THE PHOTOGRAPH

It certainly was not an easy task to come to a conclusion about Miss
Pearl. Ralph took her for a beautiful, amiable, stupid woman,
narrowed by her early training into a perfect specimen of what a wife
should be–that is, a wife to an ordinary British Philistine. But Sir
Joseph was not a prim, conventional man after the style of a suburban
clerk, but a clever individual who knew how to use his brains. He
might certainly admire Miss Pearl for her calm maternal beauty,
but Shawe was satisfied that he could not possibly tolerate such a
milk-and-water character. Miss Pearl was more suitable to be the wife
of a Sunday-school teacher than the second Lady Branwin.

And this consideration brought the barrister round to wonder if Miss
Pearl had not been playing a very clever game with him. He had been
with her for quite an hour, and all the time she had been so taken up
with telling him about herself that he had not been able to
cross-examine her. In a dexterous manner she had contrived to keep him
at arm’s length, and he left the quiet Bloomsbury house about as wise
as when he entered it.

Considerably puzzled over the present aspect of affairs, the young man
sought out Perry Toat, and described his visit to Miss Pearl. He also
repeated what Audrey had overheard as passing between Badoura and Eddy
Vail.

Miss Toat listened in silence, and her shrewd little eyes twinkled.
“It’s really a most puzzling case,” she said at length. “Of course,
this clue of the scent is a very slight one to go by. Sir Joseph is
fond of this especial kind of cloth, and probably asked Miss Pearl to
favour him by having a dress made of the same material. But Eddy Vail
might also have a suit of the cloth, and he might be the person who
lurked in the passage.”

“I think he must be guilty myself,” said Ralph, insistently, “for if
he was innocent he certainly would not have altered the clock.”

“Quite so. Let us consider the matter. Now, my theory–”

“I beg your pardon, Miss Toat,” interrupted Shawe, rather crossly,
“but I am a trifle tired of your theories; they lead to nothing.”

Miss Toat was not at all put out. “Oh, to theorise is the only way to
get at the truth of the matter. One may have a dozen theories, and
then can abandon each one in turn as it seems improbable. Let me
conduct this business in my own way, Mr. Shawe.”

“Well”–Ralph resigned himself to what seemed to him to be a futile
discussion–“let us have your latest theory.”

“Bearing in mind what Badoura said about the clock being wrong, and
Eddy Vail being the husband of Madame Coralie, I think he is the sole
person who had any reason to have a skeleton key made for the door in
the wall of the court. Probably he wished to enter and leave the house
at his convenience without bothering his wife.”

“But what would be the use of his entering the court,” objected Shawe,
“seeing that he could not get into the house? The door was always
locked.”

“Yes, and the key was usually on a nail in the still-room,” said Perry
Toat, cleverly. “I found that out when I was staying at the Pink Shop
for treatment. Eddy Vail could easily have taken that key when he
chose, and have opened the inner door; then he got a key made for the
outer door, and thus would be free of the house.”

“But this is all imagination, Miss Toat.”

“I am only constructing a theory on the evidence. Let us admit that
things are as I say. Well, then, on the night Eddy Vail either had
both keys in his pocket or only one–that of the outer door. For some
reason quite unconnected with Lady Branwin’s stay–since he could not
have known of it–he entered the court at the time Madame Coralie was
in the bedroom with her patient. Looking through the window he would
see the diamonds produced, which Madame Coralie–as you declare–says
that Lady Branwin gave her. Madame Coralie put Lady Branwin to bed,
and the diamonds were replaced in the red bag under the pillow. Then
Madame Coralie left the room, say at ten minutes to eight o’clock,
whereupon Eddy Vail scrambled in at the window and strangled the
woman. He takes the jewels out of the bag and puts them into his
pocket; then, to lose no time, he leaves by the bedroom door, and runs
up the stairs to the still-room, arriving there at five minutes to the
hour, in order to put back the clock to half-past seven. Thirty odd
minutes later Madame Coralie, who has been in the shop, comes up, and
Eddy draws her attention to the time as five minutes past eight. But,
as we now know, it is really close on half-past eight. Madame Coralie
goes down at once to see Miss Branwin, to say that her mother will
stop for the night, and this will bring the time to that mentioned by
Miss Branwin as the hour she arrived at Walpole Lane on her way to the
theatre. Afterwards Eddy Vail goes out by the street door, and returns
to the court to drop the label and to leave the key in the lock of the
court wall door, so as to encourage the idea of burglars. What do you
think of that?”

