Gall made his usual half military salute as he came up, and the man in plain clothes raised his hat politely.
“The gentleman from Lunnon, sir,” said Gall by way of introduction, assuming an air of mysterious importance.
“Yes?” said Mr. Juxon interrogatively. “Do you wish to speak to me?”
“The gentleman’s come on business, sir. In point of fact, sir, it’s the case we was speakin’ of lately.”
The squire knew very well what was the matter. Indeed, he had wondered that the detective had not arrived sooner. That did not make it any easier to receive him, however; on the contrary, if he had come on the previous day matters would have been much simpler.
“Very well, Gall,” answered Mr. Juxon. “I am much obliged to you for bringing Mr.—” he paused and looked at the man in plain clothes.
“Booley, sir,” said the detective.
“Thank you—yes—for bringing Mr. Booley so far. You may go home, Gall. If we need your services we will send to your house.”
“It struck me, sir,” remarked Gall with a bland smile, “as perhaps I might be of use—prefeshnal in fact, sir.”
“I will send for you,” said the detective, shortly. The manners of the rural constabulary had long ceased to amuse him.
Gall departed rather reluctantly, but to make up for being left out of the confidential interview which was to follow, he passed his thumb round his belt and thrust out his portly chest as he marched down the avenue. He subsequently spoke very roughly to a little boy who was driving an old sheep to the butcher’s at the other end of the village.
Mr. Juxon and the detective turned back and walked slowly towards the Hall.
“Will you be good enough to state exactly what the business is,” said the squire, well knowing that it was best to go straight to the point.
“You are Mr. Juxon, I believe?” inquired Mr. Booley looking at his companion sharply. The squire nodded. “Very good, Mr. Juxon,” continued the official. “I am after a man called Walter Goddard. Do you know anything about him? His wife, Mrs. Mary Goddard, lives in this village.”
“Walter Goddard is at this moment in my house,” said the squire calmly. “I know all about him. He lay in wait for me at this very spot last night and attacked me. My dog pulled him down.”
The detective was somewhat surprised at the intelligence, and at the cool manner in which his companion conveyed it.
“I am very glad to hear that. In that case I will take him at once.”
“I fear that is impossible,” answered the squire. “The man is raving in the delirium of a brain fever. Meanwhile I shall be glad if you will stay in the house, until he is well enough to be moved. The doctor will be here at ten o’clock, and he will give you the details of the case better than I can. It would be quite impossible to take him away at present.”
“May I ask,” inquired Mr. Booley severely, “why you did not inform the local police?”