“We get a lot of photographers down here,” he remarked tentatively.
“No doubt,” said my companion. “There is some very pretty scenery in the neighbourhood.”
The landlord rested his hands upon the table.
“There was a gentleman here on Wednesday last,” he said; “an old gentleman who had met with an accident, and was staying somewhere hereabouts for his health. But he’d got his camera with him, and it was wonderful the way he could use it, considering he hadn’t got the use of his right hand.”
“He must have been a very keen photographer,” I said, glancing at the girl beside me.
“He took three or four pictures of the Vinepole,” replied the landlord (which I doubted, since probably his camera was a dummy); “and he wanted to know if there were any other old houses in the neighbourhood. I told him he ought to take Cadham Hall, and he said he had heard that the Gate House, which is about a mile from here, was one of the oldest buildings about.”
A girl appeared with a tea tray, and for a moment I almost feared that the landlord was about to retire; but he lingered, whilst the girl distributed the things about the table, and Carneta asked casually, “Would there be time for me to photograph the Gate House before dark?”
“There might be time,” was the reply, “but that’s not the difficulty. Mr. Isaacs is the difficulty.”
“Who is Mr. Isaacs?” I asked.
“He’s the Jewish gentleman who bought the Gate House recently. Lots of money he’s got and a big motor car. He’s up and down to London almost every day in the week, but he won’t let anybody take photographs of the house. I know several who’ve asked.”
“But I thought,” said Carneta, innocently, “you said the old gentleman who was here on Wednesday went to take some?”
“He went, yes, miss; but I don’t know if he succeeded.”
Carneta poured out some tea.
“Now that you speak of it,” she said, “I too have heard that the Gate House is very picturesque. What objection can Mr. Isaacs have to photographers?”
“Well, you see, miss, to get a picture of the house, you have to pass right through the grounds.”
“I should walk right up to the house and ask permission. Is Mr. Isaacs at home, I wonder?”
“I couldn’t say. He hasn’t passed this way to-day.”
“We might meet him on the way,” said I. “What is he like?”
“A Jewish gentleman sir, very dark, with a white beard. Wears gold glasses. Keeps himself very much to himself. I don’t know anything about his household; none of them ever come here.”
Carneta inquired the direction of Cadham Hall and of the Gate House, and the landlord left us to ourselves. My companion exhibited signs of growing agitation, and it seemed to me that she had much ado to restrain herself from setting out without a moment’s delay for the Gate House, which, I readily perceived, was the place to which our strange venture was leading us.