OneDR. SHEPPARD AT THE BREAKFAST TABLEMrs. Ferrars died on the night of the 16th–17th September—a Thursday. I was sent for at eighto’clock on the morning of Friday the 17th. There was nothing to be done. She had been deadsome hours.It was just a few minutes after nine when I reached home once more. I opened the front doorwith my latchkey, and purposely delayed a few moments in the hall, hanging up my hat and thelight overcoat that I had deemed a wise precaution against the chill of an early autumn morning.To tell the truth, I was considerably upset and worried. I am not going to pretend that at thatmoment I foresaw the events of the next few weeks. I emphatically did not do so. But my instincttold me that there were stirring times ahead.From the dining room on my left there came the rattle of teacups and the short, dry cough ofmy sister Caroline.“Is that you, James?” she called.An unnecessary question, since who else could it be? To tell the truth, it was precisely mysister Caroline who was the cause of my few minutes’ delay. The motto of the mongoose family,so Mr. Kipling tells us, is: “Go and find out.” If Caroline ever adopts a crest, I should certainlysuggest a mongoose rampant. One might omit the first part of the motto. Caroline can do anyamount of finding out by sitting placidly at home. I don’t know how she manages it, but there itis. I suspect that the servants and the tradesmen constitute her Intelligence Corps. When she goesout, it is not to gather in information, but to spread it. At that, too, she is amazingly expert.It was really this last named trait of hers which was causing me these pangs of indecision.Whatever I told Caroline now concerning the demise of Mrs. Ferrars would be commonknowledge all over the village within the space of an hour and a half. As a professional man, Inaturally aim at discretion. Therefore I have got into the habit of continually withholding allinformation possible from my sister. She usually finds out just the same, but I have the moralsatisfaction of knowing that I am in no way to blame.