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- The Paradise Mystery - 10/50 -
for a minute?"
"Not for a pension, sir!" answered the policeman good-naturedly. "Don't you see the notice? The Dean 'ud have me out of the force by tomorrow if I disobeyed orders. No admittance, nowhere, nohow! But lor' bless yer!" he added, glancing at the two young people. "There's nothing to see--nothing!--as Dr. Bryce there can tell you."
Dick, who knew nothing of the recent passages between his guardian and the dismissed assistant, glanced at Bryce with interest.
"You were on the spot first, weren't you?" he asked: "Do you think it really was murder?"
"I don't know what it was," answered Bryce. "And I wasn't first on the spot. That was Varner, the mason--he called me." He turned from the lad to glance at the girl, who was peeping curiously over the gate into the yews and cypresses. "Do you think your father's at the Library just now?" he asked. "Shall I find him there?"
"I should think he is," answered Betty Campany. "He generally goes down about this time." She turned and pulled Dick Bewery's sleeve. "Let's go up in the clerestory," she said. "We can see that, anyway."
"Also closed, miss," said the policeman, shaking his head. "No admittance there, neither. The public firmly warned off--so to speak. 'I won't have the Cathedral turned into a peepshow!' that's precisely what I heard the Dean say with my own ears. So--closed!"
The boy and the girl turned away and went off across the Close, and the policeman looked after them and laughed.
"Lively young couple, that, sir!" he said. "What they call healthy curiosity, I suppose? Plenty o' that knocking around in the city today."
Bryce, who had half-turned in the direction of the Library, at the other side of the Close, turned round again.
"Do you know if your people are doing anything about identifying the dead man?" he asked. "Did you hear anything at noon?"
"Nothing but that there'll be inquiries through the newspapers, sir," replied the policeman. "That's the surest way of finding something out. And I did hear Inspector Mitchington say that they'd have to ask the Duke if he knew anything about the poor man--I suppose he'd let fall something about wanting to go over to Saxonsteade."
Bryce went off in the direction of the Library thinking. The newspapers?--yes, no better channel for spreading the news. If Mr. John Braden had relations and friends, they would learn of his sad death through the newspapers, and would come forward. And in that case--
"But it wouldn't surprise me," mused Bryce, "if the name given at the Mitre is an assumed name. I wonder if that theory of Archdale's is a correct one?--however, there'll be more of that at the inquest tomorrow. And in the meantime--let me find out something about the tomb of Richard Jenkins, or Jenkinson--whoever he was."
The famous Library of the Dean and Chapter of Wrychester was housed in an ancient picturesque building in one corner of the Close, wherein, day in and day out, amidst priceless volumes and manuscripts, huge folios and weighty quartos, old prints, and relics of the mediaeval ages, Ambrose Campany, the librarian, was pretty nearly always to be found, ready to show his treasures to the visitors and tourists who came from all parts of the world to see a collection well known to bibliophiles. And Ambrose Campany, a cheery-faced, middle-aged man, with booklover and antiquary written all over him, shockheaded, blue-spectacled, was there now, talking to an old man whom Bryce knew as a neighbour of his in Friary Lane--one Simpson Barker, a quiet, meditative old fellow, believed to be a retired tradesman who spent his time in gentle pottering about the city. Bryce, as he entered, caught what Campany was just then saying.
"The most important thing I've heard about it," said Campany, "is--that book they found in the man's suit-case at the Mitre. I'm not a detective--but there's a clue!"
Old Simpson Harker, who sat near the librarian's table, his hands folded on the crook of his stout walking stick, glanced out of a pair of unusually shrewd and bright eyes at Bryce as he crossed the room and approached the pair of gossipers.
"I think the doctor was there when that book you're speaking of was found," he remarked. "So I understood from Mitchington."
"Yes, I was there," said Bryce, who was not unwilling to join in the talk. He turned to Campany. "What makes you think there's a clue--in that?" he asked.
"Why this," answered the librarian. "Here's a man in possession of an old history of Barthorpe. Barthorpe is a small market-town in the Midlands--Leicestershire, I believe, of no particular importance that I know of, but doubtless with a story of its own. Why should any one but a Barthorpe man, past or present, be interested in that story so far as to carry an old account of it with him? Therefore, I conclude this stranger was a Barthorpe man. And it's at Barthorpe that I should make inquiries about him."
Simpson Harker made no remark, and Bryce remembered what Mr. Dellingham had said when the book was found.
"Oh, I don't know!" he replied carelessly. "I don't see that that follows. I saw the book--a curious old binding and queer old copper-plates. The man may have picked it up for that reason--I've bought old books myself for less."
"All the same," retorted Campany, "I should make inquiry at Barthorpe. You've got to go on probabilities. The probabilities in this case are that the man was interested in the book because it dealt with his own town."
Bryce turned away towards a wall on which hung a number of charts and plans of Wrychester Cathedral and its precincts --it' was to inspect one of these that he had come to the Library. But suddenly remembering that there was a question which he could ask without exciting any suspicion or surmise, he faced round again on the librarian.
"Isn't there a register of burials within the Cathedral?" he inquired. "Some book in which they're put down? I was looking in the Memorials of Wrychester the other day, and I saw some names I want to trace."
Campany lifted his quill pen and pointed to a case of big leather-bound volumes in a far corner of the room.
"Third shelf from the bottom, doctor," he replied. "You'll see two books there--one's the register of all burials within the Cathedral itself up to date: the other's the register of those in Paradise and the cloisters. What names are you wanting to trace?"
But Bryce affected not to hear the last question; he walked over to the place which Campany had indicated, and taking down the second book carried it to an adjacent table. Campany called across the room to him.
"You'll find useful indexes at the end," he said. "They're all brought up to the present time--from four hundred years ago, nearly."
Bryce turned to the index at the end of his book--an index written out in various styles of handwriting. And within a minute he found the name he wanted--there it was plainly before him--Richard Jenkins, died March 8th, 1715: buried, in Paradise, March 10th. He nearly laughed aloud at the ease with which he was tracing out what at first had seemed a difficult matter to investigate. But lest his task should seem too easy, he continued to turn over the leaves of the big folio, and in order to have an excuse if the librarian should ask him any further questions, he memorized some of the names which he saw. And after a while he took the book back to its shelf, and turned to the wall on which the charts and maps were hung. There was one there of Paradise, whereon was marked the site and names of all the tombs and graves in that ancient enclosure; from it he hoped to ascertain the exact position and whereabouts of Richard Jenkins's grave.
But here Bryce met his first check. Down each side of the old chart--dated 1850--there was a tabulated list of the tombs in Paradise. The names of families and persons were given in this list--against each name was a number corresponding with the same number, marked on the various divisions of the chart. And there was no Richard Jenkins on that list--he went over it carefully twice, thrice. It was not there. Obviously, if the tomb of Richard Jenkins, who was buried in Paradise in 1715, was still there, amongst the cypresses and yew trees, the name and inscription on it had vanished, worn away by time and weather, when that chart had been made, a hundred and thirty-five years later. And in that case, what did the memorandum mean which Bryce had found in the dead man's purse?
He turned away at last from the chart, at a loss--and Campany glanced at him.
"Found what you wanted?" he asked.
"Oh, yes!" replied Bryce, primed with a ready answer. "I just
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