House in Charlton Crescent

House in Charlton Crescent by Annie Haynes

Book: House in Charlton Crescent by Annie Haynes Read Free Book Online
Authors: Annie Haynes
gratitude is a sense of favours to come—I am afraid we shall take up more of it yet. Good morning.”
    When they were out of sight of Messrs. Spagnum and Thirgood’s, and their taxi was bowling as swiftly as the traffic would allow towards Bayswater Road, Bruce Cardyn looked at the inspector.
    â€œDid it strike you that manager fellow looked a trifle pale at the end?”
    â€œAfraid of losing his job if he let himself be taken in by an impostor, however clever, I expect,” the inspector explained blandly. “But”—throwing himself round and almost facing the young man—”this is a queer case, as queer a case as ever I came across. As a rule one is bothered to find a clue—here the clues seem to tumble out under one’s nose all the time. The difficulty is they all lead in different directions, and I’m blessed if I can make out the right one as yet. Now—”
    He stopped and looked out at the traffic without speaking.
    â€œNow—?” Bruce Cardyn repeated curiously.
    The inspector gave an odd little laugh.
    â€œI am wondering whether Lady Anne Daventry did not sell her jewels herself and simply wanted us to imagine that they were stolen. Such a case is not without a parallel in the annals of the British aristocracy.”
    â€œI am quite sure there was nothing of that kind about the loss of Lady Anne’s jewels,” Bruce Cardyn said firmly. “Besides, surely her murder shows—”
    â€œSo you imagine Lady Anne was murdered by the person who stole the pearls?” The inspector questioned, fixing the young man with his gimletlike gaze. “And why?”
    Bruce Cardyn felt as if the solid ground was melting away beneath his feet. 
    â€œSo that the identity of the thief should not be discovered,” he said slowly.
    â€œSo that is your theory,” said the inspector with another of those queer little laughs. “But does it not strike you as odd, Mr. Cardyn, that, if the pearl thief were also the murderer, Lady Anne should have been killed just a week before the day fixed for the payment of the second half of the purchase money, and what about the secret poisoning? Ah, ah, Mr. Cardyn, is it possible that you private inquiry gentlemen still have something to learn from the real article?”

    It was a week to the day since the murder of Lady Anne Daventry.
    Inspector Furnival was sitting in the library on the first floor, ostensibly looking over the notes in his pocket-book, with an occasional glance at the pile of the daily papers that lay on the table beside him, in reality keeping a keen watch on the door leading into the hall which he had left open.
    Lady Anne’s funeral had taken place the previous day. Her will had directed that she should be buried in the nearest place of interment to the place in which she died, “having,” as that document stated, “an objection to having my body carted about the country.” So that instead of a stately funeral at Daventry there had been a very simple affair in a big London cemetery. The time of the service had been kept secret or there would have been the usual crowd of sightseers. But there was scarcely anyone about when Lady Anne’s coffin with its plain black handles, as directed in her will, was borne over the short grass to its last resting- place. John Daventry and the rector of North Coton had been the chief mourners and then there had been other Fyverts and Daventrys—conspicuous among them the present Lord Fyvert—the dead lady’s nephew. Bruce Cardyn walked with the inspector and behind them came the servants, Soames and Pirnie at the head of them. The service had been as brief as possible, and most of the mourners had dispersed without returning to Charlton Crescent.
    The adjourned inquest was to be opened to-day at eleven o’clock. It was now nine, and the inspector who was an indefatigably early riser had been up for

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