The House of a Thousand Candles
Part 3 out of 6
the lack of variety in my grandfather’s library. I moved
about from shelf to shelf, taking down one book after
another, and while thus engaged came upon a series of
large volumes extra-illustrated in water-colors of unusual
beauty. They occupied a lower shelf, and I
sprawled on the floor, like a boy with a new picture-book,
in my absorption, piling the great volumes about me.
They were on related subjects pertaining to the French
In the last volume I found a sheet of white note-paper
no larger than my hand, a forgotten book-mark,
I assumed, and half-crumpled it in my fingers before I
noticed the lines of a pencil sketch on one side of it. I
carried it to the table and spread it out.
It was not the bit of idle penciling it had appeared
to be at first sight. A scale had evidently been followed
and the lines drawn with a ruler. With such trifles my
grandfather had no doubt amused himself. There was
a long corridor indicated, but of this I could make nothing.
I studied it for several minutes, thinking it might
have been a tentative sketch of some part of the house.
In turning it about under the candelabrum I saw that
in several places the glaze had been rubbed from the
paper by an eraser, and this piqued my curiosity. I
brought a magnifying glass to bear upon the sketch.
The drawing had been made with a hard pencil and the
eraser had removed the lead, but a well-defined imprint
I was able to make out the letters N. W. 3/4 to C.—
a reference clearly enough to points of the compass and
a distance. The word ravine was scrawled over a rough
outline of a doorway or opening of some sort, and then
THE DOOR OF BEWILDERMENT
Now I am rather an imaginative person; that is why
engineering captured my fancy. It was through his trying
to make an architect (a person who quarrels with
women about their kitchen sinks!) of a boy who wanted
to be an engineer that my grandfather and I failed to hit
it off. From boyhood I have never seen a great bridge or
watched a locomotive climb a difficult hillside without
a thrill; and a lighthouse still seems to me quite the
finest monument a man can build for himself. My
grandfather’s devotion to old churches and medieval
houses always struck me as trifling and unworthy of a
grown man. And fate was busy with my affairs that
night, for, instead of lighting my pipe with the little
sketch, I was strangely impelled to study it seriously.
I drew for myself rough outlines of the interior of
Glenarm House as it had appeared to me, and then I
tried to reconcile the little sketch with every part of
“The Door of Bewilderment” was the charm that held
me. The phrase was in itself a lure. The man who had
built a preposterous house in the woods of Indiana and
called it “The House of a Thousand Candles” was quite
capable of other whims; and as I bent over this scrap of
paper in the candle-lighted library it occurred to me
that possibly I had not done justice to my grandfather’s
genius. My curiosity was thoroughly aroused as to the
hidden corners of the queer old house, round which the
wind shrieked tormentingly.
I went to my room, put on my corduroy coat for its
greater warmth in going through the cold halls, took a
candle and went below. One o’clock in the morning is
not the most cheering hour for exploring the dark recesses
of a strange house, but I had resolved to have a
look at the ravine-opening and determine, if possible,
whether it bore any relation to “The Door of Bewilderment.”
All was quiet in the great cellar; only here and there
an area window rattled dolorously. I carried a tape-line
with me and made measurements of the length and
depth of the corridor and of the chambers that were set
off from it. These figures I entered in my note-book for
further use, and sat down on an empty nail-keg to reflect.
The place was certainly substantial; the candle
at my feet burned steadily with no hint of a draft; but
I saw no solution of my problem. All the doors along
the corridor were open, or yielded readily to my hand.
I was losing sleep for nothing; my grandfather’s sketch
was meaningless, and I rose and picked up my candle,
Then a curious thing happened. The candle, whose
thin flame had risen unwaveringly, sputtered and went
out as a sudden gust swept the corridor.
I had left nothing open behind me, and the outer
doors of the house were always locked and barred. But
some one had gained ingress to the cellar by an opening
of which I knew nothing.
I faced the stairway that led up to the back hall of the
house, when to my astonishment, steps sounded behind
me and, turning, I saw, coming toward me, a man carrying
a lantern. I marked his careless step; he was undoubtedly
on familiar ground. As I watched him he
paused, lifted the lantern to a level with his eyes and
began sounding the wall with a hammer.
Here, undoubtedly, was my friend Morgan,—again!
There was the same periodicity in the beat on the wall
that I had heard in my own rooms. He began at the
top and went methodically to the floor. I leaned
against the wall where I stood and watched the lantern
slowly coming toward me. The small revolver with
which I had fired at his flying figure in the wood was in
my pocket. It was just as well to have it out with the
fellow now. My chances were as good as his, though I
confess I did not relish the thought of being found dead
the next morning in the cellar of my own house. It
pleased my humor to let him approach in this way, unconscious
that he was watched, until I should thrust my
pistol into his face.
His arms grew tired when he was about ten feet from
me and he dropped the lantern and hammer to his side,
and swore under his breath impatiently.
Then he began again, with greater zeal. As he came
nearer I studied his face in the lantern’s light with interest.
His hat was thrust back, and I could see his jaw
hard-set under his blond beard.
He took a step nearer, ran his eyes over the wall and
resumed his tapping. The ceiling was something less
than eight feet, and he began at the top. In settling
himself for the new series of strokes he swayed toward
me slightly, and I could hear his hard breathing. I was
deliberating how best to throw myself upon him, but as
I wavered he stepped back, swore at his ill-luck and
flung the hammer to the ground.
“Thanks!” I shouted, leaping forward and snatching
the lantern. “Stand just where you are!”
With the revolver in my right hand and the lantern
held high in my left, I enjoyed his utter consternation,
as my voice roared in the corridor.
“It’s too bad we meet under such strange circumstances,
Morgan,” I said. “I’d begun to miss you; but
I suppose you’ve been sleeping in the daytime to gather
strength for your night prowling.”
“You’re a fool,” he growled. He was recovering from
his fright,—I knew it by the gleam of his teeth in his
yellow beard. His eyes, too, were moving restlessly
about. He undoubtedly knew the house better than I
did, and was considering the best means of escape. I
did not know what to do with him now that I had him
at the point of a pistol; and in my ignorance of his motives
and my vague surmise as to the agency back of
him, I was filled with uncertainty.
“You needn’t hold that thing quite so near,” he said,
staring at me coolly.
“I’m glad it annoys you, Morgan,” I said. “It may
help you to answer some questions I’m going to put to
“So you want information, do you, Mr. Glenarm? I
should think it would be beneath the dignity of a great
man like you to ask a poor devil like me for help.”
“We’re not talking of dignity,” I said. “I want you
to tell me how you got in here.”
“You’re a very shrewd one, Mr. Glenarm. I came in
by the kitchen window, if you must know. I got in before
your solemn jack-of-all-trades locked up, and I
walked down to the end of the passage there”—he indicated
the direction with a slight jerk of his head—
“and slept until it was time to go to work. You can
see how easy it was!”
I laughed now at the sheer assurance of the fellow.
“If you can’t lie better than that you needn’t try
again. Face about now, and march!”
I put new energy into my tone, and he turned and
walked before me down the corridor in the direction
from which he had come. We were, I dare say, a pretty
pair,—he tramping doggedly before me, I following at
his heels with his lantern and my pistol. The situation
had played prettily into my hands, and I had every intention
of wresting from him the reason for his interest
in Glenarm House and my affairs.
“Not so fast,” I admonished sharply.
“Excuse me,” he replied mockingly.
He was no common rogue; I felt the quality in him
with a certain admiration for his scoundrelly talents—
a fellow, I reflected, who was best studied at the point
of a pistol.
I continued at his heels, and poked the muzzle of the
revolver against his back from time to time to keep him
assured of my presence,—a device that I was to regret a
We were about ten yards from the end of the corridor
when he flung himself backward upon me, threw his
arms over his head and seized me about the neck, turning
himself lithely until his fingers clasped my throat.
