find out the murd'rer. I was on the wrong track there. They gen'rally get on the wrong track first even in books. He's a confederation. That's what he is. An' he's dressed up like the man they killed so's to be able to come into the house lookin' for the money without arousin' suspicions. There was a man like that in one of the myst'ry books. I've forgotten which one but there was a man like that in it an'-----"
" Well, what're we goin to do ? " asked Douglas nervously.
"It's jus' what happened to the detective in one of the myst'ry books," said William. " He got locked in the room by the murd'rer but he'd got a pistol an' when the murd'rer unlocked the door an' came in to kill him he got out his pistol before the murd'rer got out his an' he walked the murd'rer downstairs an' out to the police station. I said all along I oughter have a pistol. If I'd got a pistol now I'd be all right. It's not having a pistol that's the trouble. I-----"
He stopped. They could hear voices coming up the stairs ... a deep, bass voice and a high, squeaky one that they recognised as belonging to the master of the house.
" Heard voices," the squeaky voice was saying, " heard voices . . . house supposed to be empty . . . been away for holiday ... went upstairs and just caught sight of them in room . . . several men thereŚlarge, powerful-looking men . . . slammed door on 'em, locking 'em in . . . then went out for you. Luckv to find you just at corner_____"
The bass voice answered rather dubiously:
" Four of 'em, you say ? An' powerful-lookin' men . . . well, I'd p'raps better go back to the station first an'-----"
" One was a fairly elderly man," said the squeaky voice. " I noticed a beardŚnoticed a beard distinctly ■ . . the others all young and powerful-looking. ..."