Page:Court Royal.djvu/190

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where I’d be sure, I thought, to hear when you were at the front door. I’m sorry I was that bold to do so.’

‘What has become of the note-book I saw on the desk a moment ago?’

‘What note-book, sir?’

‘One I saw beneath your hand as you lay asleep.’

Joanna shrugged her shoulders. ‘There are a power of books of all sorts here,’ she answered. ‘Which would you please to want, sir?’

‘I insist on your producing the book.’

‘I have none to produce,’ she answered, stupidly or doggedly.

‘Joanna, how came the cabinet open, and the books about?’

‘I suppose the master left them so.’

‘And the cabinet unlocked?’

She shrugged her shoulders, then yawned. ‘I beg pardon, sir, but I am that sleepy I can neither think nor speak. Do you want some hot water and tumblers, and the sugar, and the whisky?’

‘Go along—to bed at once,’ said Beavis. ‘I’ll inquire into this to-morrow.’

‘And the whisky, and the sugar, and the hot water?’

‘Go along,’ said Beavis, stamping. ‘I want nothing but an explanation of your conduct, and that I will have from you to-morrow.’

‘Yes, sir.’ She looked at him. In that quick glance there was neither stupidity nor sleep.

Before he could speak again she had stolen away.


Beavis remained up, smoking and musing in the study till his father returned. He did not speak to him about Joanna that night, as the old man looked tired. He gave him his candle, made a joke about a midday breakfast and lunch rolled into one, at which they would meet, and retired to rest.

Neither Beavis nor his father came down till late next morning, and then only, over their breakfast, was Joanna’s behaviour discussed.