32. Paul Harley's Experiment
I recognize that whosoever may have taken the trouble to follow my chronicle
thus far will be little disposed to suffer any intrusion of my personal affairs at such
a point. Therefore I shall pass lightly over the walk back to Cray's Folly, during
which I contrived to learn much about Val Beverley's personal history but little to
advance the investigation which I was there to assist.
As I had surmised, Miss Beverley had been amply provided for by her father, and
was bound to Madame de Staemer by no other ties than those of friendship and
esteem. Very reluctantly I released her, on our returning to the house; for she,
perforce, hurried off to Madame's room, leaving me looking after her in a state of
delightful bewilderment, the significance of which I could not disguise from
myself. The absurd suspicions of Inspector Aylesbury were forgotten; so was the
shadow upon the blind of Colonel Menendez's study. I only knew that love had
come to me, an unbidden guest, to stay for ever.
Manoel informed me that a number of pressmen, not to be denied, had taken
photographs of the Tudor garden and of the spot where Colonel Menendez had
been found, but Pedro, following my instructions, had referred them all to Market
I was standing in the doorway talking to the man when I heard the drone of
Harley's motor in the avenue, and a moment later he and Wessex stepped out in
front of the porch and joined me. I thought that Wessex looked stern and rather
confused, but Harley was quite his old self, his keen eyes gleaming humorously,
and an expression of geniality upon his tanned features.
"Hullo, Knox!" he cried, "any developments?"
"Yes," I said. "Suppose we go up to your room and talk."
Inspector Wessex nodded without speaking, and the three of us mounted the
staircase and entered Paul Harley's room. Harley seated himself upon the bed
and began to load his pipe, whilst Wessex, who seemed very restless, stood
staring out of the window. I sat down in the armchair, and:
"I have had an interesting interview with Mrs, Camber," I said.
"What?" exclaimed Harley. "Good. Tell us all about it."
Wessex turned, hands clasped behind him, and listened in silence to an account
which I gave of my visit to the Guest House. When I had finished:
"It seems to me," said the Inspector, slowly, "that the only doubtful point in the
case against Camber is cleared up; namely, his motive."
"It certainly looks like it," agreed Harley. "But how strangely Mrs. Camber's story
differs from that of Menendez although there are points of contact. I regret,
however, that you were unable to settle the most important matter of all."
"You mean whether or not she had visited Cray's Folly?"
"Then you still consider my theory to be correct?" I asked eagerly.