“It’s a very feasible theory,” said Ralph, after a pause, “but it
falls to the ground in the face of Madame Coralie’s admission that
Lady Branwin gave her the jewels.”

“It only makes her an accomplice after the fact,” said Perry Toat,
cheerfully.

Ralph shook his head. “She would not approve of the murder of her own
sister, Miss Toat,” he said gently.

“Yes, you hinted something about the two women being sisters. I forget
exactly what you said, as I have been so busy with the case of Colonel
Ilse and his missing daughter. I am trying to find a photograph of the
hospital nurse who stole the child, you know. Tell me exactly the
relationship and all about it. I shall listen carefully.”

Shawe related all that he knew, and the little woman nodded her head.

“This, of course, complicates matters. Still, it does not exonerate
Madame Coralie. She is not a straight woman.”

“What do you mean?”

“Never mind. Since you are to marry Miss Branwin, my advice to you is
to keep her away from Madame Coralie. I know something about her.”

“Something bad?”

“Very bad.”

“What is it?” asked Shawe, with considerable curiosity.

“Oh, don’t ask me just now,” said Perry Toat, impatiently. “I shall
tell you when I am more certain. Meanwhile, go and get your special
licence and marry Miss Branwin. The sooner she is out of that Pink
Shop the better.”

“I agree with you,” said Ralph, drily, as he stood up to take his
leave; “but while I am on my honeymoon, I wish you to examine into the
truth of Miss Pearl’s statement that she was asleep the whole time.
Also, as to the reason why Sir Joseph was in Walpole Lane on that
night.”

Perry Toat looked at him suddenly. “You have a theory also?”
she said sharply.

“Well”–Ralph drew on his gloves slowly–“it seems to me that Sir
Joseph, who knew that his wife was staying at the Pink Shop, might
have enlisted the services of Eddy Vail, and have borrowed that key
you mention. He might have entered the court and have strangled his
wife, while sending Eddy Vail upstairs to put the clock wrong. He
could easily have strangled his wife and have left again by the court
door to come round to Walpole Lane. Thus he would be able to prove an
alibi.”

“I don’t think so,” said Miss Toat, thoughtfully; “for, although the
clock in the still-room was wrong, Mrs. Mellop, who saw him, knew the
correct time. She would know that he was in the lane at half-past
eight and not at eight, which was the time Lady Branwin was strangled.
I don’t think much of your theory, Mr. Shawe. As well say that Miss
Pearl, learning that her rival was in the house, might have crept down
to kill her, wearing that Harris tweed frock you mentioned.”

“She might have done so,” said Ralph, bluntly; “but I am certain of
one thing, that either she or Sir Joseph were in that passage about
nine o’clock when Parizade came down for her lover’s present.”

“In that case Sir Joseph is innocent, as he had left the house,” said
Miss Toat, triumphantly. “Well, well, it’s all theory, as you say. But
one thing is certain, that Eddy Vail knows something or he would not
have provided himself with an alibi by putting the clock wrong. I
shall see him.”

Ralph shook his head. “He won’t speak.”

“Oh!”–Perry Toat looked wise–“I shall frighten him and Badoura into
speaking. Go away on your honeymoon, and don’t worry. I shall attend
to the matter during your absence.”