I fired blindly once, and felt the smoke of the revolver
hot in my own nostrils. The lantern fell from
my hand, and one or the other of us smashed it with our
A wrestling match in that dark hole was not to my
liking. I still held on to the revolver, waiting for a
chance to use it, and meanwhile he tried to throw me,
forcing me back against one side and then the other of
With a quick rush he flung me away, and in the same
second I fired. The roar of the shot in the narrow corridor
seemed interminable. I flung myself on the floor,
expecting a return shot, and quickly enough a flash broke
upon the darkness dead ahead, and I rose to my feet,
fired again and leaped to the opposite side of the corridor
and crouched there. We had adopted the same tactics,
firing and dodging to avoid the target made by the flash
of our pistols, and watching and listening after the roar
of the explosions. It was a very pretty game, but destined
not to last long. He was slowly retreating toward
the end of the passage, where there was, I remembered,
a dead wall. His only chance was to crawl through an
area window I knew to be there, and this would, I felt
sure, give him into my hands.
After five shots apiece there was a truce. The pungent
smoke of the powder caused me to cough, and he
“Have you swallowed a bullet, Mr. Glenarm?” he
I could hear his feet scraping on the cement floor;
he was moving away from me, doubtless intending to
fire when he reached the area window and escape before
I could reach him. I crept warily after him, ready to
fire on the instant, but not wishing to throw away my
last cartridge. That I resolved to keep for close quarters
at the window.
He was now very near the end of the corridor; I
heard his feet strike some boards that I remembered
lay on the floor there, and I was nerved for a shot and
a hand-to-hand struggle, if it came to that.
I was sure that he sought the window; I heard his
hands on the wall as he felt for it. Then a breath of
cold air swept the passage, and I knew he must be
drawing himself up to the opening. I fired and dropped
to the floor. With the roar of the explosion I heard
him yell, but the expected return shot did not follow.
The pounding of my heart seemed to mark the passing
of hours. I feared that my foe was playing some
trick, creeping toward me, perhaps, to fire at close
range, or to grapple with me in the dark. The cold air
still whistled into the corridor, and I began to feel the
chill of it. Being fired upon is disagreeable enough,
but waiting in the dark for the shot is worse.
I rose and walked toward the end of the passage.
Then his revolver flashed and roared directly ahead,
the flame of it so near that it blinded me. I fell forward
confused and stunned, but shook myself together
in a moment and got upon my feet. The draft of air
no longer blew into the passage. Morgan had taken
himself off through the window and closed it after him.
I made sure of this by going to the window and feeling
of it with my hands.
I went back and groped about for my candle, which
I found without difficulty and lighted. I then returned
to the window to examine the catch. To my utter astonishment
it was fastened with staples, driven deep
into the sash, in such way that it could not possibly
have been opened without the aid of tools. I tried it
at every point. Not only was it securely fastened, but
it could not possibly be opened without an expenditure
of time and labor.
There was no doubt whatever that Morgan knew
more about Glenarm House than I did. It was possible,
but not likely, that he had crept past me in the corridor
and gone out through the house, or by some other
cellar window. My eyes were smarting from the smoke
of the last shot, and my cheek stung where the burnt
powder had struck my face. I was alive, but in my vexation
and perplexity not, I fear, grateful for my safety.
It was, however, some consolation to feel sure I had
winged the enemy.
I gathered up the fragments of Morgan’s lantern and
went back to the library. The lights in half the candlesticks
had sputtered out. I extinguished the remainder
and started to my room.
Then, in the great dark hall, I heard a muffled tread
as of some one following me,—not on the great staircase,
nor in any place I could identify,—yet unmistakably
on steps of some sort beneath or above me. My
nerves were already keyed to a breaking pitch, and the
ghost-like tread in the hall angered me—Morgan, or his
ally, Bates, I reflected, at some new trick. I ran into my
room, found a heavy walking-stick and set off for Bates’
room on the third floor. It was always easy to attribute
any sort of mischief to the fellow, and undoubtedly he
was crawling through the house somewhere on an errand
that boded no good to me.
It was now past two o’clock and he should have been
asleep and out of the way long ago. I crept to his room
and threw open the door without, I must say, the slightest
idea of finding him there. But Bates, the enigma,
Bates, the incomparable cook, the perfect servant, sat at
a table, the light of several candles falling on a book
over which he was bent with that maddening gravity
he had never yet in my presence thrown off.
He rose at once, stood at attention, inclining his head
“Yes, Mr. Glenarm.”
“Yes, the devil!” I roared at him, astonished at
finding him,—sorry, I must say, that he was there. The
stick fell from my hands. I did not doubt he knew
perfectly well that I had some purpose in breaking in
upon him. I was baffled and in my rage floundered
for words to explain myself.
“I thought I heard some one in the house. I don’t
want you prowling about in the night, do you hear?”
“Certainly not, sir,” he replied in a grieved tone.
I glanced at the book he had been reading. It was a
volume of Shakespeare’s comedies, open at the first
scene of the last act of The Winter’s Tale.
“Quite a pretty bit of work that, I should say,” he
remarked. “It was one of my late master’s favorites.”
“Go to the devil!” I bawled at him, and went down
to my room and slammed the door in rage and chagrin.
I RECEIVE A CALLER
Going to bed at three o’clock on a winter morning in
a house whose ways are disquieting, after a duel in
which you escaped whole only by sheer good luck, does
not fit one for sleep. When I finally drew the covers
over me it was to lie and speculate upon the events of
the night in connection with the history of the few
weeks I had spent at Glenarm. Larry had suggested
in New York that Pickering was playing some deep
game, and I, myself, could not accept Pickering’s statement
that my grandfather’s large fortune had proved
to be a myth. If Pickering had not stolen or dissipated
it, where was it concealed? Morgan was undoubtedly
looking for something of value or he would not risk
his life in the business; and it was quite possible that he
was employed by Pickering to search for hidden property.
This idea took strong hold of me, the more readily,
I fear, since I had always been anxious to see evil
in Pickering. There was, to be sure, the unknown alternative
heir, but neither she nor Sister Theresa was,
I imagined, a person capable of hiring an assassin to
On reflection I dismissed the idea of appealing to
the county authorities, and I never regretted that resolution.
The seat of Wabana County was twenty miles
away, the processes of law were unfamiliar, and I
wished to avoid publicity. Morgan might, of course,
have been easily disposed of by an appeal to the Annandale
constable, but now that I suspected Pickering of
treachery the caretaker’s importance dwindled. I had
waited all my life f or a chance at Arthur Pickering,
and in this affair I hoped to draw him into the open
and settle with him.
I slept presently, but woke at my usual hour, and
after a tub felt ready for another day. Bates served
me, as usual, a breakfast that gave a fair aspect to the
morning. I was alert for any sign of perturbation in
him; but I had already decided that I might as well
look for emotion in a stone wall as in this placid, colorless
serving man. I had no reason to suspect him of
complicity in the night’s affair, but I had no faith in
him, and merely waited until he should throw himself
more boldly into the game.
By my plate next morning I found this note, written
in a clear, bold, woman’s hand:
The Sisters of St. Agatha trust that the intrusion upon
his grounds by Miss Armstrong, one of their students, has
caused Mr. Glenarm no annoyance. The Sisters beg that
this infraction of their discipline will be overlooked, and
they assure Mr. Glenarm that it will not recur.
An unnecessary apology! The note-paper was of the
best quality. At the head of the page “St. Agatha’s,
Annandale” was embossed in purple. It was the first
note I had received from a woman for a long time, and
it gave me a pleasant emotion. One of the Sisters I had
seen beyond the wall undoubtedly wrote it—possibly
Sister Theresa herself. A clever woman, that! Thoroughly
capable of plucking money from guileless old
gentlemen! Poor Olivia! born for freedom, but doomed
to a pent-up existence with a lot of nuns! I resolved to
send her a box of candy sometime, just to annoy her
grim guardians. Then my own affairs claimed attention.
“Bates,” I asked, “do you know what Mr. Glenarm
did with the plans for the house?”
He started slightly. I should not have noticed it if
I had not been keen for his answer.
“No, sir. I can’t put my hand upon them, sir.”
“That’s all very well, Bates, but you didn’t answer
my question. Do you know where they are? I’ll put
my hand on them if you will kindly tell me where
“Mr. Glenarm, I fear very much that they have been
destroyed. I tried to find them before you came, to tell
you the whole truth, sir; but they must have been made
“That’s very interesting, Bates. Will you kindly
tell me whom you suspect of destroying them? The
toast again, please.”
His hand shook as he passed the plate.
“I hardly like to say, sir, when it’s only a suspicion.”
“Of course I shouldn’t ask you to incriminate yourself,
but I’ll have to insist on my question. It may
have occurred to you, Bates, that I’m in a sense—in a
sense, mind you—the master here.”
