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Title: The Circular Study
Author: Green, Anna Katharine, 1846-1935
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Circular Study" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                           THE CIRCULAR STUDY

                        BY ANNA KATHARINE GREEN

                                  1900

                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY
                       GARDEN CITY      NEW YORK
                                  1914



CONTENTS.


  BOOK I.--A STRANGE CRIME.

       I.--Red Light

      II.--Mysteries

     III.--The Mute Servitor

      IV.--A New Experience for Mr. Gryce

       V.--Five Small Spangles

      VI.--Suggestions From an Old Friend

     VII.--Amos's Son

    VIII.--In the Round of the Staircase

      IX.--High and Low

       X.--Bride Roses

      XI.--Misery

     XII.--Thomas Explains

    XIII.--Despair

     XIV.--Memoranda


 BOOK II.--REMEMBER EVELYN.

       I.--The Secret of the Cadwaladers

      II.--The Oath

     III.--Eva

      IV.--Felix

       V.--Why the Iron Slide Remained Stationary

      VI.--Answered

     VII.--Last Words



BOOK I

A STRANGE CRIME



CHAPTER I.

RED LIGHT.


Mr. Gryce was melancholy. He had attained that period in life when the
spirits flag and enthusiasm needs a constant spur, and of late there had
been a lack of special excitement, and he felt dull and superannuated.
He was even contemplating resigning his position on the force and
retiring to the little farm he had bought for himself in Westchester;
and this in itself did not tend to cheerfulness, for he was one to whom
action was a necessity and the exercise of his mental faculties more
inspiring than any possible advantage which might accrue to him from
their use.

But he was not destined to carry out this impulse yet. For just at the
height of his secret dissatisfaction there came a telephone message to
Headquarters which roused the old man to something like his former vigor
and gave to the close of this gray fall day an interest he had not
expected to feel again in this or any other kind of day. It was sent
from Carter's well-known drug store, and was to the effect that a lady
had just sent a boy in from the street to say that a strange crime had
been committed in ----'s mansion round the corner. The boy did not know
the lady, and was shy about showing the money she had given him, but
that he had money was very evident, also, that he was frightened enough
for his story to be true. If the police wished to communicate with him,
he could be found at Carter's, where he would be detained till an order
for his release should be received.

A _strange_ crime! That word "strange" struck Mr. Gryce, and made him
forget his years in wondering what it meant. Meanwhile the men about him
exchanged remarks upon the house brought thus unexpectedly to their
notice. As it was one of the few remaining landmarks of the preceding
century, and had been made conspicuous moreover by the shops,
club-houses, and restaurants pressing against it on either side, it had
been a marked spot for years even to those who knew nothing of its
history or traditions.

And now a crime had taken place in it! Mr. Gryce, in whose ears that
word "strange" rang with quiet insistence, had but to catch the eye of
the inspector in charge to receive an order to investigate the affair.
He started at once, and proceeded first to the drug store. There he
found the boy, whom he took along with him to the house indicated in the
message. On the way he made him talk, but there was nothing the poor
waif could add to the story already sent over the telephone. He
persisted in saying that a lady (he did not say woman) had come up to
him while he was looking at some toys in a window, and, giving him a
piece of money, had drawn him along the street as far as the drug store.
Here she showed him another coin, promising to add it to the one he had
already pocketed if he would run in to the telephone clerk with a
message for the police. He wanted the money, and when he grabbed at it
she said that all he had to do was to tell the clerk that a strange
crime had been committed in the old house on ---- Street. This scared
him, and he was sliding off, when she caught him again and shook him
until his wits came back, after which he ran into the store and
delivered the message.

There was candor in the boy's tone, and Mr. Gryce was disposed to
believe him; but when he was asked to describe the lady, he showed that
his powers of observation were no better than those of most of his
class. All he could say was that she was a stunner, and wore shiny
clothes and jewels, and Mr. Gryce, recognizing the lad's limitations at
the very moment he found himself in view of the house he was making for,
ceased to question him, and directed all his attention to the building
he was approaching.

Nothing in the exterior bespoke crime or even disturbance. A shut door,
a clean stoop, heavily curtained windows (some of which were further
shielded by closely drawn shades) were eloquent of inner quiet and
domestic respectability, while its calm front of brick, with brownstone
trimmings, offered a pleasing contrast to the adjoining buildings
jutting out on either side, alive with signs and humming with business.

"Some mistake," muttered Gryce to himself, as the perfect calm reigning
over the whole establishment struck him anew. But before he had decided
that he had been made the victim of a hoax, a movement took place in the
area under the stoop, and an officer stepped out, with a countenance
expressive of sufficient perplexity for Mr. Gryce to motion him back
with the hurried inquiry: "Anything wrong? Any blood shed? All seems
quiet here."

The officer, recognizing the old detective, touched his hat. "Can't get
in," said he. "Have rung all the bells. Would think the house empty if I
had not seen something like a stir in one of the windows overhead. Shall
I try to make my way into the rear yard through one of the lower windows
of Knapp & Co.'s store, next door?"

"Yes, and take this boy with you. Lock him up in some one of their
offices, and then break your way into this house by some means. It ought
to be easy enough from the back yard."

The officer nodded, took the boy by the arm, and in a trice had
disappeared with him into the adjoining store. Mr. Gryce remained in the
area, where he was presently besieged by a crowd of passers-by, eager to
add their curiosity to the trouble they had so quickly scented. The
opening of the door from the inside speedily put an end to importunities
for which he had as yet no reply, and he was enabled to slip within,
where he found himself in a place of almost absolute quiet. Before him
lay a basement hall leading to a kitchen, which, even at that moment, he
noticed to be in trimmer condition than is usual where much housework is
done, but he saw nothing that bespoke tragedy, or even a break in the
ordinary routine of life as observed in houses of like size and
pretension.

Satisfied that what he sought was not to be found here, he followed the
officer upstairs. As they emerged upon the parlor floor, the latter
dropped the following information:

"Mr. Raffner of the firm next door says that the man who lives here is
an odd sort of person whom nobody knows; a bookworm, I think they call
him. He has occupied the house six months, yet they have never seen any
one about the premise but himself and a strange old servant as peculiar
and uncommunicative as his master."

"I know," muttered Mr. Gryce. He did know, everybody knew, that this
house, once the seat of one of New York's most aristocratic families,
was inhabited at present by a Mr. Adams, noted alike for his more than
common personal attractions, his wealth, and the uncongenial nature of
his temperament, which precluded all association with his kind. It was
this knowledge which had given zest to this investigation. To enter the
house of such a man was an event in itself: to enter it on an errand of
life and death--Well, it is under the inspiration of such opportunities
that life is reawakened in old veins, especially when those veins
connect the heart and brain of a sagacious, if octogenarian, detective.

The hall in which they now found themselves was wide, old-fashioned, and
sparsely furnished in the ancient manner to be observed in such
time-honored structures. Two doors led into this hall, both of which now
stood open. Taking advantage of this fact, they entered the nearest,
which was nearly opposite the top of the staircase they had just
ascended, and found themselves in a room barren as a doctor's outer
office. There was nothing here worth their attention, and they would
have left the place as unceremoniously as they had entered it if they
had not caught glimpses of richness which promised an interior of
uncommon elegance, behind the half-drawn folds of a portière at the
further end of the room.

Advancing through the doorway thus indicated, they took one look about
them and stood appalled. Nothing in their experience (and they had both
experienced much) had prepared them for the thrilling, the solemn nature
of what they were here called upon to contemplate.

Shall I attempt its description?

A room small and of circular shape, hung with strange tapestries
relieved here and there by priceless curios, and lit, although it was
still daylight, by a jet of rose-colored light concentrated, not on the
rows and rows of books around the lower portion of the room, or on the
one great picture which at another time might have drawn the eye and
held the attention, but on the upturned face of a man lying on a
bearskin rug with a dagger in his heart and on his breast a cross whose
golden lines, sharply outlined against his long, dark, swathing garment,
gave him the appearance of a saint prepared in some holy place for
burial, save that the dagger spoke of violent death, and his face of an
anguish for which Mr. Gryce, notwithstanding his lifelong experience,
found no name, so little did it answer to a sensation of fear, pain, or
surprise, or any of the emotions usually visible on the countenances of
such as have fallen under the unexpected stroke of an assassin.



CHAPTER II.

MYSTERIES.


A moment of indecision, of awe even, elapsed before Mr. Gryce recovered
himself. The dim light, the awesome silence, the unexpected surroundings
recalling a romantic age, the motionless figure of him who so lately had
been the master of the house, lying outstretched as for the tomb, with
the sacred symbol on his breast offering such violent contradiction to
the earthly passion which had driven the dagger home, were enough to
move even the tried spirit of this old officer of the law and confuse a
mind which, in the years of his long connection with the force, had had
many serious problems to work upon, but never one just like this.

It was only for a moment, though. Before the man behind him had given
utterance to his own bewilderment and surprise, Mr. Gryce had passed in
and taken his stand by the prostrate figure.

That it was that of a man who had long since ceased to breathe he could
not for a moment doubt; yet his first act was to make sure of the fact
by laying his hand on the pulse and examining the eyes, whose expression
of reproach was such that he had to call up all his professional
sangfroid to meet them.

He found the body still warm, but dead beyond all question, and, once
convinced of this, he forbore to draw the dagger from the wound, though
he did not fail to give it the most careful attention before turning his
eyes elsewhere. It was no ordinary weapon. It was a curio from some
oriental shop. This in itself seemed to point to suicide, but the
direction in which the blade had entered the body and the position of
the wound were not such as would be looked for in a case of self-murder.

The other clews were few. Though the scene had been one of bloodshed and
death, the undoubted result of a sudden and fierce attack, there were no
signs of struggle to be found in the well-ordered apartment. Beyond a
few rose leaves scattered on the floor, the room was a scene of peace
and quiet luxury. Even the large table which occupied the centre of the
room and near which the master of the house had been standing when
struck gave no token of the tragedy which had been enacted at its side.
That is, not at first glance; for though its large top was covered with
articles of use and ornament, they all stood undisturbed and presumably
in place, as if the shock which had laid their owner low had failed to
be communicated to his belongings.

The contents of the table were various. Only a man of complex tastes and
attainments could have collected and arranged in one small compass
pipes, pens, portraits, weights, measures, Roman lamps, Venetian glass,
rare porcelains, medals, rough metal work, manuscript, a scroll of
music, a pot of growing flowers, and--and--(this seemed oddest of all) a
row of electric buttons, which Mr. Gryce no sooner touched than the
light which had been burning redly in the cage of fretted ironwork
overhead changed in a twinkling to a greenish glare, filling the room
with such ghastly tints that Mr. Gryce sought in haste another button,
and, pressing it, was glad to see a mild white radiance take the place
of the sickly hue which had added its own horror to the already solemn
terrors of the spot.

"Childish tricks for a man of his age and position," ruminated Mr.
Gryce; but after catching another glimpse of the face lying upturned at
his feet he was conscious of a doubt as to whether the owner of that
countenance could have possessed an instinct which was in any wise
childish, so strong and purposeful were his sharply cut features.
Indeed, the face was one to make an impression under any circumstances.
In the present instance, and with such an expression stamped upon it, it
exerted a fascination which disturbed the current of the detective's
thoughts whenever by any chance he allowed it to get between him and his
duty. To attribute folly to a man with such a mouth and such a chin was
to own one's self a poor judge of human nature. Therefore, the lamp
overhead, with its electric connection and changing slides, had a
meaning which at present could be sought for only in the evidences of
scientific research observable in the books and apparatus everywhere
surrounding him.

Letting the white light burn on, Mr. Gryce, by a characteristic effort,
shifted his attention to the walls, covered, as I have said, with
tapestries and curios. There was nothing on them calculated to aid him
in his research into the secret of this crime, unless--yes, there _was_
something, a bent-down nail, wrenched from its place, the nail on which
the cross had hung which now lay upon the dead man's heart. The cord by
which it had been suspended still clung to the cross and mingled its red
threads with that other scarlet thread which had gone to meet it from
the victim's wounded breast. Who had torn down that cross? Not the
victim himself. With such a wound, any such movement would have been
impossible. Besides, the nail and the empty place on the wall were as
far removed from where he lay as was possible in the somewhat
circumscribed area of this circular apartment. Another's hand, then, had
pulled down this symbol of peace and pardon, and placed it where the
dying man's fleeting breath would play across it, a peculiar exhibition
of religious hope or mad remorse, to the significance of which Mr. Gryce
could not devote more than a passing thought, so golden were the moments
in which he found himself alone upon this scene of crime.

Behind the table and half-way up the wall was a picture, the only large
picture in the room. It was the portrait of a young girl of an extremely
interesting and pathetic beauty. From her garb and the arrangement of
her hair, it had evidently been painted about the end of our civil war.
In it was to be observed the same haunting quality of intellectual charm
visible in the man lying prone upon the floor, and though she was fair
and he dark, there was sufficient likeness between the two to argue some
sort of relationship between them. Below this picture were fastened a
sword, a pair of epaulettes, and a medal such as was awarded for valor
in the civil war.

"Mementoes which may help us in our task," mused the detective.

Passing on, he came unexpectedly upon a narrow curtain, so dark of hue
and so akin in pattern to the draperies on the adjoining walls that it
had up to this time escaped his attention. It was not that of a window,
for such windows as were to be seen in this unique apartment were high
upon the wall, indeed, almost under the ceiling. It must, therefore,
drape the opening into still another communicating room. And such he
found to be the case. Pushing this curtain aside, he entered a narrow
closet containing a bed, a dresser, and a small table. The bed was the
narrow cot of a bachelor, and the dresser that of a man of luxurious
tastes and the utmost nicety of habit. Both the bed and dresser were in
perfect order, save for a silver-backed comb, which had been taken from
the latter, and which he presently found lying on the floor at the other
end of the room. This and the presence of a pearl-handled parasol on a
small stand near the door proclaimed that a woman had been there within
a short space of time. The identity of this woman was soon established
in his eyes by a small but unmistakable token connecting her with the
one who had been the means of sending in the alarm to the police. The
token of which I speak was a little black spangle, called by milliners
and mantua-makers a sequin, which lay on the threshold separating this
room from the study; and as Mr. Gryce, attracted by its sparkle, stooped
to examine it, his eye caught sight of a similar one on the floor
beyond, and of still another a few steps farther on. The last one lay
close to the large centre-table before which he had just been standing.

The dainty trail formed by these bright sparkling drops seemed to affect
him oddly. He knew, minute observer that he was, that in the manufacture
of this garniture the spangles are strung on a thread which, if once
broken, allows them to drop away one by one, till you can almost follow
a woman so arrayed by the sequins that fall from her. Perhaps it was the
delicate nature of the clew thus offered that pleased him, perhaps it
was a recognition of the irony of fate in thus making a trap for unwary
mortals out of their vanities. Whatever it was, the smile with which he
turned his eye upon the table toward which he had thus been led was very
eloquent. But before examining this article of furniture more closely,
he attempted to find out where the thread had become loosened which had
let the spangles fall. Had it caught on any projection in doorway or
furniture? He saw none. All the chairs were cushioned and--But wait!
there was the cross! That had a fretwork of gold at its base. Might not
this filagree have caught in her dress as she was tearing down the cross
from the wall and so have started the thread which had given him this
exquisite clew?

Hastening to the spot where the cross had hung, he searched the floor at
his feet, but found nothing to confirm his conjecture until he had
reached the rug on which the prostrate man lay. There, amid the long
hairs of the bearskin, he came upon one other spangle, and knew that the
woman in the shiny clothes had stooped there before him.

Satisfied on this point, he returned to the table, and this time
subjected it to a thorough and minute examination. That the result was
not entirely unsatisfactory was evident from the smile with which he
eyed his finger after having drawn it across a certain spot near the
inkstand, and also from the care with which he lifted that inkstand and
replaced it in precisely the same spot from which he had taken it up.
Had he expected to find something concealed under it? Who can tell? A
detective's face seldom yields up its secrets.

He was musing quite intently before this table when a quick step behind
him made him turn. Styles, the officer, having now been over the house,
had returned, and was standing before him in the attitude of one who has
something to say.

"What is it?" asked Mr. Gryce, with a quick movement in his direction.

For answer the officer pointed to the staircase visible through the
antechamber door.

"Go up!" was indicated by his gesture.

Mr. Gryce demurred, casting a glance around the room, which at that
moment interested him so deeply. At this the man showed some excitement,
and, breaking silence, said:

"Come! I have lighted on the guilty party. He is in a room upstairs."

"He?" Mr. Gryce was evidently surprised at the pronoun.

"Yes; there can be no doubt about it. When you see him--but what is
that? Is he coming down? I'm sure there's nobody else in the house.
Don't you hear footsteps, sir?"

Mr. Gryce nodded. Some one was certainly descending the stairs.

"Let us retreat," suggested Styles. "Not because the man is dangerous,
but because it is very necessary you should see him before he sees you.
He's a very strange-acting man, sir; and if he comes in here, will be
sure to do something to incriminate himself. Where can we hide?"

Mr. Gryce remembered the little room he had just left, and drew the
officer toward it. Once installed inside, he let the curtain drop till
only a small loophole remained. The steps, which had been gradually
growing louder, kept advancing; and presently they could hear the
intruder's breathing, which was both quick and labored.

"Does he know that any one has entered the house? Did he see you when
you came upon him upstairs?" whispered Mr. Gryce into the ear of the man
beside him.

Styles shook his head, and pointed eagerly toward the opposite door. The
man for whose appearance they waited had just lifted the portière and in
another moment stood in full view just inside the threshold.

Mr. Gryce and his attendant colleague both stared. Was this the
murderer? This pale, lean servitor, with a tray in his hand on which
rested a single glass of water?

Mr. Gryce was so astonished that he looked at Styles for explanation.
But that officer, hiding his own surprise, for he had not expected this
peaceful figure, urged him in a whisper to have patience, and both,
turning toward the man again, beheld him advance, stop, cast one look at
the figure lying on the floor and then let slip the glass with a low cry
that at once changed to something like a howl.

"Look at him! Look at him!" urged Styles, in a hurried whisper. "Watch
what he will do now. You will see a murderer at work."

And sure enough, in another instant this strange being, losing all
semblance to his former self, entered upon a series of pantomimic
actions which to the two men who watched him seemed both to explain and
illustrate the crime which had just been enacted there.

With every appearance of passion, he stood contemplating the empty air
before him, and then, with one hand held stretched out behind him in a
peculiarly cramped position, he plunged with the other toward a table
from which he made a feint of snatching something which he no sooner
closed his hand upon than he gave a quick side-thrust, still at the
empty air, which seemed to quiver in return, so vigorous was his action
and so evident his intent.

The reaction following this thrust; the slow unclosing of his hand from
an imaginary dagger; the tottering of his body backward; then the moment
when with wide open eyes he seemed to contemplate in horror the result
of his own deed;--these needed no explanation beyond what was given by
his writhing features and trembling body. Gradually succumbing to the
remorse or terror of his own crime, he sank lower and lower, until,
though with that one arm still stretched out, he lay in an inert heap on
the floor.

"It is what I saw him do upstairs," murmured Styles into the ear of the
amazed detective. "He has evidently been driven insane by his own act."

Mr. Gryce made no answer. Here was a problem for the solution of which
he found no precedent in all his past experience.



CHAPTER III.

THE MUTE SERVITOR.


Meanwhile the man who, to all appearance, had just re-enacted before
them the tragedy which had so lately taken place in this room, rose to
his feet, and, with a dazed air as unlike his former violent expression
as possible, stooped for the glass he had let fall, and was carrying it
out when Mr. Gryce called to him:

"Wait, man! You needn't take that glass away. We first want to hear how
your master comes to be lying here dead."

It was a demand calculated to startle any man. But this one showed
himself totally unmoved by it, and was passing on when Styles laid a
detaining hand on his shoulder.

"Stop!" said he. "What do you mean by sliding off like this? Don't you
hear the gentleman speaking to you?"

This time the appeal told. The glass fell again from the man's hand,
mingling its clink (for it struck the floor this time and broke) with
the cry he gave--which was not exactly a cry either, but an odd sound
between a moan and a shriek. He had caught sight of the men who were
seeking to detain him, and his haggard look and cringing form showed
that he realized at last the terrors of his position. Next minute he
sought to escape, but Styles, gripping him more firmly, dragged him back
to where Mr. Gryce stood beside the bearskin rug on which lay the form
of his dead master.

Instantly, at the sight of this recumbent figure, another change took
place in the entrapped butler. Joy--that most hellish of passions in the
presence of violence and death--illumined his wandering eye and
distorted his mouth; and, seeking no disguise for the satisfaction he
felt, he uttered a low but thrilling laugh, which rang in unholy echo
through the room.

Mr. Gryce, moved in spite of himself by an abhorrence which the
irresponsible condition of this man seemed only to emphasize, waited
till the last faint sounds of this diabolical mirth had died away in the
high recesses of the space above. Then, fixing the glittering eye of
this strange creature with his own, which, as we know, so seldom dwelt
upon that of his fellow-beings, he sternly said:

"There now! Speak! Who killed this man? You were in the house with him,
and should know."

The butler's lips opened and a string of strange gutturals poured forth,
while with his one disengaged hand (for the other was held to his side
by Styles) he touched his ears and his lips, and violently shook his
head.

There was but one interpretation to be given to this. The man was deaf
and dumb.

The shock of this discovery was too much for Styles. His hand fell from
the other's arms, and the man, finding himself free, withdrew to his
former place in the room, where he proceeded to enact again and with
increased vivacity first the killing of and then the mourning for his
master, which but a few moments before had made so suggestive an
impression upon them. This done, he stood waiting, but this time with
that gleam of infernal joy in the depths of his quick, restless eyes
which made his very presence in this room of death seem a sacrilege and
horror.

Styles could not stand it. "Can't you speak?" he shouted. "Can't you
hear?"

The man only smiled, an evil and gloating smile, which Mr. Gryce thought
it his duty to cut short.

"Take him away!" he cried. "Examine him carefully for blood marks. I am
going up to the room where you saw him first. He is too nearly linked to
this crime not to carry some trace of it away with him."

But for once even this time-tried detective found himself at fault. No
marks were found on the old servant, nor could they discover in the
rooms above any signs by which this one remaining occupant of the house
could be directly associated with the crime which had taken place within
it. Thereupon Mr. Gryce grew very thoughtful and entered upon another
examination of the two rooms which to his mind held all the clews that
would ever be given to this strange crime.

The result was meagre, and he was just losing himself again in
contemplation of the upturned face, whose fixed mouth and haunting
expression told such a story of suffering and determination, when there
came from the dim recesses above his head a cry, which, forming itself
into two words, rang down with startling clearness in this most
unexpected of appeals:

"Remember Evelyn!"

Remember Evelyn! Who was Evelyn? And to whom did this voice belong, in a
house which had already been ransacked in vain for other occupants? It
seemed to come from the roof, and, sure enough, when Mr. Gryce looked up
he saw, swinging in a cage strung up nearly to the top of one of the
windows I have mentioned, an English starling, which, in seeming
recognition of the attention it had drawn upon itself, craned its neck
as Mr. Gryce looked up, and shrieked again, with fiercer insistence than
before:

"Remember Evelyn!"

It was the last uncanny touch in a series of uncanny experiences. With
an odd sense of nightmare upon him, Mr. Gryce leaned forward on the
study table in his effort to obtain a better view of this bird, when,
without warning, the white light, which since his last contact with the
electrical apparatus had spread itself through the room, changed again
to green, and he realized that he had unintentionally pressed a button
and thus brought into action another slide in the curious lamp over his
head.

Annoyed, for these changing hues offered a problem he was as yet too
absorbed in other matters to make any attempt to solve, he left the
vicinity of the table, and was about to leave the room when he heard
Styles's voice rise from the adjoining antechamber, where Styles was
keeping guard over the old butler:

"Shall I let him go, Mr. Gryce? He seems very uneasy; not dangerous, you
know, but anxious; as if he had forgotten something or recalled some
unfulfilled duty."

"Yes, let him go," was the detective's quick reply. "Only watch and
follow him. Every movement he makes is of interest. Unconsciously he may
be giving us invaluable clews." And he approached the door to note for
himself what the man might do.

"Remember Evelyn!" rang out the startling cry from above, as the
detective passed between the curtains. Irresistibly he looked back and
up. To whom was this appeal from a bird's throat so imperatively
addressed? To him or to the man on the floor beneath, whose ears were
forever closed? It might be a matter of little consequence, and it might
be one involving the very secret of this tragedy. But whether important
or not, he could pay no heed to it at this juncture, for the old butler,
coming from the front hall whither he had hurried on being released by
Styles, was at that moment approaching him, carrying in one hand his
master's hat and in the other his master's umbrella.

Not knowing what this new movement might mean, Mr. Gryce paused where he
was and waited for the man to advance. Seeing this, the mute, to whose
face and bearing had returned the respectful immobility of the trained
servant, handed over the articles he had brought, and then noiselessly,
and with the air of one who had performed an expected service, retreated
to his old place in the antechamber, where he sat down again and fell
almost immediately into his former dazed condition.

"Humph! mind quite lost, memory uncertain, testimony valueless," were
the dissatisfied reflections of the disappointed detective as he
replaced Mr. Adams's hat and umbrella on the hall rack. "Has he been
brought to this state by the tragedy which has just taken place here, or
is his present insane condition its precursor and cause?" Mr. Gryce
might have found some answer to this question in his own mind if, at
that moment, the fitful clanging of the front door bell, which had
hitherto testified to the impatience of the curious crowd outside, had
not been broken into by an authoritative knock which at once put an end
to all self-communing.

The coroner, or some equally important person, was at hand, and the
detective's golden hour was over.



CHAPTER IV.

A NEW EXPERIENCE FOR MR. GRYCE.


Mr. Gryce felt himself at a greater disadvantage in his attempt to solve
the mystery of this affair than in any other which he had entered upon
in years. First, the victim had been a solitary man, with no household
save his man-of-all-work, the mute. Secondly, he had lived in a portion
of the city where no neighbors were possible; and he had even lacked, as
it now seemed, any very active friends. Though some hours had elapsed
since his death had been noised abroad, no one had appeared at the door
with inquiries or information. This seemed odd, considering that he had
been for some months a marked figure in this quarter of the town. But,
then, everything about this man was odd, nor would it have been in
keeping with his surroundings and peculiar manner of living for him to
have had the ordinary associations of men of his class.

This absence of the usual means of eliciting knowledge from the
surrounding people, added to, rather than detracted from, the interest
which Mr. Gryce was bound to feel in the case, and it was with a feeling
of relief that a little before midnight he saw the army of reporters,
medical men, officials, and such others as had followed in the coroner's
wake, file out of the front door and leave him again, for a few hours at
least, master of the situation.

For there were yet two points which he desired to settle before he took
his own much-needed rest. The first occupied his immediate attention.
Passing before a chair in the hall on which a small boy sat dozing, he
roused him with the remark:

"Come, Jake, it's time to look lively. I want you to go with me to the
exact place where that lady ran across you to-day."

The boy, half dead with sleep, looked around him for his hat.

"I'd like to see my mother first," he pleaded. "She must be done up
about me. I never stayed away so long before."

"Your mother knows where you are. I sent a message to her hours ago. She
gave a very good report of you, Jake; says you're an obedient lad and
that you never have told her a falsehood."

"She's a good mother," the boy warmly declared. "I'd be as bad--as bad
as my father was, if I did not treat her well." Here his hand fell on
his cap, which he put on his head.

"I'm ready," said he.

Mr. Gryce at once led the way into the street.

The hour was late, and only certain portions of the city showed any real
activity. Into one of these thoroughfares they presently came, and
before the darkened window of one of the lesser shops paused, while Jake
pointed out the two stuffed frogs engaged with miniature swords in
mortal combat at which he had been looking when the lady came up and
spoke to him.

Mr. Gryce eyed the boy rather than the frogs, though probably the former
would have sworn that his attention had never left that miniature
conflict.

"Was she a pretty lady?" he asked.

The boy scratched his head in some perplexity.

"She made me a good deal afraid of her," he said. "She had very splendid
clothes; oh, gorgeous!" he cried, as if on this question there could be
no doubt.

"And she was young, and carried a bunch of flowers, and seemed troubled?
What! not young, and carried no flowers--and wasn't even anxious and
trembling?"

The boy, who had been shaking his head, looked nonplussed.

"I think as she was what you might call troubled. But she wasn't crying,
and when she spoke to me, she put more feeling into her grip than into
her voice. She just dragged me to the drug-store, sir. If she hadn't
given me money first, I should have wriggled away in spite of her. But I
likes money, sir; I don't get too much of it."

Mr. Gryce by this time was moving on. "Not young," he repeated to
himself. "Some old flame, then, of Mr. Adams; they're apt to be
dangerous, very dangerous, more dangerous than the young ones."

In front of the drug-store he paused. "Show me where she stood while you
went in."

The boy pointed out the identical spot. He seemed as eager as the
detective.

"And was she standing there when you came out?"

"Oh, no, sir; she went away while I was inside."

"Did you see her go? Can you tell me whether she went up street or
down?"

"I had one eye on her, sir; I was afraid she was coming into the shop
after me, and my arm was too sore for me to want her to clinch hold on
it again. So when she started to go, I took a step nearer, and saw her
move toward the curbstone and hold up her hand. But it wasn't a car she
was after, for none came by for several minutes."

The fold between Mr. Gryce's eyes perceptibly smoothed out.

"Then it was some cabman or hack-driver she hailed. Were there any empty
coaches about that you saw?"

The boy had not noticed. He had reached the limit of his observations,
and no amount of further questioning could elicit anything more from
him. This Mr. Gryce soon saw, and giving him into the charge of one of
his assistants who was on duty at this place, he proceeded back to the
ill-omened house where the tragedy itself had occurred.

"Any one waiting for me?" he inquired of Styles, who came to the door.

"Yes, sir; a young man; name, Hines. Says he's an electrician."

"That's the man I want. Where is he?"

"In the parlor, sir."

"Good! I'll see him. But don't let any one else in. Anybody upstairs?"

"No, sir, all gone. Shall I go up or stay here?"

"You'd better go up. I'll look after the door."

Styles nodded, and went toward the stairs, up which he presently
disappeared. Mr. Gryce proceeded to the parlor.

A dapper young man with an intelligent eye rose to meet him. "You sent
for me," said he.

The detective nodded, asked a few questions, and seeming satisfied with
the replies he received, led the way into Mr. Adams's study, from which
the body had been removed to an upper room. As they entered, a mild
light greeted them from a candle which, by Mr. Gryce's orders, had been
placed on a small side table near the door. But once in, Mr. Gryce
approached the larger table in the centre of the room, and placing his
hand on one of the buttons before him, asked his companion to be kind
enough to blow out the candle. This he did, leaving the room for a
moment in total darkness. Then with a sudden burst of illumination, a
marvellous glow of a deep violet color shot over the whole room, and the
two men turned and faced each other both with inquiry in their looks, so
unexpected was this theatrical effect to the one, and so inexplicable
its cause and purpose to the other.

"That is but one slide," remarked Mr. Gryce. "Now I will press another
button, and the color changes to--pink, as you see. This one produces
green, this one white, and this a bilious yellow, which is not becoming
to either of us, I am sure. Now will you examine the connection, and see
if there is anything peculiar about it?"