The young barrister thought that this was a very fair division of
labour, and took his departure. There was no difficulty, now that he
had ample funds, in procuring a special licence. With this in his
pocket he went to the vicar of a Kensington church and arranged for
the marriage to take place next day at a certain hour. Having settled
this important point he wrote a note to Lady Sanby, and then took his
way to the Pink Shop. It was necessary to see Audrey in order to
explain what he had done. After some difficulty Madame Coralie agreed
that he should speak to Audrey in her presence in the Pink Shop, and
sent the four assistants upstairs to the still-room, so that the
lovers might converse undisturbed.

The hour was eight o’clock, and the shop was closed. Only a
pink-shaded lamp hanging in one of the alcoves shed a rosy light
over the anxious faces of Audrey and Ralph, on which–very
naturally–recent events had left their marks. Near them stood Madame
Coralie, wearing her yashmak. She looked a weird figure in the
delicate light, muffled up and swathed in her Turkish dress with many
veils. Her eyes watched the pair attentively, and she signified her
approval of the barrister’s scheme for an immediate marriage.

“It is the very best thing you can do,” she said, in her harsh voice;
but there was a catch in her voice as she spoke. “It will never do for
Audrey to stay with me here, as people are talking about the shop. Not
that there is anything wrong,” said Madame Coralie, drawing herself up
proudly, “for I have always kept it highly respectable. But I think
that Audrey should go.”

“It’s so sudden,” faltered the girl.

“We cannot help that,” rejoined Ralph, soothing her; “your father has,
so to speak, forced our hand. At present you are in a very awkward
position, if it were known that you have left your father and taken
refuge with Madame Coralie. Even the excuse for figure-treatment will
not serve with some women–especially venomous cats like Mrs. Mellop.
But as my wife–”



“Your wife!” said Audrey, under her breath. “Oh! Ralph, I should love
to be your wife. But I have no clothes.”

“Yes you have,” said her aunt, suddenly. “Your father sent all your
boxes this evening. You see, he is determined that you shall not
re-enter your old home, my dear. Better become Mrs. Shawe without
further delay.”

“Audrey, do say yes,” urged the young man, impatiently. “You must see
in what a difficult position you are placed.”

“Well, then, yes,” said the girl, and Ralph kissed her.

So it was arranged, and Ralph took a long farewell of the girl who was
to be his wife on the morrow. Madame Coralie accompanied him to the
door. “I must ask you to be kind to Audrey, Mr. Shawe,” she said
softly; “make up to her for all the unhappiness she has undergone.”

“Audrey and I will be as happy as the day is long,” said Shawe, with a
gay laugh, for he felt that a weight was removed from his mind by the
girl’s reluctant consent to the ceremony.

The next day Ralph arrived at the Kensington church with Lady Sanby,
and shortly afterwards Audrey, quietly dressed, made her appearance,
to be eagerly welcomed by the fairy godmother. Lady Sanby kissed her
fondly, and tears came into the poor girl’s eyes, for she valued
sympathy and had received very little of it during her short life.

“Child, child, this will never do,” said Lady Sanby, wiping away the
tears with her own handkerchief. “A bride must not weep; it’s
unlucky.”

“Nothing can be unlucky while I am with Ralph,” sobbed Audrey; “but if
you knew, Lady Sanby–”

“My dear, I know everything. Ralph has told me all. And now you had
better get married at once, as time is passing.”

Shawe returned at this moment, and then the vicar made his appearance
in his surplice. It was an exceedingly quiet wedding. Lady Sanby gave
the bride away, and the verger was one of the witnesses to the
ceremony. A few idlers had, as usual, collected in the body of the
church, and commented on the good looks of the bride, but the female
portion of the idlers admired the handsome bridegroom. When the knot
was safely tied Ralph kissed his wife, and this example was followed
by Lady Sanby.

“And now, dear, you can call me grannie,” said the old dame, which was
a wonderful mark of favour to be shown, as Audrey well knew.

