"No, sir. I didn't dare go into the room; I only heard about it!"
"Oh? And who are You? One of the lodgers?"
"Isn't there a master in the house?"
"Yes, sir. He's frightened out of his wits. And the housemaid's gone for the doctor. It all falls on the poor servants, of course. Oh, why did I ever set foot in that horrible house?"
The poor soul burst out crying, and shivered from head to foot. The Inspector made a note of her statement, and then asked her to read it, and sign it with her name. The object of this proceeding was to get her to come near enough to give him the opportunity of smelling her breath. "When people make extraordinary statements," he afterward said to me, "it sometimes saves trouble to satisfy yourself that they are not drunk. I've known them to be mad--but not often. You will generally find _that_ in their eyes."
She roused herself and signed her name--"Priscilla Thurlby." The Inspector's own test proved her to be sober; and her eyes--a nice light blue color, mild and pleasant, no doubt, when they were not staring with fear, and red with crying--satisfied him (as I supposed) that she was not mad. He turned the case over to me, in the first instance. I saw that he didn't believe in it, even yet.
"Go back with her to the house," he says. "This may be a stupid hoax, or a quarrel exaggerated. See to it yourself, and hear what the doctor says. If it is serious, send word back here directly, and let nobody enter the place or leave it till we come. Stop! You know the form if any statement is volunteered?"
"Yes, sir. I am to caution the persons that whatever they say will be taken down, and may be used against them."