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18. Inspector Aylesbury Of Market Hilton
"Now, gentlemen," said Inspector Aylesbury, "I will take evidence."
Dawn was creeping grayly over the hills, and the view from the library windows
resembled a study by Bastien-Lepage. The lamps burned yellowly, and the exotic
appointments of the library viewed in that cold light for some reason reminded
me of a stage set seen in daylight. The Velasquez portrait mentally translated me
to the billiard room where something lay upon the settee with a white sheet
drawn over it; and I wondered if my own face looked as wan and comfortless as
did the faces of my companions, that is, of two of them, for I must except
Inspector Aylesbury.
Squarely before the oaken mantel he stood, a large, pompous man, but in this
hour I could find no humour in Paul Harley's description of him as resembling a
walrus. He had a large auburn moustache tinged with gray, and prominent brown
eyes, but the lower part of his face, which terminated in a big double chin, was ill-
balanced by his small forehead. He was bulkily built, and I had conceived an
unreasonable distaste for his puffy hands. His official air and oratorical manner
were provoking.
Harley sat in the chair which he had occupied during our last interview with
Colonel Menendez in the library, and I had realized--a realization which had
made me uncomfortable--that I was seated upon the couch on which the Colonel
had reclined. Only one other was present, Dr. Rolleston of Mid-Hatton, a slight,
fair man with a brisk, military manner, acquired perhaps during six years of war
service. He was standing beside me smoking a cigarette.
"I have taken all the necessary particulars concerning the position of the body,"
continued the Inspector, "the nature of the wound, contents of pockets, etc., and I
now turn to you, Mr. Harley, as the first person to discover the murdered man."
Paul Harley lay back in the armchair watching the speaker.
"Before we come to what happened here to-night I should like to be quite clear
about your own position in the matter, Mr. Harley. Now"-- Inspector Aylesbury
raised one finger in forensic manner--"now, you visited me yesterday afternoon,
Mr. Harley, and asked for certain information regarding the neighbourhood."
"I did," said Harley, shortly.
"The questions which you asked me were," continued the Inspector, slowly and
impressively, "did I know of any negro or coloured people living in, or about, Mid-
Hatton, and could I give you a list of the residents within a two-mile radius of
Cray's Folly. I gave you the information which you required, and now it is your
turn to give me some. Why did you ask those questions?"
"For this reason," was the reply--"I had been requested by Colonel Menendez to
visit Cray's Folly, accompanied by my friend, Mr. Knox, in order that I might
investigate certain occurrences which had taken place here."
"Oh," said the Inspector, raising his eyebrows, "I see. You were here to make