For the next twenty-four hours, Dr. Jim kept his counsel. He said
sufficient to set Stephen’s mind at rest about his mother, but did not
tell the whole story or show the confession which he had obtained from
Petronella. He wanted to turn matters over in his own mind before
doing this. The fact is Jim was getting a little weary of the whole
affair. Every new piece of evidence that came to light seemed only to
complicate it. He had felt sure that the paper left by Mrs. Marsh
would solve the mystery; but although it told much it did not reveal
all. She declared in a half-hearted sort of way that Frisco was
guilty. But she gave no proofs; the man in that hurried conversation
at the door, had denied the charge, and beyond the fact of his flight
there was no evidence against him. It occurred to Jim that the best
thing to do would be to drop the matter altogether. It seemed useless
to follow such a will-o-the-wisp.

“Still I do not like to do this on my own responsibility,” he thought
after much consideration, “it will be best for me to lay all the facts
before Bess and Stephen, and go by what they say. If they want to go
on with it, well and good. If not, I shall end it at once.”

With this idea, a most sensible one under the circumstances. Herrick
called a council of war. Bess came over from Biffstead, and met
Stephen and Jim in the library by appointment. There Herrick again
told the whole story of his dealings with the matter, and ended up by
placing Mrs. Marsh’s letter and its enclosure before them. When the
Squire and Bess had read the documents, and were in possession of all
the facts connected with the murder of Colonel Carr, Herrick made a
speech to them on that basis.

“It seems to me,” he said, “that it is foolish going on with this
matter. From all that I can see Frisco is the guilty man. But he has
disappeared, and I do not think it is worth while hunting him down. To
hang him for the murder of a scoundrel like Carr–I beg your pardon
Steve but your late uncle was a scoundrel–will be no gratification to
any of us. Moreover if he were caught and tried, this letter might
have to be produced. I think it best to stop short at this point.”

Before Stephen could give his opinion, Bess interrupted him, to dwell,
after the custom of a woman, on a minor point. “You foolish boy,” she
said in reproachful tones. “I see that you took the blame of your
mother’s doings on yourself. That was stupid. You might have trusted

“My dear Bess, I could not blacken her memory, even to you.

“Perhaps not; but I should have understood. Now that I think of it,”
she added, “I wonder that I was so foolish as to believe you. It was
entirely opposed to your nature to fire at a dead man.”

Stephen winced. “Do not say anything more about it Bess,” he said,
“she did that. Let the matter rest there. And now about continuing the
search. I agree with Jim;–it is best to do nothing more.”

“I am not so sure of that,” replied Bess obstinately, “you see
Santiago may still try and get the money.”

“No,” said Jim positively, “I do not think so. He has been found out.
His conspiracy is at an end. He knows that any further move on his
part will meet with failure. Believe me, he will return to Mexico, and
give up fighting. The wisest thing he can do.”

“What about Joyce?” asked Marsh-Carr. “He is worse than useless. Take
away Don Manuel, and Joyce is lost. He has neither the pluck nor the
intelligence to carry through a plot on his own account.”

“But his father Frisco may use him as an instrument.”

“Frisco has to clear himself first. Joyce knows if he does anything
with his father that, I can have him arrested. Rather than that should
happen I believe he would give up Frisco to justice.”

Bess shuddered. “His own father!” she exclaimed.

“Oh! as to that, you can hardly blame Joyce if he does not feel
particularly filial. His father has done nothing for him. Besides
Joyce senior deserted his wife, and Robin was devote to his mother. It
is one of the best traits in his otherwise poor character. No, Bess, I
think if Robin came to chose between his own skin and that of Frisco,
his father would be the one to suffer. Robin believes in everyone for

“He is a wicked little wretch!”

“He is and he is not. Weak rather than wicked. His scheme to mix you
up in the murder by means of that pistol was invented by the Mexican.
Joyce only did as he was told.”

“But in that case,” said Stephen looking up, “I do not see what
Santiago had to gain. Robin wanted Bess to marry him. He wanted to
inveigle her into the case so that she might not refuse out of fear.
But what would that matter to Santiago. Her marriage with Joyce would
not have helped on his schemes.”

“True enough,” said Herrick musingly, “but I daresay it was Frisco who
suggested the marriage. He wanted to get the money through his son,
and perhaps thought he would get more if he put off Robin with Bess.”

Miss Endicotte reddened. “Thank you for nothing Jim,” she said
indignantly, “I was evidently to be a pawn in the game.”

“It seems to me that we have all been pawns,” said Jim grimly, “just
consider the mistakes that have been made while we have been searching
for the true assassin of Colonel Carr.”

Bess laughed. “First of all I was suspected,” she said.

