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- The Paradise Mystery - 50/50 -

--Folliot was found to be Wraye. Today, in London, where I met old Harker at the bank at which Brake had lodged the money he had brought from Australia, the whole thing was made clear by the last agent of mine who has had the searching in hand. And it shows how men may easily disappear from a certain round of life, and turn up in another years after! When those two men cheated your father out of that money, they disappeared and separated--each, no doubt, with his share. Flood went off to some obscure place in the North of England; Wraye went over to America. He evidently made a fortune there; knocked about the world for awhile; changed his name to Folliot, and under that name married a wealthy widow, and settled down here in Wrychester to grow roses! How and where he came across Flood again is not exactly clear, but we knew that a few years ago Flood was in London, in very poor circumstances, and the probability is that it was then when the two men met again. What we do know is that Folliot, as an influential man here, got Flood the post which he has held, and that things have resulted as they have. And that's all!--all that I need tell you at present. There are details, but they're of no importance."

Mary remained silent, but Dick got up with his hands in his pockets.

"There's one thing I want to know," he said. "Which of those two chaps killed my father? You said it was accident--but was it? I want to know about that! Are you saying it was accident just to let things down a bit? Don't! I want to know the truth."

"I believe it was accident," answered Ransford. "I listened most carefully just now to Fladgate's account of what happened. I firmly believe the man was telling the truth. But I haven't the least doubt that Folliot poisoned Collishaw --not the least. Folliot knew that if the least thing came out about Fladgate, everything would come out about himself."

Dick turned away to leave the room.

"Well, Folliot's done for!" he remarked. "I don't care about him, but I wanted to know for certain about the other."

* * * * *

When Dick had gone, and Ransford and Mary were left alone, a deep silence fell on the room. Mary was apparently deep in thought, and Ransford, after a glance at her, turned away and looked out of the window at the sunlit Close, thinking of the tragedy he had just witnessed. And he had become so absorbed in his thoughts of it that he started at feeling a touch on his arm and looking round saw Mary standing at his side.

"I don't want to say anything now," she said, "about what you have just told us. Some of it I had half-guessed, some of it I had conjectured. But why didn't you tell me! Before! It wasn't that you hadn't confidence?"

"Confidence!" he exclaimed. "There was only one reason--I wanted to get your father's memory cleared--as far as possible--before ever telling you anything. I've been wanting to tell you! Hadn't you seen that I hated to keep silent?"

"Hadn't you seen that I wanted to share all your trouble about it?" she asked. "That was what hurt me--because I couldn't!"

Ransford drew a long breath and looked at her. Then he put his hands on her shoulders.

"Mary!" he said. "You--you don't mean to say--be plain!--you don't mean that you can care for an old fellow like me?"

He was holding her away from him, but she suddenly smiled and came closer to him.

"You must have been very blind not to have seen that for a long time!" she answered.

The Paradise Mystery - 50/50

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