The profession of medicine has a good many drawbacks in the way of interrupted meals, disturbed nights and long and strenuous working hours. But it has its compensations, for a doctor's life is seldom a dull life. Compared, for instance, with that of a civil servant or a bank official, it abounds in variety of experience and surroundings, to say nothing of the intrinsic interest of the work in its professional aspects. And then it may happen at any moment that the medical practitioner's duties may lead him into the very heart of a drama or a tragedy or bring him into intimate contact with crime.Not that the incident which I am about to describe was, in the first place, directly connected with my professional duties. The initial experience might have befallen anyone. But it was my medical status that enlarged and completed that experience.It was about nine o'clock on a warm September night that I was cycling at an easy pace along a by-road towards the town, or village, of Newingstead, in which I was temporarily domiciled as the locum-tenens of a certain Dr. Wilson, I had been out on an emergency call to a small village about three miles distant and had taken my bicycle instead of the car for the sake of the exercise; and having ridden out at the speed that the occasion seemed to demand, was now making a leisurely return, enjoying the peaceful quiet of the by-way and even finding the darkness restful with a good headlight to show the way and a rear light to secure me from collisions from behind.At a turn of the lane, a few twinkling lights seen dimly through spaces in the hedgerow told me that I was nearing my destination. A little reluctant to exchange the quiet of the countryside for the light and bustle of the town, I dismounted, and, leaning my bicycle against a gate, brought out my pipe and was just dipping into my pocket for my tobacco pouch when I heard what sounded to me like the call of a police whistle.I let go the pouch and put away my pipe as I strained my ears to listen. The sound had come from no great distance but I had not been able exactly to locate it. The cart track from the gate, I knew, skirted a small wood, from which a footpath joined it, and the sound had seemed to come from that direction. But the wood was invisible in the darkness, though I could judge its position by a group of ricks, the nearest of which loomed vaguely out of the murk.I had switched off the lamps of my machine and was just considering the expediency of walking up the cart track to explore, when the unmistakable shriek of a police whistle rang out, considerably nearer than the last and much shorter, and was succeeded by the sound of voices-apparently angry voices-accompanied by obscure noises as of bodies bursting through the undergrowth of the wood, from the direction of which the sounds now clearly proceeded. On this I climbed over the gate and started up the cart track at a quick pace, treading as silently as I could and keeping a bright lookout. The track led through the groups of ricks, the great shapes of which loomed up one after another, looking strangely gigantic in the obscurity, and near the last of them I passed a farm wagon and was disposed to examine it with my flashlight, but then judged it to be more prudent not to show a light. So I pushed on with the flashlight in my hand, peering intently into the darkness and listening for any further sounds.