“Other things is missing, ma’am,” said Emma; “there’s the key of the closet where your dresses hangs. I’ve hunted high and low for it, and nobody hasn’t seen it.”
“Keys are easily lost,” said Caroline, “but my davenport is very important. Perhaps in some cleaning it has been moved into one of the other rooms and forgotten there. I wish you would look. You know I had it before I came here.”
Not only did Emma look, but as soon as her mistress was ready to leave the room she went herself on a voyage of discovery, peeping first into the little dressing-room, where seeing Babie at her morning prayers, she said nothing to disturb her, and then going on to look into some spare rooms beyond, where she thought it might have been disposed of, as being not smart enough for my lady’s chamber. Coming back to her room she found, to her extreme amazement, the closet open, and Babie pushing the davenport out of it, with her cheeks crimson and a look of consternation at being detected.
“My dear child! The davenport there! Did you know it? How did it get there?”
“I put it,” said Barbara, evidently only forced to reply by sheer sincerity.
“You! And why?”
“I thought it safer,” mumbled Babie.
“And you knew where the key of the closet was?”
“In my doll’s bed, locked up in the baby-house.”
“This is most extraordinary. When did you do this?”
“Just before we came out to you at Leukerbad,” said Babie, each reply pumped out with great difficulty.
“Four years ago! It is a very odd thing. I suppose you had a panic, for you were too old then for playing monkey tricks.”
To which Babie made no answer, and the next minute her mother, who had become intent on the davenport, exclaimed, “I suppose you haven’t got the key of this in your doll’s bed?”
“Don’t you remember, mother,” said Barbara, “you sent it home to Janet, and it was lost in her bag on the crossing?”
“Oh, yes, I remember! And it is a Bramah lock, more’s the pity. We must have the locksmith over from Kenminster to open it.”
The man was sent for, the davenport was opened, desk, drawers, and all. Caroline was once more in possession of her papers. She turned them over in haste, and saw no book of Magnum Bonum. Again, more carefully she looked. The white slate, where those precious last words had been written, was there, proving to her that her memory had not deceived her, but that she had really kept her treasure in that davenport.
Then, in her distress, she thought of Barbara’s strange behaviour, went in quest of her, and calling her aside, asked her to tell her the real reason why she had thought fit to secure the davenport in the closet.
“Why,” asked Babie, her eyes growing large and shining, “is anything missing?”
“Tell me first,” said Caroline, trembling.