonation. Crosbie wore the dark clothes of a respectable solicitor.
So a fawn coat and a tartan tie--she told me that--would all help."
"It's rather wonderful," said Simon slowly, "and I am inclined to believe
it is right. But do you realise, my dear, that it scuppers the whole
"How do you mean?"
"I have been patting myself on the back because I discovered there was a
M'Whirter--a fact neither Lee nor O'Grady knew anything about. I thought
he might be someone leading a double life and was confident, if I could
identify him, I should be pretty near to knowing who killed Crosbie. In
fact, I was fairly sure M'Whirter, whoever he really was, did kill
Crosbie. Now you tell me M'Whirter and Crosbie are one and the same
person and therefore they are both killed! It doesn't make it easier,
"I don't know," said the girl doubtfully. "It wants thinking out. If
anyone hated M'Whirter they might kill him without knowing he was
"Afraid that won't do. The man who was killed was Crosbie all right. No
one could have taken him for the black-moustached Scotsman. If your
theory is correct, and I expect it is, M'Whirter probably made very few
appearances. He was more for future than present use."
"In what way?" asked the girl.
There are indications that Crosbie meant to bolt. Mrs. Warwick says he
was intending to retire and live abroad. His affairs suggest he has been
feathering a nest somewhere. Perhaps Crosbie was to fade away and
M'Whirter was to start a comfortable existence in some sunny southern
clime. He appeared to Mrs. Warwick, as you say, to test the disguise and
see if he could play the part."
"Would he have taken her with him?"
"A very feminine question, my dear," laughed Simon, "and one to which no
reply is possible. It would have complicated things for him if he had,
but if he was fond enough of her perhaps he would have risked it.
Meanwhile it makes his murder more of a problem than ever and we have
also to explain the behaviour of the bag snatcher who was too proud to
steal. Good work for one after noon!"
"You don't think there is any connection between the two?" asked Hazel.
If there is, it escapes me," Simon admitted. "But don't tell anyone else,
about the Crosbie M'Whirter theory. O'Grady must get to work on it
without rumours spreading that may make things more difficult for him."
"Don't tell Sylvia, you mean?"
"Better not, I think. We have made two discoveries, but if she can solve
the one about the bag, that will be good enough."
But a third discovery was at hand, and that, like the two others, was to
be difficult to explain and perhaps more disquieting.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR: THE HAMMER
SYLVIA and Bill Broughley were sitting in the windmill lounge when Hazel
and Simon entered. Sylvia was looking happier than for some time past and
Bill seemed well pleased with himself. It was evident that they had
explained away any doubts or misunderstandings there might have been
between them and the future looked bright. Yet they could not disguise
from themselves that a cloud must remain until the solution had been
found to the mystery of the murder that had removed the obstacle to their
"Ever seen that, Sylvia?" asked Hazel, putting the leather bag on a table
"My bag! Where did you get it?"
"Look inside," said Simon.
Once again the contents were turned out and examined.
"Anything missing?" inquired her cousin.
"No. Not a thing."
"Perfectly sure?" asked Simon.
"Perfectly. Just what I always carry. I am glad to have it back.
She held up the green enamelled cigarette case with the "Sylvia"
inscription in gold. "Your first gift, Bill." Then turning to the others,
she said, "Who took them? How did you get them back?"
"Pardonable curiosity," replied Simon. "Only exceeded by our own." He
told again of the search for the golf ball that had led to the discovery.
"Your assailant apparently took a cross-country course over the links and
threw the bag into that wild patch beyond the eighth."
"Without taking a thing," said Bill.
"Exactly. Have you kept the typed note that asked you to go there?" The
question was to Sylvia.
"Yes. I'll get it."
"I thought it said 'alone,’” remarked Simon, when she handed it to him.
"Rather knocks out one of my possible theories."
"What was that?" asked Hazel.
"That the writer or writers meant to decoy you both from here so as to
get in and do a bit of burgling."
"Did anyone come while you were alone?" Bill inquired of Hazel.
"No one," said the girl. "Of course, the place was empty when I went out
to find Sylvia, but there was no sign of anyone having got in while we
were away, and nothing was missed. Simon's notion wouldn't get many
marks, any old how."
"Why not?" he asked.
"Would your burglar friend throw away five nice pound notes, to say
nothing of the other things?"
"He would not. No one would--yet someone did! You can't make sense of
"The man took a pretty big risk of being seen," said Bill. "Sylvia might
not have gone alone, and then he would have been caught. There must be
some big reason for it. No one, short of a devil or a madman, would treat
a girl like that for no purpose. To be shut in that hut with night coming
on! I'd like to catch him and show him what I think about it!"
"I agree with all you say except as to the risk," commented Simon. "I was
considering that this afternoon when we were over there. From the hut you
can see for more than a hundred yards in every direction. Had Sylvia not
been alone, the man who was waiting there could have hurried off before
she and her companion were near enough to recognise him. As there was no
one with her, he no doubt covered his face and expected her to look
inside the hut. As she sat down outside it, he was able to get behind her
and do his work with the bit of sacking. A powerful man obviously, for
you are no featherweight, Sylvia, like our Hazel. Of course, he knew
where he wanted to put you and you were taken by surprise. Whether mad or
not, he was no thief. Taking the bag was camouflage to give that idea.
Were you wearing any jewellery?"
"Nothing valuable. A wrist watch, rings and a brooch."
"A real thief would have gone for some of them. The bag might have
contained nothing worth stealing. Spite or devilment seems the only
"You don't think…" began Bill.
But before he could complete his sentence there was a loud knocking at
the door. Hazel jumped up and opened it.
Three men strode in without ceremony. The first was Inspector Lee, the
second a constable in uniform and the third a big man in plain clothes.
At a sign from the inspector the third man produced an article, wrapped
with great care, and placed it on the table that still bore the contents
of the bag.
"What do you know about that?"
Such was Lee's question. His hook nose and tight mouth looked more
vulture-like than ever. He addressed Sylvia, but his eyes took in the
rest of the party. Whether or not he was pleased to find Simon there it
was hard to say.
They were all staring at the table. The article that had been laid on it
so gently was a hammer, a rough ordinary hammer, such as might be used
for breaking coal or perhaps for splitting stones. Its heavy iron head
was held by a stout wooden handle. A commonplace thing, yet each one of
them realised instinctively the particular hammer it was supposed to be.
"Nothing," was Sylvia's reply. "I have never seen it before."
"And you?" The brusque question was turned next to Bill Broughley.
"I have seen hammers like it," said Bill. "Most people have. Do you mean
that is what killed Crosbie?"
Simon bent over it to examine it more closely.
"Don't touch it!" cried Lee sharply. Then he put his question to Hazel.
"Do you know anything about it?"
"No," said the girl.
For a moment there was silence. The inspector was looking at them with
his searching gaze, and they were unable to take their eyes from the
object that might have brought violent death to one they knew. The metal
head was stained. It seemed to be with rust, but were there traces too of
"You all say you know nothing of that hammer and have never seen it
before?" Lee scrutinised each in turn. No one spoke, but their silence
confirmed his words. "How, then, do you account for the fact that it has
been found in your garden?"
Once more the question was to Sylvia. Her face had lost its colour, as
all the old troubles seemed to threaten her again, but her voice was
"I cannot account for it," she said.
"Have you anything more to say?" The inspector had turned to Broughley,
who was also looking supremely unhappy.
"Nothing," said Bill, "except that Miss Wilton and I are absolutely
innocent of the whole business. This is an utter surprise to us."
"Let us get the thing clear," said Simon. "I am as anxious to get at the
truth, inspector, as you are, but I gather that so far there is no proof
that this is the hammer that actually killed Crosbie. It is certainly the
exact sort of weapon that the doctor indicated. Miss Wilton had a lot of
work done at this place recently, turning it from a mill into a
residence. There were, I suppose, a good many workmen about and one of
them might have left a hammer behind. You say it was found in the garden.
Will you tell us where?"
Lee did not immediately reply. He was there to get information, not to
give it. He regarded this barrister as a clever young fellow and he knew
he had been helpful. But he also knew that, where Broughley and Miss
Wilton were concerned, Ross and himself were in antagonism. He decided,
however, that there was no harm in finding out what was to be said on the
"I had a man examining the garden. He found that hammer hidden in the
bushes on the farther boundary. He did not move it, but kept watch
outside and sent for me. I have just brought it in. I want to know how it
"I saw your man," said Sylvia. "I asked what he was doing. He told me you
had sent him to look round. Would I have let him stay if I had hidden
"You might," answered the inspector grimly, "if you thought it was hidden
well enough. It would have looked very suspicious had you objected. You
may have heard there are such things as search warrants."
"Anyway," said Simon peaceably, "whatever it is and whoever put it there,
it has been found. You, of course, will have to examine it. It is
possible that with microscope and chemical tests it may prove to be the
weapon that killed Crosbie, although it will have been some days in the
"I am confident about it," said Lee.
"You may be quite right. It turns on the medical test. If that fails you
must not forget the workmen I mentioned."
"The head greenkeeper may recognise it as the hammer he is missing."
"Or one like it," amended Simon. "But if this proves to be the actual
weapon--what then? We have to ask ourselves what the person who struck
the blow would do with his weapon. He might have thrown it in the bunker
with the body. I don't quite know why he didn't, but anyway he would want
to get rid of it. He could have walked across the road and dropped it
here in the bushes, but the obvious thing would be to sling it away as
quickly as possible. He had no time to lose."
"Some throw from that tee to this garden!" said Lee scornfully.
"Not at all out of the way," said Simon. "You have no idea how a hammer
flies. The world's record is nearly two hundred feet and every year
someone does about a hundred and fifty. Much further than across the
lane. I know you are thinking that you have found the weapon just where
the motive points, but would anyone here leave it in so dangerous a spot?
So far the discovery doesn't really carry the matter much further."
"So far." muttered Lee. "But we have not finished!"
He wrapped up his precious exhibit, and walked out, followed by his men.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: SMASH!
"Do you think there is more trouble coming?"
Hazel put the question to Simon as they stood at the garden gate outside
"Inspector Lee is pleased at finding the hammer," he said, "and it may
prove to be what he thinks it is, but don't worry. Thanks to your
discovery that Crosbie and M'Whirter were one and the same person I am
getting the whole thing pretty clear in my mind. With any luck we shall
soon know the truth."
"But if, as you said, it was really that hammer, and it was found in the
garden of someone who seems to have had the strong motive, and who
suggested the appointment--"
"It can be made to sound pretty bad, but it also fits in with the picture
as I am beginning to see it."
"Won't you tell me?"
