The butler went on to explain that because he had (wrongly) supposed that the men in the
pantry were the footmen, that it had not occurred to him to go for help. He was the only other
male in the house, and the maidservants would have been too frightened to be of any assistance.
'But you must have known that whoever was in the pantry doing what you were sure they
were doing-namely, breaking into the strong-boxes-would physically attack you or anyone else
who interrupted them?' Harris commented.
The butler replied that that had occurred to him in the light of day, but at the time he
thought only of protecting his master's property.
'What you should have done was to arouse two of the maids and sent them post-haste to
the village to fetch the constables, while you kept watch to see what the intruders did or where
'Yes, sir, I realize that now,' the butler agreed, a tone of anguish in his voice.
'Mr. Morris is wrong in saying that we were the only males in the house, sir,' Barnwell
said. 'The boy was in the cubby-hole opposite Mr. Morris's own room, so far as he knew then.'
'The boy?' Harris asked.
'I engaged a young lad of fourteen, sir, a day or two after you had gone, to help me in the
pantry with the silver,' the butler explained. 'He came to the house one day with his father,
whom I knew of slightly by reputation as a sound and honest man, to ask whether there was an
opening for the lad. The other boy, Franklin, left to join the household of Mrs. Soames, the day
you departed for London, so I offered this boy, Richard Tarwell, the position.'
'Where is he now?' Harris asked. 'Why isn't he here?'
'He's disappeared, sir,' Morris replied.
'That night, sir,' Barnwell added.
Seeing that he was in danger of confusing the butler with his interruptions, Harris
determined to wait until the man had finished his relation before he asked more questions and told
the man so.
Morris then described how he had approached the door of the pantry quietly, and then
flung it open to take them, he hoped, by surprise. To his amazement, however, the two men he
found there were not the two footmen, but men he had never seen before; and with his was the
boy, Richard Tarwell.
Before he had had time to recover, one of the intruders had jumped on him brandishing an
iron bar, and had struck him so hard about the head as to render him unconscious. When he had
regained his senses, he found himself securely bound to a chair, and a gag tightly fixed in his
mouth. Two of the strong-boxes had had their lids burst open, and he could see that their
contents, or at least most of them, had gone.
'Did no one else hear any noise in the night?' Harris asked.
The footmen and the servants shook their heads.
'No, sir,' said Mrs. Coombes, the cook. 'We heard nothing. I got up at seven and called
Mary and Joan, as I always do, and went down to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for half-past
seven. The two maids came down at about twenty minutes after the hour and busied themselves
with some chore or other, and five minutes later the footmen came in. I think it was Eames who
remarked, 'Isn't Mr. Morris down yet?' and when I said no, he laughed and said, 'Escaped
'What do you think he meant by that?' Harris probed.
'Mr. Morris is very strict about punctuality at meals, sir,' the cook told him. 'He always
comes into the servants' hall, or the kitchen when the family is in London, five minutes before the
appointed time, by when all the other servants must be assembled. Once or twice recently in the
mornings, the footmen had cut it fine, sir, as they had this particular morning. Or I should say,
would have cut it fine if Mr. Morris had come in at his usual time.
'Still, I didn't think much about it as I was busy at the stove, until Eames said, 'What's
happened to the old man? Has the miracle happened and he's overlain?
''He'll be here presently,' I said. 'You'd best not draw up until he comes. He dislikes it
if he does not sit down first.' So we waited and when ten minutes had gone by I did begin to
wonder, so I asked Eames to go up and knock on Mr. Morris's door and tell him politely what the
Harris looked at Eames, who took up the tale.
'I went up to Mr. Morris's room and knocked on the door, and when after two or three
knockings I got no answer, I opened the door and looked in. He was not there, but I noticed that
his bed had been slept in. When I came out of the room, I noticed that the boy's cubby-hole was
empty, too, and recalling that the boy had not been in the kitchen waiting with us, as he usually
was, I thought that perhaps Mr. Morris and Tarwell had risen early and were working in the
butler's pantry and had overlooked the time. So, I went downstairs to the pantry and found Mr.
Morris gagged and bound to the chair as he has told you, sir.'
'The next thing we knew,' Mrs. Coombes said, 'was Eames's voice shouting something
that sounded like Help! Barnwell rushed out of the kitchen first and the girls and I followed hard
on his heels. When we got to the pantry, Eames had released Mr. Morris and was just loosening
the gag. Mr. Morris's first words were, 'We've been robbed! Go for the constables!'
''You go,' Eames said to Barnwell, and when Barnwell had run out, he helped Mr. Morris
to his feet. Mr. Morris was very upset, and when he saw the strong-boxes were quite empty, I
thought he was going to collapse.'
'Did the constables come quickly?' Harris asked.
'Within the half-hour, sir. I told them what had happened, and what was missing, and that
the boy, too, appeared to be gone. They began to make inquires at once, but up to now they've
uncovered no trace, sir.'
'And what of the boy?'
'No trace of Tarwell either, sir. His father protests that his son is no thief. But I saw the
boy in the pantry with the robbers, sir, with my own eyes.'
'How had the thieves gained entry to the house?' Harris asked. 'Was a window broken?'
'No, sir. Through the side door, which was unlocked. The boy must have known they
were coming and let them in,' Morris said.
'And what did they take?'
'The four great silver candle-sticks with the birds,' Morris began to enumerate, 'three
entre dishes of silver, two silver sauce-boats, the salt-bowels that were presented to Mr. Joseph
Harris by Her Majesty, Queen Anne...'