Mr. Hines at once set to work. But beyond the fact that the whole
contrivance was the work of an amateur hand, he found nothing strange
about it, except the fact that it worked so well.

Mr. Gryce showed disappointment.

"He made it, then, himself?" he asked.

"Undoubtedly, or some one else equally unacquainted with the latest
method of wiring."

"Will you look at these books over here and see if sufficient knowledge
can be got from them to enable an amateur to rig up such an arrangement
as this?"

Mr. Hines glanced at the shelf which Mr. Gryce had pointed out, and
without taking out the books, answered briefly:

"A man with a deft hand and a scientific turn of mind might, by the aid
of these, do all you see here and more. The aptitude is all."

"Then I'm afraid Mr. Adams had the aptitude," was the dry response.
There was disappointment in the tone. Why, his next words served to
show. "A man with a turn for mechanical contrivances often wastes much
time and money on useless toys only fit for children to play with. Look
at that bird cage now. Perched at a height totally beyond the reach of
any one without a ladder, it must owe its very evident usefulness (for
you see it holds a rather lively occupant) to some contrivance by which
it can be raised and lowered at will. Where is that contrivance? Can you
find it?"

The expert thought he could. And, sure enough, after some ineffectual
searching, he came upon another button well hid amid the tapestry on the
wall, which, when pressed, caused something to be disengaged which
gradually lowered the cage within reach of Mr. Gryce's hand.

"We will not send this poor bird aloft again," said he, detaching the
cage and holding it for a moment in his hand. "An English starling is
none too common in this country. Hark! he is going to speak."

But the sharp-eyed bird, warned perhaps by the emphatic gesture of the
detective that silence would be more in order at this moment than his
usual appeal to "remember Evelyn," whisked about in his cage for an
instant, and then subsided into a doze, which may have been real, and
may have been assumed under the fascinating eye of the old gentleman who
held him. Mr. Gryce placed the cage on the floor, and idly, or because
the play pleased him, old and staid as he was, pressed another button on
the table--a button he had hitherto neglected touching--and glanced
around to see what color the light would now assume.

But the yellow glare remained. The investigation which the apparatus had
gone through had probably disarranged the wires. With a shrug he was
moving off, when he suddenly made a hurried gesture, directing the
attention of the expert to a fact for which neither of them was
prepared. The opening which led into the antechamber, and which was the
sole means of communication with the rest of the house, was slowly
closing. From a yard's breadth it became a foot; from a foot it became
an inch; from an inch----

"Well, that is certainly the contrivance of a lazy man," laughed the
expert. "Seated in his chair here, he can close his door at will. No
shouting after a deaf servant, no awkward stumbling over rugs to shut it
himself. I don't know but I approve of this contrivance, only----" here
he caught a rather serious expression on Mr. Gryce's face--"the slide
seems to be of a somewhat curious construction. It is not made of wood,
as any sensible door ought to be, but of----"

"Steel," finished Mr. Gryce in an odd tone. "This is the strangest thing
yet. It begins to look as if Mr. Adams was daft on electrical
contrivances."

"And as if we were prisoners here," supplemented the other. "I do not
see any means for drawing this slide back."

"Oh, there's another button for that, of course," Mr. Gryce carelessly
remarked.

But they failed to find one.

"If you don't object," observed Mr. Gryce, after five minutes of useless
search, "I will turn a more cheerful light upon the scene. Yellow does
not seem to fit the occasion."

"Give us rose, for unless you have some one on the other side of this
steel plate, we seem likely to remain here till morning."

"There is a man upstairs whom we may perhaps make hear, but what does
this contrivance portend? It has a serious look to me, when you consider
that every window in these two rooms has been built up almost under the
roof."

"Yes; a very strange look. But before engaging in its consideration I
should like a breath of fresh air. I cannot do anything while in
confinement. My brain won't work."

Meanwhile Mr. Gryce was engaged in examining the huge plate of steel
which served as a barrier to their egress. He found that it had been
made--certainly at great expense--to fit the curve of the walls through
which it passed. This was a discovery of some consequence, causing Mr.
Gryce to grow still more thoughtful and to eye the smooth steel plate
under his hand with an air of marked distrust.

"Mr. Adams carried his taste for the mechanical to great extremes," he
remarked to the slightly uneasy man beside him. "This slide is very
carefully fitted, and, if I am not mistaken, it will stand some
battering before we are released."

"I wish that his interest in electricity had led him to attach such a
simple thing as a bell."

"True, we have come across no bell."

"It would have smacked too much of the ordinary to please him."

"Besides, his only servant was deaf."

"Try the effect of a blow, a quick blow with this silver-mounted
alpenstock. Some one should hear and come to our assistance."

"I will try my whistle first; it will be better understood."

But though Mr. Gryce both whistled and struck many a resounding knock
upon the barrier before them, it was an hour before he could draw the
attention of Styles, and five hours before an opening could be effected
in the wall large enough to admit of their escape, so firmly was this
barrier of steel fixed across the sole outlet from this remarkable room.



CHAPTER V.

FIVE SMALL SPANGLES.


Such an experience could not fail to emphasize Mr. Gryce's interest in
the case and heighten the determination he had formed to probe its
secrets and explain all its extraordinary features. Arrived at
Headquarters, where his presence was doubtless awaited with some anxiety
by those who knew nothing of the cause of his long detention, his first
act was to inquire if Bartow, the butler, had come to his senses during
the night.

The answer was disappointing. Not only was there no change in his
condition, but the expert in lunacy who had been called in to pass upon
his case had expressed an opinion unfavorable to his immediate recovery.

Mr. Gryce looked sober, and, summoning the officer who had managed
Bartow's arrest, he asked how the mute had acted when he found himself
detained.

The answer was curt, but very much to the point.

"Surprised, sir. Shook his head and made some queer gestures, then went
through his pantomime. It's quite a spectacle, sir. Poor fool, he keeps
holding his hand back, so."

Mr. Gryce noted the gesture; it was the same which Bartow had made when
he first realized that he had spectators. Its meaning was not wholly
apparent. He had made it with his right hand (there was no evidence that
the mute was left-handed), and he continued to make it as if with this
movement he expected to call attention to some fact that would relieve
him from custody.

"Does he mope? Is his expression one of fear or anger?"

"It varies, sir. One minute he looks like a man on the point of falling
asleep; the next he starts up in fury, shaking his head and pounding the
walls. It's not a comfortable sight, sir. He will have to be watched
night and day."

"Let him be, and note every change in him. His testimony may not be
valid, but there is suggestion in every movement he makes. To-morrow I
will visit him myself."

The officer went out, and Mr. Gryce sat for a few moments communing with
himself, during which he took out a little package from his pocket, and
emptying out on his desk the five little spangles it contained, regarded
them intently. He had always been fond of looking at some small and
seemingly insignificant object while thinking. It served to concentrate
his thoughts, no doubt. At all events, some such result appeared to
follow the contemplation of these five sequins, for after shaking his
head doubtfully over them for a time, he made a sudden move, and
sweeping them into the envelope from which he had taken them, he gave a
glance at his watch and passed quickly into the outer office, where he
paused before a line of waiting men. Beckoning to one who had followed
his movements with an interest which had not escaped the eye of this old
reader of human nature, he led the way back to his own room.

"You want a hand in this matter?" he said interrogatively, as the door
closed behind them and they found themselves alone.

"Oh, sir--" began the young man in a glow which made his more than plain
features interesting to contemplate, "I do not presume----"

"Enough!" interposed the other. "You have been here now for six months,
and have had no opportunity as yet for showing any special adaptability.
Now I propose to test your powers with something really difficult. Are
you up to it, Sweetwater? Do you know the city well enough to attempt to
find a needle in this very big haystack?"

"I should at least like to try," was the eager response. "If I succeed
it will be a bigger feather in my cap than if I had always lived in New
York. I have been spoiling for some such opportunity. See if I don't
make the effort judiciously, if only out of gratitude."

"Well, we shall see," remarked the old detective. "If it's difficulty
you long to encounter, you will be likely to have all you want of it.
Indeed, it is the impossible I ask. A woman is to be found of whom we
know nothing save that she wore when last seen a dress heavily
bespangled with black, and that she carried in her visit to Mr. Adams,
at the time of or before the murder, a parasol, of which I can procure
you a glimpse before you start out. She came from, I don't know where,
and she went--but that is what you are to find out. You are not the only
man who is to be put on the job, which, as you see, is next door to a
hopeless one, unless the woman comes forward and proclaims herself.
Indeed, I should despair utterly of your success if it were not for one
small fact which I will now proceed to give you as my special and
confidential agent in this matter. When this woman was about to
disappear from the one eye that was watching her, she approached the
curbstone in front of Hudson's fruit store on 14th Street and lifted up
her right hand, so. It is not much of a clew, but it is all I have at my
disposal, except these five spangles dropped from her dress, and my
conviction that she is not to be found among the questionable women of
the town, but among those who seldom or never come under the eye of the
police. Yet don't let this conviction hamper you. Convictions as a rule
are bad things, and act as a hindrance rather than an inspiration."

Sweetwater, to whom the song of the sirens would have sounded less
sweet, listened with delight and responded with a frank smile and a gay:

"I'll do my best, sir, but don't show me the parasol, only describe it.
I wouldn't like the fellows to chaff me if I fail; I'd rather go quietly
to work and raise no foolish expectations."

"Well, then, it is one of those dainty, nonsensical things made of gray
chiffon, with pearl handle and bows of pink ribbon. I don't believe it
was ever used before, and from the value women usually place on such
fol-de-rols, could only have been left behind under the stress of
extraordinary emotion or fear. The name of the owner was not on it."

"Nor that of the maker?"

Mr. Gryce had expected this question, and was glad not to be
disappointed.

"No, that would have helped us too much."

"And the hour at which this lady was seen on the curbstone at Hudson's?"

"Half-past four; the moment at which the telephone message arrived."

"Very good, sir. It is the hardest task I have ever undertaken, but
that's not against it. When shall I see you again?"

"When you have something to impart. Ah, wait a minute. I have my
suspicion that this woman's first name is Evelyn. But, mind, it is only
a suspicion."

"All right, sir," and with an air of some confidence, the young man
disappeared.

Mr. Gryce did not look as if he shared young Sweetwater's cheerfulness.
The mist surrounding this affair was as yet impenetrable to him. But
then he was not twenty-three, with only triumphant memories behind him.

His next hope lay in the information likely to accrue from the published
accounts of this crime, now spread broadcast over the country. A man of
Mr. Adams's wealth and culture must necessarily have possessed many
acquaintances, whom the surprising news of his sudden death would
naturally bring to light, especially as no secret was made of his means
and many valuable effects. But as if this affair, destined to be one of
the last to engage the powers of this sagacious old man, refused on this
very account to yield any immediate results to his investigation, the
whole day passed by without the appearance of any claimant for Mr.
Adams's fortune or the arrival on the scene of any friend capable of
lifting the veil which shrouded the life of this strange being. To be
sure, his banker and his lawyer came forward during the day, but they
had little to reveal beyond the fact that his pecuniary affairs were in
good shape and that, so far as they knew, he was without family or kin.

Even his landlord could add little to the general knowledge. He had
first heard of Mr. Adams through a Philadelphia lawyer, since dead, who
had assured him of his client's respectability and undoubted ability to
pay his rent. When they came together and Mr. Adams was introduced to
him, he had been struck, first, by the ascetic appearance of his
prospective tenant, and, secondly, by his reserved manners and quiet
intelligence. But admirable as he had found him, he had never succeeded
in making his acquaintance. The rent had been uniformly paid with great
exactitude on the very day it was due, but his own visits had never been
encouraged or his advances met by anything but the cold politeness of a
polished and totally indifferent man. Indeed, he had always looked upon
his tenant as a bookworm, absorbed in study and such scientific
experiments as could be carried on with no other assistance than that of
his deaf and dumb servant.

Asked if he knew anything about this servant, he answered that his
acquaintance with him was limited to the two occasions on which he had
been ushered by him into his master's presence; that he knew nothing of
his character and general disposition, and could not say whether his
attitude toward his master had been one of allegiance or antagonism.

And so the way was blocked in this direction.

Taken into the room where Mr. Adams had died, he surveyed in amazement
the huge steel plate which still blocked the doorway, and the high
windows through which only a few straggling sunbeams could find their
way.

Pointing to the windows, he remarked:

"These were filled in at Mr. Adams's request. Originally they extended
down to the wainscoting."

He was shown where lath and plaster had been introduced and also how the
plate had been prepared and arranged as a barrier. But he could give no
explanation of it or divine the purpose for which it had been placed
there at so great an expense.

The lamp was another curiosity, and its varying lights the cause of
increased astonishment. Indeed he had known nothing of these
arrangements, having been received in the parlor when he visited the
house, where there was nothing to attract his attention or emphasize the
well-known oddities of his tenant.

He was not shown the starling. That loquacious bird had been removed to
police headquarters for the special delectation of Mr. Gryce.

Other inquiries failed also. No clew to the owner of the insignia found
on the wall could be gained at the pension office or at any of the G. A.
R. posts inside the city. Nor was the name of the artist who had painted
the portrait which adorned so large a portion of the wall a recognized
one in New York City. Otherwise a clew might have been obtained through
him to Mr. Adams's antecedents. All the drawers and receptacles in Mr.
Adams's study had been searched, but no will had been found nor any
business documents. It was as if this strange man had sought to suppress
his identity, or, rather, as if he had outgrown all interest in his kind
or in anything beyond the walls within which he had immured himself.

Late in the afternoon reports began to come in from the various
tradesmen with whom Mr. Adams had done business. They all had something
to say as to the peculiarity of his habits and the freaks of his mute
servant. They were both described as hermits, differing from the rest of
their kind only in that they denied themselves no reasonable luxury and
seemed to have adopted a shut-in life from a pure love of seclusion. The
master was never seen at the stores. It was the servant who made the
purchases, and this by means of gestures which were often strangely
significant. Indeed, he seemed to have great power of expressing himself
by looks and actions, and rarely caused a mistake or made one. He would
not endure cheating, and always bought the best.

Of his sanity up to the day of his master's death there was no question;
but more than one man with whom he had had dealings was ready to testify
that there had been a change in his manner for the past few weeks--a
sort of subdued excitement, quite unlike his former methodical bearing.
He had shown an inclination to testiness, and was less easily pleased
than formerly. To one clerk he had shown a nasty spirit under very
slight provocation, and was only endured in the store on account of his
master, who was too good a customer for them to offend. Mr. Kelly, a
grocer, went so far as to say he acted like a man with a grievance who
burned to vent his spite on some one, but held himself in forcible
restraint.

Perhaps if no tragedy had taken place in the house on ---- Street these
various persons would not have been so ready to interpret thus
unfavorably a nervousness excusable enough in one so cut off from all
communication with his kind. But with the violent end of his master in
view, and his own unexplained connection with it, who could help
recalling that his glance had frequently shown malevolence?

But this was not evidence of the decided character required by the law,
and Mr. Gryce was about to regard the day as a lost one, when Sweetwater
made his reappearance at Headquarters. The expression of his face put
new life into Mr. Gryce.

"What!" he cried, "you have not found her?"

Sweetwater smiled. "Don't ask me, sir, not yet. I've come to see if
there's any reason why I should not be given the loan of that parasol
for about an hour. I'll bring it back. I only want to make a certain
test with it."

"What test, my boy? May I ask, what test?"

"Please to excuse me, sir; I have only a short time in which to act
before respectable business houses shut up for the night, and the test I
speak of has to be made in a respectable house."

"Then you shall not be hindered. Wait here, and I will bring you the
parasol. There! bring it back soon, my boy. I have not the patience I
used to have."

"An hour, sir; give me an hour, and then----"

The shutting of the door behind his flying figure cut short his
sentence.

That was a long hour to Mr. Gryce, or would have been if it had not
mercifully been cut short by the return of Sweetwater in an even more
excited state of mind than he had been before. He held the parasol in
his hand.

"My test failed," said he, "but the parasol has brought me luck,
notwithstanding. I have found the lady, sir, and----"

He had to draw a long breath before proceeding.

"And she is what I said," began the detective; "a respectable person in
a respectable house."

"Yes, sir; very respectable, more respectable than I expected to see.
Quite a lady, sir. Not young, but----"

"Her name, boy. Is it--Evelyn?"

Sweetwater shook his head with a look as naive in its way as the old
detective's question.

"I cannot say, sir. Indeed, I had not the courage to ask. She is
here----"

"Here!" Mr. Gryce took one hurried step toward the door, then came
gravely back. "I can restrain myself," he said. "If she is here, she
will not go till I have seen her. Are you sure you have made no mistake;
that she is the woman we are after; the woman who was in Mr. Adams's
house and sent us the warning?"

"Will you hear my story, sir? It will take only a moment. Then you can
judge for yourself."

"Your story? It must be a pretty one. How came you to light on this
woman so soon? By using the clew I gave you?"

Again Sweetwater's expression took on a touch of naïveté.

"I'm sorry, sir; but I was egotistical enough to follow my own idea. It
would have taken too much time to hunt up all the drivers of hacks in
the city, and I could not even be sure she had made use of a public
conveyance. No, sir; I bethought me of another way by which I might
reach this woman. You had shown me those spangles. They were portions of
a very rich trimming; a trimming which has only lately come into vogue,
and which is so expensive that it is worn chiefly by women of means, and
sold only in shops where elaborate garnitures are to be found. I have
seen and noticed dresses thus trimmed, in certain windows and on certain
ladies; and before you showed me the spangles you picked up in Mr.
Adams's study could have told you just how I had seen them arranged.
They are sewed on black net, in figures, sir; in scrolls or wreaths or
whatever you choose to call them; and so conspicuous are these wreaths
or figures, owing to the brilliance of the spangles composing them, that
any break in their continuity is plainly apparent, especially if the net
be worn over a color, as is frequently the case. Remembering this, and
recalling the fact that these spangles doubtless fell from one of the
front breadths, where their loss would attract not only the attention of
others, but that of the wearer, I said to myself, 'What will she be
likely to do when she finds her dress thus disfigured?' And the answer
at once came: 'If she is the lady Mr. Gryce considers her, she will seek
to restore these missing spangles, especially if they were lost on a
scene of crime. But where can she get them to sew on? From an extra
piece of net of the same style. But she will not be apt to have an extra
piece of net. She will, therefore, find herself obliged to buy it, and
since only a few spangles are lacking, she will buy the veriest strip.'
Here, then, was my clew, or at least my ground for action. Going the
rounds of the few leading stores on Broadway, 23d Street, and Sixth
Avenue, I succeeded in getting certain clerks interested in my efforts,
so that I speedily became assured that if a lady came into these stores
for a very small portion of this bespangled net, they would note her
person and, if possible, procure some clew to her address. Then I took
up my stand at Arnold's emporium. Why Arnold's? I do not know. Perhaps
my good genius meant me to be successful in this quest; but whether
through luck or what not, I was successful, for before the afternoon was
half over, I encountered a meaning glance from one of the men behind the
counter, and advancing toward him, saw him rolling a small package which
he handed over to a very pretty and rosy young girl, who at once walked
away with it. 'For one of our leading customers,' he whispered, as I
drew nearer. 'I don't think she is the person you want.' But I would
take no chances. I followed the young girl who had carried away the
parcel, and by this means came to a fine brownstone front in one of our
most retired and aristocratic quarters. When I had seen her go in at the
basement door, I rang the bell above, and then--well, I just bit my lips
to keep down my growing excitement. For such an effort as this might
well end in disappointment, and I knew if I were disappointed now--But
no such trial awaited me. The maid who came to the door proved to be the
same merry-eyed lass I had seen leave the store. Indeed, she had the
identical parcel in her hand which was the connecting link between the
imposing house at whose door I stood and the strange murder in ----
Street. But I did not allow my interest in this parcel to become
apparent, and by the time I addressed her I had so mastered myself as to
arouse no suspicion of the importance of my errand. You, of course,
foresee the question I put to the young girl. 'Has your mistress lost a
parasol? One has been found--' I did not finish the sentence, for I
perceived by her look that her mistress had met with such a loss, and as
this was all I wanted to know just then, I cried out, 'I will bring it.
If it is hers, all right,' and bounded down the steps.

"My intention was to inform you of what I had done and ask your advice.
But my egotism got the better of me. I felt that I ought to make sure
that I was not the victim of a coincidence. Such a respectable house!
Such a respectable maidservant! Should she recognize the parasol as
belonging to her mistress, then, indeed, I might boast of my success. So
praying you for a loan of this article, I went back and rang the bell
again. The same girl came to the door. I think fortune favored me
to-day. 'Here is the parasol,' said I, but before the words were out of
my mouth I saw that the girl had taken the alarm or that some grievous
mistake had been made. 'That is not the one my mistress lost,' said she.
'She never carries anything but black.' And the door was about to close
between us when I heard a voice from within call out peremptorily: 'Let
me see that parasol. Hold it up, young man. There! at the foot of the
stairs. Ah!'

"If ever an exclamation was eloquent that simple 'ah!' was. I could not
see the speaker, but I knew she was leaning over the banisters from the
landing above. I listened to hear her glide away. But she did not move.
She was evidently collecting herself for the emergency of the moment.
Presently she spoke again, and I was astonished at her tone: 'You have
come from Police Headquarters,' was the remark with which she hailed me.

"I lowered the parasol. I did not think it necessary to say yes.

"'From a man there, called Gryce,' she went on, still in that strange
tone I can hardly describe, sir.

"'Since you ask me,' I now replied, 'I acknowledge that it is through
his instructions I am here. He was anxious to restore to you your lost
property. Is not this parasol yours? Shall I not leave it with this
young girl?'

"The answer was dry, almost rasping: 'Mr. Gryce has made a mistake. The
parasol is not mine; yet he certainly deserves credit for the use he has
made of it, in this search. I should like to tell him so. Is he at his
office, and do you think I would be received?'

"'He would be delighted,' I returned, not imagining she was in earnest.
But she was, sir. In less time than you would believe, I perceived a
very stately, almost severe, lady descend the stairs. She was dressed
for the street, and spoke to me with quite an air of command. 'Have you
a cab?' she asked.

"'No,' said I.

"'Then get one.'

"Here was a dilemma. Should I leave her and thus give her an opportunity
to escape, or should I trust to her integrity and the honesty of her
look, which was no common one, sir, and obey her as every one about her
was evidently accustomed to do?

"I concluded to trust to her integrity, and went for the cab. But it was
a risk, sir, which I promise not to repeat in the future. She was
awaiting me on the stoop when I got back, and at once entered the hack
with a command to drive immediately to Police Headquarters. I saw her as
I came in just now sitting in the outer office, waiting for you. Are you
ready to say I have done well?"

Mr. Gryce, with an indescribable look of mingled envy and indulgence,
pressed the hand held out to him, and passed out. His curiosity could be
restrained no longer, and he went at once to where this mysterious woman
was awaiting him. Did he think it odd that she knew him, that she sought
him? If so, he did not betray this in his manner, which was one of great
respect. But that manner suddenly changed as he came face to face with
the lady in question. Not that it lost its respect, but that it betrayed
an astonishment of a more pronounced character than was usually indulged
in by this experienced detective. The lady before him was one well known
to him; in fact, almost an associate of his in certain bygone matters;
in other words, none other than that most reputable of ladies, Miss
Amelia Butterworth of Gramercy Park.



CHAPTER VI.

SUGGESTIONS FROM AN OLD FRIEND.


The look with which this amiable spinster met his eye was one which a
stranger would have found it hard to understand. He found it hard to
understand himself, perhaps because he had never before seen this lady
when she was laboring under an opinion of herself that was not one of
perfect complacency.

"Miss Butterworth! What does this mean? Have you----"

"There!" The word came with some sharpness. "You have detected me at my
old tricks, and I am correspondingly ashamed, and you triumphant. The
gray parasol you have been good enough to send to my house is not mine,
but I was in the room where you picked it up, as you have so cleverly
concluded, and as it is useless for me to evade your perspicacity, I
have come here to confess."

"Ah!" The detective was profoundly interested at once. He drew a chair
up to Miss Butterworth's side and sat down. "You were there!" he
repeated; "and when? I do not presume to ask for what purpose."

"But I shall have to explain my purpose not to find myself at too great
a disadvantage," she replied with grim decision. "Not that I like to
display my own weakness, but that I recognize the exigencies of the
occasion, and fully appreciate your surprise at finding that I, a
stranger to Mr. Adams, and without the excuse which led to my former
interference in police matters, should have so far forgotten myself as
to be in my present position before you. This was no affair of my
immediate neighbor, nor did it seek me. I sought it, sir, and in this
way. I wish I had gone to Jericho first; it might have meant longer
travel and much more expense; but it would have involved me in less
humiliation and possible publicity. Mr. Gryce, I never meant to be mixed
up with another murder case. I have shown my aptitude for detective work
and received, ere now, certain marks of your approval; but my head was
not turned by them--at least I thought not--and I was tolerably sincere
in my determination to keep to my own _metier_ in future and not suffer
myself to be allured by any inducements you might offer into the
exercise of gifts which may have brought me praise in the past, but
certainly have not brought me happiness. But the temptation came, not
through you, or I might have resisted it, but through a combination of
circumstances which found me weak, and, in a measure, unprepared. In
other words, I was surprised into taking an interest in this affair. Oh,
I am ashamed of it, so ashamed that I have made the greatest endeavor to
hide my participation in the matter, and thinking I had succeeded in
doing so, was congratulating myself upon my precautions, when I found
that parasol thrust in my face and realized that you, if no one else,
knew that Amelia Butterworth had been in Mr. Adams's room of death prior
to yourself. Yet I thought I had left no traces behind me. Could you
have seen----"

"Miss Butterworth, you dropped five small spangles from your robe. You
wore a dress spangled with black sequins, did you not? Besides, you
moved the inkstand, and--Well, I will never put faith in circumstantial
evidence again. I saw these tokens of a woman's presence, heard what the
boy had to say of the well-dressed lady who had sent him into the
drug-store with a message to the police, and drew the conclusion--I may
admit it to you--that it was this woman who had wielded the assassin's
dagger, and not the deaf-and-dumb butler, who, until now, has borne the
blame of it. Therefore I was anxious to find her, little realizing what
would be the result of my efforts, or that I should have to proffer her
my most humble apologies."

"Do not apologize to me. I had no business to be there, or, at least, to
leave the five spangles you speak of, behind me on Mr. Adams's miserable
floor. I was simply passing by the house; and had I been the woman I
once was, that is, a woman who had never dipped into a mystery, I should
have continued on my way, instead of turning aside. Sir, it's a curious
sensation to find yourself, however innocent, regarded by a whole city
full of people as the cause or motive of a terrible murder, especially
when you have spent some time, as I have, in the study of crime and the
pursuit of criminals. I own I don't enjoy the experience. But I have
brought it on myself. If I had not been so curious--But it was not
curiosity I felt. I will never own that I am subject to mere curiosity;
it was the look on the young man's face. But I forget myself. I am
rambling in all directions when I ought to be telling a consecutive
tale. Not my usual habit, sir; this you know; but I am not quite myself
at this moment. I declare I am more upset by this discovery of my
indiscretion than I was by Mr. Trohm's declaration of affection in Lost
Man's Lane! Give me time, Mr. Gryce; in a few minutes I will be more
coherent."

"I am giving you time," he returned with one of his lowest bows. "The
half-dozen questions I long to ask have not yet left my lips, and I sit
here, as you must yourself acknowledge, a monument of patience."

"So you thought this deed perpetrated by an outsider," she suddenly
broke in. "Most of the journals--I read them very carefully this
morning--ascribed the crime to the man you have mentioned. And there
seems to be good reason for doing so. The case is not a simple one, Mr.
Gryce; it has complications--I recognized that at once, and that is
why--but I won't waste another moment in apologies. You have a right to
any little fact I may have picked up in my unfortunate visit, and there
is one which I failed to find included in any account of the murder. Mr.
Adams had other visitors besides myself in those few fatal minutes
preceding his death. A young man and woman were with him. I saw them
come out of the house. It was at the moment I was passing----"

"Tell your story more simply, Miss Butterworth. What first drew your
attention to the house?"

"There! That is the second time you have had to remind me to be more
direct. You will not have to do so again, Mr. Gryce. To begin, then, I
noticed the house, because I always notice it. I never pass it without
giving a thought to its ancient history and indulging in more or less
speculation as to its present inmates. When, therefore, I found myself
in front of it yesterday afternoon on my way to the art exhibition, I
naturally looked up, and--whether by an act of providence or not, I
cannot say--it was precisely at that instant the inner door of the
vestibule burst open, and a young man appeared in the hall, carrying a
young woman in his arms. He seemed to be in a state of intense
excitement, and she in a dead faint; but before they had attracted the
attention of the crowd, he had placed her on her feet, and, taking her
on his arm, dragged her down the stoop and into the crowd of passers-by,
among whom they presently disappeared. I, as you may believe, stood
rooted to the ground in my astonishment, and not only endeavored to see
in what direction they went, but lingered long enough to take a peep
into the time-honored interior of this old house, which had been left
open to view by the young man's forgetting to close the front door
behind him. As I did so, I heard a cry from within. It was muffled and
remote, but unmistakably one of terror and anguish: and, led by an
impulse I may live to regret, as it seems likely to plunge me into much
unpleasantness, I rushed up the stoop and went in, shutting the door
behind me, lest others should be induced to follow.

"So far, I had acted solely from instinct; but once in that semi-dark
hall, I paused and asked what business I had there, and what excuse I
should give for my intrusion if I encountered one or more of the
occupants of the house. But a repetition of the cry, coming as I am
ready to swear from the farthest room on the parlor floor, together with
a sharp remembrance of the wandering eye and drawn countenance of the
young man whom I had seen stagger hence a moment before, with an almost
fainting woman in his arms, drew me on in spite of my feminine
instincts; and before I knew it, I was in the circular study and before
the prostrate form of a seemingly dying man. He was lying as you
probably found him a little later, with the cross on his breast and a
dagger in his heart; but his right hand was trembling, and when I
stooped to lift his head, he gave a shudder and then settled into
eternal stillness. I, a stranger from the street, had witnessed his last
breath while the young man who had gone out----"

"Can you describe him? Did you encounter him close enough for
recognition?"

"Yes, I think I would know him again. I can at least describe his
appearance. He wore a checked suit, very natty, and was more than
usually tall and fine-looking. But his chief peculiarity lay in his
expression. I never saw on any face, no, not on the stage, at the climax
of the most heart-rending tragedy, a greater accumulation of mortal
passion struggling with the imperative necessity for restraint. The
young girl whose blond head lay on his shoulder looked like a saint in
the clutch of a demon. She had seen death, but he--But I prefer not to
be the interpreter of that expressive countenance. It was lost to my
view almost immediately, and probably calmed itself in the face of the
throng he entered, or we would be hearing about him to-day. The girl
seemed to be devoid of almost all feeling. I should not remember her."

"And was that all? Did you just look at that recumbent man and vanish?
Didn't you encounter the butler? Haven't you some definite knowledge to
impart in his regard which will settle his innocence or fix his guilt?"