"Not yet, Hazel, my dear. It is not complete. I know--or I think I do--a
good deal as to the how, but not enough as to the who. I am fairly sure
as to that, but proof is the difficulty. I am going to town now to see
Inspector O'Grady; he is the right man. Lee is no use to us; he is too
keen about Bill and Sylvia. But O'Grady will take the sound line, for, as
it happens, it is just what he wants. With our discovery he ought pretty
soon to clear things up."
"You are going back to London to-night?"
"Yes. I don't want to, but it is best. There is no time to lose, if my
ideas are right."
"You will tell me--when you know?"
"Of course I will. If I can catch O'Grady to night, I'll be back
to-morrow. If not, it will be as soon as I can manage it. So--is it
arm's-length, Hazel, or--?"
She knew he wanted to kiss her, and it may be she wished him to want it,
but she shook her head.
"We must be sensible, Simon. This trouble for my cousin Sylvia and for
your friend Bill has brought us together in rather a queer way, but we
don't really know anything about one another. We might quarrel horribly
if we did."
"I feel sure we should," he said cheerfully, "but we are both so sensible
that we should soon find out who was wrong and would make it up. Now I am
to ride off into the night, and if anything happened to me you would hate
to feel that you refused my last request."
"What could happen to you?"
"Who can tell in these days of flying hammers and stolen handbags? Shall
I say with the lover of old, make me immortal with a kiss, or shall I
hope for a reward when I deserve it?
"I am a great believer in hope," laughed Hazel.
"So be it, hard lady. Farewell."
He waved his hand and was gone. She looked after him down the lane, but
he did not glance back. Perhaps she was a wee bit disappointed he had
gone off in that way. Had she known what actually lay before him, she
would surely have granted his request. But she was an independent girl,
and her lips were not common pasture for every lad to nibble!
Simon walked quickly to the garage. It was. Saturday evening. Scotland
Yard, like the Providence that watches over Israel, slumbers not nor
sleeps. Day and night, seven days of the week, someone is on duty. But
individuals must have their time off. Yet, if the ideas that were shaping
in his mind were correct, it was desirable to get into touch with O'Grady
as soon as possible. The inspector would doubtless pardon the disturbance
of his Sabbath rest when he heard the news.
The garage was a large covered yard close to the Dormy House and opposite
the club house. There were a few private lock-ups for those who cared to
pay for them, but most people were content with the general shelter.
Simon had left his car there after his return with Hazel from the
station, when Mrs. Warwick departed. He had the impression that someone
had moved it since he put it up; but that often happened.
After a quick meal he started on the road for London. There was plenty to
occupy his mind. He was satisfied that Hazel was right in declaring that
M'Whirter was Crosbie. The meetings of the former with Mrs. Warwick, as
she pointed out, had been a good test for the disguise, and the necessary
failure of the latter to turn up at the same time completed the picture.
He knew it was dangerous to have a theory and make the facts fit it, but
when it was the facts that suggested the theory, and they all dovetailed
together, there was little risk of error. As he had himself quoted to
O'Grady, suspicion was not enough; personal conviction was not enough;
there must be proof. Only one person really met all the requirements of
the case, and yet he could not say that no other was possible. It was
O'Grady who must find the proof. With the authority and the resources at
his command that should not be difficult, if it was not too late.
Then his thoughts turned to Hazel. How quickly she had guessed Crosbie's
ruse. All the credit, when the truth was established, would be hers. What
a delightful girl she was. He pictured her, with her alluring
half-mocking smile, as she said she was a great believer in hope. So was
He was making good way and it was beginning to get dark when he was
conscious of another car behind him. He did not accelerate; he was doing
a steady fifty; if the other fellow could do better, he was welcome. He
moved to the side to leave plenty of room for him to pass. To his
surprise the other car slackened. It was odd. Very few drivers miss a
chance of speeding ahead when they get it. The faster the car, the more
the owner likes people to realise it; the slower, the gladder he is to
pass something! The road was clear; the fellow could certainly have gone
by had he wanted to.
It made him think of his previous run along that road when he had chased
Elkington and done his utmost to draw level. Now it was the other way
about. Once again the following car came near and then dropped back.
Could it be someone from the golf club? What sort of a car was it? His
mirror only reflected the headlights, and even when he risked a glance
behind he could see no more.
A third and then a fourth time the car came within less than thirty
yards. Simon decided that it should go by and he would see who was in it.
He dropped to half speed and waved his hand for it to pass. Perhaps that
slackening of pace saved his life.
The other car declined his invitation; it slackened almost to a crawl.
The distance between them was again rapidly widening when something went
At the moment Simon hardly knew what it was. Without warning his bonnet
dropped and ploughed into the tarred surface of the roadway. He was shot
violently forward against the windscreen and was conscious that a wheel
hurried off by itself into the farther hedge. The car turned over. He was
dazed by the bumps and concussions.
The following car drew level and stopped. Simon was vaguely conscious of
a familiar blue Sunbeam saloon. The driver alighted. It meant assistance.
Then, even his muddled intelligence had a shock. The driver, a tall man,
had his face masked. He leaned through the window of the fallen car and,
raising a white hand that held a heavy spanner, struck a vicious blow at
the forehead of the almost helpless traveller.
Simon was able to lift an arm to shield his head. The blow numbed it, but
he kept it where it was as some guard from the murderous attack.
A second white hand seized the arm and pulled it aside while another blow
was struck at the unprotected head. Simon jerked to one side--the weapon
missed his forehead but hit his cheek and tore his ear. Another blow
followed. The space was cramped but the purpose was deadly. Simon sank
unconscious in a huddled heap.
Once more the relentless hand was raised. The blows must be carefully
struck, for they had to appear the result of an accident. The front of
the head, not the back, must receive the damage. The assassin paused to
choose the likely spot, and the moment of delay brought salvation.
The headlights of a third car were approaching. To be caught in the act
would be fatal. Perhaps the first blows had been effective. There was not
a moment to lose. A hurried leap into the blue saloon, a press of the
starter and, as the newcomer drew up, a rush forward at increasing speed.
What James Bagshaw had to learn about motors and motoring would be hard
to discover. He was a dealer in cars and knew the tricks of his trade as
intimately as he knew the rules of the road. He was on his way back from
a country residence where he had successfully arranged the sale of a new
Daimler. It was one of his maxims that any fool could sell a new car if
he allowed enough for the old one. That was the trouble. Too much on the
old car might jeopardise all the profit on the deal.
On this occasion he was happy. He had not only allowed less than he had
been prepared to give, but he already had a buyer in view for the discard
at a satisfactory figure.
He was anticipating a cheerful week-end, but what he saw in the road
checked his gaiety. First his interest was aroused; then his
From a distance it looked as though there had been a collision. One car
lay by the edge of the ditch and another was close beside it. He sounded
his horn, partly to let them know he was coming and would help if
necessary, and also because there was no room to pass. Then, as he drew
nearer, a figure emerged from the stranded car, made for the one that was
waiting, and drove away.
James Bagshaw's practised eye noted three things. The first was that the
number plate on the moving car was, by accident or design, covered over
with a piece of sacking. The second, that the man who drove off had his
cap pulled right over his face, or was masked. The third that a spanner
was in his hand.
Car bandits were not entirely new to him. He regarded them as the curse
of the business, for their activities discouraged trade. Jumping from his
own car, he went to investigate. The derelict was an Austin. In it an
unconscious man was huddled in an untidy heap, bleeding freely from his
What should James Bagshaw do? It is not pleasant to get mixed up in an
affair of that sort. How could he prove that he had come up after the
trouble was over and was himself in no way to blame? Why had the other
man driven off? Should he push on and report the matter? Sooner or later
he might meet an A.A. scout. That would cover his duty. But what of the
poor devil in the car--perhaps bleeding to death and in peril of being
burnt if the escaping petrol caught light?
He saw that a wheel had come off. It was lying in the road a little way
ahead. That would account for the spill. Then he saw something else. The
front wheel that was uppermost was almost off too. The nuts were loose.
In another mile that wheel would have caused a smash if the first had
Single-handed he could do little. The car with that body in it was too
heavy to move and one man by himself could not lift the body out. It was
an awkward affair, whether accident or murder. He wished he was not in
it, but he had no thought of running away.
There had been no collision. The two cars were travelling in the same
direction and an overtaking car could not hit the farside wheel--the one
that was gone. There were no dents or even scratches on the parts that
The good Samaritan tried with his handkerchief to check the bleeding and
at last help came. A car drove up from the other direction. Three men
were in it. They had to pull up as there was no room to pass. Bagshaw
explained to them as quickly as he could what he had discovered and with
their help the body was extricated and placed on the back seat of the
tourer he was driving.
Life was not extinct. They could see that. But the extent of the injuries
and the chances of recovery were things they were not competent to judge.
"I will take him to the hospital at Newbon," said Bagshaw. "It is about
five miles. But I want one of you to come with me to confirm my story.
You wouldn't like it to happen to you, if you were driving alone."
"That is true," agreed the owner of the other car. "We will all come.
Make us a little late getting home, but it can't be helped."
"I want you first to note these loose nuts," said Bagshaw. "The other
wheel came right off. Either the fellow was damned careless or someone
was meaning him to find trouble."
The men agreed with his conclusions and said it was a bad business.
"You didn't by any chance meet a blue Sunbeam saloon?" he asked. "It
drove away just as I drew up. The man in it was actually leaning in this
car and had a spanner in his hand. He jumped out and cleared off as soon
as he saw me."
"We didn't meet anything," said the first of the three. "I was remarking
how little traffic there was."
"There are cross-roads this side of Newbon," said one of the others. "The
blue Sunbeam could have turned off there."
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX: INSPECTOR LEE WAITS
THE next morning, being Sunday, Sylvia and Hazel walked across the fields
to the village church, as was their custom. They had little to say as
they went along. Possibly they both had too much to think about to want
Hazel enjoyed the simple service. There was something in worship and
praise, in the prayers and the hymns, that responded to a need of her
nature. It was not until the sermon that her mind strayed to other
matters. The parson, instead of giving words of help and encouragement to
those who were there to hear him, occupied his time by denouncing those
who were not. He deplored the spread of Sunday sport and the increasing
desecration of the Sabbath. He prophesied woe for a nation that neglected
its churches. Excellent sentiments, thought Hazel, if addressed to those
who stayed away. And that somehow made her think of Simon.
How little she really knew about him. What was his attitude to religion?
Did he love music? Had he any hobby or interests other than golf and his
work? She could not say; and he knew equally little of her. What about
his parents? Had he any brothers or sisters? She had never asked; she
could not tell. And yet they undoubtedly felt a strong attraction for one
another. She was conscious of it and was fairly sure it was mutual.
Her mind took another leap. Do people fall in love with one another
first--and marry--and be come one flesh--and then, when it is
irrevocable, begin to learn afterwards what is the real nature of the
thing of which they have become a part?
