The House of a Thousand Candles
Part 4 out of 6
“And you knew him—?” I began, my curiosity thoroughly
“Not at college, any more than I knew you at Tech.”
“The train’s coming,” I said earnestly, “and I wish
you would tell me—when I shall see you again!”
“Before we part for ever?” There was a mischievous
hint of the Olivia in short skirts in her tone.
“Please don’t suggest it! Our times have been
strange and few. There was that first night, when you
called to me from the lake.”
“How impertinent! How dare you—remember that?”
“And there was that other encounter at the chapel
porch. Neither you nor I had the slightest business
there. I admit my own culpability.”
She colored again.
“But you spoke as though you understood what you
must have heard there. It is important for me to know.
I have a right to know just what you meant by that
Real distress showed in her face for an instant. The
agent and his helpers rushed the last baggage down the
platform, and the rails hummed their warning of the
“I was eavesdropping on my own account,” she said
hurriedly and with a note of finality. “I was there by
intention, and”—there was another hint of the tam-o’-shanter
in the mirth that seemed to bubble for a moment
in her throat—“it’s too bad you didn’t see me, for
I had on my prettiest gown, and the fog wasn’t good for
it. But you know as much of what was said there as I
do. You are a man, and I have heard that you have had
some experience in taking care of yourself, Mr. Glenarm.”
“To be sure; but there are times—”
“Yes, there are times when the odds seem rather
heavy. I have noticed that myself.”
She smiled, but for an instant the sad look came into
her eyes,—a look that vaguely but insistently suggested
another time and place.
“I want you to come back,” I said boldly, for the
train was very near, and I felt that the eyes of the Sisters
were upon us. “You can not go away where I shall
not find you!”
I did not know who this girl was, her home, or her
relation to the school, but I knew that her life and
mine had touched strangely; that her eyes were blue,
and that her voice had called to me twice through the
dark, in mockery once and in warning another time,
and that the sense of having known her before, of having
looked into her eyes, haunted me. The youth in
her was so luring; she was at once so frank and so
guarded,—breeding and the taste and training of an
ampler world than that of Annandale were so evidenced
in the witchery of her voice, in the grace and ease that
marked her every motion, in the soft gray tone of hat,
dress and gloves, that a new mood, a new hope and
faith sang in my pulses. There, on that platform, I felt
again the sweet heartache I had known as a boy, when
spring first warmed the Vermont hillsides and the
mountains sent the last snows singing in joy of their
release down through the brook-beds and into the wakened
heart of youth.
She met my eyes steadily.
“If I thought there was the slightest chance of my
ever seeing you again I shouldn’t be talking to you
here. But I thought, I thought it would be good fun
to see how you really talked to a grown-up. So I am
risking the displeasure of these good Sisters just to test
your conversational powers, Mr. Glenarm. You see how
perfectly frank I am.”
“But you forget that I can follow you; I don’t intend
to sit down in this hole and dream about you. You
can’t go anywhere but I shall follow and find you.”
“That is finely spoken, Squire Glenarm! But I imagine
you are hardly likely to go far from Glenarm
very soon. It isn’t, of course, any of my affair; and yet
I don’t hesitate to say that I feel perfectly safe from
pursuit!”—and she laughed her little low laugh that
was delicious in its mockery.
I felt the blood mounting to my cheek. She knew,
then, that I was virtually a prisoner at Glenarm, and
for once in my life, at least, I was ashamed of my folly
that had caused my grandfather to hold and check me
from the grave, as he had never been able to control me
in his life. The whole countryside knew why I was at
Glenarm, and that did not matter; but my heart rebelled
at the thought that this girl knew and mocked me with
“I shall see you Christmas Eve,” I said, “wherever
you may be.”
“In three days? Then you will come to my Christmas
Eve party. I shall be delighted to see you,—and
flattered! Just think of throwing away a fortune to
satisfy one’s curiosity! I’m surprised at you, but gratified,
on the whole, Mr. Glenarm!”
“I shall give more than a fortune, I shall give the
honor I have pledged to my grandfather’s memory to
hear your voice again.”
“That is a great deal,—for so small a voice; but
money, fortune! A man will risk his honor readily
enough, but his fortune is a more serious matter. I’m
sorry we shall not meet again. It would be pleasant to
discuss the subject further. It interests me particularly.”
“In three days I shall see you,” I said.
She was instantly grave.
“No! Please do not try. It would be a great mistake.
And, anyhow, you can hardly come to my party
without being invited.”
“That matter is closed. Wherever you are on Christmas
Eve I shall find you,” I said, and felt my heart
leap, knowing that I meant what I said.
“Good-by,” she said, turning away. “I’m sorry I
shan’t ever chase rabbits at Glenarm any more.”
“Or paddle a canoe, or play wonderful celestial music
on the organ.”
“Or be an eavesdropper or hear pleasant words from
the master of Glenarm—”
“But I don’t know where you are going—you haven’t
told me anything—you are slipping out into the
She did not hear or would not answer. She turned
away, and was at once surrounded by a laughing throng
that crowded about the train. Two brown-robed Sisters
stood like sentinels, one at either side, as she stepped
into the car. I was conscious of a feeling that from the
depths of their hoods they regarded me with un-Christian
disdain. Through the windows I could see the
students fluttering to seats, and the girl in gray seemed
to be marshaling them. The gray hat appeared at a
window for an instant, and a smiling face gladdened, I
am sure, the guardians of the peace at St. Agatha’s, for
whom it was intended.
The last trunk crashed into the baggage car, every
window framed for a moment a girl’s face, and the
train was gone.
THE PASSING OF OLIVIA
Bates brought a great log and rolled it upon exactly
the right spot on the andirons, and a great constellation
of sparks thronged up the chimney. The old relic of a
house—I called the establishment by many names, but
this was, I think, my favorite—could be heated in all
its habitable parts, as Bates had demonstrated. The
halls were of glacial temperature these cold days, but
my room above, the dining-room and the great library
were comfortable enough. I threw down a book and
knocked the ashes from my pipe.
“I think my spiritual welfare is in jeopardy. I need
counsel,—a spiritual adviser.”
“I’m afraid that’s beyond me, sir.”
“I’d like to invite Mr. Stoddard to dinner so I may
discuss my soul’s health with him at leisure.”
“Certainly, Mr. Glenarm.”
“But it occurs to me that probably the terms of Mr.
Glenarm’s will point to my complete sequestration here.
In other words, I may forfeit my rights by asking a
guest to dinner.”
He pondered the matter for a moment, then replied:
“I should think, sir,—as you ask my opinion,—that
in the case of a gentleman in holy orders there would
be no impropriety. Mr. Stoddard is a fine gentleman;
I heard your late grandfather speak of him very
“That, I imagine, is hardly conclusive in the matter.
There is the executor—”
“To be sure; I hadn’t considered him.”
“Well, you’d better consider him. He’s the court of
last resort, isn’t he?”
“Well, of course, that’s one way of looking at it,
“I suppose there’s no chance of Mr. Pickering’s dropping
in on us now and then.”
He gazed at me steadily, unblinkingly and with entire
“He’s a good deal of a traveler, Mr. Pickering is. He
passed through only this morning, so the mail-boy told
me. You may have met him at the station.”
“Oh, yes; to be sure; so I did I” I replied. I was not
as good a liar as Bates; and there was nothing to be
gained by denying that I had met the executor in the
village. “I had a very pleasant talk with him. He was
on the way to California with several friends.”
“That is quite his way, I understand,—private cars
and long journeys about the country. A very successful
man is Mr. Pickering. Your grandfather had great
confidence in him, did Mr. Glenarm.”
“Ah, yes! A fine judge of character my grandfather
was! I guess John Marshall Glenarm could spot a rascal
about as far as any man in his day.”
I felt like letting myself go before this masked scoundrel.
