List of Illustrations
"Mr. Samuel Gunnill Came Stealthily Down the Winding Staircase."
"The Constable Watched Him With the Air of a Proprietor."
"He Saw the Door Just Opening to Admit The Fortunate Herbert."
"Mr. Sims Watched Her Tenderly As She Drew the Beer."
"From the Kitchen Came Sounds of Hammering."
"Don't Call on Me As a Witness, That's All," Continued Mr. Drill.
THE CHANGING NUMBERS
The tall clock in the corner of the small living-room had just struck eight as Mr. Samuel Gunnill came stealthily down the winding staircase and, opening the door at the foot, stepped with an appearance of great care and humility into the room. He noticed with some anxiety that his daughter Selina was apparently engrossed in her task of attending to the plants in the window, and that no preparations whatever had been made for breakfast.
Miss Gunnill's horticultural duties seemed interminable. She snipped off dead leaves with painstaking precision, and administered water with the jealous care of a druggist compounding a prescription; then, with her back still toward him, she gave vent to a sigh far too intense in its nature to have reference to such trivialities as plants. She repeated it twice, and at the second time Mr. Gunnill, almost without his knowledge, uttered a deprecatory cough.
His daughter turned with alarming swiftness and, holding herself very upright, favoured him with a glance in which indignation and surprise were very fairly mingled.
"That white one—that one at the end," said Mr. Gunnill, with an appearance of concentrated interest, "that's my fav'rite."
Miss Gunnill put her hands together, and a look of infinite long-suffering came upon her face, but she made no reply.
"Always has been," continued Mr. Gunnill, feverishly, "from a—from a cutting."
"Bailed out," said Miss Gunnill, in a deep and thrilling voice; "bailed out at one o'clock in the morning, brought home singing loud enough for half-a-dozen, and then talking about flowers!"
Mr. Gunnill coughed again.
"I was dreaming," pursued Miss Gunnill, plaintively, "sleeping peacefully, when I was awoke by a horrible noise."
"That couldn't ha' been me," protested her father. "I was only a bit cheerful. It was Benjamin Ely's birthday yesterday, and after we left the Lion they started singing, and I just hummed to keep 'em company. I wasn't singing, mind you, only humming—when up