"I know no more about him than you do, sir, except that he was not in
the room by the time I reached it, and did not come into it during my
presence there. Yet it was his cry that led me to the spot; or do you
think it was that of the bird I afterward heard shouting and screaming
in the cage over the dead man's head?"

"It might have been the bird," admitted Mr. Gryce. "Its call is very
clear, and it seems strangely intelligent. What was it saying while you
stood there?"

"Something about Eva. 'Lovely Eva, maddening Eva! I love Eva! Eva!
Eva!'"

"Eva? Wasn't it 'Evelyn? Poor Evelyn?'"

"No, it was Eva. I thought he might mean the girl I had just seen
carried out. It was an unpleasant experience, hearing this bird shriek
out these cries in the face of the man lying dead at my feet."

"Miss Butterworth, you didn't simply stand over that man. You knelt down
and looked in his face."

"I acknowledge it, and caught my dress in the filagree of the cross.
Naturally I would not stand stock still with a man drawing his last
breath under my eye."

"And what else did you do? You went to the table----"

"Yes, I went to the table."

"And moved the inkstand?"

"Yes, I moved the inkstand, but very carefully, sir, very carefully."

"Not so carefully but that I could see where it had been sitting before
you took it up: the square made by its base in the dust of the table did
not coincide with the place afterwards occupied by it."

"Ah, that comes from your having on your glasses and I not. I endeavored
to set it down in the precise place from which I lifted it."

"Why did you take it up at all? What were you looking for?"

"For clews, Mr. Gryce. You must forgive me, but I was seeking for clews.
I moved several things. I was hunting for the line of writing which
ought to explain this murder."

"The line of writing?"

"Yes. I have not told you what the young girl said as she slipped with
her companion into the crowd."

"No; you have spoken of no words. Have you any such clew as that? Miss
Butterworth, you are fortunate, very fortunate."

Mr. Gryce's look and gesture were eloquent, but Miss Butterworth, with
an access of dignity, quietly remarked:

"I was not to blame for being in the way when they passed, nor could I
help hearing what she said."

"And what was it, madam? Did she mention a paper?"

"Yes, she cried in what I now remember to have been a tone of affright:
'You have left that line of writing behind!' I did not attach much
importance to these words then, but when I came upon the dying man, so
evidently the victim of murder, I recalled what his late visitor had
said and looked about for this piece of writing."

"And did you find it, Miss Butterworth? I am ready, as you see, for any
revelation you may now make."

"For one which would reflect dishonor on me? If I had found any paper
explaining this tragedy, I should have felt bound to have called the
attention of the police to it. I did notify them of the crime itself."

"Yes, madam; and we are obliged to you; but how about your silence in
regard to the fact of two persons having left that house immediately
upon, or just preceding, the death of its master?"

"I reserved that bit of information. I waited to see if the police would
not get wind of these people without my help. I sincerely wished to keep
my name out of this inquiry. Yet I feel a decided relief now that I have
made my confession. I never could have rested properly after seeing so
much, and----"

"Well?"

"Thinking my own thoughts in regard to what I saw, if I had found myself
compelled to bridle my tongue while false scents were being followed and
delicate clews overlooked or discarded without proper attention. I
regard this murder as offering the most difficult problem that has ever
come in my way, and, therefore----"

"Yes, madam."

"I cannot but wonder if an opportunity has been afforded me for
retrieving myself in your eyes. I do not care for the opinion of any one
else as to my ability or discretion; but I should like to make you
forget my last despicable failure in Lost Man's Lane. It is a sore
remembrance to me, Mr. Gryce, which nothing but a fresh success can make
me forget."

"Madam, I understand you. You have formulated some theory. You consider
the young man with the tell-tale face guilty of Mr. Adams's death. Well,
it is very possible. I never thought the butler was rehearsing a crime
he had himself committed."

"Do you know who the young man is I saw leaving that house so
hurriedly?"

"Not the least in the world. You are the first to bring him to my
attention."

"And the young girl with the blonde hair?"

"It is the first I have heard of her, too."

"I did not scatter the rose leaves that were found on that floor."

"No, it was she. She probably wore a bouquet in her belt."

"Nor was that frippery parasol mine, though I did lose a good, stout,
serviceable one somewhere that day."

"It was hers; I have no doubt of it."

"Left by her in the little room where she was whiling away the time
during which the gentlemen conversed together, possibly about that bit
of writing she afterward alluded to."

"Certainly."

"Her mind was not expectant of evil, for she was smoothing her hair when
the shock came----"

"Yes, madam, I follow you."

"And had to be carried out of the place after----"

"What?"

"She had placed that cross on Mr. Adams's breast. That was a woman's
act, Mr. Gryce."

"I am glad to hear you say so. The placing of that cross on a layman's
breast was a mystery to me, and is still, I must own. Great remorse or
great fright only can account for it."

"You will find many mysteries in this case, Mr. Gryce."

"As great a number as I ever encountered."

"I have to add one."

"Another?"

"It concerns the old butler."

"I thought you did not see him."

"I did not see him in the room where Mr. Adams lay."

"Ah! Where, then?"

"Upstairs. My interest was not confined to the scene of the murder.
Wishing to spread the alarm, and not being able to rouse any one below,
I crept upstairs, and so came upon this poor wretch going through the
significant pantomime that has been so vividly described in the papers."

"Ah! Unpleasant for you, very. I imagine you did not stop to talk to
him."

"No, I fled. I was extremely shaken up by this time and knew only one
thing to do, and that was to escape. But I carried one as yet unsolved
enigma with me. How came I to hear this man's cries in Mr. Adams's
study, and yet find him on the second floor when I came to search the
house? He had not time to mount the stairs while I was passing down the
hall."

"It is a case of mistaken impression. Your ears played you false. The
cries came from above, not from Mr. Adams's study."

"My ears are not accustomed to play me tricks. You must seek another
explanation."

"I have ransacked the house; there are no back stairs."

"If there were, the study does not communicate with them."

"And you heard his voice in the study?"

"Plainly."

"Well, you have given me a poser, madam."

"And I will give you another. If he was the perpetrator of this crime,
how comes it that he was not detected and denounced by the young people
I saw going out? If, on the contrary, he was simply the witness of
another man's blow--a blow which horrified him so much that it unseated
his reason--how comes it that he was able to slide away from the door
where he must have stood without attracting the attention and bringing
down upon himself the vengeance of the guilty murderer?"

"He may be one of the noiseless kind, or, rather, may have been such
before this shock unsettled his mind."

"True, but he would have been seen. Recall the position of the doorway.
If Mr. Adams fell where he was struck, the assailant must have had that
door directly before him. He could not have helped seeing any one
standing in it."

"That is true; your observations are quite correct. But those young
people were in a disordered state of mind. The condition in which they
issued from the house proves this. They probably did not trouble
themselves about this man. Escape was all they sought. And, you see,
they did escape."

"But you will find them. A man who can locate a woman in this great city
of ours with no other clew than five spangles, dropped from her gown,
will certainly make this parasol tell the name of its owner."

"Ah, madam, the credit of this feat is not due to me. It was the initial
stroke of a young man I propose to adopt into my home and heart; the
same who brought you here to-night. Not much to look at, madam, but
promising, very promising. But I doubt if even he can discover the young
lady you mean, with no other aid than is given by this parasol. New York
is a big place, ma'am, a big place. Do you know how Sweetwater came to
find you? Through your virtues, ma'am; through your neat and methodical
habits. Had you been of a careless turn of mind and not given to mending
your dresses when you tore them, he might have worn his heart out in a
vain search for the lady who had dropped the five spangles in Mr.
Adams's study. Now luck, or, rather, your own commendable habit, was in
his favor this time; but in the prospective search you mentioned, he
will probably have no such assistance."

"Nor will he need it. I have unbounded faith in your genius, which,
after all, is back of the skilfulness of this new pupil of yours. You
will discover by some means the lady with the dove-colored plumes, and
through her the young gentleman who accompanied her."

"We shall at least put our energies to work in that direction.
Sweetwater may have an idea----"

"And I may have one."

"You?"

"Yes; I indulged in but little sleep last night. That dreadful room with
its unsolved mystery was ever before me. Thoughts would come;
possibilities would suggest themselves. I imagined myself probing its
secrets to the bottom and----"

"Wait, madam; how many of its so-called secrets do you know? You said
nothing about the lantern."

"It was burning with a red light when I entered."

"You did not touch the buttons arranged along the table top?"

"No; if there is one thing I do not touch, it is anything which suggests
an electrical contrivance. I am intensely feminine, sir, in all my
instincts, and mechanisms of any kind alarm me. To all such things I
give a wide berth. I have not even a telephone in my house. Some
allowance must be made for the natural timidity of woman."

Mr. Gryce suppressed a smile. "It is a pity," he remarked. "Had you
brought another light upon the scene, you might have been blessed with
an idea on a subject that is as puzzling as any connected with the whole
affair."

"You have not heard what I have to say on a still more important
matter," said she. "When we have exhausted the one topic, we may both
feel like turning on the fresh lights you speak of. Mr. Gryce, on what
does this mystery hinge? On the bit of writing which these young people
were so alarmed at having left behind them."

"Ah! It is from that you would work! Well, it is a good point to start
from. But we have found no such bit of writing."

"Have you searched for it? You did not know till now that any importance
might be attached to a morsel of paper with some half-dozen words
written on it."

"True, but a detective searches just the same. We ransacked that room as
few rooms have been ransacked in years. Not for a known clew, but for an
unknown one. It seemed necessary in the first place to learn who this
man was. His papers were consequently examined. But they told nothing.
If there had been a scrap of writing within view or in his desk----"

"It was not on his person? You had his pockets searched, his
clothes----"

"A man who has died from violence is always searched, madam. I leave no
stone unturned in a mysterious case like this."

Miss Butterworth's face assumed an indefinable expression of
satisfaction, which did not escape Mr. Gryce's eye, though that member
was fixed, according to his old habit, on the miniature of her father
which she wore, in defiance of fashion, at her throat.

"I wonder," said she, in a musing tone, "if I imagined or really saw on
Mr. Adams's face a most extraordinary expression; something more than
the surprise or anguish following a mortal blow? A look of
determination, arguing some superhuman resolve taken at the moment of
death, or--can you read that face for me? Or did you fail to perceive
aught of what I say? It would really be an aid to me at this moment to
know."

"I noted that look. It was not a common one. But I cannot read it for
you----"

"I wonder if the young man you call Sweetwater can. I certainly think it
has a decided bearing on this mystery; such a fold to the lips, such a
look of mingled grief and--what was that you said? Sweetwater has not
been admitted to the room of death? Well, well, I shall have to make my
own suggestion, then. I shall have to part with an idea that may be
totally valueless, but which has impressed me so that it must out, if I
am to have any peace to-night. Mr. Gryce, allow me to whisper in your
ear. Some things lose force when spoken aloud."

And leaning forward, she breathed a short sentence into his ear which
made him start and regard her with an amazement which rapidly grew into
admiration.

"Madam!" he cried, rising up that he might the better honor her with one
of his low bows, "your idea, whether valueless or not, is one which is
worthy of the acute lady who proffers it. We will act on it, ma'am, act
at once. Wait till I have given my orders. I will not keep you long."

And with another bow, he left the room.



CHAPTER VII.

AMOS'S SON.


Miss Butterworth had been brought up in a strict school of manners. When
she sat, she sat still; when she moved, she moved quickly, firmly, but
with no unnecessary disturbance. Fidgets were unknown to her. Yet when
she found herself alone after this interview, it was with difficulty she
could restrain herself from indulging in some of those outward
manifestations of uneasiness which she had all her life reprobated in
the more nervous members of her own sex. She was anxious, and she showed
it, like the sensible woman she was, and was glad enough when Mr. Gryce
finally returned and, accosting her with a smile, said almost gayly:

"Well, that is seen to! And all we have to do now is to await the
result. Madam, have you any further ideas? If so, I should be glad to
have the benefit of them."

Her self-possession was at once restored.

"You would?" she repeated, eying him somewhat doubtfully. "I should like
to be assured of the value of the one I have already advanced, before I
venture upon another. Let us enter into a conference instead; compare
notes; tell, for instance, why neither of us look on Bartow as the
guilty man."

"I thought we had exhausted that topic. Your suspicions were aroused by
the young couple you saw leaving the house, while mine--well, madam, to
you, at least, I may admit that there is something in the mute's
gestures and general manner which conveys to my mind the impression that
he is engaged in rehearsing something he has seen, rather than something
he has done; and as yet I have seen no reason for doubting the truth of
this impression."

"I was affected in the same way, and would have been, even if I had not
already had my suspicions turned in another direction. Besides, it is
more natural for a man to be driven insane by another's act than by his
own."

"Yes, if he loved the victim."

"And did not Bartow?"

"He does not mourn Mr. Adams."

"But he is no longer master of his emotions."

"Very true; but if we take any of his actions as a clew to the
situation, we must take all. We believe from his gestures that he is
giving us a literal copy of acts he has seen performed. Then, why pass
over the gleam of infernal joy that lights his face after the whole is
over? It is as if he rejoiced over the deed, or at least found
immeasurable satisfaction in it."

"Perhaps it is still a copy of what he saw; the murderer may have
rejoiced. But no, there was no joy in the face of the young man I saw
rushing away from this scene of violence. Quite the contrary. Mr. Gryce,
we are in deep waters. I feel myself wellnigh submerged by them."

"Hold up your head, madam. Every flood has its ebb. If you allow
yourself to go under, what will become of me?"

"You are disposed to humor, Mr. Gryce. It is a good sign. You are never
humorous when perplexed. Somewhere you must see daylight."

"Let us proceed with our argument. Illumination frequently comes from
the most unexpected quarter."

"Very well, then, let us put the old man's joy down as one of the
mysteries to be explained later. Have you thought of him as a possible
accomplice?"

"Certainly; but this supposition is open to the same objection as that
which made him the motive power in this murder. One is not driven insane
by an expected horror. It takes shock to unsettle the brain. He was not
looking for the death of his master."

"True. We may consider that matter as settled. Bartow was an innocent
witness of this crime, and, having nothing to fear, may be trusted to
reproduce in his pantomimic action its exact features."

"Very good. Continue, madam. Nothing but profit is likely to follow an
argument presented by Miss Butterworth."

The old detective's tone was serious, his manner perfect; but Miss
Butterworth, ever on the look-out for sarcasm from his lips, bridled a
little, though in no other way did she show her displeasure.

"Let us, then, recall his precise gestures, remembering that he must
have surprised the assailant from the study doorway, and so have seen
the assault from over his master's shoulder."

"In other words, directly in front of him. Now what was his first move?"

"His first move, as now seen, is to raise his right arm and stretch it
behind him, while he leans forward for the imaginary dagger. What does
that mean?"

"I should find it hard to say. But I did not see him do that. When I
came upon him, he was thrusting with his left hand across his own
body--a vicious thrust and with his left hand. That is a point, Mr.
Gryce."

"Yes, especially as the doctors agree that Mr. Adams was killed by a
left-handed blow."

"You don't say! Don't you see the difficulty, then?"

"The difficulty, madam?"

"Bartow was standing face to face with the assailant. In imitating him,
especially in his unreasoning state of mind, he would lift the arm
opposite to the one whose action he mimics, which, in this case, would
be the assailant's right. Try, for the moment, to mimic my actions. See!
I lift this hand, and instinctively (nay, I detected the movement, sir,
quickly as you remembered yourself), you raise the one directly opposite
to it. It is like seeing yourself in a mirror. You turn your head to the
right, but your image turns to the left."

Mr. Gryce's laugh rang out in spite of himself. He was not often caught
napping, but this woman exercised a species of fascination upon him at
times, and it rather amused than offended him, when he was obliged to
acknowledge himself defeated.

"Very good! You have proved your point quite satisfactorily; but what
conclusions are to be drawn from it? That the man was not left-handed,
or that he was not standing in the place you have assigned to him?"

"Shall we go against the doctors? They say that the blow was a
left-handed one. Mr. Gryce, I would give anything for an hour spent with
you in Mr. Adams's study, with Bartow free to move about at his will. I
think we would learn more by watching him for a short space of time than
in talking as we are doing for an hour."

It was said tentatively, almost timidly. Miss Butterworth had some sense
of the temerity involved in this suggestion even if, according to her
own declaration, she had no curiosity. "I don't want to be
disagreeable," she smiled.

She was so far from being so that Mr. Gryce was taken unawares, and for
once in his life became impulsive.

"I think it can be managed, madam; that is, after the funeral. There are
too many officials now in the house, and----"

"Of course, of course," she acceded. "I should not think of obtruding
myself at present. But the case is so interesting, and my connection
with it so peculiar, that I sometimes forget myself. Do you think"--here
she became quite nervous for one of her marked self-control--"that I
have laid myself open to a summons from the coroner?"

Mr. Gryce grew thoughtful, eyed the good lady, or rather her folded
hands, with an air of some compassion, and finally replied:

"The facts regarding this affair come in so slowly that I doubt if the
inquest is held for several days. Meanwhile we may light on those two
young people ourselves. If so, the coroner may _overlook_ your share in
bringing them to our notice."

There was a sly emphasis on the word, and a subtle humor in his look
that showed the old detective at his worst. But Miss Butterworth did not
resent it; she was too full of a fresh confession she had to make.

"Ah," said she, "if they had been the only persons I encountered there.
But they were not. Another person entered the house before I left it,
and I may be obliged to speak of him."

"Of him? Really, madam, you are a mine of intelligence."

"Yes, sir," was the meek reply; meek, when you consider from whose lips
it came. "I ought to have spoken of him before, but I never like to mix
matters, and this old gentleman----"

"Old gentleman!"

"Yes, sir, very old and very much of a gentleman, did not appear to have
any connection with the crime beyond knowing the murdered man."

"Ah, but that's a big connection, ma'am. To find some one who knew Mr.
Adams--really, madam, patience has its limits, and I must press you to
speak."

"Oh, I will speak! The time has come for it. Besides, I'm quite ready to
discuss this new theme; it is very interesting."

"Suppose we begin, then, by a detailed account of your adventures in
this house of death," dryly suggested the detective. "Your full
adventures, madam, with nothing left out."

"I appreciate the sarcasm, but nothing has been left out except what I
am about to relate to you. It happened just as I was leaving the house."

"What did? I hate to ask you to be more explicit. But, in the interests
of justice----"

"You are quite right. As I was going out, then, I encountered an elderly
gentleman coming in. His hand had just touched the bell handle. You will
acknowledge that it was a perplexing moment for me. His face, which was
well preserved for his years, wore an air of expectation that was almost
gay. He glanced in astonishment at mine, which, whatever its usual
serenity, certainly must have borne marks of deep emotion. Neither of us
spoke. At last he inquired politely if he might enter, and said
something about having an appointment with some one in the study. At
which I stepped briskly enough aside, I assure you, for this might
mean--What did you say? Did I close the door? I assuredly did. Was I to
let the whole of ---- Street into the horrors of this house at a moment
when a poor old man--No, I didn't go out myself. Why should I? Was I to
leave a man on the verge of eighty--excuse me, not every man of eighty
is so hale and vigorous as yourself--to enter such a scene alone?
Besides, I had not warned him of the condition of the only other living
occupant of the house."

"Discreet, very. Quite what was to be expected of you, Miss Butterworth.
More than that. You followed him, no doubt, with careful supervision,
down the hall."

"Most certainly! What would you have thought of me if I had not? He was
in a strange house; there was no servant to guide him, he wanted to know
the way to the study, and I politely showed him there."

"Kind of you, madam,--very. It must have been an interesting moment to
you."

"Very interesting! Too interesting! I own that I am not made entirely of
steel, sir, and the shock he received at finding a dead man awaiting
him, instead of a live one, was more or less communicated to me. Yet I
stood my ground."

"Admirable! I could have done no better myself. And so this man who had
an appointment with Mr. Adams was shocked, really shocked, at finding
him lying there under a cross, dead?"

"Yes, there was no doubting that. Shocked, surprised, terrified, and
something more. It is that something more which has proved my
perplexity. I cannot make it out, not even in thinking it over. Was it
the fascination which all horrible sights exert on the morbid, or was it
a sudden realization of some danger he had escaped, or of some
difficulty yet awaiting him? Hard to say, Mr. Gryce, hard to say; but
you may take my word for it that there was more to him in this meeting
than an unexpected stumbling upon a dead man where he expected to find a
live one. Yet he made no sound after that first cry, and hardly any
movement. He just stared at the figure on the floor; then at his face,
which he seemed to devour, at first with curiosity, then with hate, then
with terror, and lastly--how can I express myself?--with a sort of
hellish humor that in another moment might have broken into something
like a laugh, if the bird, which I had failed to observe up to this
moment, had not waked in its high cage, and, thrusting its beak between
the bars, shrilled out in the most alarming of tones: 'Remember Evelyn!'
That startled the old man even more than the sight on the floor had
done. He turned round, and I saw his fist rise as if against some
menacing intruder, but it quickly fell again as his eyes encountered the
picture which hung before him, and with a cringe painful to see in one
of his years, he sidled back till he reached the doorway. Here he paused
a minute to give another look at the man outstretched at his feet, and I
heard him say:

"'It is Amos's son, not Amos! Is it fatality, or did he plan this
meeting, thinking----'

"But here he caught sight of my figure in the antechamber beyond, and
resuming in an instant his former debonair manner, he bowed very low and
opened his lips as if about to ask a question. But he evidently thought
better of it, for he strode by me and made his way to the front door
without a word. Being an intruder myself, I did not like to stop him.
But I am sorry now for the consideration I showed him; for just before
he stepped out, his emotion--the special character of which, I own to
you, I find impossible to understand--culminated in a burst of raucous
laughter which added the final horror to this amazing adventure. Then he
went out, and in the last glimpse I had of him before the door shut he
wore the same look of easy self-satisfaction with which he had entered
this place of death some fifteen minutes before."

"Remarkable! Some secret history there! That man must be found. He can
throw light upon Mr. Adams's past. 'Amos's son,' he called him? Who is
Amos? Mr. Adams's name was Felix. Felix, the son of Amos. Perhaps this
connection of names may lead to something. It is not a common one, and
if given to the papers, may result in our receiving a clew to a mystery
which seems impenetrable. Your stay in Mr. Adams's house was quite
productive, ma'am. Did you prolong it after the departure of this old
man?"

"No, sir, I had had my fill of the mysterious, and left immediately
after him. Ashamed of the spirit of investigation which had led me to
enter the house, I made a street boy the medium of my communication to
the police, and would have been glad if I could have so escaped all
responsibility in the matter. But the irony of fate follows me as it
does others. A clew was left of my presence, which involves me in this
affair, whether I will or no. Was the hand of Providence in this?
Perhaps. The future will tell. And now, Mr. Gryce, since my budget is
quite empty and the hour late, I will take my leave. If you hear from
that bit of paper----"

"If I hear from it in the way you suggest I will let you know. It will
be the least I can do for a lady who has done so much for me."

"Now you flatter me--proof positive that I have stayed a minute longer
than was judicious. Good evening, Mr. Gryce. What? I have not stayed too
long? You have something else to ask."

"Yes, and this time it is concerning a matter personal to yourself. May
I inquire if you wore the same bonnet yesterday that you do to-day?"

"No, sir. I know you have a good reason for this question, and so will
not express my surprise. Yesterday I was in reception costume, and my
bonnet was a jet one----"

"With long strings tied under the chin?"

"No, sir, short strings; long strings are no longer the fashion."

"But you wore something which fell from your neck?"

"Yes, a boa--a feather boa. How came you to know it, sir? Did I leave my
image in one of the mirrors?"

"Hardly. If so, I should not have expected it to speak. You merely wrote
the fact on the study table top. Or so I have dared to think. You or the
young lady--did she wear ribbons or streamers, too?"

"That I cannot say. Her face was all I saw, and the skirt of a
dove-colored silk dress."

"Then you must settle the question for me in this way. If on the tips of
that boa of yours you find the faintest evidence of its having been
dipped in blood, I shall know that the streaks found on the top of the
table I speak of were evidences of your presence there. But if your boa
is clean, or was not long enough to touch that dying man as you leaned
over him, then we have proof that the young lady with the dove-colored
plumes fingered that table also, instead of falling at once into the
condition in which you saw her carried out."

"I fear that it is my boa which will tell the tale: another proof of the
fallibility of man, or, rather, woman. In secret search for clews I left
behind me traces of my own presence. I really feel mortified, sir, and
you have quite the advantage of me."

And with this show of humility, which may not have been entirely
sincere, this estimable lady took her departure.

Did Mr. Gryce suffer from any qualms of conscience at having elicited so
much and imparted so little? I doubt it. Mr. Gryce's conscience was
quite seared in certain places.



CHAPTER VIII.

IN THE ROUND OF THE STAIRCASE.


The next morning Mr. Gryce received a small communication from Miss
Butterworth at or near the very time she received one from him. Hers
ran:

     You were quite correct. So far as appears, I was the only person to
     lean over Mr. Adams's study table after his unfortunate death. I
     have had to clip the ends of my boa.

His was equally laconic:

     My compliments, madam! Mr. Adams's jaws have been forced apart. A
     small piece of paper was found clinched between his teeth. This
     paper has been recovered, and will be read at the inquest. Perhaps
     a few favored persons may be granted the opportunity of reading it
     before then, notably yourself.

Of the two letters the latter naturally occasioned the greater
excitement in the recipient. The complacency of Miss Butterworth was
superb, and being the result of something that could not be communicated
to those about her, occasioned in the household much speculation as to
its cause.

At Police Headquarters more than one man was kept busy listening to the
idle tales of a crowd of would-be informers. The results which had
failed to follow the first day's publication of the crime came rapidly
in during the second. There were innumerable persons of all ages and
conditions who were ready to tell how they had seen this and that one
issue from Mr. Adams's house on the afternoon of his death, but when
asked to give a description of these persons, lost themselves in
generalities as tedious as they were unprofitable. One garrulous old
woman had observed a lady of genteel appearance open the door to an
elderly gentleman in a great-coat; and a fashionably dressed young woman
came in all breathless to relate how a young man with a very pale young
lady on his arm ran against her as she was going by this house at the
very hour Mr. Adams was said to have been murdered. She could not be
sure of knowing the young man again, and could not say if the young lady
was blonde or brunette, only that she was awfully pale and had a
beautiful gray feather in her hat.

Others were ready with similar stories, which confirmed, without adding
to, the facts already known, and night came on without much progress
having been made toward the unravelling of this formidable mystery.

On the next day Mr. Adams's funeral took place. No relatives or intimate
friends having come forward, his landlord attended to these rites and
his banker acted the part of chief mourner. As his body was carried out
of the house, a half-dozen detectives mingled with the crowd blocking
the thoroughfare in front, but nothing came of their surveillance here
or at the cemetery to which the remains were speedily carried. The
problem which had been presented to the police had to be worked out from
such material as had already come to hand; and, in forcible recognition
of this fact, Mr. Gryce excused himself one evening at Headquarters and
proceeded quite alone and on foot to the dark and apparently closed
house in which the tragedy had occurred.

He entered with a key, and once inside, proceeded to light up the whole
house. This done, he took a look at the study, saw that the cross had
been replaced on the wall, the bird-cage rehung on its hook under the
ceiling, and everything put in its wonted order, with the exception of
the broken casings, which still yawned in a state of disrepair on either
side of the doorway leading into the study. The steel plate had been
shoved back into the place prepared for it by Mr. Adams, but the
glimpses still to be seen of its blue surface through the hole made in
the wall of the antechamber formed anything but an attractive feature
in the scene, and Mr. Gryce, with something of the instinct and much of
the deftness of a housewife, proceeded to pull up a couple of rugs from
the parlor floor and string them over these openings. Then he consulted
his watch, and finding that it was within an hour of nine o'clock, took
up his stand behind the curtains of the parlor window. Soon, for the
person expected was as prompt as himself, he saw a carriage stop and a
lady alight, and he hastened to the front door to receive her. It was
Miss Butterworth.

"Madam, your punctuality is equal to my own," said he. "Have you ordered
your coachman to drive away?"

"Only as far as the corner," she returned, as she followed him down the
hall. "There he will await the call of your whistle."

"Nothing could be better. Are you afraid to remain for a moment alone,
while I watch from the window the arrival of the other persons we
expect? At present there is no one in the house but ourselves."

"If I was subject to fear in a matter of this kind, I should not be here
at all. Besides, the house is very cheerfully lighted. I see you have
chosen a crimson light for illuminating the study."

"Because a crimson light was burning when Mr. Adams died."

"Remember Evelyn!" called out a voice.

"Oh, you have brought back the bird!" exclaimed Miss Butterworth. "That
is not the cry with which it greeted me before. It was 'Eva! Lovely
Eva!' Do you suppose Eva and Evelyn are the same?"

"Madam, we have so many riddles before us that we will let this one go
for the present. I expect Mr. Adams's valet here in a moment."

"Sir, you relieve me of an immense weight. I was afraid that the
privilege of being present at the test you propose to make was not to be
accorded me."

"Miss Butterworth, you have earned a seat at this experiment. Bartow has
been given a key, and will enter as of old in entire freedom to do as he
wills. We have simply to watch his movements."

"In this room, sir? I do not think I shall like that. I had rather not
meet this madman face to face."

"You will not be called upon to do so. We do not wish him to be startled
by encountering any watchful eye. Irresponsible as he is, he must be
allowed to move about without anything to distract his attention.
Nothing must stand in the way of his following those impulses which may
yield us a clew to his habits and the ways of this peculiar household. I
propose to place you where the chances are least in favor of your being
seen by him--in this parlor, madam, which we have every reason to
believe was seldom opened during Mr. Adams's lifetime."

"You must put out the gas, then, or the unaccustomed light will attract
his attention."

"I will not only put out the gas, but I will draw the portières close,
making this little hole for your eye and this one for mine. A common
expedient, madam; but serviceable, madam, serviceable."

The snort which Miss Butterworth gave as she thus found herself drawn up
in darkness before a curtain, in company with this plausible old man,
but feebly conveyed her sensations, which were naturally complex and a
little puzzling to herself. Had she been the possessor of a lively
curiosity (but we know from her own lips that she was not), she might
have found some enjoyment in the situation. But being where she was
solely from a sense of duty, she probably blushed behind her screen at
the position in which she found herself, in the cause of truth and
justice; or would have done so if the opening of the front door at that
moment had not told her that the critical moment had arrived and that
the deaf-and-dumb valet had just been introduced into the house.

The faintest "Hush!" from Mr. Gryce warned her that her surmise was
correct, and, bending her every energy to listen, she watched for the
expected appearance of this man in the antechamber of Mr. Adams's former
study.

He came even sooner than she was prepared to see him, and laying down
his hat on a table near the doorway, advanced with a busy air toward the
portière he had doubtless been in the habit of lifting twenty times a
day. But he barely touched it this time. Something seen, or unseen,
prevented him from entering. Was it the memory of what he had last
beheld there? Or had he noticed the rugs hanging in an unaccustomed way
on either side of the damaged casings? Neither, apparently, for he
simply turned away with a meek look, wholly mechanical, and taking up
his hat again, left the antechamber and proceeded softly upstairs.

"I will follow him," whispered Mr. Gryce. "Don't be afraid, ma'am. This
whistle will bring a man in from the street at once."

