Feeling in an inside pocket for a cigarette, he found one and lit it from the smouldering end of a tinder-lighter. Then, carefully concealing the lighted cigarette in the palm of his hand, he walked softly and noiselessly down the drive, keeping to the shadow of the bushes and watching to left and right for signs of approaching pedestrians.
It was the wick of a tinder-lighter, then being sold by thousands by English tobacconists to replace a war-time scarcity of matches, and greatly used by cigarette smokers. The mystery of the presence of the wick in the pistol-case was not lessened because it enabled Colwyn to identify the tiny yellow fragment adhering to the cock of the pistol.
There was nothing else that I can recall, except that when I restored the pistol I saw I had left the end of one of my experimental tinder-lighter wicks lying in the case. "But I do not wish to know how you found out, now that Nepcote has escaped. I have nothing left to live for. The doctor thinks I am recovering, but I knew that it was only the hope of revenge which kept me going.
He was in no hurry. He filled his pipe, drew from his pocket a tinder-lighter as long as a tapeworm, and said to me, "You're not going on again till six o'clock. Ah, you're very lucky!" Diligently he mingled his heavy tobacco-clouds with the vapors from all those bodies which lay around us and rattled in their throats.
The wick of the tinder-lighter was an admirable slow match, obtainable in any tobacconist's shop for a few pence, which, by means of this trick, had established a false alibi for the actual murderer by causing the report which had reached the dining-room, and sent the inmates hastening upstairs to ascertain the cause. The shot which had mortally wounded Mrs. Heredith must have been fired before.
He first laid the wick of the tinder-lighter along the stock of the pistol, just behind the hammer. He next took up one of the lengths of string, and pulling back the hammer and the trigger of the pistol, proceeded to bind them both firmly back with the string, which he passed twice round the wick.