Nor did the visitor's first words clear up the mystery. Halting at the foot of the steps, Rutherford Garretse gesticulated in dumb anguish, while he fought for breath and for coherent speech. Then, disregarding Harmon's wondering greeting, the celebrity burst into choking staccato speech.
"That dog!" he croaked. "That--that--DOG! The maid saw him go into the house. Saw him go up to my study. She was afraid to follow, at first. But in a few minutes she did. She saw him coming out of my study! COME!!! I demand it. All of you. COME!"
Without another word, he wheeled and made off down the road, pausing only to beckon imperiously. Marveling, the group on the veranda followed. Deaf to their questions, he led the way. Lad fell into line behind the perplexed Mistress.
Down the road to the next house, stalked Rutherford Garretse. At the doorway, he repeated his dramatic gesture and commanded
Up the broad stairs he stamped. Behind him trailed the dumfounded procession; Laddie still pattering happily along with the Mistress. At the open door of a large room at the stairhead, the author stood aside and pointed in silent despair through the doorway.
"What's up?" queried Harmon, for perhaps the tenth time. "Is anything--?"
His question ended in a grunt. And, like the others, he stared aghast on the scene before him.
The room, very evidently, was a study. But much of its floor, just now, was heaped, ankle high, with hundreds of pages of torn and crumpled paper.