"I am not afraid. I would be ashamed----"

But it was useless for her to finish this disclaimer. Mr. Gryce was
already in the hall. He returned speedily, and saying that the
experiment was likely to be a failure, as the old man had gone to his
own room and was preparing himself for bed, he led the way into the
study, and with purpose, or without a purpose--who knows?--idly touched
a button on the table top, thus throwing a new light on the scene. It
was Miss Butterworth's first experience of this change of light, and she
was observing the effect made by the violet glow now thrown over the
picture and the other rich articles in the room when her admiration was
cut short, and Mr. Gryce's half-uttered remark also, by the faint sound
of the valet's descending steps.

Indeed, they had barely time to regain their old position behind the
parlor portières when Bartow was seen hurrying in from the hall with his
former busy air, which this time remained unchecked.

Crossing to his master's study, he paused for an infinitesimal length of
time on the threshold, as if conscious of something being amiss, then
went into the room beyond, and, without a glance in the direction of the
rug, which had been carefully relaid on the spot where his master had
fallen, began to make such arrangements for the night as he was in the
habit of making at this hour. He brought a bottle of wine from the
cupboard and set it on the table, and then a glass, which he first wiped
scrupulously clean. Then he took out his master's dressing gown and
slippers, and, placing them to hand, went into the bedroom.

By this time the two watchers had crept from their concealment near
enough to note what he was doing in the bedroom. He was stooping over
the comb which Mr. Gryce had left lying on the floor. This small object
in such a place seemed to surprise him. He took it up, shook his head,
and put it back on the dresser. Then he turned down his master's bed.

"Poor fool!" murmured Miss Butterworth as she and her companion crept
back to their old place behind the parlor curtains, "he has forgotten
everything but his old routine duties. We shall get nothing from this
man."

But she stopped suddenly; they both stopped. Bartow was in the middle of
the study, with his eyes fixed on his master's empty chair in an
inquiring way that spoke volumes. Then he turned, and gazed earnestly at
the rug where he had last seen that master lying outstretched and
breathless; and awakening to a realization of what had happened, fell
into his most violent self and proceeded to go through the series of
actions which they were now bound to consider a reproduction of what he
had previously seen take place there. Then he went softly out, and crept
away upstairs.

Mr. Gryce and Miss Butterworth stepped at once into the light, and
surveyed each other with a look of marked discouragement. Then the
latter, with a sudden gleam of enthusiasm, cried quickly:

"Turn on another color, and let us see what will happen. I have an idea
it will fetch the old man down again."

Mr. Gryce's brows went up.

"Do you think he can see through the floor?"

But he touched a button, and a rich blue took the place of the violet.

Nothing happened.

Miss Butterworth looked disturbed.

"I have confidence in your theories," began Mr. Gryce, "but when they
imply the possibility of this man seeing through blank walls and obeying
signals which can have no signification to any one on the floor
above----"

"Hark!" she cried, holding up one finger with a triumphant air. The old
man's steps could be heard descending.

This time he approached with considerable feebleness, passed slowly into
the study, advanced to the table, and reached out his hands as if to
lift something which he expected to find there. Seeing nothing, he
glanced in astonishment up at the book shelves and then back to the
table, shook his head, and suddenly collapsing, sank in a doze on the
nearest chair.

Miss Butterworth drew a long breath, eyed Mr. Gryce with some curiosity,
and then triumphantly exclaimed:

"Can you read the meaning of all that? I think I can. Don't you see that
he came expecting to find a pile of books on the table which it was
probably his business to restore to their shelves?"

"But how can he know what light is burning here? You can see for
yourself that there is no possible communication between this room and
the one in which he has always been found by any one going above."

Miss Butterworth's manner showed a hesitation that was almost naive. She
smiled, and there was apology in her smile, though none in her voice, as
she remarked with odd breaks:

"When I went upstairs--you know I went upstairs when I was here
before--I saw a little thing--a very little thing--which you doubtless
observed yourself and which may explain, though I do not know how, why
Bartow can perceive these lights from the floor above."

"I shall be very glad to hear about it, madam. I thought I had
thoroughly searched those rooms----"

"And the halls?"

"And the halls; and that nothing in them could have escaped my eyes. But
if you have a more patient vision than myself----"

"Or make it my business to look lower----"

"How?"

"To look lower; to look on the floor, say."

"On the floor?"

"The floor sometimes reveals much: shows where a person steps the
oftenest, and, therefore, where he has the most business. You must have
noticed how marred the woodwork is at the edge of the carpeting on that
little landing above."

"In the round of the staircase?"

"Yes."

Mr. Gryce did not think it worth his while to answer. Perhaps he had not
time; for leaving the valet where he was, and Miss Butterworth where she
was (only she would not be left, but followed him), he made his way
upstairs, and paused at the place she had mentioned, with a curious look
at the floor.

"You see, it has been much trodden here," she said; at which gentle
reminder of her presence he gave a start; possibly he had not heard her
behind him, and after sixty years of hard service even a detective may
be excused a slight nervousness. "Now, why should it be trodden here?
There is no apparent reason why any one should shuffle to and fro in
this corner. The stair is wide, especially here, and there is no
window----"

Mr. Gryce, whose eye had been travelling over the wall, reached over her
shoulder to one of the dozen pictures hanging at intervals from the
bottom to the top of the staircase, and pulling it away from the wall,
on which it hung decidedly askew, revealed a round opening through which
poured a ray of blue light which could only proceed from the vault of
the adjoining study.

"No window," he repeated. "No, but an opening into the study wall which
answers the same purpose. Miss Butterworth, your eye is to be trusted
every time. I only wonder you did not pull this picture aside yourself."

"It was not hanging crooked then. Besides I was in a hurry. I had just
come from my encounter with this demented man. I had noticed the marks
on the landing, and the worn edges of the carpet, on my way upstairs. I
was in no condition to observe them on my way down."

"I see."

Miss Butterworth ran her foot to and fro over the flooring they were
examining.

"Bartow was evidently in the habit of coming here constantly," said she,
"probably to learn whether his master had need of him. Ingenious in Mr.
Adams to contrive signals for communication with this man! He certainly
had great use for his deaf-and-dumb servant. So one mystery is solved!"

"And if I am not mistaken, we can by a glance through this loophole
obtain the answer to another. You are wondering, I believe, how Bartow,
if he followed the movements of the assailant from the doorway, came to
thrust with his left hand, instead of with his right. Now if he saw the
tragedy from this point, he saw it over the assailant's shoulder,
instead of face to face. What follows? He would imitate literally the
movements of the man he saw, turn in the same direction and strike with
the same hand."

"Mr. Gryce, we are beginning to untangle the threads that looked so
complicated. Ah, what is that? Why, it's that bird! His cage must be
very nearly under this hole."

"A little to one side, madam, but near enough to give you a start. What
was it he cried then?"

"Oh, those sympathetic words about Eva! 'Poor Eva!'"

"Well, give a glance to Bartow. You can see him very well from here."

Miss Butterworth put her eye again to the opening, and gave a grunt, a
very decided grunt. With her a grunt was significant of surprise.

"He is shaking his fist; he is all alive with passion. He looks as if he
would like to kill the bird."

"Perhaps that is why the creature was strung up so high. You may be sure
Mr. Adams had some basis for his idiosyncrasies."

"I begin to think so. I don't know that I care to go back where that man
is. He has a very murderous look."

"And a very feeble arm, Miss Butterworth. You are safe under my
protection. My arm is not feeble."

[Illustration: A-Table. B-Small Stand. C-Door to Bedroom. D-Evelyn's
Picture E-Loophole on Stair Landing. F-Entrance to Study.] [1]

[Footnote 1: Since my readers may not understand how an opening above
the stairway might communicate with Mr. Adams's study, I here submit a
diagram of the same. The study walls were very high, forming a rounded
extension at the back of the house.]



CHAPTER IX.

HIGH AND LOW.


At the foot of the stairs, Mr. Gryce excused himself, and calling in two
or three men whom he had left outside, had the valet removed before
taking Miss Butterworth back into the study. When all was quiet again,
and they found an opportunity to speak, Mr. Gryce remarked:

"One very important thing has been settled by the experiment we have
just made. Bartow is acquitted of participation in this crime."

"Then we can give our full attention to the young people. You have heard
nothing from them, I suppose?"

"No."

"Nor from the old man who laughed?"

"No."

Miss Butterworth looked disappointed.

"I thought--it seemed very probable--that the scrap of writing you found
would inform you who these were. If it was important enough for the
dying man to try to swallow it, it certainly should give some clew to
his assailant."

"Unfortunately, it does not do so. It was a veritable scrawl, madam,
running something like this: 'I return your daughter to you. She is
here. Neither she nor you will ever see me again. Remember Evelyn!' And
signed, 'Amos's son.'"

"Amos's son! That is Mr. Adams himself."

"So we have every reason to believe."

"Strange! Unaccountable! And the paper inscribed with these words was
found clinched between his teeth! Was the handwriting recognized?"

"Yes, as his own, if we can judge from the specimens we have seen of his
signature on the fly-leaves of his books."

"Well, mysteries deepen. And the retaining of this paper was so
important to him that even in his death throe he thrust it in this
strangest of all hiding-places, as being the only one that could be
considered safe from search. And the girl! Her first words on coming to
herself were: 'You have left that line of writing behind.' Mr. Gryce,
those words, few and inexplicable as they are, contain the key to the
whole situation. Will you repeat them again, if you please, sentence by
sentence?"

"With pleasure, madam; I have said them often enough to myself. First,
then: 'I return your daughter to you!'"

"So! Mr. Adams had some one's daughter in charge whom he returns. Whose
daughter? Not that young man's daughter, certainly, for that would
necessitate her being a small child. Besides, if these words had been
meant for his assailant, why make so remarkable an effort to hide them
from him?"

"Very true! I have said the same thing to myself."

"Yet, if not for him, for whom, then? For the old gentleman who came in
later?"

"It is possible; since hearing of him I have allowed myself to regard
this as among the possibilities, especially as the next words of this
strange communication are: 'She is here.' Now the only woman who was
there a few minutes previous to this old gentleman's visit was the
light-haired girl whom you saw carried out."

"Very true; but why do you reason as if this paper had just been
written? It might have been an old scrap, referring to past sorrows or
secrets."

"These words were written that afternoon. The paper on which they were
scrawled was torn from a sheet of letter paper lying on the desk, and
the pen with which they were inscribed--you must have noticed where it
lay, quite out of its natural place on the extreme edge of the table."

"Certainly, sir; but I had little idea of the significance we might come
to attach to it. These words are connected, then, with the girl I saw.
And she is not Evelyn or he would not have repeated in this note the
bird's catch-word, 'Remember Evelyn!' I wonder if she is Evelyn?"
proceeded Miss Butterworth, pointing to the one large picture which
adorned the wall.

"We may call her so for the nonce. So melancholy a face may well suggest
some painful family secret. But how explain the violent part played by
the young man, who is not mentioned in these abrupt and hastily penned
sentences! It is all a mystery, madam, a mystery which we are wasting
time to attempt to solve."

"Yet I hate to give it up without an effort. Those words, now. There
were some other words you have not repeated to me."

"They came before that injunction, 'Remember Evelyn!' They bespoke a
resolve. 'Neither she nor you will ever see me again.'"

"Ah! but these few words are very significant, Mr. Gryce. Could he have
dealt that blow himself? May he have been a suicide after all?"

"Madam, you have the right to inquire; but from Bartow's pantomime, you
must have perceived it is not a self-inflicted blow he mimics, but a
maddened thrust from an outraged hand. Let us keep to our first
conclusions; only--to be fair to every possibility--the condition of Mr.
Adams's affairs and the absence of all family papers and such documents
as may usually be found in a wealthy man's desk prove that he had made
some preparation for possible death. It may have come sooner than he
expected and in another way, but it was a thought he had indulged in,
and--madam, I have a confession to make also. I have not been quite fair
to my most valued colleague. The study--that most remarkable of
rooms--contains a secret which has not been imparted to you; a very
peculiar one, madam, which was revealed to me in a rather startling
manner. This room can be, or rather could be, cut off entirely from the
rest of the house; made a death-trap of, or rather a tomb, in which this
incomprehensible man may have intended to die. Look at this plate of
steel. It is worked by a mechanism which forces it across this open
doorway. I was behind that plate of steel the other night, and these
holes had to be made to let me out."

"Ha! You detectives have your experiences! I should not have enjoyed
spending that especial evening with you. But what an old-world tragedy
we are unearthing here! I declare"--and the good lady actually rubbed
her eyes--"I feel as if transported back to mediæval days. Who says we
are living in New York within sound of the cable car and the singing of
the telegraph wire?"

"Some men are perfectly capable of bringing the mediæval into Wall
Street. I think Mr. Adams was one of those men. Romanticism tinged all
his acts, even the death he died. Nor did it cease with his death. It
followed him to the tomb. Witness the cross we found lying on his
bosom."

"That was the act of another's hand, the result of another's
superstition. That shows the presence of a priest or a woman at the
moment he died."

"Yet," proceeded Mr. Gryce, with a somewhat wondering air, "he must have
had a grain of hard sense in his make-up. All his contrivances worked.
He was a mechanical genius, as well as a lover of mystery."

"An odd combination. Strange that we do not feel his spirit infecting
the very air of this study. I could almost wish it did. We might then be
led to grasp the key to this mystery."

"That," remarked Mr. Gryce, "can be done in only one way. You have
already pointed it out. We must trace the young couple who were present
at his death struggle. If they cannot be found the case is hopeless."

"And so," said she, "we come around to the point from which we
started--proof positive that we are lost in the woods." And Miss
Butterworth rose. She felt that for the time being she, at least, had
come to the end of her resources.

Mr. Gryce did not seek to detain her. Indeed, he appeared to be anxious
to leave the place himself. They, however, stopped long enough to cast
one final look around them. As they did so Miss Butterworth's finger
slowly rose.

"See!" said she, "you can hardly perceive from this side of the wall the
opening made by the removal of that picture on the stair landing.
Wouldn't you say that it was in the midst of those folds of dark-colored
tapestry up there?"

"Yes, I had already located that spot as the one. With the picture hung
up on the other side, it would be quite invisible."

"One needs to keep one's eyes moving in a case like this. That picture
must have been drawn aside several times while we were in this room. Yet
we failed to notice it."

"That was from not looking high enough. High and low, Mr. Gryce! What
goes on at the level of the eye is apparent to every one."

The smile with which he acknowledged this parting shot and prepared to
escort her to the door had less of irony than sadness in it. Was he
beginning to realize that years tell even on the most sagacious, and
that neither high places nor low would have escaped his attention a
dozen years before?



CHAPTER X.

BRIDE ROSES.


"A blonde, you say, sir?"

"Yes, Sweetwater; not of the usual type, but one of those frail,
ethereal creatures whom we find it so hard to associate with crime. He,
on the contrary, according to Miss Butterworth's description (and her
descriptions may be relied upon), is one of those gentlemanly athletes
whose towering heads and powerful figures attract universal attention.
Seen together, you would be apt to know them. But what reason have we
for thinking they will be found together?"

"How were they dressed?"

"Like people of fashion and respectability. He wore a brown-checked suit
apparently fresh from the tailor; she, a dove-colored dress with white
trimmings. The parasol shows the color of her hat and plumes. Both were
young, and (still according to Miss Butterworth) of sensitive
temperament and unused to crime; for she was in a fainting condition
when carried from the house, and he, with every inducement to
self-restraint, showed himself the victim of such powerful emotion that
he would have been immediately surrounded and questioned if he had not
set his burden down in the vestibule and at once plunged with the girl
into the passing crowd. Do you think you can find them, Sweetwater?"

"Have you no clews to their identity beyond this parasol?"

"None, Sweetwater, if you except these few faded rose leaves picked up
from the floor of Mr. Adams's study."

"Then you have given me a problem, Mr. Gryce," remarked the young
detective dubiously, as he eyed the parasol held out to him and let the
rose-leaves drop carelessly through his fingers. "Somehow I do not feel
the same assurances of success that I did before. Perhaps I more fully
realize the difficulties of any such quest, now that I see how much
rests upon chance in these matters. If Miss Butterworth had not been a
precise woman, I should have failed in my former attempt, as I am likely
to fail in this one. But I will make another effort to locate the owner
of this parasol, if only to learn my business by failure. And now, sir,
where do you think I am going first? To a florist's, with these faded
rose-leaves. Just because every other young fellow on the force would
make a start from the parasol, I am going to try and effect one from
these rose-leaves. I may be an egotist, but I cannot help that. I can do
nothing with the parasol."

"And what do you hope to do with the rose-leaves? How can a florist help
you in finding this young woman by means of them?"

"He may be able to say from what kind of a rose they fell, and once I
know that, I may succeed in discovering the particular store from which
the bouquet was sold to this more or less conspicuous couple."

"You may. I am not the man to throw cold water on any one's schemes.
Every man has his own methods, and till they are proved valueless I say
nothing."

Young Sweetwater, who was now all nerve, enthusiasm, and hope, bowed. He
was satisfied to be allowed to work in his own way.

"I may be back in an hour, and you may not see me for a week," he
remarked on leaving.

"Luck to your search!" was the short reply. This ended the interview. In
a few minutes more Sweetwater was off.

The hour passed; he did not come back; the day, and still no Sweetwater.
Another day went by, enlivened only by an interchange of notes between
Mr. Gryce and Miss Butterworth. Hers was read by the old detective with
a smile. Perhaps because it was so terse; perhaps because it was so
characteristic.

     Dear Mr. Gryce:

     I do not presume to dictate or even to offer a suggestion to the
     New York police, but have you inquired of the postman in a certain
     district whether he can recall the postmark on any of the letters
     he delivered to Mr. Adams?

     A. B.

His, on the contrary, was perused with a frown by his exacting colleague
in Gramercy Park. The reason is obvious.

     Dear Miss Butterworth:

     Suggestions are always in order, and even dictation can be endured
     from you. The postman delivers too many letters on that block to
     concern himself with postmarks. Sorry to close another
     thoroughfare.

     E. G.

Meanwhile, the anxiety of both was great; that of Mr. Gryce excessive.
He was consequently much relieved when, on the third morning, he found
Sweetwater awaiting him at the office, with a satisfied smile lighting
up his plain features. He had reserved his story for his special patron,
and as soon as they were closeted together he turned with beaming eyes
toward the old detective, crying:

"News, sir; good news! I have found them; I have found them both, and by
such a happy stroke! It was a blind trail, but when the florist said
that those petals might have fallen from a bride rose--well, sir, I know
that any woman can carry bride roses, but when I remembered that the
clothes of her companion looked as though they had just come from the
tailor's, and that she wore gray and white--why, it gave me an idea, and
I began my search after this unknown pair at the Bureau of Vital
Statistics."

"Brilliant!" ejaculated the old detective. "That is, if the thing
worked."

"And it did, sir; it did. I may have been born under a lucky star,
probably was, but once started on this line of search, I went straight
to the end. Shall I tell you how? Hunting through the list of such
persons as had been married within the city limits during the last two
weeks, I came upon the name of one Eva Poindexter. Eva! that was a name
well-known in the house on ---- Street. I decided to follow up this
Eva."

"A wise conclusion! And how did you set about it?"

"Why, I went directly to the clergyman who had performed the ceremony.
He was a kind and affable dominie, sir, and I had no trouble in talking
to him."

"And you described the bride?"

"No, I led the conversation so that he described her."

"Good; and what kind of a woman did he make her out to be? Delicate?
Pale?"

"Sir, he had not read the service for so lovely a bride in years. Very
slight, almost fragile, but beautiful, and with a delicate bloom which
showed her to be in better health than one would judge from her dainty
figure. It was a private wedding, sir, celebrated in a hotel parlor; but
her father was with her----"

"Her father?" Mr. Gryce's theory received its first shock. Then the old
man who had laughed on leaving Mr. Adams's house was not the father to
whom those few lines in Mr. Adams's handwriting were addressed. Or this
young woman was not the person referred to in those lines.

"Is there anything wrong about that?" inquired Sweetwater.

Mr. Gryce became impassive again.

"No; I had not expected his attendance at the wedding; that is all."

"Sorry, sir, but there is no doubt about his having been there. The
bridegroom----"

"Yes, tell me about the bridegroom."

"Was the very man you described to me as leaving Mr. Adams's house with
her. Tall, finely developed, with a grand air and gentlemanly manners.
Even his clothes correspond with what you told me to expect: a checked
suit, brown in color, and of the latest cut. Oh, he is the man!"

Mr. Gryce, with a suddenly developed interest in the lid of his
inkstand, recalled the lines which Mr. Adams had written immediately
before his death, and found himself wholly at sea. How reconcile facts
so diametrically opposed? What allusion could there be in these lines to
the new-made bride of another man? They read, rather, as if she were his
own bride, as witness:

     I return your daughter to you. She is here. Neither she nor you
     will ever see me again. Remember Evelyn!

     AMOS'S SON.

There must be something wrong. Sweetwater must have been led astray by a
series of extraordinary coincidences. Dropping the lid of the inkstand
in a way to make the young man smile, he looked up.

"I'm afraid it's been a fool chase, Sweetwater. The facts you relate in
regard to this couple, the fact of their having been married at all,
tally so little with what we have been led to expect from certain other
evidences which have come in----"

"Pardon me, sir, but will you hear me out? At the Imperial, where they
were married, I learned that the father and daughter had registered as
coming from a small place in Pennsylvania; but I could learn nothing in
regard to the bridegroom. He had not appeared on the scene till the time
for the ceremony, and after the marriage was seen to take his bride away
in one carriage while the old gentleman departed in another. The latter
concerned me little; it was the young couple I had been detailed to
find. Employing the usual means of search, I tracked them to the
Waldorf, where I learned what makes it certain that I have been
following the right couple. On the afternoon of the very day of Mr.
Adams's death, this young husband and wife left the hotel on foot and
did not come back. Their clothes, which had all been left behind, were
taken away two days later by an elderly gentleman who said he was her
father and whose appearance coincides with that of the person
registering as such at the Imperial. All of which looks favorable to my
theory, does it not, especially when you remember that the bridegroom's
name----"

"You have not told it."

"Is Adams, Thomas Adams. Same family as the murdered man, you see. At
least, he has the same name."

Mr. Gryce surveyed the young man with admiration, but was not yet
disposed to yield him entire credence.

"Humph! I do not wonder you thought it worth your while to follow up the
pair, if one of them is named Adams and the other Eva. But, Sweetwater,
the longer you serve on the force the more you will learn that
coincidences as strange and unexpected as these do occur at times, and
must be taken into account in the elucidation of a difficult problem.
Much as I may regret to throw cold water on your hopes, there are
reasons for believing that the young man and woman whom we are seeking
are not the ones you have busied yourself about for the last two days.
Certain facts which have come to light would seem to show that if she
had a husband at all, his name would not be Thomas Adams, but Felix, and
as the facts I have to bring forward are most direct and unimpeachable,
I fear you will have to start again, and on a new tack."

But Sweetwater remained unshaken, and eyed his superior with a vague
smile playing about his lips.

"You have not asked me, sir, where I have spent all the time which has
elapsed since I saw you last. The investigations I have mentioned did
not absorb more than a day."

"Very true. Where have you been, Sweetwater?"

"To Montgomery, sir, to that small town in Pennsylvania from which Mr.
Poindexter and his daughter registered."

"Ah, I see! And what did you learn there? Something directly to the
point?"

"I learned this, that John Poindexter, father of Eva, had for a friend
in early life one Amos Cadwalader."

"Amos!" repeated Mr. Gryce, with an odd look.

"Yes, and that this Amos had a son, Felix."

"Ah!"

"You see, sir, we must be on the right track; coincidences cannot extend
through half a dozen names."

"You are right. It is I who have made a mistake in drawing my
conclusions too readily. Let us hear about this Amos. You gathered
something of his history, no doubt."

"All that was possible, sir. It is closely woven in with that of
Poindexter, and presents one feature which may occasion you no surprise,
but which, I own, came near nonplussing me. Though the father of Felix,
his name was not Adams. I say was not, for he has been dead six months.
It was Cadwalader. And Felix went by the name of Cadwalader, too, in the
early days of which I have to tell, he and a sister whose name----"

"Well?"

"Was Evelyn."

"Sweetwater, you are an admirable fellow. So the mystery is ours."

"The history, not the mystery; that still holds. Shall I relate what I
know of those two families?"

"At once: I am as anxious as if I were again twenty-three and had been
in your shoes instead of my own for the last three days."

"Very well, sir. John Poindexter and Amos Cadwalader were, in their
early life, bosom friends. They had come from Scotland together and
settled in Montgomery in the thirties. Both married there, but John
Poindexter was a prosperous man from the first, while Cadwalader had
little ability to support a family, and was on the verge of bankruptcy
when the war of the rebellion broke out and he enlisted as a soldier.
Poindexter remained at home, caring for his own family and for the two
children of Cadwalader, whom he took into his own house. I say his own
family, but he had no family, save a wife, up to the spring of '80. Then
a daughter was born to him, the Eva who has just married Thomas Adams.
Cadwalader, who was fitted for army life, rose to be a captain; but he
was unfortunately taken prisoner at one of the late battles and confined
in Libby Prison, where he suffered the tortures of the damned till he
was released, in 1865, by a forced exchange of prisoners. Broken, old,
and crushed, he returned home, and no one living in the town at that
time will ever forget the day he alighted from the cars and took his way
up the main street. For not having been fortunate enough, or unfortunate
enough, perhaps, to receive any communication from home, he advanced
with a cheerful haste, not knowing that his only daughter then lay dead
in his friend's house, and that it was for her funeral that the people
were collecting in the green square at the end of the street. He was so
pale, broken, and decrepit that few knew him. But there was one old
neighbor who recognized him and was kind enough to lead him into a quiet
place, and there tell him that he had arrived just too late to see his
darling daughter alive. The shock, instead of prostrating the old
soldier, seemed to nerve him afresh and put new vigor into his limbs. He
proceeded, almost on a run, to Poindexter's house, and arrived just as
the funeral cortège was issuing from the door. And now happened a
strange thing. The young girl had been laid on an open bier, and was
being carried by six sturdy lads to her last resting place. As the
father's eye fell on her young body under its black pall, a cry of
mortal anguish escaped him, and he sank on his knees right in the line
of the procession.

"At the same minute another cry went up, this time from behind the bier,
and John Poindexter could be seen reeling at the side of Felix
Cadwalader, who alone of all present (though he was the youngest and the
least) seemed to retain his self-possession at this painful moment.
Meanwhile the bereaved father, throwing himself at the side of the bier,
began tearing away at the pall in his desire to look upon the face of
her he had left in such rosy health four years before. But he was
stopped, not by Poindexter, who had vanished from the scene, but by
Felix, the cold, severe-looking boy who stood like a guard behind his
sister. Reaching out a hand so white it was in itself a shock, he laid
it in a certain prohibitory way on the pall, as if saying no. And when
his father would have continued the struggle, it was Felix who
controlled him and gradually drew him into the place at his own side
where a minute before the imposing figure of Poindexter had stood; after
which the bearers took up their burden again and moved on.

"But the dramatic scene was not over. As they neared the churchyard
another procession, similar in appearance to their own, issued from an
adjoining street, and Evelyn's young lover, who had died almost
simultaneously with herself, was brought in and laid at her side. But
not in the same grave: this was noticed by all, though most eyes and
hearts were fixed upon Cadwalader, who had escaped his loathsome prison
and returned to the place of his affections for _this_.

"Whether he grasped then and there the full meaning of this double
burial (young Kissam had shot himself upon hearing of Evelyn's death),
or whether all explanations were deferred till he and Felix walked away
together from the grave, has never transpired. From that minute till
they both left town on the following day, no one had any word with him,
save Poindexter, whom he went once to see, and young Kissam's mother,
who came once to see him. Like a phantom he had risen upon the sight of
the good people of Montgomery, and like a phantom he disappeared, never
to be seen by any of them again, unless, as many doubt, the story is
true which was told some twenty years ago by one of the little village
lads. He says (it was six years after the tragic scene I have just
related) that one evening as he was hurrying by the churchyard, in great
anxiety to reach home before it was too dark, he came upon the figure of
a man standing beside a grave, with a little child in his arms. This man
was tall, long-bearded, and terrifying. His attitude, as the lad
describes it, was one of defiance, if not of cursing. High in his right
hand he held the child, almost as if he would hurl him at the village
which lies under the hill on which the churchyard is perched; and though
the moment passed quickly, the boy, now a man, never has forgotten the
picture thus presented or admitted that it was anything but a real one.
As the description he gave of this man answered to the appearance of
Amos Cadwalader, and as the shoe of a little child was found next
morning on the grave of Cadwalader's daughter, Evelyn, it has been
thought by many that the boy really beheld this old soldier, who for
some mysterious reason had chosen nightfall for this fleeting visit to
his daughter's resting-place. But to others it was only a freak of the
lad's imagination, which had been much influenced by the reading of
romances. For, as these latter reasoned, had it really been Cadwalader,
why did he not show himself at John Poindexter's house--that old friend
who now had a little daughter and no wife and who could have made him so
comfortable? Among these was Poindexter himself, though some thought he
looked oddly while making this remark, as if he spoke more from custom
than from the heart. Indeed, since the unfortunate death of Evelyn in
his house, he had never shown the same interest in the Cadwaladers. But
then he was a man much occupied with great affairs, while the
Cadwaladers, except for their many griefs and misfortunes, were regarded
as comparatively insignificant people, unless we except Felix, who from
his earliest childhood had made himself feared even by grown people,
though he never showed a harsh spirit or exceeded the bounds of decorum
in speech or gesture. A year ago news came to Montgomery of Amos
Cadwalader's death, but no particulars concerning his family or burial
place. And that is all I have been able to glean concerning the
Cadwaladers."

Mr. Gryce had again become thoughtful.

"Have you any reason to believe that Evelyn's death was not a natural
one?"

"No, sir. I interviewed the old mother of the young man who shot himself
out of grief at Evelyn's approaching death, and if any doubt had existed
concerning a matter which had driven her son to a violent end, she could
not have concealed it from me. But there seemed to have been none.
Evelyn Cadwalader was always of delicate health, and when a quick
consumption carried her off no one marvelled. Her lover, who adored her,
simply could not live without her, so he shot himself. There was no
mystery about the tragic occurrence except that it seemed to sever an
old friendship that once was firm as a rock. I allude to that between
the Poindexters and Cadwaladers."

"Yet in this tragedy which has just occurred in ---- Street we see them
brought together again. Thomas Adams marries Eva Poindexter. But who is
Thomas Adams? You have not mentioned him in this history."

"Not unless he was the child who was held aloft over Evelyn's grave."

"Humph! That seems rather far-fetched. What did you learn about him in
Montgomery? Is he known there?"

"As well as any stranger can be who spends his time in courting a young
girl. He came to Montgomery a few months ago, from some foreign
city--Paris, I think--and, being gifted with every personal charm
calculated to please a cultivated young woman, speedily won the
affections of Eva Poindexter, and also the esteem of her father. But
their favorable opinion is not shared by every one in the town. There
are those who have a good deal to say about his anxious and unsettled
eye."