But Lady Sanby’s kindness did not stop here. She took the young couple
to a fashionable restaurant and gave them a wedding-breakfast, and
finally drove them in her motor to the railway station, whence they
departed for a quiet seaside town on the south coast. When the train
started, and the married pair were alone, Audrey threw herself into
Ralph’s arms.

“Oh, darling, I am happy at last,” she said. “Let us forget the past.”

But although Ralph kissed her and agreed, he knew that Perry Toat was
yet working at the Pink Shop mystery.

Weed-on-the-Sands is a quiet little watering-place on the south coast
in the county of Sussex. Round the original fishing-village a
flourishing town of villas and shops has grown, and as it is reached
only by a branch line from the main trunk railway it is rarely
overcrowded. In fact, a select number of invalids and holiday-makers
come to Weed-on-the-Sands every year for cure and enjoyment. The
general public find the place too quiet, as the tiny town has no
bandstand, or esplanade, or entertainments of any kind whatsoever.
There are smooth sands, with seaweed-covered rocks–hence the odd name
of the resort–a rude jetty, which stretches out some little distance
into deep water, and one or two or three crooked streets, which are
united with the wider and straighter thoroughfares of the new town. A
prettier or quieter or more agreeable place could scarcely be found in
England, and certainly not on the south coast.

To this miniature Eden Mr. and Mrs. Shawe came to pass their
honeymoon, and took rooms at an old-fashioned inn, called the Three
Fishers. The landlady was a buxom widow belonging to the Dickens era,
and having a sympathy with lovers, or, rather, with newly-married
couples, she made them extremely comfortable. Audrey and her husband
greatly enjoyed the peace after the exciting events in which they had
so lately taken part. They wandered on the sands and drove about the
surrounding country, and found, more than ever, that they were all in
all to one another. After a week of this dwelling in Paradise the
doings of the last few months became more dreamlike and endurable. To
poor Audrey this atmosphere of peace and sympathy and love was like a
forecast of heaven.

“I wish it would last for ever,” she said, when they sat one morning
on the rocks at the far end of the sandy beach.

“It will last all our lives,” murmured the happy husband, who was
lying at her feet with his head on her lap.

Mrs. Shawe looked doubtful. “I don’t think so,” she said seriously.
“We must go back to the world, Ralph, and then our troubles will begin
again.”

“Well, we can bear them, dearest, so long as we have one another.
Besides, I don’t see why we should have further trouble. We shan’t be
rich, certainly, but I daresay we’ll manage to keep a tiny flat and
one servant. Then while I am working you can stay at home and look
after the house. Lady Sanby, as the fairy godmother, will take us into
what society we need.”

“I don’t think we’ll need any,” replied Audrey, gazing at the bright
blue sea that sparkled in the sunshine. “I would rather stay at home
night after night with you.”

“But, my dear, you would weary of such tame domesticity.”

“No I wouldn’t, Ralph. All my life I have wanted real sympathy and
love, and I have never had any, save from my poor dear mother, who was
always kind. It will be a joy to feel that I am at peace, safe in the
shelter of your arms.”

“Dear,” said Ralph, kissing the wrist of the arm which lay round his
neck, “I shall do all a man can do to make you really happy. Then, I
take it,” he added, with some hesitation, “that you have given up all
idea of searching into the mystery of your mother’s death?”

“I think so,” rejoined Audrey, slowly. “Because I am afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“That I may find papa is the criminal. After what you have told me, it
seems to me–but I may be quite wrong–that either papa or Rosy Pearl
is responsible for the death. Oh!”–she shuddered–“it’s too
horrible.”

“I don’t agree with you, Audrey. To my mind Eddy Vail is the assassin.
However, Perry Toat has no doubt seen him by this time, and when we
return to London she will have some news for us.”

Mrs. Shawe frowned and hugged her knees as she stared at the sea-line.
“I really think that it would be best to leave the whole thing alone.”

“As I said in my anonymous letter?”

