refrain from jumping to conclusions, my dear fellow, barbourforth attempted to counsel himself.
but it took all his self-control to attend to the young woman's narrative.
could she be in cahoots with the earlier visitor?
it seemed unlikely.
59. a long slumber
for centuries the fotherintons had slumbered their lives away in the remoteness of their ancestral home, breeding just enough to keep the line going, but not enough to furnish the kingdom, and later the empire , with any persons of note in war or peace, the arts or statesmanship or any other endeavor.
family legend had it that a roger fotherinton of the fifteenth century had gained some local renown as a hunter of stags, and a james fotherinton in the sixteenth century as a keeper of bees, but even these accounts were late and uncertain.
a tale even less credited had a randolph fotherinton as one of the "merry men" of robin hood , but it may well be imagined what little credence was given to this by the learned in such matters.
but, reader, it is on just this premise that our tale turns.
"now," sighed garland, "i suppose something will have to be done. but by whom, exactly?"
confusion - consternation - chaos. feeble words indeed, dear reader, to describe the reaction of the fotherinton tribe to grandmother's sudden departure of this earth.
she had ruled with an iron hand and a solitary one, as she had not considered a single member of the family capable of anything at all.
should the police be called? a doctor? while bewildered arguments proliferated, cousin arboreta took it upon herself to sneak away to a telephone to call the family doctor, doctor maxwell .
62. quiet considerations
"quite a show, eh?"
hartley rogers was startled. he had not heard cousin thaddeus approach him.
hartley had taken a chair on the verandah, one of many left vacant by the cousins who were chattering among themselves, on the verandah itself and on the lawn and driveway in front of the house.
hartley had decided to stay the course , in case the police or some other local authority were called as he did not want to appear as if he were avoiding them or had anything to hide. if none appeared, he would exit quietly and ponder his next move.
now he considered cousin thaddeus.
quite a specimen, even for a fotherinton.
"little was i prepared for the snares and intrigues which would beset me if accepted the challenge presented by the information entrusted me by my newfound cousin.
but i assure you that i am resolute. this is why i have come, in the dead of night -"
like a thief in the night, thought mr barbourforth, but merely nodded.
" - to seek your assistance. i have been assured by all i have been able to learn on this subject, that you are indeed the world's greatest authority on robin hood's hidden treasure."
"i am an old man, and i have perused much obscure lore on many obscure subjects," mr barbourforth replied. "including robin hood and buried treasure. "
64. in the den of vice
"why, mister jeremy," drawled madame ming, "how nice to see you, sir. i had begun to think you had forgotten us."
ternwhistle , for it was indeed he who went by the name of "mister jeremy" in his nocturnal pursuits, nodded politely. he had always found madame ming's slightly fawning manner a bit odd, as it did not comport with his notions of "oriental inscrutability".
but without further ado, madame ming stood aside to let ternwhistle enter her sanctum.
the inner room of the opium den - for , reader, that is what it was, no more and no less - was not so well occupied as ternwhistle usually encountered it.
might there have been a police raid recently?
if there had, ternwhistle was an old enough hand to know this was actually the safest time to indulge his ancient and honorable vice.