“Oh, no; that was only a half-hearted attempt on the part of Frisco and
his precious son. There was no real evidence to implicate you Bess. I
think–speaking for myself–that I first suspected Robin Joyce. It was
your remark about his income Stephen, that aroused my suspicions. Well
the chain runs as follows,” and Herrick ticked off on his fingers,
“Joyce first on the authority–mainly–of the pistol. He said he got
it from the Don so I suspected Manuel. He proved his innocence, and
accused Pentland Corn. I saw him and he told me he had picked up the
pistol on the lawn of this house. It was his belief that Mrs. Marsh
was guilty.”

“And myself?” said Stephen with a smile.

“No, you were like Bess and came into the matter on your own account.
I never believed you had anything to do with the affair. But your
step-mother is the last whom I believed might have something to do with
it. Certainly she had; but from her letter we know she didn’t kill the
man. And here we come to a dead stop.”

“What about Frisco?” said Marsh-Carr.

“I believe he is the guilty person,” said Dr. Jim positively, “are you
going to defend him, Bess?”

The girl looked troubled. “I admit that matters look black against
him,” she said slowly. “He threatened the Colonel; he was alone in the
house with him, and Mrs. Marsh found him ready to fly. On the other
hand there is something to be said in his favour. Evidently he should
have had a share in this treasure. For some reason the Colonel would
not give it to him during his life, and only afforded him a chance of
getting it after Stephen’s death–”

“Not even then,” interrupted Herrick “for if Stephen had fulfilled the
conditions of the will, the fortune would become his absolutely and he
would be able to will it away.”

“Then I can’t understand it,” said Bess, “unless Frisco knew of this
unjust will–for that it is, if he helped to get the treasure–and
murdered the Colonel out of revenge.”

“I believe he did,” said Stephen.

“No!” put in Dr. Jim briskly, “I do not agree with you. It is my
opinion that what Mrs. Marsh said to me before she died was the right

“What was that?”

“Frisco and the Colonel fought a duel. I believe that Frisco came back
from the inn drunk and filled with fur against the Colonel. It might
have been, that through the visit to Mrs. Marsh in the afternoon he
had found out all about the will. The Colonel probably defied him, and
then Frisco would suggest a duel. He fired first and the Colonel fell
with his still loaded weapon in his hand.”

“That is all theory,” said Bess still defending the ex-sailor, “but
you seem to forget Jim that the death shot was fired with that clumsy
pistol. If there had been a duel Frisco would have had at least as
good a weapon as the Colonel. There are plenty of revolvers of the new
pattern in the gun-room. I am sure Frisco would not have placed
himself at such a disadvantage. And again the silver bullet. Why
should Frisco have used that?”

Dr. Jim rubbed his head with a vexed air. “I am afraid you are right
Bess,” he said, “a duel is out of the question. I can’t see anything
ahead. So far as I am concerned, I give up trying to solve the

“So do I,” said Marsh-Carr, “I know now that my poor mother did not
kill the man, so that is all I care about. Let the matter rest
Herrick. You can send Santiago to Mexico I suppose?”

“Yes, but I think he will want some money.”

“Give him what he wants and let him go.”

“I think that will be best, and as for Joyce I’ll see that he keeps

Bess struck in. “What about Frisco?”

“He must look after himself,” said Dr. Jim, “innocent or guilty we can
do nothing with him so long as he remains in hiding.”

“But you can find him?”

“Through Joyce. Yes, I can. But on the whole I prefer to let sleeping
dogs lie. No, Bess. The whole thing is ended. Now come the peaceful
times. It is necessary to cultivate our garden, as says Voltaire.”

Stephen laughed. “I think so too,” said he, “for my part I intend to
put the whole matter out of my head and arrange with Ida as to the
date of our marriage. As my poor mother has died so lately, we can
have a quiet wedding; but married I shall be and as soon as I can.”

“Why?” asked Bess.

“In the first place I want Ida to be my wife because I love her
dearly, and in the second I want to marry her and make my will after
the marriage in her favour.”

“Why can’t you make it now?”

“It would not be legal. Marriage invalidates a will.”

Herrick who had been thinking, looked up with bright eyes. “Stephen,”
he said, “you are afraid of Frisco.”

“Yes, I am. He may try and murder me to get the money, so by marrying
Ida and leaving it to her, I shall put the matter out of his power.
Once he gets to know that the money has gone from him for ever, he may
leave me alone. He tried through Santiago to kill me once, and failed.
He may not fail the second time.”

“There is something in that,” said Herrick, and then the council of
war–as Bess called it–broke up. The final decision of the three was
to let the case stand where it was. They washed their hands of the
whole affair.

