There was a moment's silence, for Polly did not reply immediately, and he wen_n making impossible knots in his bit of string. Then she said quietly—
"I think that I agree with those English people who say that an English jur_ould have condemned her… . I have no doubt that she was guilty. She may no_ave committed that awful deed herself. Some one in the Charlotte Square hous_ay have been her accomplice and killed and robbed Lady Donaldson while Edit_rawford waited outside for the jewels. David Graham left his godmother a_.30 p.m. If the accomplice was one of the servants in the house, he or sh_ould have had plenty of time for any amount of villainy, and Edith Crawfor_ould have yet caught the 9.10 p.m. train from the Caledonian Station."
"Then who, in your opinion," he asked sarcastically, and cocking his funn_irdlike head on one side, "tried to sell diamond earrings to Mr. Campbell,
"Edith Crawford, of course," she retorted triumphantly; "he and his clerk bot_ecognized her."
"When did she try to sell them the earrings?"
"Ah, that is what I cannot quite make out, and there to my mind lies the onl_ystery in this case. On the 25th she was certainly in London, and it is no_ery likely that she would go back to Edinburgh in order to dispose of th_ewels there, where they could most easily be traced."
"Not very likely, certainly," he assented drily.
"And," added the young girl, "on the day before she left for London, Lad_onaldson was alive."
"And pray," he said suddenly, as with comic complacency he surveyed _eautiful knot he had just twisted up between his long fingers, "what has tha_act got to do with it?"
"But it has everything to do with it!" she retorted.
"Ah, there you go," he sighed with comic emphasis. "My teachings don't seem t_ave improved your powers of reasoning. You are as bad as the police. Lad_onaldson has been robbed and murdered, and you immediately argue that she wa_obbed and murdered by the same person."
"But—" argued Polly.
"There is no but," he said, getting more and more excited. "See how simple i_s. Edith Crawford wears the diamonds one night, then she brings them back t_ady Donaldson's room. Remember the maid's statement: 'My lady said: "Have yo_ut them back, my dear?"—a simple statement, utterly ignored by th_rosecution. But what did it mean? That Lady Donaldson could not see fo_erself whether Edith Crawford had put back the jewels or not, _since sh_sked the question_."
"Then you argue—"
"I never argue," he interrupted excitedly; "I state undeniable facts. Edit_rawford, who wanted to steal the jewels, took them then and there, when sh_ad the opportunity. Why in the world should she have waited? Lady Donaldso_as in bed, and Tremlett, the maid, had gone.
"The next day—namely, the 25th—she tries to dispose of a pair of earrings t_r. Campbell; she fails, and decides to go to London, where she has a bette_hance. Sir James Fenwick did not think it desirable to bring forwar_itnesses to prove what I have since ascertained is a fact, namely, that o_he 27th of October, three days before her arrest, Miss Crawford crossed ove_o Belgium, and came back to London the next day. In Belgium, no doubt, Lad_onaldson's diamonds, taken out of their settings, calmly repose at thi_oment, while the money derived from their sale is safely deposited in _elgian bank."
"But then, who murdered Lady Donaldson, and why?" gasped Polly.
"Cannot you guess?" he queried blandly. "Have I not placed the case clearl_nough before you? To me it seems so simple. It was a daring, brutal murder,
remember. Think of one who, not being the thief himself, would, nevertheless,
have the strongest of all motives to shield the thief from the consequences o_er own misdeed: aye! and the power too—since it would be absolutel_llogical, nay, impossible, that he should be an accomplice."
"Think of a curious nature, warped morally, as well as physically—do you kno_ow those natures feel? A thousand times more strongly than the even, straigh_atures in everyday life. Then think of such a nature brought face to fac_ith this awful problem.
"Do you think that such a nature would hesitate a moment before committing _rime to save the loved one from the consequences of that deed? Mind you, _on't assert for a moment that David Graham had any _intention_ of murderin_ady Donaldson. Tremlett tells him that she seems strangely upset; he goes t_er room and finds that she has discovered that she has been robbed. Sh_aturally suspects Edith Crawford, recollects the incidents of the othe_ight, and probably expresses her feelings to David Graham, and threaten_mmediate prosecution, scandal, what you will.
"I repeat it again, I dare say he had no wish to kill her. Probably he merel_hreatened to. A medical gentleman who spoke of sudden heart failure was n_oubt right. Then imagine David Graham's remorse, his horror and his fears.
The empty safe probably is the first object that suggested to him the gri_ableau of robbery and murder, which he arranges in order to ensure his ow_afety.
"But remember one thing: no miscreant was seen to enter or leave the hous_urreptitiously; the murderer left no signs of entrance, and none of exit. A_rmed burglar would have left some trace— _some one_ would have hear_something_. Then who locked and unlocked Lady Donaldson's door that nigh_hile she herself lay dead?
"Some one in the house, I tell you—some one who left no trace—some one agains_hom there could be no suspicion—some one who killed without apparently th_lightest premeditation, and without the slightest motive. Think of it—I kno_ am right—and then tell me if I have at all enlisted your sympathies in th_uthor of the Edinburgh Mystery."
He was gone. Polly looked again at the photo of David Graham. Did a crooke_ind really dwell in that crooked body, and were there in the world suc_rimes that were great enough to be deemed sublime?