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In due time the body of Daisy Kent was buried. Her remains were laid by those of her father in the very churchyard about which she had complained to Giles a short time before the tragedy of her death. Ware being still ill, did not attend the funeral, but a large concourse of people from all parts of the county followed the coffin to the grave.
Morley was the chief mourner, and looked haggard, as was natural. Poor Mrs. Morley remained at home and wept. She did little else but weep in those days, poor soul!
When Mr. Drake had finished the service, and the grave was filled up, the crowd dispersed. There was a great deal of talk about the untimely death of the girl and the chances of her murderess being caught. Everyone believed that Anne was guilty; but as Steel had kept his own counsel and Mrs. Parry held her tongue, no mention was made of the tall man.
The chatter of Cissy Jinks and Martha Gibbs certainly seemed to inculpate him in the matter, but only the villagers talked of this especial point. It never reached the ears of the reporters, and did not get into the papers. But the journals gave a good deal of space to the affair, and hinted that it was what the French call "un crime passional." Still, no paper was daring enough to hint at Giles and his presumed connection with the tragedy. It was merely stated that he had been engaged to the deceased girl, and felt her death so deeply, as was natural, that he had taken to his bed. Of course, this was an embellishment of facts, as Ware was simply laid up with an attack of pneumonia. But for the benefit of the public the journalists ascribed it to romantic and undying love. Giles, who was a matter-of-fact young Englishman, did not see these descriptions, or he would have been much disgusted at the sickly sentimentality.
Meantime no news was heard of Anne. It was not known that the tall stranger had been with her, for several people had seen the car passing on its way to Tilbury. It was a lucky thought that had made Trim take that particular direction, and merely by chance that he had stumbled on the motor overthrown in a hedge. Evidently an accident had occurred, but no one was near at the time, as it took place some little distance from Tilbury and in a lonely part. But it was conjectured that the two occupants had proceeded on foot to Tilbury. A boatman was found who related that he had taken a lady and gentleman across to Gravesend, and that the gentleman walked a trifle lame. They landed on the Gravesend shore, and here the boatman lost sight of them. It was the lady who paid his fare, and he said that she appeared to be quite calm. He did not see the face of the man, but described that of Anne and her dress also. There was no doubt but what she was the fugitive.
However, here the trail ended. Once in Gravesend, and all trace of the pair was lost. Steel made inquiries everywhere, but without success. The two might have got away in a ship, but this he could not learn. The night was foggy and dark, and no ship had gone out of the river, according to the boatmen. Steel could discover nothing, and resolved to throw up the case. But at the eleventh hour he stumbled on a clue, and followed it up. The result of his inquiries made him return at once to Rickwell, where he sought out Mr. Morley.
The little man had sent his wife and family away from The Elms, as the atmosphere of the house was melancholy in the extreme. Mrs. Morley, not averse to more cheerful surroundings, elected to go to Brighton with the triplets, and took two servants with her. Morley remained behind with a reduced staff, and promised to join her later. He desired to wait until he could see the detective. His wish was speedily gratified, for three days after the departure of his wife Steel made his appearance. Morley received him in the library.
"How do you do, sir?" said the detective, as they shook hands. "I am glad to see that you are looking better."
"I am getting over the shock," replied the other, "now that the poor child is buried; there is no use mourning further. I have sent my wife and family to Brighton and propose to follow myself in a day or so."
"I am lucky to have caught you, then?"
"What? Have you found any clue?"
"I think so. It is connected with the Scarlet Cross."
Morley, who was warming his hands over the fire, looked round eagerly, and his eyes flashed.
"I thought there was something in that reference. You remember the letter, Steel?"
"Yes. And I showed it to Mrs. Parry."
"To that meddlesome old woman. Why?"
"It's too long a matter to go into. But it was just as well I did. She gave me this little ornament."
Morley turned over the enamelled cross and examined it carefully. "Humph! It is the kind of thing Miss Denham said was worn by her dead father."