Did that account for the failure of so many marriages? Had Sylvia felt
that glamour for Arthur Crosbie--only to discover within a few months
that they had no thoughts, tastes, or ideals in common? Was nature a
trickster and all the rest was luck? If Simon was in any way serious,
what was her feeling--Then she realised that every one was standing up
and she had lost the remainder of the discourse.
They had arranged to lunch with Bill Broughley at the Dormy House and, as
they returned first to the mill, Sylvia gave some indication of the
thoughts that had been in her mind.
"Hazel, dear," she said, "Bill is very anxious for a quick wedding and of
course a very quiet one. Will you think it horrid of me if I agree?"
"Horrid, darling? How could it be? Why should you wait?"
"I don't mean because Arthur Crosbie is only just dead. We died to one
another years ago. I meant horrid to you."
"I shall miss you frightfully," said Hazel, "but if two girls live
together I suppose they know one of them may marry sooner or later. I
want you to be happy more than anything on earth."
"Thank you, darling. I know you do, and I think I shall be happy. But
about the windmill. We planned it all together and we thought we should
live in it for years and years. Anyway till you married; not till I did.
But now I want you to let me give it to you. So that it will be all
yours, as long as you care to stay there. Perhaps Mrs. Wicks or some
other woman would live in."
"Oh, Sylvia, it is sweet of you. I love the place. Yet when you have
gone--I don't know. Would it not be better to lend it to me first? What
does Bill want?"
"Bill wants to marry as soon as this trouble is cleared up and then to go
for a long cruise, perhaps round the world. I don't think he will ever
wish to come back here." She paused a moment, and then added, "Do you
think it will be cleared up, Hazel?"
"I am sure of it, darling. Sooner than you think. Simon knows who did it,
but the proof is not complete. He went to London last night to see that
other inspector. When he tells him all he knows they will arrest the
"Simon knows--how can he?"
"That is not for me to say," laughed Hazel. "Don't you think he is rather
"Hazel--what do you mean?" Sylvia looked keenly but lovingly at her.
"Only that, darling. Simon is wonderful at his work. The law, you know.
Perhaps he will be back and will tell us more about it."
If that was her hope she was to be disappointed. Broughley met them and
said Simon had not returned. The three of them lunched together and,
although Simon was away, most of the people they knew were there and
several of them came over and spoke.
The truth about Sylvia and Crosbie had become known and it had created no
little sensation. That Miss Wilton was in fact Mrs. Crosbie, and that the
husband who divorced her, but was unwilling to carry the matter to its
normal conclusion, should be found murdered a stone's-throw from her
dwelling, added a peculiar piquancy to the mysterious crime.
Many were anxious to show their sympathy. Others were impelled by
curiosity to stare at her and, if possible, to say a few words. Her
remarkable beauty added not a little to the strangeness of the story.
Bill Broughley's regard for her was also widely whispered and there were
not a few who, remembering his quarrel with the dead man, were convinced
that no one knew more of the ex-husband's death than he did.
All of the three who sat at that table were in some manner aware of the
gossip that centred round them. It was little wonder that the two most
concerned would be glad to depart and forget it. Yet they were too plucky
to hide or to run away while the mystery remained unsolved.
Philip Chase, always a cheery tattler, had the time of his life in
telling people how he had played in the flag competition with Miss Wilton
and how queerly she and Crosbie had behaved when he introduced them to
"Fancy," he said, "introducing a man to his own wife! And both pretended
to be strangers! Can you beat it?"
When their lunch was half over, Major Escott came across and spoke to
them. He, at any rate, wished to show sympathy and goodwill.
"I say, Broughley, I wonder if you and Miss Wilton would play my daughter
and myself this afternoon? Maidie tells me how good you are," he added,
smiling to Sylvia, "but we would try to give you a game."
Bill glanced at Sylvia. She had set herself to face her ordeal in the way
she saw right and she would not flinch from it. It was the first time she
had played since the tragedy, and indeed the first time she had appeared
at the club at all.
"Yes," she said, "we would love it. But what about you, Hazel?"
"I'll caddie for you," answered her cousin.
"Good," said Escott. "Two o'clock. May the best side win."
Then Hann came across.
"Excuse me, ladies," he said politely, "can you fix a time for our match,
Broughley? The semi final, you know."
"I am not sure that I wouldn't sooner scratch," said Bill.
"You mustn't do that. I felt like it myself at first, but since the
committee told us to carry on, I think we ought to."
"How long have we got?"
"Till Thursday, but I hoped you would be able to play to-morrow morning.
I have to go to town later."
"All right," said Bill. He, like Sylvia, must play the game.
Then Hann turned to Hazel. "I see you and Mr. Ross have not yet put your
names down for that competition. The list closes to-day."
"Then I will put them down," said Hazel. "And won't you let me have a
friendly game with you sometime?"
"When I am a bit better. A big bit better," she said.
"But it is the advantage of golf," he urged, "you can handicap people so
exactly. I should not be afraid of a world champion if he gave me enough
"I hate to receive strokes," said Hazel. "What is the pride in winning a
race if it is only because you have too long a start?"
"Oh, that is all wrong," cried Hann. "Won't you explain to her, Miss
Wilton, that you have to receive some strokes at first and then less and
less as you get better and better?"
“I am afraid she has her own ideas," said Sylvia.
A little later it was Farmer who came to their table. He was walking out,
but apparently changed his mind and stepped across to them. He was the
first to refer definitely to the matter that was in so many minds.
"Oh, Miss Wilton," he said a little awkwardly, "I have just heard about
you and Mr. Crosbie. I hope you will allow me to express my sympathy. It
must have been a great shock. We are all very sorry."
"Thank you," said Sylvia.
Before Farmer could go Philip Chase came up, and he was followed by two
or three more.
"I say, Miss Wilton," Chase began, "you remember that time I was playing
with you? I am awfully sorry I introduced Crosbie as I did. Of course I
never imagined how things were. I do hope I did not say anything I should
not have done."
"It was quite all right, thank you," said Sylvia, with some effort.
Then Sladen had a word to say. No doubt he meant well, but he was the
first to use her correct name.
"We are glad to see you back again, Mrs. Crosbie. It has been a ver-ry
sad business but I hope you will not let it make any difference to your
Maureen Hobart, Mabel Colet and a few more joined the group. Hazel saw
that her cousin had had as much as she could stand and she also caught a
rather jeering smile on the lips of William Elkington who sat at an
adjoining table, watching what was taking place. She got up.
"Come along, Sylvia," she said briskly. "If you don't get a move on
you'll be late for your match."
Sylvia was grateful for the chance to escape.
"They meant kindly," she whispered, "but I don't think I will come
"It was best to face it," said Hazel cheerfully. "The worst is over."
There was no sign of Simon, so, as she had suggested, she walked round
with the other four, carrying Sylvia's clubs for her. Both Major Escott
and Maidie were as kind and tactful as it was possible to be. They
treated the game in the right sporting spirit, with the same chaff and
laughter as though murder and the shadow of tragedy had never come near
any of them.
The play was not especially notable. Bill was perhaps the one who was
most below form. There was a ferocity about his long shots that sent the
ball a tremendous distance, and he kept them straight. But his short game
was weak. He fluffed several approaches and missed two short putts. The
Escotts were steady and had the better luck. They won the first two holes
and it was not easy to get them back.
Sylvia showed something of the marvellous willpower when she had played
that strange game against the husband she had never expected to meet
again. But she did not talk much. Only Hazel realised the strain under
which she was playing at all.
She almost missed a shot at the seventh when the ball lay close to the
hut in which she had been imprisoned. But the greatest effort came at the
fifteenth. It was Bill's drive. He was not likely to have forgotten the
tragedy of that hole, but he hit the ball hard--too hard--and it sailed
right over the green into the yawning mouth of the “Hell” bunker.
It was just what Hazel had not wanted to happen. She almost whispered to
him to play short, but decided not to. Now he had done the thing she
dreaded. Sylvia had to go down into that bunker and play from the spot
where the body of the man who had once been her husband had lain--the man
that she had almost openly been accused of murdering.
The Escotts were on the green and they all waited in silence while Sylvia
went to make her shot. Hazel handed her the niblick and each one of them
came to the edge and watched.
Sylvia went slowly down the sandy slope. Her face was white and Hazel
breathed a prayer that she might hit the ball aright.
The prayer was answered. There was a cry of honest joy from them all when
the ball sailed high into the air, pitched on to the green and rolled to
within a yard of the pin. Bill did not miss that putt and the hole was
The drive from the sixteenth tee, with "Hell" behind them, was not so
trying. Sylvia and Bill won that hole and the next.
"What a grand match," cried Escott. "All square and one to play!"
But the eighteenth green was near the club house. The news spread that
Miss Wilton's match was ending and quite a number of people came out to
see the finish. Sylvia drove creditably and Bill put her on the green.
The Escotts also were on in two. Then, at last, the strain told. With all
those people watching, Sylvia seemed suddenly to lose sight of the ball
altogether. She hit the turf behind it and only moved it a foot nearer
the hole. Maidie Escott ran hers to within a yard. Bill apparently was
left with a twelve-yard putt to halve the hole and the match. He studied
the line carefully, but in the circumstances it was too much to hope for.
The ball was truly hit but it stopped six inches short.
Anyone can miss a yard putt, but such things did not often lie to the
credit, or discredit, of Major Escott. If he had been asked to say on his
honour whether or not the miss was intentional he might have found it
difficult to reply. But his thought, as he took his stance, was that, if
he missed, Sylvia would not lose her first match since her great trouble
. . . and he did miss. The two balls lay side by side a few inches from
"A half!" he cried, picking them up. "I ought not to have missed that,
but it was a grand game. You both played splendidly."
"Do you mind," Sylvia whispered to him as they went towards the club
house, "I want to take Bill home to tea?"
"Not a bit, my dear. You are quite right. We must play again soon."
But the fates ruled otherwise. That was the last game they were to have.
The girls washed their hands and when Bill joined them, to make for the
windmill home, he said:
"There is rather bad news. On the telephone."
"What is it?" they asked together.
"Simon. He had some sort of a car smash last night. He is in the hospital
at Newbon. He has been unconscious all day."
"A car smash!" Hazel repeated the words and she tried to think--or not to
think--of all that they might mean. What he had said came back to her.
"If anything happened to me you would hate to feel you had refused my
last request." Spoken in jest and yet it might be true. Her heart was
stabbed with a sudden pain as she realised how little she knew him and
yet how big a difference it would make in her life if he was taken from
"How did it happen? Is there any--bad--injury?" The question came
slowly, dreading the reply.
"His head is cut. His limbs are unhurt. They hardly know yet how it will
go. The doctor is at hand all the time."
"Was it a collision?" asked Sylvia.
