The Door with Seven Locks

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Chapter 31

"SEVEN KEYS," said Dick, as, in the early light of the morning, they walked towards the tombs. "Cody had one; Silva, the gardener, had one; Mrs Cody had another; Havelock, being the chief conspirator, had two. By the way, have they got Stalletti out of the lake? He has the sixth, and if I am not mistaken you will find the seventh hanging round the neck of Cawler's brother."

They had to wait an hour in the wood until the rescue party had done their work. The sun was rising as they put two dripping wet keys into Dick's hand.

"And these make seven," he said.

Down to the tomb they went. The door of one of the little chapels was wide open, and Dick stopped to flash his lamp inside. He threw a light on a square hole in one corner of the grim apartment.

"There is a subterranean passage that leads under the hill and terminates beneath the fireplace of what used to be, in poor little Selford's days, the playroom of the Manor. It is probably the only part of the house that the poor fellow remembered. The three men have been hiding here since the night Stalletti made his last attempt on the tomb. He had Selford with him, but, in the haste of his escape, he left his victim behind.

"Why did Selford visit the room?" asked Sneed in surprise.

"The poor creature wanted his toys - that is all. These two half - mad creatures were mentally children. They had only children's amusements and children's fears - that was the hold Stalletti had on them."

The two men stood in silence before the grim door of the big tomb, while Dick fitted and turned key after key. The seventh lock snicked back, and as he pulled the heavy door swung slowly open.

He was the first into the chamber, and made for the stone casket. Lifting the heavy lid carefully, he set it down. Within the casket was a small steel box, and this he took out.

A careful survey of the cell revealed nothing further, and they brought the box into the bright sunlight, locked the tomb, and walked back past the still smoking ruins of Selford Manor to the lodge. Havelock had been removed to Horsham, and already the local police were on the spot and were making inquiries into the tragedy of the lake.

The steel box took some time to open, but presently the lid was forced back and Dick removed a roll which proved to be a school exercise book, every page of which was filled with close writing.

"This is in Cody's hand. He was evidently the scribe," said Sneed, when he examined the book. "Read it, Martin."

Dick settled down in a chair and began the curious story of the Door with Seven Locks.

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