The density of his mask was an increasing wonder
to me. Bates was the most incomprehensible human
being I had ever known. I had been torn with a
thousand conflicting emotions since I overheard him discussing
the state of affairs at Glenarm House with
Pickering in the chapel porch; and Pickering’s acquaintance
with the girl in gray brought new elements
into the affair that added to my uneasiness. But here
was a treasonable dog on whom the stress of conspiracy
had no outward effect whatever.
It was an amazing situation, but it called for calmness
and eternal vigilance. With every hour my resolution
grew to stand fast and fight it out on my own account
without outside help. A thousand times during
the afternoon I had heard the voice of the girl in gray
saying to me: “You are a man, and I have heard that
you have had some experience in taking care of yourself,
It was both a warning and a challenge, and the memory
of the words was at once sobering and cheering.
Bates waited. Of him, certainly, I should ask no
questions touching Olivia Armstrong. To discuss her
with a blackguard servant even to gain answers to baffling
questions about her was not to my liking. And,
thank God! I taught myself one thing, if nothing
more, in those days at Glenarm House: I learned to
bide my time.
“I’ll give you a note to Mr. Stoddard in the morning.
You may go now.”
The note was written and despatched. The chaplain
was not at his lodgings, and Bates reported that he had
left the message. The answer came presently by the
hand of the Scotch gardener, Ferguson, a short, wiry,
raw-boned specimen. I happened to open the door myself,
and brought him into the library until I could read
Stoddard’s reply. Ferguson had, I thought, an uneasy
eye, and his hair, of an ugly carrot color, annoyed me.
Mr. Paul Stoddard presented his compliments and
would be delighted to dine with me. He wrote a large
even hand, as frank and open as himself.
“That is all, Ferguson.” And the gardener took himself
Thus it came about that Stoddard and I faced each
other across the table in the refectory that same evening
under the lights of a great candelabrum which
Bates had produced from the store-room below. And
I may say here, that while there was a slight hitch sometimes
in the delivery of supplies from the village;
while the fish which Bates caused to be shipped from
Chicago for delivery every Friday morning failed once
or twice, and while the grape-fruit for breakfast
was not always what it should have been,—the supply
of candles seemed inexhaustible. They were produced
in every shade and size. There were enormous
ones, such as I had never seen outside of a Russian
church,—and one of the rooms in the cellar was filled
with boxes of them. The House of a Thousand Candles
deserved and proved its name.
Bates had certainly risen to the occasion. Silver and
crystal of which I had not known before glistened on
the table, and on the sideboard two huge candelabra
added to the festival air of the little room.
Stoddard laughed as he glanced about.
“Here I have been feeling sorry for you, and yet you
are living like a prince. I didn’t know there was so
much splendor in all Wabana County.”
“I’m a trifle dazzled myself. Bates has tapped a new
cellar somewhere. I’m afraid I’m not a good housekeeper,
to speak truthfully. There are times when I
hate the house; when it seems wholly ridiculous, the
whim of an eccentric old man; and then again I’m actually
afraid that I like its seclusion.”
“Your seclusion is better than mine. You know my
little two-room affair behind the chapel,—only a few,
books and a punching bag. That chapel also is one of
your grandfather’s whims. He provided that all the
offices of the church must be said there daily or the
endowment is stopped. Mr. Glenarm lived in the past,
or liked to think he did. I suppose you know—or maybe
you don’t know—how I came to have this appointment?”
“Indeed, I should like to know.”
We had reached the soup, and Bates was changing
our plates with his accustomed light hand.
“It was my name that did the business,—Paul. A
bishop had recommended a man whose given name was
Ethelbert,—a decent enough name and one that you
might imagine would appeal to Mr. Glenarm; but he
rejected him because the name might too easily be cut
down to Ethel, a name which, he said, was very distasteful
“That is characteristic. The dear old gentleman!” I
exclaimed with real feeling.
“But he reckoned without his host,” Stoddard continued.
“The young ladies, I have lately learned, call
me Pauline, as a mark of regard or otherwise,—probably
otherwise. I give two lectures a week on church
history, and I fear my course isn’t popular.”
“But it is something, on the other hand, to be in touch
with such an institution. They are a very sightly company,
those girls. I enjoy watching them across the
garden wall. And I had a closer view of them at the
station this morning, when you ran off and deserted
He laughed,—his big wholesome cheering laugh.
“I take good care not to see much of them socially.”
“Afraid of the eternal feminine?”
“Yes, I suppose I am. I’m preparing to go into a
Brotherhood, as you probably don’t know. And girls
I glanced at my companion with a new inquiry and
“I didn’t know,” I said.
“Yes; I’m spending my year in studies that I may
never have a chance for hereafter. I’m going into an
order whose members work hard.”
He spoke as though he were planning a summer outing.
I had not sat at meat with a clergyman since the
death of my parents broke up our old home in Vermont,
and my attitude toward the cloth was, I fear, one of
antagonism dating from those days.
“Well, I saw Pickering after all,” I remarked.
“Yes, I saw him, too. What is it in his case, genius
or good luck?”
“I’m not a competent witness,” I answered. “I’ll be
frank with you: I don’t like him; I don’t believe in
“Oh! I beg your pardon. I didn’t know, of course.”
“The subject is not painful to me,” I hastened to
add, “though he was always rather thrust before me as
an ideal back in my youth, and you know how fatal that
is. And then the gods of success have opened all the
gates for him.”
“And yet—” I repeated. Stoddard lifted a glass of
sherry to the light and studied it for a moment. He did
not drink wine, but was not, I found, afraid to look
“And yet,” he said, putting down the glass and speaking
slowly, “when the gates of good fortune open too
readily and smoothly, they may close sometimes rather
too quickly and snap a man’s coat-tails. Please don’t
think I’m going to afflict you with shavings of wisdom
from the shop-floor, but life wasn’t intended to be too
easy. The spirit of man needs arresting and chastening.
It doesn’t flourish under too much fostering or
too much of what we call good luck. I’m disposed to
be afraid of good luck.”
“I’ve never tried it,” I said laughingly.
“I am not looking for it,” and he spoke soberly.
I could not talk of Pickering with Bates—the masked
beggar!—in the room, so I changed the subject.
“I suppose you impose penances, prescribe discipline
for the girls at St. Agatha’s,—an agreeable exercise of
the priestly office, I should say!”
His laugh was pleasant and rang true. I was liking
him better the more I saw of him.
“Bless you, no! I am not venerable enough. The
Sisters attend to all that,—and a fine company of
women they are!”
“But there must be obstinate cases. One of the
young ladies confided to me—I tell you this in cloistral
confidence—that she was being deported for insubordination.”
“Ah, that must be Olivia! Well, her case is different.
She is not one girl,—she is many kinds of a girl
in one. I fear Sister Theresa lost her patience and
hardened her heart.”
“I should like to intercede for Miss Armstrong,” I
The surprise showed in his face, and I added:
“Pray don’t misunderstand me. We met under
rather curious circumstances, Miss Armstrong and I.”
“She is usually met under rather unconventional circumstances,
I believe,” he remarked dryly. “My introduction
to her came through the kitten she smuggled
into the alms box of the chapel. It took me two days
to find it.”
He smiled ruefully at the recollection.
“She’s a young woman of spirit,” I declared defensively.
“She simply must find an outlet for the joy of
youth,—paddling a canoe, chasing rabbits through the
snow, placing kittens in durance vile. But she’s demure
enough when she pleases,—and a satisfaction to
My heart warmed at the memory of Olivia. Verily
the chaplain was right—she was many girls in one!
Stoddard dropped a lump of sugar into his coffee.
“Miss Devereux begged hard for her, but Sister Theresa
couldn’t afford to keep her. Her influence on the
other girls was bad.”
“That’s to Miss Devereux’s credit,” I replied. “You
needn’t wait, Bates.”
“Olivia was too popular. All the other girls indulged
her. And I’ll concede that she’s pretty. That gipsy
face of hers bodes ill to the hearts of men—if she ever
“I shouldn’t exactly call it a gipsy face; and how
much more should you expect her to grow? At twenty
a woman’s grown, isn’t she?”
He looked at me quizzically.
