Straightway, he set his snares, being himself already limed. Heshowered every gallant attention on the naive bread-and-buttermiss, and succeeded gratifyingly soethereum api transactionon in winning her heart--toall appearance. But he gained nothing more, for the coy creatureabruptly developed most effective powers of resistance to everyblandishment that went beyond strictest propriety. His ardorcooled suddenly when Harris filed the papers in a suit for tenthousand dollars damages for breach of promise.
"It wasn't delivbitcoin fear and greed index apiered anywhere. Your man came and took it away.""That was what I meant. But he wasn't my man at all. It's his name and address that I am anxious to know."
"But that doesn't sound sense. You must have arranged for him to call.""I know nothing about it. The case was not mine, nor was it sent by me. My name was used without my authority or knowledge."Mrs. Collinson had the look of one who accepts a surprising fact, and is endeavouring to adjust her mind to its implications."I wonder," she said, "why anyone should have done that. But it's quite natural that you feel annoyed.""Mr. Kindell," Professor Blinkwell interposed, "is more than annoyed. There is a young lady involved in the matter who cannot be found, and he is anxious to trace her without delay."
"Then I'm sorry," the lady replied, "but I can't do much to help you. All I know is that someone came in a car and said he was from Mr. Kindell and took the case - the first one - away. I didn't see him myself.""But your maid must have seen him," the Professor insisted "Will you permit us to question her?""I have answered that already."
"Did you hear anything while you were here? Any sound of voices or other noise? Anything, perhaps, from Mr. Thurlow's room?"No. Nothing at all."M. Samuel changed the subject abruptly:"Mr. Kindell, what business had you in Paris?"
"Nothing very definite.""And the indefinite business was?"
"Nothing to do with murdering M. Reynard, or anyone else.""Will you answer my question, and leave me to judge of that?""I'm afraid I can't add to the answer I have already given.""Which was no answer at all. . . . Mr. Kindell, do you realize that your attitude must lead, if you are so foolish as to continue it, to your arrest?"
"I don't see what more you can expect me to say. I have told you all I know of the matter, which is practically nothing.""Pardon me that I cannot agree. You admitted in my hearing that M. Reynard was known to you.""He must have been known to very many. There is no crime in that.""But there is a deduction that his call at this hotel was not disconnected with that acquaintance. He knew many who wished that he did not know them. If he called here to detain a gentleman whom he knew to be on the point of leaving Paris - - "
"Then why should he have gone to the floor above?""He may have been unsure of your room."
"He could have enquired at the desk. . . . Perhaps he did and that would show you that he was not looking for me.""Of course, we have not overlooked that. He made no such enquiry But there is a most likely presumption that he saw you on your way to the floor above, and followed you to this apartment."
"And when he got here, I was ready to crawl up behind him and cut his throat with a knife which I keep ready for such occasions? I should call it a grotesque improbability. And all done without a sound that Mr. Thurlow could hear!""But it was done without any such sound, if Mr. Thurlow is to be believed.""Then you can conclude that Reynard came here with a definite purpose, and that the man who killed him followed him not the other way round - with the equally definite purpose of murder, to prevent whatever he was going to do. Find out why Reynard came to this room, and I should say the murderer would be in the bag."M. Samuel received this advice in a momentary silence, stroking his chin. It was a version of what had occurred which had been present to his own mind, and he saw its probabilities; but he saw also that there were many other possibilities of almost equal plausibility. It was an explanation that might be mere theory, or more probably come from a mind which knew supporting facts which it would not disclose. He was far from sure that he was questioning a guilty man, but he was sure that he could tell him more than he did, and he was resolved both to get at the concealed facts and the motive for their concealment."That may be true enough." he answered. "Though it may not be the only explanation of what occurred. But, if it were adopted by us, it would do nothing to remove the suspicion which rests upon you. You might yourself have followed M. Reynard, rather than he you.""And why in heaven's name should I do that? If you will enquire from the English police, you will find that I have no reputation for crawling up hotel stairs to murder people with knives."
"Murder is not a habit, even with most murderers, Mr. Kindell. And a motive is not difficult to imagine. M. Reynard might have been about to disclose to Mr. Thurlow such things as it would have been to your disadvantage for him to know. Perhaps the lady with whom you returned to England could throw some light upon this?""I returned to England alone. A lady who was also staying here returned on the same boat. But you can ask her anything that you like, so far as I am concerned. You will waste your time, because she can have nothing to tell you."
