The Evil Shepherd HTML version

Chapter 30
Punctual to his appointment that afternoon, the man who had sought an interview with
Francis was shown into the latter's study in Clarges Street.
He wore an overcoat over his livery, and directly he entered the room Francis was struck
by his intense pallor. He had been trying feverishly to assure himself that all that the man
required was the usual sort of help, or assistance into a hospital. Yet there was something
furtive in his visitor's manner, something which suggested the bearer of a guilty secret.
"Please tell me what you want as quickly as you can," Francis begged. "I am due to start
down into the country in a few minutes."
"I won't keep you long, sir," the man replied. "The matter is rather a serious one."
"Are you ill?"
"Yes, sir!"
"You had better sit down."
The man relapsed gratefully into a chair.
"I'll leave out everything that doesn't count, sir," he said. "I'll be as brief as I can. I want
you to go back to the night I waited upon you at dinner the night Mr. Oliver Hilditch was
found dead. You gave evidence. The jury brought it in 'suicide.' It wasn't suicide at all,
sir. Mr. Hilditch was murdered."
The sense of horror against which he had been struggling during the last few hours, crept
once more through the whole being of the man who listened. He was face to face once
more with that terrible issue. Had he perjured himself in vain? Was the whole structure of
his dreams about to collapse, to fall about his ears?
"By whom?" he faltered.
"By Sir Timothy Brast, sir."
Francis, who had been standing with his hand upon the table, felt suddenly inclined to
laugh. Facile though his brain was, the change of issues was too tremendous for him to
readily assimilate it. He picked up a cigarette from an open box, with shaking fingers, lit
it, and threw himself into an easy-chair. He was all the time quite unconscious of what he
was doing.
"Sir Timothy Brast?" he repeated.