(The story begins here.)
(The last recap is here.)
“So what is your theory about how the attacker entered the study?” Darren asked as soon as they were a safe distance from the house.
“Haven’t you thought of it?” Dr. Fleming countered with evident surprise. “It’s obvious: he got in by using the password.”
“You mean whoever is holding Dr. FitzHugh made him talk?”
“I mean that Dr. FitzHugh willingly gave the man the information.”
They had arrived at the rear of the house below the shuttered window, but the remark distracted Darren. “It was his idea? Why do you think so?”
“Look at the sequence of events: the so-called attacker never really harmed Miss FitzHugh; even the blow to the head will certainly prove trivial. I only suggested a further medical examination to keep her out of our way. Whatever doctor she picks will certainly think me a cretin for sending her on. The wound looks bad initially, but a reasonably close inspection will prove otherwise.
“This demonstrates that the attacker concentrated on trying to escape with the papers, and he tried to frighten Miss FitzHugh away. Think about it: he must have been very competent to get in there so stealthily, yet a competent assassin could have killed her at various points. If he had killed her, he would now have the papers. So not killing her was more important than the apparent primary objective, getting the papers. Doesn’t that, together with his ability to enter the room in the first place, suggest something?”
“Only that someone wants her kept alive, though I admit the opposition we’ve encountered and heard about doesn’t seem to mind killing.” Darren paused as he examined the tracks. “Just a muddle. I don’t see Lassiter’s prints here.”
“If her father is behind the attempted theft, it tells us some other things—one of which I’ve already confirmed,” Dr. Fleming continued doggedly.
“Which way would you have gone to reach the back of the house—deasil or withershins?”
“Kindly do not gibber.”
“Right or left?”
The doctor pondered briefly. “Approaching from the right would give better cover, but the left gives a better view.”
“Which is why I came left. I should’ve gone right: Lassiter likes cover.”
“Splendid. Anyway, if her father’s behind the incident, why did he want his notes taken?”
“Of course, the driveway continues to the garage and some other outbuildings on the right, so there would be no tracks,” Darren muttered absently. Then he shifted topics before his friend could be tempted too far. “She already knows the information, and so does he. I don’t see the point.”
“He didn’t want her involved, and the notes give a clue to his whereabouts.”
Darren glanced at him almost skeptically; then he looked back at the ground and smiled. “I now have a clue to Lassiter’s whereabouts. He never went near the back of the house.”
Next: Fool's Errand
[I meant to give links for the Neo Patwa material before, and I have now done so. It is going to be a bit of a running gag.]
1 year ago