The Yellow Streak by Valentine Williams
Chapter V. In Which Bude Looks at Robin Greve
The library door opened. A large, square-built, florid man in the braided uniform of a police inspector stood on the threshold of the room. Beside him was Bude who, with an air of dignity and respectful mourning suitably blended, waved him into the room.
"The--ahem!--body is in here, Mr. Humphries, sir!"
Inspector Humphries stepped quickly into the room. A little countryfied in appearance and accent, he had the careful politeness, the measured restraint, and the shrewd eye of the typical police officer. In thirty years' service he had risen from village constable to be Inspector of county police. Slow to anger, rather stolid, and with an excellent heart, he had a vein of shrewd common sense not uncommonly found in that fast disappearing species, the English peasant.
He nodded shortly to Greve, and with a tread that shook the room strode across to where Hartley Parrish was lying dead. In the meantime a harassed-looking man with a short grey beard, wearing a shabby frock coat, had slipped into the room behind the Inspector. He approached Greve.
"Dr. Romain?" he queried, peering through his gold spectacles, "the butler said ..."
"No, my name is Greve," answered Robin. "I am staying in the house. This is Dr. Romain."
He motioned to the door. Dr. Romain came bustling into the room.
"Glad to see you here so promptly, Inspector," he said. "A shocking business, very. Is this the doctor? I am Dr. Romain ..."
Dr. Redstone bowed with alacrity.
"A great privilege, sir," he said staidly. "I have followed your work...."
But the other did not let him finish.
"Shot through the heart ... instantaneous death ... severe haemorrhage ... the pistol is there ... in his hand. A man with everything he wanted in the world ... I can't understand it. 'Pon my soul, I can't!"
The Inspector, who had been kneeling by the corpse, motioned with his head to the village doctor. Dr. Redstone went to him and began a cursory examination of the body. The Inspector rose.
"I understand from the butler, gentlemen," he said, "that it was Miss Trevert, a lady staying in the house, who heard the shot fired. I should like to see her, please. And you, sir, are you a relation of ..."
Greve, thus addressed, hastily replied.
"Only a friend, Inspector. I am staying in the house. I am a barrister. Perhaps I may be able to assist you ..."
Humphries shot a slow, shrewd glance at him from beneath his shaggy blond eyebrows.
"Thank you, sir, much obliged, I'm sure. Now"--he thrust a hand into his tunic and produced a large leather-bound notebook--"do you know anything as would throw a light on this business?"
Greve shook his head.
"He seemed perfectly cheerful at lunch. He left the dining-room directly after he had taken his coffee."
"Where did he go?"
"He came here to work. He told us at lunch that he was going to shut himself up in the library for the whole afternoon as he had a lot of work to get through."
The Inspector made a note or two in his book. Then he paused thoughtfully tapping the end of his pencil against his teeth.
"It was Miss Trevert, you say, who found the body?"
"No," Greve replied. "Her brother, Sir Horace Trevert. It was Miss Trevert who heard the shot fired."
"The door was locked, I think?"
"On the inside. But here is Sir Horace Trevert. He will tell you how he got through the window and discovered the body."
Horace Trevert gave a brief account of his entry into the library. Again the Inspector scribbled in his notebook.
"One or two more questions, gentlemen, please," he said, "and then I should wish to see Miss Trevert. Firstly, who saw Mr. Hartley Parrish last: and at what time?"
Horace Trevert looked at Greve.
"It would be when he left us after lunch, wouldn't it?" he said.
"Certainly, certainly," Dr. Romain broke in. "He left us all together in the dining-room, you, Horace and Robin and Lady Margaret and Mary ... Miss Trevert and her mother, you know," he added by way of explanation to the Inspector.
"And he went straight to the library?"
"Straight away, Mr. Humphries, sir," broke in Bude. "Mr. Parrish crossed me in the hall and gave me particular instructions that he was not to be disturbed."
"That was at what time?"
"About two-thirty, sir."
"Then you were the last person to see him before ..."
"Why, no ... that is, unless ..."
The butler hesitated, casting a quick glance round his audience.
"What do you mean?" rapped out the Inspector, looking up from his notebook. "Did anybody else see Mr. Parrish in spite of his orders?"
Bude was silent. He was looking at Greve.