“Well, I should say, if you press me, that I fear
Mr. Glenarm, your grandfather, burned the plans when
he left here the last time. I hope you will pardon me,
sir, for seeming to reflect upon him.”
“Reflect upon the devil! What was his idea, do you
“I think, sir, if you will pardon—”
“Don’t be so fussy!” I snapped. “Damn your pardon,
and go on!”
“He wanted you to study out the place for yourself,
sir. It was dear to his heart, this house. He set his
heart upon having you enjoy it—”
“I like the word—go ahead.”
“And I suppose there are things about it that he
wished you to learn for yourself.”
“You know them, of course, and are watching me to
see when I’m hot or cold, like kids playing hide the
The fellow turned and faced me across the table.
“Mr. Glenarm, as I hope God may be merciful to me
in the last judgment, I don’t know any more than you
“You were here with Mr. Glenarm all the time he was
building the house, but you never saw walls built that
weren’t what they appeared to be, or doors made that
didn’t lead anywhere.”
I summoned all my irony and contempt for this arraignment.
He lifted his hand, as though making
“As God sees me, that is all true. I was here to care
for the dead master’s comfort and not to spy on him.”
“And Morgan, your friend, what about him?”
“I wish I knew, sir.”
“I wish to the devil you did,” I said, and flung out
of the room and into the library.
At eleven o’clock I heard a pounding at the great
front door and Bates came to announce a caller, who
was now audibly knocking the snow from his shoes in
the outer hall.
“The Reverend Paul Stoddard, sir.”
The chaplain of St. Agatha’s was a big fellow, as I
had remarked on the occasion of his interview with
Olivia Gladys Armstrong by the wall. His light brown
hair was close-cut; his smooth-shaven face was bright
with the freshness of youth. Here was a sturdy young
apostle without frills, but with a vigorous grip that left
my hand tingling. His voice was deep and musical,—a
voice that suggested sincerity and inspired confidence.
“I’m afraid I haven’t been neighborly, Mr. Glenarm.
I was called away from home a few days after I heard
of your arrival, and I have just got back. I blew in
yesterday with the snow-storm.”
He folded his arms easily and looked at me with
cheerful directness, as though politely interested in what
manner of man I might be.
“It was a fine storm; I got a great day out of it,” I
said. “An Indiana snow-storm is something I have
never experienced before.”
“This is my second winter. I came out here because
I wished to do some reading, and thought I’d rather do
it alone than in a university.”
“Studious habits are rather forced on one out here,
I should say. In my own case my course of reading
is all cut out for me.”
He ran his eyes over the room.
“The Glenarm collection is famous,—the best in the
country, easily. Mr. Glenarm, your grandfather, was
certainly an enthusiast. I met him several times; he
was a trifle hard to meet,”—and the clergyman smiled.
I felt rather uncomfortable, assuming that he probably
knew I was undergoing discipline, and why my
grandfather had so ordained it. The Reverend Paul
Stoddard was so simple, unaffected and manly a fellow
that I shrank from the thought that I must appear to
him an ungrateful blackguard whom my grandfather
had marked with obloquy.
“My grandfather had his whims; but he was a fine,
generous-hearted old gentleman,” I said.
“Yes; in my few interviews with him he surprised
me by the range of his knowledge. He was quite able
to instruct me in certain curious branches of church
history that had appealed to him.”
“You were here when he built the house, I suppose?”
My visitor laughed cheerfully.
“I was on my side of the barricade for a part of the
time. You know there was a great deal of mystery
about the building of this house. The country-folk
hereabouts can’t quite get over it. They have a superstition
that there’s treasure buried somewhere on the
place. You see, Mr. Glenarm wouldn’t employ any local
labor. The work was done by men he brought from
afar,—none of them, the villagers say, could speak English.
They were all Greeks or Italians.”
“I have heard something of the kind,” I remarked,
feeling that here was a man who with a little cultivating
might help me to solve some of my riddles.
“You haven’t been on our side of the wall yet? Well,
I promise not to molest your hidden treasure if you’ll
“I fear there’s a big joke involved in the hidden
treasure,” I replied. “I’m so busy staying at home to
guard it that I have no time for social recreation.”
He looked at me quickly to see whether I was joking.
His eyes were steady and earnest. The Reverend Paul
Stoddard impressed me more and more agreeably.
There was a suggestion of a quiet strength about him
that drew me to him.
“I suppose every one around here thinks of nothing
but that I’m at Glenarm to earn my inheritance. My
residence here must look pretty sordid from the outside.”
“Mr. Glenarm’s will is a matter of record in the
county, of course. But you are too hard on yourself.
It’s nobody’s business if your grandfather wished to
visit his whims on you. I should say, in my own case,
that I don’t consider it any of my business what you
are here for. I didn’t come over to annoy you or to
pry into your affairs. I get lonely now and then, and
thought I’d like to establish neighborly relations.”
“Thank you; I appreciate your coming very much,”
—and my heart warmed under the manifest kindness
of the man.
“And I hope”—he spoke for the first time with restraint
—“I hope nothing may prevent your knowing
Sister Theresa and Miss Devereux. They are interesting
and charming—the only women about here of your
own social status.”
My liking for him abated slightly. He might be a
detective, representing the alternative heir, for all I
knew, and possibly Sister Theresa was a party to the
“In time, no doubt, in time, I shall know them,” I
“Oh, quite as you like!”—and he changed the subject.
We talked of many things,—of outdoor sports,
with which he showed great familiarity, of universities,
of travel and adventure. He was a Columbia man and
had spent two years at Oxford.
“Well,” he exclaimed, “this has been very pleasant,
but I must run. I have just been over to see Morgan,
the caretaker at the resort village. The poor fellow accidentally
shot himself yesterday, cleaning his gun or
something of that sort, and he has an ugly hole in his
arm that will shut him in for a month or worse. He
gave me an errand to do for him. He’s a conscientious
fellow and wished me to wire for him to Mr. Pickering
that he’d been hurt, but was attending to his duties.
Pickering owns a cottage over there, and Morgan has
charge of it. You know Pickering, of course?”
I looked my clerical neighbor straight in the eye, a
trifle coldly perhaps. I was wondering why Morgan,
with whom I had enjoyed a duel in my own cellar only
a few hours before, should be reporting his injury to
“I think I have seen Morgan about here,” I said.
“Oh, yes! He’s a woodsman and a hunter—our Nimrod
of the lake.”
“A good sort, very likely!”
“I dare say. He has sometimes brought me ducks
during the season.”
“To be sure! They shoot ducks at night,—these
Hoosier hunters,—so I hear!”
He laughed as he shook himself into his greatcoat.
“That’s possible, though unsportsmanlike. But we
don’t have to look a gift mallard in the eye.”
We laughed together. I found that it was easy to
laugh with him.
“By the way, I forgot to get Pickering’s address from
Morgan. If you happen to have it—”
“With pleasure,” I said. “Alexis Building, Broadway,
“Good! That’s easy to remember,” he said, smiling
and turning up his coat collar. “Don’t forget me;
I’m quartered in a hermit’s cell back of the chapel, and
I believe we can find many matters of interest to talk
“I’m confident of it,” I said, glad of the sympathy
and cheer that seemed to emanate from his stalwart
I threw on my overcoat and walked to the gate with
him, and saw him hurry toward the village with long
I EXPLORE A PASSAGE
“Bates!”—I found him busy replenishing the candlesticks
in the library,—it seemed to me that he was always
poking about with an armful of candles,—“there
are a good many queer things in this world, but I guess
you’re one of the queerest. I don’t mind telling you
that there are times when I think you a thoroughly bad
lot, and then again I question my judgment and don’t
give you credit for being much more than a doddering
He was standing on a ladder beneath the great crystal
chandelier that hung from the center of the ceiling,
and looked down upon me with that patient injury
that is so appealing in a dog—in, say, the eyes of an
Irish setter, when you accidentally step on his tail.
That look is heartbreaking in a setter, but, seen in a
man, it arouses the direst homicidal feelings of which
I am capable.
“Yes, Mr. Glenarm,” he replied humbly.