“Yes, you were right in saying what you did. If my father is proved to
be guilty it will indeed be the greatest grief of my life. I have no
reason to love him, but it seems terrible that he should be a–”

“My darling, you have no proof that he committed the deed. I tell you
that Eddy Vail, if anyone, is the guilty person. He altered the time
of the still-room clock, and that in itself says volumes.”

“All the same, I wish the case to be stopped,” said Audrey, doggedly;
and from this decision Ralph could not move her. Privately he was
pleased, as he was weary of the whole sordid business, and did not
wish his early married life to be encumbered with criminal cases.

“I shall see Perry Toat when I return to London and tell her not to
bother any more about the matter,” he said, sitting up.

It was just at this moment, by one of those odd coincidences not
uncommon in life, that Miss Perry Toat made her appearance from behind
the rocks. She appeared so pat to the moment, and so suddenly upon the
mention of her name, that Ralph almost believed she had been listening
behind the rocks for the dramatic moment of appearance. But it seemed
from her very first speech that this was not the case.

“Good-day, Mr. Shawe–good-morning, Mrs. Shawe,” said Perry Toat,
looking more like a sharp little rat than ever. “I just came down this
morning from London by the early train, and guessing that you would be
on the beach, I came in search of you. Your voices attracted me as I
was poking about the rocks, so here I am.”

“Yes, here you are,” said Ralph, rather glumly.

“You don’t seem pleased to see me,” said Miss Toat, drily.

“Would any man on his honeymoon be pleased to see a detective?”
he retorted; then he laughed, and looked at his wife. “What do you
say, Audrey?”

The girl flushed. “I say now what I said before, that I wish the whole
case to drop,” she said, with a frown.

“It is impossible to drop it now, Mrs. Shawe,” replied Perry Toat, in
a quiet voice. “In your own interests it is necessary that the matter
should be gone into. I am sorry to interrupt your honeymoon, but what
I have found out left me no alternative but to come down and report
progress.”

“What have you discovered?” asked Ralph, eagerly. And even Audrey, in
spite of her late speech, seemed anxious to hear what the little woman
had to say.

But Miss Toat did not seem very ready to satisfy their curiosity.
Sitting down on the rocks she tucked her feet under her, and produced
a cigarette. When this was lighted she began to smoke and went on
talking, as if the barrister had not asked a pertinent question.

“Besides, I am too anxious to earn that thousand pounds to drop the
case,” she said quietly. “I am in love as well as you are, Mrs. Shawe,
and I can only marry if I get this money.”

Audrey shuddered. “I should not like a dowry earned in that way,” she
said.

“Why not? I am on the side of justice, and it is right to hunt down
criminals who vex law-abiding citizens. My profession is a glorious
one, although it is looked at askance. However, when I marry Edwin–he
is a purser on a liner–I shall give up hunting for criminals. The
arrest of Lady Branwin’s murderer will be my last achievement in this
line.”

Ralph glanced at Audrey, and she looked down at her husband. The same
thought was in the minds of both. It was Shawe who put it into words.

“Can you expect a man to supply a reward for his own capture?”
asked the young man.

Perry Toat raised her eyebrows. “What do you mean? Oh, I see,” and she
laughed softly. “Set your mind at rest, Mrs. Shawe. I do not believe
that your father is guilty.” She paused for effect, then added,
calmly: “I have seen Miss Rosy Pearl.”

Ralph threw away his cigarette with an ejaculation. “Oh! and did she
tell you the truth?”

“She told me a great deal which I shall impart to you gradually.
Her–”

“One moment,” interrupted Ralph, hurriedly, “tell me your opinion of
her. Is she really a stupid woman, or is that stupidity feigned?”

“You ask me a hard question,” said the little woman, gravely. “She is
stupid in many ways; but she has a cunning, protective instinct, like
that of many animals with small brain power. And this cunning is
cleverly masked by her apparent simplicity.”

“Ah!” said the barrister, significantly, “then she was really in the
passage on that night?”

