Moodily I returned to the house.
I entered the library to find that the others had retired, presumably to dress for dinner. Mechanically I crossed to the tallboy, which we had so fruitlessly surveyed, and began to finger it idly, wondering all the time whether my dream was wanton, or whether there was indeed some secret which we might discover. It did not seem possible, and yet.... That distant voice rang in my ears. “Measurements tell, measurements tell. But they never do that.” What?
A sudden idea came to me, and I drew out the second long drawer. Then in some excitement I withdrew the first, and placed it exactly upon the top of the second, so that I might see if they were of the same size. The second was the deeper by an inch and a half.
I thrust my arms into the empty frame, feeling feverishly for a bolt or catch, which should be holding a panel in place at the back of where the first drawer had lain. At first I could find nothing, then my right hand encountered a round hole in the wood, just large enough to admit a man’s finger. Almost immediately I came upon a similar hole on the left-hand side. Their office was plain....
A moment later, and I had drawn the panel out of its standing and clear of the chest.
My hands were trembling as I thrust them into the dusty hiding-place.
* * * * *
“Hullo! Aren’t you going to dress?” said Jonah some two minutes later.
But I was still staring at a heavy riding-whip whose handle was wrought about with gold.
HOW A MAN MAY FOLLOW HIS OWN HAT, AND BERRY TOOK A LAMP IN HIS HAND.
“What are you doing this morning?” said Daphne.
Berry turned to the mantelpiece and selected a pipe before replying.
“I have,” he said, “several duties to discharge. All, curiously enough, to myself. First, if not foremost, I must hire some sock-suspenders. Secondly, I must select some socks for the sock-suspenders to suspend. Is that clear? Neither last nor least——”
“As a matter of fact,” said his wife, “you’re going to help me choose a present for Maisie Dukedom. Besides, I’ve got to go to Fortnum and Mason’s, and I want you——”
“To carry the string-bag. I know. And we can get the chops at the same time. We’d better take some newspaper with us. And a perambulator.”
“Tell you what,” said Jonah, “let’s all join together and give her a Persian rug.”
“That’s rather an idea,” said my sister. “And they wear for ever.”
“You’re sure of that, aren’t you?” said Berry. “I mean, I shouldn’t like her to have to get a new one in about six hundred years. I like a present to last.”
Before Daphne could reply—
“How d’you spell ’business’?” said Jill, looking up from a letter.
“Personally,” said I, “I don’t. It’s one of the words I avoid. If you must, I should write it down both ways and see what it looks like.”