"Come on," said Humphries sternly. "You heard my question? What makes you think anybody else had access to Mr. Parrish before the shot was heard?"
Bude made a little resigned gesture of the hands.
"Well, sir, I thought ... I made sure that Mr. Greve ..."
There was a moment's tense silence.
"Well?" snapped Humphries.
"I was going to say I made certain that Mr. Greve was going to Mr. Parrish in the library to tell him tea was ready. Mr. Greve passed me in the hall and went down the library corridor just after I had served the tea."
All eyes turned to Robin.
"It's perfectly true," he said. "I went out into the gardens for a mouthful of fresh air just before tea. I left the house by the side door off the corridor here. I didn't go to the library, though. It is an understood thing in this house that no one ever disturbs Mr. Parrish when he ..."
He broke off sharply.
"My God, Mary," he cried, "you mustn't come in here!"
All turned round at his loud exclamation. Mary Trevert stood in the doorway. Dr. Romain darted forward.
"My dear," he said soothingly, "you mustn't be here ..."
Passively she let him lead her into the corridor. The Inspector continued his examination.
"At what time did you come along this corridor, sir?" he asked Robin.
"It was not long after the tea gong went," answered Robin, "about ten minutes past five, I should say ..."
"And you heard nothing?"
Robin shook his head.
"Absolutely nothing," he replied. "The corridor was perfectly quiet. I stepped out into the grounds, went for a turn round the house, but it was raining, so I came in almost at once."
"At what time was that?"
"When I came in ... oh, about two or three minutes later, say about a quarter past five."
Humphries turned to Horace Trevert.
"What time was it when Miss Trevert heard the shot?"
Horace puckered up his brow.
"Well," he said, "I don't quite know. We were having tea. It wasn't much after five--I should say about a quarter past."
"Then the shot that Miss Trevert heard would have been fired just about the time that you, sir," he turned to Robin, "were coming in from your stroll."
"Somewhere about that time, I should say!" Robin answered rather thoughtfully.
"Did you hear it?" queried the Inspector.
"No," said Robin.
"But surely you must have been at or near the side door at the time as you were coming in ..."
"I came in by the front door," said Robin, "on the other side of the house ..."
Very carefully the Inspector closed his notebook, thrust the pencil back in its place along the back, fastened the elastic about the book, and turned to Horace Trevert.
"And now, sir, if I might speak to Miss Trevert alone for a minute ..."
"I say, though," expostulated Horace, "my sister's awfully upset, you know. Is it absolutely necessary?"
"Aye, sir, it is!" said the Inspector. "But there's no need for me to see her in here. Perhaps in some other room ..."
"The drawing-room is next to this," the butler put in; "they'd be nice and quiet in there, Sir Horace."
The Inspector acquiesced. Dr. Redstone drew him aside for a whispered colloquy.
The Inspector came back to Robin and Horace.
"The doctor would like to have the body taken upstairs to Mr. Parrish's room," he said. "He wishes to make a more detailed examination if Dr. Romain would help him. If one of you gentlemen could give orders about this ... I have two officers outside who would lend a hand. And this room must then be shut and locked. Sergeant Harris!" he called.
A stout sergeant appeared at the library door.
"As soon as the body has been removed, you will lock the room and bring the key to me. And you will return here and see that no one attempts to get into the room. Understand?"
Robin Greve called Inspector Humphries as the latter was preparing to follow Bude to the drawing-room.
"Mr. Parrish seems to have written a note for Miss Trevert," he said, pointing at the desk. "And in that envelope you will find Mr. Parrish's will. I discovered it there on the desk just before you arrived!"
Again the Inspector shot one of his swift glances at the young man. He went over to the desk, shook the document and letter from their envelope, glanced at them, and replaced them.
"I don't rightly know that this concerns me, gentlemen," he said slowly. "I think I'll just take charge of it. And I'll give Miss Trevert her letter."
Taking the two envelopes, he tramped heavily out of the room.
Then in a little while Bude and Jay and two bucolic-looking policemen came to the library to move the body of the master of Harkings. Robin stood by and watched the little procession pass slowly with silent feet across the soft pile carpet and out into the corridor. But his thoughts were not with Parrish. He was haunted by the look which Mary Trevert had given him as she had stood for an instant at the library door, a look of fear, of suspicion. And it made his heart ache.