The hand-wrought iron sign which hung over the heavy carved wooden doors of the main gate read: ROYAL BENSON KENNELS. But to those who recognized quality, it said 'expensive'.
Carolyn Vance pressed the call button and listened expectantly for the harsh ring of a bell somewhere within the grounds. There was no sound. Perhaps the bell was out of order, or perhaps the buildings were soundproofed. For a large commercial kennel, it was surprisingly silent behind those high walls. No dogs had barked at her approach. There seemed to be no sound at all beyond the high-walled grounds. That was odd, she thought.
Then the faint static of an intercom called her attention to the intricate iron grillwork just above the call button.
"Royal Benson Kennels. May we be of service?"
The voice was definitely male, but veloured by good breeding and years of servitude, like an unobtrusive English butler.
"Yes," Carol answered in the general direction of the soft static sounds. "I'd like to see Mr. Benson please."
"Mr. Benson sees no one after working hours without an appointment. I'm sorry. Would you care to telephone for an appointment tomorrow?" the illusive voice said. "You will find a rack of business cards by the bell, the telephone number is located in the lower right hand corner. Please telephone at your convenience."
Carolyn raised an eyebrow. My, aren't we exclusive, she thought.
"I do have an appointment with Mr. Benson," she said politely, "a 7:00 o'clock appointment and it's just 7:00 now."
"One moment, please," the phantom voice purred.