When he had come to the end of the list, Harris considered briefly. 'I suppose it could
have been worse,' he said. 'But it is bad enough. I regret the candle-sticks and the salt-bowels
'Perhaps they will be recovered,' Mrs. Coombes suggested.
Harris smiled for the first time. 'Perhaps, Mrs. Coombes,' he replied. 'We must hope for
'I blame myself for taking the boy on without making more searching inquires about his
family and his character,' the butler said. 'But the father seemed honest enough.'
'You mustn't blame yourself. God bless my soul, we are not the first family to be
burgled, and I dare say we shall not be the last. Well, thank you. I will dine, Mrs. Coombes, as
soon as you are ready, and I warn you, I am famished. The rest of you may go. I would like
Eames and Barnwell to remain.'
When the other servants had gone, he looked at the two young men.
:look here,' he said. 'I want you to change your minds about your notices. Morris is
growing old, and he takes upon himself great responsibilities when I and the family are absent.
You must do your best to excuse him.'
'He at once thought we were thieves,' Eames reminded him. 'It's that that sticks in my
'Yes, I know. I add my apologies to his yet again. Would it make any difference it I also
added a guinea to your year's wages?'
There was a brief silence, then Eames said with a smile, 'Yes, sir.'
'And you Barnwell?'
'Well yes, sir.'
'Right. Then that's settled! I do so abominate having new servants about me, especially
footmen. You may go now.'
As they walked across to the door, he called after them, 'Did the boy strike you that he
might be a thief or a person likely to be in league with thieves?'
'No, sir,' Eames turned and said. 'He seemed a good, honest, simple boy, eager to
'He was happy enough, too, sir,' Barnwell added. 'He'd only been here a few weeks, but
he was not backward in playing harmless jokes on Eames and me.'
After two days of making his own inquires, which revealed nothing, Mr. Harris returned to
London and completed his tour of duty at Court. Four months later, he and his family and
household returned to Devon, there to learn that the authorities had lost all interest in the case and
that they must resign themselves to the loss of their property.
Since they were tired after their long journey, Mr. Harris suggested that he should pass the
night on the bad that was kept made up in his dressing-room, leaving to his wife the exclusive
comfort of the four-poster. Mrs. Harris, who was even more exhausted, had no objection, and
shortly after dinner announced that she was going to retire.
'I'll go the rounds with Morris,' Mr. Harris told her, 'and follow you up.'
As the two men went round the house, Harris noticed the meticulous care with which his
butler examined every window-latch and shutter, and the lock on every outside door, even going
to the extent of locking some of the inner doors as well. They spoke little, according to their
usual custom while performing their nightly ritual, for it was at the end of the day and both were
anxious to get to their beds. He supposed it must be one of the effects of the robbery that made
him this evening take more notice of the butler's routine than he ever remembered doing before;
for he found himself becoming more and more surprised by the butler's care.
'Have you always gone to this lengths, Morris?' he asked.
'Oh, most certainly, sir.'
'Even to the extent of locking the inner doors?'
'Why, yes, sir!' The butler seemed surprised now. 'Braunton, your father's butler,
always made me do it, sir, for it was upon the late Mr. Harris's instructions that the inner doors
were locked-after another robbery, sir-and they have been every night for, I suppose, the last
forty or fifty years.'
'God bless my soul!' Harris exclaimed. 'It shows how much I trust you, Morris, for
tonight is the first time I have observed you locking the inner doors. Which ones do you lock?'
'Of the inner doors, sir? Those from the ball-room, those from the conservatory into the
large drawing-room, those of the large drawing-room into the hall, the door to the servants'
quarters, and the door to my pantry, sir.'
'Indeed!' remarked Harris.
By this time they had returned to the hall, and saying good night to Morris, Mr. Harris
began to mount the stairs. As he went, he heard Morris turning the key in the door closing off the
corridor leading to the servants' quarters from the hall.
Mrs. Harris was already in bed and had dismissed her maid when he went in to sat good
night to her.
'Do you know,' he remarked as he perched himself on the edge of the great bed, 'I've
been going round locking up with Morris every night-at least while we're here-for the past thirty
years, and I discovered for the first time this evening that besides checking every window and
outer door downstairs he actually locks a number of inner doors.'
'But I could have told you that, my dear,' Mrs. Harris yawned.
'Yes,' he mused, preoccupied with his own thoughts, 'even the door to his pantry! Good
heavens, I must ask him about that in the morning!' he exclaimed.
'About what, my dear?' his dutiful wife asked.
'Where he keeps the key of the pantry at night after he has locked the door.'
'Is it important, dear?'
'Then I'll remind you in the morning. Kiss me and say good night, and get you to bed.
You look as though you have need of some repose.'
'Yes, you're right, my dear,' he confessed, performing his connubial duties, drew the bedcurtain
and went to the dressing-room. Within a quarter of an hour he was himself in bed and on
the verge of sleep. Five minutes later, had Mrs. Harris herself still been conscious, she would
have heard the undeniable sounds of her spouse's unconcern for the world.
Rarely had Mr. Harris slept so soundly; yet in the middle of the night he suddenly awoke.
Relating the incident later, he declared that he was in an instant throughly wide-awake, though
how or why he could never explain.
And by the light of a small lamp he had kept burning, he saw a young lad standing at the
foot of his bed.