I left Berry and hastened back to the car.
Exclamations of surprise greeted my issuing from the lane, and I could read the same unspoken query in four faces at once.
“We’re first in the field so far,” I said. There was a gasp of relief. “Come along. We’ve found a way for you.”
Adele and Jill were already out of the car. Daphne and Jonah made haste to alight.
“Think we can leave her?” said Jonah, with a nod at the Rolls.
“Oh, yes. We shan’t be a minute.”
Hurriedly we padded back the way I had come. Berry was still at the door, and in silence we followed him to where he and I had stood looking and listening a few minutes before.
“O-o-oh!” cried Jill, in an excited whisper.
“What about it, Adele?” said Berry.
Adele looked about her, knitting her brows. Then—
“I’m afraid to say anything,” she said. “It may be the place I sat. I can’t say it isn’t. But it’s so altered. I think, if the grass was cut....”
“What did I say?” said my brother-in-law.
“But the pedestal was exactly that height. That I’ll swear. And it stood on a step.”
“What did the words look like?” said I.
“They were carved in block letters on the side of the cornice.”
As carefully as I could, I stepped to the sundial. As I came up to it, my foot encountered a step....
The column was unusually massive, and the dial must have been two feet square. Lichened and weather-beaten, an inscription upon the cornice was yet quite easy to read.
PEREUNT ET IMPUTANTUR
And the words were carved in block lettering....
A buzz of excitement succeeded my report. Then Daphne turned quickly and looked searchingly at the house.
“I feel as if we were being watched,” she said, shuddering. “Let’s get back to the car.”
As Jonah followed the girls into the lane—
“What about bolting the door?” said I.
Berry shook his head.
“Doesn’t matter,” he said. “Any way, we’ve trodden the grass down. Besides, there’s nothing to hide.”
We dragged the door to and hastened after the others.
As we climbed into the car, Jonah started the engine.
“What are the orders?” he said. “Is Miller the agent? You never said.”
“Yes,” said I. “We’d better go straight to Brooch.”
Our way lay past the main entrance of The Lawn.
As we approached this, Jonah exclaimed and set his foot on the brake.
Leaning against the wall was a bicycle, and there was a man’s figure busy about the gates. He appeared to be climbing over....
As we came up alongside, he looked at us curiously. Then he went on with his work.
A moment later he slid a pair of pliers into his pocket and, wringing the board clear of its fastenings, lowered it to the ground.