“I believe the boy is right,” said Captain Branscome. “Now I recall the Major’s face at the moment when I rattled the latch, I feel sure he was on his guard. Yes—yes, he had been warned against carrying this on his person—he was wrapping it away for the time—”
“Why, what ails the man?” demanded Miss Belcher, as Captain Branscome stopped short with a groan.
“I was thinking, ma’am, that but for my visit he might never have relaxed his guard—that it was I who helped the murderer to take him at unawares. Nay—worse, ma’am, worse—his last thought may have been that I was the traitor—that the blow he took was from the hand he had filled with gold—that I had returned to kill him in his blindness!”
Captain Branscome bowed his head upon his hands. I saw Plinny—who all this while had sat silent, content to listen—rise, her face twitching, and put out a hand to touch the captain’s shoulder. I saw her hand hesitate as her sense of decorum overtook her pity and seemed to reason with it. And with that I heard the noise of wheels on the road.
“Hallo!”—Miss Belcher pricked up her ears. “Here’s that nuisance Jack Rogers turning up again!”
THE CONTENTS OF THE CORNER CUPBOARD.
Mr. Jack Rogers, as he pulled up by the porch and directed me to stand by the young mare’s head, wore a look of extreme self-satisfaction. Beside him, also beaming, sat Mr. Goodfellow, with the corner cupboard nursed between his knees.
“Capital news, lad!” announced Mr. Rogers, climbing down from the tilbury. “The filly’s pretty near dead-beat, though—must see to her and cool her down before telling it. Now, then, Mr. Goodfellow, if you’ll hand out the cupboard. By the way, sonny, I hope Miss Plinlimmon can give us breakfast. I’m as hungry as a hunter, for my part, and deserve it, too, after a good night’s work. With my fol-de-rol, diddledy—” He started to hum, but checked himself shamefacedly. “There I go again, and I beg your pardon! ’Tis the most difficult thing in the world to me to behave myself in a house of mourning.”
Mr. Goodfellow by this time had clambered down, and was embracing the corner cupboard as though he had parted from it for an age, instead of for fifty seconds at the farthest.
“Carry it indoors, but don’t open it till I’m ready,” commanded Mr. Rogers, stooping under the filly to loosen her belly-band. “I’m a magistrate, remember, and these things must be done in order. You come along with me, Harry; that is, if you have the key in your pocket.”
“I have, sir.”
“Right! Then come along with me, and you’ll be out of harm’s way.”
So, while Mr. Goodfellow carried the cupboard into the house, Mr. Rogers and I attended to the filly.