"They could not tell me. He was brought in by a man named Bagshaw who
seems to have told rather an extraordinary story. He says as he
approached the stranded car a man who was leaning in it pulled himself
out and got into his own car, a blue Sunbeam saloon, and drove away."
"Mr. Elkington has a blue Sunbeam saloon," said Hazel, remembering the
account Simon had given her of his chase on the London Road.
"So have I," said Bill. "In the car, Simon was lying unconscious, with
cuts about the head. Bagshaw waited until some other men came up. Then
they got him out and took him to the hospital."
"Was the windscreen badly broken?" asked Hazel, shuddering at the
"It was broken, but not badly. Bagshaw says he doesn't quite know how the
broken glass can have caused all the cuts. There is another odd thing, if
what he and the other men say is true."
"What is that?"
"One of Simon's front wheels had come off and the nuts on the other were
so loose that it would have come off too in a very short time."
"What does that mean?"
"If it is correct," said Bill, "it means that someone had tampered with
the fittings to make him have a smash. Simon is very careful with his car
and would never run it in that state."
"It may mean something else," said Hazel, in a very low tone. "Simon knew
who killed Arthur Crosbie. He was going up to London to tell Inspector
O'Grady and help him get the proofs. If he is injured, if he--if he does
not get better--no one may ever discover the truth."
"And the man who did it," murmured Sylvia, "may be the one who loosened
his wheels and who ran away and left him after the smash."
There was a moment of silence. Then Bill said: "When I found my car in
the garage this morning I noticed how dirty it was. Someone had driven it
out in the night and put it back in a very different state to that in
which I left it."
The girls did not comment on that, but Hazel said: "If Simon did not
recover consciousness how did they know to get on to you?"
"His London address was on some letters. They 'phoned there and were
referred to the Dormy House. So I was told."
"What can we do?" asked the girl.
"I will take you home," answered Bill, "and then I will drive straight on
to the hospital. Simon may be better now and they may let me see him. I
am sure they are doing everything possible."
"You will let us know?" said Hazel.
"Of course I will. It may not be as bad as we think."
His intentions were not to be fulfilled. Who can tell what strange
chances and changes even a few minutes may bring about? Hazel said she
would run on in their two-seater and he could follow with Sylvia. She
drove off and he went for his muddied car, brought back from Huntingdon.
When he and Sylvia reached the mill-house and walked up the garden path
they saw Hazel already there, talking to Inspector Lee and one of his
assistants. The inspector stepped briskly towards them.
"I have been waiting for you," he said grimly.
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN: FINGER-PRINTS
HAD the Good Samaritan taken the victim of the outrage on the
Jerusalem-Jericho by-pass to a modern police station he would have been
lucky had he got away without any suspicion that he knew more of the
wounds and the missing raiment than he chose to tell. He certainly would
have been required to give a complete account of himself and what he was
doing on the road at the time. If by chance he had partaken of the wine
that he gave the luckless wayfarer, it would be recorded that his breath
smelt of alcohol and he would be asked to stand on one foot and recite
sibilant tongue-twisters. The Priest and the Levite are not always hard
hearted. They only want to keep out of other people's troubles.
James Bagshaw knew what it would mean when he decided to stay by the
derelict car and do all he could for its injured occupant. After he and
his companions had left him at the hospital they went to the police
station, which was not far off, and reported the matter.
The sergeant in charge took down all the particulars and required the
names and addresses of his informants. He also asked to see their driving
licences. It was clear he had his misgivings about Mr. Bagshaw. Certainly
the story of the disappearing blue saloon, with its draped number and its
masked driver, took some believing.
"Why did the driver go off when he saw you?" the officer asked.
"If he knew he was in the wrong he would not want to be identified,"
"But how could he be in the wrong if, as you say, there had been no
"There you have me. I can only tell you what I saw. Looked as though the
fellow had a spanner in his hand. Might have been out for robbery, but
cleared off when he saw me coming."
"Did he use the spanner?"
"Couldn't tell you, but I wondered how the split glass cut the side of
the head and the ear."
"Had the injured man been robbed?"
"We didn't go through his pockets. They can tell you that at the
hospital. Perhaps they know now who he is."
The other three men confirmed Bagshaw's story as far as they were able to
do so, and eventually the sergeant let them all go, though he warned them
they might be wanted again. Bagshaw was a philosopher.
"Always help a fellow in trouble," he said to his companions. "It may be
your turn next. But remember you are taking a risk."
Meanwhile, in the hospital, Simon was receiving every care. His clothes
had been removed, the wounds dressed and some stitches put in the scalp
and the torn ear. This was done without his recovering consciousness and
at last he was left, his head smothered in bandages, with a nurse at his
side to report directly there was any appreciable change.
"What do you make of it, doctor?" asked the matron.
"Clean wounds," said the doctor. "Seems strong and healthy. Should do all
right. A near thing though. A bit deeper and he would not have had much
chance. No glass in his cuts. Can't quite understand it. If a wheel came
off I suppose he was thrown sideways and so cut his ear. But according to
the story it seems the wrong ear!"
"I wonder if he will know anything about it."
"Don't ask him. He must have complete quiet. He may get off lightly,
but--" a shrug finished the sentence.
So, throughout that night and the next day, Simon lay, knowing nothing of
what was being done for him, or was happening to his friends. He was
unaware of the efforts to discover his identity, or of the expedition by
the police to examine his stranded car before it was brought to a place
of safety. The bandages were removed and gentle fingers replaced them
with new ones, icy cold. The bleeding had stopped and soft whispers in
the ward said all was going well.
During the night of Sunday he roused and asked a few questions. But he
was hushed with kindly words, given something to drink, and oblivion came
On the Monday a car drove up to the hospital and a young girl asked if
she could see him. She was told to wait.
After a time the matron came to her. "You are Mr. Ross's sister?" she
"No. My name is Hazel Grantley. I am a friend. How is he? Is he very
"He is doing as well as can be expected. But he is not allowed to see
anyone yet. You are his fiancée?"
"No," said the girl, "but I must see him. It is very, very important."
"I am afraid that is impossible." The matron's severe features were toned
by her kindly eyes. "Excitement of any kind must be avoided."
"Yes, I understand that. But it is so important." Hazel's distress was
obvious. Her usual vivacity was replaced by the pain and horror of a
great shock followed by a sleepless night. "Some friends of his are in
great trouble and a word from him might put it all right."
"If you like to come back this afternoon I will tell you how he is, but
you must not expect to see him to-day."
"Do you think," whispered the girl, "do you think there is any risk that
he will lose his memory?"
"No," said the matron kindly, "I hope not. But his getting better depends
on his being kept quiet. We must not let anything worry him."
"I understand," said the girl sadly. "It is all so terrible. Could I wait
here, in case he could see me?"
"You may wait if you like, but I should think it better for you not to.
Come back this afternoon. We may have good news then. I will tell the
doctor what you say."
Hazel went. How she filled the long weary hours she hardly knew. It
seemed so cruel that Simon should have been struck down at that moment
when he, of all people, was so much wanted. The terrifying thought that
he might not get better, that his memory might be lost, even if his life
was spared, was almost unendurable. But a ray of hope was waiting.
"He is much better," said the matron, when she returned in the afternoon.
"He mentioned your name many times. He talked a good deal, but mentioned
your name more than any other. We told him you had called to inquire, and
he was very pleased."
"May I see him?"
"Not to-day. Perhaps to-morrow."
"Is he delirious?"
"Not exactly delirious. I think his mind is clouded and he is trying to
get things clear."
"Perhaps I could help him," said the girl eagerly.
"Not to-day," repeated the matron gently. "The doctor says if all goes
well you may see him for a few minutes to-morrow. But you must try not to
say anything to agitate him."
"I will try." Hazel gave the promise and wondered how she could keep it.
She longed to see him but, if she gave the news she had come to bring,
how could it fail to agitate him? And yet a word from him might make so
great a difference.
"We must be patient, my dear," said the matron, perhaps half guessing her
thoughts. "A few hours, or even days, do not in the end make much
difference to most things, but they may to a sick man."
During the night Simon took a very decided turn for the better. The
weights that pressed on him seemed to lighten and his temperature behaved
more normally. He had heard that he might see Hazel in the morning and
that did him more good than anything else. When his pretty day-nurse took
charge he even began to tease her. He demanded a mirror in order that he
might examine his face. What he saw did not seem to please him.
"Nurse," he said, "you must shave me, or help me to shave myself, before
Miss Grantley comes."
"Like that, is it?" she smiled.
"It is, and if you don't make me look my best you will deserve to lose
that boy friend of yours. Most likely, too, you will die young--caused by
the heart turning stony."
He was certainly a very presentable invalid when Hazel came, but with his
one eye that was not covered by the bandage he noted at once the change
"My dear," he said, "you are looking tired and ill. What is the matter?"
"Don't you expect your friends to look a bit worried when you get
yourself smashed up?” She spoke with an attempt at lightness. However hard
it might be, she must do her best to play her part.
"Very sweet of you, but there is something else. What is it?"
"You are too modest, Simon! Are you really feeling better? Do you know
how it all happened? Did another car run into you?"
"You are putting me off," he said. "Tell me the truth."
"If worry about me makes you look so ill, Hazel, they had better get
another bed ready! Would they let us stay in the same ward, do you think?
Now, tell me all about it. Is it Sylvia?"
"I'll tell you to-morrow if they'll let me. You must be patient, Simon,
till you are stronger."
"Then there is something. I knew it. Tell me at once or my temperature
will jump like a thermometer in a hot bath."
"But, Simon, I promised--"
"Tell me, girl, before I reach fever point!"
"It is about Sylvia. They have arrested her and Bill."
"Arrested them!" If the news quickened his pulse he did not show it.
"Why?" He spoke very quietly and Hazel forced herself to reply in a voice
that, though it trembled, was as soft as his own.
"Inspector Lee asked for our finger-prints. We let him have them and he
returned with a warrant for Sylvia and Bill. He says they have proved
that that hammer killed Crosbie. There are marks on it, bloodstains and
particles of hair. And there are Sylvia's finger-prints on the handle. It
seems impossible, but he says it is true. I suppose it must be. He could
not lie about such a thing, could he? Of course she is innocent. I know
she is. I told him so. I made him listen to me. But he says it is the
strongest proof possible. No two people have the same finger marks and
lots of criminals have been caught by them alone. He--he almost gloated,
as though he had been right all the time. Oh, it was hateful, horrible. I
did not know what to do. Bill was taken as an accessory, and you--you
In spite of her resolution she shook with sobs. He put out a hand and
took hers. For a while he lay perfectly still, saying nothing.
"Don't be frightened," he whispered at last. "It will all come right. I
can see it now. Did you get here in a car? Can you drive me?"