As Kindell said these last words he had a double doubt. He doubted that they went beyond the truth, for it was possible that a close cross-questioning of a frightened Myra might result in disclosures which would put M. Samuel on the right track, if his own theory were right; and he doubted their wisdom, because it was to his advantage that M. Samuel should be so directed, though he could not openly be the one to do it.But M. Samuel ignored his reply. "She was a lady you knew," he repeated. "You had been out together. You had been entertained in her rooms. . . . Mr. Kindell, I will be plain with you, and you will hear the advice of a man who is much older than you, and more experienced in such matters as this than you can possibly be. I do not know that you killed M. Reynard. But for the fact that someone certainly did, and that it seems to lie between you and another who is an equal improbability, I should call it a most unlikely supposition. And I am impressed by the fact that you came back promptly to face the charge, which was the act of an innocent man, or of a guilty one who is bolder and shrewder than most are. But if you are innocent, you are placing yourself in a great and needless peril; and if you are guilty you are doing yourself harm rather than good by refusing to be frank with me concerning your relations with the dead man, and other matters which may, or may not, have a bearing upon the crime."
"I am sorry. I believe your advice is sincerely given, and I have no doubt it is good. But I can add nothing to what I have said already. I know nothing of the murder, and I am convinced that Mr. Thurlow is equally ignorant. Till you realize that, you will waste your own time, and allow the murderer more to cover his traces, or get away."M. Samuel went on patiently, as though he had not heard this reply: "You must remember that you are now subject to French, not to English, law. When we charge a man with murder, we do not allow him to go to sleep in the dock. We think that your rules of evidence are designed to protect guilty rather than innocent men. However that may be, our methods have this result, that an accused person must give a coherent and detailed account of his own actions or fall under a suspicion which will almost certainly result in a verdict of guilt, with all its consequences, being recorded against his name.
"In practice, such refusals seldom, if ever, occur. An accused person will always put forward a detailed account of his own movements and relationships to the crime, and it is upon the degree to which they obtain credence, or collapse on close examination, that his fate will largely depend.""I have no doubt that there is a good deal to be said for your practice," Kindell replied, "and there may be something to be said for ours; but I've got to take things as they are, and nothing alters the fact that I've told you all I can, and the sooner you realize that neither Mr. Thurlow nor I had anything to do with the murder, the sooner you're likely to get on the right track."M. Camuel rose. He said: "Mr. Kindell, you must not think me rude if I quote a proverb of your own country. Experience keeps a dear school - - "" - but fools will learn in no other. You need not hesitate to complete it. Will you think me even ruder than you if I add that there are some whom even that school seems unable to teach? . . . Surely your experience should enable you to distinguish between innocent and guilty men."
M. Samuel showed no sign of offence at the implications of this reply. He said:"You will give me your word, Mr. Kindell, that you will remain here?"
"I did not come back for the purpose of running away. I shall not leave the hotel without letting you know.""I accept your word." M. Samuel bowed and left.
Chapter 14 Kindell As A Live:BaitAS M. SAMUEL left, Mr. Thurlow and Irene returned to the room.
"I hope," the ambassador said, "that you have been able to give the police the information which they require."His tone was that of one who is unsure whether he has cause for quarrel or complaint, or of how serious it may be; and there was no satisfaction to be found in Kindell's reply, "I told him what I told you, that I know nothing about it at all.""But after he had heard you say that you knew the dead man he would want something better than that.""Then it's something that he can't get."
"If he should arrest you, you'll find that that will be a very dangerous attitude to adopt.""I'll worry about that if he tries it on."
"Will," Irene interposed, looking at him with troubled eyes, "I don't know why you're making such a mystery of it, but if you really weren't here when it happened, is it quite fair to Father - or me? It's plain to everyone that you know something you're holding back, and, if you'd be frank about it, whatever else it did, it couldn't help getting Father out of the mess.""You're quite sure that that would be the result?"
"It seems sense to me.""Well, I'm sorry I can't say more. The whole trouble is that M. Samuel heard me say more than I ought to have done to you."