"I never did. I was inside and in bed. I only came down with the rest of the guests when I heard the firing. Is that not so, my lord?"

"Yes," admitted Garvington grudgingly. "So far as I know you had nothing to do with the second shot."

Silver turned a relieved face toward Lambert. "I shall confess this much, sir," he said, trying to speak calmly and judicially. "Pine treated me badly by taking my toy inventions and by giving me very little money. When I was staying at The Manor I learned that Lord Garvington had also been treated badly by Pine. He said if we could get money that we should go shares. I knew that Pine was jealous of his wife, and that you were at the cottage here, so I suggested that, as Lord Garvington could imitate handwriting, he should forge a letter purporting to come from Lady Agnes to you, saying that she intended to elope on a certain night. Also I told Lord Garvington to talk a great deal about shooting burglars, so as to give color to his shooting Pine."

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"It was arranged to shoot him, then?"

"No, it wasn't," cried Garvington, glaring at Silver. "All we wanted to do was to break Pine's arm or leg so that he might be laid up in The Manor."

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"Yes, that is so," said Silver feverishly, and nodding. "I fancied—and for this reason I suggested the plot—that when Pine was ill, both Lord Garvington and myself could deal with him in an easier manner. Also—since the business would be left in my hands—I hoped to take out some money from various investments, and share it with Lord Garvington. We never meant that Pine should be killed, but only reduced to weakness so that we might force him to give us both money."

"A very ingenious plot," said Lambert grimly and wondering how much of the story was true. "And then?"

"Then Lord Garvington wrote the letter, and when seeing Pine, I gave it to him saying that while keeping watch on his wife—as he asked me to," said Silver with an emphasis which made Lambert wince, "I had intercepted the letter. Pine was furious, as I knew he would be, and said that he would come to the blue door at the appointed time to prevent the supposed elopement. I told Lord Garvington, who was ready, and—"

"And I went down, pretending that Pine was a burglar," said Lord Garvington, continuing the story in a most shameless manner. "I opened the door quite expecting to find him there. He rushed me, believing in his blind haste that I was Agnes coming to elope with you. I shot him in the arm, and he staggered away, while I shut the door again. Whether, on finding his mistake, and knowing that he had met me instead of Agnes, he intended to go away, I can't say, as I was on the wrong side of the door. But Agnes, attracted to the window by the shot, declared—and you heard her declare it at the inquest, Noel—that Pine walked rapidly away and was shot just as he came abreast of the shrubbery. That's all."

"And quite enough, too," said Lambert savagely. "You tricky pair of beasts; I suppose you hoped to implicate me in the crime?"

"It wasn't a crime," protested Silver; "but only a way to get money. By going up to London you certainly delayed what we intended to do, since we could not carry out our plan until you returned. You did for one night, as Chaldea, who was on the watch for you, told us, and then we acted."

"Did Chaldea know of the trap?"

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"No! She knew nothing save that I"—it was Silver who spoke—"wanted to know about your return. She found the letter in Pine's tent, and really believed that Lady Agnes had written it, and that you had shot Pine. It was to force you by threats to marry her that she gave the letter to me."

"And she instructed you to show it to the police," said Lambert between his teeth, "whereas you tried to blackmail Lady Agnes."

"I had to make my money somehow," said Silver insolently. "Pine was dead and Lady Agnes had the coin."

"You were to share in the twenty-five thousand pounds, I suppose?" Lambert asked his cousin indignantly.

"No; Silver blackmailed on his own. I hoped to get money from Agnes in another way—as her hard-up brother that is. And if—"