"Naturally; he could not marry all their daughters. But this history you
have given me: it is meagre, Sweetwater, and while it hints at something
deeply tragic, does not supply the key we want. A girl who died some
thirty years ago! A father who disappeared! A brother who, from being a
Cadwalader, has become an Adams! An Eva whose name, as well as that of
the long-buried Evelyn, was to be heard in constant repetition in the
place where the murdered Felix lay with those inscrutable lines in his
own writing, clinched between his teeth! It is a snarl, a perfect snarl,
of which we have as yet failed to pull the right thread. But we'll get
hold of it yet. I'm not going to be baffled in my old age by
difficulties I would have laughed at a dozen years ago."

"But this right thread? How shall we know it among the fifty I see
entangled in this matter?"

"First, find the whereabouts of this young couple--but didn't you tell
me you had done so; that you know where they are?"

"Yes. I learned from the postmaster in Montgomery that a letter
addressed to Mrs. Thomas Adams had been sent from his post-office to
Belleville, Long Island."

"Ah! I know that place."

"And wishing to be assured that the letter was not a pretense, I sent a
telegram to the postmaster at Belleville. Here is his answer. It is
unequivocal: 'Mr. Poindexter of Montgomery, Pa. Mr. Thomas Adams and
Mrs. Adams of the same place have been at the Bedell House in this place
five days.'"

"Very good; then we have them! Be ready to start for Belleville by one
o'clock sharp. And mind, Sweetwater, keep your wits alert and your
tongue still. Remember that as yet we are feeling our way blindfold, and
must continue to do so till some kind hand tears away the bandage from
our eyes. Go! I have a letter to write, for which you may send in a boy
at the end of five minutes."

This letter was for Miss Butterworth, and created, a half-hour later,
quite a stir in the fine old mansion in Gramercy Park. It ran thus:

     Have you sufficient interest in the outcome of a certain matter to
     take a short journey into the country? I leave town at 1
     P.M. for Belleville, Long Island. If you choose to do the
     same, you will find me at the Bedell House, in that town, early in
     the afternoon. If you enjoy novels, take one with you, and let me
     see you reading it on the hotel piazza at five o'clock. I may be
     reading too; if so, and my choice is a book, all is well, and you
     may devour your story in peace. But if I lay aside my book and take
     up a paper, devote but one eye to your story and turn the other on
     the people who are passing you. If after you have done so, you
     leave your book open, I shall understand that you fail to recognize
     these persons. But if you shut the volume, you may expect to see me
     also fold up my newspaper; for by so doing you will have signaled
     me that you have identified the young man and woman you saw leaving
     Mr. Adams's house on the fatal afternoon of your first entrance. E.
     G.



CHAPTER XI.

MISERY.


It is to be hoped that the well-dressed lady of uncertain age who was to
be seen late that afternoon in a remote corner of the hotel piazza at
Belleville had not chosen a tale requiring great concentration of mind,
for her eyes (rather fine ones in their way, showing both keenness and
good nature) seemed to find more to interest them in the scene before
her than in the pages she so industriously turned over.

The scene was one calculated to interest an idle mind, no doubt. First,
there was the sea, a wide expanse of blue, dotted by numerous sails;
then the beach, enlivened by groups of young people dressed like
popinjays in every color; then the village street, and, lastly, a lawn
over which there now and then strayed young couples with tennis rackets
in their hands or golf sticks under their arms. Children, too--but
children did not seem to interest this amiable spinster. (There could be
no doubt about her being a spinster.) She scarcely glanced at them
twice, while a young married pair, or even an old gentleman, if he were
only tall and imperious-looking, invariably caused her eyes to wander
from her book, which, by the way, she held too near for seeing, or such
might have been the criticism of a wary observer.

This criticism, if criticism it would be called, could not have been
made of the spruce, but rather feeble octogenarian at the other end of
the piazza. He was evidently absorbed in the novel he held so
conspicuously open, and which, from the smiles now and then disturbing
the usual placidity of his benevolent features, we can take for granted
was sufficiently amusing. Yet right in the midst of it, and certainly
before he had finished his chapter, he closed his book and took out a
newspaper, which he opened to its full width before sitting down to
peruse its columns. At the same moment the lady at the other end of the
piazza could be seen looking over her spectacles at two gentlemen who
just at that moment issued from the great door opening between her and
the elderly person just alluded to. Did she know them, or was it only
her curiosity that was aroused? From the way she banged together her
book and rose, it looked as if she had detected old acquaintances in the
distinguished-looking pair who were now advancing slowly toward her. But
if so, she could not have been overjoyed to see them, for after the
first hint of their approach in her direction she turned, with an aspect
of some embarrassment, and made her way out upon the lawn, where she
stood with her back to these people, caressing a small dog in a way that
betrayed her total lack of sympathy with these animals, which were
evidently her terror when she was sufficiently herself to be swayed by
her natural impulses.

The two gentlemen, on the contrary, with an air of total indifference to
her proximity, continued their walk until they reached the end of the
piazza, and then turned and proceeded mechanically to retrace their
steps.

Their faces now being brought within view of the elderly person who was
so absorbed in his newspaper, the latter shifted that sheet the merest
trifle, possibly because the sun struck his eyes too directly, possibly
because he wished to catch sight of two very remarkable men. If so, the
opportunity was good, as they stopped within a few feet of his chair.
One of them was elderly, as old as, if not older than, the man watching
him; but he was of that famous Scotch stock whose members are tough and
hale at eighty. This toughness he showed not only in his figure, which
was both upright and graceful, but in the glance of his calm, cold eye,
which fell upon everybody and everything unmoved, while that of his
young, but equally stalwart companion seemed to shrink with the most
acute sensitiveness from every person he met, save the very mild old
reader of news near whom they now paused for a half-dozen words of
conversation.

"I don't think it does me any good," was the young man's gloomy remark.
"I am wretched when with her, and doubly wretched when I try to forget
myself for a moment out of her sight. I think we had better go back. I
had rather sit where she can see me than have her wonder--Oh, I will be
careful; but you must remember how unnerving is the very silence I am
obliged to keep about what is destroying us all. I am nearly as ill as
she."

Here they drew off, and their apparently disinterested hearer turned the
page of his paper. It was five minutes before they came back. This time
it was the old gentleman who was speaking, and as he was more discreet
than his companion or less under the influence of his feelings, his
voice was lower and his words less easy to be distinguished.

"Escape? South coast--she will forget to watch you for--a clinging
nature--impetuous, but foolishly affectionate--you know that--no
danger--found out--time--a cheerful home--courage--happiness--all
forgotten."

A gesture from the young man as he moved away showed that he did not
share these hopes. Meanwhile Miss Butterworth--you surely have
recognized Miss Butterworth--had her opportunities too. She was still
stooping over the dog, which wriggled under her hand, yet did not offer
to run away, fascinated perhaps by that hesitating touch which he may or
may not have known had never inflicted itself upon a dog before. But her
ears, and attention, were turned toward two girls chatting on a bench
near her as freely as if they were quite alone on the lawn. They were
gossiping about a fellow-inmate of the big hotel, and Miss Butterworth
listened intently after hearing them mention the name Adams. These are
some of the words she caught:

"But she is! I tell you she is sick enough to have a nurse and a doctor.
I caught a glimpse of her as I was going by her room yesterday, and I
never saw two such big eyes or such pale cheeks. Then, look at him! He
must just adore her, for he won't speak to another woman, and just moves
about in that small, hot room all day. I wonder if they are bride and
groom? They are young enough, and if you have noticed her clothes----"

"Oh, don't talk about clothes. I saw her the first day she came, and was
the victim of despair until she suddenly got sick and so couldn't wear
those wonderful waists and jackets. I felt like a dowdy when I saw that
pale blue----"

"Oh, well, blue becomes blondes. You would look like a fright in it. I
didn't care about her clothes, but I did feel that it was all up with us
if she chose to talk, or even to smile, upon the few men that are good
enough to stay out a week in this place. Yet she isn't a beauty; she has
not a good nose, nor a handsome eye, nor even an irreproachable
complexion. It must be her mouth, which is lovely, or her walk--did you
notice her walk? It was just as if she were floating; that is, before
she fell down in that faint. I wonder why she fainted. Nobody was doing
anything, not even her husband. But perhaps that was what troubled her.
I noticed that for some cause he was looking very serious--and when she
had tried to attract his attention two or three times and failed, she
just fell from her chair to the floor. That roused him. He has hardly
left her since."

"I don't think they look very happy, do you, for so rich and handsome a
couple?"

"Perhaps he is dissipated. I have noticed that the old gentleman never
leaves them."

"Well, well, he may be dissipated; handsome men are very apt to be. But
I wouldn't care if----"

Here the dog gave a yelp and bolted. Miss Butterworth had unconsciously
pinched him, in her indignation, possibly, at the turn these
rattle-pated young ladies' conversation was taking. This made a
diversion, and the young girls moved off, leaving Miss Butterworth
without occupation. But a young man who at that moment crossed her path
gave her enough to think about.

"You recognize them? There is no mistake?" he whispered.

"None; the one this way is the young man I saw leave Mr. Adams's house,
and the other is the old gentleman who came in afterward."

"Mr. Gryce advises you to return home. He is going to arrest the young
man." And Sweetwater passed on.

Miss Butterworth strolled to a seat and sat down. She felt weak; she
seemed to see that young wife, sick, overwhelmed, struggling with her
great fear, sink under this crushing blow, with no woman near her
capable of affording the least sympathy. The father did not impress her
as being the man to hold up her fainting head or ease her bruised heart.
He had an icy look under his polished exterior which repelled this
keen-eyed spinster, and as she remembered the coldness of his ways, she
felt herself seized by an irresistible impulse to be near this young
creature when the blow fell, if only to ease the tension of her own
heartstrings, which at that moment ached keenly over the part she had
felt herself obliged to play in this matter.

But when she rose to look for Mr. Gryce, she found him gone; and upon
searching the piazza for the other two gentlemen, she saw them just
vanishing round the corner in the direction of a small smoking-room. As
she could not follow them, she went upstairs, and, meeting a maid in the
upper hall, asked for Mrs. Adams. She was told that Mrs. Adams was sick,
but was shown the door of her room, which was at the end of a long hall.
As all the halls terminated in a window under which a sofa was to be
found, she felt that circumstances were in her favor, and took her seat
upon the sofa before her in a state of great complacency. Instantly a
sweet voice was heard through the open transom of the door behind which
her thoughts were already concentrated.

"Where is Tom? Oh, where is Tom? Why does he leave me? I'm afraid of
what he may be tempted to do or say down on those great piazzas alone."

"Mr. Poindexter is with him," answered a voice, measured, but kind. "Mr.
Adams was getting very tired, and your father persuaded him to go down
and have a smoke."

"I must get up; indeed I must get up. Oh! the camphor--the----"

There was a bustle; this poor young wife had evidently fainted again.

Miss Butterworth cast very miserable glances at the door.

Meanwhile in that small and retired smoking-room a terrible scene was in
progress. The two gentlemen had lit their cigars and were sitting in
certain forced attitudes that evinced their non-enjoyment of the weed
each had taken out of complaisance to the other, when an old man,
strangely serious, strangely at home, yet as strangely a guest of the
house like themselves, came in, and shut the door behind him.

"Gentlemen," he at once announced, "I am Detective Gryce of the New York
police, and I am here--but I see that one of you at least knows why I am
here."

One? Both of them! This was evident in a moment. No denial, no
subterfuge was possible. At the first word uttered in the strange,
authoritative tone which old detectives acquire after years of such
experiences, the young man sank down in sudden collapse, while his
companion, without yielding so entirely to his emotions, showed that he
was not insensible to the blow which, in one moment, had brought
destruction to all their hopes.

When Mr. Gryce saw himself so completely understood, he no longer
hesitated over his duty. Directing his full attention to Mr. Adams, he
said, this time with some feeling, for the misery of this young man had
impressed him:

"You are wanted in New York by Coroner D----, whose business it is to
hold an inquest over the remains of Mr. Felix Adams, of whose
astonishing death you are undoubtedly informed. As you and your wife
were seen leaving that gentleman's house a few minutes before he
expired, you are naturally regarded as valuable witnesses in determining
whether his death was one of suicide or murder."

It was an accusation, or so nearly one, that Mr. Gryce was not at all
surprised to behold the dark flush of shame displace the livid terror
which but an instant before had made the man before him look like one of
those lost spirits we sometimes imagine as flitting across the open
mouth of hell. But he said nothing, seemingly had no power to do so, and
his father-in-law was about to make some effort to turn aside this blow
when a voice in the hall outside was heard inquiring for Mr. Adams,
saying that his wife had fainted again and required his help.

The young husband started, cast a look full of despair at Mr.
Poindexter, and thrusting his hand against the door as if to hold it
shut, sank on his knees before Mr. Gryce, saying:

"She knows! She suspects! Her nature is so sensitive."

This he managed to utter in gasps as the detective bent compassionately
over him. "Don't, don't disturb her! She is an angel, a saint from
heaven. Let me bear the blame--he was my brother--let me go with you,
but leave her in ignorance----"

Mr. Gryce, with a vivid sense of justice, laid his hand on the young
man's arm.

"Say nothing," he enjoined. "My memory is good, and I would rather hear
nothing from your lips. As for your wife, my warrant does in no way
include her; and if you promise to come with me quietly, I will even let
you bid her adieu, so that you do it in my presence."

The change which passed over the young man's face at these significant
words was of a nature to surprise Mr. Gryce. Rising slowly, he took his
stand by Mr. Poindexter, who, true to his inflexible nature, had
scarcely moved in limb and feature since Mr. Gryce came in.

"What have you against me?" he demanded. And there was a surprising ring
to his voice, as if courage had come with the necessity of the moment.
"Of what am I accused? I want you to tell me. I had rather you would
tell me in so many words. I cannot leave in peace until you do."

Mr. Poindexter made a movement at this, and cast a half-suspicious,
half-warning glance at his son-in-law. But the young man took no notice
of his interference. He kept his eye on the detective, who quietly took
out his warrant.

At this instant the door shook.

"Lock it!" was the hoarse command of the accused man. "Don't let any one
pass that door, even if it is to bring the tidings of my wife's death."

Mr. Gryce reached out his hand, and turned the key in the lock. Young
Adams opened the paper which he had taken from the detective's hand, and
while his blood-shot eyes vainly sought to master the few lines there
written, Mr. Poindexter attracted the attention of Mr. Gryce, and,
fixing him with his eye, formed his lips with three soundless words:

"For murder? Him?"

The detective's bow and a very long-drawn sigh from his son-in-law
answered him simultaneously. With a curious lift of his upper lip, which
showed his teeth somewhat unpleasantly for a moment, he drew back a
step, and sank into his previous immobility.

"I am indebted to you," declared the young man. "Now I know where I
stand. I am quite ready to go with you and stand trial, if such be
deemed necessary by the officials in New York. You," he cried, turning
with almost an air of command to the old gentleman beside him, "will
watch over Eva. Not like a father, sir, but like a mother. You will be
at her side when she wakes, and, if possible, leave her only when she
sleeps. Do not let her suffer--not too much. No newspapers, no gossiping
women. Watch! watch! as I would watch, and when I come back--for I will
come back, will I not?" he appealed to Mr. Gryce, "my prayers will bless
you and----" A sob stuck in his throat, and he turned for a minute
aside; then he took the detective's arm quite calmly and remarked:

"I do not want to say good-by to my wife. I cannot bear it. I had rather
go straight from here without another glance at her unconscious face.
When I have told my story, for I shall tell it to the first man who asks
me, I may find courage to write her. Meanwhile, get me away as quickly
as you can. Time enough for the world to know my shame to-morrow."

Mr. Gryce tapped on the window overlooking the piazza. A young man
stepped in.

"Here is a gentleman," he cried, "who finds himself forced to return in
great haste to New York. See that he gets to the train in time, without
fuss and without raising the least comment. I will follow with his
portmanteau. Mr. Poindexter, you are now at liberty to attend your
suffering daughter." And with a turn of the key, he unlocked the door,
and one of the most painful scenes of his long life was over.



CHAPTER XII.

THOMAS EXPLAINS.


Mr. Gryce was not above employing a little finesse. He had expressed his
intention of following Mr. Adams, and he did follow him, but so
immediately that he not only took the same train, but sat in the same
car. He wished to note at his leisure the bearing of this young man, who
interested him in quite a different way from what he had anticipated, a
way that vaguely touched his own conscience and made him feel his years
as he had no right to feel them when he had just brought to an end an
intricate and difficult pursuit.

Seated at a distance, he watched with increasing interest the changes
which passed over his prisoner's handsome countenance. He noted the
calmness which now marked the features he had so lately seen writhing in
deepest agony, and wondered from what source the strength came which
enabled this young man to sit so stoically under the eyes of people from
whose regard, an hour before, he had shrunk with such apparent
suffering. Was it that courage comes with despair? Or was he too
absorbed in his own misery to note the shadow it cast about him? His
brooding brow and vacant eye spoke of a mind withdrawn from present
surroundings. Into what depths of remorse, who could say? Certainly not
this old detective, seasoned though he was by lifelong contact with
criminals, some of them of the same social standing and cultured aspect
as this young man.

At the station in Brooklyn he rejoined his prisoner, who scarcely looked
up as he approached. In another hour they were at Police Headquarters
and the serious questioning of Mr. Adams had begun.

He did not attempt to shirk it. Indeed, he seemed anxious to talk. He
had a burden on his mind, and longed to throw it off. But the burden was
not of the exact nature anticipated by the police. He did not
acknowledge having killed his brother, but confessed to having been the
incidental cause of that brother's death. The story he told was this:

"My name is Cadwalader, not Adams. My father, a Scotchman by birth, was
a naturalized citizen of Pennsylvania, having settled in a place called
Montgomery when a young married man. He had two children then, one of
whom died in early life; the other was my brother Felix, whose violent
death under the name of Adams you have called me here to explain. I am
the fruit of a later marriage, entered into by my father some years
after leaving Montgomery. When I was born he was living in Harrisburg,
but, as he left there shortly after I had reached my third year, I have
no remembrances connected with that city. Indeed, my recollections are
all of very different scenes than this country affords. My mother having
died while I was still an infant, I was sent very early in life to the
Old World, from which my father had originally come. When I returned,
which was not till this very year, I found my father dying, and my
brother a grown man with money--a great deal of money--which I had been
led to think he was ready to share with me. But after my father was laid
away, Felix" (with what effort he uttered that name!) "Felix came to New
York, and I was left to wander about without settled hopes or any
definite promise of means upon which to base a future or start a career.
While wandering, I came upon the town where my father had lived in early
youth, and, hunting up his old friends, I met in the house of one who
had come over from Scotland with my father a young lady" (how his voice
shook, and with what a poignant accent he uttered that beloved name) "in
whom I speedily became interested to the point of wishing to marry her.
But I had no money, no business, no home to give her, and, as I was fain
to acknowledge, no prospects. Still I could not give up the hope of
making her my wife. So I wrote to my brother, Felix Cadwalader, or,
rather, Felix Adams, as he preferred to be called in later years for
family reasons entirely disconnected with the matter of his sudden
demise, and, telling him I had become interested in a young girl of good
family and some wealth, asked him to settle upon me a certain sum which
would enable me to marry her with some feeling of self-respect. My only
answer was a repetition of the vague promise he had thrown out before.
But youth is hopeful, even to daring, and I decided to make her mine
without further parley, in the hope that her beauty and endearing
qualities would win from him, at first view, the definite concession he
had so persistently denied me.

"This I did, and the fault with which I have most to reproach myself is
that I entered into this alliance without taking her or her father into
my confidence. They thought me well off, possibly rich, and while Mr.
Poindexter is a man of means, I am sure, if he had known I had nothing
but the clothes I wore and the merest trifle in the way of pocket money,
he would have cried halt to the marriage, for he is a very ambitious man
and considers his daughter well worth a millionaire's devotion--as she
is.

"Felix (you must pardon me if I show no affection for my brother--he was
a very strange man) was notified of my marriage, but did not choose to
witness it, neither did he choose to prohibit it; so it was conducted
quietly, with strangers for witnesses, in a hotel parlor. Then, with
vague hopes, as well as certain vague fears, I prepared to take my young
bride into the presence of my brother, who, hardened as he was by years
of bachelorhood, could not be so entirely impervious to feminine charms
as not to recognize my wife as a woman deserving of every consideration.

"But I had counted without my host. When, two days after the ceremony
which had made us one, I took her to the house which has since become so
unhappily notorious, I found that my brother had but shown me one facet,
and that the least obdurate, of his many-sided nature.

"Brilliant as steel, he was as hard, and not only professed himself
unmoved by my wife's many charms, but also as totally out of sympathy
with such follies as love and marriage, which were, he said, the fruit
of unoccupied minds and a pastime wholly unworthy of men boasting of
such talents and attainments as ourselves. Then he turned his back upon
us, and I, moved by an anger little short of frenzy, began an abuse for
which he was so little prepared that he crouched like a man under blows,
and, losing minute by minute his self-control, finally caught up a
dagger lying close at hand, and crying, 'You want my money? Well, then,
take it!' stabbed himself to the heart with one desperate blow.

"I fear I shall not be believed, but that is the story of this crime,
gentlemen."



CHAPTER XIII.

DESPAIR.


Was it? Tragedies as unpremeditated as this had doubtless occurred, and
inconsistencies in character shown themselves in similar impetuosities,
from the beginning of time up till now. Yet there was not a man present,
with or without the memory of Bartow's pantomime, which, as you will
recall, did not tally at all with this account of Mr. Adams's violent
end, who did not show in a greater or less degree his distrust and
evident disbelief in this tale, poured out with such volubility before
them.

The young man, gifted as he was with the keenest susceptibilities,
perceived this, and his head drooped.

"I shall add nothing to and take nothing from what I have said," was his
dogged remark. "Make of it what you will."

The inspector who was conducting the inquiry glanced dubiously at Mr.
Gryce as these words left Thomas Adams's lips; whereupon the detective
said:

"We are sorry you have taken such a resolution. There are many things
yet left to be explained, Mr. Adams; for instance, why, if your brother
slew himself in this unforeseen manner, you left the house so
precipitately, without giving an alarm or even proclaiming your
relationship to him?"

"You need not answer, you know," the inspector's voice broke in. "No man
is called upon to incriminate himself in this free and independent
country."

A smile, the saddest ever seen, wandered for a minute over the
prisoner's pallid lips. Then he lifted his head and replied with a
certain air of desperation:

"Incrimination is not what I fear now. From the way you all look at me I
perceive that I am lost, for I have no means of proving my story."

This acknowledgment, which might pass for the despairing cry of an
innocent man, made his interrogator stare.

"You forget," suggested that gentleman, "that you had your wife with
you. She can corroborate your words, and will prove herself, no doubt,
an invaluable witness in your favor."

"My wife!" he repeated, choking so that his words could be barely
understood. "Must she be dragged into this--so sick, so weak a woman? It
would kill her, sir. She loves me--she----"

"Was she with you in Mr. Adams's study? Did she see him lift the dagger
against his own breast?"

"No." And with this denial the young man seemed to take new courage.
"She had fainted several moments previously, while the altercation
between my brother and myself was at its height. She did not see the
final act, and--gentlemen, I might as well speak the truth (I have
nothing to gain by silence), she finds it as difficult as you do to
believe that Mr. Adams struck himself. I--I have tried with all my arts
to impress the truth upon her, but oh, what can I hope from the world
when the wife of my bosom--an angel, too, who loves me--oh, sirs, she
can never be a witness for me; she is too conscientious, too true to her
own convictions. I should lose--she would die----"

Mr. Gryce tried to stop him; he would not be stopped.

"Spare me, sirs! Spare my wife! Write me down guilty, anything you
please, rather than force that young creature to speak----"

Here the inspector cut short these appeals which were rending every
heart present. "Have you read the newspapers for the last few days?" he
asked.

"I? Yes, yes, sir. How could I help it? Blood is blood; the man was my
brother; I had left him dying--I was naturally anxious, naturally saw my
own danger, and I read them, of course."

"Then you know he was found with a large cross on his breast, a cross
which was once on the wall. How came it to be torn down? Who put it on
his bosom?"

"I, sir. I am not a Catholic but Felix was, and seeing him dying without
absolution, without extreme unction, I thought of the holy cross, and
tore down the only one I saw, and placed it in his arms."

"A pious act. Did he recognize it?"

"I cannot say. I had my fainting wife to look after. She occupied all my
thoughts."

"I see, and you carried her out and were so absorbed in caring for her
you did not observe Mr. Adams's valet----"

"He's innocent, sir. Whatever people may think, he had nothing to do
with this crime----"

"You did not observe him, I say, standing in the doorway and watching
you?"

Now the inspector knew that Bartow had not been standing there, but at
the loophole above; but the opportunity for entrapping the witness was
too good to lose.

Mr. Adams was caught in the trap, or so one might judge from the beads
of perspiration which at that moment showed themselves on his pale
forehead. But he struggled to maintain the stand he had taken, crying
hotly:

"But that man is crazy, and deaf-and-dumb besides! or so the papers give
out. Surely his testimony is valueless. You would not confront me with
him?"

"We confront you with no one. We only asked you a question. You did not
observe the valet, then?"

"No, sir."

"Or understand the mystery of the colored lights?"

"No, sir."

"Or of the plate of steel and the other contrivances with which your
brother enlivened his solitude?"

"I do not follow you, sir." But there was a change in his tone.

"I see," said the inspector, "that the complications which have
disturbed us and made necessary this long delay in the collection of
testimony have not entered into the crime as described by you. Now this
is possible; but there is still a circumstance requiring explanation; a
little circumstance, which is, nevertheless, one of importance, since
your wife mentioned it to you as soon as she became conscious. I allude
to the half dozen or more words which were written by your brother
immediately preceding his death. The paper on which they were written
has been found, and that it was a factor in your quarrel is evident,
since she regretted that it had been left behind you, and he--Do you
know where we found this paper?"

The eyes which young Adams raised at this interrogatory had no
intelligence in them. The sight of this morsel of paper seemed to have
deprived him in an instant of all the faculties with which he had been
carrying on this unequal struggle. He shook his head, tried to reach out
his hand, but failed to grasp the scrap of paper which the inspector
held out. Then he burst into a loud cry:

"Enough! I cannot hold out, with no other support than a wicked lie. I
killed my brother for reasons good as any man ever had for killing
another. But I shall not impart them. I would rather be tried for murder
and hanged."

It was a complete breakdown, pitiful from its contrast with the man's
herculean physique and fine, if contracted, features. If the end, it was
a sad end, and Mr. Gryce, whose forehead had taken on a deep line
between the eyebrows, slowly rose and took his stand by the young man,
who looked ready to fall. The inspector, on the contrary, did not move.
He had begun a tattoo with his fingers on the table, and seemed bound to
beat it out, when another sudden cry broke from the young man's lips:

"What is that?" he demanded, with his eyes fixed on the door, and his
whole frame shaking violently.

"Nothing," began the inspector, when the door suddenly opened and the
figure of a woman white as a wraith and wonderful with a sort of holy
passion darted from the grasp of a man who sought to detain her, and
stood before them, palpitating with a protest which for a moment she
seemed powerless to utter.

It was Adams's young, invalid wife, whom he had left three hours before
at Belleville. She was so frail of form, so exquisite of feature, that
she would have seemed some unearthly visitant but for the human anguish
which pervaded her look and soon found vent in this touching cry:

"What is he saying? Oh, I know well what he is saying. He is saying that
he killed his brother, that he held the dagger which rid the world of a
monster of whose wickedness none knew. But you must not heed him. Indeed
you must not heed him. He is innocent; I, his wife, have come twenty
miles, from a bed of weakness and suffering, to tell you so. He----"

But here a hand was laid gently, but firmly on her mouth. She looked up,
met her husband's eyes filled with almost frantic appeal, and giving him
a look in return that sank into the heart of every man who beheld it,
laid her own hand on his and drew it softly away.

"It is too late, Tom, I must speak. My father, my own weakness, or your
own peremptory commands could not keep me at Belleville when I knew you
had been brought here. And shall I stop now, in the presence of these
men who have heard your words and may believe them? No, that would be a
cowardice unworthy of our love and the true lives we hope to lead
together. Sirs!" and each man there held his breath to catch the words
which came in faint and fainter intonation from her lips, "I know my
husband to be innocent, because the hand that held the dagger was mine.
I killed Felix Cadwalader!"

       *       *       *       *       *

The horror of such a moment is never fully realized till afterward. Not
a man there moved, not even her husband, yet on every cheek a slow
pallor was forming, which testified to the effect of such words from
lips made for smiles and showing in every curve the habit of gentle
thought and the loftiest instincts. Not till some one cried out from the
doorway, "Catch her! she is falling!" did any one stir or release the
pent-up breath which awe and astonishment had hitherto held back on
every lip. Then he in whose evident despair all could read the real
cause of the great dread which had drawn him into a false confession,
sprang forward, and with renewed life showing itself in every feature,
caught her in his arms. As he staggered with her to a sofa and laid her
softly down, he seemed another man in look and bearing; and Mr. Gryce,
who had been watching the whole wonderful event with the strongest
interest, understood at once the meaning of the change which had come
over his prisoner at that point in his memorable arrest when he first
realized that it was for himself they had come, and not for the really
guilty person, the idolized object of his affections.

Meanwhile, he was facing them all, with one hand laid tenderly on that
unconscious head.

"Do not think," he cried, "that because this young girl has steeped her
hand in blood, she is a wicked woman. There is no purer heart on earth
than hers, and none more worthy of the worship of a true man. See! she
killed my brother, son of my father, beloved by my mother, yet I can
kiss her hand, kiss her forehead, her eyes, her feet, not because I hate
him, but because I worship her, the purest--the best----" He left her,
and came and stood before those astonished men. "Sirs!" he cried, "I
must ask you to listen to a strange, a terrible tale."



CHAPTER XIV.

MEMORANDA.


"It is like and unlike what I have just related to you," began young
Adams. "In my previous confession I mixed truth and falsehood, and to
explain myself fully and to help you to a right understanding of my
wife's act, I shall have to start afresh and speak as if I had already
told you nothing."

"Wait!" cried Mr. Gryce, in an authoritative manner. "We will listen to
you presently;" and, leaning over the inspector, he whispered a few
words, after which he took out a pencil and jotted down certain
sentences, which he handed over to this gentleman.

As they had the appearance of a memorandum, and as the inspector glanced
more than once at them while Mr. Adams (or Cadwalader, as he should now
rightfully be called) was proceeding with his story, I will present them
to you as written.

Points to be made clear by Mr. Adams in his account of this crime:

1. Why a woman who was calm enough to stop and arrange her hair during
the beginning of an interview should be wrought up to such a pitch of
frenzy and exasperation before it was over as to kill with her own hand
a man against whom she had evidently no previous grudge. (Remember the
comb found on the floor of Mr. Adams's bedroom.)

2. What was the meaning of the following words, written just previous to
this interview by the man thus killed: "I return you your daughter.
Neither you nor she shall ever see me again. Remember Evelyn!"

3. Why was the pronoun "I" used in this communication? What position did
Mr. Felix Adams hold toward this young girl qualifying him to make use
of such language after her marriage to his brother?

4. And having used it, why did he, upon being attacked by her, attempt
to swallow the paper upon which he had written these words, actually
dying with it clinched between his teeth?