“Fifteen, you mean! Olivia Armstrong—that little
witch—the kid that has kept the school in turmoil all
There was decided emphasis in his interrogations.
“I’m glad your glasses are full, or I should say—”
There was, I think, a little heat for a moment on both
“The wires are evidently crossed somewhere,” he said
calmly. “My Olivia Armstrong is a droll child from
Cincinnati, whose escapades caused her to be sent home
for discipline to-day. She’s a little mite who just about
comes to the lapel of your coat, her eyes are as black
“Then she didn’t talk to Pickering and his friends
at the station this morning—the prettiest girl in the
world—gray hat, gray coat, blue eyes? You can have
your Olivia; but who, will you tell me, is mine?”
I pounded with my clenched hand on the table until
the candles rattled and sputtered.
Stoddard stared at me for a moment as though he
thought I had lost my wits. Then he lay back in his
chair and roared. I rose, bending across the table toward
him in my eagerness. A suspicion had leaped into
my mind, and my heart was pounding as it roused a
“The blue-eyed young woman in gray? Bless your
heart, man, Olivia is a child; I talked to her myself on
the platform. You were talking to Miss Devereux.
She isn’t Olivia, she’s Marian!”
“Then, who is Marian Devereux—where does she
live—what is she doing here—?”
“Well,” he laughed, “to answer your questions in order,
she’s a young woman; her home is New York;
she has no near kinfolk except Sister Theresa, so she
spends some of her time here.”
“Not that I ever heard of! She does a lot of things
well,—takes cups in golf tournaments and is the nimblest
hand at tennis you ever saw. Also, she’s a fine
musician and plays the organ tremendously.”
“Well, she told me she was Olivia!” I said.
“I should think she would, when you refused to meet
her; when you had ignored her and Sister Theresa,—
both of them among your grandfather’s best friends,
and your nearest neighbors here!”
“My grandfather be hanged! Of course I couldn’t
know her! We can’t live on the same earth. I’m in
her way, hanging on to this property here just to defeat
her, when she’s the finest girl alive!”
He nodded gravely, his eyes bent upon me with sympathy
and kindness. The past events at Glenarm
swept through my mind in kinetoscopic flashes, but the
girl in gray talking to Arthur Pickering and his
friends at the Annandale station, the girl in gray who
had been an eavesdropper at the chapel,—the girl in
gray with the eyes of blue! It seemed that a year passed
before I broke the silence.
“Where has she gone?” I demanded.
He smiled, and I was cheered by the mirth that
showed in his face.
“Why, she’s gone to Cincinnati, with Olivia Gladys
Armstrong,” he said. “They’re great chums, you
There was further information I wished to obtain,
and I did not blush to pluck it from Stoddard before
I let him go that night. Olivia Gladys Armstrong lived
in Cincinnati; her father was a wealthy physician at
Walnut Hills. Stoddard knew the family, and I asked
questions about them, their antecedents and place of
residence that were not perhaps impertinent in view of
the fact that I had never consciously set eyes on their
daughter in my life. As I look back upon it now my
information secured at that time, touching the history
and social position of the Armstrongs of Walnut Hills,
Cincinnati, seems excessive, but the curiosity which the
Reverend Paul Stoddard satisfied with so little trouble
to himself was of immediate interest and importance.
As to the girl in gray I found him far more difficult.
She was Marian Devereux; she was a niece of Sister
Theresa; her home was in New York, with another
aunt, her parents being dead; and she was a frequent
visitor at St. Agatha’s.
The wayward Olivia and she were on excellent terms,
and when it seemed wisest for that vivacious youngster
to retire from school at the mid-year recess Miss Devereux
had accompanied her home, ostensibly for a visit,
but really to break the force of the blow. It was a pretty
story, and enhanced my already high opinion of Miss
Devereux, while at the same time I admired the unknown
Olivia Gladys none the less.
When Stoddard left me I dug out of a drawer my
copy of John Marshall Glenarm’s will and re-read it for
the first time since Pickering gave it to me in New
York. There was one provision to which I had not
given a single thought, and when I had smoothed the
thin type-written sheets upon the table in my room I
read it over and over again, construing it in a new light
with every reading.
Provided, further, that in the event of the marriage of
said John Glenarm to the said Marian Devereux, or in the
event of any promise or contract of marriage between said
persons within five years from the date of said John Glenarm’s
acceptance of the provisions of this will, the whole
estate shall become the property absolutely of St. Agatha’s
School at Annandale, Wabana County, Indiana, a corporation
under the laws of said state.
“Bully for the old boy!” I muttered finally, folding
the copy with something akin to reverence for my
grandfather’s shrewdness in closing so many doors upon
his heirs. It required no lawyer to interpret this
paragraph. If I could not secure his estate by settling
at Glenarm for a year I was not to gain it by marrying
the alternative heir. Here, clearly, was not one of those
situations so often contrived by novelists, in which the
luckless heir presumptive, cut off without a cent, weds
the pretty cousin who gets the fortune and they live
happily together ever afterward. John Marshall Glenarm
had explicitly provided against any such frustration
of his plans.
“Bully for you, John Marshall Glenarm!” I rose
and bowed low to his photograph.
On top of my mail next morning lay a small envelope,
unstamped, and addressed to me in a free running hand.
“Ferguson left it,” explained Bates.
I opened and read:
If convenient will Mr. Glenarm kindly look in at St.
Agatha’s some day this week at four o’clock. Sister Theresa
wishes to see him.
I whistled softly. My feelings toward Sister Theresa
had been those of utter repugnance and antagonism. I
had been avoiding her studiously and was not a little
surprised that she should seek an interview with me.
Quite possibly she wished to inquire how soon I expected
to abandon Glenarm House; or perhaps she wished to
admonish me as to the perils of my soul. In any event
I liked the quality of her note, and I was curious to
know why she sent for me; moreover, Marian Devereux
was her niece and that was wholly in the Sister’s favor.
At four o’clock I passed into St. Agatha territory
and rang the bell at the door of the building where I
had left Olivia the evening I found her in the chapel.
A Sister admitted me, led the way to a small reception-room
where, I imagined, the visiting parent was received,
and left me. I felt a good deal like a school-boy
who has been summoned before a severe master for
discipline. I was idly beating my hat with my gloves
when a quick step sounded in the hall and instantly a
brown-clad figure appeared in the doorway.
It was a deep, rich voice, a voice of assurance, a
voice, may I say? of the world,—a voice, too, may I
add? of a woman who is likely to say what she means
without ado. The white band at her forehead brought
into relief two wonderful gray eyes that were alight
with kindliness. She surveyed me a moment, then her
lips parted in a smile.
“This room is rather forbidding; if you will come
She turned with an air of authority that was a part
of her undeniable distinction, and I was seated a moment
later in a pretty sitting-room, whose windows
gave a view of the dark wood and frozen lake beyond.
“I’m afraid, Mr. Glenarm, that you are not disposed
to be neighborly, and you must pardon me if I seem to
be pursuing you.”
Her smile, her voice, her manner were charming. I
had pictured her a sour old woman, who had hidden
away from a world that had offered her no pleasure.
“The apologies must all be on my side, Sister Theresa.
I have been greatly occupied since coming here,—
distressed and perplexed even.”
“Our young ladies treasure the illusion that there
are ghosts at your house” she said, with a smile that
disposed of the matter.
She folded her slim white hands on her knees and
spoke with a simple directness.
“Mr. Glenarm, there is something I wish to say to
you, but I can say it only if we are to be friends. I
have feared you might look upon us here as enemies.”
“That is a strong word,” I replied evasively.
“Let me say to you that I hope very much that nothing
will prevent your inheriting all that Mr. Glenarm
wished you to have from him.”
“Thank you; that is both kind and generous,” I said
with no little surprise.
“Not in the least. I should be disloyal to your grandfather,
who was my friend and the friend of my family,
if I did not feel kindly toward you and wish you well.
