“Dumble is here to see you, sir.”
“Show him in at once,” his master directed with alacrity. “Come in, Jimmy,” he went on, raising his voice. “I’ve got something to show you here.”
Philippa’s lips were drawn a little closer together. She swept past her husband on her way to the door.
“I hope you will be so good,” she said, looking back, “as to spare me half an hour of your valuable time this evening. This is a subject which I must discuss with you further at once.”
“As urgent as all that, eh?” Sir Henry replied, stopping to light a cigarette. “Righto! You can have the whole of my evening, dear, with the greatest of pleasure.—Now then, Jimmy!”
Jimmy Dumble possessed a very red face and an extraordinary capacity for silence. He stood a yard or two inside the room, twirling his hat in his hand. Sir Henry, after the closing of the door, did not for a moment address his visitor. There was a subtle but unmistakable change in his appearance as he stood with his hands in his pockets, and a frown on his forehead, whistling softly to himself, his eyes fixed upon the door through which his wife had vanished. He swung round at last towards the telephone.
“Stand by for a moment, Jimmy, will you?” he directed.
“Aye, aye, sir!”
Sir Henry took up the receiver. He dropped his voice a little, although it was none the less distinct.
“Number one—police-station, please.—Hullo there! The inspector about?—That you, Inspector?—Sir Henry Cranston speaking. Could you just step round?—Good! Tell them to show you straight into the library. You might just drop a hint to Mills about the lights, eh? Thank you.”
He laid down the receiver and turned towards the fisherman.
“Well, Jimmy,” he enquired, “all serene down in the village, eh?”
“So far as I’ve seen or heard, sir, there ain’t been a word spoke as shouldn’t be.”
“A lazy lot they are,” Sir Henry observed.
“They don’t look far beyond the end of their noses.”
“Maybe it’s as well for us, sir, as they don’t,” was the cautious reply.
Sir Henry strolled to the further end of the room.
“Perhaps you are right, Jimmy,” he admitted.
“That fellow Ben Oates seems to be the only one with ideas.”
“He don’t keep sober long enough to give us any trouble,” Dumble declared. “He began asking me questions a few days ago, and I know he put Grice’s lad on to find out which way we went last Saturday week, but that don’t amount to anything. He was dead drunk for three days afterwards.”
Sir Henry nodded.
“I’m not very frightened of Ben Oates, Jimmy,” he confided, as he threw open the door of a large cabinet which stood against the further wall. “No strangers about, eh?”
“Not a sign of one, sir.”