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Mr. Troy suspended the investigation, and took a turn thoughtfully in the room. The theory on which his inquiries had proceeded thus far had failed to produce any results. His experience warned him to waste no more time on it, and to return to the starting-point of the investigation — in other words, to the letter. Shifting his point of view, he turned again to Lady Lydiard, and tried his questions in a new direction.

“Mr. Moody mentioned just now,” he said, “that your Ladyship was called into the next room before you could seal your letter. On your return to this room, did you seal the letter?”

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“I was busy with the dog,” Lady Lydiard answered. “Isabel Miller was of no use in the boudoir, and I told her to seal it for me.”

Mr. Troy started. The new direction in which he was pushing his inquiries began to look like the right direction already. “Miss Isabel Miller,” he proceeded, “has been a resident under your Ladyship’s roof for some little time, I believe?”

“For nearly two years, Mr. Troy.”

“As your Ladyship’s companion and reader?”

“As my adopted daughter,” her Ladyship answered, with marked emphasis.

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Wise Mr. Troy rightly interpreted the emphasis as a warning to him to suspend the examination of her Ladyship, and to address to Mr. Moody the far more serious questions which were now to come.

“Did anyone give you the letter before you left the house with it?” he said to the steward. “Or did you take it yourself?”

“I took it myself, from the table here.”

“Was it sealed?”

“Was anybody present when you took the letter from the table?”

“Miss Isabel was present.”

“Did you find her alone in the room?”

“Yes, sir.”

Lady Lydiard opened her lips to speak, and checked herself. Mr. Troy, having cleared the ground before him, put the fatal question.

“Mr. Moody,” he said, “when Miss Isabel was instructed to seal the letter, did she know that a bank-note was inclosed in it?”