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Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 3179

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04

Kent turned to the Inspector. "Take me into the house," he said. Edwards led the way. The interior of the handsome mansion seemed undisturbed. "I see no sign of a struggle here," said Kent.

"No," answered the Inspector gloomily. "We can find no sign of a struggle anywhere. But, then, we never do."

He opened for the moment the door of the stately drawing-room. "No sign of a struggle there," he said. The closed blinds, the draped furniture, the covered piano, the muffled chandelier, showed absolutely no sign of a struggle.

"Come upstairs to the billiard-room," said Edwards. "The body has been removed for the inquest, but nothing else is disturbed."

They went upstairs. On the second floor was the billiard-room, with a great English table in the centre of it. But Kent had at once dashed across to the window, an exclamation on his lips. "Ha! ha!" he said, "what have we here?"

The Inspector shook his head quietly. "The window," he said in a monotonous, almost sing-song tone, "has apparently been opened from the outside, the sash being lifted with some kind of a sharp instrument. The dust on the sill outside has been disturbed as if by a man of extraordinary agility lying on his stomach--Don't bother about that, Mr. Kent. It's always there."

"True," said Kent. Then he cast his eyes upward, and again an involuntary exclamation broke from him. "Did you see that trap-door?" he asked.

"We did," said Edwards. "The dust around the rim has been disturbed. The trap opens into the hollow of the roof. A man of extraordinary dexterity might open the trap with a

billiard cue, throw up a fine manila rope, climb up the rope and lie there on his stomach.

"No use," continued the Inspector. "For the matter of that, look at this huge old-fashioned fireplace. A man of extraordinary precocity could climb up the chimney. Or this dumb-waiter on a pulley, for serving drinks, leading down into the maids' quarters. A man of extreme indelicacy might ride up and down in it."

"Stop a minute," said Kent. "What is the meaning of that hat?"

A light gossamer hat, gay with flowers, hung on a peg at the side of the room.

"We thought of that," said Edwards, "and we have left it there. Whoever comes for that hat has had a hand in the mystery. We think--"

But Transome Kent was no longer listening. He had seized the edge of the billiard table.

"Look, look!" he cried eagerly. "The clue to the mystery! The positions of the billiard balls! The white ball in the very centre of the table, and the red just standing on the verge of the end pocket! What does it mean, Edwards, what does it mean?"

He had grasped Edwards by the arm and was peering into his face.

"I don't know," said the Inspector. "I don't play billiards."

"Neither do I," said Kent, "but I can find out. Quick! The nearest book-store. I must buy a book on billiards."

With a wave of the arm, Kent vanished.

The Inspector stood for a moment in thought.

"Gone!" he murmured to himself (it was his habit to murmur all really important speeches aloud to himself). "Now, why did Throgton telephone to me to put a watch on Kent? Ten dollars a day to shadow him! Why?"

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