“Now, I want you to grasp this idea that I’m going
to dig into this old shell top and bottom; I’m going
to blow it up with dynamite, if I please; and if I catch
you spying on me or reporting my doings to my enemies,
or engaging in any questionable performances
whatever, I’ll hang you between the posts out there in
the school-wall—do you understand?—so that the sweet
Sisters of St. Agatha and the dear little school-girls
and the chaplain and all the rest will shudder through
all their lives at the very thought of you.”
“Certainly, Mr. Glenarm,”—and his tone was the
same he would have used if I had asked him to pass
me the matches, and under my breath I consigned him
to the harshest tortures of the fiery pit.
“Now, as to Morgan—”
“What possible business do you suppose he has with
Mr. Pickering?” I demanded.
“Why, sir, that’s clear enough. Mr. Pickering owns
a house up the lake,—he got it through your grandfather.
Morgan has the care of it, sir.”
“Very plausible, indeed!”—and I sent him off to his
After luncheon I went below and directly to the end
of the corridor, and began to sound the walls. To the
eye they were all alike, being of cement, and substantial
enough. Through the area window I saw the solid earth
and snow; surely there was little here to base hope upon,
and my wonder grew at the ease with which Morgan
had vanished through a barred window and into frozen
The walls at the end of the passage were as solid as
rock, and they responded dully to the stroke of the
hammer. I sounded them on both sides, retracing my
steps to the stairway, becoming more and more impatient
at my ill-luck or stupidity. There was every reason
why I should know my own house, and yet a stranger
and an outlaw ran through it with amazing daring.
After an hour’s idle search I returned to the end of
the corridor, repeated all my previous soundings, and,
I fear, indulged in language unbecoming a gentleman.
Then, in my blind anger, I found what patient search
had not disclosed.
I threw the hammer from me in a fit of temper; it
struck upon a large square in the cement floor which
gave forth a hollow sound. I was on my knees in an
instant, my fingers searching the cracks, and drawing
down close I could feel a current of air, slight but unmistakable,
against my face.
The cement square, though exactly like the others in
the cellar floor, was evidently only a wooden imitation,
covering an opening beneath.
The block was fitted into its place with a nicety that
certified to the skill of the hand that had adjusted it.
I broke a blade of my pocket-knife trying to pry it
up, but in a moment I succeeded, and found it to be
in reality a trap-door, hinged to the substantial part
of the floor.
A current of cool fresh air, the same that had surprised
me in the night, struck my face as I lay flat and
peered into the opening. The lower passage was as black
as pitch, and I lighted a lantern I had brought with me,
found that wooden steps gave safe conduct below and
I stood erect in the passage and had several inches
to spare. It extended both ways, running back under
the foundations of the house. This lower passage cut
squarely under the park before the house and toward
the school wall. No wonder my grandfather had
brought foreign laborers who could speak no English
to work on his house! There was something delightful
in the largeness of his scheme, and I hurried through
the tunnel with a hundred questions tormenting my
The air grew steadily fresher, until, after I had gone
about two hundred yards, I reached a point where the
wind seemed to beat down on me from above. I put
up my hands and found two openings about two yards
apart, through which the air sucked steadily. I moved
out of the current with a chuckle in my throat and a
grin on my face. I had passed under the gate in the
school-wall, and I knew now why the piers that held it
had been built so high,—they were hollow and were the
means of sending fresh air into the tunnel.
I had traversed about twenty yards more when I felt
a slight vibration accompanied by a muffled roar, and
almost immediately came to a short wooden stair that
marked the end of the passage. I had no means of
judging directions, but I assumed I was somewhere near
the chapel in the school-grounds.
I climbed the steps, noting still the vibration, and
found a door that yielded readily to pressure. In a
moment I stood blinking, lantern in hand, in a well-lighted,
floored room. Overhead the tumult and thunder
of an organ explained the tremor and roar I had heard
below. I was in the crypt of St. Agatha’s chapel. The
inside of the door by which I had entered was a part of
the wainscoting of the room, and the opening was wholly
covered with a map of the Holy Land.
In my absorption I had lost the sense of time, and I
was amazed to find that it was five o’clock, but I resolved
to go into the chapel before going home.
The way up was clear enough, and I was soon in the
vestibule. I opened the door, expecting to find a service
in progress; but the little church was empty save where,
at the right of the chancel, an organist was filling the
church with the notes of a triumphant march. Cap in
hand I stole forward and sank down in one of the
A lamp over the organ keyboard gave the only light
in the chapel, and made an aureole about her head,—
about the uncovered head of Olivia Gladys Armstrong!
I smiled as I recognized her and smiled, too, as I remembered
her name. But the joy she brought to the
music, the happiness in her face as she raised it in the
minor harmonies, her isolation, marked by the little isle
of light against the dark background of the choir,—
these things touched and moved me, and I bent forward,
my arms upon the pew in front of me, watching and
listening with a kind of awed wonder. Here was a
refuge of peace and lulling harmony after the disturbed
life at Glenarm, and I yielded myself to its solace with
an inclination my life had rarely known.
There was no pause in the outpouring of the melody.
She changed stops and manuals with swift fingers and
passed from one composition to another; now it was an
august hymn, now a theme from Wagner, and finally
Mendelssohn’s Spring Song leaped forth exultant in the
She ceased suddenly with a little sigh and struck
her hands together, for the place was cold. As she
reached up to put out the lights I stepped forward to
the chancel steps.
“Please allow me to do that for you?”
She turned toward me, gathering a cape about her.
“Oh, it’s you, is it?” she asked, looking about quickly.
“I don’t remember—I don’t seem to remember—that
you were invited.”
“I didn’t know I was coming myself,” I remarked
truthfully, lifting my hand to the lamp.
“That is my opinion of you,—that you’re a rather unexpected
person. But thank you, very much.”
She showed no disposition to prolong the interview,
but hurried toward the door, and reached the vestibule
before I came up with her.
“You can’t go any further, Mr. Glenarm,” she said,
and waited as though to make sure I understood.
Straight before us through the wood and beyond the
school-buildings the sunset faded sullenly. The night
was following fast upon the gray twilight and already
the bolder planets were aflame in the sky. The path
led straight ahead beneath the black boughs.
“I might perhaps walk to the dormitory, or whatever
you call it,” I said.
“Thank you, no! I’m late and haven’t time to
bother with you. It’s against the rules, you know, for
us to receive visitors.”
She stepped out into the path.
“But I’m not a caller. I’m just a neighbor. And I
owe you several calls, anyhow.”
She laughed, but did not pause, and I followed a
pace behind her.
“I hope you don’t think for a minute that I chased
a rabbit on your side of the fence just to meet you; do
you, Mr. Glenarm?”
“Be it far from me! I’m glad I came, though, for I
liked your music immensely. I’m in earnest; I think
it quite wonderful, Miss Armstrong.”
She paid no heed to me.
“And I hope I may promise myself the pleasure of
hearing you often.”
“You are positively flattering, Mr. Glenarm; but as
I’m going away—”
I felt my heart sink at the thought of her going
away. She was the only amusing person I had met at
Glenarm, and the idea of losing her gave a darker note
to the bleak landscape.
“That’s really too bad! And just when we were getting
acquainted! And I was coming to church every
Sunday to hear you play and to pray for snow, so you’d
come over often to chase rabbits!”
This, I thought, softened her heart. At any rate her
“I don’t play for services; they’re afraid to let me
for fear I’d run comic-opera tunes into the Te Deum!”
“Do you know, Mr. Glenarm,”—her tone became confidential
and her pace slackened,—“we call you the
squire, at St. Agatha’s, and the lord of the manor, and
names like that! All the girls are perfectly crazy about
you. They’d be wild if they thought I talked with you,
clandestinely,—is that the way you pronounce it?”
“Anything you say and any way you say it satisfies
me,” I replied.
“That’s ever so nice of you,” she said, mockingly
I felt foolish and guilty. She would probably get
roundly scolded if the grave Sisters learned of her talks
with me, and very likely I should win their hearty contempt.
But I did not turn back.
“I hope the reason you’re leaving isn’t—” I hesitated.
“Ill conduct? Oh, yes; I’m terribly wicked, Squire
Glenarm! They’re sending me off.”
“But I suppose they’re awfully strict, the Sisters.”
“They’re hideous,—perfectly hideous.”
