“And I also,” said Miss Harrison.
“I am afraid not,” said Holmes, shaking his head. “I think I must ask you to remain sitting exactly where you are.”
The young lady resumed her seat with an air of displeasure. Her brother, however, had joined us and we set off all four together. We passed round the lawn to the outside of the young diplomatist’s window. Thcre were, as he had said, marks upon the bed, but they were hopelessly blurred and vague. Holmes stooped over them for an instant, and then rose shrugging his shoulders.
“I don’t think anyone could make much of this,” said he. “Let us go round the house and see why this particular room was chosen by the burglar. I should have thought those larger windows of the drawing-room and dining-room would have had more attractions for him.”
“They are more visible from the road,” suggested Mr. Joseph Harrison.
“Ah, yes, of course. There is a door here which he might have attempted. What is it for?”
“It is the side entrance for trades-people. Of course it is locked at night.”
“Have you ever had an alarm like this before?”
“Never,” said our client.
“Do you keep plate in the house, or anything to attract burglars?”
“Nothing of value.”
Holmes strolled round the house with his hands in his pockets and a negligent air which was unusual with him.
“By the way,” said he to Joseph Harrison, “you found some place, I understand, where the fellow scaled the fence. Let us have a look at that!”
The plump young man led us to a spot where the top of one of the wooden rails had been cracked. A small fragment of the wood was hanging down. Holmes pulled it off and examined it critically.
“Do you think that was done last night? It looks rather old, does it not?”
“Well, possibly so.”
“There are no marks of anyone jumping down upon the other side. No, I fancy we shall get no help here. Let us go back to the bedroom and talk the matter over.”
Percy Phelps was walking very slowly, leaning upon the arm of his future brother-in-law. Holmes walked swiftly across the lawn, and we were at the open window of the bedroom long before the others came up.
“Miss Harrison,” said Holmes, speaking with the utmost intensity of manner, you must stay where you are all day. Let nothing prevent you from staying where you are all day. It is of the utmost importance.”
“Certainly, if you wish it, Mr. Holmes,” said the girl in astonishment .
“When you go to bed lock the door of this room on the outside and keep the key. Promise to do this.”
“He will come to London with us.”
“And am I to remain here?”
“It is for his sake. You can serve him. Quick! Promise!”
She gave a quick nod of assent just as the other two came up.
“Why do you sit moping there, Annie?” cried her brother. “Come out into the sunshine!”
“No, thank you, Joseph. I have a slight headache and this room is deliciously cool and soothing.”
“What do you propose now, Mr. Holmes?” asked our client.
“Well, in investigating this minor affair we must not lose sight of our main inquiry. It would be a very great help to me if you would come up to London with us.”
“Well, as soon as you conveniently can. Say in an hour.”
“I feel quite strong enough, if I can really be of any help.”
“The greatest possible.”
“Perhaps you would like me to stay there to-night?”
“I was just going to propose it.”
“Then, if my friend of the night comes to revisit me, he will find the bird flown. We are all in your hands, Mr. Holmes, and you must tell us exactly what you would like done. Perhaps you would prefer that Joseph came with us so as to look after me?”
“Oh, no, my friend Watson is a medical man, you know, and he’ll look after you. We’ll have our lunch here, if you will permit us, and then we shall all three set off for town together.”
It was arranged as he suggested. though Miss Harrison excused herself from leaving the bedroom, in accordance with Holmes’s suggestion. What the object of my friend’s manoeuvres was I could not conceive, unless it were to keep the lady away from Phelps, who, rejoiced by his returning health and by the prospect of action, lunched with us in the dining-room. Holmes had a still more startling surprise for us, however, for, after accompanying us down to the station and seeing us into our carriage, he calmly announced that he had no intention of leaving Woking.