“A man with concussion of the brain doesn’t cry out like that. Besides, did you hear the end of it? It sounded as though some one were choking him. Hush!”
They had spoken only in bated breath, but the door of the room before which they were standing was suddenly opened. Meekins stood there, fully dressed, his dark, heavy face full of somber warning. He started a little as he saw the two whispering together. Gerald addressed him almost apologetically.
“We both heard the same sound, Meekins. Is any one ill? It sounded like some one in pain.”
The man hesitated. Then from behind his shoulder came Mr. Fentolin’s still, soft voice. There was a little click, and Meekins, as though obeying an unseen gesture, stepped back. Mr. Fentolin glided on to the threshold. He was still dressed. He propelled his chair a few yards down the corridor and beckoned them to approach.
“I am so sorry,” he said softly, “that you should have been disturbed, Mr. Hamel. We have been a little anxious about our mysterious guest. Doctor Sarson fetched me an hour ago. He discovered that it was necessary to perform a very slight operation, merely the extraction of a splinter of wood. It is all over now, and I think that he will do very well.”
Notwithstanding this very plausible explanation, Hamel was conscious of the remains of an uneasiness which he scarcely knew how to put into words.
“It was a most distressing cry,” he observed doubtfully, “a cry of fear as well as of pain.”
“Poor fellow!” Mr. Fentolin remarked compassionately. “I am afraid that for a moment or two he must have suffered acutely. Doctor Sarson is very clever, however, and there is no doubt that what he did was for the best. His opinion is that by to-morrow morning there will be a marvellous change. Good night, Mr. Hamel. I am quite sure that you will not be disturbed again.”
Hamel neither felt nor showed any disposition to depart.
“Mr. Fentolin,” he said, “I hope that you will not think that I am officious or in any way abusing your hospitality, but I cannot help suggesting that as Dr. Sarson is purely your household physician, the relatives of this man Dunster might be better satisfied if some second opinion were called in. Might I suggest that you telephone to Norwich for a surgeon?”
Mr. Fentolin showed no signs of displeasure. He was silent for a moment, as though considering the matter.
“I am not at all sure, Mr. Hamel, that you are not right,” he admitted frankly. “I believe that the case is quite a simple one, but on the other hand it would perhaps be more satisfactory to have an outside opinion. If Mr. Dunster is not conscious in the morning, we will telephone to the Norwich Infirmary.”
“I think it would be advisable,” Hamel agreed.
“Good night!” Mr. Fentolin said once more. “I am sorry that your rest has been disturbed.”