“Angela dear, be silent. This does not concern you. Of course, inspector, we’re all only too dretfully anxious to do anything to help the Law, but you must specify the occasion more exactly. Our committee sees so many applicants.”
“You are Lady A. ’Iggins, I believe,” said the policeman impassively. “Well, my lady, may I ask you whether you are aware thet the cherecter in question was seen to leave your ’ouse last night, at nine forty-five P.M., after the warning of approaching enemy atteck was given, and to disappear in an easterly direction, on a miniature ’eavier than air machine, make and number unknown?”
The threads of curious smoke in the fireplace were increasing. They shivered as though with laughter, and flowed like crimped hair up the chimney.
“I had a dinner-party last night certainly,” stammered Lady Arabel. A trembling seized the sock she was knitting. She had turned the heel some time ago, but in the present stress had forgotten all about the toe. The prolonged sock grew every minute more and more like a drain-pipe with a bend in it. “Why yes, of course I had a dinner-party; why shouldn’t I? My son Rrchud, a private in the London Rifles, this young lady, Miss Angela—er—, and her friend—such a good quiet creature....”
“And ’oo else was in the ’ouse?” asked the policeman, glancing haughtily at the witch.
“Oh nobody, nobody. The servants all gave notice and left—too dretfully tahsome how they can’t stand Rrchud and his ways. Of course there was the orchestra—twenty-five pieces—but so dependable.”
“Dependable,” said the witch, “is a mystery word to me. I can’t think how it got into the English language without being right. Surely Depend-on-able——”
“Your son ’as peculiar ways, you say, my lady,” interrupted the policeman.
“Oh, nothing to speak of,” answered Lady Arabel, wincing. “Merely lighthearted ... too dretfully Bohemian ... ingenious, you know, in making experiments ... magnetism....”
“Experiments in Magnetism,” spelt the policeman aloud into his notebook. “And ’oo left your ’ouse at nine forty-five P.M. last night?”
“I did,” said the witch.
The policeman withered her once more with a glance.
“Lady ’Iggins, did you say your son left your ’ouse at nine forty-five P.M. last night?”
“Thenk you, my lady.”
“You seem to me dretfully impertinent,” said Lady Arabel. “This is not a court of law. My son Rrchud left the house with me and our guest to seek shelter from the raid.”
“Thenk you, my lady,” repeated the policeman coldly, and turned to Miss Ford.
“Could you identify the cherecter ’oo came into your committee room last Seturday?” he asked of her.
“No,” she replied.
“Couldn’t you say whether it seemed like
a male or a female in disguise?
Couldn’t you mention any physical pecooliarity that struck you?”