And I must say for my niece—”
“Miss Devereux.” I found a certain pleasure in pronouncing
“Miss Devereux is very greatly disturbed over the
good intentions of your grandfather in placing her name
in his will. You can doubtless understand how uncomfortable
a person of any sensibility would be under the
circumstances. I’m sorry you have never met her. She
is a very charming young woman whose happiness does
not, I may say, depend on other people’s money.”
She had never told, then! I smiled at the recollection
of our interviews.
“I am sure that is true, Sister Theresa.”
“Now I wish to speak to you about a matter of some
delicacy. It is, I understand perfectly, no business of
mine how much of a fortune Mr. Glenarm left. But
this matter has been brought to my attention in a disagreeable
way. Your grandfather established this
school; he gave most of the money for these buildings.
I had other friends who offered to contribute, but he insisted
on doing it all. But now Mr. Pickering insists
that the money—or part of it at least—was only a loan.”
“Yes; I understand.”
“Mr. Pickering tells me that he has no alternative in
the matter; that the law requires him to collect this
money as a debt due the estate.”
“That is undoubtedly true, as a general proposition.
He told me in New York that he had a claim against
you for fifty thousand dollars.”
“Yes; that is the amount. I wish to say to you, Mr.
Glenarm, that if it is necessary I can pay that amount.”
“Pray do not trouble about it, Sister Theresa. There
are a good many things about my grandfather’s affairs
that I don’t understand, but I’m not going to see an
old friend of his swindled. There’s more in all this
than appears. My grandfather seems to have mislaid
or lost most of his assets before he died. And yet he
had the reputation of being a pretty cautious business
“The impression is abroad, as you must know, that
your grandfather concealed his fortune before his
death. The people hereabouts believe so; and Mr. Pickering,
the executor, has been unable to trace it.”
“Yes, I believe Mr. Pickering has not been able to
solve the problem,” I said and laughed.
“But, of course, you and he will coöperate in an effort
to find the lost property.”
She bent forward slightly; her eyes, as they met
mine, examined me with a keen interest.
“Why shouldn’t I be frank with you, Sister Theresa?
I have every reason for believing Arthur Pickering a
scoundrel. He does not care to coöperate with me in
searching for this money. The fact is that he very
much wishes to eliminate me as a factor in the settlement
of the estate. I speak carefully; I know exactly
what I am saying.”
She bowed her head slightly and was silent for a moment.
The silence was the more marked from the fact
that the hood of her habit concealed her face.
“What you say is very serious.”
“Yes, and his offense is equally serious. It may
seem odd for me to be saying this to you when I am a
stranger; when you may be pardoned for having no
very high opinion of me.”
She turned her face to me,—it was singularly gentle
and refined,—not a face to associate with an idea of
self-seeking or duplicity.
“I sent for you, Mr. Glenarm, because I had a very
good opinion of you; because, for one reason, you are
the grandson of your grandfather,”—and the friendly
light in her gray eyes drove away any lingering doubt
I may have had as to her sincerity. “I wished to warn
you to have a care for your own safety. I don’t warn
you against Arthur Pickering alone, but against the
countryside. The idea of a hidden fortune is alluring;
a mysterious house and a lost treasure make a very enticing
combination. I fancy Mr. Glenarm did not realize
that he was creating dangers for the people he
wished to help.”
She was silent again, her eyes bent meditatively upon
me; then she spoke abruptly.
“Mr. Pickering wishes to marry my niece.”
“Ah! I have been waiting to hear that. I am exceedingly
glad to know that he has so noble an ambition.
But Miss Devereux isn’t encouraging him, as near as
I can make out. She refused to go to California with
his party—I happen to know that.”
“That whole California episode would have been
amusing if it had not been ridiculous. Marian never
had the slightest idea of going with him; but she is
sometimes a little—shall I say perverse?—”
“Please do! I like the word—and the quality!”
“—and Mr. Pickering’s rather elaborate methods of
“He’s as heavy as lead!” I declared.
“—amuse Marian up to a certain point; then they annoy
her. He has implied pretty strongly that the claim
against me could be easily adjusted if Marian marries
him. But she will never marry him, whether she benefits
by your grandfather’s will or however that may be!”
“I should say not,” I declared with a warmth that
caused Sister Theresa to sweep me warily with those
wonderful gray eyes. “But first he expects to find this
fortune and endow Miss Devereux with it. That is a
part of the scheme. And my own interest in the estate
must be eliminated before he can bring that condition
about. But, Sister Theresa, I am not so easily got rid
of as Arthur Pickering imagines. My staying qualities,
which were always weak in the eyes of my family, have
been braced up a trifle.”
“Yes.” I thought pleasure and hope were expressed
in the monosyllable, and my heart warmed to her.
“Sister Theresa, you and I are understanding each
other much better than I imagined we should,”—and
we both laughed, feeling a real sympathy growing between
“Yes; I believe we are,”—and the smile lighted her
“So I can tell you two things. The first is that Arthur
Pickering will never find my grandfather’s lost
fortune, assuming that any exists. The second is that
in no event will he marry your niece.”
“You speak with a good deal of confidence,” she said,
and laughed a low murmuring laugh. I thought there
was relief in it. “But I didn’t suppose Marian’s affairs
“They don’t, Sister Theresa. Her affairs are not of
the slightest importance,—but she is!”
There was frank inquiry in her eyes now.
“But you don’t know her,—you have missed your
“To be sure, I don’t know her; but I know Olivia
Gladys Armstrong. She’s a particular friend of mine,
—we have chased rabbits together, and she told me a
great deal. I have formed a very good opinion of Miss
Devereux in that way. Oh, that note you wrote about
Olivia’s intrusions beyond the wall! I should thank
you for it,—but I really didn’t mind.”
“A note? I never wrote you a note until to-day!”
“Well, some one did!” I said; then she smiled.
“Oh, that must have been Marian. She was always
Olivia’s loyal friend!”
“I should say so!”
Sister Theresa laughed merrily.
“But you shouldn’t have known Olivia,—it is unpardonable!
If she played tricks upon you, you should not
have taken advantage of them to make her acquaintance.
That wasn’t fair to me!”
“I suppose not! But I protest against this deportation.
The landscape hereabouts is only so much sky,
snow and lumber without her.”
“We miss her, too,” replied Sister Theresa. “We have
less to do!”
“And still I protest!” I declared, rising. “Sister
Theresa, I thank you with all my heart for what you
have said to me,—for the disposition to say it! And
this debt to the estate is something, I promise you, that
shall not trouble you.”
“Then there’s a truce between us! We are not enemies
at all now, are we?”
“No; for Olivia’s sake, at least, we shall be friends.”
I went home and studied the time-table.
If you are one of those captious people who must
verify by the calendar every new moon you read of in
a book, and if you are pained to discover the historian
lifting anchor and spreading sail contrary to the reckonings
of the nautical almanac, I beg to call your attention
to these items from the time-table of the Mid-Western
and Southern Railway for December, 1901.
The south-bound express passed Annandale at exactly
fifty-three minutes after four P. M. It was scheduled
to reach Cincinnati at eleven o’clock sharp. These
items are, I trust, sufficiently explicit.
To the student of morals and motives I will say a
further word. I had resolved to practise deception in
running away from Glenarm House to keep my promise
to Marian Devereux. By leaving I should forfeit
my right to any part of my grandfather’s estate; I
knew that and accepted the issue without regret; but I
had no intention of surrendering Glenarm House to
Arthur Pickering, particularly now that I realized how
completely I had placed myself in his trap. I felt,
moreover, a duty to my dead grandfather; and—not
least—the attacks of Morgan and the strange ways of
Bates had stirred whatever fighting blood there was in
me. Pickering and I were engaged in a sharp contest,
and I was beginning to enjoy it to the full, but I did not
falter in my determination to visit Cincinnati, hoping
to return without my absence being discovered; so the
next afternoon I began preparing for my journey.
“Bates, I fear that I’m taking a severe cold and I’m
going to dose myself with whisky and quinine and go
to bed. I shan’t want any dinner,—nothing until you
see me again.”