5. If he was killed in anger and died as monsters do (her own word), why
did his face show sorrow rather than hate, and a determination as far as
possible removed from the rush of over-whelming emotions likely to follow
the reception of a mortal blow from the hand of an unexpected
antagonist?

6. Why, if he had strength to seize the above-mentioned paper and convey
it to his lips, did he not use that strength in turning on a light
calculated to bring him assistance, instead of leaving blazing the
crimson glow which, according to the code of signals as now understood
by us, means: "Nothing more required just now. Keep away."

7. What was the meaning of the huge steel plate found between the
casings of the doorway, and why did it remain at rest within its socket
at this, the culminating moment of his life?

8. An explanation of how old Poindexter came to appear on the scene so
soon after the event. His words as overheard were: "It is Amos's son,
not Amos!" Did he not know whom he was to meet in this house? Was the
condition of the man lying before him with a cross on his bosom and a
dagger in his heart less of a surprise to him than the personality of
the victim?

9. Remember the conclusions we have drawn from Bartow's pantomime. Mr.
Adams was killed by a left-handed thrust. Watch for an acknowledgment
that the young woman is left-handed, and do not forget that an
explanation is due why for so long a time she held her other arm
stretched out behind her.

10. Why did the bird whose chief cry is "Remember Evelyn!" sometimes
vary it with "Poor Eva! Lovely Eva! Who would strike Eva?" The story of
this tragedy, to be true, must show that Mr. Adams knew his brother's
bride both long and well.

11. If Bartow is, as we think, innocent of all connection with this
crime save as witness, why does he show such joy at its result? This may
not reasonably be expected to fall within the scope of Thomas Adams's
confession, but it should not be ignored by us. This deaf-and-dumb
servitor was driven mad by a fact which caused him joy. Why?

12. Notice the following schedule. It has been drawn up after repeated
experiments with Bartow and the various slides of the strange lamp which
cause so many different lights to shine out in Mr. Adams's study:

    White light--Water wanted.
    Green light--Overcoat and hat to be brought.
    Blue light--Put back books on shelves.
    Violet light--Arrange study for the night.
    Yellow light--Watch for next light.
    Red light--Nothing wanted; stay away.

The last was on at the final scene. Note if this fact can be explained
by Mr. Adams's account of the same.

With these points in our mind, let us peruse the history of this crime
and of the remote and possibly complicated causes which led to it.



BOOK II

REMEMBER EVELYN



CHAPTER I.

THE SECRET OF THE CADWALADERS.


Thomas Cadwalader suggested rather than told his story. We dare not
imitate him in this, nor would it be just to your interest to relate
these facts with all the baldness and lack of detail imposed upon this
unhappy man by the hurry and anxiety of the occasion. Remarkable
tragedies have their birth in remarkable facts, and as such facts are
but the outcome of human passions, we must enter into those passions if
we would understand either the facts or their appalling consequences. In
this case, the first link of the chain which led to Felix Adams's
violent death was forged before the birth of the woman who struck him.
We must begin, then, with almost forgotten days, and tell the story, as
her pleader did, from the standpoint of Felix and Thomas Cadwalader.

Thomas Cadwalader--now called Adams--never knew his mother; she died in
his early infancy. Nor could he be said to have known his father, having
been brought up in France by an old Scotch lawyer, who, being related to
his mother, sometimes spoke of her, but never of his father, till Thomas
had reached his fifteenth year. Then he put certain books into his
hands, with this remarkable injunction:

"Here are romances, Thomas. Read them; but remember that none of them,
no matter how thrilling in matter or effect, will ever equal the story
of your father's bitterly wronged and suffering life."

"My father!" he cried; "tell me about him; I have never heard."

But his guardian, satisfied with an allusion which he knew must bear
fruit in the extremely susceptible nature of this isolated boy, said no
more that day, and Thomas turned to the books. But nothing after that
could ever take his mind away from his father. He had scarcely thought
of him for years, but now that that father had been placed before him in
the light of a wronged man, he found himself continually hunting back in
the deepest recesses of his memory for some long-forgotten recollection
of that father's features calculated to restore his image to his eyes.
Sometimes he succeeded in this, or thought he did; but this image, if
image it was, was so speedily lost in a sensation of something strange
and awe-compelling enveloping it, that he found himself more absorbed by
the intangible impressions associated with this memory than by the
memory itself. What were these impressions, and in what had they
originated? In vain he tried to determine. They were as vague as they
were persistent. A stretch of darkness--two bars of orange light, always
shining, always the same--black lines against these bars, like the tops
of distant gables--an inner thrill--a vague affright--a rush about him
as of a swooping wind--all this came with his father's image, only to
fade away with it, leaving him troubled, uneasy, and perplexed. Finding
these impressions persistent, and receiving no explanation of them in
his own mind, he finally asked his guardian what they meant. But that
guardian was as ignorant as himself on this topic; and satisfied with
having roused the boy's imagination, confined himself to hints, dropped
now and then with a judiciousness which proved the existence of a
deliberate purpose, of some duty which awaited him on the other side of
the water, a duty which would explain his long exile from his only
parent and for which he must fit himself by study and the acquirement of
such accomplishments as render a young man a positive power in society,
whether that society be of the Old World or the New. He showed his
shrewdness in thus dealing with this pliable and deeply affectionate
nature. From this time forth Thomas felt himself leading a life of
mystery and interest.

To feel himself appointed for a work whose unknown character only
heightened its importance gave point to every effort now made by this
young man, and lent to his studies that vague touch of romance which
made them a delight, and him an adept in many things he might otherwise
have cared little about. At eighteen he was a graduate from the
Sorbonne, and a musical virtuoso as well. He could fence, ride, and
carry off the prize in games requiring physical prowess as well as
mental fitness. He was, in fact, a prodigy in many ways, and was so
considered by his fellow-students. He, however, was not perfect; he
lacked social charm, and in so far failed of being the complete
gentleman. This he was made to realize in the following way:

One morning his guardian came to him with a letter from his father, in
which, together with some words of commendation for his present
attainments, that father expressed a certain dissatisfaction with his
general manner as being too abrupt and self-satisfied with those of his
own sex, and much too timid and deprecatory with those of the other.
Thomas felt the criticism and recognized its justice; but how had his
father, proved by his letter to be no longer a myth, become acquainted
with defects which Thomas instinctively felt could never have attracted
the attention of his far from polished guardian?

His questions on this point elicited a response that confounded him. He
was not the only son of his father; he had a brother living, and this
brother, older than himself by some twenty years or more, had just been
in Paris, where, in all probability, he had met him, talked with him,
and perhaps pressed his hand.

It was a discovery calculated to deepen the impression already made upon
Thomas's mind. Only a purpose of the greatest importance could account
for so much mystery. What could it be? What was he destined to do or say
or be? He was not told, but while awaiting enlightenment he was resolved
not to be a disappointment to the two anxious souls who watched his
career so eagerly and exacted from him such perfection. He consequently
moderated his manner, and during the following year acquired by constant
association with the gilded youth about him that indescribable charm of
the perfect gentleman which he was led to believe would alone meet with
the approval of those he now felt bound to please. At the end of the
year he found himself a finished man of the world. How truly so, he
began to realize when he noted the blush with which his presence was
hailed by women and the respect shown him by men of his own stamp. In
the midst of the satisfaction thus experienced his guardian paid him a
final visit.

"You are now ready," said he, "for your father's summons. It will come
in a few weeks. Be careful, then. Form no ties you cannot readily break;
for, once recalled from France, you are not likely to return here. What
your father's purpose concerning you may be I do not know, but it is no
ordinary one. You will have money, a well-appointed home, family
affection, all that you have hitherto craved in vain, and in return you
will carry solace to a heart which has awaited your healing touch for
twenty years. So much I am ordered to say; the rest you will hear from
your father's own lips."

Aroused, encouraged, animated by the wildest hopes, the most extravagant
anticipations, Thomas awaited his father's call with feverish
impatience, and when it came, hastened to respond to it by an immediate
voyage to America. This was some six months previous to the tragedy in
---- Street. On his arrival at the wharf in New York he was met, not by
his brother, as he had every reason to expect, but by a messenger in
whose face evil tidings were apparent before he spoke. Thomas was soon
made acquainted with them. His father, who he now learned was called
Cadwalader (he himself had always been called Adams), was ill, possibly
dying. He must therefore hasten, and, being provided with minute
instructions as to his way, took the train at once for a small village
in northern Pennsylvania.

All that followed was a dream to him. He was hurried through the night,
with the motion of the ship still in his blood, to meet--what? He dared
not think. He swam in a veritable nightmare. Then came a stop, a
hurrying from the train, a halt on a platform reeking with rain (for the
night was stormy), a call from some one to hurry, the sight of a panting
horse steaming under a lamp whose blowing flame he often woke in after
nights to see, a push from a persuasive hand, then a ride over a country
road the darkness of which seemed impenetrable, and, finally, the
startling vision of an open door, with a Meg Merrilies of a woman
standing in it, holding a flaming candle in her hand. The candle went
out while he looked at it, and left only a voice to guide him--a voice
which, in tones shaken by chill or feeling, he could not tell which,
cried eagerly:

"Is that you, laddie? Come awa in. Come awa in. Dinna heed the rain. The
maister's been crying on you a' day. I'm glad you're no ower late."

He got down, followed the voice, and, stumbling up a step or two,
entered a narrow door, which was with difficulty held open behind him,
and which swung to with a loud noise the minute he crossed the
threshold. This or the dreariness of the place in which he found himself
disturbed him greatly. Bare floors, stained walls, meagre doorways, and
a common pine staircase, lighted only by the miserable candle which the
old woman had relit--were these the appointments of the palatial home he
had been led to expect? These the surroundings, this the abode of him
who had exacted such perfection on his part, and to satisfy whose
standard he had devoted years of hourly, daily effort, in every
department of art and science? A sickening revolt seized him, aggravated
by the smiles of the old woman, who dipped and courtesied before him in
senile delight. She may have divined his feelings, for, drawing him
inside, she relieved him of his overcoat, crying all the while, with an
extravagant welcome more repulsive than all the rest:

"O the fine laddie! Wad your puir mither could see you the noo! Bonnie
and clever! No your faither's bairn ava! All mither, laddie, all
mither!"

The room was no better than the hall.

"Where is my father?" he asked, authoritatively, striving to keep down
his strong repugnance.

"Dinna ye hear him? He's crying on ye. Puir man, he's wearying to see
ye."

Hear him? He could scarcely hear her. The driving rain, the swish of
some great boughs against the house, the rattling of casements and
doors, and the shrieking of wind in the chimney made all other sounds
wellnigh inaudible. Yet as he listened he seemed to catch the accents of
a far-off voice calling, now wistfully, now imperatively, "Thomas!
Thomas!" And, thrilled with an emotion almost superstitious in its
intensity, he moved hastily toward the staircase.

But the old woman was there before him. "Na! Na!" she cried. "Come in by
and eat something first."

But Thomas shook his head. It seemed to him at that moment as if he
never could eat or sleep again, the disillusion was so bitter, his
disappointment so keen.

"You will na? Then haste ye--haste ye. But it's a peety you wadna ha'e
eaten something. Ye'll need it, laddie; ye'll need it."

"Thomas! Thomas!" wailed the voice.

He tore himself away. He forced himself to go upstairs, following the
cry, which at every moment grew louder. At the top he cast a final
glance below. The old woman stood at the stair-foot, shading the candle
from the draught with a hand that shook with something more than age.
She was gazing after him in vague affright, and with the shadow of this
fear darkening her weazen face, formed a picture from which he was glad
to escape.

Plunging on, he found himself before a window whose small panes dripped
and groaned under a rain that was fast becoming a torrent. Chilled by
the sight, he turned toward the door faintly outlined beside it, and in
the semi-darkness seized an old-fashioned latch rattling in the wind
that permeated every passageway, and softly raised it.

Instantly the door fell back, and two eyes blazing with fever and that
fire of the soul of which fever is the mere physical symbol greeted him
from the midst of a huge bed drawn up against the opposite wall. Then
two arms rose, and the moaning cry of "Thomas! Thomas!" changed to a
shout, and he knew himself to be in the presence of his father.

Falling on his knees in speechless emotion, he grasped the wasted hands
held out to him. Such a face, rugged though it was and far from
fulfilling the promise held out to him in his dreams, could not but move
any man. As he gazed into it and pressed the hands in which the life
blood only seemed to linger for this last, this only embrace, all his
filial instincts were aroused and he forgot the common surroundings, the
depressing rain, his own fatigue and bitter disappointment, in his
lifelong craving for love and family recognition.

But the old man on whose breast he fell showed other emotions than those
by which he was himself actuated. It was not an embrace he craved, but
an opportunity to satisfy an almost frenzied curiosity as to the
appearance and attributes of the son who had grown to manhood under
other eyes. Pushing him gently back, he bade him stand in the light of
the lamp burning on a small pine table, and surveyed him, as it were,
from the verge of his own fast failing life, with moans of mingled pain
and weariness, amid which Thomas thought he heard the accents of a
supreme satisfaction.

Meanwhile in Thomas himself, as he stood there, the sense of complete
desolation filled his breast almost to bursting. To have come home for
this! To find a father only to be weighed in the scales of that father's
judgment! To be admired, instead of loved!

As he realized his position and listened to the shrieking of the wind
and rain, he felt that the wail of the elements but echoed the cry of
his own affections, thus strangled in their birth. Indeed the sensations
of that moment made so deep an impression upon him that he was never
afterward able to hear a furious gust of wind or rain without the
picture rising up before him of this great hollow room, with the
trembling figure of his father struggling in the grasp of death and
holding it at bay, while he gauged with worldly wisdom the physical,
mental, and moral advantages of the son so long banished and so lately
restored to his arms.

A rush of impetuous words followed by the collapse of his father's form
upon the pillow showed that the examination was over. Rushing forward,
he grasped again that father's hands, but soon shrank back, stunned by
what he heard and the prospect it opened before him. A few of his
father's words will interpret the rest. They came in a flood, and among
others Thomas caught these:

"The grace of God be thanked! Our efforts have not failed. Handsome,
strong, noble in look and character, we could ask nothing more, hope for
nothing more. My revenge will succeed! John Poindexter will find that he
has a heart, and that that heart can be wrung. I do not need to live to
see it. For me it exists now; it exists here!" And he struck his breast
with hands that seemed to have reserved their last strength for this
supreme gesture.

John Poindexter! Who was he? It was a new name to Thomas. Venturing to
say so, he reeled under the look he received from his father's eyes.

"You do not know who John Poindexter is, and what he has done to me and
mine? They have kept their promise well, too well, but God will accord
me strength to tell you what has been left unsaid by them. He would not
bring me up to this hour to let me perish before you have heard the
story destined to make you the avenger of innocence upon that enemy of
your race. Listen, Thomas. With the hand of death encircling my heart, I
speak, and if the story find you cold--But it will not. Your name is
Cadwalader, and it will not."

Constrained by passions such as he had never imagined even in dreams,
Thomas fell upon his knees. He could not listen otherwise. His father,
gasping for breath, fixed him with his hollow eyes, in which the last
flickering flames of life flared up in fitful brightness.

"Thomas"--the pause was brief--"you are not my only child."

"I know it," fell from Thomas's white lips. "I have a brother; his name
is Felix."

The father shook his head with a look suggestive of impatience.

"Not him! Not him!" he cried. "A sister! a sister, who died before you
were born--beautiful, good, with a voice like an angel's and a
heart--she should be standing by my side to-day, and she would have been
if--if he--but none of that. I have no breath to waste. Facts, facts,
just facts! Afterward may come emotions, hatred, denunciation, not now.
This is my story, Thomas.

"John Poindexter and I were friends. From boyhood we shared each other's
bed, food, and pleasures, and when he came to seek his fortune in
America I accompanied him. He was an able man, but cold. I was of an
affectionate nature, but without any business capacity. As proof of
this, in fifteen years he was rich, esteemed, the master of a fine
house, and the owner of half a dozen horses; while I was the same nobody
I had been at first, or would have been had not Providence given me two
beautiful children and blessed, or rather cursed, me with the friendship
of this prosperous man. When Felix was fourteen and Evelyn three years
older, their mother died. Soon after, the little money I had vanished in
an unfortunate enterprise, and life began to promise ill, both for
myself and for my growing children. John Poindexter, who was honest
enough then, or let me hope so, and who had no children of his own,
though he had been long married, offered to take one of mine to educate.
But I did not consent to this till the war of the rebellion broke out;
then I sent him both son and daughter, and went into the army. For four
years I fought for the flag, suffering all that a man can suffer and
live, and being at last released from Libby Prison, came home with a
heart full of gratitude and with every affection keyed up by a long
series of unspeakable experiences, to greet my son and clasp once more
within my wasted arms the idolized form of my deeply loved daughter.
What did I find? A funeral in the streets--hers--and Felix, your
brother, walking like a guard between her speechless corpse and the man
under whose protection I had placed her youth and innocence.

"Betrayed!" shrieked the now frenzied parent, rising on his pillow. "Her
innocence! Her sweetness! And he, cold as the stone we laid upon her
grave, had seen her perish with the anguish and shame of it, without a
sign of grief or a word of contrition."

"O God!" burst from lips the old man was watching with frenzied cunning.

"Ay, God!" repeated the father, shaking his head as if in defiance
before he fell back on his pillow. "He allowed it and I--But this does
not tell the story. I must keep to facts as Felix did--Felix, who was
but fifteen years old and yet found himself the only confidant and
solace of this young girl betrayed by her protector. It was after her
burial----"

"Cease!" cried a voice, smooth, fresh, and yet strangely commanding,
from over Thomas's shoulder. "Let me tell the rest. No man can tell the
rest as I can."

"Felix!" ejaculated Amos Cadwalader below his breath.

"Felix!" repeated Thomas, shaken to his very heart by this new presence.
But when he sought to rise, to turn, he felt the pressure of a hand on
his shoulder and heard that voice again, saying softly, but
peremptorily:

"Wait! Wait till you hear what I have to say. Think not of me, think
only of her. It is she you are called upon to avenge; your sister,
Evelyn."

Thomas yielded to him as he had to his father. He sank down beneath that
insistent hand, and his brother took up the tale.

"Evelyn had a voice like a bird. In those days before father's return,
she used to fill old John Poindexter's house with melody. I, who, as a
boy, was studious, rather than artistic, thought she sang too much for a
girl whose father was rotting away in a Southern prison. But when about
to rebuke her, I remembered Edward Kissam, and was silent. For it was
his love which made her glad, and to him I wished every happiness, for
he was good, and honest, and kind to me. She was eighteen then, and
beautiful, or so I was bound to believe, since every man looked at her,
even old John Poindexter, though he never looked at any other woman, not
even his own wife. And she was good, too, and pure, I swear, for her
blue eyes never faltered in looking into mine until one day when--my
God! how well I remember it!--they not only faltered, but shrank before
me in such terror, that, boy though I was, I knew that something
terrible, something unprecedented had happened, and thinking my one
thought, I asked if she had received bad news from father. Her answer
was a horrified moan, but it might have been a shriek. 'Our father! Pray
God we may never see him or hear from him again. If you love him, if you
love me, pray he may die in prison rather than return here to see me as
I am now.'

"I thought she had gone mad, and perhaps she had for a moment; for at my
look of startled distress a change took place in her. She remembered my
youth, and laughing, or trying to laugh away her frenzy, uttered some
hurried words I failed to understand, and then, sinking at my knee, laid
her head against my side, crying that she was not well; that she had
experienced for a long time secret pains and great inward distress, and
that she sometimes feared she was not going to live long, for all her
songs and merry ways and seeming health and spirits.

"'Not live, Evelyn?' It was an inconceivable thought to me, a boy. I
looked at her, and seeing how pale, how incomprehensibly pale she was,
my heart failed me, for nothing but mortal sickness could make such a
change in any one in a week, in a day. Yet how could death reach her,
loved as she was by Edward, by her father, and by me. Thinking to rouse
her, I spoke the former's name. But it was the last word I should have
uttered. Crouching as if I had given her a blow, she put her two hands
out, shrieking faintly: 'Not that! Never that! Do not speak his name.
Let me never hear of him or see him again. I am dead--do you not
understand me?--dead to all the world from this day--except to you!' she
suddenly sobbed, 'except to you!' And still I did not comprehend her.
But when I understood, as I soon did, that no mention was to be made of
her illness; that her door was to be shut and no one allowed to enter,
not even Mrs. Poindexter or her guardian--least of all, her guardian--I
began to catch the first intimation of that horror which was to end my
youth and fill my whole after life with but one thought--revenge. But I
said nothing, only watched and waited. Seeing that she was really ill, I
constituted myself her nurse, and sat by her night and day till her
symptoms became so alarming that the whole household was aroused and we
could no longer keep the doctor from her. Then I sat at her door, and
with one ear turned to catch her lightest moan, listened for the step
she most dreaded, but which, though it sometimes approached, never
passed the opening of the hall leading to her chamber. For one whole
week I sat there, watching her life go slowly out like a flame, with
nothing to feed it; then as the great shadow fell, and life seemed
breaking up within me, I dashed from the place, and confronting him
where I found him walking, pale and disturbed, in his own hall, told him
that my father was coming; that I had had a dream, and in that dream I
had seen my father with his face turned toward this place. Was he
prepared to meet him? Had he an answer ready when Amos Cadwalader should
ask him what had become of his child?

"I had meant to shock the truth from this man, and I did so. As I
mentioned my father's name, Poindexter blanched, and my fears became
certainty. Dropping my youthful manner, for I was a boy no longer, I
flung his crime in his face, and begged him to deny it if he could. He
could not, but he did what neither he nor any other man could do in my
presence now and live--he smiled. Then when he saw me crouching for a
spring--for, young as I was, I knew but one impulse, and that was to fly
at his throat--he put out his powerful hand, and pinning me to the
ground, uttered a few short sentences in my ear.

"They were terrible ones. They made me see that nothing I might then do
could obliterate the fact that she was lost if the world knew what I
knew, or even so much as suspected it; that any betrayal on my part or
act of contrition on his would only pile the earth on her innocent
breast and sink her deeper and deeper into the grave she was then
digging for herself; that all dreams were falsities; that Southern
prisons seldom gave up their victims alive; and that if my father should
escape the jaws of Libby and return, it was for me to be glad if he
found a quiet grave instead of a dishonored daughter. Further, that if I
crossed him, who was power itself, by any boyish exhibition of hate, I
would find that any odium I might invoke would fall on her and not on
him, making me an abhorrence, not only to the world at large, but to the
very father in whose interest I might pretend to act.

"I was young and without worldly experience. I yielded to these
arguments, but I cursed him where he stood. With his hand pressing
heavily upon me, I cursed him to his face; then I went back to my
sister.

"Had she, by some supernatural power, listened to our talk, or had she
really been visited by some dream, that she looked so changed? There was
a feverish light in her eye, and something like the shadow of a smile on
her lips. Mrs. Poindexter was with her; Mrs. Poindexter, whose face was
a mask we never tried to penetrate. But when she had left us alone
again, then Evelyn spoke, and I saw what her dream had been.

"'Felix,' she cried as I approached her trembling with my own emotions
and half afraid of hers, 'there is still one hope for me. It has come to
me while you have been away. Edward--he loves me--did--perhaps he would
forgive. If he would take me into his protection (I see you know it all,
Felix) then I might grow happy again--well--strong--good. Do you
think--oh, you are a child, what do you know?--but--but before I turn my
face forever to the wall try if he will see me--try, try--with your
boy's wit--your clever schemes, to get him here unknown to--to--the one
I fear, I hate--and then, then, if he bids me live, I will live, and if
he bids me die, I will die; and all will be ended.'

"I was an ignorant boy. I knew men no more than I knew women, and
yielding to her importunities, I promised to see Edward and plan for an
interview without her guardian's knowledge. I was, as Evelyn had said,
keen in those days and full of resources, and I easily managed it.
Edward, who had watched from the garden as I had from the door, was
easily persuaded to climb her lattice in search of what he had every
reason to believe would be his last earthly interview with his darling.
As his eager form bounded into the room I tottered forth, carrying with
me a vision of her face as she rose to meet--what? I dared not think or
attempt to foresee. Falling on my knees I waited the issue. Alas! It was
a speedy one. A stifled moan from her, the sound of a hoarse farewell
from him, told me that his love had failed her, and that her doom was
sealed. Creeping back to her side as quickly as my failing courage
admitted, I found her face turned to the wall, from which it never again
looked back; while presently, before the hour was passed, shouts ringing
through the town proclaimed that young Kissam had shot himself. She
heard, and died that night. In her last hour she had fancies. She
thought she saw her father, and her prayers for mercy were
heart-rending. Then she thought she saw him, that demon, her
executioner, and cringed and moaned against the wall.

"But enough of this. Two days after, I walked between him and her silent
figure outstretched for burial. I had promised that no eye but mine
should look upon her, no other hand touch her, and I kept my word, even
when the impossible happened and her father rose up in the street before
us. Quietly, and in honor, she was carried to her grave, and then--then,
in the solitude of the retreat I had found for him, I told our father
all, and why I had denied him the only comfort which seemed left to
him--a last look at his darling daughter's face."



CHAPTER II.

THE OATH.


A sigh from the panting breast of Amos Cadwalader followed these words.
Plainer than speech it told of a grief still fresh and an agony still
unappeased, though thirty years had passed away since the unhappy hour
of which Felix spoke.

Felix, echoing it, went quickly on:

"It was dusk when I told my story, and from dark to dawn we sat with
eyes fixed on each other's face, without sleep and without rest. Then we
sought John Poindexter.

"Had he shunned us we might have had mercy, but he met us openly,
quietly, and with all the indifference of one who cannot measure
feeling, because he is incapable of experiencing it himself. His first
sentence evinced this. 'Spare yourselves, spare me all useless
recriminations. The girl is dead; I cannot call her back again. Enjoy
your life, your eating and your drinking, your getting and your
spending; it is but for a few more years at best. Why harp on old
'griefs?' His last word was a triumph. 'When a man cares for nothing or
nobody, it is useless to curse him.'

"Ah, that was it! That was the secret of his power. He cared for nothing
and for no one, not even for himself. We felt the blow, and bent under
it. But before leaving him and the town, we swore, your father and I,
that we would yet make that cold heart feel; that some day, in some way,
we would cause that impassive nature to suffer as he had made us suffer,
however happy he might seem or however closely his prosperity might
cling to him. That was thirty years ago, and that oath has not yet been
fulfilled."

Felix paused. Thomas lifted his head, but the old man would not let him
speak. "There are men who forget in a month, others who forget in a
year. I have never forgotten, nor has Felix here. When you were born (I
had married again, in the hope of renewed joy) I felt, I know not why,
that Evelyn's avenger was come. And when, a year or so after this event,
we heard that God had forgotten John Poindexter's sins, or, perhaps,
remembered them, and that a child was given him also, after eighteen
years of married life, I looked upon your bonny face and saw--or thought
I saw--a possible means of bringing about the vengeance to which Felix
and I had dedicated our lives.

"You grew; your ardent nature, generous temper, and facile mind promised
an abundant manhood, and when your mother died, leaving me for a second
time a widower, I no longer hesitated to devote you to the purpose for
which you seemed born. Thomas, do you remember the beginning of that
journey which finally led you far from me? How I bore you on my shoulder
along a dusty road, till arrived within sight of his home, I raised you
from among the tombs and, showing you those distant gables looming black
against the twilight's gold, dedicated you to the destruction of
whatever happiness might hereafter develop under his infant's smile? You
do? I did not think you could forget; and now that the time has come for
the promise of that hour to be fulfilled, I call on you again, Thomas.
Avenge our griefs, avenge your sister. _Poindexter's girl has grown to
womanhood._"

At the suggestion conveyed in these words Thomas recoiled in horror. But
the old man failed to read his emotion rightly. Clutching his arm, he
proceeded passionately:

"Woo her! Win her! They do not know you. You will be Thomas Adams to
them, not Thomas Cadwalader. Gather this budding flower into your bosom,
and then--Oh, he must love his child! Through her we have our hand on
his heart. Make her suffer--she's but a country girl, and you have lived
in Paris--make her suffer, and if, in doing so, you cause him to blench,
then believe I am looking upon you from the grave I go to, and be happy;
for you will not have lived, nor will I have died, in vain."

He paused to catch his failing breath, but his indomitable will
triumphed over death and held Thomas under a spell that confounded his
instincts and made him the puppet of feelings which had accumulated
their force to fill him, in one hour, with a hate which it had taken his
father and brother a quarter of a century to bring to the point of
active vengeance.

"I shall die; I am dying now," the old man panted on. "I shall never
live to see your triumph; I shall never behold John Poindexter's eye
glaze with those sufferings which rend the entrails and make a man
question if there is a God in heaven. But I shall know it where I am. No
mounded earth can keep my spirit down when John Poindexter feels his
doom. I shall be conscious of his anguish and shall rejoice; and when in
the depths of darkness to which I go he comes faltering along my way----

"Boy, boy, you have been reared for this. God made you handsome; man has
made you strong; you have made yourself intelligent and accomplished.
You have only to show yourself to this country girl to become the master
of her will and affection, and these once yours, remember _me_!
_Remember Evelyn!_"

Never had Thomas been witness to such passion. It swept him along in a
burning stream against which he sought to contend and could not. Raising
his hand in what he meant as a response to that appeal, he endeavored to
speak, but failed. His father misinterpreted his silence, and bitterly
cried:

"You are dumb! You do not like the task; are virtuous, perhaps--you who
have lived for years alone and unhampered in Paris. Or you have
instincts of honor, habits of generosity that blind you to wrongs that
for a longer space than your lifetime have cried aloud to heaven for
vengeance. Thomas, Thomas, if you should fail me now----"

"He will not fail you," broke in the voice of Felix, calm, suave, and
insinuating. "I have watched him; I know him; he will not fail you."

Thomas shuddered; he had forgotten Felix, but as he heard these words he
could no longer delay looking at the man who had offered to stand his
surety for the performance of the unholy deed his father exacted from
him. Turning, he saw a man who in any place and under any roof would
attract attention, awake admiration and--yes, fear. He was not a large
man, not so large as himself, but the will that expressed itself in
frenzy on his father's lips showed quiet and inflexible in the gray eye
resting upon his own with a power he could never hope to evade. As he
looked and comprehended, a steel band seemed to compress his heart; yet
he was conscious at the same time that the personality before which he
thus succumbed was as elegant as his own and as perfectly trained in all
the ways of men and of life. Even the air of poverty which had shocked
him in his father's person and surroundings was not visible here. Felix
was both well and handsomely clad, and could hold his own as the elder
brother in every respect most insisted upon by the Parisian gentleman.
The long and, to Thomas, mysterious curtain of dark-green serge which
stretched behind him from floor to ceiling threw out his pale features
with a remarkable distinctness, and for an instant Thomas wondered if it
had been hung there for the purpose of producing this effect. But the
demand in his brother's face drew his attention, and, bowing his head,
he stammered:

"I am at your command, Felix. I am at your command, father. I cannot say
more. Only remember that I never saw Evelyn, that she died before I was
born, and that I----"

But here Felix's voice broke in, kind, but measured:

"Perhaps there is some obstacle we have not reckoned upon. You may
already love some woman and desire to marry her. If so, it need be no
impediment----"

But here Thomas's indignation found voice.

