“Really,” said Mr. Ambrose, making a vain attempt to stop the course of events, “this is very unwarrantable.”
“Unwarrantable!” cried Mr. Booley. “Unwarrantable, indeed! I have the warrant in my pocket. Mr. Juxon, sir, I fear I must insist.”
“Permit me,” said Mr. Juxon, planting his square and sturdy form between the door and the detective. “You may certainly insist, but you must begin by listening to reason.”
Charles Juxon had been accustomed to command others for the greater part of his life, and though he was generally the most unobtrusive and gentle of men, when he raised his voice in a tone of authority his words carried weight. His blue eyes stared hard at Mr. Booley, and there was something imposing in his square head—even in the unruffled smoothness of his brown hair. Mr. Booley paused and discontentedly thrust his hands into his pockets.
“Well?” he said.
“Simply this,” answered the squire. “You may accompany us to the door of the room; you may wait with me, while Doctor Longstreet goes in to look at the patient. If the man is unconscious you may go in and see him. If he chances to be in a lucid interval, you must wait until he is unconscious again. It will not be long. That is perfectly reasonable.”
“Perfectly,” echoed Mr. Ambrose, biting his long upper lip and glaring as fiercely at Mr. Booley as though he had said it all himself.
“Absolutely reasonable,” added Doctor Longstreet.
“Well, we will try it,” said the detective moodily. “But I warn you I will not be trifled with.”
“Nobody is trifling with you,” answered the squire coldly. “This way if you please.” And he forthwith led the way upstairs, followed by Mr. Booley, the physician and the vicar.
Before they reached the door, however, the discussion broke out again. Mr. Booley had been held in check for a few moments by Mr. Juxon’s determined manner, but as he followed the squire he began to regret that he had yielded so far and he made a fresh assertion of his rights.
“I cannot see why you want to keep me outside,” he said. “What difference can it make, I should like to know?”
“You will have to take my word for it that it does make a difference,” said the doctor, testily. “If you frighten the man, he will die. Now then, here we are.”
“I don’t like your tone, sir,” said Booley angrily, again trying to push past the physician. “I think I must insist, after all. I will go in with you—I tell you I will, sir—don’t stop me.”
Doctor Longstreet, who was fifteen or twenty years older than the detective but still strong and active, gripped his arm quickly, and held him back.
“If you go into that room without my permission, and if the man dies of fright, I will have an action brought against you for manslaughter,” he said in a loud voice.
“And I will support it,” said the squire. “I am justice of the peace here, and what is more, I am in my own house. Do not think your position will protect you.”