“Hush,” replied Mrs. Ambrose, “do not disturb him—he was conscious again just now. This may be the crisis—he may recover. The door is locked—try and prevent anybody—that is, the detective, from coming in. They will not dare to break open the door in Mr. Juxon’s house.”
“But why is Mrs. Goddard here?” asked John unable to control his curiosity any longer. He did not mean that she should hear, but as she laid Goddard’s head gently upon the pillows, trying to soothe him to rest again, if rest it were, she looked up and met John’s eyes.
“Because he is my husband,” said she very quietly.
John laid his hand on Mrs. Ambrose’s arm in utmost bewilderment and looked at her as though to ask if it were true. She nodded gravely. Before John had time to recover himself from the shock of the news, footsteps were heard outside, and the loud altercation of angry voices. John Short leaned his shoulder against the door and put his foot against it below, expecting an attack.
When Mr. Ambrose undertook to reason with the detective he went directly towards the study where John said the man was waiting. But Mr. Booley was beginning to suspect that the doctor was not coming to speak with him as the squire had promised, and after hesitating for a few moments followed John into the library, determining to manage matters himself. As he opened the door he met Mr. Ambrose coming towards him, and at the same moment Mr. Juxon and Doctor Longstreet entered from the opposite end of the long room. The cheerful and active physician was talking in a rather excited tone.
“My dear sir,” said he, “I cannot pretend to say that the man will or will not recover. I must see him again. Things look quite differently by daylight, and six or seven hours may make all the change in the world. To say that he can be moved to-day or even to-morrow, is absurd. I will stake my reputation as a practitioner—Hulloa!”
The exclamation was elicited by Mr. Booley, who had pushed past Mr. Ambrose and stood confronting the doctor with a look which was intended to express a combination of sarcasm, superior cunning and authority.
“This is Mr. Booley,” explained the squire. “Doctor Longstreet will tell you what he has been telling me,” he added turning to the detective.
“I must see this man instantly,” said the latter somewhat roughly. “I believe I am being trifled with, and I will not submit to it. No, sir, I will not be trifled with, I assure you! I must see this man at once. It is absolutely necessary to identify him.”
“And I say,” said Doctor Longstreet with equal firmness, “that I must see him first, in order to judge whether you can see him or not—”
“It is for me to judge of that,” returned Mr. Booley, with more haste than logic.
“After you have seen him, you cannot judge whether you ought to see him or not,” retorted Doctor Longstreet growing red in the face. The detective attempted to push past him. At this moment John Short hastily left the room and fled upstairs to warn Mrs. Ambrose of what was happening.