“Yes, she was; but she wore a long rough cloak of Harris tweed which
Sir Joseph had presented to her. She was therefore right when she
denied to you, Mr. Shawe, that she had worn the dress.”

“A kind of half truth and half lie?”

“Quite so. But I threatened to set Inspector Lanton to question her
unless she was frank with me. She is in deadly terror of publicity,
lest it should harm the spotless reputation she is so proud of. For
this reason, and because I said that I would not make her confidence
too public, she told me what she knew.”

“Then I understand,” said Shawe, quietly, “that she is not guilty? If
she were you would not have given such a promise.”

“She is certainly not guilty, to my mind,” said Perry Toat, after a
pause; “although other people might think different. Judge for
yourself, Mr. Shawe.”

“Tell us what she said, and then we can judge,” remarked Audrey,
quickly.

Perry Toat nodded. “Rosy Pearl was sleeping in an upstairs bedroom on
that night. She was there for treatment, but found it impossible to
sleep because the night was so warm. She therefore sat at the open
window, which looks out on to the court, and for the sake of keeping
the draught away–this is an important point–she concealed herself
behind the curtain. The night was luminous, as it was summer, so in
the half gloom she saw the outer door set in the wall of the court
open and a man come in.”

Audrey and Ralph both uttered an exclamation simultaneously. “Who was
the man?” asked the barrister, hurriedly.

“Miss Pearl could not tell me, as it was too dark to see the man’s
face. She saw him steal round the court, apparently coming to the door
which gave admission into the house. She naturally did not know of the
door; but as the man disappeared from her gaze she thought that he
must have entered the house. For the moment she thought it strange;
but not knowing that the door of the court was kept locked she
concluded that someone connected with the Pink Shop had simply entered
the house.”

Ralph nodded. “It was natural that she should not suspect anything. A
man’s entrance in that commonplace way would not look suspicious to a
woman who was ignorant of the constantly-locked door. Well–”

“Well,” pursued the detective, slowly, “Miss Pearl grew tired of
sitting at the window, and went to bed. Here, according to her story,
she fell asleep “–Perry Toat looked queerly at the young couple as
she said this–“but later she awakened, thinking something was wrong.”

“What did she mean by that, exactly?” asked Ralph, bluntly.

“She simply said that she had a feeling that something was wrong. It
was about nine o’clock, or shortly after. She could not–so she
said–be quite sure of the exact hour. However, she flung on the
Harris tweed cloak and went down in the darkness. On hearing Parizade
descend–although she did not know it was Parizade–she ran to the
farthest end of the passage and crouched on the floor. Parizade, who,
being blind, moved easily in the darkness, then went up the stairs
again.”

“But why should Miss Pearl hesitate to address her?” demanded Audrey.

“And why should she think anything was wrong?” asked Ralph.

Perry Toat hesitated. “I shall answer those questions later,” she
said, after a reflective pause. “You must let me tell my story in my
own way, as it is not an easy one to tell.”

Ralph nodded. “Go on. We are at your disposal.”

“Miss Pearl,” pursued the detective, “thinking the man might have no
right to be in the house, went along the passage and looked into every
bedroom. She had a box of matches with her, and struck a light in each
room. Thus she found Lady Branwin dead, and, assured of this stole up
the stairs again.”

“Without giving the alarm?” cried Ralph, astonished.

“Ask yourself,” said Perry Toat, vehemently, “what you would have done
under the circumstances. Sir Joseph admired Miss Pearl, and wished his
wife out of the way so that he could marry her. Miss Pearl recognised
Lady Branwin at once, as she had often seen her in the Park and other
places. She guessed if she gave the alarm, and was called as a
witness, how she might be suspected of encompassing the death. Can’t
you see?”

“I can see,” said Audrey, grasping the position quicker than her
husband. “I think, considering the circumstances, she acted wisely.
What did she do then?”

“Went back to bed, and told Lanton next morning that she had been
asleep all the time. So that is her story, in a way. Other portions of
it I shall tell you later, but not just now.”