"Exactly. Well, Mr. Morley, either the father is dead as she told you and that cross was worn by a stranger, or the man who called to see you here was the father."
"How do you make that out? What do you mean?" said Morley, and his face exhibited genuine amazement.
For answer Steel related what Mrs. Parry had told him about the discovery of the cross, and how she had put two and two together.
"And now, sir, you must see that in some way this stranger is connected with the crime. He called to see you. May I ask what you know of him?"
"Absolutely nothing," replied the other emphatically. "Wait! I must show you something." He rose and went to his desk. "Of course, I am telling you my private business," he added, opening a drawer, "so don't please speak about it."
"If it has nothing to do with the murder I won't; but if----"
"Pshaw! that is all right, I know as much about these things as you do. However, we can talk of that later. Meantime cast your eye over that," and he placed a document on the table.
"A judgment summons for five hundred pounds," said Steel, with a whistle. "Did he serve this?"
"Yes," replied Morley, returning to his seat with a gloomy face. "You will see that it is dated three days before he came to me. I have outrun the constable, and have the greatest difficulty in keeping my head above water. This man--I don't know his name--said that he came from those solicitors----"
"'Asher, Son, and Asher,'" read out the detective.
Morley nodded. "Of twenty-two, St. Audrey's Inn. A firm of sharpers I call them. The money has certainly been owing a long time, but I offered to pay off the sum by degrees. They refused, and insist upon immediate payment. If they would only wait until the war is over, my South African shares would go up and there would be a chance of settling the matter. But they will not wait. I expect a bankruptcy notice next."
"I am very sorry for you, Mr. Morley, and of course, I shall not betray the confidence you have placed in me; but the point is, what is the name of the man who served this?"
"I don't know; I never asked him his name. He entered by the front door and served this here. I sent him out by the window, so that the servants should not see him again. He had the look of a sheriff's officer, and one can't be too careful here. I believe Mrs. Parry pays my servants to tell her what goes on in my house. I didn't want her to learn about this summons."
"I can easily understand that," replied the detective; "and I see now why you let the man out by the window. You left the room with him?"
"Yes. I didn't say anything much at the inquest beyond that he was a visitor, and I was relieved when I found that no questions were asked. But I walked with him to the end of the terrace and saw him go down the avenue. Then I returned to this room, and found Miss Denham waiting by the desk. I asked her what she wanted. She asked for her wages, as she was leaving the next day. I had no ready money, and promised to see to it before she departed. Then she went out, and shortly afterwards Miss Kent came in to say she had seen the man go down the avenue. She asked me who he was, and I was rather short with her, poor creature!" and Morley sighed.
"I wonder why the man went to church."
"I can't say that; but I can guess that when he knew who Daisy was he wanted to speak to her."
"What about?" asked Steel eagerly.
"About me and the summons. You see, Steel, there is a half-uncle of Daisy Kent's who went to Australia. He said that if he made his fortune he would leave the money to her. Whether he is dead or alive I don't know, but certainly she did not get any money left to her. Powell's solicitors are Asher, Son, and Asher----"
"Powell? I thought the uncle would be called Kent, unless, of course, he was uncle by the mother's side."
"I said half-uncle," said Morley dryly. "Powell is his name--William Powell--and his solicitors are those who issued that judgment summons. I expect the clerk wanted to tell Daisy about my position and warn her against lending me money. As though I should have asked the girl for sixpence!"
"I don't see why this clerk should warn Miss Kent."
"Well, you see, Daisy had a hundred a year, and they pay it to her. As she might one day be an heiress, I suppose they think it as well to keep an eye on her. This man could not have known that Daisy was in church, and may have just gone there to kill time. But when he saw her and knew who she was, I daresay he wrote that note asking her to come outside and be told all about me."
"It might be so. Was the note found?"
"Not to my knowledge. But you should know, being a detective."
"I'm not omniscient," replied Steel good-humoredly; "it is only in novels that you get the perfect person who never makes a mistake. Well, to resume. I don't see why the clerk should have killed Miss Kent."