"Yes, Simon, but you can't do anything. I ought not to have told you. You
mustn't think of moving for days and days. But if you could give me a
message for that other inspector--the one you were going to see. You know
who really did it. If you would let me tell him who it was, perhaps they
would let Sylvia go. I can't bear to think of her--where she is."
His grip on her hand tightened, but it was again some moments before he
"Ring the bell," he said.
She did as he asked and the pretty day-nurse came running in.
"Nurse, dear," he said, "I have got to leave you. Would you be an angel
and get my clothes? Perhaps you had better mention it to the matron."
"You will do nothing of the sort," and the nurse looked indignantly at
Hazel. "You have upset him. You had better go."
"Sweet one," said Simon, "you don't understand. Fetch the matron and I
will explain. I am lots better than you think. Fit to be turned out
"Indeed you are not." She, however, departed and brought back the matron
who looked grim and severe as she stood at the foot of the bed.
"Matron," he said, "I am a cured man and two friends need my help. You
will let me go, won't you?"
"Not before the doctor says so," and she also looked reproachfully at
"But he couldn't keep me against my will."
"Don't be too sure of that. We have to act for the patient's good. Please
don't talk any more about it. Miss Grantley, your time is up."
But Simon still held Hazel's hand. "Listen, matron, please. In an
ordinary way you would be perfectly right. After all you have done for me
I should deserve to be strapped down for giving you trouble. But this is
not ordinary. Two of our dearest friends, one of them a young woman, Miss
Grantley's cousin, have been arrested for a murder of which they are
innocent. Think of it--a murder! I can do something that will set them
free. So you do see I must go, don't you? I will come back to-night, if
you will have me."
"Two of your friends arrested for murder?"
"Yes, by a ghastly mistake. So I must put it right."
Certainly this request was no ordinary one. The matron felt that perhaps
Hazel was not so much to be blamed as she had thought. But her duty still
"It would be wrong of me to let you go," she said. "If you wish to say
anything to the police, or to anyone else, perhaps we could send for
"Oh, matron dear, you are like my mother used to be. Very strict, but
with the kindest eyes in the world. And my mother would have let me go.
She would see it was more dangerous to keep me. Think of me lying here,
knowing those friends were in prison, and I who could help them was doing
nothing. If we sent for the police, the right man might not come. Perhaps
no one would come. They would say wait till he is better. And I should be
awake, thinking, fretting, sweating. I couldn't endure it. See for
yourself how steady my pulse is. Imagine what it will be if I don't do
what I know I ought to do."
He held out his hand. Whether or not willpower had anything to do with
it, his pulse was steady.
"If you are well enough to attend to serious things you should first deal
with your own accident," she said. "The police want to know about that."
"The most serious must come first. That will wait."
She knew she could not keep him if he was determined to go and at last
his persuasions were effective.
CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT: CAN FINGER-PRINTS LIE?
Hazel did not argue. She turned the car about and made for the direction
of the golf club. She had thought that Simon would continue his journey
to town and would there do what he could to aid Sylvia and Bill. It was
better to see Inspector O'Grady than Inspector Lee. He had said that
himself. But he must know. For some distance they ran along in silence.
She drove as carefully as she could. She realised that the matron was
right, that Simon ought still to be in bed, but at the same time she was
glad something was being done. She had felt so utterly helpless and alone
since the arrest. It was a nightmare to think of it. But now Simon was
with her. He had said it would all come right and she trusted him
But he was a new anxiety. It would be terrible if her journey to fetch
him caused him pain or harm. His head was bandaged and he had a black
silk handkerchief as a sort of turban to make the wrappings less
conspicuous. There should be no bumpings or jars on the journey that she
"Is it true that all finger-prints are different?"
She put the question after they had proceeded some way.
"Quite true. The police of all countries use the system and no duplicates
have ever been discovered."
There was a long pause. Then she asked: "Could finger-prints remain and
be identified after so many days?"
"I think so, unless they were deliberately rubbed off. There is a classic
case at Scotland Yard of a burglar who removed some glass from a window
and dropped it in a water butt. It was found there a fortnight later and
still had his finger-prints on it."
Hazel considered this and then put another query. "Suppose it was a
workman's hammer, as you suggested. That is the only possible thing I can
think of. Suppose Sylvia had picked it up and forgotten doing so, would
there not be other finger prints as well? The workman's and those of the
person--the person who really used it?
"There might be. I thought you meant there were only Sylvia's prints?"
"He said that, but it can't be true. It can't be. And, if finger-prints
remain, would bloodstains--in spite of the weather?
"That is an important point," he replied. "Don't worry about it, little
girl. It is going to be all right."
No great distance away, in the Chief Constable's room reserved for such
matters, Colonel Matthews and Inspector Lee sat in consultation. They
were glad that the mystery of Crosbie's murder had been cleared up and
they were now discussing the problem of Simon Ross's motor smash, the
official account of which they had just received. James Bagshaw's story
of the saloon was all very well, but it did not carry them far.
"Shan't be able to do much until Ross is fit to make a statement," said
"I am afraid not," assented Matthews. Then, his mind reverting to the
other matter, he added, "A friend of Broughley's, isn't he?
"Yes," said the inspector. "A bit of a shock for him when he learns we
have got both Mrs. Crosbie and Broughley."
"It will be. Of course there cannot be any doubt about the woman. No one
can go behind finger-prints. Women golfers nowadays hit as hard as men.
But I am not so sure that we can show Broughley actually was an
"I don't know, sir," said Lee. "There is the common motive, there is the
fact of his quarrel with Crosbie the night before, and he bolted under an
assumed name immediately afterwards. Also we know he was in the lane at
the time of the crime."
"That last may be a point in his defence," suggested Matthews. "The woman
crossed the road and struck the blow. That is clear enough. But if a
murder is to be done, would a man stand by and let her do it? They will
say it proves he knew nothing about it."
"Perhaps he didn't," said the inspector, "till afterwards, and then he
bolted. But I don't figure it that way. She struck the blow. The
fingerprints prove that. He was in the bushes and saw it done. He didn't
know she meant to do it and it scared him. He rushed past Richards and
his young lady, hardly knowing what he was about. Then, cooling down a
bit, he went back to see her, passing Knight on the way, and he arranged
to clear out the next day. It all fits together. I wonder if young Ross
will defend him."
"Probably, if he is fit. But that is doubtful. You cannot tell how long a
man will take to get over a crack on the head. May be weeks or months.
What is it?"
The question was shouted in reply to a knock at the door. The reply was
"Mr. Simon Ross is here, sir, and wants to see you."
"Good Lord! Bring him in."
Simon and Hazel entered together. Both the other men stood up and
Matthews took his hand.
"Didn't expect to see you so soon, Ross. Sorry to hear of your accident.
I suppose you have come to tell us about it. Sit down."
"Thank you," said Simon. "I think you know Miss Grantley? Inspector Lee
There were bows, and they all seated themselves. "Now, Ross, take your
time and tell us all you can. We have had the account given by this man
Bagshaw. I suppose you have no idea who the fellow was that he says he
saw leaning in your car and who drove off as he came up?"
"Yes," said Simon. "I think it was the man who killed Arthur Crosbie."
The reply was received in silence. Evidently he had not heard the news.
Lee looked in surprise at Hazel. She knew; why had she not told him? She
was lucky not to have been arrested too.
"I thought you were unconscious and your assailant was masked," he said,
as his chief did not speak.
"That is more or less true," Simon admitted, "but it does not alter my
"I am afraid this time your opinion is wrong. We know who killed Arthur
Crosbie, and the person in question is accounted for at the time of your
"Ah," said Simon, "I suppose you are going to tell me that you had that
hammer examined by experts and the head bore traces that proved it was
the weapon that killed Crosbie, and Miss Wilton's finger-marks are on the
"So you have heard," said Lee. "No going behind that, is there?"
"It rather depends what you are trying to prove," replied Simon.
"Come, Ross," said Matthews briskly, "that is pretty obvious, isn't it?
Miss Wilton, or Mrs. Crosbie as she should be called, is under arrest. So
is Broughley. Friends of yours, I believe, and I am sorry. But there is
no getting away from facts."
"No, sir," said Simon, "and the fact is you have made a mistake. I have
come to ask you to release them."
The two men looked at him in pity. He had been cracked over the head and
probably was not quite responsible for what he said.
"You can't get away from the finger-prints," said Lee. "I have heard of
attempts to forge them--using gelatine reproductions. Very pretty in
story books but it doesn't happen in life."
"No," returned Simon, "the finger-prints are genuine enough. I am not
disputing that. The question is how and when they were made."
He was aware of Hazel's anxious look and the men's tolerant smile, but he
went quietly on.
"What made you search Miss Wilton's garden for the hammer?"
"Routine," said Lee. "We had a 'phone message suggesting it, but should
have done it in any case."
"A 'phone message. I expected that. You have to realise that you are
dealing with a far sighted and unscrupulous criminal. On the day before
the inquest, Miss Wilton had an unsigned letter asking her to come alone
to the hut by the seventh tee at eight that evening and she would hear
something she ought to know. She went. Perhaps she was foolish, but if
you realise her state of mind you will not be surprised at her action.
She might have heard something about her late husband, or she might have
received a message from Bill Broughley, who had for some unknown reason
gone away. She went and was seized by an unseen assailant. She was
dragged into the hut and left there. The door was shut on her. Her
handbag had been wrenched from her arm. Theft was the apparent object of
He paused and was again conscious of the keen gaze of the three of them.
Hazel, perhaps, was beginning to see light. The colonel was in doubt and
Lee was obviously cynical.
"Inside the hut there was a short stout stick--and nothing more. Miss
Wilton did what anyone else would have done. She cried for help and she
seized that stick and beat with it on the door and the walls to attract
the attention of possible passers before night fell. Luckily Miss
Grantley knew of the appointment. Alarmed at her cousin's non-return, she
went across the links to the hut and set her free. That true?"
He turned to Hazel with the question.
"What did you do with the stick?"
"I don't know. We just left it there. Sylvia dropped it when I opened the
door. I made her tell me what had happened and I took her home."
"Well?" The monosyllable came from the colonel. It was addressed to
"The calculating criminal returned. He had secured the finger-prints he
wanted. With great care he restored the haft to the hammer-head to which
it belonged and later dropped the complete weapon in Miss Wilton's
garden, where he knew it would eventually be found."
Again there was silence. Hazel at last saw the whole truth and wondered
how she could have been blind so long. She looked at Simon with a new
light in her eyes. Hope for her friends, admiration for him. The colonel
was still dubious, but Lee was entirely unconvinced.
"A fairy tale!" he cried. "Clever, but you won't get away with it. If
there ever was a plot, a theft, an assault and all the rest of it, why
was I never told?"
"I wanted her to tell you," said Hazel, "but she would not."
"Did she think of it, or did you?" he sneered.
