'But when you suggested that he should meet her he ran.'

This aspect of the matter had not occurred to Lady Wetherby.

'So he did!'

'What did he tell you that showed he knew Claire?'

'Well, now that I come to think of it, he didn't tell me anything. I did the talking. He just sat there.'

Mr Pickering quivered with combined fear and excitement and inductive reasoning.

'It was a trick!' he cried. 'Remember what Sherriff said that night when I told you about finding the man looking in at the window? He said that the fellow was spying round as a preliminary move. To-day he trumps up an obviously false excuse for getting into the house. Was he left alone in the rooms at all?'

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'Yes. Wrench loosed him in here and then came up to tell me.'

'For several minutes, then, he was alone in the house. Why, he had time to do all he wanted to do!'

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'Calm down!'

'I am perfectly calm. But--'

'You've been seeing too many crook plays, Dudley. A man isn't necessarily a burglar because he wears a decent suit of clothes.'

'Why was he lurking in the grounds that night?'

'You're just imagining that it was the same man.'

'I am absolutely positive it was the same man.'