Dh9

Dh9

"How do you know, that, my lord?"

"My sister, attracted by my shot, jumped out of bed and threw up her window. She saw the man—of course she never guessed that he was Pine—running down the path and saw him fall by the shrubbery when the second shot was fired."

"Her bedroom is then on this side of the house, my lord?"

"Up there," said Garvington, pointing directly over the narrow door, which was painted a rich blue color, and looked rather bizarre, set in the puritanic greyness of the walls. "My own bedroom is further along towards the right. That is why I heard the footsteps so plainly on this gravel." And he stamped hard, while with a wave of his hand he invited the inspector to examine the surroundings.

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Darby did so with keen eyes and an alert brain. The two stood on the west side of the mansion, where it fronted the three-miles distant Abbot's Wood. The Manor was a heterogeneous-looking sort of place, suggesting the whims and fancies of many generations, for something was taken away here, and something was taken away there, and this had been altered, while that had been left in its original state, until the house seemed to be made up of all possible architectural styles. It was a tall building of three stories, although the flattish red-tiled roofs took away somewhat from its height, and spread over an amazing quantity of land. As Darby thought, it could have housed a regiment, and must have cost something to keep up. As wind and weather and time had mellowed its incongruous parts into one neutral tint, it looked odd and attractive. Moss and lichen, ivy and Virginia creeper—this last flaring in crimson glory—clothed the massive stone walls with a gracious mantle of natural beauty. Narrow stone steps, rather chipped, led down from the blue door to the broad, yellow path, which came round the rear of the house and swept down hill in a wide curve, past the miniature shrubbery, right into the bosom of the park.

"This path," explained Garvington, stamping again, "runs right through the park to a small wicket gate set in the brick wall, which borders the high road, Darby."

"And that runs straightly past Abbot's Wood," mused the inspector. "Of course, Sir Hubert would know of the path and the wicket gate?"

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"Certainly; don't be an ass, Darby," cried Garvington petulantly. "He has been in this house dozens of times and knows it as well as I do myself. Why do you ask so obvious a question?"

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"I was only wondering if Sir Hubert came by the high road to the wicket gate you speak of, Lord Garvington."

"That also is obvious," retorted the other, irritably. "Since he wished to come here, he naturally would take the easiest way."

"Then why did he not enter by the main avenue gates?"

"Because at that hour they would be shut, and—since it is evident that his visit was a secret one—he would have had to knock up the lodge-keeper."

"Why was his visit a secret one?" questioned Darby pointedly.

"That is the thing that puzzles me. Anything more?"