I yawned and stretched myself with a groan.
“I’m very sorry, sir. Shan’t I call a doctor?”
“Not a bit of it. I’ll sleep it off and be as lively as
a cricket in the morning.”
At four o’clock I told him to carry some hot water
and lemons to my room; bade him an emphatic good
night and locked the door as he left. Then I packed
my evening clothes in a suit-case. I threw the bag and
a heavy ulster from a window, swung myself out upon
the limb of a big maple and let it bend under me to its
sharpest curve and then dropped lightly to the ground.
I passed the gate and struck off toward the village
with a joyful sense of freedom. When I reached the
station I sought at once the south-bound platform, not
wishing to be seen buying a ticket. A few other passengers
were assembling, but I saw no one I recognized.
Number six, I heard the agent say, was on time; and
in a few minutes it came roaring up. I bought a seat
in the Washington sleeper and went into the dining-car
for supper. The train was full of people hurrying to
various ports for the holidays, but they had, I reflected,
no advantage over me. I, too, was bound on a definite
errand, though my journey was, I imagined, less commonplace
in its character than the homing flight of
most of my fellow travelers.
I made myself comfortable and dozed and dreamed as
the train plunged through the dark. There was a wait,
with much shifting of cars, where we crossed the Wabash,
then we sped on. It grew warmer as we drew
southward, and the conductor was confident we should
reach Cincinnati on time. The through passengers about
me went to bed, and I was left sprawled out in my open
section, lurking on the shadowy frontier between the
known world and dreamland.
“We’re running into Cincinnati—ten minutes late,”
said the porter’s voice; and in a moment I was in the
vestibule and out, hurrying to a hotel. At the St.
Botolph I ordered a carriage and broke all records
changing my clothes. The time-table informed me that
the Northern express left at half-past one. There was
no reason why I should not be safe at Glenarm House
by my usual breakfast hour if all went well. To avoid
loss of time in returning to the station I paid the hotel
charge and carried my bag away with me.
“Doctor Armstrong’s residence? Yes, sir; I’ve already
taken one load there”
The carriage was soon climbing what seemed to be a
mountain to the heights above Cincinnati. To this day
I associate Ohio’s most interesting city with a lonely
carriage ride that seemed to be chiefly uphill, through
a region that was as strange to me as a trackless jungle
in the wilds of Africa. And my heart began to perform
strange tattoos on my ribs I was going to the house
of a gentleman who did not know of my existence, to
see a girl who was his guest, to whom I had never, as
the conventions go, been presented. It did not seem
half so easy, now that I was well launched upon the adventure.
I stopped the cabman just as he was about to enter
an iron gateway whose posts bore two great lamps.
“That is all right, sir. I can drive right in.”
“But you needn’t,” I said, jumping out. “Wait here.”
Doctor Armstrong’s residence was brilliantly lighted,
and the strains of a waltz stole across the lawn cheerily.
Several carriages swept past me as I followed the walk.
I was arriving at a fashionable hour—it was nearly
twelve—and just how to effect an entrance without being
thrown out as an interloper was a formidable problem,
now that I had reached the house. I must catch
my train home, and this left no margin for explanation
to an outraged host whose first impulse would very
likely be to turn me over to the police.
I made a detour and studied the house, seeking a
door by which I could enter without passing the unfriendly
Gibraltar of a host and hostess on guard to
welcome belated guests.
A long conservatory filled with tropical plants gave
me my opportunity. Promenaders went idly through
and out into another part of the house by an exit I
could not see. A handsome, spectacled gentleman
opened a glass door within a yard of where I stood,
sniffed the air, and said to his companion, as he turned
back with a shrug into the conservatory:
“There’s no sign of snow. It isn’t Christmas weather
He strolled away through the palms, and I instantly
threw off my ulster and hat, cast them behind some
bushes, and boldly opened the door and entered.
The ball-room was on the third floor, but the guests
were straggling down to supper, and I took my stand
at the foot of the broad stairway and glanced up carelessly,
as though waiting for some one. It was a large
and brilliant company and many a lovely face passed
me as I stood waiting. The very size of the gathering
gave me security, and I smoothed my gloves complacently.
The spectacled gentleman whose breath of night air
had given me a valued hint of the open conservatory
door came now and stood beside me. He even put his
hand on my arm with intimate friendliness.
There was a sound of mirth and scampering feet in
the hall above and then down the steps, between the
lines of guests arrested in their descent, came a dark
laughing girl in the garb of Little Red Riding Hood,
amid general applause and laughter.
“It’s Olivia! She’s won the wager!” exclaimed the
spectacled gentleman, and the girl, whose dark curls
were shaken about her face, ran up to us and threw
her arms about him and kissed him. It was a charming
picture,—the figures on the stairway, the pretty graceful
child, the eager, happy faces all about. I was too
much interested by this scene of the comedy to be uncomfortable.
Then, at the top of the stair, her height accented by
her gown of white, stood Marian Devereux, hesitating
an instant, as a bird pauses before taking wing, and then
laughingly running between the lines to where Olivia
faced her in mock abjection. To the charm of the girl
in the woodland was added now the dignity of beautiful
womanhood, and my heart leaped at the thought
that I had ever spoken to her, that I was there because
she had taunted me with the risk of coming.
[Illustration: At the top of the stair, her height accented by her gown of white,
stood Marian Devereux.]
Above, on the stair landing, a deep-toned clock began
to strike midnight and every one cried “Merry Christmas!”
and “Olivia’s won!” and there was more hand-clapping,
in which I joined with good will.
Some one behind me was explaining what had just
occurred. Olivia, the youngest daughter of the house,
had been denied a glimpse of the ball; Miss Devereux
had made a wager with her host that Olivia would appear
before midnight; and Olivia had defeated the plot
against her, and gained the main hall at the stroke of
“Good night! Good night!” called Olivia—the real
Olivia—in derision to the company, and turned and ran
back through the applauding, laughing throng.
The spectacled gentleman was Olivia’s father, and he
mockingly rebuked Marian Devereux for having encouraged
an infraction of parental discipline, while she
was twitting him upon the loss of his wager. Then her
eyes rested upon me for the first time. She smiled
slightly, but continued talking placidly to her host.
The situation did not please me; I had not traveled so
far and burglariously entered Doctor Armstrong’s house
in quest of a girl with blue eyes merely to stand by while
she talked to another man.
I drew nearer, impatiently; and was conscious that
four other young men in white waistcoats and gloves
quite as irreproachable as my own stood ready to claim
her the instant she was free. I did not propose to be
thwarted by the beaux of Cincinnati, so I stepped toward
“I beg your pardon, Doctor—,” I said with an assurance
for which I blush to this hour.
“All right, my boy; I, too, have been in Arcady!” he
exclaimed in cheerful apology, and she put her hand
on my arm and I led her away.
“He called me ‘my boy,’ so I must be passing muster,”
I remarked, not daring to look at her.
“He’s afraid not to recognize you. His inability to
remember faces is a town joke.”
We reached a quiet corner of the great hall and I
found a seat for her.
“You don’t seem surprised to see me,—you knew I
would come. I should have come across the world for
this,—for just this.”
Her eyes were grave at once.
“Why did you come? I did not think you were so
foolish. This is all—so wretched,—so unfortunate. You
didn’t know that Mr. Pickering—Mr. Pickering—”
She was greatly distressed and this name came from
“Yes; what of him?” I laughed. “He is well on his
way to California,—and without you!”
She spoke hurriedly, eagerly, bending toward me.
“No—you don’t know—you don’t understand—he’s
here; he abandoned his California trip at Chicago; he
telegraphed me to expect him—here—to-night! You
must go at once,—at once!”
“Ah, but you can’t frighten me,” I said, trying to
realize just what a meeting with Pickering in that house
“No,”—she looked anxiously about,—”they were to
arrive late, he and the Taylors; they know the Armstrongs
quite well. They may come at any moment
now. Please go!”
