Steward of ship in which gentleman came home passenger, had been round to view, and could swear to identity. Likewise could swear to clothes. And then, you see, you had the papers, too. How was it he had totally disappeared on leaving ship, 'till found in river? Well! Probably had been upon some little game. Probably thought it a harmless game, wasn't up to things, and it turned out a fatal game. Inquest to-morrow, and no doubt open verdict.
'It appears to have knocked your friend over--knocked him completely off his legs,' Mr Inspector remarked, when he had finished his summing up. 'It has given him a bad turn to be sure!' This was said in a very low voice, and with a searching look (not the first he had cast) at the stranger.
Mr Lightwood explained that it was no friend of his.
'Indeed?' said Mr Inspector, with an attentive ear; 'where did you pick him up?'
Mr Lightwood explained further.
Mr Inspector had delivered his summing up, and had added these words, with his elbows leaning on his desk, and the fingers and thumb of his right hand, fitting themselves to the fingers and thumb of his left. Mr Inspector moved nothing but his eyes, as he now added, raising his voice:
'Turned you faint, sir! Seems you're not accustomed to this kind of work?'
The stranger, who was leaning against the chimneypiece with drooping head, looked round and answered, 'No. It's a horrible sight!'
'You expected to identify, I am told, sir?'
'HAVE you identified?'
'No. It's a horrible sight. O! a horrible, horrible sight!'
'Who did you think it might have been?' asked Mr Inspector. 'Give us a description, sir. Perhaps we can help you.'
'No, no,' said the stranger; 'it would be quite useless. Good-night.'
Mr Inspector had not moved, and had given no order; but, the satellite slipped his back against the wicket, and laid his left arm along the top of it, and with his right hand turned the bull's-eye he had taken from his chief--in quite a casual manner--towards the stranger.
'You missed a friend, you know; or you missed a foe, you know; or you wouldn't have come here, you know. Well, then; ain't it reasonable to ask, who was it?' Thus, Mr Inspector.
'You must excuse my telling you. No class of man can understand better than you, that families may not choose to publish their disagreements and misfortunes, except on the last necessity. I do not dispute that you discharge your duty in asking me the question; you will not dispute my right to withhold the answer. Good-night.'
Again he turned towards the wicket, where the satellite, with his eye upon his chief, remained a dumb statue.
'At least,' said Mr Inspector, 'you will not object to leave me your card, sir?'
'I should not object, if I had one; but I have not.' He reddened and was much confused as he gave the answer.
'At least,' said Mr Inspector, with no change of voice or manner, 'you will not object to write down your name and address?'
'Not at all.'
Mr Inspector dipped a pen in his inkstand, and deftly laid it on a piece of paper close beside him; then resumed his former attitude. The stranger stepped up to the desk, and wrote in a rather tremulous hand--Mr Inspector taking sidelong note of every hair of his head when it was bent down for the purpose--'Mr Julius Handford, Exchequer Coffee House, Palace Yard, Westminster.'
'Staying there, I presume, sir?'
'Consequently, from the country?'
'Eh? Yes--from the country.'
The satellite removed his arm and opened the wicket, and Mr Julius Handford went out.
'Reserve!' said Mr Inspector. 'Take care of this piece of paper, keep him in view without giving offence, ascertain that he IS staying there, and find out anything you can about him.'
The satellite was gone; and Mr Inspector, becoming once again the quiet Abbot of that Monastery, dipped his pen in his ink and resumed his books. The two friends who had watched him, more amused by the professional manner than suspicious of Mr Julius Handford, inquired before taking their departure too whether he believed there was anything that really looked bad here?
The Abbot replied with reticence, couldn't say.