The young man thought.
“Have you told Mr. Woodburn?”
“No, sir. I told no one—only you.”
“Shall you tell the police?”
“Never!” cried Monkey, genuinely indignant. “Are I a copper’s nark?”
Whether because of childhood memories, or for some other reason, the copper was still for Monkey Brand the enemy of the human race; and the little jockey had his own code of honour, to which he scrupulously adhered.
“What shall you do?” asked Jim.
The jockey jerked his head mysteriously. Then he limped away down the gangway, behind sleeping horses, into the loose-box at the end where stood Four-Pound-the-Second.
Carefully he closed the door behind the young man and put his lantern down.
“See, you thought I was on the crook, didn’t you, sir?” he said ironically, pursing his eye-lids.
“So you are,” replied the young man.
Monkey wagged his head sententiously.
“Oh, I’m on the crook all right in a manner o’ speakin’,” he admitted. “Only where it is, there’s crooks and crooks. There’s crooks that is on the straight—”
“And there’s straights that is on the crook,” interposed Jim. “As per item, Monkey Brand.”
* * * * *
Next morning Silver went to see Old Mat in his office and opened to him a tale; but the trainer, who seemed very sleepy these days, refused to hear him.
“I knows nothin’ about nothin’,” he said almost querulously, pursing his lips, and sheathing his eyes. “As to rogues and rasqueals, you knows my views by now, Mr. Silver. Same as the Psalmist’s, as I’ve said afore. As for the rest, I’m an old man—older nor I can recollect. All I asks is to lay down and die quiet and peaceable with nothin’ on me conscience only last night’s cheese.”
Next night Boy Woodburn was unusually late to bed.
Sunday nights she always devoted to preparing the Bible-lesson for next week.
Of old she had always retired to her room in the loft after supper on Sunday to wrestle with her labours; but as her mother grew into years, the girl had adopted the habit of working in the parlour.
On this Sunday she worked on long after her father and mother had gone to bed, reading and making notes. Once the door opened, and she was dimly aware of Mr. Silver standing in it. He departed quietly as he had come without a word, but her subconsciousness noted vaguely and with surprise that he was wearing a greatcoat and muffler as if he was going out.
It was eleven o’clock when she closed her book and crossed the yard.
Under the ladder to the loft a door led to a woodshed at the end of the stable.
As she went up the ladder she heard somebody moving in the shed.
“Who’s that?” she asked sharply.