"Murder! murder!" he shouted, still dwelling on a top note. "I found the devil locked in the back room without a light, and the shop," he pointed across the way, "is without a light also. He comes out yelling that there was a dead woman left behind. It's Mrs. Caldershaw for sure, and he's done for her. Murder! murder! Where's the police?""I am coming to that," said Dredge calmly, "all in good time, Mr. Vance. Two days ago I received a letter from Joseph Striver. It stated that he was sailing from a certain port to some foreign land, which he refused to name."The grounds of The Lodge--thanks to Striver's love-lorn devotion--were most beautifully kept. The flower-beds had no weeds, the lawns were smoothly clipped and rolled, and the whole place had an orderly trim look, which contrasted oddly with the tumbledown appearance of the house itself. This, of mellow red brick, overgrown with ivy, stood on a slight rise, and a wide terrace of stone with shallow steps descending to the lawns, ran round three sides of it. Some Vandal had put French windows into the drawing-room, and these looked quite out of keeping with the old-world air of the mansion. It was a very ancient house, and I verily believe that only the ivy held the mouldering bricks together. The porch was large and chilly, and when I pulled the bell, its jangling echoes, followed by the baying of Puddles, added to the lonely impression produced by the place. Miss Destiny called her niece "The Sleeping Beauty!" so this dismal dwelling might well have been her palace. Only Mr. Striver's trim garden looked modern and well-cared for: the house itself was a slight improvement on the ruins of Carthage."Good Lord!" I retorted, twisting the motor car round a corner. "Since when has the British subaltern given up his leisure to reading Beaconsfield's novels?""Why," said Mrs. Gilfin, casting about in her mind for an explanation, "he's hardly ever at home, being always in London, on business he says, though I think he's too lazy to do much, especially," added Mrs. Gilfin with emphasis, "as he has five hundred a year sure. But he only comes down here once in a blue moon, as you might say, and leaves that poor young lady to live the life of a nun at The Lodge along with one servant to do all the housework." 加拿大28qq群预测 Mr. Gilfin, who smoked with his eyes closed, opened them sleepily! "Glad to see you sir. I hope you'll be comfortable. The missus will look after you. It's fine weather for this time of the year, although I ain't been out to see!" and having made these original remarks, he closed his eyes again and pulled at his pipe, a large mass of adipose, contented and purely animal."Yes, sir. I went to his house to-day and found he was at the Lodge, working in the garden. I sought him out there and we had a talk, just before Miss Destiny came to bother him. I went away then, and afterwards you came." "Oh, hang your Australian cousin. I don't believe he ever existed. Mr. Vance, I swear that I found that eye amongst Mr. Monk's luggage. You must believe, in the face of that," he pointed to the case, which was still open in my hand, "that Mr. Monk is guilty.""No, I don't, if this"--I shook the case--"is all the evidence you can bring.""It must be: it must be," cried the little old lady clapping her skinny hands, "for Anne never could have saved so much out of her wages. Gertrude I always declared that Anne knew where the money of Gabriel was hidden. Now, it seems, she told Joseph about it.""I am not hungry, thank you, Miss Destiny. What a comfortable little place you have here." I snapped my fingers, as Mr. Monk had done himself a few minutes previously. "That for Mr. Striver!" I said contemptuously. "Do you think I care for a country bumpkin such as he is. Gertrude has promised to be my wife, so the rest matters little.""I don't know. I never set eyes on her.""Another lady?" I asked curiously.After a pause Cannington, having promised to give me his opinion to-morrow, said no more, but began to talk of Lady Mabel. It seemed that Mr. Wentworth Marr had returned to London, and was more attentive than ever. "He's coming here to-day to afternoon tea," said Cannington, glancing at his watch, "in half-an-hour, I expect he'll turn up. Aunt Lucy and Mab will be here also, and Dicky Weston.""Huh! Who cares for that in these democratic days?" 加拿大28qq群预测 "So I did for a fortnight.""Some day, when----" She suddenly rose, and assumed a resolute air. "Cyrus, we must not fiddle while our Rome is burning. Tell me how the glass eye came to be at The Lodge?""You're a funny gent, sir.""You will keep to your engagement, then?" "It's remarkably strange," I muttered, for the mystery of the eye was beginning to attract me. "Have you no idea----""Oh! And you have come here to question my aunt.""Read! read!" cried Gertrude, with bright eyes, and crushing up the folded paper in her hands without looking at it. "He said that he would save my good name. Perhaps that letter contains the truth." "Then be one now," I urged, "you know the truth of this murder since you were in the house all the time. I believe myself that you are innocent.""And so is she," he pointed again."Good Lord!" said Cannington again, and rose to his feet to say it. "I say, you haven't lost much time, have you?" "My dear boy," she said reprovingly, "I must take Mabel out and give her some entertainment. Besides, I have made up my mind to get her married."Miss Destiny did not answer in words. She looked at Striver, then looked at me, and finally glanced towards the house, where Gertrude was standing in the doorway. My rival flushed crimson, and I did also, as we both knew exactly what she meant. On seeing the tell-tale color, she burst into a roguish laugh, and walked towards the porch. A moment later, and she disappeared with her niece into the house. Striver and I looked at one another.I now began to see that Anne Caldershaw's hint to her brother had reference to the missing monies of Gabriel Monk. Certainly, even if he had saved every penny of his income for eighty years, he would not have accumulated fifty thousand pounds: but it was more than probable that his visits to London were connected with various investments, and that in one way or another he had gained the fortune mentioned by Mrs. Caldershaw. But--as I asked myself frequently--if Monk had invested the money, why was it not discoverable, since investments cannot very well be concealed. On reflection I decided that the man being a genuine miser, loving the color and weight and feel of gold, had probably turned his investments, whatever they might be, into hard cash, and had hidden this carefully away. In some way Mrs. Caldershaw had learned the whereabouts of the specie, and the missing eye indicated the hiding-place. The money, by Gabriel Monk's will, belonged to Gertrude Monk, but the ex-housekeeper wished her nephew to get it, and so had left him the clue to the place where it was concealed. Perhaps she knew that Striver loved her young mistress, and thought that if he married her, after acquiring the fortune, that justice would be done. She wished, as the saying is, to kill two birds with one stone. 加拿大28qq群预测 "In that case, you certainly are justified in thrashing him, since he obtained an introduction to Lady Denham under false pretences. But I don't think Mr. Monk has the nerve to swindle.""Then, but for this accident," said Cannington pertinaciously, "she would have driven the car to Murchester." "I expect they said a very great deal about it," I assented gravely. "Catch your journalist missing a chance of hinting at mystery.""Humph!" said I, after a pause, "permit me to put you right on one point, Mr. Inspector. I believe that the woman was in the back room when I entered the shop, for when I tried the door in order to find someone, it was locked."The gardener, seeing that I could beat him on every point, maintained a sullen silence. Mr. Monk, cheered by my several defences of his actions, leaned forward eagerly. "No doubt this is a false clue," he said, pointing to the case; "it may not be the real eye. Striver would never allow me to examine it, in case," he smiled bitterly, "I should destroy it."