“But I have only a few minutes myself,—you
wouldn’t have me sit them out in the station down
town? There are some things I have come to say, and
Arthur Pickering and I are not afraid of each other!”
“But you must not meet him here! Think what that
would mean to me! You are very foolhardy, Mr. Glenarm.
I had no idea you would come—”
“But you wished to try me,—you challenged me.”
“That wasn’t me,—it was Olivia,” she laughed, more
at ease, “I thought—”
“Yes, what did you think?” I asked. “That I was
tied hand and foot by a dead man’s money?”
“No, it wasn’t that wretched fortune; but I enjoyed
playing the child before you—I really love Olivia—and
it seemed that the fairies were protecting me and that
I could play being a child to the very end of the chapter
without any real mischief coming of it. I wish
I were Olivia!” she declared, her eyes away from me.
“That’s rather idle. I’m not really sure yet what
your name is, and I don’t care. Let’s imagine that we
haven’t any names,—I’m sure my name isn’t of any
use, and I’ll be glad to go nameless all my days if
“If only—” she repeated idly, opening and closing
her fan. It was a frail blue trifle, painted in golden
“There are so many ‘if onlies’ that I hesitate to
choose; but I will venture one. If only you will come
back to St. Agatha’s! Not to-morrow, or the next day,
but, say, with the first bluebirds. I believe they are
the harbingers up there.”
Her very ease was a balm to my spirit; she was now
a veritable daughter of repose. One arm in its long
white sheath lay quiet in her lap; her right hand held
the golden butterflies against the soft curve of her cheek.
A collar of pearls clasped her throat and accented the
clear girlish lines of her profile. I felt the appeal of
her youth and purity. It was like a cry in my heart,
and I forgot the dreary house by the lake, and Pickering
and the weeks within the stone walls of my prison.
“The friends who know me best never expect me to
promise to be anywhere at a given time. I can’t tell;
perhaps I shall follow the bluebirds to Indiana; but
why should I, when I can’t play being Olivia any
“No! I am very dull. That note of apology you
wrote from the school really fooled me. But I have
seen the real Olivia now. I don’t want you to go too
far—not where I can’t follow—this flight I shall hardly
Her lips closed—like a rose that had gone back to be
a bud again—and she pondered a moment, slowly freeing
and imprisoning the golden butterflies.
“You have risked a fortune, Mr. Glenarm, very, very
foolishly,—and more—if you are found here. Why,
Olivia must have recognized you! She must have seen
you often across the wall.”
“But I don’t care—I’m not staying at that ruin up
there for money. My grandfather meant more to me
“Yes; I believe that is so. He was a dear old gentleman;
and he liked me because I thought his jokes adorable.
My father and he had known each other. But
there was—no expectation—no wish to profit by his
friendship. My name in his will is a great embarrassment,
a source of real annoyance. The newspapers
have printed dreadful pictures of me. That is why I
say to you, quite frankly, that I wouldn’t accept a cent
of Mr. Glenarm’s money if it were offered me; and
that is why,”—and her smile was a flash of spring,—“I
want you to obey the terms of the will and earn your
She closed the fan sharply and lifted her eyes to mine.
“But there isn’t any fortune! It’s all a myth, a joke,”
“Mr. Pickering doesn’t seem to think so. He had
every reason for believing that Mr. Glenarm was a very
rich man. The property can’t be found in the usual
places,—banks, safety vaults, and the like. Then where
do you think it is,—or better, where do you think
Mr. Pickering thinks it is?”
“But assuming that it’s buried up there by the lake
like a pirate’s treasure, it isn’t Pickering’s if he finds
it. There are laws to protect even the dead from robbery!”
I concluded hotly.
“How difficult you are! Suppose you should fall
from a boat, or be shot—accidentally—then I might
have to take the fortune after all; and Mr. Pickering
might think of an easier way of getting it than by—”
“Stealing it! Yes, but you wouldn’t—!”
Half-past twelve struck on the stairway and I started
to my feet.
“You wouldn’t—” I repeated.
“I might, you know!”
“I must go,—but not with that, not with any hint of
“If you let him defeat you, if you fail to spend your
year there,—we’ll overlook this one lapse,”—she looked
me steadily in the eyes, wholly guiltless of coquetry but
She paused, opened the fan, held it up to the light
and studied the golden butterflies.
“Then—let me see—oh, I shall never chase another
rabbit as long as I live! Now go—quickly—quickly!”
“But you haven’t told me when and where it was we
met the first time. Please!”
She laughed, but urged me away with her eyes.
“I shan’t do it! It isn’t proper for me to remember,
if your memory is so poor. I wonder how it would seem
for us to meet just once—and be introduced! Good
night! You really came. You are a gentleman of your
word, Squire Glenarm!”
She gave me the tips of her fingers without looking
A servant came in hurriedly.
“Miss Devereux, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor and Mr. Pickering
are in the drawing-room.”
“Yes; very well; I will come at once.”
Then to me:
“They must not see you—there, that way!” and she
stood in the door, facing me, her hands lightly touching
the frame as though to secure my way.
I turned for a last look and saw her waiting—her
eyes bent gravely upon me, her arms still half-raised,
barring the door; then she turned swiftly away into the
Outside I found my hat and coat, and wakened my
sleeping driver. He drove like mad into the city, and
I swung upon the north-bound sleeper just as it was
drawing out of the station.
I MEET AN OLD FRIEND
When I reached the house I found, to my astonishment,
that the window I had left open as I scrambled
out the night before was closed. I dropped my bag and
crept to the front door, thinking that if Bates had discovered
my absence it was useless to attempt any further
deception. I was amazed to find the great doors
of the main entrance flung wide, and in real alarm I
ran through the hall and back to the library.
The nearest door stood open, and, as I peered in, a
curious scene disclosed itself. A few of the large cathedral
candles still burned brightly in several places,
their flame rising strangely in the gray morning light.
Books had been taken from the shelves and scattered
everywhere, and sharp implements had cut ugly gashes
in the shelving. The drawers containing sketches and
photographs had been pulled out and their contents
thrown about and trampled under foot.
The house was as silent as a tomb, but as I stood on
the threshold trying to realize what had happened, something
stirred by the fireplace and I crept forward, listening,
until I stood by the long table beneath the great
chandelier. Again I heard a sound as of some animal
waking and stretching, followed by a moan that was
undoubtedly human. Then the hands of a man clutched
the farther edge of the table, and slowly and evidently
with infinite difficulty a figure rose and the dark face
of Bates, with eyes blurred and staring strangely, confronted
He drew his body to its height, and leaned heavily
upon the table. I snatched a candle and bent toward
him to make sure my eyes were not tricking me.
“Mr. Glenarm! Mr. Glenarm!” he exclaimed in
broken whispers. “It is Bates, sir.”
“What have you done; what has happened?” I demanded.
He put his hand to his head uncertainly and gaped
as though trying to gather his wits.
He was evidently dazed by whatever had occurred,
and I sprang around and helped him to a couch. He
would not lie down but sat up, staring and passing his
hand over his head. It was rapidly growing lighter,
and I saw a purple and black streak across his temple
where a bludgeon of some sort had struck him.
“What does this mean, Bates? Who has been in the
“I can’t tell you, Mr. Glenarm.”
“Can’t tell me! You will tell me or go to jail!
There’s been mischief done here and I don’t intend to
have any nonsense about it from you. Well—?”
He was clearly suffering, but in my anger at the sight
of the wreck of the room I grasped his shoulder and
shook him roughly.
“It was early this morning,” he faltered, “about two
o’clock, I heard noises in the lower part of the house.
I came down thinking likely it was you, and remembering
that you had been sick yesterday—”
“Yes, go on.”
The thought of my truancy was no balm to my conscience
“As I came into the hall, I saw lights in the library.
As you weren’t down last night the room hadn’t been
lighted at all. I heard steps, and some one tapping with
“Yes; a hammer. Go on!”