"It is no fairy tale," said Simon. "Luckily Colonel Matthews is a witness
to its truth. Last Saturday, before you found your hammer, I found that
handbag. Colonel Matthews was with me and I told him the story. It seemed
odd to effect a theft and then throw away the plunder. The contents of
the bag were untouched. It was inexplicable. But, directly I heard of the
finger-prints on the hammer handle, I saw the whole thing."
"It is quite true about the bag," said Matthews uneasily, "and you told
me of its theft before we knew anything about the finger-prints. But the
rest, although it is not impossible, is theory and hypothesis. It cannot
"And why," added Lee, still unbelieving, "why should this unknown
criminal pitch on Miss Wilton, as you call her, and get her finger-prints
and use her garden?"
"Perhaps," said Simon, "I had better answer that question first. The
unknown criminal knew a great deal more than you suppose. He was either
in Crosbie's confidence or had discovered things Crosbie wished kept
secret. He had reasons for knowing suspicion would fall on Miss Wilton
and, to save himself, tried to make that suspicion a virtual certainty.
As to my being unable to prove what I have just told you, it may be less
difficult than you think. You have still got the hammer?"
"Certainly," said Matthews.
"Good. I have never examined it and I have not been inside the hut, but I
am confident if you go there you will find indentations in the woodwork
exactly corresponding to the size and shape of the handle."
"Or of any other stick," said Lee.
"And," proceeded Simon, disregarding him, "I ask, I demand, that a new
examination be made of the hammer. Your experts have examined the iron
face to the head and declare Crosbie's blood and hair is to be traced. I
do not doubt it. They have examined the handle and find Miss Wilson's
finger-prints. I do not doubt that. Now let them examine the joint
between the handle and the head--the wedge that has to be taken out to
separate the two. Examine it under the microscope, and in every other
way, and they will find unmistakable evidence that the parts have
recently been separated and put together again."
"How can you know?" queried Lee.
"It is so," said Simon, "because it must be so. It takes violence to
sever and unite the parts and it will leave signs visible to the
microscope if not to the naked eye. The atoms of dust and rust will be
different. Let them compare it with another old hammer, not previously
touched. I only ask this: have at least one outside and independent
expert." Simon's absolute confidence was very impressive.
The Chief Constable, himself a witness to the finding of the handbag,
could not deny that the cornerstone of his case against Sylvia Wilton
looked like collapsing.
"I will have the examination made," he said, "and you may rely on its
being impartial. If the findings confirm your views I will reconsider the
"But there is another thing!" cried Hazel.
"What is that?" inquired Matthews.
"Simon knows who really did it!"
The two officials looked at him in natural surprise.
"Miss Grantley should not quite have said that," he smiled. "It is true I
said the man who attacked me was the man who killed Crosbie. I believe
that is the case, and I think I know who it is, but until it can be
proved I would prefer not to give the name. I was on my way to Inspector
O'Grady for him to secure the proof when I had my smash. I think someone
guessed I was getting to know too much!"
Then he turned to Lee. "I was going to O'Grady not because he is a better
man, or even so good, as yourself, but because it is practically certain
that the proof lies in London and so it would anyway be up to him."
"That is all very well," said the inspector, somewhat mollified by the
compliment, "but you are asking us to take a lot on trust."
"Not at all. I have given you the only reasonable explanation about the
finger-prints--the trap to get Miss Wilton to make them. I say examine
the door and the hammer and let her and Bill Broughley free if I am
right. As to the rest--wait and see."
CHAPTER TWENTY.NINE: SERGEANT CHANCE
Again Hazel turned the car and sped away in silence. They were bound for
Scotland Yard and she felt that there she was at last to hear the
solution of the mystery that had so startled and changed her life. Then
she glanced at her companion. He was looking worn and woefully pale. She
"Simon, are you all right?"
"A bit fagged," he said. "We might get something to eat somewhere. I felt
as fit as anything while I was talking to those men, but I suppose it was
"Shall we leave O'Grady till to-morrow?"
"Rather not! Find the proper place for such fare as the matron would
approve and I will soon be as bright as ever."
They found a suitable hostelry and undoubtedly their lunch did them both
good. Hazel said nothing of herself, but it was the first sound meal she
had enjoyed for two days. Before they started off again she put her hand
"Simon, I am sorry I told Colonel Matthews you knew who did it, if you
did not want me to say so. That seemed to me the surest proof of Sylvia's
"Quite right, my dear, but knowing and proving are very different things.
If I had mentioned a name it would not have helped. Rather the other way
about. But if we are not too late the proof should be there all right."
"It was wonderful for you to remember that stick in the hut. Of course it
must have been the hammer handle and was quite simple when you explained
it. But we never thought of it. What a devilish thing to get
finger-prints in that way."
"Devilish is right," said Simon, "and it nearly succeeded. It was lucky
Colonel Matthews was with me when I found the bag and so had heard the
story. No one would stage a plot like that and then throw away the
plunder without a good reason. But until we heard of the finger-prints we
could not tell what it was."
"Do you think he will have Sylvia and Bill set free?"
"Soon. I am sure of it."
"But suppose--suppose there are no marks on the wedge and the end of the
"My dear Hazel, there will be. Photographic and microscopic enlargements
of things like that are amazing in what they reveal. And meanwhile we
will get on with the other part of the job."
When they reached London, Simon suddenly decided on a change of plan.
"Not Scotland Yard yet," he said. "Right on to the city."
She followed his directions and threaded through the less frequented
streets until they eventually drew up before a massively built block, not
a great way from the Mansion House.
"I know the manager," he told her. "I won't be many minutes."
He got out and went inside. She saw that it was the premises of a Safe
Deposit Company. She had heard of such places and of their vaults and
strongrooms, but she knew nothing of the thousands of tons of chilled
armour plate used in their construction or the many precautions that make
them veritable fortresses, impregnable to every conceivable method of
When he returned he was evidently very well satisfied. "Now for Scotland
Yard," he said, "as quickly as this traffic permits."
She was still driving with the utmost care to save him from shocks and
jars, but she made for the Embankment and hastened westward.
"The police," he told her as they went along, "have a saying that
Inspector Luck and Sergeant Chance are two of their most successful
officers. Sergeant Chance is with us! Our friend, Robert M'Whirter has a
strong-room in that building. O'Grady might have had to search all London
for it, and we have dropped on it at once--though certainly it was the
obvious place. And Mrs. Warwick's description of the gentleman was
Hazel did not quite understand what he meant, but she asked no questions.
A few minutes later they were seated in the comfortable room where
Inspector O'Grady worked and, Sergeant Chance being still kindly, they
found him at liberty.
"Well, Mr. Ross," he said genially, "I did not expect to see you so soon.
Glad you have someone to take care of you." He grinned at Hazel. "I was
sorry to hear of your mishap. What are we to do about it?"
"For the moment, nothing," said Simon. "I want you to telephone
immediately to the International Safe Deposit Company that if Mr. Robert
M'Whirter calls they are to let you know at once, and must at all costs
keep him there till you arrive."
"But I cannot do that," said the inspector, "I have never heard of Robert
M'Whirter. Who is he? What is it all about?"
"You want him for the murder of Arthur Crosbie. Please take my word for
it. I will explain presently. There is no time to waste. If you let him
slip through your fingers while we argue about it you will never forgive
yourself. He is expected there this afternoon. I would not have left the
hospital without orders had it not been absolutely imperative."
"I'll risk it," muttered O'Grady, impressed by his tone of urgency. He
sent his message and received a satisfactory reply.
"To be on the safe side," said Simon, "send two men along to be at hand
in case they are needed. He may be desperate."
Again the inspector looked dubious, but again he did as he was desired.
"In for a penny, in for a pound!" he muttered. Then when the necessary
instructions had been given he said, "Now I'll be glad to hear what it
"You shall," said Simon, leaning back in his chair a little wearily.
"Thank goodness we can take our time over it. I suppose you know they
have arrested Miss Wilton because her finger-prints were on the hammer,
and Bill Broughley as an accessory?"
"I do, and it seems pretty conclusive."
"Yes, but it is all wrong."
As briefly as possible Simon outlined the story he had unfolded to
Colonel Matthews and the further tests he had suggested. "You will
remember I told you about the theft of the bag," he added. "Matthews and
I found it in the bushes with its contents intact. So we still had to
know why Miss Wilton was decoyed to the hut and locked in. The hammer
handle explains it."
"It certainly seems possible," and O'Grady rubbed his hands with
satisfaction. "It is the first time I've known the finger-print proof
bowled over, but in a way I'm not sorry. As I told you, I had rather
hoped to link up the murder with the missing money. I was on a hot scent
when the news came of the hammer and the arrests. It seemed to settle
everything and let my man out. He and Crosbie, I discovered, had a big
quarrel over a company they were to float. A real ramp. No wonder he
wanted his papers back!"
"You mean Elkington?"
"I do. How did you know he was calling himself M'Whirter?"
"With your usual perspicacity," replied Simon, evading the direct
question, "if not with absolute originality, you said cherchez la femme.
But you thought Miss Wilton filled the bill. I cherchez-ed a bit further
and found a Mrs. Warwick, who was Crosbie's secret lady friend, in spite
of his semi-divorced condition."
"Why did you not tell me?"
"I was on my way to tell you when I had what you call my mishap. We had
first to test the value of her statement and to get her permission to let
you know about it."
He then told of his chance meeting with Mrs. Warwick at the inquest and
his call at Battersea. Also of the way Crosbie had deceived her in the
matter of marriage.
"When she said she had met Crosbie's partner, M'Whirter, who was also a
member of the Barrington Golf Club, I thought the best thing was to get
her there so that she might identify him. I knew no one of the name, but
it occurred to me it might be an alias for one of the members. When she
came I handed her over to Miss Grantley and it is her we really have to
thank for discovering the clue to the whole matter. Crosbie and M'Whirter
are one and the same person."
"But I don't quite see…" began O'Grady, looking at Hazel. She smiled, but
"We will call it feminine intuition," said Simon. "It fitted the facts so
well that it just had to be true. Mrs. Warwick only met M'Whirter when
Crosbie was away. The disguise was simple and the Scottish dialect a
positive clue. But the whole thing was the Crosbie needed a second
personality. You told me he was converting trust funds and the proceeds
were disappearing. Where to? Obviously to himself in another name. He
meant to disappear, and M'Whirter with ample funds would have
appeared--somewhere the other side of the earth."
"But if Crosbie is M'Whirter," said O'Grady, "and Crosbie is dead, how
can M'Whirter be calling at the Safe Deposit this afternoon?"
"Come, inspector," laughed Simon, "do yourself justice! Someone is in the
know. Either Crosbie had a confidante, a confederate, or else his secret
was discovered. This person decided that if one man could wear a fawn
coat, big eye-glasses, a false moustache, dye his skin and talk with a
Scottish accent, so could another. Remember it had only to be done for a
few minutes. So all he has to do is to kill Crosbie, appear as M'Whirter,
and walk off with the swag that Crosbie has been accumulating!"
