Granet emerged from the Tregarten Hotel at St. Mary’s on the following morning, about half-past eight, and strolled down the narrow strip of lawn which bordered the village street. A couple of boatmen advanced at once to meet him. Granet greeted them cheerily.
“Yes, I want a boat,” he admitted. “I’d like to do a bit of sailing. A friend of mine was here and had a chap named Rowsell—Job Rowsell. Either of you answer to that name, by chance?”
The elder of the two shook his head.
“My name’s Matthew Nichols,” he announced, “and this is my brother-in-law, Joe Lethbridge. We’ve both of us got stout sailing craft and all the recommendations a man need have. As for Job Rowsell, well, he ain’t here—not just at this moment, so to speak.”
Granet considered the matter briefly.
“Well,” he decided, “it seems to me I must talk to this chap Rowsell before I do anything. I’m under a sort of promise.”
The two boatmen looked at one another. The one who had addressed him first turned a little away.
“Just as you like, sir,” he announced. “No doubt Rowsell will be up this way towards afternoon.”
“Afternoon? But I want to go out at once,” Granet protested.
Matthew Nichols removed his pipe from his mouth and spat upon the ground thoughtfully.
“I doubt whether you’ll get Job Rowsell to shift before mid-day. I’m none so sure he’ll go out at all with this nor-wester blowing.”
“What’s the matter with him?” Granet asked. “Is he lazy?”
The man who as yet had scarcely spoken, swung round on his heel.
“He’s no lazy, sir,” he said. “That’s not the right word. But he’s come into money some way or other, Job Rowsell has. There’s none of us knows how, and it ain’t our business, but he spends most of his time in the public-house and he seems to have taken a fancy for night sailing alone, which to my mind, and there are others of us as say the same, ain’t none too healthy an occupation. And that’s all there is to be said of Job Rowsell, as I knows of.”
“It’s a good deal, too,” Granet remarked thoughtfully. “Where does he live?”
“Fourth house on the left in yonder street,” Matthew Nichols replied, pointing with his pipe. “Maybe he’ll come if you send for him, maybe he won’t.”
“I must try to keep my word to my friend,” Granet decided. “If I don’t find him, I’ll come back and look for you fellows again.”
He turned back to the little writing-room, scribbled a note and sent it down by the boots. In about half an hour he was called once more out into the garden. A huge, loose-jointed man was standing there, unshaven, untidily dressed, and with the look in his eyes of a man who has been drinking heavily.
“Are you Job Rowsell?” Granet inquired.
“That’s my name,” the man admitted. “Is there anything wrong with it?”