It was, then, the same old story! The war had been
carried openly into the house, but Bates,—just why
should any one connected with the conspiracy injure
Bates, who stood so near to Pickering, its leader? The
fellow was undoubtedly hurt,—there was no mistaking
the lump on his head. He spoke with a painful difficulty
that was not assumed, I felt increasingly sure, as
he went on.
“I saw a man pulling out the books and tapping the
inside of the shelves. He was working very fast. And
the next thing I knew he let in another man through
one of the terrace doors,—the one there that still stands
a little open.”
He flinched as be turned slightly to indicate it, and
his face twitched with pain.
“Never mind that; tell the rest of your story.”
“Then I ran in, grabbed one of the big candelabra
from the table, and went for the nearest man. They
were about to begin on the chimney-breast there,—it
was Mr. Glenarm’s pride in all the house,—and that
accounts for my being there in front of the fireplace.
They rather got the best of me, sir.
“Clearly; I see they did. You had a hand-to-hand
fight with them, and being two to one—”
“No; there were two of us,—don’t you understand,
two of us! There was another man who came running
in from somewhere, and he took sides with me. I
thought at first it was you. The robbers thought so,
too, for one of them yelled, ‘Great God; it’s Glenarm!’
just like that. But it wasn’t you, but quite another person.”
“That’s a good story so far; and then what happened?”
“I don’t remember much more, except that some one
soused me with water that helped my head considerably,
and the next thing I knew I was staring across the table
there at you.”
“Who were these men, Bates? Speak up quickly!”
My tone was peremptory. Here was, I felt, a crucial
moment in our relations.
“Well,” he began deliberately, “I dislike to make
charges against a fellow man, but I strongly suspect one
of the men of being—”
“Yes! Tell the whole truth or it will be the worse
“I very much fear one of them was Ferguson, the
gardener over the way. I’m disappointed in him,
“Very good; and now for the other one.”
“I didn’t get my eyes on him. I had closed with
Ferguson and we were having quite a lively time of it
when the other one came in; then the man who came to
my help mixed us all up,—he was a very lively person,—
and what became of Ferguson and the rest of it I don’t
There was food for thought in what he said. He had
taken punishment in defense of my property—the crack
on his head was undeniable—and I could not abuse
him or question his veracity with any grace; not, at
least, without time for investigation and study. However,
I ventured to ask him one question.
“If you were guessing, shouldn’t you think it quite
likely that Morgan was the other man?”
He met my gaze squarely.
“I think it wholly possible, Mr. Glenarm.”
“And the man who helped you—who in the devil was
“Bless me, I don’t know. He disappeared. I’d like
mightily to see him again.”
“Humph! Now you’d better do something for your
head. I’ll summon the village doctor if you say so.”
“No; thank you, sir. I’ll take care of it myself.”
“And now we’ll keep quiet about this. Don’t mention
it or discuss it with any one.”
“Certainly not, sir.”
He rose, and staggered a little, but crossed to the
broad mantel-shelf in the great chimney-breast, rested
his arm upon it for a moment, passed his hand over the
dark wood with a sort of caress, then bent his eyes upon
the floor littered with books and drawings and papers
torn from the cabinets and all splashed with tallow and
wax from the candles. The daylight had increased until
the havoc wrought by the night’s visitors was fully apparent.
The marauders had made a sorry mess of the
room, and I thought Bates’ lip quivered as he saw the
“It would have been a blow to Mr. Glenarm; the room
was his pride,—his pride, sir.”
He went out toward the kitchen, and I ran up stairs
to my own room. I cursed the folly that had led me to
leave my window open, for undoubtedly Morgan and
his new ally, St. Agatha’s gardener, had taken advantage
of it to enter the house. Quite likely, too, they had
observed my absence, and this would undoubtedly be
communicated to Pickering. I threw open my door
and started back with an exclamation of amazement.
Standing at my chiffonnier, between two windows,
was a man, clad in a bath-gown—my own, I saw with
fury—his back to me, the razor at his face, placidly
Without turning he addressed me, quite coolly and
casually, as though his being there was the most natural
thing in the world.
“Good morning, Mr. Glenarm! Rather damaging
evidence, that costume. I suppose it’s the custom of the
country for gentlemen in evening clothes to go out by
the window and return by the door. You might think
the other way round preferable.”
“Larry!” I shouted.
“Kick that door shut and lock it,” he commanded, in
a sharp, severe tone that I remembered well—and just
now welcomed—in him.
“How, why and when—?”
“Never mind about me. I’m here—thrown the enemy
off for a few days; and you give me lessons in current
history first, while I climb into my armor. Pray pardon
He seized a broom and began work upon a pair of
trousers to which mud and briers clung tenaciously.
His coat and hat lay on a chair, they, too, much the
worse for rough wear.
There was never any use in refusing to obey Larry’s
orders, and as he got into his clothes I gave him in as
few words as possible the chief incidents that had
marked my stay at Glenarm House. He continued dressing
with care, helping himself to a shirt and collar from
my chiffonnier and choosing with unfailing eye the
best tie in my collection. Now and then he asked a
question tersely, or, again, he laughed or swore direly in
Gaelic. When I had concluded the story of Pickering’s
visit, and of the conversation I overheard between the
executor and Bates in the church porch, Larry wheeled
round with the scarf half-tied in his fingers and surveyed
“And you didn’t rush them both on the spot and have
“No. I was too much taken aback, for one thing—”
“I dare say you were!”
“And for another I didn’t think the time ripe. I’m
going to beat that fellow, Larry, but I want him to
show his hand fully before we come to a smash-up. I
know as much about the house and its secrets as he does,
—that’s one consolation. Sometimes I don’t believe
there’s a shilling here, and again I’m sure there’s a big
stake in it. The fact that Pickering is risking so much
to find what’s supposed to be hidden here is pretty fair
evidence that something’s buried on the place.”
“Possibly, but they’re giving you a lively boycott.
Now where in the devil have you been?”
“Well,—” I began and hesitated. I had not mentioned
Marian Devereux and this did not seem the time
for confidences of that sort.
He took a cigarette from his pocket and lighted it.
“Bah, these women! Under the terms of your revered
grandfather’s will you have thrown away all your rights.
It looks to me, as a member of the Irish bar in bad
standing, as though you had delivered yourself up to
the enemy, so far as the legal situation is concerned.
How does it strike you?”
“Of course I’ve forfeited my rights. But I don’t
mean that any one shall know it yet a while.”
“My lad, don’t deceive yourself. Everybody round
here will know it before night. You ran off, left your
window open invitingly, and two gentlemen who meditated
breaking in found that they needn’t take the trouble.
One came in through your own room, noting, of
course, your absence, let in his friend below, and tore
up the place regrettably.”
“Yes, but how did you get here?—if you don’t mind
“It’s a short story. That little chap from Scotland
Yard, who annoyed me so much in New York and drove
me to Mexico—for which may he dwell for ever in fiery
torment—has never given up. I shook him off, though,
at Indianapolis three days ago. I bought a ticket for
Pittsburg with him at my elbow. I suppose he thought
the chase was growing tame, and that the farther east
he could arrest me the nearer I should be to a British
consul and tide-water. I went ahead of him into the
station and out to the Pittsburg sleeper. I dropped my
bag into my section—if that’s what they call it in your
atrocious American language—looked out and saw him
coming along the platform. Just then the car began to
move,—they were shunting it about to attach a sleeper
that had been brought in from Louisville and my carriage,
or whatever you call it, went skimming out of
the sheds into a yard where everything seemed to be
most noisy and complex. I dropped off in the dark
just before they began to haul the carriage back. A
long train of empty goods wagons was just pulling
out and I threw my bag into a wagon and climbed after
it. We kept going for an hour or so until I was thoroughly
lost, then I took advantage of a stop at a place
that seemed to be the end of terrestrial things, got out
and started across country. I expressed my bag to you
the other day from a town that rejoiced in the cheering
name of Kokomo, just to get rid of it. I walked into
Annandale about midnight, found this medieval marvel
through the kindness of the station-master and was reconnoitering
with my usual caution when I saw a gentleman
romantically entering through an open window.”