"So that is it." O'Grady considered the matter, and could see its
simplicity. It met all the requirements of the case, and yet with no
knowledge of such a being as M'Whirter he might never have got to the
facts. "If it is true, we are lucky that the swag has not already
"That is so," said Simon. "Probably some has gone, but evidently not all.
M'Whirter the second was in no hurry and he had to be cautious. He could
not be quite sure you would get no clue as to Crosbie's secret name and
hoard, and so waited a bit lest he should walk into trouble."
"But how does this affect the attack on you, Simon?" asked Hazel, who
remembered his statement to Colonel Matthews that his assailant was
"I am afraid, my dear," was the reply, "that, unknowingly, we took Mrs.
Warwick into danger. She could not recognise anyone at the golf club, but
someone recognised her. Someone who knew what she was to Crosbie. Seeing
me with her, he thought I might learn too much. So I was better out of
"'What utter villainy!" said the girl.
"I don't approve of it," he smiled, "but what has worried me, ever since
I began to piece things together in the hospital, is that Mrs. Warwick
might be in danger. If we had not got on to the M'Whirter hoard so
luckily and so quickly, I should have asked you, O'Grady, to give her
protection. She is really a worthy woman. I hope now it will not be
Just then the telephone bell rang. O'Grady picked up the receiver and
"Robert M'Whirter," he said, "has arrived at the Safe Deposit."
CHAPTER THIRTY: THE PLUNDER
"IF," said O'Grady, as he grabbed his hat, "if I arrest a perfectly
respectable Robert M'Whirter from Glasgow or Glenmuckclucketty the fat
will be in the fire!"
"Such a thing is possible," admitted Simon, "but it will only mean you
have to trace the other M'Whirter somewhere else."
The inspector dashed out of the room and made for the car that was
waiting for him. A shrill note was sounded and he was off. The police all
along the route knew that note and recognised the official sign. Traffic
cleared as if by magic. Everything was held up while the fastest car in
the flying squad shot on its way to the heart of the city of London.
Simon and Hazel followed in a more normal fashion in their little car. He
was looking very weary and she realised he had done far more than he
ought to have been allowed to do.
"Shall we go back to the hospital, Simon?" she suggested. "The inspector
knows everything now. You can leave it to him."
"No, my dear. We must be in at the death. And O'Grady doesn't know
everything. He doesn't even know whom he is going to arrest?"
"Isn't it Mr. Elkington?"
"It might be, but I shall be much surprised if it is!"
"Who do you think it is?"
He tried to smile at her, although his head was aching infernally. "Why
risk a guess when we shall know so soon?"
They were caught in the welter of traffic, but they made their way as
quickly as they could to the scene of action.
Meanwhile much was happening. Robert M'Whirter, clad in his fawn
overcoat, his hat well over the eyes that were shielded with wide
horn-rimmed spectacles, his untidy dark moustache drooping over his
mouth, and carrying a large attaché case, had not taken long to reach the
armour-clad corridor that contained among many others the strong-room in
which he was concerned. He produced his key and soon the heavy door was
The apartment was seven feet high and about four feet square. It could
have contained vastly more than was in it, but what was there was no
doubt worth the storing. He made no examination of what he took. There
were papers--bonds with their attached dividend coupons and a thick
bundle of French thousand franc notes. He packed his case as rapidly and
as closely as he could. He glanced quickly at the remaining packets. One
more visit and the lot would be cleared!
Swiftly, and yet not so hurried as to attract especial attention, he
passed along the corridor, speaking a friendly word to the armed janitor
who guarded the entrance. Then up in the lift, out of the steel and
concrete fastness in the depths of the earth, to the entrance hall on the
"Mr. M'Whirter, may I have a word with you?" A big man stopped him. A
stranger--yet it is possible the features were not unfamiliar. The visit
to the vault had only taken a very few minutes, but even less were
necessary for that flying car to cross the city.
"What do ye want? Who are ye?" The words were spoken slowly, with a
painstaking Scottish burr.
"You are Mr. M'Whirter?"
"I am R-rober-rt M'Whirrrter. I am in a hurry. I canna stop. A letter
here will find me."
"Just a moment in the private office," said the stranger.
M'Whirter glanced at him. Then he measured in his eye the distance to the
door with its chance of escape to the crowded street. It was the only
"Verra weel," he murmured.
The inspector turned towards the office. As he did so a fierce sudden
blow sent him staggering to the ground. His assailant dashed for the
exit. He reached the big revolving door. Another moment and he would be
swallowed up in the hustling throng that pressed the pavement. But keen
eyes were watching and strong arms were waiting. O'Grady might have been
taken off his guard, but he had left nothing to chance. Outside the door
his two men received the fugitive and dragged him back.
A grim struggle followed. "M'Whirter" was strong and desperate. Writhing
and kicking, he got both the men on the floor, but O'Grady joined in.
With such odds the affair could only end one way. Just as Simon and Hazel
arrived, the handcuffs were fixed and the prisoner was lifted to his
feet. But the drama was not to close without its note of comedy.
O'Grady, intent on unmasking the villain and discovering his true
identity, stepped forward and removed the spectacles, which had remained
despite the scuffle. He then proceeded to tear the false moustache from
the miscreant's mouth. He gave a good tug and almost tore the lip--but
nothing came away.
"Stop!" cried Simon, "I told you Crosbie wore a false moustache, but
Sidney Hann did not need to! Nature provided him with one. He had only to
comb it over his mouth and colour it!"
Hazel stared in horror at the traitorous friend who, guilty of murder
himself, had tried to bring ruin, injury and disgrace to them all.
Despite the darkened hair and skin, and the padded clothes, she now could
recognise him. But in one detail there was no disguise. His vanity
remained. Simon swiftly noted that. It was his last clue.
"I won't say anything, Hann, about vulgar ostentation, but when you hit a
man with a spanner you should either wear gloves or remove your rings!"
"Or hit harder!" muttered the detected villain, his eyes blazing with
"Bring him in here," said O'Grady briskly, pointing to the office he had
already proposed to use. "I'd like a quick look at the contents of that
Only a quick look was needed. The inspector saw at a glance that what he
had found more than justified all he had done.
"These are some of the bearer bonds that Crosbie bought and which could
not be traced," he said to Simon. "Makes your story pretty good!"
"He'll have the keys on him," answered Simon. "Better see if there is
anything more in the vault. We will wait here." He sank wearily into a
O'Grady soon found the keys. "Take him away," he said to his men and Hann
was led from the room.
The courteous management lent every assistance and the inspector was
conducted to the subterranean stronghold.
"Simon," whispered Hazel, as they waited alone, "it has been wonderful. I
can't tell you all I think about it, but you are ill again. You are
feeling bad. I know you are. What am I to do for you?"
“It is all right, my dear. Just a little reaction. We must say good-night
They had not long to wait. When the inspector returned he looked
supremely well satisfied.
"More bonds, some more foreign currency and this!" he remarked.
This was a passport made out in the name of Robert M'Whirter and with a
photograph that was undoubtedly Arthur Crosbie. Taken without his
disguising glasses and unaffected by the darkened skin, the features were
unmistakable. Only the false moustache made any kind of difference and
that was not enough to mislead those who knew the original.
"That connects Crosbie and M'Whirter," chuckled O'Grady, "and we've got
Hann. It links up every thing, and," he turned to Simon, "it is all
thanks to you, Mr. Ross."
"No," said Simon, "it is all thanks to Hazel. She made the only discovery
"Well," said the inspector, "we will go into that later. I am grateful to
Then Simon held out his hand to the girl. His voice was weak.
"Can you get me back to that hospital, Hazel? If they won't take me in,
leave me on the door step!"
CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: PROOF?
SIMON was admitted to the hospital on his return and he had a pretty bad
time. It was useless for the doctor and the matron to scold him. He had a
relapse and for three days was unable to see or talk to anyone. He had
been buoyed up with a wonderful determination to fight for his friends
and when that end was accomplished there was, as he had said, a reaction.
It was very apparent how he had overtaxed his returning vitality.
Yet, when Hazel told them her remarkable story, neither the medical nor
the nursing staff could blame him or her. The tale in some mysterious way
got into the papers and the whole world knew of the young lawyer who had
left hospital to clear his friends and to expose the real villain, only
to return to it in a state of collapse. For those few days he was real
"news." The headline, "The Condition of Simon Ross," found prominence in
every print and was looked for eagerly by readers all over the country.
On the third day he was much better and on the fourth was allowed to see
visitors. He, in fact, declared himself perfectly fit again, though this
time he was in no hurry to leave his comfortable quarters.
Hazel had never been far away. Often she was at his bedside when he did
not know it. Though perhaps, in some sub-conscious way, he had been aware
of her presence and it had aided his recovery.
On the fourth morning she and Sylvia and Bill were with him. The two
lovers had been liberated. They had been terribly anxious for the friend
who had done so much for them and wished to take the earliest possible
opportunity to tell him something of what they felt. But they had not
been there long when Inspector O'Grady was announced.
"Are you sure you are strong enough to answer a few questions?" he
asked, after greetings and congratulations had been exchanged.
"Quite sure," said Simon, with his old cheeriness. "I'll be glad to get
it off my chest. Fire away."
"Well, sir, before the case comes on, we want to get it all as complete
as possible and although we have plenty of proof on certain matters,
there are other things that are not so clear."
"I know," said Simon, "I've been thinking of it myself from the point of
view of the defence. I am not at all sure you are going to find it too
easy to prove that Hann killed Crosbie. You will get him all right for
complicity in frauds, but it is not so easy to show that it was his hand
that struck the blow. It is a very strong presumption, but not an
absolute proof. Is that the trouble?"
"Well, sir, we think a jury ought to be satisfied, but we'd like to make
the case as tight as possible."
"Crosbie deserved to be killed," replied the young lawyer, "and in one
way it would not worry me if no one was hanged for it. I could have been
satisfied if Hann got a good sentence for his thefts. I could have
pardoned his attentions to myself. But his devilish plot against Sylvia
puts him beyond the pale. Do your best--or your worst!"
The inspector nodded. "To begin with," he said, "you were not surprised
when the second M'Whirter proved to be Hann. Why was that?"
Hazel held a cup of something cool to Simon's lips. He looked his thanks
and raised himself a bit on his pillows. His bandages had been slightly
altered and both his eyes were free.
"To go back to the beginning," he said, "it seemed to me that you and
Inspector Lee rather overlooked the importance of the fact that the
Sylvia note found in Crosbie's pocket was torn in four pieces."