"He did not kill her," insisted Morley. "I was in the room with him from the time he entered by the door to the time he left by that middle window. He had no chance of stealing the stiletto. Now Miss Denham had, for she was in the room alone for a few moments."
"But why should she have taken the clerk with her on the car? If she killed the girl her object must have been to escape herself?"
"I can't explain. Perhaps this clerk saw the crime and hoped to make money out of it. Had he given the alarm he wouldn't have gained any reward. So I suppose he mounted the car with her, so that she should not escape him."
"A wild theory."
"It's the only one I can think of," responded Morley; "but if you want to know more of this man go up to Asher, Son, and Asher. I daresay they will be able to give you his history."
"And the Scarlet Cross?"
"I know nothing about that. I did not even notice if the man had such a cross on his chain. In fact," added Morley frankly, "he was too shabby and poverty-stricken to have a chain. I think Anne Denham killed Daisy; you think this man did, and----"
"Pardon," protested Steel. "I have not yet made up my mind. But the two fled together, and there must be some reason for that."
"If so, it will be found in the past history of both, or either. You know where to look for the man. I can get from my wife the address of the Governesses' Institute where she engaged Miss Denham. That is all I can do, unless I take up the case myself."
Steel looked up with a laugh. He was copying the address of the solicitors from the summons, but could not help pausing to reply to this egotistical remark. "Why, Mr. Morley, what do you know of such work?" he asked, bantering.
"Much more than you would give me credit for. Did you ever hear of--by the way, this is another of my secrets I am telling you, so please don't repeat it."
"Are you going to say that you were in the profession?"
"I am. You may have heard of Joe Bart."
"I should think so," said Steel quickly. "He had a splendid reputation, and was much thought of. But he retired before I came to London. I was in the country police for a long time. But"--he started up--"you don't mean to say that----"
"That I am Joe Bart?" interrupted Morley, not ill-pleased. "Yes, I do. I retired over ten years ago, more fool I. You see, Steel, I grew wearied of thief-catching, and as I had a chance of marrying a widow with money, I took the offer and retired. But"--he looked at the summons--"the game wasn't worth the candle. I have had nothing but trouble. Still, I am devoted to my wife and her children."
"And you have forgotten your former glory," said Steel enthusiastically; "surely not. That Hatton Garden jewel robbery, the man with the red coat who committed the Lichfield murder, and----"
"I remember them all," said Morley, with gentle melancholy. "I have a full report of all the cases I was engaged in yonder"--he nodded to a distant shelf. "Sometimes I take those volumes down and think what an ass I was to retire."
"But see here, Mr. Morley. You are hard up; you want money. I am sure they would be glad to have you back at the Yard. Why not recommence your detective life with searching out this case?"
Morley, late Joe Bart, shook his head. "There is no difficulty about this case to tempt me," he said. "Anne Denham killed the girl. But I must say I should like to find out about this clerk, and why he went off with her. Still, it is useless for me to become a detective again. In the first place my wife would not like it, and in the second I have lost my keen scent. I am rusty--I am laid on the shelf. No, no, Steel, you look after this matter yourself. Any advice I can give you I shall, but don't tempt the old dog out of his kennel."
Steel looked admiringly at his host. Bart had been a celebrated detective in his day, although not one of the best. Still, he had made a reputation on two or three cases, which entitled him to respect. "I should be proud to work with you, Mr. Morley."
"Well, well," said Morley, rather pleased, "we'll see. At present I must put my wits to work to get money to prevent my being made a bankrupt. Now don't give me away, Steel."
"I'll say nothing. I suppose your wife knows that you were----"
"Of course. But she made me promise to give it up. Therefore you see I can't take up the life again. But my advice to you--if you care to take it--is to look after the governess, and leave the clerk alone. She is guilty; he is not."
"I'll look after both," said Steel firmly, "after both Mr.--Bart."
Morley laughed. "Report to me all you do," he said, and this Steel willingly promised.
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