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31. Ysola Camber's Confession
Paul Harley, with Wessex and Inspector Aylesbury, presently set out for Market
Hilton, where Colin Camber and Ah Tsong were detained and where the body of
Colonel Menendez had been conveyed for the purpose of the post-mortem. I had
volunteered to remain at Cray's Folly, my motive being not wholly an unselfish
"Refer reporters to me, Mr. Knox," said Inspector Wessex. "Don't let them trouble
the ladies. And tell them as little as possible, yourself."
The drone of the engine having died away down the avenue, I presently found
myself alone, but as I crossed the hall in the direction of the library, intending to
walk out upon the southern lawns, I saw Val Beverley coming toward me from
Madame de Staemer's room.
She remained rather pale, but smiled at me courageously.
"Have they all gone, Mr. Knox?" she asked. "I have really been hiding. I suppose
you knew?"
"I suspected it," I said, smiling. "Yes, they are all gone. How is Madame de
Staemer, now?"
"She is quite calm. Curiously, almost uncannily calm. She is writing. Tell me,
please, what does Mr. Harley think of Inspector Aylesbury's preposterous ideas?"
"He thinks he is a fool," I replied, hotly, "as I do."
"But whatever will happen if he persists in dragging me into this horrible case?"
"He will not drag you into it," I said, quietly. "He has been superseded by a
cleverer man, and the case is practically under Harley's direction now."
"Thank Heaven for that," she murmured. "I wonder----" She looked at me
"Yes?" I prompted.
"I have been thinking about poor Mrs. Camber all alone in that gloomy house,
and wondering----"
"Perhaps I know. You are going to visit her?"
Val Beverley nodded, watching me.
"Can you leave Madame de Staemer with safety?"
"Oh, yes, I think so. Nita can attend to her."
"And may I accompany you, Miss Beverley? For more reasons than one, I, too,
should like to call upon Mrs. Camber."
"We might try," she said, hesitatingly. "I really only wanted to be kind. You won't
begin to cross-examine her, will you?"
"Certainly not," I answered; "although there are many things I should like her to
tell us."
"Well, suppose we go," said the girl, "and let events take their own course."
As a result, I presently found myself, Val Beverley by my side, walking across the
meadow path. With the unpleasant hush of Cray's Folly left behind, the day
seemed to grow brighter. I thought that the skylarks had never sung more
sweetly. Yet in this same instant of sheerly physical enjoyment I experienced a