valentine gasped for breath. he could not go on. giving up on pursuing gobbins - what would he gain by overtaking him, except the chance to upbraid him to his face? - he leaned against a streetlamp and considered his miserable condition.
suddenly two burly figures emerged from the fog.
“what have we here, sid?”
“i don’t know, what do we have here?”
valentine had become all too familiar with ruffians of this sort since his expulsion from the ranks of officers and gentlemen. he was in no mood to listen to their idiotic chaffing now. (95)
145. any notion
“very likely, very likely, “ inspector flanders responded absently to craver’s enquiry as to whether he would be required to go down to the yard to make a statement.
hands behind his back in the classic policeman pose, flanders looked around the apartment, which was, he had to admit, in just such disarray as was consistent with craver’s account of the dreadful proceedings.
“while we await the doctor,” he addressed craver, “tell me, do you have any notion as to what an argument might have been about?” (86)
146. proper manners
“off with you, you blithering empty-skulled baboons!” valentine snarled at the two would-be footpads.
he went to threaten them with his stout sword cane - and realized his hand was empty.
he must have dropped it at barbourforth’s in the excitement and frenzy of escaping with his life from the enraged manservant…
his heart gave a lurch. he almost did not perceive the two “baboons” coming closer to him, one from each side.
“damn me, tim, it sounds like his lordship has forgot his proper manners.”
“robin hood’s treasure.”
“i beg your pardon.” flanders gave craver his coldest gaze. “did i hear you aright? robin hood’s treasure?”
“indeed, sir. ridiculous as it sounds. they were arguing over a deed to an estate said to hide robin hood’s treasure.”
“sit down ,sir, sit down. and you too, miss.” the flustered arboreta gestured to the self-styled journalist wallace and to the orphan.
although they had been relieved of their hats and coats by the surly maid, both showed all too evidently the traces of their progress to the house before they had been providentially rescued by the tardy arrival of the fotherinton family limousine.
arboreta had been expecting wallace, though he was not quite what she had expected - someone just a bit more dashing and like a motion picture version of a reporter, perhaps.
the orphan she had not been expecting and did not quite know how to ask who exactly she was. some sort of an assistant to the reporter?
“perhaps you would like a cup of tea?” she finally managed, after the pair had gingerly planted their sodden forms on the faded couches.
“that would be very welcome,” wallace agreed.
149. pleasant company
“forgot your manners, have you , governor?”
valentine tried to clear his head as the two ruffians closed in on him.
“look here, chaps, perhaps i spoke a bit harshly - “
“i’ll say you did, squire, i’ll bloody say you did - “
“but look at me, you can see i’ve already been knackered. i’ve nothing left you want - “
“just the bloody pleasure of your company, governor, that’s all - “
150. the inspector apologizes
despite himself, inspector flanders could not help laughing.
“i’m sorry,” he quickly added - fancy, apologizing to a butler - “that was most improper of me. but tell me - did the deceased gentleman himself -“
“ - yes, mister barbourforth. did he himself believe in this treasure, or just the villains who attacked him?”
“why, sir, mr barbourforth did not exactly confide in me, but if you was to ask my opinion, sir, he seemed to be taking it very seriously indeed .“ craver hesitated.
“go on,” flanders commanded.
“at least he had been until last night. that is ll i can say.”