“You—you’re sure you’re not mistaken?” he asked, still bewildered.
“Haven’t I told you that I saw the boy with my own eyes, that something dreadful has happened today at Briar Hills and that he’s flying from the results of it? Come, Jack. We must go there at once.”
“By all means,” he said, springing up with an air of decision. “My car,” and then as we started for the garage, “you don’t mean to say that you believe the boy has—?”
The terrible words would not come. The mere thought of mentioning them frightened him as they had done me.
“How can I tell?” I said irritably.
“God knows,” he muttered miserably. “Violence—but not—not that.”
“Hurry,” I muttered. “Hurry.”
In a moment we were in the car, rushing through the night toward the lower gate. Briar Hills was not more than four miles from the Manor as the crow flies, but fully twelve by the lower road. Jack wasted no time and we sped along the empty driveways of the estate at a furious pace. The cool damp air of the lowlands refreshed and stimulated us and we were now keenly alert and thinking hard. The lodge gates were kept open now and we went roaring through them and out into the country roads where the going was not so good. Neither of us had dared to repeat our former questions which were still uppermost in our minds. The topic was prohibitive and until we knew something silence were better.
It couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes, twenty-five at the most, before we reached the gates of the Van Wyck place, though it seemed an age to me. Then at my suggestion Jack slowed down and we went up the drive as quietly as possible. I don’t know what we expected to see when we got there, but the sight of the house with lights burning in the windows here and there did something to reassure us. After debating a plan of action we drove boldly up to the house and got out. The front door upon the veranda was wide open but there was no sound within or without. Jack was for dashing in at once and searching the premises but I took him by the arm.
“Wait,” I said, “listen.”
Somewhere within I thought I made out the sound of footsteps. “At least someone is about. Where’s the bell? We’ll ring.”
I found it and though the hour was late a maid answered. She came to the door timidly, uncertainly, as though a little frightened.
“This is Mr. Canby,” I explained. “I would like to see Miss Gore, please.”
“I don’t know, sir,” she paused and then: “Wait a moment. I’ll see—” and went upstairs.
We had been prepared for a wait but Miss Gore appeared almost immediately. She came down calmly, and asked us into the drawing-room.
“I was expecting you,” she said with great deliberateness, “and wondered if you’d come.”
“Then something—something has happened,” I broke in hurriedly.
“I don’t know what, exactly,” she said. “I can’t understand. I’ve thought several things—”