Never before on a Sunday afternoon had Miss Drewitt known the streets of Binchester to be so full of people. She hurried on with bent head, looking straight before her, trying to imagine what she looked like. There was no sign of the captain, but as they turned into Dialstone Lane they both saw a huge, shaggy, grey head protruding from the small window of his bedroom. It disappeared with a suddenness almost startling.
“Thank you,” said Miss Drewitt, holding out her hand as she reached the door. “Good-bye.”
Mr. Tredgold said “Good-bye,” and with a furtive glance at the window above departed. Miss Drewitt, opening the door, looked round an empty room. Then the kitchen door opened and the face of Mr. Tasker, full of concern, appeared.
“Did you get wet, miss?” he inquired.
Miss Drewitt ignored the question. “Where is Captain Bowers?” she asked, in a clear, penetrating voice.
The face of Mr. Tasker fell. “He’s gone to bed with a headache, miss,” he replied.
“Headache?” repeated the astonished Miss Drewitt. “When did he go?”
“About ’arf an hour ago,” said Mr. Tasker; “just after the storm. I suppose that’s what caused it, though it seems funny, considering what a lot he must ha’ seen at sea. He said he’d go straight to bed and try and sleep it off. And I was to ask you to please not to make a noise.”
Miss Drewitt swept past him and mounted the stairs. At the captain’s door she paused, but the loud snoring of a determined man made her resolve to postpone her demands for an explanation to a more fitting opportunity. Tired, wet, and angry she gained her own room, and threw herself thoughtlessly into that famous old Chippendale chair which, in accordance with Mr. Tredgold’s instructions, had been placed against the wall.
The captain started in his sleep.
[Illustration: “She threw herself thoughtlessly into that famous old Chippendale chair.”]
Mr. Chalk’s anxiety during the negotiations for the purchase of the Fair Emily kept him oscillating between Tredgold and Stobell until those gentlemen fled at his approach and instructed their retainers to make untruthful statements as to their whereabouts. Daily letters from Captain Brisket stated that he was still haggling with Mr. Todd over the price, and Mr. Chalk quailed as he tried to picture the scene with that doughty champion.
[Illustration: “Instructed their retainers to make untruthful statements as to their whereabouts.”]
Three times at the earnest instigation of his friends, who pointed out the necessity of keeping up appearances, had he set out to pay a visit to Dialstone Lane, and three times had he turned back half-way as he realized the difficult nature of his task. As well ask a poacher to call on a gamekeeper the morning after a raid.