“Where is your home?” I demanded. “Chicago, Indianapolis,
“Humph, you are dull! You ought to know from my
accent that I’m not from Chicago. And I hope I haven’t
a Kentucky girl’s air of waiting to be flattered to death.
And no Indianapolis girl would talk to a strange man at
the edge of a deep wood in the gray twilight of a winter
day,—that’s from a book; and the Cincinnati girl is
without my élan, esprit,—whatever you please to call it.
She has more Teutonic repose,—more of Gretchen-of-the-Rhine-Valley
about her. Don’t you adore French,
Squire Glenarm?” she concluded breathlessly, and with
no pause in her quick step.
“I adore yours, Miss Armstrong,” I asserted, yielding
myself further to the joy of idiocy, and delighting in
the mockery and changing moods of her talk. I did
not make her out; indeed, I preferred not to! I was
not then,—and I am not now, thank God,—of an analytical
turn of mind. And as I grow older I prefer,
even after many a blow, to take my fellow human beings
a good deal as I find them. And as for women, old
or young, I envy no man his gift of resolving them into
elements. As well carry a spray of arbutus to the laboratory
or subject the enchantment of moonlight upon
running water to the flame and blow-pipe as try to
analyze the heart of a girl,—particularly a girl who
paddles a canoe with a sure stroke and puts up a good
race with a rabbit.
A lamp shone ahead of us at the entrance of one of
the houses, and lights appeared in all the buildings.
“If I knew your window I should certainly sing under
it,—except that you’re going home! You didn’t tell
me why they were deporting you.”
“I’m really ashamed to! You would never—”
“Oh, yes, I would; I’m really an old friend!” I insisted,
feeling more like an idiot every minute.
“Well, don’t tell! But they caught me flirting—with
the grocery boy! Now aren’t you disgusted?”
“Thoroughly! I can’t believe it! Why, you’d a lot
better flirt with me,” I suggested boldly.
“Well, I’m to be sent away for good at Christmas. I
may come back then if I can square myself. My!
That’s slang,—isn’t it horrid?”
“The Sisters don’t like slang, I suppose?”
“They loathe it! Miss Devereux—you know who she
is!—she spies on us and tells.”
“You don’t say so; but I’m not surprised at her. I’ve
heard about her!” I declared bitterly.
We had reached the door, and I expected her to fly;
but she lingered a moment.
“Oh, if you know her! Perhaps you’re a spy, too!
It’s just as well we should never meet again, Mr. Glenarm,”
she declared haughtily.
“The memory of these few meetings will always linger
with me, Miss Armstrong,” I returned in an imitation
of her own tone.
“I shall scorn to remember you!”—and she folded
her arms under the cloak tragically.
“Our meetings have been all too few, Miss Armstrong.
Three, exactly, I believe!”
“I see you prefer to ignore the first time I ever saw
you,” she said, her hand on the door.
“Out there in your canoe? Never! And you’ve forgiven
me for overhearing you and the chaplain on the
She grasped the knob of the door and paused an instant
as though pondering.
“I make it four times, not counting once in the road
and other times when you didn’t know, Squire Glenarm!
I’m a foolish little girl to have remembered the first. I
see now how b-l-i-n-d I have been.”
She opened and closed the door softly, and I heard
her running up the steps within.
I ran back to the chapel, roundly abusing myself for
having neglected my more serious affairs for a bit of
silly talk with a school-girl, fearful lest the openings
I had left at both ends of the passage should have been
discovered. The tunnel added a new and puzzling factor
to the problem already before me, and I was eager
for an opportunity to sit down in peace and comfort to
study the situation.
[Illustration: “I shall scorn to remember you!”—and she folded her arms under
the cloak tragically.]
At the chapel I narrowly escaped running into Stoddard,
but I slipped past him, pulled the hidden door
into place, traversed the tunnel without incident, and
soon climbed through the hatchway and slammed the
false block securely into the opening.
A PAIR OF EAVESDROPPERS
When I came down after dressing for dinner, Bates
called my attention to a belated mail. I pounced eagerly
upon a letter in Laurance Donovan’s well-known
hand, bearing, to my surprise, an American stamp and
postmarked New Orleans. It was dated, however, at
Vera Cruz, Mexico, December fifteenth, 1901.
DEAR OLD MAN: I have had a merry time since I saw you
in New York. Couldn’t get away for a European port
as I hoped when I left you, as the authorities seemed to
be taking my case seriously, and I was lucky to get off
as a deck-hand on a south-bound boat. I expected to get a
slice of English prodigal veal at Christmas, but as things
stand now, I am grateful to be loose even in this God-forsaken
hole. The British bulldog is eager to insert its
teeth in my trousers, and I was flattered to see my picture
bulletined in a conspicuous place the day I struck Vera
Cruz. You see, they’re badgering the Government at
home because I’m not apprehended, and they’ve got to
catch and hang me to show that they’ve really got their
hands on the Irish situation. I am not afraid of the
Greasers—no people who gorge themselves with bananas
and red peppers can be dangerous—but the British consul
here has a bad eye and even as I write I am dimly conscious
that a sleek person, who is ostensibly engaged in
literary work at the next table, is really killing time while
he waits for me to finish this screed.
No doubt you are peacefully settled on your ancestral
estate with only a few months and a little patience between
you and your grandfather’s shier. You always were
a lucky brute. People die just to leave you money, whereas
I’ll have to die to get out of jail.
I hope to land under the Stars and Stripes within a few
days, either across country through El Paso or via New
Orleans—preferably the former, as a man’s social position
is rated high in Texas in proportion to the amount of reward
that’s out for him. They’d probably give me the
freedom of the state if they knew my crimes had been the
subject of debate in the House of Commons.
But the man across the table is casually looking over
here for a glimpse of my signature, so I must give him
a good one just for fun. With best wishes always,
GEORGE WASHINGTON SMITH.
P. S—I shan’t mail this here, but give it to a red-haired
Irishman on a steamer that sails north to-night. Pleasant,
I must say, this eternal dodging! Wish I could share your
rural paradise for the length of a pipe and a bottle! Have
forgotten whether you said Indian Territory or Indiana,
but will take chances on the latter as more remotely suggesting
Bates gave me my coffee in the library, as I wished
to settle down to an evening of reflection without delay.
Larry’s report of himself was not reassuring. I knew
that if he had any idea of trying to reach me he would
not mention it in a letter which might fall into the
hands of the authorities, and the hope that he might
join me grew. I was not, perhaps, entitled to a companion
at Glenarm under the terms of my exile, but as
a matter of protection in the existing condition of affairs
there could be no legal or moral reason why I
should not defend myself against my foes, and Larry
was an ally worth having.
In all my hours of questioning and anxiety at Glenarm
I never doubted the amiable intentions of my
grandfather. His device for compelling my residence
at his absurd house was in keeping with his character,
and it was all equitable enough. But his dead hand had
no control over the strange issue, and I felt justified in
interpreting the will in the light of my experiences. I
certainly did not intend to appeal to the local police authorities,
at least not until the animus of the attack on
me was determined.
My neighbor, the chaplain, had inadvertently given
me a bit of important news; and my mind kept reverting
to the fact that Morgan was reporting his injury to
the executor of my grandfather’s estate in New York.
Everything else that had happened was tame and unimportant
compared with this. Why had John Marshall
Glenarm made Arthur Pickering the executor of his
estate? He knew that I detested him, that Pickering’s
noble aims and high ambitions had been praised by my
family until his very name sickened me; and yet my
own grandfather had thought it wise to intrust his fortune
and my future to the man of all men who was
most repugnant to me. I rose and paced the floor in
Instead of accepting Pickering’s word for it that the
will was all straight, I should have employed counsel
and taken legal advice before suffering myself to be
rushed away into a part of the world I had never visited
before, and cooped up in a dreary house under the eye
of a somber scoundrel who might poison me any day, if
he did not prefer to shoot me in my sleep. My rage
must fasten upon some one, and Bates was the nearest
target for it. I went to the kitchen, where he usually
spent his evenings, to vent my feelings upon him, only
to find him gone. I climbed to his room and found it
empty. Very likely he was off condoling with his friend
and fellow conspirator, the caretaker, and I fumed with
rage and disappointment. I was thoroughly tired, as
tired as on days when I had beaten my way through
tropical jungles without food or water; but I wished,
in my impotent anger against I knew not what agencies,
to punish myself, to induce an utter weariness that
would drag me exhausted to bed.