He turned to Sylvia. There was a new happiness in her eyes as she sat
with Bill at one side of the bed, the Inspector being at the other. Hazel
was standing close beside the pillow.
"You don't mind our going into this? Or would you and Bill rather come
"We would sooner hear it all," she said; "if we may."
"Much sooner," added Bill.
"You may be able to help," said Simon. Then he turned again to O'Grady.
"That note made the appointment for 9.30 at a definite spot. Why should a
man tear it up and then put it in his pocket? I asked you the question
and you suggested a man's impulses were unaccountable. It was sufficient
to you that he had done so."
"Yes, I remember."
"To me there was another solution. He had received the note, torn it up
and thrown it away. Why keep it? It was so simple. He could not forget
it. But if he threw it away and someone else found it, it not only told
of the appointment, but it indicated the person on whom suspicion might
"But," objected the inspector.
"I know. The finder must have been aware who Sylvia was. That was the
next step and not a difficult one. Who, of all the people there, was the
most likely to know of Crosbie's life before he became a member two years
ago? Obviously the man who introduced him. The man who admittedly had
done business with him for several previous years. Did you ever meet or
hear of Hann in the days before your divorce?"
The inquiry was to Sylvia. "I never met him," she replied, "but I think
Mr. Crosbie spoke of him."
"Really he gave himself away." Simon said, "When he discussed the matter
with me he explained so elaborately why he knew nothing of Crosbie's
private affairs--how every man has two lives--that I felt, as Shakespeare
put it, he doth protest too much."
"Elkington--" began O'Grady.
"Of course Elkington might have known of Sylvia, but that was less likely
seeing that he and Crosbie only met a year after the divorce. Others
might have heard of her too, but Hann was the only one who must have
known about her. It is not improbable that Crosbie told him of their
meeting in that golf match. But, anyway, Hann found that note and saw his
chance. I suggest he struck the blow and then put the torn note in the
"Not much time!" said O'Grady.
"He wasted none. He struck only one blow, but he knew that was enough. He
slipped the paper in the pocket, taking care to get no blood on it, and
pushed the body into the bunker. It would not take many moments. You saw
Crosbie alone on the tee at nine twenty-five?"
This was to Bill, who nodded in assent. "I looked at my watch and that
was the time I went away."
"I imagine," said Simon, "that you only missed seeing the deed done by a
few seconds. Not improbably Hann was waiting by the further clump of
bushes, beyond the mill. He came across, spoke a few words and struck the
blow. Crosbie would have been as anxious for him to go as he was to get
away. Of course, as it turned out, he had really plenty of time, as
Hazel's alteration of her clock made Sylvia late."
"That is your theory," said O'Grady.
"That is my theory. We will deal with proofs and reasons presently. I
imagine Hann got back to the Dormy House across the links, avoiding the
mill lane, taking his hammer with him. No doubt he wrapped it up
carefully. Having planted the first clue to incriminate Sylvia--the
note--he got busy on the second. He probably knew that the story of her
wedding and divorce would come to light, but he was taking no chances. He
wanted her finger-prints on the hammer-handle and we know how he got
them. It was a devilish scheme, for finger-prints are almost
incontestable as proof. Naturally, he did not want to carry about with
him such an incriminating thing as a lady's handbag. It was risky enough
to keep the hammer, though there was good reason for that. Had it not
been my luck to find the bag in the bushes, he might have got away with
his scheme. The affair at the hut would have appeared as it was meant to
appear, a matter of theft only. By the way, O'Grady, was the door
examined and the hammer tested in the way I asked?"
"Yes, sir. It was all as you said, but there was a third and even clearer
proof. The stick not only fitted the dents, but the door is painted and
some of the paint was ingrained in the end of the stick. Invisible to the
naked eye but perceptible under the microscope and answering to a
chemical test. It was lucky the young lady hit so hard!"
"You would have hit hard," said Sylvia, "if you had thought you might be
shut in for the night."
"Exactly when Hann planted the reassembled hammer in the garden," Simon
went on, "we do not know. He had to wait his opportunity, al though it
was a thing he would want to be rid of as soon as possible. Hazel asked
me how long the marks on the hammer-head would remain if it lay in the
open air. That would depend on the weather, but Hann was taking no
chances. As soon as all was ready he 'phoned Lee telling him where to
"I hope he hangs!" ejaculated Bill fervently.
"Things were going his way, better even than he was aware, when I turned
up at lunch with Mrs. Warwick. She did not know him, but I have no doubt
at all that he knew her. He came over and spoke to us--or rather to
Hazel, and I suppose he decided something must be done about it. Mrs.
Warwick's appearance on the scene might lead to inquiries in a new
direction. So he planned his next effort for my benefit. Left to herself,
Mrs. Warwick would be glad to be silent, but he thought I might give
trouble. He loosened my wheels. I know that was it, for apart from
Bagshaw's story, I was conscious of the loose wheel shooting on ahead
when the car struck earth. I ought to have realised there was something
wrong with the running, but I had a lot to think about and the fellow
behind puzzled me. He had borrowed Bill's car--another dirty trick--and
was there to complete the good work if the smash was not enough by
"Another drink," whispered Hazel. He took it gratefully, and went on
"Up to that time Hann had probably thought there was no hurry to move the
valuables from the M'Whirter hiding-place where Crosbie had put them.
They would lie there safely till the man with the key came for them. He
could wait weeks or months until all question or risk was over. But when
he saw me with Mrs. Warwick and knew my skull had proved thicker than
Crosbie's, he decided it would be wiser to find a new hiding-place.
Luckily it took more than one visit. He did not want to show any
suspicious hurry. So we were just in time."
"You are right there, sir," said O'Grady, "finding him with Crosbie's
stuff on him is the only bit of positive proof we have got."
"A pretty strong bit," said Simon, "but go back a little. The torn paper
suggested someone who knew of Sylvia and someone intimate enough with
Crosbie to enter his room without exciting comment, and so find the
scraps. What was Hann doing at the time of the crime? You said he had a
"That's right," nodded O'Grady, "a partial alibi."
"Which, as you will agree, is no alibi at all. There again he gave
himself away. He declared he had just pottered about the smoking room and
gone to bed early. Some people saw him and spoke to him, but there was no
real support for the essential times and we know he could get in and out
of the Dormy House by the back way unobserved. But very foolishly he told
me that Sladen had gone out again that way after his arrival by car. How
could Hann have known it unless he was doing something of the sort
himself? If he started then, over the links, he would cut off quite a lot
and be hidden from the road by the hedge. He could have gone straight to
the sixteenth tee or he could have got round and reconnoitred from the
bushes. There was plenty of time. I tried it. But the most important
pointer came from you, O'Grady."
"From me?" queried the inspector.
"Yes. You told me of that mortgage deal by which Hann advised the same
loan twice over. Of course he was covered by letters of instruction. He
would see to that. But don't you suppose that put him wise to what was
going on? It is not in conceivable they planned it all together. Crosbie
was to rob the estates and go off with the bulk of the plunder. It is
clear now that Hann knew all about the M'Whirter business. He may have
discovered it by spying, but most likely Crosbie told him, promising him
a share of the loot. It may have been part of the plan to have someone
behind to cover up the traces a bit. But Hann saw a better way. He
decided to get the lot for himself. Crosbie's meeting with Sylvia gave
him the chance."
"It certainly fits together," agreed O'Grady.
"One thing more. When Hazel convinced me that Crosbie was the original
M'Whirter it was obvious that the loot was somewhere in M'Whirter's name.
It was also obvious that a second M'Whirter meant to get it. Although I
was pretty confident Hann was the man, there was always a possibility of
error. But when I was attacked in the road I knew it was Hann. I was a
bit dazed, but I saw the hand with the spanner and it wore a ring--Hann's
signet ring. Few men wear rings on the right hand. When I came round in
the hospital that hand and that ring were photographed in my brain. That
I can swear to."
O'Grady nodded, well pleased. No one spoke.
"Just when and how Hann got the safe deposit key we do not know. He had
the run of Crosbie's room on the night of the murder. The disguise was
easy. His features are not very unlike Crosbie's and his moustache combed
over his mouth and dyed would pass muster. The fawn coat and the
spectacles were a help. Of course he was much slighter in build, but
extra clothes made up for that. The strong Scottish accent, quite a
clever idea in the first place, made it all easier. When you get busy on
Hann's affairs you will probably find a good many links that will fill in
the gaps. If I think of anything more I will tell you."
"He is very tired," whispered Hazel to the others.
"Oh, one thing," added Simon with a smile. "The burglary!"
"Yes, sir?" said O'Grady.
"I may be quite wrong, I don't know, but my theory is that the burglar
"Nothing was taken."
"Nothing of value. It might just have been the fawn overcoat--to know
what he had to fill! That's all."
Sylvia came to his side and took his hand in both of hers.
"Simon, I can never say how much I thank you. Bill and I owe everything
to you. We will never, never forget."
"If it is thanks, my dear," he smiled, "think what I owe to Bagshaw. I
believe he is in the motor trade. I shall offer to defend him free of
charge, whatever he does, for the rest of his life! Now get out all of
you--except Hazel. There is a question I want to ask her."
Bill took his hand and pressed it silently. Words are sometimes
"Well, sir," said O'Grady, as he followed them out. "I am hoping you will
soon be perfectly fit again and will be on the side of the Crown when we
"I shall certainly not be for the defence," said Simon.
Then he and Hazel were left alone. For some moments neither spoke.
"Good-bye, Hazel," he said at last. "You had better go too."
"There was a question you wanted to ask me," she said.
"Yes, dear, but I have changed my mind. It would not be fair."
"It would not be fair?" she repeated.
"No. To ask a girl when she will marry you, if you are like this, puts
her in a difficult position. It is taking advantage of one's weakness.
She would not like to cause a relapse! You do not really know me very
well, do you?" He smiled whimsically and she flushed as her own words
came back to her. "So, my dear, we had better leave it till a little
later on. Don't you agree?
"Yes, Simon," she whispered, "if you think it best. Shall I tell you what
the answer will be?"
She bent her lips to his ear, but he turned his head and his arms went
"Yes." she said.
CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: THE CAPTAIN'S PRIZE
A. M. Crosbie beat P. Chase 2 up and beat Escott 3 & 1
Major Escott beat G. Hunter 3 & 1
Col. Blair beat N. Bruce 4 & 3
E. Knight beat J. G. Dean W.O. and beat Blair 1 up and beat Crosbie W.O.
S. Sladen beat A. Evans 5&4
S.Hann beat J. Murgatroyd 4 & 3 and beat Sladen 2 & 1
H. J. Rawson beat H. Farmer 1 up
W. Broughley beat Capt. Harcourt 6 & 5 and beat Rawson 4&3 and beat Hann
W.O. and beat Knight 7 & 6
CHAPTER ONE: THE FLAG COMPETITION
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