"No," said he; "I am heart-whole save for a few lingering fancies which
are fast becoming vanishing dreams."

He seemed to have lived years since entering this room.

"Your heart will not be disturbed now," commented Felix. "I have seen
the girl. I went there on purpose a year ago. She's as pale as a
snow-drop and as listless. You will not be obliged to recall to mind the
gay smiles of Parisian ladies to be proof against her charms."

Thomas shrugged his shoulders.

"She must be made to know the full intoxication of hope," Felix
proceeded in his clear and cutting voice. "To realize despair she must
first experience every delight that comes with satisfied love. Have you
the skill as well as heart to play to the end a rôle which will take
patience as well as dissimulation, courage as well as subtlety, and that
union of will and implacability which finds its food in tears and is
strengthened, rather than lessened, by the suffering of its victim?"

"I have the skill," murmured Thomas, "but----"

"You lack the incentive," finished Felix. "Well, well, we must have
patience with your doubts and hesitations. Our hate has been fostered by
memories of her whom, as you say, you have never seen. Look, then,
Thomas. Look at your sister as she was, as she is for us. Look at her,
and think of her as despoiled, killed, forgotten by Poindexter. Have you
ever gazed upon a more moving countenance, or one in which beauty
contends with a keener prophecy of woe?"

Not knowing what to expect, anticipating almost to be met by her shade,
Thomas followed the direction of his brother's lifted hand, and beheld,
where but a minute before that dismal curtain had hung, a blaze of
light, in the midst of which he saw a charming, but tragic, figure, such
as no gallery in all Europe had ever shown him, possibly because no
other limned face or form had ever appealed to his heart. It did not
seem a picture, it seemed her very self, a gentle, loving self that
breathed forth all the tenderness he had vainly sought for in his living
relatives; and falling at her feet, he cried out:

"Do not look at me so reproachfully, sweet Evelyn. I was born to avenge
you, and I will. John Poindexter shall never go down in peace to his
tomb."

A sigh of utter contentment came from the direction of the bed.

"Swear it!" cried his father, holding out his arms before him in the
form of a cross.

"Yes, swear it!" repeated Felix, laying his own hand on those crossed
arms.

Thomas drew near, and laid his hand beside that of Felix.

"I swear," he began, raising his voice above the tempest, which poured
gust after gust against the house. "I swear to win the affections of Eva
Poindexter, and then, when her heart is all mine, to cast her back in
anguish and contumely on the breast of John Poindexter."

"Good!" came from what seemed to him an immeasurable distance. Then the
darkness, which since the taking of this oath had settled over his
senses, fell, and he sank insensible at the feet of his dying father.

       *       *       *       *       *

Amos Cadwalader died that night; but not without one awful scene more.
About midnight he roused from the sleep which had followed the exciting
incidents I have just related, and glancing from Thomas to Felix,
sitting on either side of the bed, fixed his eyes with a strange gleam
upon the door.

"Ah!" he ejaculated, "a visitor! John Poindexter! He comes to ask my
forgiveness before I set out on my dismal journey."

The sarcasm of his tone, the courtesy of his manner, caused the hair to
stir on the heads of his two sons. That he saw his enemy as plainly as
he saw them, neither could doubt.

"Does he dread my meeting with Evelyn? Does he wish to placate me before
I am joined to that pathetic shade? He shall not be disappointed. I
forgive you, John Poindexter! I forgive you my daughter's shame, my
blighted life. I am dying; but I leave one behind who will not forgive
you. I have a son, an avenger of the dead, who yet lives to--to----"

He fell back. With these words, which seemed to seal Thomas to his task,
Amos Cadwalader died.



CHAPTER III.

EVA.


Felix had not inherited his father's incapacity for making money. In the
twenty years that had passed since Thomas had been abroad he had built
up a fortune, which he could not induce his father to share, but which
that father was perfectly willing to see devoted to their mutual
revenge. There was meaning, therefore, in the injunction Felix gave his
brother on his departure for Montgomery:

"I have money; spend it; spend what you will, and when your task is
completed, there will still be some left for your amusement."

Thomas bowed. "The laborer is worthy of his hire," was his thought. "And
you?" he asked, looking about the scanty walls, which seemed to have
lost their very excuse for being now that his father had died. "Will you
remain here?"

Felix's answer was abrupt, but positive. "No; I go to New York
to-morrow. I have rented a house there, which you may one day wish to
share. The name under which I have leased it is Adams, Felix Adams. As
such you will address me. Cadwalader is a name that must not leave your
lips in Montgomery, nor must you forget that my person is known there,
otherwise we might not have been dependent on you for the success of our
revenge." And he smiled, fully conscious of being the handsomer man of
the two. "And now how about those introductions we enjoined you to bring
from Paris?"

       *       *       *       *       *

The history of the next few weeks can best be understood by reading
certain letters sent by Thomas to Felix, by examining a diary drawn up
by the same writer for his own relief and satisfaction. The letters will
be found on the left, and the diary on the right, of the double columns
hereby submitted. The former are a summary of facts; the latter is a
summary of feelings. Both are necessary to a right comprehension of the
situation.

       *       *       *       *       *


FIRST LETTER.

DEAR FELIX:

I am here; I have seen her. She is, as you have said, a pale blonde.
To-morrow I present my credentials to John Poindexter. From what I have
already experienced I anticipate a favorable reception.

Yours aff., THOMAS.


FIRST ENTRY.

I could not write Felix the true story of this day. Why? And why must I
write it here? To turn my mind from dwelling on it? Perhaps. I do not
seem to understand my own feelings, or why I begin to dread my task,
while ardently pressing forward to accomplish it.

I have seen her. This much I wrote to Felix, but I did not say where our
meeting took place or how. How could I? Would he understand how one of
Poindexter's blood could be employed in a gracious act, or how I, filled
with a purpose that has made my heart dark as hell ever since I embraced
it, could find that heart swell and that purpose sink at my first
glimpse of the face whose beauty I have sworn to devote to agony and
tears? Surely, surely Felix would have been stronger, and yet----

I went from the cars to the cemetery. Before entering the town or seeing
to my own comfort, I sought Evelyn's grave, there to renew my oath in
the place where, nineteen years ago, my father held me up, a
four-year-old child, in threat, toward John Poindexter's home. I had
succeeded in finding the old and neglected stone which marked her
resting-place, and was bending in the sunset light to examine it, when
the rustle of a woman's skirts attracted my attention, and I perceived
advancing toward me a young girl in a nimbus of rosy light which seemed
to lift her from the ground and give to her delicate figure and
strangely illumined head an ethereal aspect which her pure features and
tender bearing did not belie. In her arms she carried a huge cluster of
snow-white lilies, and when I observed that her eyes were directed not
on me, but on the grave beside which I stood, I moved aside into the
shadow of some bushes and watched her while she strewed these
flowers--emblems of innocence--over the grave I had just left.

What did it mean, and who was this young girl who honored with such
gracious memorials the grave of my long-buried sister? As she rose from
her task I could no longer restrain either my emotion or the curiosity
with which her act had inspired me. Advancing, I greeted her with all
the respect her appearance called for, and noting that her face was even
more beautiful when lifted in speech than when bent in gravity over her
flowers, I asked her, in the indifferent tone of a stranger, who was
buried in this spot, and why she, a mere girl, dropped flowers upon a
grave the mosses of whose stone proved it to have been dug long before
she was born.

Her answer caused me a shock, full as my life has lately been of
startling experiences. "I strew flowers here," said she, "because the
girl who lies buried under this stone had the same birthday as myself. I
never saw her, it's true, but she died in my father's house when she was
no older than I am to-day, and since I have become a woman and realize
what loss there is in dying young, I have made it a custom to share with
her my birthday flowers. She was a lily, they say, in appearance and
character, and so I bring her lilies."

It was Eva Poindexter, the girl I--And she was strewing flowers on
Evelyn's grave.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER II.

DEAR FELIX:

I have touched the hand of John Poindexter. In order to win a place in
the good graces of the daughter I must please the father, or at least
attract his favorable notice. I have reason to think I have done this.

Very truly, THOMAS.


ENTRY II.

I no longer feel myself a true man. John Poindexter is cold in
appearance, hard in manner, and inflexible in opinion, but he does not
inspire the abhorrence I anticipated nor awaken in me the one thought
due to the memory of my sister. Is it because he is Eva's father? Has
the loveliness of the daughter cast a halo about the parent? If so,
Felix has a right to execrate me and my father to----

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER III.

DEAR FELIX:

The introductions furnished me have made me received everywhere. There
is considerable wealth here and many fine houses. Consequently I find
myself in a congenial society, of which she is the star. Did I say that
he was, as of old, the chief man of the town?

Yours truly, THOMAS.


ENTRY III.

She is beautiful. She has the daintiness of the lily and the flush of
the rose. But it is not her beauty that moves me; it is the strange
sweetness of her nature, which, nevertheless, has no weakness in it; on
the contrary, it possesses peculiar strength, which becomes instantly
apparent at the call of duty. Could Felix have imagined such a
Poindexter? I cannot contemplate such loveliness and associate it with
the execrable sin which calls down vengeance upon this house. I cannot
even dwell upon my past life. All that is dark, threatening, secret, and
revengeful slips from me under her eye, and I dream of what is pure,
true, satisfying, and ennobling. And this by the influence of her smile,
rather than of her words. Have I been given an angel to degrade? Or am I
so blind as to behold a saint where others (Felix, let us say) would see
only a pretty woman with unexpected attractions?

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER IV.

DEAR FELIX:

Rides, dances, games, nonsense generally. My interest in this young girl
is beginning to be publicly recognized. She alone seems ignorant of it.
Sometimes I wonder if our scheme will fail through her impassibility and
more than conventional innocence. I am sometimes afraid she will never
love me. Yet I have exerted myself to please her. Indeed, I could not
have exerted myself more. To-day I went twenty-five miles on horseback
to procure her a trifle she fancied.

Yours aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY IV.

All will not go as easily as Felix imagines. Eva Poindexter may be a
country girl, but she has her standards, too, and mere grace and
attainment are not sufficient to win her. Have I the other qualities she
demands? That remains to be seen. I have one she never dreams of. Will
its shadow so overwhelm the rest that her naturally pure spirit will
shrink from me just at the moment when I think her mine? I cannot tell,
and the doubt creates a hell within me. Something deeper, stronger, more
imperious than my revenge makes the winning of this girl's heart a
necessity to me. I have forgotten my purpose in this desire. I have
forgotten everything except that she is the one woman of my life, and
that I can never rest till her heart is wholly mine. Good God! Have I
become a slave where I hoped to be master? Have I, Thomas Cadwalader,
given my soul into the keeping of this innocent girl? I do not even stop
to inquire. To win her--that is all for which I now live.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER V.

DEAR FELIX:

She may not care for me, but she is interested in no one else. Of this I
am assured by John Poindexter, who seems very desirous of aiding me in
my attempt to win his daughter's heart. Hard won, close bound. If she
ever comes to love me it will be with the force of a very strong nature.
The pale blonde has a heart.

Yours aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY V.

If it were passion only that I feel, I might have some hope of
restraining it. But it is something more, something deeper, something
which constrains me to look with her eyes, hear with her ears, and throb
with her heart. My soul, rather than my senses, is enthralled. I want to
win her, not for my own satisfaction, but to make her happy. I want to
prove to her that goodness exists in this world--I, who came here to
corrode and destroy; I, who am still pledged to do so. Ah, Felix, Felix,
you should have chosen an older man for your purpose, or remembered that
he who could be influenced as I was by family affections possesses a
heart too soft for such infamy.

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY VI.

The name of Evelyn is never mentioned in this house. Sometimes I think
that he has forgotten her, and find in this thought the one remaining
spur to my revenge. Forgotten her! Strange, that his child, born long
after his victim's death, should remember this poor girl, and he forget!
Yet on the daughter the blow is planned to fall--if it does fall. Should
I not pray that it never may? That she should loathe instead of love me?
Distrust, instead of confide in my honor and affection? But who can pray
against himself? Eva Poindexter must love me, even if I am driven to
self-destruction by my own remorse, after she has confided her heart to
my keeping.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VI.

DEAR FELIX:

Will you send me a few exquisite articles from Tiffany's? I see that her
father expects me to give her presents. I think she will accept them. If
she does, we may both rest easy as to the state of her affections.

Very truly, THOMAS.


ENTRY VII.

I cannot bring myself to pass a whole day away from her side. If Felix
were here and could witness my assiduity, he would commend me in his
cold and inflexible heart for the singleness with which I pursue my
purpose. He would say to me, in the language of one of his letters: "You
are not disappointing us." Us! As if our father still hovered near,
sharing our purposes and hope. Alas! if he does, he must penetrate more
deeply than Felix into the heart of this matter; must see that with
every day's advantage--and I now think each day brings its advantage--I
shrink further and further from the end they planned for me; the end
which can alone justify my advance in her affections. I am a traitor to
my oath, for I now know I shall never disappoint Eva's faith in me. I
could not. Rather would I meet my father's accusing eyes on the verge of
that strange world to which he has gone, or Felix's recriminations here,
or my own contempt for the weakness which has made it possible for me to
draw back from the brink of this wicked revenge to which I have devoted
myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VII.

DEAR FELIX:

This morning I passed under the window you have described to me as
Evelyn's. I did it with a purpose. I wanted to test my own emotions and
to see how much feeling it would arouse in me. Enough.

Eva accepted the brooch. It was the simplest thing you sent.

Aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY VIII.

I hate John Poindexter, yes, I hate him, but I can never hate his
daughter. Only Felix could so confound the father with the child as to
visit his anger upon this gentle embodiment of all that is gracious, all
that is trustworthy, all that is fascinating in woman. But am I called
upon to hate her? Am I not in a way required to love her? I will ask
Felix. No, I cannot ask Felix. He would never comprehend her charm or
its influence over me. He would have doubts and come at once to
Montgomery. Good God! Am I proving such a traitor to my own flesh and
blood that I cannot bear to think of Felix contemplating even in secret
the unsuspicious form of his enemy's daughter?

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER VIII.

DEAR FELIX:

A picnic on the mountains. It fell to me to escort Miss Poindexter down
a dangerous slope. Though no words of affection passed between us (she
is not yet ready for them), I feel that I have made a decided advance in
her good graces.

Yours, THOMAS.


ENTRY IX.

I have touched her hand! I have felt her sweet form thrilling against
mine as we descended the mountain ledges together! No man was near, no
eye--there were moments in which we were as much alone in the wide
paradise of these wooded slopes as if the world held no other breathing
soul. Yet I no more dared to press her hand, or pour forth the mad
worship of my heart into her innocent ears, than if the eyes of all
Paris had been upon us. How I love her! How far off and faint seem the
years of that dead crime my brother would invoke for the punishment of
this sweet soul! Yes, and how remote that awful hour in which I knelt
beneath the hand of my dying father and swore--Ah, that oath! That oath!

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY X.

The thing I dreaded, the thing I might have foreseen, has occurred.
Felix has made his appearance in Montgomery. I received a communication
to that effect from him to-day; a communication in which he commands me
to meet him to-night, at Evelyn's grave, at the witching hour of twelve.
I do not enjoy the summons. I have a dread of Felix, and begin to think
he calculates upon stage devices to control me. But the day has passed
for that. I will show him that I can be no more influenced in that place
and at that hour than I could be in this hotel room, with the sight of
her little glove--is there sin in such thefts?--lying on the table
before us. Evelyn! She is a sacred memory. But the dead must not
interfere with the living. Eva shall never be sacrificed to Evelyn's
manes, not if John Poindexter lives out his life to his last hour in
peace; not if Felix--well; I need to play the man; Felix is a formidable
antagonist to meet, alone, in a spot of such rancorous memories, at an
hour when spirits--if there be spirits--haunt the precincts of the tomb.

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY XI.

I should not have known Felix had I met him in the street. How much of a
stranger he appeared, then, in the faint moonlight which poured upon
that shaded spot! His very voice seemed altered, and in his manner I
remarked a hesitation I had not supposed him capable of showing under
any circumstances. Nor were his words such as I expected. The questions
I dreaded most he did not ask. The recriminations I looked for he did
not utter. He only told me coldly that my courtship must be shortened;
that the end for which we were both prepared must be hastened, and gave
me two weeks in which to bring matters to a climax. Then he turned to
Evelyn's grave, and bending down, tried to read her name on the mossy
stone. He was so long in doing this that I leaned down beside him and
laid my hand on his shoulder. He was trembling, and his body was as cold
as the stone he threw himself against. Was it the memory of her whom
that stone covered which had aroused this emotion? If so, it was but
natural. To all appearance he has never in all his life loved any one as
he did this unhappy sister; and struck with a respect for the grief
which has outlived many a man's lifetime, I was shrinking back when he
caught my hand, and with a convulsive strain, contrasting strongly with
his tone, which was strangely measured, he cried, "Do not forget the
end! Do not forget John Poindexter! his sin, his indifference to my
father's grief; the accumulated sufferings of years which made Amos
Cadwalader a hermit amongst men. I have seen the girl; she has
changed--women do change at her age--and some men, I do not say you, but
some men might think her beautiful. But beauty, if she has it, must not
blind your eyes, which are fixed upon another goal. Overlook it;
overlook her--you have done so, have you not? Pale beauties cannot move
one who has sat at the feet of the most dazzling of Parisian women. Keep
your eyes on John Poindexter, the debt he owes us, and the suffering we
have promised him. That she is sweet, gentle, different from all we
thought her, only makes the chances of reaching his heart the greater.
The worthier she may be of affections not indigenous to that hard soul,
the surer will be our grip upon his nature and the heavier his
downfall."

The old spell was upon me. I could neither answer nor assert myself.
Letting go my hand, he rose, and with his back to the village--I noticed
he had not turned his face to it since coming to this spot--he said: "I
shall return to New York to-morrow. In two weeks you will telegraph your
readiness to take up your abode with me. I have a home that will satisfy
you; and it will soon be all your own."

Here he gripped his heart; and, dark as it was, I detected a strange
convulsion cross his features as he turned into the moonlight. But it
was gone before we could descend.

"You may hear from me again," he remarked somewhat faintly as he grasped
my hand, and turned away in his own direction. I had not spoken a word
during the whole interview.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER IX.

DEAR FELIX:

I do not hear from you. Are you well, or did your journey affect your
health? I have no especial advance to report. John Poindexter seems
greatly interested in my courtship. Sometimes he gives me very good
advice. How does that strike you, Felix?

Aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY XII.

I shall never understand Felix. He has not left the town, but is staying
here in hiding, watching me, no doubt, to see if the signs of weakening
he doubtless suspects in me have a significance deep enough to overthrow
his planned revenge. I know this, because I have seen him more than once
during the last week, when he thought himself completely invisible. I
have caught sight of him in Mr. Poindexter's grounds when Eva and I
stood talking together in the window. I even saw him once in church, in
a dark corner, to be sure, but where he could keep his eye upon us,
sitting together in Mr. Poindexter's pew. He seemed to me thin that day.
The suspense he is under is wearing upon him. Is it my duty to cut it
short by proclaiming my infidelity to my oath and my determination to
marry the girl who has made me forget it?

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER X.

DEAR FELIX:

Miss Poindexter has told me unreservedly that she cares for me. Are you
satisfied with me now?

In haste, THOMAS.


ENTRY XIII.

She loves me. Oh, ecstasy of life! Eva Poindexter loves me. I forced it
from her lips to-day. With my arms around her and her head on my
shoulder, I urged her to confession, and it came. Now let Felix do what
he will! What is old John Poindexter to me? Her father. What are Amos
Cadwalader's hatred and the mortal wrong that called so loudly for
revenge? Dead issues, long buried sorrows, which God may remember, but
which men are bound to forget. Life, life with her! That is the future
toward which I look; that is the only vengeance I will take, the only
vengeance Evelyn can demand if she is the angel we believe her. I will
write to Felix to-morrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY XIV.

I have not written Felix. I had not the courage.

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY XV.

I have had a dream. I thought I saw the meeting of my father with the
white shade of Evelyn in the unimaginable recesses of that world to
which both have gone. Strange horrors, stranger glories met as their
separate paths crossed, and when the two forms had greeted and parted, a
line of light followed the footsteps of the one and a trail of gloom
those of the other. As their ways divided, I heard my father cry:

"There is no spot on your garments, Evelyn. Can it be that the wrongs of
earth are forgotten here? That mortals remember what the angels forget,
and that our revenge is late for one so blessed?"

I did not hear the answer, for I woke; but the echo of those words has
rung in my ears all day. "Is our revenge late for one so blessed?"

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY XVI.

I have summoned up courage. Felix has been here again, and the truth has
at last been spoken between us. I had been pressing Eva to name our
wedding day, and we were all standing--that is, John Poindexter, my dear
girl, and myself--in the glare of the drawing-room lights, when I heard
a groan, too faint for other ears to catch, followed by a light fall
from the window overlooking the garden. It was Felix. He had been
watching us, had seen my love, heard me talk of marriage, and must now
be in the grounds in open frenzy, or secret satisfaction, it was hard to
tell which. Determined to know, determined to speak, I excused myself on
some hurried plea, and searched the paths he knew as well as I. At last
I came upon him. He was standing near an old dial, where he had more
than once seen Eva and me together. He was very pale, deathly pale, it
seemed to me, in the faint starlight shining upon that open place; but
he greeted me as usual very quietly and with no surprise, almost, in
fact, as if he knew I would recognize his presence and follow him.

"You are playing your rôle well," said he; "too well. What was that I
heard about your marrying?"

The time had come. I was determined to meet it with a man's courage. But
I found it hard. Felix is no easy man to cross, even in small things,
and this thing is his life, nay, more--his past, present, and future
existence.

I do not know who spoke first. There was some stammering, a few broken
words; then I heard myself saying distinctly, and with a certain hard
emphasis born of the restraint I put upon myself:

"I love her! I want to marry her. You must allow this. Then----"

I could not proceed. I felt the shock he had received almost as if it
had been communicated to me by contact. Something that was not of the
earth seemed to pass between us, and I remember raising my hand as if to
shield my face. And then, whether it was the blowing aside of some
branches which kept the moonlight from us, or because my eyesight was
made clearer by my emotion, I caught one glimpse of his face and became
conscious of a great suffering, which at first seemed the wrenching of
my own heart, but in another moment impressed itself upon me as that of
his, Felix's.

I stood appalled.

My weakness had uprooted the one hope of his life, or so I thought; and
that he expressed this by silence made my heart yearn toward him for the
first time since I recognized him as my brother. I tried to stammer some
excuse. I was glad when the darkness fell again, for the sight of his
bowed head and set features was insupportable to me. It seemed to make
it easier for me to talk; for me to dilate upon the purity, the goodness
which had robbed me of my heart in spite of myself. My heart! It seemed
a strange word to pass between us two in reference to a Poindexter, but
it was the only one capable of expressing the feeling I had for this
young girl. At last, driven to frenzy by his continued silence, which
had something strangely moving in it, I cried:

"You have never loved a woman, Felix. You do not know what the passion
is when it seizes upon a man jaded with the hollow pleasures of an
irresponsible life. You cannot judge; therefore you cannot excuse. You
are made of iron----"

"Hush!" It was the first word he had spoken since I had opened my heart
to him. "You do not know what you are saying, Thomas. Like all egotists,
you think yourself alone in experience and suffering. Will you think so
when I tell you that there was a time in my life when I did not sleep
for weeks; when the earth, the air, yes, and the heavens were full of
nothing but her name, her face, her voice? When to have held her in my
arms, to have breathed into her ear one word of love, to have felt her
cheek fall against mine in confidence, in passion, in hope, would have
been to me the heaven which would have driven the devils from my soul
forever? Thomas, will you believe I do not know the uttermost of all you
are experiencing, when I here declare to you that there has been an hour
in my life when, if I had felt she could have been brought to love me, I
would have sacrificed Evelyn, my own soul, our father's hope, John
Poindexter's punishment, and become the weak thing you are to-day, and
gloried in it, I, Felix Cadwalader, the man of iron, who has never been
known to falter? But, Thomas, I overcame that feeling. I crushed down
that love, and I call upon you to do the same. You may marry her,
but----"

What stopped him? His own heart or my own impetuosity? Both, perhaps,
for at that moment I fell at his feet, and seizing his hand, kissed it
as I might a woman's. He seemed to grow cold and stiff under this
embrace, which showed both the delirium I was laboring under and the
relief I had gotten from his words. When he withdrew his hand, I feel
that my doom was about to be spoken, and I was not wrong. It came in
these words:

"Thomas, I have yielded to your importunity and granted you the
satisfaction which under the same circumstances I would have denied
myself. But it has not made me less hard toward you; indeed, the steel
with which you say my heart is bound seems tightening about it, as if
the momentary weakness in which I have indulged called for revenge.
Thomas, go on your way; make the girl your wife--I had rather you would,
since she is--what she is--but after she has taken your name, after she
believes herself secure in her honorable position and your love, then
you are to remember our compact and your oath--back upon John
Poindexter's care she is to be thrown, shortly, curtly, without
explanation or excuse; and if it costs you your life, you are to stand
firm in this attitude, using but one weapon in the struggle which may
open between you and her father, and that is, your name of Cadwalader.
You will not need any other. Thomas, do you swear to this? Or must I
direct my own power against Eva Poindexter, and, by telling her your
motive in courting her, make her hate you forever?"

"I will swear," I cried, overpowered by the alternative with which he
threatened me. "Give me the bliss of calling her mine, and I will follow
your wishes in all that concerns us thereafter."

"You will?" There was a sinister tone in this ejaculation that gave a
shock to my momentary complacency. But we are so made that an
anticipated evil affects us less than an immediate one; and remembering
that weeks must yet elapse, during which he or John Poindexter or even
myself might die, I said nothing, and he went icily on:

"I give you two months, alone and untrammelled. Then you are to bring
your bride to my house, there to hear my final decision. There is to be
no departure from this course. I shall expect you, Thomas; you and her.
You can say that you are going to make her acquainted with your
brother."

"I will be there," I murmured, feeling a greater oppression than when I
took the oath at my father's death-bed. "I will be there."

There was no answer. While I was repeating those four words, Felix
vanished.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XI.

DEAR FELIX:

Have a fresh draft made. I need cigars, clothes, and--a wedding ring.
But no, let me stop short there. We will be married without one, unless
you force it upon us. Eva's color is blue.

Very truly, Thomas.


ENTRY XVII.

To-day I wrote again to Felix. He is at home, must be, for I have
neither seen nor felt his presence since that fateful night. What did I
write? I don't remember. I seem to be living in a dream. Everything is
confused about me but Eva's face, Eva's smile. They are blissfully
clear. Sometimes I wish they were not. Were they confused amid these
shadows, I might have stronger hope of keeping my word to Felix. Now, I
shall never keep it. Eva once my wife, separation between us will become
impossible. John Poindexter is ill.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XII.

DEAR FELIX:

Congratulations: visits from my neighbors; all the éclat we could wish
or a true lover hate. The ring you sent fits as if made for her. I am
called in all directions by a thousand duties. I am on exhibition, and
every one's curiosity must be satisfied.

In haste, THOMAS.


ENTRY XVIII.

The wedding is postponed. John Poindexter is very ill. Pray God, Felix
hears nothing of this. He would come here; he would confront his enemy
on his bed of sickness. He would denounce him, and Eva would be lost to
me.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XIII.

DEAR FELIX:

Eva is not pleased with the arrangements which have been made for our
wedding. John Poindexter likes show; she does not. Which will carry the
day?

Yours aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY XIX.

Mr. Poindexter is better, but our plans will have to be altered. We now
think we will be married quietly, possibly in New York.

       *       *       *       *       *

LETTER XIV.

DEAR FELIX:

A compromise has been effected. The wedding will be a quiet one, but not
celebrated here. As you cannot wish to attend it, I will not mention the
place or hour of my marriage, only say that on September 27th at 4
P. M. you may expect my wife and myself at your house.

Aff., THOMAS.


ENTRY XX.

We have decided to be married in New York. Mr. Poindexter needs the
change, and Eva and I are delighted at the prospect of a private
wedding. Then we will be near Felix, but not to subject ourselves to his
will. Oh, no!

       *       *       *       *       *

ENTRY XXI.

Married! She is mine. And now to confront Felix with my determination to
hold on to my happiness. How I love her, and how I pity him! John
Poindexter's wickedness is forgotten, Evelyn but a fading memory. The
whole world seems to hold but three persons--Eva, Felix, and myself. How
will it end? We meet at his home to-morrow.



CHAPTER IV.

FELIX.


Meanwhile there was another secret struggle going on in the depth of a
nature from which all sympathy was excluded both by the temperament of
the person concerned and the circumstances surrounding him.

I can but hint at it. Some tragedies lie beyond the ken of man, and this
one we can but gather from stray scraps of torn-up letters addressed to
no one and betraying their authorship only through the writer's hand.
They were found long after the mystery of Felix Cadwalader's death had
been fully accounted for, tucked away under the flooring of Bartow's
room. Where or how procured by him, who can tell?

       *       *       *       *       *

"Madness!

"I have seen Eva Poindexter again, and heaven and hell have contended
for me ever since. Eva! Eva! the girl I thought of only as our prey. The
girl I have given to my brother. She is too lovely for him: she is too
lovely for any man unless it be one who has never before thrilled to any
woman's voice, or seen a face that could move his passions or awaken his
affection. Is it love I feel? Can I, Felix, who have had but one
thought, known but one enthusiasm, retain in this breast of iron a spot
however secret, however small, which any woman, least of all his
daughter, could reach? Never! I am the prey of frenzy or the butt of
devils. Yet only the inhabitants of a more celestial sphere brighten
around me when I think of those half-raised eyes, those delicately
parted lips, so devoid of guile, that innocent bearing, and the divine
tenderness, mingled with strength, by which she commands admiration and
awakens love. I must fly. I must never see her again. Thomas's purpose
is steady. He must never see that mine rocks like an idol smitten by a
thunderbolt.

"If Thomas had not been reared in Paris, he too--But I am the only weak
one. Curses on my----

"Did I say I would fly? I cannot, not yet. One more glimpse of her face,
if only to satisfy myself that I have reason for this madness. Perhaps I
was but startled yesterday to find a celestial loveliness where I
expected to encounter pallid inanity. If my emotion is due to my own
weakness rather than to her superiority, I had better recognize my folly
before it proves my destruction.

I will stay and----

Thomas will not, shall not----

dexter's daughter----

hate, hate for Thom----

"My self-esteem is restored. I have seen her again--him--they were
together--there was true love in his eye--how could I expect him not to
love her--and I was able to hide my anguish and impose his duty on him.
She loves him--or he thinks so--and the work goes on. But I will not
stay to watch its accomplishment. No, no.

"I told him my story to-night, under the guise of a past experience. Oh,
the devils must laugh at us men! They have reason to. Sometimes I wonder
if my father in the clearness of his new vision does not join them in
their mirth.