The snow in the highway was well beaten down and
I swung off countryward past St. Agatha’s. A gray
mist hung over the fields in whirling clouds, breaking
away occasionally and showing the throbbing winter
stars. The walk, and my interest in the alternation of
star-lighted and mist-wrapped landscape won me to a
better state of mind, and after tramping a couple of
miles, I set out for home. Several times on my tramp
I had caught myself whistling the air of a majestic
old hymn, and smiled, remembering my young friend
Olivia, and her playing in the chapel. She was an
amusing child; the thought of her further lifted my
spirit; and I turned into the school park as I passed
the outer gate with a half-recognized wish to pass near
the barracks where she spent her days.
At the school-gate the lamps of a carriage suddenly
blurred in the mist. Carriages were not common in this
region, and I was not surprised to find that this was the
familiar village hack that met trains day and night at
Glenarm station. Some parent, I conjectured, paying a
visit to St. Agatha’s; perhaps the father of Miss Olivia
Gladys Armstrong had come to carry her home for a
stricter discipline than Sister Theresa’s school afforded.
The driver sat asleep on his box, and I passed him
and went on into the grounds. A whim seized me to
visit the crypt of the chapel and examine the opening
to the tunnel. As I passed the little group of school-buildings
a man came hurriedly from one of them and
turned toward the chapel.
I first thought it was Stoddard, but I could not make
him out in the mist and I waited for him to put twenty
paces between us before I followed along the path that
led from the school to the chapel.
He strode into the chapel porch with an air of assurance,
and I heard him address some one who had been
waiting. The mist was now so heavy that I could not
see my hand before my face, and I stole forward until
I could hear the voices of the two men distinctly.
I heard feet scraping on the stone floor of the porch.
“This is a devil of a place to talk in but it’s the best
we can do. Did the young man know I sent for you?”
“No, sir. He was quite busy with his books and papers.”
“Humph! We can never be sure of him.”
“I suppose that is correct, sir.”
“Well, you and Morgan are a fine pair, I must say!
I thought he had some sense, and that you’d see to it
that he didn’t make a mess of this thing. He’s in bed
now with a hole in his arm and you’ve got to go on
“I’ll do my best, Mr. Pickering.”
“Don’t call me by name, you idiot. We’re not advertising
our business from the housetops.”
“Certainly not,” replied Bates humbly.
The blood was roaring through my head, and my
hands were clenched as I stood there listening to this
Pickering’s voice was—and is—unmistakable. There
was always a purring softness in it. He used to remind
me at school of a sleek, complacent cat, and I hate cats
with particular loathing.
“Is Morgan lying or not when he says he shot himself
accidentally?” demanded Pickering petulantly.
“I only know what I heard from the gardener here at
the school. You’ll understand, I hope, that I can’t be
seen going to Morgan’s house.”
“Of course not. But he says you haven’t played fair
with him, that you even attacked him a few days after
“Yes, and he hit me over the head with a club. It
was his indiscretion, sir. He wanted to go through the
library in broad daylight, and it wasn’t any use, anyhow.
There’s nothing there.”
“But I don’t like the looks of this shooting. Morgan’s
sick and out of his head. But a fellow like Morgan
isn’t likely to shoot himself accidentally, and now
that it’s done the work’s stopped and the time is running
on. What do you think Glenarm suspects?”
“I can’t tell, sir, but mighty little, I should say. The
shot through the window the first night he was here
seemed to shake him a trifle, but he’s quite settled down
now, I should say, sir.”
“He probably doesn’t spend much time on this side
of the fence—doesn’t haunt the chapel, I fancy?”
“Lord, no, sir! I hardly suspect the young gentleman
of being a praying man.”
“You haven’t seen him prowling about analyzing the
“Not a bit of it, sir. He hasn’t, I should say, what
his revered grandfather called the analytical mind.”
Hearing yourself discussed in this frank fashion by
your own servant is, I suppose, a wholesome thing for
the spirit. The man who stands behind your chair may
acquire, in time, some special knowledge of your mental
processes by a diligent study of the back of your
head. But I was not half so angry with these conspirators
as with myself, for ever having entertained a single
generous thought toward Bates. It was, however, consoling
to know that Morgan was lying to Pickering, and
that my own exploits in the house were unknown to the
Pickering stamped his feet upon the paved porch
floor in a way that I remembered of old. It marked a
conclusion, and preluded serious statements.
“Now, Bates,” he said, with a ring of authority and
speaking in a louder key than he had yet used, “it’s
your duty under all the circumstances to help discover
the hidden assets of the estate. We’ve got to pluck the
mystery from that architectural monster over there, and
the time for doing it is short enough. Mr. Glenarm was
a rich man. To my own knowledge he had a couple of
millions, and he couldn’t have spent it all on that house.
He reduced his bank account to a few thousand dollars
and swept out his safety-vault boxes with a broom before
his last trip into Vermont. He didn’t die with the
stuff in his clothes, did he?”
“Lord bless me, no, sir! There was little enough
cash to bury him, with you out of the country and me
alone with him.”
“He was a crank and I suppose he got a lot of satisfaction
out of concealing his money. But this hunt for it
isn’t funny. I supposed, of course, we’d dig it up before
Glenarm got here or I shouldn’t have been in such
a hurry to send for him. But it’s over there somewhere,
or in the grounds. There must he a plan of the house
that would help. I’ll give you a thousand dollars the
day you wire me you have found any sort of clue.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“I don’t want thanks, I want the money or securities
or whatever it is. I’ve got to go back to my car now,
and you’d better skip home. You needn’t tell your
young master that I’ve been here.”
I was trying hard to believe, as I stood there with
clenched hands outside the chapel porch, that Arthur
Pickering’s name was written in the list of directors of
one of the greatest trust companies in America, and
that he belonged to the most exclusive clubs in New
York. I had run out for a walk with only an inverness
over my dinner-jacket, and I was thoroughly chilled by
the cold mist. I was experiencing, too, an inner cold as
I reflected upon the greed and perfidy of man.
“Keep an eye on Morgan,” said Pickering.
“And be careful what you write or wire.”
“I’ll mind those points, sir. But I’d suggest, if you
“Well?” demanded Pickering impatiently.
“That you should call at the house. It would look
rather strange to the young gentleman if you’d come
here and not see him.”
“I haven’t the slightest errand with him. And besides,
I haven’t time. If he learns that I’ve been here
you may say that my business was with Sister Theresa
and that I regretted very much not having an opportunity
to call on him.”
The irony of this was not lost on Bates, who chuckled
softly. He came out into the open and turned away toward
the Glenarm gate. Pickering passed me, so near
that I might have put out my hand and touched him,
and in a moment I heard the carriage drive off rapidly
toward the village.
I heard Bates running home over the snow and listened
to the clatter of the village hack as it bore Pickering
back to Annandale.
Then out of the depths of the chapel porch—out of
the depths of time and space, it seemed, so dazed I stood
—some one came swiftly toward me, some one, light of
foot like a woman, ran down the walk a little way into
the fog and paused.
An exclamation broke from me.
“Eavesdropping for two!”—it was the voice of Olivia.
“I’d take pretty good care of myself if I were you,
Squire Glenarm. Good night!”
“Good-by!” I faltered, as she sped away into the mist
toward the school.
THE GIRL IN GRAY
My first thought was to find the crypt door and return
through the tunnel before Bates reached the house.
The chapel was open, and by lighting matches I found
my way to the map and panel. I slipped through and
closed the opening; then ran through the passage with
gratitude for the generous builder who had given it a
clear floor and an ample roof. In my haste I miscalculated
its length and pitched into the steps under the
trap at a speed that sent me sprawling. In a moment
more I had jammed the trap into place and was running
up the cellar steps, breathless, with my cap
smashed down over my eyes.
I heard Bates at the rear of the house and knew I had
won the race by a scratch. There was but a moment in
which to throw my coat and cap under the divan, slap
the dust from my clothes and seat myself at the great
table, where the candles blazed tranquilly.
Bates’ step was as steady as ever—there was not the
slightest hint of excitement in it—as he came and stood
within the door.
“Beg pardon, Mr. Glenarm, did you wish anything,
“Oh, no, thank you, Bates.”
