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The Veil Is Raised
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"He asked me to get one of the serviettes, with the ring, and to lend it to him."
"You did this?"
"Yes. But he brought it back."
"Before Sir Charles's death? Yes. Go on. What did he tell you to do with this serviette?"
"It--was in a box. He said I was not to open the box until I put the serviette on the table, and that it had to be put by Sir Charles's plate. It had to be put there just before the meal began."
"I had to burn the box."
"That night I couldn't see how it was to be done. Benson had laid the dinner table and Mrs. Howett was pottering about. Then, when I thought I had my chance, Sir Charles sat down in the dining room and began to read. He was still there and I had the box hidden in the hall stand, all ready, when-Sidney--rang up."
"Rang you up?"
"Yes. We had arranged it. He said he was my brother. I had to tell him I couldn't do it."
"He said: 'You must.' I told him Sir Charles was in the dining room, and he said: 'I'll get him away. Directly he goes, don't fail to do what I told you'."
"Another 'phone call came--for Sir Charles. I knew who it was, because I had told Sidney about the case Sir Charles was attending in the square. When Sir Charles went out I changed the serviettes. Mrs. Howett found me in the dining room and played hell. But afterward I managed to burn the box in the kitchen. That's all I know. What harm was there?"
"Harm enough!" said Harley, grimly. "And now--what was it that 'Sidney' stole from Sir Charles's bureau in the study?"
The girl started and bit her lip convulsively. "It wasn't stealing," she muttered. "It wasn't worth anything."
"Answer me. What did he take?"
"He took nothing."
"For the last time: answer."
"It wasn't Sidney who took it. I took it."
"You took what?"
"You mean that you stole Sir Charles's keys and opened his bureau?"
"There was no stealing. He was out and they were lying on his dressing table. Sidney had told me to do it the first time I got a chance."
"What had he told you to do?"
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