For the next fortnight there was absolute peace. Stephen and Ida
arranged to be married in two months, and Dr. Jim began to talk of his
future with Bess. Jim did not want to live with Stephen after the
marriage, and yet he could not leave him, without forfeiting his
income. Of course Stephen insisted that Herrick should take a certain
sum a year, until he got on his feet, but Jim would not consent to
this. “I can’t take money I do not work for,” he said decisively, “if
you will lend me a small sum, I’ll go back to London and start a
practice in a new place. I expect it will be a long time before I am
able to marry Bess. But she will wait for me.”

Bess expressed herself favourably on this point. She would wait for
Jim till her hair grew gray, and meantime she could manage Biffstead
for Frank, after Ida was settled at “The Pines.” Neither Stephen nor
Ida could do anything with this obstinate couple, and they gave up the
attempt in despair. “But I think it is an infernal shame your leaving
me in the lurch,” said Stephen, “remember what my mother said!”

“Oh, I intend to see you through the year, in case Frisco should
attempt to stop your visits to the vault,” replied Jim. “But after
that I must go and carve out my own fortune.”

“Well, who knows what may happen by then,” said Marsh-Carr. He was
determined in some way to benefit Jim. “I’ll have to force the money
on the fellow’ he grumbled to Ida.

“Bess is just as obstinate,” she sighed, “however they will be with us
for some months yet. Wait and see, Stephen.”

Herrick meanwhile was priding himself that all was at an end. He wrote
to Joyce stating that he intended to do nothing, and also let Santiago
know his decision. From neither did he receive an answer. But this he
did not mind. “They are powerless to do harm,” he said to Bess.

And indeed he never expected to hear of the pair again. But one
morning Bess came to him with the Daily Telegraph and pointed out in
silence a cipher message in the agony column. It was worded similarly
to that put in before, and asked Frisco to meet the inserter at Hyde
Park Corner at three o’clock in two days. “Humph!” said Jim
meditatively, “Robin wants to see his father again!”

“What will you do Jim?” asked Bess anxiously.

“Nothing. Why should I?”

“If Robin meets his father they will plot against Stephen.”

“They can’t do anything but physical harm, and I am always with him.”

But Bess was not to be put off in this way. “I really think you should
write to Mr. Joyce about it Jim.”

“He will not answer.”

“Perhaps not. But he will see that you have your eye on him.”

“True enough. I’ll see to it, Bess.”

Jim fully intended to do so, but foolishly put off the matter for a
few hours. He wrote to Joyce only on the day before the appointed
meeting, an on the next day received a telegram, to the effect that it
was not Joyce who had inserted the cipher nor, so said the wire, had
Don Manuel.

“What the devil does this mean?” said Jim to himself. “Is it a lie, or
a truth? If a lie, Manuel and Joyce are plotting. If true, someone
else is taking a hand in the game. I’ll see Bess.”

The advice of Bess was that Jim should go up to Town without delay. “I
am sure there is some mischief brewing,” she said, “you had better go
up by this afternoon’s train.”

“No,” said Jim after a pause, “I’ll see Steve first. He must know all
about this before I go. In fact I think I’ll take him with me.”

“But he has gone away for the day,” said Bess, “you know he went out
cycling with Ida. He won’t be back all day. You have no time to lose.”

“I’ll wait until he comes back,” said Herrick. “I tell you what Bess;
this may be a scheme to get me away from Stephen, in order that they
may try and hurt him during my absence. After that assault of Manuel’s
I’m never easy in my mind away from the boy. I can’t leave him here.
If I go up to Town he must come with me.”

Bess was struck by this view of the matter. There might be something
in it, she thought. The consequence was that Herrick waited the return
of Stephen and arranged to go up to town with him the next morning.
All the same Stephen laughed at Dr. Jim. “You are a a perfect old
woman about me!” he said. “I can look after myself!”

“I am sure you can deal with honourable foes,” said Jim, “but here
there is every probability you may be struck in the dark.”

Stephen shrugged his shoulders. “Very well Jim. You know best. We can
go to town by the mid-day express, to-morrow.”

But before they left “The Pines,” they received a surprise. In the
Times newspaper which usually arrived shortly after eleven, Stephen
found some news which surprised him. He went at once in search of Dr.
Jim and found him buttoning his gloves on the door-step waiting for
the cart to come round. “What do you think of that Herrick?” said the

“The devil!” said Dr. Jim, and well he might. There was a paragraph in
the paper to the effect that the man called Frisco who was wanted for
the murder of Colonel Carr of Saxham, had been captured on the
preceding day. No further details were given, but what Herrick read
was quite sufficient. He dropped the paper and stared at Stephen.

“Shall we need go up to Town now?” asked the Squire.