“I had stepped down to the village, sir, to speak to
the grocer. The eggs he sent this morning were not
quite up to the mark. I have warned him not to send
any of the storage article to this house.”
“That’s right, Bates.” I folded my arms to hide my
hands, which were black from contact with the passage,
and faced my man servant. My respect for his rascally
powers had increased immensely since he gave me my
coffee. A contest with so clever a rogue was worth
“I’m grateful for your good care of me, Bates. I had
expected to perish of discomfort out here, but you are
treating me like a lord.”
“Thank you, Mr. Glenarm. I do what I can, sir.”
He brought fresh candles for the table candelabra,
going about with his accustomed noiseless step. I felt
a cold chill creep down my spine as he passed behind
me on these errands. His transition from the rôle of
conspirator to that of my flawless servant was almost
I dismissed him as quickly as possible, and listened
to his step through the halls as he went about locking
the doors. This was a regular incident, but I was aware
to-night that he exercised what seemed to me a particular
care in settling the bolts. The locking-up process
had rather bored me before; to-night the snapping of
bolts was particularly trying.
When I heard Bates climbing to his own quarters I
quietly went the rounds on my own account and found
everything as tight as a drum.
In the cellar I took occasion to roll some barrels of
cement into the end of the corridor, to cover and block
the trap door. Bates had no manner of business in that
part of the house, as the heating apparatus was under
the kitchen and accessible by an independent stairway.
I had no immediate use for the hidden passage to the
chapel—and I did not intend that my enemies should
avail themselves of it. Morgan, at least, knew of it and,
while he was not likely to trouble me at once, I had resolved
to guard every point in our pleasant game.
I was tired enough to sleep when I went to my room,
and after an eventless night, woke to a clear day and
“I’m going to take a little run into the village, Bates,”
I remarked at breakfast.
“Very good, sir. The weather’s quite cleared.”
“If any one should call I’ll be back in an hour or so.”
He turned his impenetrable face toward me as I rose.
There was, of course, no chance whatever that any one
would call to see me; the Reverend Paul Stoddard was
the only human being, except Bates, Morgan and the
man who brought up my baggage, who had crossed the
threshold since my arrival.
I really had an errand in the village. I wished to
visit the hardware store and buy some cartridges, but
Pickering’s presence in the community was a disturbing
factor in my mind. I wished to get sight of him,—
to meet him, if possible, and see how a man, whose
schemes were so deep, looked in the light of day.
As I left the grounds and gained the highway Stoddard
fell in with me.
“Well, Mr. Glenarm, I’m glad to see you abroad so
early. With that library of yours the temptation must
be strong to stay within doors. But a man’s got to subject
himself to the sun and wind. Even a good wetting
now and then is salutary.”
“I try to get out every day,” I answered. “But I’ve
chiefly limited myself to the grounds.”
“Well, it’s a fine estate. The lake is altogether
charming in summer. I quite envy you your fortune.”
He walked with a long swinging stride, his hands
thrust deep into his overcoat pockets. It was difficult
to accept the idea of so much physical strength being
wasted in the mere business of saying prayers in a girls’
school. Here was a fellow who should have been captain
of a ship or a soldier, a leader of forlorn hopes. I
felt sure there must be a weakness of some sort in him.
Quite possibly it would prove to be a mild estheticism
that delighted in the savor of incense and the mournful
cadence of choral vespers. He declined a cigar and this
rather increased my suspicions.
The village hack, filled with young women, passed at
a gallop, bound for the station, and we took off our hats.
“Christmas holidays,” explained the chaplain. “Practically
all the students go home.”
“Lucky kids, to have a Christmas to go home to!”
“I suppose Mr. Pickering got away last night?” he
observed, and my pulse quickened at the name.
“I haven’t seen him yet,” I answered guardedly.
“Then of course he hasn’t gone!” and these words,
uttered in the big clergyman’s deep tones, seemed wholly
plausible. There was, to be sure, nothing so unlikely as
that Arthur Pickering, executor of my grandfather’s
estate, would come to Glenarm without seeing me.
“Sister Theresa told me this morning he was here.
He called on her and Miss Devereux last night. I
haven’t seen him myself. I thought possibly I might
run into him in the village. His car’s very likely on the
“No doubt we shall find him there,” I answered easily.
The Annandale station presented an appearance of
unusual gaiety when we reached the main street of the
village. There, to be sure, lay a private car on the
siding, and on the platform was a group of twenty or
more girls, with several of the brown-habited Sisters of
St. Agatha. There was something a little foreign in
the picture; the girls in their bright colors talking
gaily, the Sisters in their somber garb hovering about,
suggesting France or Italy rather than Indiana.
“I came here with the idea that St. Agatha’s was a
charity school,” I remarked to the chaplain.
“Not a bit of it! Sister Theresa is really a swell, you
know, and her school is hard to get into.”
“I’m glad you warned me in time. I had thought of
sending over a sack of flour occasionally, or a few bolts
of calico to help on the good work. You’ve saved my
“I probably have. I might mention your good intentions
to Sister Theresa.”
“Pray don’t. If there’s any danger of meeting her
on that platform—”
“No; she isn’t coming down, I’m sure. But you
ought to know her,—if you will pardon me. And Miss
Devereux is charming,—but really I don’t mean to be
“Not in the least. But under the circumstances,—
the will and my probationary year,—you can understand—”
“Certainly. A man’s affairs are his own, Mr. Glenarm.”
We stepped upon the platform. The private car was
on the opposite side of the station and had been
switched into a siding of the east and west road. Pickering
was certainly getting on. The private car, even
more than the yacht, is the symbol of plutocracy, and
gaping rustics were evidently impressed by its grandeur.
As I lounged across the platform with Stoddard, Pickering
came out into the vestibule of his car, followed by
two ladies and an elderly gentleman. They all descended
and began a promenade of the plank walk.
Pickering saw me an instant later and came up hurriedly,
with outstretched hand.
“This is indeed good fortune! We dropped off here
last night rather unexpectedly to rest a hot-box and
should have been picked up by the midnight express for
Chicago; but there was a miscarriage of orders somewhere
and we now have to wait for the nine o’clock, and
it’s late. If I’d known how much behind it was I
should have run out to see you. How are things going?”
“As smooth as a whistle! It really isn’t so bad when
you face it. And the fact is I’m actually at work.”
“That’s splendid. The year will go fast enough,
never fear. I suppose you pine for a little human society
now and then. A man can never strike the right
medium in such things. In New York we are all rushed
to death. I sometimes feel that I’d like a little rustication
myself. I get nervous, and working for corporations
is wearing. The old gentleman there is Taylor,
president of the Interstate and Western. The ladies
are his wife and her sister. I’d like to introduce
you.” He ran his eyes over my corduroys and leggings
amiably. He had not in years addressed me so pleasantly.
Stoddard had left me to go to the other end of the
platform to speak to some of the students. I followed
Pickering rather loathly to where the companions of
his travels were pacing to and fro in the crisp morning
I laugh still whenever I remember that morning at
Annandale station. As soon as Pickering had got me
well under way in conversation with Taylor, he excused
himself hurriedly and went off, as I assumed, to be sure
the station agent had received orders for attaching the
private car to the Chicago express. Taylor proved to be
a supercilious person,—I believe they call him Chilly
Billy at the Metropolitan Club,—and our efforts to converse
were pathetically unfruitful. He asked me the
value of land in my county, and as my ignorance on this
subject was vast and illimitable, I could see that he was
forming a low opinion of my character and intelligence.
The two ladies stood by, making no concealment of their
impatience. Their eyes were upon the girls from St.
Agatha’s on the other platform, whom they could see
beyond me. I had jumped the conversation from Indiana
farm-lands to the recent disorders in Bulgaria,
which interested me more, when Mrs. Taylor spoke
abruptly to her sister.
“That’s she—the one in the gray coat, talking to the
clergyman. She came a moment ago in the carriage.”
“The one with the umbrella? I thought you said—”
Mrs. Taylor glanced at her sister warningly, and
they both looked at me. Then they sought to detach
themselves and moved away. There was some one on
the farther side of the platform whom they wished to see,
and Taylor, not understanding their manoeuver—he was
really anxious, I think, not to be left alone with me—
started down the platform after them, I following. Mrs.
Taylor and her sister walked to the end of the platform
and looked across, a biscuit-toss away, to where Stoddard
stood talking to the girl I had already heard described
as wearing a gray coat and carrying an umbrella.
