On the day of Edwin’s disappearance Neville was seen by witnesses preparing for a long walk the following day, in readiness for which he had purchased a walking stick, but not one that met with approval from Crisparkle: ‘Much too heavy, Neville; much too heavy.’ The next day Neville had already set upon his walk when news of Edwin’s disappearance emerged, and when he was then surrounded by townsmen wishing to bring him back for questioning, Neville – concerned for his safety – resorted to the stick for protection:
Shouldering his heavy stick, and quickening his pace, he shot on to pass the four ahead. The largest and strongest man of the number changed swiftly to the side on which he came up, and dexterously closed with him and went down with him; but not before the heavy stick had descended smartly.
Blood was spilt, and when Neville was then brought to Jasper, the stick was looked upon with suspicion.
‘What are those stains upon his dress?’
All eyes were turned towards the blood on his clothes.
‘And here are the same stains upon this stick!’ said Jasper taking it from the hand of the man who held it. ‘I know this stick to be his, and he carried it last night. What does it mean?’
Thought Neville pointed to the struggle had moments earlier, ‘the very men who had seen it, looked darkly at the smears which the bright cold air had already dried.’ Are the stains only from the struggle before, or is Edwin’s blood upon the stick – could this be the murder weapon?