“Why not?” asked Shawe, suspiciously.

“That explanation comes later also,” said Miss Toat, with an odd
little smile. “But to go on. I left Miss Pearl and sought out Eddy
Vail.”

“Why did you do that?” demanded Audrey, quickly.

“Because I guessed that only he could have had a key manufactured to
fit the court door. He was in a terrible state of mind when, I
questioned him, and admitted that he had such a key.”

“Then he is the criminal!” cried Shawe, triumphantly.

“He denies that he is,” replied Perry Toat, quietly. “He told me that
he got the key made as he wanted to enter the Pink Shop when he could
without his wife knowing that he was under her roof. Badoura admitted
him sometimes by the inner door, as she easily got the key from the
nail in the still-room.”

“But why should there be secrecy?” asked Ralph, puzzled.

“Well,” said Perry Toat, after a pause, “if you ask me, I think Mr.
Edmund Vail was in the habit of robbing his wife when he could, with
the connivance of Badoura. I don’t blame the girl over much, as she
was crazy, and is crazy, about the scamp. But we can discuss this
later. Meanwhile you must understand that Eddy Vail had the skeleton
key made for the purpose I told you of. His story is that he entered
the court about a quarter to eight o’clock, and as the window of the
bedroom wherein Madame Coralie and Lady Branwin were talking was open,
he saw the one display the diamonds to the other. Immediately he
resolved to steal them, and, as Badoura had left the inner door
unlocked, he ran upstairs at five minutes to eight to put the
still-room clock back half an hour and prove an alibi. He intended
later to steal out again into the court, and climb through the window
to take the jewels.”

“And he did?” said Ralph, quickly.

“Not immediately. Madame came up, and he secured his alibi. Then she
turned him out by the front door. He went round by the back and
entered the court. The window was still open. He got in and found Lady
Branwin dead–”

“And the diamonds gone?”

“According to his story he was too terrified to wait and see. He
scrambled out of the window again, and fairly ran away. In his hurry
he left the key in the lock of the court door, after turning it.”

“But the inner door was found locked also, and the key was on the nail
in the still-room next day,” said Shawe, quickly.

“Of course. When Madame turned Eddy out by the front, Badoura locked
the inner door and restored the key to its nail. However, Eddy swears
that Lady Branwin was dead when he entered, and he does not know who
killed her.”

“What is to be done now?” asked Audrey, in dismay.

Perry Toat replied promptly. “You and Mr. Shawe must come with me to
London by the midday train. I have arranged a meeting with Madame
Coralie and Eddy Vail in my office. Then when you, Mrs. Shawe, and
you, Mr. Shawe, are face to face with them we may arrive at the
truth.”

“Why not arrange to have Sir Joseph and Miss Pearl present also?”

“Oh, you will probably see them down here to-morrow,” said Perry Toat,
drily. “Miss Pearl assured me that she would do her best to induce Sir
Joseph to come down and be reconciled. More than that, she intends to
come down with Sir Joseph herself. ‘Blessed are the peace-makers,'”
ended Miss Toat, grinning.

“Never mind this peacemaking,” said Ralph, briskly; “let us go to
London and get this particular matter threshed out. Come, Audrey.”

“One moment,” said Perry Toat, bringing a photograph out of her
pocket. “Do you remember how I told you that I was hunting for the
hospital nurse who stole Colonel Ilse’s child?”

“Yes; but what has that case to do with the matter?” asked Ralph, with
considerable impatience, as he wished to do one thing at a time.

“Look at the photograph, Mrs. Shawe, and see,” said the detective.

Audrey took the photograph and looked at it hard. Then she started
back with a cry of amazement. “It is a picture of my mother!” she
gasped.

“Oh, no,” said Miss Toat, easily; “you are misled by the resemblance
and by the absence of the birthmark, which does not show in the
photograph.”

“I see,” said Ralph, examining the picture. “This is Madame Coralie?”

“Exactly–as a hospital nurse and kidnapper!”