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The Cornish Cliff Mystery

Answer:

Melville's explanation of the Cornish Cliff Mystery was very simple when he gave it. 
Yet it was an ingenious trick that the two criminals adopted, and it would have completely succeeded had not our friends from the Puzzle Club accidentally appeared on the scene. 
This is what happened: 
When Lamson and Marsh reached the stile, Marsh alone walked to the top of the cliff, with Lamson's larger boots in his hands. Arrived at the edge of the cliff, he changed the boots and walked backwards to the stile, carrying his own boots.

This little manœuvre accounts for the smaller footprints showing a deeper impression at the heel, and the larger prints a deeper impression at the toe; for a man will walk more heavily on his heels when going forward, but will make a deeper impression with the toes in walking backwards. 
It will also account for the fact that the large footprints were sometimes impressed over the smaller ones, but never the reverse; also for the circumstance that the larger footprints showed a shorter stride, for a man will necessarily take a smaller stride when walking backwards. 
The pocket-book was intentionally dropped, to lead the police to discover the footprints, and so be put on the wrong scent.






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