Before they departed the hotel that late afternoon to travel back to Welby, Simmonds dropped in on the Manager. He confirmed that neither Eric nor Agnes had returned to collect the wages they were owed. Word had come to him also that the pair had quit their lodgings without leaving a forwarding address. To all intents and purposes they had disappeared from the face of the earth.
Piccolo drove. The engine was noisy and they were almost shouting as they discussed the latest development.
‘So Lady B’s plan is for us to stay at the Hall over Christmas, along with some other unnamed guests, and help expose the blackmailer’ said Piccolo.
‘And you’re sure she meant expose and not kill?’ asked Simmonds, Piccolo having previously recounted her exchange with Lady Bessingham.
‘I’m sure you’re there just to make an arrest and have the rascal incarcerated’.
‘And she won’t tell you the name of this swine?’.
‘No’ Piccolo changed gear and accelerated. ‘She says once the genie is out of the bottle there’s no putting it back. Probably afraid that the chap will discover the plan somehow and not show up’.
‘My money’s on Catchpole’ said Simmonds. ‘Ticks all the boxes’.
‘Now wouldn’t that be convenient! … So what should we do?’.
‘Play along’ replied Simmonds.
‘Absolutely. Either way we apprehend a criminal, and if it’s Catchpole all the better. We go to Bessingham Hall for Christmas’.