"Well?" he snapped, not very pleasantly.
Stan touched his helmet politely. "Beg pardon, sir," he said, "just making a few enquiries."
"At this time of night?"
Stan looked surprised. "T'isn't nine yet, sir..."
"Where I come from," said the man, "people are often asleep by nine."
Where did he come from? we wondered. Did grown up people go to bed at nine o'clock in Russia?
"Well, I'm sure I'm very sorry, sir," Stan was saying politely, "to have disturbed you so late like, but we have the matter of a missing old gentleman on our hands, and from information received we think that he might be in this house."
"In this house!" the man repeated in a voice of utter astonishment. "But I've only just got here myself and there was no old gentleman here when I arrived, I can assure you!" He seemed to have recovered from his earlier ill temper.
"Just got here, sir?" Stan was saying in his pleasant, low voice.
"Yes, I've just come from South Africa on a visit. I rented this place and moved in a couple of days ago. Haven't had time to get straight. Made up a bed and was only too glad to turn in early. But come in and look around for yourself."
Taking off his helmet Stan stepped into the hall. We stepped in after him. The man seemed to notice us for the first time. "This the source of the information?" he said, but quite pleasantly, grinning as a matter of fact. "Aren't you the kids whose dog fell in the pond?"
From WILLOW GREEN MYSTERY, Chapter 5, Blunder at Willow Green.