|"Have you sold your house yet, Dr. Subbe?"|
"I'm very sorry, sir," said Ceri Subbe, visibly shaken.
Holmes spun and looked at the young woman. "Did you think I was angry at you?" he asked.
"That's what it looks like, sir," she replied. "Do you mean to say you're not?"
"Of course not," he answered. "What have you done wrong? I'm angry at what has been done to you, and to your brother, and to your parents..."
His voice trailed off, leaving a silence which no one dared to break.
Finally Holmes, composing himself, turned to Chris Subbe and said, "Have you sold your house yet, Dr. Subbe?"
"No, sir," he replied.
"Can you take it off the market for a while?" asked the detective.
"I suppose we can. But what? How? I'm sorry, Mr. Holmes," said Chris Subbe, "but I don't follow you. How did you know we were trying to sell our house? How did you know I'm a doctor? And what do either of these things have to do with Gareth?"
"I make it my business to know things," said Sherlock Holmes. "And if I were you, in light my wife's situation, I would take my home off the market, if only to keep random strangers out for a while. Bad enough, we have to assume the walls have ears by now. Who knows how many chances they've had to install some?"
"Install what?" asked Chris.
"Surveillance equipment," replied Holmes."Microphones, transmitters, who knows what else?
"If it ever comes up," the detective continued, "it may be very important for you both to be able to say truthfully that I asked Ceri certain questions and she refused to answer me."
Chris and Ceri both nodded, and my friend continued, "However, we are trying to run an investigation. That's why we came here, and it is never good policy to walk away from information. Do you understand?"
"Yes, of course," said Chris Subbe, nodding.
His wife, barely moving, said softly, "I think so, sir."
Holmes smiled at Ceri and said, "Please don't worry. I won't ask you any more questions."
Then he turned to Chris and said, "When did Ceri last speak with Gareth?"
"It was Wednesday, the 11th of August, sir," said Chris. "She spoke with him on the phone that evening."
"And how was he?" asked the detective.
"He seemed very well, sir," said Chris. "If anything was wrong, he didn't mention it to his sister."
"Would he have done so, normally?" asked Holmes.
"Yes, I think so, sir," answered Chris.
"Was it Ceri who phoned the police?" asked Holmes.
"Yes, sir," said Chris. "She had phoned Gareth several times in the previous week, leaving messages for him each time and getting more nervous with every call that he didn't return. She finally got upset enough to phone the police on the 23rd. That was the Monday, Mr. Holmes."
"Excellent, " said Holmes. "Thank you. I have all the information I wanted, and Ceri never answered these questions. Isn't that remarkable?
"When you get home," Holmes continued, "you mustn't say a word about this part of the conversation, even to each other. Not even a whisper. Assume the walls have very good ears. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," said Chris. Ceri said nothing. She appeared to be wondering whether she had made a terrible mistake.
"Have either of you been threatened?" asked Holmes.
"Not I," said Chris. Ceri didn't seem so sure.
"Ceri," said my friend, "you should continue to follow the advice you got from the police, and say nothing of these perplexing questions to anyone.
"As for you, Dr. Subbe," continued the great detective, "this conversation never happened. Do you read me?"
"What conversation?" asked Chris.