The girl in gray crossed the track quickly and addressed
the two women cordially. Taylor’s back was to
her and he was growing eloquent in a mild well-bred
way over the dullness of our statesmen in not seeing the
advantages that would accrue to the United States in
fostering our shipping industry. His wife, her sister
and the girl in gray were so near that I could hear
plainly what they were saying. They were referring
apparently to the girl’s refusal of an invitation to accompany
them to California.
“So you can’t go—it’s too bad! We had hoped that
when you really saw us on the way you would relent,”
said Mrs. Taylor.
“But there are many reasons; and above all Sister
Theresa needs me.”
It was the voice of Olivia, a little lower, a little more
restrained than I had known it.
“But think of the rose gardens that are waiting for
us out there!” said the other lady. They were showing
her the deference that elderly women always have for
“Alas, and again alas!” exclaimed Olivia. “Please
don’t make it harder for me than necessary. But I gave
my promise a year ago to spend these holidays in Cincinnati.”
She ignored me wholly, and after shaking hands with
the ladies returned to the other platform. I wondered
whether she was overlooking Taylor on purpose to cut
Taylor was still at his lecture on the needs of our
American merchant marine when Pickering passed hurriedly,
crossed the track and began speaking earnestly
to the girl in gray.
“The American flag should command the seas. What
we need is not more battle-ships but more freight carriers—”
Taylor was saying.
But I was watching Olivia Gladys Armstrong. In a
long skirt, with her hair caught up under a gray toque
that matched her coat perfectly, she was not my Olivia
of the tam-o’-shanter, who had pursued the rabbit; nor
yet the unsophisticated school-girl, who had suffered my
idiotic babble; nor, again, the dreamy rapt organist of
the chapel. She was a grown woman with at least
twenty summers to her credit, and there was about her
an air of knowing the world, and of not being at all a
person one would make foolish speeches to. She spoke
to Pickering gravely. Once she smiled dolefully and
shook her head, and I vaguely strove to remember where
I had seen that look in her eyes before. Her gold beads,
which I had once carried in my pocket, were clasped
tight about the close collar of her dress; and I was glad,
very glad, that I had ever touched anything that belonged
“As the years go by we are going to dominate trade
more and more. Our manufactures already lead the
world, and what we make we’ve got to sell, haven’t we?”
“Certainly, sir,” I answered warmly.
Who was Olivia Gladys Armstrong and what was
Arthur Pickering’s business with her? And what was
it she had said to me that evening when I had found her
playing on the chapel organ? So much happened that
day that I had almost forgotten, and, indeed, I had
tried to forget I had made a fool of myself for the edification
of an amusing little school-girl. “I see you
prefer to ignore the first time I ever saw you,” she had
said; but if I had thought of this at all it had been
with righteous self-contempt. Or, I may have flattered
my vanity with the reflection that she had eyed me—
her hero, perhaps—with wistful admiration across the
Meanwhile the Chicago express roared into Annandale
and the private car was attached. Taylor watched
the trainmen with the cool interest of a man for whom
the proceeding had no novelty, while he continued to
dilate upon the nation’s commercial opportunities. I
turned perforce, and walked with him back toward the
station, where Mrs. Taylor and her sister were talking
to the conductor.
Pickering came running across the platform with several
telegrams in his hand. The express had picked up
the car and was ready to continue its westward journey.
“I’m awfully sorry, Glenarm, that our stop’s so
short,”—and Pickering’s face wore a worried look as he
addressed me, his eyes on the conductor.
“How far do you go?” I asked.
“California. We have interests out there and I have
to attend some stock-holders’ meetings in Colorado in
“Ah, you business men! You business men!” I said
reproachfully. I wished to call him a blackguard then
and there, and it was on my tongue to do so, but I concluded
that to wait until he had shown his hand fully
was the better game.
The ladies entered the car and I shook hands with
Taylor, who threatened to send me his pamphlet on
The Needs of American Shipping, when he got back to
“It’s too bad she wouldn’t go with us. Poor girl!
this must be a dreary hole for her; she deserves wider
horizons,” he said to Pickering, who helped him upon
the platform of the car with what seemed to be unnecessary
“You little know us,” I declared, for Pickering’s
benefit. “Life at Annandale is nothing if not exciting.
The people here are indifferent marksmen or there’d be
“Mr. Glenarm is a good deal of a wag,” explained
Pickering dryly, swinging himself aboard as the train
“Yes; it’s my humor that keeps me alive,” I responded,
and taking off my hat, I saluted Arthur Pickering
with my broadest salaam.
I MAKE AN ENGAGEMENT
The south-bound train had not arrived and as I
turned away the station-agent again changed its time
on the bulletin board. It was now due in ten minutes.
A few students had boarded the Chicago train, but a
greater number still waited on the farther platform.
The girl in gray was surrounded by half a dozen students,
all talking animatedly. As I walked toward them
I could not justify my stupidity in mistaking a grown
woman for a school-girl of fifteen or sixteen; but is was
the tam-o’-shanter, the short skirt, the youthful joy in
the outdoor world that had disguised her as effectually
as Rosalind to the eyes of Orlando in the forest of Arden.
She was probably a teacher,—quite likely the
teacher of music, I argued, who had amused herself
at my expense.
It had seemed the easiest thing in the world to approach
her with an apology or a farewell, but those few
inches added to her skirt and that pretty gray toque
substituted for the tam-o’-shanter set up a barrier that
did not yield at all as I drew nearer. At the last moment,
as I crossed the track and stepped upon the other
platform, it occurred to me that while I might have
some claim upon the attention of Olivia Gladys Armstrong,
a wayward school-girl of athletic tastes, I had
none whatever upon a person whom it was proper to
address as Miss Armstrong,—who was, I felt sure, quite
capable of snubbing me if snubbing fell in with her
She glanced toward me and bowed instantly. Her
young companions withdrew to a conservative distance;
and I will say this for the St. Agatha girls: their manners
are beyond criticism, and an affable discretion is
one of their most admirable traits.
“I didn’t know they ever grew up so fast,—in a day
and a night!”
I was glad I remembered the number of beads in her
chain; the item seemed at once to become important.
“It’s the air, I suppose. It’s praised by excellent
critics, as you may learn from the catalogue.”
“But you are going to an ampler ether, a diviner air.
You have attained the beatific state and at once take
flight. If they confer perfection like an academic degree
at St. Agatha’s, then—”
I had never felt so stupidly helpless in my life.
There were a thousand things I wished to say to her;
there were countless questions I wished to ask; but her
calmness and poise were disconcerting. She had not,
apparently, the slightest curiosity about me; and there
was no reason why she should have—I knew that well
enough! Her eyes met mine easily; their azure depths
puzzled me. She was almost, but not quite, some one I
had seen before, and it was not my woodland Olivia.
Her eyes, the soft curve of her cheek, the light in
her hair,—but the memory of another time, another
place, another girl, lured only to baffle me.
She laughed,—a little murmuring laugh.
“I’ll never tell if you won’t,” she said.
“But I don’t see how that helps me with you?”
“It certainly does not! That is a much more serious
matter, Mr. Glenarm.”
“And the worst of it is that I haven’t a single thing
to say for myself. It wasn’t the not knowing that was
so utterly stupid—”
“Certainly not! It was talking that ridiculous twaddle.
It was trying to flirt with a silly school-girl. What
will do for fifteen is somewhat vacuous for—”
She paused abruptly, colored and laughed.
“I am twenty-seven!”
“And I am just the usual age,” she said.
“Ages don’t count, but time is important. There are
many things I wish you’d tell me,—you who hold the
key of the gate of mystery.”
“Then you’ll have to pick the lock!”
She laughed lightly. The somber Sisters patrolling
the platform with their charges heeded us little.
“I had no idea you knew Arthur Pickering—when
you were just Olivia in the tam-o’-shanter.”
“Maybe you think he wouldn’t have cared for my
acquaintance—as Olivia in the tam-o’-shanter. Men
are very queer!”
“But Arthur Pickering is an old friend of mine.”
“So he told me.”
“We were neighbors in our youth.”
“I believe I have heard him mention it.”
“And we did our prep school together, and then
“You tell exactly the same story, so it must be true.
He went to college and you went to Tech.”
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