"Home with my unhappy secret! Home, where nothing comes to distract me
from my gnawing griefs and almost intolerable thoughts. I walk the
floors. I cry aloud her name. I cry it even under the portrait of
Evelyn. There are moments when I am tempted to write to Thomas--to
forbid him----

"Eva! Eva! Eva! Every fibre in my miserable body utters the one word.
But no man shall ever know. Thomas shall never know how the thought of
her fills my days and nights, making my life a torment and the
future----

"I wait for his letters (scanty they are and cold) as the doomed
criminal awaits his executioner. Does she really love him? Or will that
exquisite, that soulful nature call for a stronger mate, a more
concentrated temperament, a--a----

"I thought I saw in one of my dark hours my father rising up from his
grave to curse me. Oh! he might curse on if----

"What have I said about no man knowing? Bartow knows. In his dumbness,
his deafness, he has surprised my secret, and shows that he has done so
by his peering looks, his dissatisfied ways, and a jealousy at which I
could shout aloud in mirth, if I were not more tempted to shriek aloud
in torment. A dumb serving-man, picked up I have almost forgotten where,
jealous of my weakness for John Poindexter's daughter! He was never
jealous of my feeling for Evelyn. Yet till the day I dared fate by
seeking out and looking for the second time upon the woman whose charms
I had scorned, her name often resounded through these rooms, and my eyes
dwelt upon but one spot, and that was where her picture hangs in the
woeful beauty which has become my reproach.

"I have had a great surprise. The starling, which has been taught to
murmur Evelyn's name, to-day shrieked out, 'Eva! Eva!' My first impulse
was to wring its neck, my next to take it from its cage and hide it in
my bosom. But I did neither. I am still a man.

"Bartow will wring that bird's neck if I do not. This morning I caught
him with his hand on the cage and a murderous light in his eye, which I
had no difficulty in understanding. Yet he cannot hear the word the
wretched starling murmurs. He only knows it is a word, a name, and he is
determined to suppress it. Shall I string the cage up out of this old
fellow's reach? His deafness, his inability to communicate with others,
the exactness with which he obeys my commands as given him by my colored
slides, his attention to my every wish, consequent upon his almost
animal love for my person, are necessary to me now, while the bird--Ah!
there it goes again, 'Eva! Eva!'

"Is it hate or love I feel, abhorrence or passion? Love would seek to
save, but I have no thought of saving her, since she has acknowledged
her love for Thomas, and since he--Oh, it is not now for Evelyn's sake I
plan revenge, but for my own! These nights and days of torture--the
revelation I have had of my own nature--the consent I was forced to give
to a marriage which means bliss to them and anguish beyond measure to
me--all this calls for vengeance, and they will not escape, these two. I
have laid my plans deep. I have provided for every contingency. It has
taken time, thought, money. But the result is good. If they cross the
threshold of my circular study, they must consent to my will or perish
here, and I with them. Oh, they shall never live and be happy! Thomas
need not think it. John Poindexter need not think it! I might have
forgotten the oath made on my father's crossed arms, but I will never
forget the immeasurable griefs of these past months or the humiliation
they have brought me. My own weakness is to be avenged--my unheard-of,
my intolerable weakness. Remember Evelyn? Remember Felix! Ah, again!
Eva! Eva! Eva!"



CHAPTER V.

WHY THE IRON SLIDE REMAINED STATIONARY.


The rest must be told in Thomas's own words, as it forms the chief part
of the confession he made before the detectives:

According to my promise, I took my young wife to Felix's house on the
day and at the hour proposed. We went on foot, for it was not far from
the hotel where we were then staying, and were received at the door by
an old servant who I had been warned could neither speak nor hear. At
sight of him and the dim, old-fashioned hall stretching out in
aristocratic gloom before us, Eva turned pale and cast me an inquiring
look. But I reassured her with a smile that most certainly contradicted
my own secret dread of the interview before us, and taking her on my
arm, followed the old man down the hall, past the open drawing-room door
(where I certainly thought we should pause), into a room whose plain
appearance made me frown, till Bartow, as I have since heard him called,
threw aside the portière at one end and introduced us into my brother's
study, which at that moment looked like fairyland, or would have, if
Felix, who was its sole occupant, had not immediately drawn our
attention to himself by the remarkable force of his personality, never
so impressive as at that moment.

Eva, to whom I had said little of this brother, certainly nothing which
would lead her to anticipate seeing either so handsome a man or one of
such mental poise and imposing character, looked frightened and a trifle
awe-struck. But she advanced quite bravely toward him, and at my
introduction smiled with such an inviting grace that I secretly expected
to see him more or less disarmed by it.

And perhaps he was, for his already pale features turned waxy in the
yellow glare cast by the odd lantern over our heads, and the hand he had
raised in mechanical greeting fell heavily, and he could barely stammer
out some words of welcome. These would have seemed quite inadequate to
the occasion if his eyes which were fixed on her face, had not betrayed
the fact that he was not without feeling, though she little realized the
nature of that feeling or how her very life (for happiness is life) was
trembling in the balance under that indomitable will.

I who did know--or thought I did--cast him an imploring glance, and,
saying that I had some explanations to make, asked if Mrs. Adams might
not rest here while we had a few words apart.

He answered me with a strange look. Did he feel the revolt in my tone
and understand then as well as afterward what the nature of my
compliance had been? I shall never know. I only know that he stopped
fumbling with some small object on the table before him, and, bowing
with a sarcastic grace that made me for the first time in my intercourse
with him feel myself his inferior, even in size, led the way to a small
door I had failed to notice up to this moment.

"Your wife will find it more comfortable here," he observed, with slow
pauses in his speech that showed great, but repressed, excitement. And
he opened the door into what had the appearance of a small but elegant
sleeping-apartment. "What we have to say cannot take long. Mrs. Adams
will not find the wait tedious."

"No," she smiled, with a natural laugh, born, as I dare hope, of her
perfect happiness. Yet she could not but have considered the proceeding
strange, and my manner, as well as his, scarcely what might be expected
from a bridegroom introducing his bride to his only relative.

"I will call you--" I began, but the vision of her dimpled face above
the great cluster of roses she carried made me forget to complete my
sentence, and the door closed, and I found myself face to face with
Felix.

He was breathing easier, and his manner seemed more natural now that we
were alone, yet he did not speak, but cast a strange, if not inquiring,
glance about the room (the weirdest of apartments, as you all well
know), and seeming satisfied with what he saw, why I could not tell, led
the way up to the large table which from the first had appeared to exert
a sort of uncanny magnetism upon him, saying:

"Come further away. I need air, breathing place in this close room, and
so must you. Besides, why should she hear what we have to say? She will
know the worst soon enough. She seems a gentle-hearted woman."

"An angel!" I began, but he stopped me with an imperious gesture.

"We will not discuss your wi--Mrs. Adams," he protested. "Where is John
Poindexter?"

"At the hotel," I rejoined. "Or possibly he has returned home. I no
longer take account of his existence. Felix, I shall never leave my
wife. I had rather prove recreant to the oath I took before I realized
the worth of the woman whose happiness I vowed to destroy. This is what
I have come to tell you. Make it easy for me, Felix. You are a man who
has loved and suffered. Let us bury the past; let us----"

Had I hoped I could move him? Perhaps some such child's notion had
influenced me up to this moment. But as these words left my lips, nay,
before I had stumbled through them, I perceived by the set look of his
features, which were as if cast in bronze, that I might falter, but that
he was firm as ever, firmer, it seemed to me, and less easy to be
entreated.

Yet what of that? At the worst, what had I to fear? A struggle which
might involve Eva in bitter unpleasantness and me in the loss of a
fortune I had come to regard almost as my own. But these were petty
considerations. Eva must know sooner or later my real name and the story
of her father's guilt. Why not now? And if we must start life poor, it
was yet life, while a separation from her----

Meanwhile Felix had spoken, and in language I was least prepared to
hear.

"I anticipated this. From the moment you pleaded with me for the
privilege of marrying her, I have looked forward to this outcome and
provided against it. Weakness on the part of her bridegroom was to be
expected; I have, therefore, steeled myself to meet the emergency; for
your oath must be kept!"

Crushed by the tone in which these words were uttered, a tone that
evinced power against which any ordinary struggle would end in failure,
I cast my eyes about the room in imitation of what I had seen him do a
few minutes before. There was nothing within sight calculated to awaken
distrust, and yet a feeling of distrust (the first I had really felt)
had come with the look he had thrown above and around the mosque-like
interior of the room he called his study. Was it the calm confidence he
showed, or the weirdness of finding myself amid Oriental splendors and
under the influence of night effects in high day and within sound of the
clanging street cars and all the accompanying bustle of every-day
traffic? It is hard to say; but from this moment on I found myself
affected by a vague affright, not on my own account, but on hers whose
voice we could plainly hear humming a gay tune in the adjoining
apartment. But I was resolved to suppress all betrayal of uneasiness. I
even smiled, though I felt the eyes of Evelyn's pictured countenance
upon me; Evelyn's, whose portrait I had never lost sight of from the
moment of entering the room, though I had not given it a direct look and
now stood with my back to it. Felix, who faced it, but who did not raise
his eyes to it, waited a moment for my response, and finding that my
words halted, said again:

"That oath must be kept!"

This time I found words with which to answer. "Impossible!" I burst out,
flinging doubt, fear, hesitancy, everything I had hitherto trembled at
to the winds. "It was in my nature to take it, worked upon as I was by
family affection, the awfulness of our father's approaching death, and a
thousand uncanny influences all carefully measured and prepared for this
end. But it is not in my nature to keep it after four months of natural
living in the companionship of a man thirty years removed from his
guilt, and of his guileless and wholly innocent daughter. And you cannot
drive me to it, Felix. No man can force another to abandon his own wife
because of a wicked oath taken long before he knew her. If you think
your money----"

"Money?" he cried, with a contempt that did justice to my
disinterestedness as well as his own. "I had forgotten I had it. No,
Thomas, I should never weigh money against the happiness of living with
such a woman as your wife appears to be. But her life I might. Carry out
your threat; forget to pay John Poindexter the debt we owe him, and the
matter will assume a seriousness for which you are doubtless poorly
prepared. A daughter dead in her honeymoon will be almost as great a
grief to him as a dishonored one. And either dead or dishonored he must
find her, when he comes here in search of the child he cannot long
forget. Which shall it be? Speak!"

Was I dreaming? Was this Felix? Was this myself? And was it in my ears
these words were poured?

With a spring I reached his side where he stood close against the table,
and groaned rather than shrieked the words:

"You would not kill her! You do not meditate a crime of blood--here--on
her--the innocent--the good----"

"No," he said; "it will be you who will do that. You who will not wish
to see her languish--suffer--go mad--Thomas, I am not the raving being
you take me for. I am merely a keeper of oaths. Nay, I am more. I have
talents, skill. The house in which you find yourself is proof of this.
This room--see, it has no outlet save those windows, scarcely if at all
perceptible to you, above our heads, and that opening shielded now by a
simple curtain, but which in an instant, without my moving from this
place, I can so hermetically seal that no man, save he be armed with
crowbar and pickaxe, could enter here, even if man could know of our
imprisonment, in a house soon to be closed from top to bottom by my
departing servant."

"May God protect us!" fell from my lips, as, stiff with horror, I let my
eyes travel from his determined face, first to the windows high over my
head and then to the opening of the door, which, though but a few steps
from where I stood, was as far as possible from the room into which my
darling had been induced to enter.

Felix, watching me, uttered his explanations as calmly as if the matter
were one of every-day significance. "You are looking for the windows,"
he remarked. "They are behind those goblin faces you see outlined on the
tapestries under the ceiling. As for the door, if you had looked to the
left when you entered, you would have detected the edge of a huge steel
plate hanging flush with the casing. This plate can be made to slide
across that opening in an instant just by the touch of my hand on this
button. This done, no power save such as I have mentioned can move it
back again, not even my own. I have forces at my command for sending it
forward, but none for returning it to its place. Do you doubt my
mechanical skill or the perfection of the electrical apparatus I have
caused to be placed here? You need not, Thomas; nor need you doubt the
will that has only to exert itself for an instant to--Shall I press the
button, brother?"

"No, no!" I shouted in a frenzy, caused rather by my knowledge of the
nature of this man than any especial threat apparent in his voice or
gesture. "Let me think; let me know more fully what your requirements
are--what she must suffer if I consent--and what I."

He let his hand slip back, that smooth white hand which I had more than
once surveyed in admiration. Then he smiled.

"I knew you would not be foolish," he said. "Life has its charms even
for hermits like me; and for a _beau garçon_ such as you are----"

"Hush!" I interposed, maddened into daring his full anger. "It is not my
life I am buying, but hers, possibly yours; for it seems you have
planned to perish with us. Is it not so?"

"Certainly," was his cold reply. "Am I an assassin? Would you expect me
to live, knowing you to be perishing?"

I stared aghast. Such resolve, such sacrifice of self to an idea was
beyond my comprehension.

"Why--what?" I stammered. "Why kill us, why kill yourself----"

The answer overwhelmed me.

"Remember Evelyn!" shrilled a voice, and I paused, struck dumb with a
superstitious horror I had never believed myself capable of
experiencing. For it was not Felix who spoke, neither was it any
utterance of my own aroused conscience. Muffled, strange, and startling
it came from above, from the hollow spaces of that high vault lit with
the golden glow that henceforth can have but one meaning for me--death.

"What is it?" I asked. "Another of your mechanical contrivances?"

He smiled; I had rather he had frowned.

"Not exactly. A favorite bird, a starling. Alas! he but repeats what he
has heard echoed through the solitude of these rooms. I thought I had
smothered him up sufficiently to insure his silence during this
interview. But he is a self-willed bird, and seems disposed to defy the
wrappings I have bound around him; which fact warns me to be speedy and
hasten our explanations. Thomas, this is what I require: John
Poindexter--you do not know where he is at this hour, but I do--received
a telegram but now, which, if he is a man at all, will bring him to this
house in a half-hour or so from the present moment. It was sent in your
name, and in it you informed him that matters had arisen which demanded
his immediate attention; that you were on your way to your brother's
(giving him this address), where, if you found entrance, you would await
his presence in a room called the study; but that--and here you will see
how his coming will not aid us if that steel plate is once started on
its course--if the possible should occur and your brother should be
absent from home, then he was to await a message from you at the Plaza.
The appearance of the house would inform him whether he would find you
and Eva within; or so I telegraphed him in your name.

"Thomas, if Bartow fulfils my instructions--and I have never know him to
fail me--he will pass down these stairs and out of this house in just
five minutes. As he is bound on a long-promised journey, and as he
expects me to leave the house immediately after him, he has drawn every
shade and fastened every lock. Consequently, on his exit, the house will
become a tomb, to which, just two weeks from to-day, John Poindexter
will be called again, and in words which will lead to a demolition which
will disclose--what? Let us not forestall the future, our horrible
future, by inquiring. But Thomas, shall Bartow go? Shall I not by signs
he comprehends more readily than other men comprehend speech indicate to
him on his downward passage to the street that I wish him to wait and
open the door to the man whom we have promised to overwhelm in his hour
of satisfaction and pride? You have only to write a line--see! I have
made a copy of the words you must use, lest your self-command should be
too severely taxed. These words left on this table for his
inspection--for you must go and Eva remain--will tell him all he needs
to know from you. The rest can come from my lips after he has read the
signature, which in itself will confound him and prepare the way for
what I have to add. Have you anything to say against this plan?
Anything, I mean, beyond what you have hitherto urged? Anything that I
will consider or which will prevent my finger from pressing the button
on which it rests?"

I took up the paper. It was lying on the table, where it had evidently
been inscribed simultaneously with or just before our entrance into the
house, and slowly read the few lines I saw written upon it. You know
them, but they will acquire a new significance from your present
understanding of their purpose and intent:

     I return you back your daughter. Neither she nor you will ever see
     me again. Remember Evelyn!

     AMOS'S SON.

"You wish me to sign these words, to put them into my own handwriting,
and so to make them mine? Mine!" I repeated.

"Yes, and to leave them here on this table for him to see when he
enters. He might not believe any mere statement from me in regard to
your intentions."

I was filled with horror. Love, life, human hopes, the world's
friendships--all the possibilities of existence, swept in one
concentrated flood of thought and feeling through my outraged
consciousness, and I knew I could never put my name to such a blasphemy
of all that was sacred to man's soul. Tossing the paper in his face, I
cried:

"You have gone too far! Better her death, better mine, better the
destruction of us all, than such dishonor to the purest thing heaven
ever made. I refuse, Felix--I refuse. And may God have mercy on us all!"

The moment was ghastly. I saw his face change, his finger tremble where
it hovered above the fatal button; saw--though only in imagination as
yet--the steely edge of that deadly plate of steel advancing beyond the
lintel, and was about to dare all in a sudden grapple with this man,
when a sound from another direction caught my ear, and looking around in
terror of the only intrusion we could fear, beheld Eva advancing from
the room in which we had placed her.

That moment a blood-red glow took the place of the sickly yellow which
had hitherto filled every recess of this weird apartment. But I scarcely
noticed the change, save as it affected her pallor and gave to her
cheeks the color that was lacking in the roses at her belt.

Fearless and sweet as in the hour when she first told me that she loved
me, she approached and stood before us.

"What is this?" she cried. "I have heard words that sound more like the
utterances of some horrid dream than the talk of men and brothers. What
does it mean, Thomas? What does it mean, Mr. ----"

"Cadwalader," announced Felix, dropping his eyes from her face, but
changing not a whit his features or posture.

"Cadwalader?" The name was not to her what it was to her father.
"Cadwalader? I have heard that name in my father's house; it was
Evelyn's name, the Evelyn who----"

"Whom you see painted there over your head," finished Felix, "my sister,
Thomas's sister--the girl whom your father--but I spare you, child
though you be of a man who spared nothing. From your husband you may
learn why a Cadwalader can never find his happiness with a Poindexter.
Why thirty or more years after that young girl's death, you who were not
then born are given at this hour the choice between death and dishonor.
I allow you just five minutes in which to listen. After that you will
let me know your joint decision. Only you must make your talk where you
stand. A step taken by either of you to right or left, and Thomas knows
what will follow."

Five minutes, with such a justification to make, and such a decision to
arrive at! I felt my head swim, my tongue refuse its office, and stood
dumb and helpless before her till the sight of her dear eyes raised in
speechless trust to mine flooded me with a sense of triumph amid all the
ghastly terrors of the moment, and I broke out in a tumult of speech, in
excuses, explanations, all that comes to one in a more than mortal
crisis.

She listened, catching my meaning rather from my looks than my words.
Then as the minutes fled and my brother raised a warning hand, she
turned toward him, and said:

"You are in earnest? We must separate in shame or perish in this
prison-house with you?"

His answer was mere repetition, mechanical, but firm:

"You have said it. You have but one minute more, madam."

She shrank, and all her powers seemed leaving her, then a reaction came,
and a flaming angel stood where but a moment before the most delicate of
women weakly faltered; and giving me a look to see if I had the courage
or the will to lift my hand against my own flesh and blood (alas for us
both! I did not understand her) caught up an old Turkish dagger lying
only too ready to her hand, and plunged it with one sideways thrust into
his side, crying:

"We cannot part, we cannot die, we are too young, too happy!"

It was sudden; the birth of purpose in her so unexpected and so rapid
that Felix, the ready, who was prepared for all contingencies, for the
least movement or suggestion of escape, faltered and pressed, not the
fatal button, but his heart.

One impulsive act on the part of a woman had overthrown all the
fine-spun plans of the subtlest spirit that ever attempted to work its
will in the face of God and man.

But I did not think of this then; I did not even bestow a thought upon
the narrowness of our escape, or the price which the darling of my heart
might be called upon to pay for this supreme act of self-defence. My
mind, my heart, my interest were with Felix, in whom the nearness of
death had called up all that was strongest and most commanding in his
strong and commanding spirit.

Though struck to the heart, he had not fallen. It was as if the will
which had sustained him through thirty years of mental torture held him
erect still, that he might give her, Eva, one look, the like of which I
had never seen on mortal face, and which will never leave my heart or
hers until we die. Then as he saw her sink shudderingly down and the
delicate woman reappear in her pallid and shrunken figure, he turned his
eyes on me and I saw,--good God!--a tear well up from those orbs of
stone and fall slowly down his cheek, fast growing hollow under the
stroke of death.

"Eva! Eva! I love Eva!" shrilled the voice which once before had
startled me from the hollow vault above.

Felix heard, and a smile faint as the failing rush of blood through his
veins moved his lips and brought a revelation to my soul. He, too, loved
Eva!

When he saw I knew, the will which had kept him on his feet gave way,
and he sank to the floor murmuring:

"Take her away! I forgive. Save! Save! She did not know I loved her."

Eva, aghast, staring with set eyes at her work, had not moved from her
crouching posture. But when she saw that speaking head fall back, the
fine limbs settle into the repose of death, a shock went through her
which I thought would never leave her reason unimpaired.

"I've killed him!" she murmured. "I've killed him!" and looking wildly
about, her eyes fell on the cross that hung behind us on the wall. It
seemed to remind her that Felix was a Catholic. "Bring it!" she gasped.
"Let him feel it on his breast. It may bring him peace--hope."

As I rushed to do her bidding, she fell in a heap on the floor.

"Save!" came again from the lips we thought closed forever in death. And
realizing at the words both her danger and the necessity of her not
opening her eyes again upon this scene, I laid the cross in his arms,
and catching her up from the floor, ran with her out of the house. But
no sooner had I caught sight of the busy street and the stream of
humanity passing before us, than I awoke to an instant recognition of
our peril. Setting my wife down, I commanded life back into her limbs by
the force of my own energy, and then dragging her down the steps,
mingled with the crowd, encouraging her, breathing for her, living in
her till I got her into a carriage and we drove away.

For the silence we have maintained from that time to this you must not
blame Mrs. Adams. When she came to herself--which was not for days--she
manifested the greatest desire to proclaim her act and assume its
responsibility. But I would not have it. I loved her too dearly to see
her name bandied about in the papers; and when her father was taken into
our confidence, he was equally peremptory in enjoining silence, and
shared with me the watch I now felt bound to keep over her movements.

But alas! His was the peremptoriness of pride rather than love. John
Poindexter has no more heart for his daughter than he had for his wife
or that long-forgotten child from whose grave this tragedy has sprung.
Had Felix triumphed he would never have wrung the heart of this man. As
he once said, when a man cares for nothing and nobody, not even for
himself, it is useless to curse him.

As for Felix himself, judge him not, when you realize, as you now must,
that his last conscious act was to reach for and put in his mouth the
paper which connected Eva with his death. At the moment of death his
thought was to save, not to avenge. And this after her hand had struck
him.



CHAPTER VI.

ANSWERED.


A silence more or less surcharged with emotion followed this final
appeal. Then, while the various auditors of this remarkable history
whispered together and Thomas Adams turned in love and anxiety toward
his wife, the inspector handed back to Mr. Gryce the memorandum he had
received from him.

It presented the following appearance:

[Sidenote: Answered]

1. Why a woman who was calm enough to stop and arrange her hair during
the beginning of an interview should be wrought up to such a pitch of
frenzy and exasperation before it was over as to kill with her own hand
a man she had evidently had no previous grudge against. (Remember the
comb found on the floor of Mr. Adams's bedroom.)

[Sidenote: Answered]

2. What was the meaning of the following words, written just previous to
this interview by the man thus killed: "I return you your daughter.
Neither you nor she will ever see me again. Remember Evelyn!"

[Sidenote: Answered]

3. Why was the pronoun "I" used in this communication? What position did
Mr. Felix Adams hold toward this young girl qualifying him to make use
of such language after her marriage to his brother?

[Sidenote: Answered]

4. And having used it, why did he, upon being attacked by her, attempt
to swallow the paper upon which he had written these words, actually
dying with it clinched between his teeth?

[Sidenote: Answered]

5. If he was killed in anger and died as monsters do (her own word), why
did his face show sorrow rather than hate, and a determination as far as
possible removed from the rush of over-whelming emotions likely to
follow the reception of a mortal blow from the hand of an unexpected
antagonist?

[Sidenote: Answered]

6. Why, if he had strength to seize the above-mentioned paper and convey
it to his lips, did he not use that strength in turning on a light
calculated to bring him assistance, instead of leaving blazing the
crimson glow which, according to the code of signals as now understood
by us, means: "Nothing more required just now. Keep away?"

[Sidenote: Answered]

7. What was the meaning of the huge steel plate found between the
casings of the doorway, and why did it remain at rest within its socket
at this, the culminating, moment of his life?

[Sidenote: Answered]

8. An explanation of how old Poindexter came to appear on the scene so
soon after the event. His words as overheard were: "It is Amos' son, not
Amos!" Did he not know whom he was to meet in this house? Was the
condition of the man lying before him with a cross on his bosom and a
dagger in his heart less of a surprise to him than the personality of
the victim?

[Sidenote: Not Answered]

9. Remember the conclusions we have drawn from Bartow's pantomime. Mr.
Adams was killed by a left-handed thrust. Watch for an acknowledgment
that the young woman is left-handed, and do not forget that an
explanation is due why for so long a time she held her other arm
stretched out behind her.

[Sidenote: Answered]

10. Why did the bird whose chief cry is "Remember Evelyn!" sometimes
vary it with "Poor Eva! Lovely Eva! Who would strike Eva?" The story of
this tragedy, to be true, must show that Mr. Adams knew his brother's
bride both long and well.

[Sidenote: Answered]

11. If Bartow is, as we think, innocent of all connection with this
crime save as witness, why does he show such joy at its result? This may
not reasonably be expected to fall within the scope of Thomas Adams's
confession, but it should not be ignored by us. This deaf-and-dumb
servitor was driven mad by the fact which caused him joy. Why?[2]

[Footnote 2: It must be remembered that the scraps of writing in Felix's
hand had not yet been found by the police. The allusions in them to
Bartow show him to have been possessed by a jealousy which probably
turned to delight when he saw his master smitten down by the object of
that master's love and his own hatred. How he came to recognize in the
bride of another man the owner of the name he so often saw hovering on
the lips of his master, is a question to be answered by more astute
students of the laws of perception than myself. Probably he spent much
of his time at the loophole on the stairway, studying his master till he
understood his every gesture and expression.]

[Sidenote: Answered]

12. Notice the following schedule. It has been drawn up after repeated
experiments with Bartow and the various slides of the strange lamp which
cause so many different lights to shine out in Mr. Adams's study:

    White light--Water wanted.
    Green light--Overcoat and hat to be brought.
    Blue light--Put back books on shelves.
    Violet light--Arrange study for the night.
    Yellow light--Watch for next light.
    Red light--Nothing wanted; stay away.

The last was on at the final scene. Note if this fact can be explained
by Mr. Adams's account of the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

Two paragraphs alone lacked complete explanation. The first, No. 9, was
important. The description of the stroke dealt by Mr. Adams's wife did
not account for this peculiar feature in Bartow's pantomime. Consulting
with the inspector, Mr. Gryce finally approached Mr. Adams and inquired
if he had strength to enact before them the blow as he had seen it dealt
by his wife.

The startled young man looked the question he dared not ask. In common
with others, he knew that Bartow had made some characteristic gestures
in endeavoring to describe this crime, but he did not know what they
were, as this especial bit of information had been carefully held back
by the police. He, therefore, did not respond hastily to the suggestion
made him, but thought intently for a moment before he thrust out his
left hand and caught up some article or other from the inspector's table
and made a lunge with it across his body into an imaginary victim at his
right. Then he consulted the faces about him with inexpressible anxiety.
He found little encouragement in their aspect.

"You would make your wife out left-handed," suggested Mr. Gryce. "Now I
have been watching her ever since she came into this place, and I have
seen no evidence of this."

"She is not left-handed, but she thrust with her left hand, because her
right was fast held in mine. I had seized her instinctively as she
bounded forward for the weapon, and the convulsive clutch of our two
hands was not loosed till the horror of her act made her faint, and she
fell away from me to the floor crying: 'Tear down the cross and lay it
on your brother's breast. I would at least see him die the death of a
Christian.'"

Mr. Gryce glanced at the inspector with an air of great relief. The
mystery of the constrained attitude of the right hand which made
Bartow's pantomime so remarkable was now naturally explained, and taking
up the blue pencil which the inspector had laid down, he wrote, with a
smile, a very decided "answered" across paragraph No. 9.



CHAPTER VII.

LAST WORDS.


A few minutes later Mr. Gryce was to be seen in the outer room, gazing
curiously at the various persons there collected. He was seeking an
answer to a question that was still disturbing his mind, and hoped to
find it there. He was not disappointed. For in a quiet corner he
encountered the amiable form of Miss Butterworth, calmly awaiting the
result of an interference which she in all probability had been an
active agent in bringing about.

He approached and smilingly accused her of this. But she disclaimed the
fact with some heat.

"I was simply there," she explained. "When the crisis came, when this
young creature learned that her husband had left suddenly for New York
in the company of two men, then--why then, it became apparent to every
one that a woman should be at her side who understood her case and the
extremity in which she found herself. And I was that woman."

"You are always that woman," he gallantly replied, "if by the phrase you
mean being in the right place at the right time. So you are already
acquainted with Mrs. Adams's story?"

"Yes; the ravings of a moment told me she was the one who had handled
the dagger that slew Mr. Adams. Afterward, she was able to explain the
cause of what has seemed to us such a horrible crime. When I heard her
story, Mr. Gryce, I no longer hesitated either as to her duty or mine.
Do you think she will be called upon to answer for this blow? Will she
be tried, convicted?"

"Madam, there are not twelve men in the city so devoid of intelligence
as to apply the name of crime to an act which was so evidently one of
self-defence. No true bill will be found against young Mrs. Adams. Rest
easy."

The look of gloom disappeared from Miss Butterworth's eyes.

"Then I may return home in peace," she cried. "It has been a desperate
five hours for me, and I feel well shaken up. Will you escort me to my
carriage?"

Miss Butterworth did not look shaken up. Indeed, in Mr. Gryce's
judgment, she had never appeared more serene or more comfortable. But
she was certainly the best judge of her own condition; and after
satisfying herself that the object of her care was reviving under the
solicitous ministrations of her husband, she took the arm which Mr.
Gryce held out to her and proceeded to her carriage.

As he assisted her in, he asked a few questions about Mr. Poindexter.

"Why is not Mrs. Adams's father here? Did he allow his daughter to leave
him on such an errand as this without offering to accompany her?"

The answer was curtness itself:

"Mr. Poindexter is a man without heart. He came with us to New York, but
refused to follow us to Police Headquarters. Sir, you will find that the
united passions of three burning souls, and a revenge the most deeply
cherished of any I ever knew or heard of, have been thrown away on a man
who is positively unable to suffer. Do not mention old John Poindexter
to me. And now, if you will be so good, tell the coachman to drive me to
my home in Gramercy Park. I have put my finger in the police pie for the
last time, Mr. Gryce--positively for the last time." And she sank back
on the carriage cushions with an inexorable look, which, nevertheless,
did not quite conceal a quiet complacency which argued that she was not
altogether dissatisfied with herself or the result of her interference
in matters usually considered at variance with a refined woman's natural
instincts.

Mr. Gryce, in repressing a smile, bowed lower even than his wont, and,
under the shadow of this bow, the carriage drove off. As he walked
slowly back, he sighed. Was he wondering if a case of similar interest
would ever bring them together again in consultation?


THE END.





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