“Yes! We must catch this train. Here comes the cart; I shall go and
see Joyce at his flat. He may know what this means.”

“What about Bess?” asked Stephen.

“We have no time to talk over the matter with her now. She will see
the news in the ‘Telegraph.’ We can send her a wire from Beorminster
station, not to worry herself. Jump in Steve.”

In a few minutes they were driving hard for the cathedral city. At the
station Herrick sent the proposed wire to Biffstead, and they caught
the express. “We shall be in town for a few days over this,” said
Herrick when they were comfortably settled, “I think I can see.”

“See what?” asked Marsh-Carr. “What it means. This is the revenge of
that blackguard Santiago for losing the money.”

“Do you think he put in the cipher?”

“I am sure he did, and gave information to the police meantime. No
doubt when Frisco arrived at the rendezvous thinking to meet his son
he was arrested by officers in plain clothes. I have not much sympathy
for Frisco, who, I fear, is a bad lot. All the same it is hard that he
should be tripped up in his stride by that brute of a Greaser.”

“It might be so. I wonder if Don Manuel has stayed to see the matter
out. It is the kind of thing he would like to do.”

“Oh, I am sure of that Steve. All the same he wants to look after his
own skin. When Frisco is tried, he will tell all he knows about the
Mexican’s doings out of revenge. Santiago can’t face an inquiry as you
know. His assault on you, is enough to get him into serious trouble.
No, my friend; Don Manuel has done his mischief and cleared out. By
this time he is on his way to the new world. Beast!” muttered Herrick
between his teeth, “I should like to make it hot for him!”

On arriving in Town Herrick sent Stephen with the luggage to the hotel
in Jermyn Street and himself drove off to West Kensington. He learned
from the porter that Joyce was in, and ran upstairs. In a few minutes
he was seated in the little man’s drawing-room listening to his

“I did not think you would sell me like this Herrick!” said Robin
wringing his hands in his usual womanish way, “whatever I may have
done to you, you should have kept faith with me. You always pretended
to be so superior.”

“Ah! Did I?” said Herrick calmly but a trifle bewildered at these
accusations. “And now perhaps you will tell me what I have done.”

“You know well enough. You put that cipher in the paper and betrayed
my unfortunate father. I did not think it of you.”

“He was arrested at Hyde Park Corner?”

“Yes. At three o’clock yesterday. Of course he thought that I put the
cipher in and came to meet me. But why do I tell you all this. You are
perfectly well aware of the success of your treachery.”

Herrick shrugged his shoulders. At the present moment he did not think
it necessary to correct the man. “How about your friend Santiago?”

“I wish he was here to punish you!” cried Joyce venomously, “he was
quite as clever as you Herrick. But you waited till he sailed, before
plotting to capture my father.”

“So the Don has sailed? When did he go?”

“Four days since,” replied Robin dropping into a chair, “as if you
didn’t know! Why do you come here to exult over me?”

“Because I wish to tell you that you are wrong in thinking I put that
cipher in the paper. As I wrote to you from Saxham I decided to let
the matter rest. Whether your father was guilty or innocent I did not
care so long as you and he left Marsh alone. The man who put that into
the paper was Santiago.”

“I do not believe it.”

Herrick shrugged his shoulders. “As you please; but it is true for all
that. I know the cipher, but I give you my word I did not insert it.
You knew the cipher, and I am sure you did not use it to betray your
father. The only other person who knew it was the Don, and he has left
this last sting behind him out of revenge for losing the money.”

Robin shook his head. “I might believe that,” he said, “if I did not
know it was you.”

“But I tell you it was not!” cried Jim impatiently.

“It was. It was. Those private detectives who worked for you told me
all about it. You told them to have my father arrested.”

“Belcher and Kidd!” cried Herrick jumping up.

“Ah, you know the name. Yes. They gave notice to the police and had my
poor father taken. I guessed it was their work and through you.”

Dr. Jim stood for a moment in a brown study. He saw well enough what
had occurred. The ferret had made use of Santiago to find out the
business, and knowing of the reward had made use of the information
extorted from Santiago. “I expect they let him leave England on
condition that he told them the business and helped them to trap
Frisco by means of the cipher. The scoundrels!”

“Well,” said Robin “what are you going to do now?”

“I am going to see Belcher and Kidd,” said Herrick, “and I tell you
Robin that your friend Santiago has done all this. I have had no hand
in it.”

“But why should Santiago–”

“You had better ask your father that,” said Herrick. “I suspect he has
no cause to love that Mexican! You can believe me or not Robin. But
the truth is the truth. I have not played you false.”

Robin shook his head. He still doubted. Dr. Jim tried no longer to
convince him, but left the flat to have it out with the treacherous
firm he had employed.