Larry paused to light a fresh cigarette.
“You always did have a way of arriving opportunely.
“It pleased my fancy to follow him; and by the time
I had studied your diggings here a trifle, things began
to happen below. It sounded like a St. Patrick’s
Day celebration in an Irish village, and I went down at
a gallop to see if there was any chance of breaking in.
Have you seen the room? Well,”—he gave several
turns to his right wrist, as though to test it,—“we all
had a jolly time there by the fireplace. Another chap
had got in somewhere, so there were two of them. Your
man—I suppose it’s your man—was defending himself
gallantly with a large thing of brass that looked like
the pipes of a grand organ—and I sailed in with a chair.
My presence seemed to surprise the attacking party,
who evidently thought I was you,—flattering, I must
say, to me!”
“You undoubtedly saved Bates’ life and prevented the
rifling of the house. And after you had poured water
on Bates,—he’s the servant,—you came up here—”
“That’s the way of it.”
“You’re a brick, Larry Donovan. There’s only one of
you; and now—”
“And now, John Glenarm, we’ve got to get down to
business,—or you must. As for me, after a few hours
of your enlivening society—”
“You don’t go a step until we go together,—no, by
the beard of the prophet! I’ve a fight on here and I’m
going to win if I die in the struggle, and you’ve got to
stay with me to the end.”
“But under the will you dare not take a boarder.”
“Of course I dare! That will’s as though it had
never been as far as I’m concerned. My grandfather
never expected me to sit here alone and be murdered.
John Marshall Glenarm wasn’t a fool exactly!”
“No, but a trifle queer, I should say. I don’t have
to tell you, old man, that this situation appeals to me.
It’s my kind of a job. If it weren’t that the hounds are
at my heels I’d like to stay with you, but you have
enough trouble on hands without opening the house to
an attack by my enemies.”
“Stop talking about it. I don’t propose to be deserted
by the only friend I have in the world when I’m up
to my eyes in trouble. Let’s go down and get some
We found Bates trying to remove the evidences of the
night’s struggle. He had fastened a cold pack about his
head and limped slightly; otherwise he was the same—
silent and inexplicable.
Daylight had not improved the appearance of the
room. Several hundred books lay scattered over the
floor, and the shelves which had held them were hacked
“Bates, if you can give us some coffee—? Let the
room go for the present.”
He paused and Larry’s keen eyes were bent sharply
“Mr. Donovan is a friend who will be with me for
some time. We’ll fix up his room later in the day”
He limped out, Larry’s eyes following him.
“What do you think of that fellow?” I asked.
Larry’s face wore a puzzled look.
“What do you call him,—Bates? He’s a plucky fellow.”
Larry picked up from the hearth the big candelabrum
with which Bates had defended himself. It
was badly bent and twisted, and Larry grinned.
“The fellow who went out through the front door
probably isn’t feeling very well to-day. Your man was
swinging this thing like a windmill.”
“I can’t understand it,” I muttered. “I can’t, for
the life of me, see why he should have given battle to
the enemy. They all belong to Pickering, and Bates is
the biggest rascal of the bunch.”
“Humph! we’ll consider that later. And would you
mind telling me what kind of a tallow foundry this is?
I never saw so many candlesticks in my life. I seem
to taste tallow. I had no letters from you, and I supposed
you were loafing quietly in a grim farm-house,
dying of ennui, and here you are in an establishment
that ought to be the imperial residence of an Eskimo
chief. Possibly you have crude petroleum for soup and
whipped salad-oil for dessert. I declare, a man living
here ought to attain a high candle-power of luminosity.
It’s perfectly immense.” He stared and laughed. “And
hidden treasure, and night attacks, and young virgins
in the middle distance,—yes, I’d really like to stay a
As we ate breakfast I filled in gaps I had left in my
hurried narrative, with relief that I can not describe filling
my heart as I leaned again upon the sympathy of
an old and trusted friend.
As Bates came and went I marked Larry’s scrutiny of
the man. I dismissed him as soon as possible that we
might talk freely.
“Take it up and down and all around, what do you
think of all this?” I asked.
Larry was silent for a moment; he was not given to
careless speech in personal matters.
“There’s more to it than frightening you off or getting
your grandfather’s money. It’s my guess that
there’s something in this house that somebody—Pickering
supposedly—is very anxious to find.”
“Yes; I begin to think so. He could come in here
legally if it were merely a matter of searching for lost
“Yes; and whatever it is it must be well hidden. As
I remember, your grandfather died in June. You got
a letter calling you home in October.”
“It was sent out blindly, with not one chance in a
hundred that it would ever reach me.”
“To be sure. You were a wanderer on the face of the
earth, and there was nobody in America to look after
your interests. You may be sure that the place was
thoroughly ransacked while you were sailing home. I’ll
wager you the best dinner you ever ate that there’s more
at stake than your grandfather’s money. The situation
is inspiring. I grow interested. I’m almost persuaded
A TRIPLE ALLIANCE
Larry refused to share my quarters and chose a room
for himself, which Bates fitted, up out of the house
stores. I did not know what Bates might surmise about
Larry, but he accepted my friend in good part, as a
guest who would remain indefinitely. He seemed to interest
Larry, whose eyes followed the man inquiringly.
When we went into Bates’ room on our tour of the
house, Larry scanned the books on a little shelf with
something more than a casual eye. There were exactly
four volumes,—Shakespeare’s Comedies, The Faerie
Queen, Sterne’s Sentimental Journey and Yeats’ Land
of Heart’s Desire.
“A queer customer, Larry. Nobody but my grandfather
could ever have discovered him—he found him
up in Vermont.”
“I suppose his being a bloomin’ Yankee naturally accounts
for this,” remarked Larry, taking from under the
pillow of the narrow iron bed a copy of the Dublin
“It is a little odd,” I said. “But if you found a Yiddish
newspaper or an Egyptian papyrus under his pillow
I should not be surprised.”
“Nor I,” said Larry. “I’ll wager that not another
shelf in this part of the world contains exactly that collection
of books, and nothing else. You will notice that
there was once a book-plate in each of these volumes and
that it’s been scratched out with care.”
On a small table were pen and ink and a curious
“He always gets the mail first, doesn’t he?” asked
“Yes, I believe he does.”
“I thought so; and I’ll swear he never got a letter
from Vermont in his life.”
When we went down Bates was limping about the
library, endeavoring to restore order.
“Bates,” I said to him, “you are a very curious person.
I have had a thousand and one opinions about you
since I came here, and I still don’t make you out.”
He turned from the shelves, a defaced volume in his
“Yes, sir. It was a good deal that way with your lamented
grandfather. He always said I puzzled him.”
Larry, safe behind the fellow’s back, made no attempt
to conceal a smile.
“I want to thank you for your heroic efforts to protect
the house last night. You acted nobly, and I must
confess, Bates, that I didn’t think it was in you. You’ve
got the right stuff in you; I’m only sorry that there are
black pages in your record that I can’t reconcile with
your manly conduct of last night. But we’ve got to
come to an understanding.”
“The most outrageous attacks have been made on me
since I came here. You know what I mean well enough.
Mr. Glenarm never intended that I should sit down in
his house and be killed or robbed. He was the gentlest
being that ever lived, and I’m going to fight for his
memory and to protect his property from the scoundrels
who have plotted against me. I hope you follow me.”
“Yes, Mr. Glenarm.” He was regarding me attentively.
His lips quavered, perhaps from weakness, for
he certainly looked ill.
“Now I offer you your choice,—either to stand loyally
by me and my grandfather’s house or to join these
scoundrels Arthur Pickering has hired to drive me out.
I’m not going to bribe you,—I don’t offer you a cent for
standing by me, but I won’t have a traitor in the house,
and if you don’t like me or my terms I want you to go
and go now.”
He straightened quickly,—his eyes lighted and the
color crept into his face. I had never before seen him
appear so like a human being.
“Mr. Glenarm, you have been hard on me; there have
been times when you have been very unjust—”
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