Securing a dog-cart, we clambered on with our valises, and directed our driver to take us to the village, near which lay Beasley Manor. From our innkeeper, Holmes secured a map of the area surrounding the village and manor. I asked him why, as I thought there was little here except what we might find at Beasley Manor. He responded, “Watson, consider that while Beasley Manor is the Earl’s primary residence and the center of the village’s concerns, there are also other substantial houses near.”
“Well, I suppose . . .” I said, without any clear sense of what he was meaning.
He carried on further pointing to the map he had unfolded on the table in our room. “See here,” he said. “The Forecastle’s live just a few miles beyond, lying near the market town of Pawkney.” He pointed his finger at the village of Pawkney, noting it was just across the valley. It remained unclear to me, yet seemed to be the focus of his thinking. He spoke and said, “Let us sup as the evening draws nigh and I now intend to visit both Beasley Manor and the Forecastle’s tomorrow.”
“But how, does the fact of proximity of the Forecastle’s affect our concern with the leaping Lord,” I queried. “The papers only mentioned their divorce, but nothing regarding Beasley Manor.”
“Their proximity, Watson, their very proximity,” he said.
“Nothing more tonight,” he added, and with that we went to the inn’s dining room. I could gain no more from him and was mulling over what little I knew, and yet could make nothing of it.
The meal itself was excellent for a village repast. We congratulated our host and commended his cook for the meal. He offered that the cook was his wife, and said he would pass along our best.
Holmes continued the conversation, “You’ve lived here for some years?”
“Indeed,” he responded, “When I was born my parents lived at the Manor and that was when the late Earl was alive.”
“How then did you come to the inn?” I asked.
“The Earl has always been very concerned for us, well for all of us in the village. I bless his memory for helping me purchase the inn and to get started here.”
Holmes then continued, “You know the young Earl, then.”
The Innkeeper turned expansive then and said, “Indeed, yes, sir. Of course we was always closer with the old Earl, bless his memory, but the lad, the new Earl was also very friendly to the likes of us.”
“You would see him now and again?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” he went on. “like the old Earl, the young one would on occasion stop in, even here, and take a pint of an afternoon. Well, he did, not always, of course, but on occasion, but something must have happened, though I couldn’t say what was. No, I couldn’t"
“How do you know then that something happened?” I asked.
“Well, it was in just the past few days, I suppose. Course I’m not at all sure what it might have been, I’m not.”
“But you must have noticed something to have come to such a conclusion,” Holmes prodded.
“I might oughten’ to be talking, really knowing no more than I do, but there was such a change, and nearly over the night, it seems.”
“How so?” I volunteered, wanting to encourage his garrulity.
“Well, as I said, like the old Earl, the young one would drop in and take a pint with us here. Right friendly, he was. He always seemed to be riding through, though I’m not sure just where. Now that I think more about it, it was about the middle of the afternoon usually. He’d take a pint, spend some time with us, me and the other men who were in here. And then he’d give a friendly wave and be on his way.”
“But that changed, did it?” Holmes continued.
“Well, yes. But strange it was. Before, he would stop by always in a good mood, like he was anticipating a good bit of fortune. But, it was just a day or two ago, he came by in a very different mood, I’d say.”
“How was that,” Holmes continued his query.
“Well, his mood was very different, it was. As before he would be brighter, happy, I suppose. Like I said, looking forward to something, though he never said what that might have been. But ‘lo the other day his mood was far different. Really like something bad had occurred. But then again he didn’t say, and . . .” Just then his wife stepped into the room and said, “John, you’ve bothered these gentlemen long enough. You be speaking out of turn. And they talk about us women being the ones doin’ all the talking.” He started to leave and follow her, but added one last remark. “It was like he’d lost a good friend, or something. Then again, he didn’t come by today at all. Perhaps the bit of trouble the Forecastle’s are havin’ might be also botherin’ him. They’d always been very close. Well, good night, good sirs.” With that, as the inkeeper departed to speak with his wife, Holmes said, “This is probably a good time for us to go to our rooms, Watson. What he had to say though was suggestive, don’t you think?”
“Well, no, not really. I suppose we can see some connection now between Beasley Manor and the Forecastle’s, what with their being friends, but beyond that, it remains unclear to me,” I demurred.
“Be that as it may, Watson, it was suggestive. Not definitive, but suggestive. Tomorrow our visits may clarify further both the leaping and the weeping, but that must await the morrow,” and with that he stepped into his room, and I went on to mine.