The House of a Thousand Candles
Part 6 out of 6
easily enough if Morgan’s company had shown more of
a fighting spirit. Stoddard’s presence rather amazed
them, I think, and I saw that the invaders kept away
from his end of the line. We were far apart, stumbling
over the snow-covered earth and calling to one another
now and then that we might not become too widely separated.
Davidson did not relish his capture by the man
he had followed across the ocean, and he attempted once
to roar a command to Morgan.
“Try it again,” I heard Larry admonish him, “try
that once more, and The Sod, God bless it! will never
feel the delicate imprint of your web-feet again.”
He turned the man about and rushed him toward the
house, the revolver still serving as a prod. His speed
gave heart to the wary invaders immediately behind him
and two fellows urged and led by Morgan charged our
line at a smart pace.
“Bolt for the front door,” I called to Larry, and Stoddard
and I closed in after him to guard his retreat.
“They’re not shooting,” called Stoddard. “You may
be sure they’ve had their orders to capture the house
with as little row as possible.”
We were now nearing the edge of the wood, with the
open meadow and water-tower at our backs, while Larry
was making good time toward the house.
“Let’s meet them here,” shouted Stoddard.
Morgan was coming up with a club in his hand, making
directly for me, two men at his heels, and the rest
veering off toward the wall of St. Agatha’s.
“Watch the house,” I yelled to the chaplain; and
then, on the edge of the wood Morgan came at me furiously,
swinging his club over his head, and in a moment
we were fencing away at a merry rate. We both had
revolvers strapped to our waists, but I had no intention
of drawing mine unless in extremity. At my right
Stoddard was busy keeping off Morgan’s personal
guard, who seemed reluctant to close with the clergyman.
I have been, in my day, something of a fencer, and
my knowledge of the foils stood me in good stead now.
With a tremendous thwack I knocked Morgan’s club
flying over the snow, and, as we grappled, Bates yelled
from the house. I quickly found that Morgan’s wounded
arm was still tender. He flinched at the first grapple,
and his anger got the better of his judgment. We
kicked up the snow at a great rate as we feinted and
dragged each other about. He caught hold of my belt
with one hand and with a great wrench nearly dragged
me from my feet, but I pinioned his arms and bent
him backward, then, by a trick Larry had taught me,
flung him upon his side. It is not, I confess, a pretty
business, matching your brute strength against that of
a fellow man, and as I cast myself upon him and felt
his hard-blown breath on my face, I hated myself more
than I hated him for engaging in so ignoble a contest.
Bates continued to call from the house.
“Come on at any cost,” shouted Stoddard, putting
himself between me and the men who were flying to
I sprang away from my adversary, snatching his revolver,
and ran toward the house, Stoddard close behind,
but keeping himself well between me and the men who
were now after us in full cry.
“Shoot, you fools, shoot!” howled Morgan, and as we
reached the open meadow and ran for the house a shot-gun
roared back of us and buckshot snapped and rattled
on the stone of the water tower.
“There’s the sheriff,” called Stoddard behind me.
The officer of the law and his deputy ran into the
park from the gate of St. Agatha’s, while the rest of
Morgan’s party were skirting the wall to join them.
“Stop or I’ll shoot,” yelled Morgan, and I felt Stoddard
pause in his gigantic stride to throw himself between
me and the pursuers.
“Sprint for it hot,” he called very coolly, as though
he were coaching me in a contest of the most amiable
“Get away from those guns,” I panted, angered by
the very generosity of his defense.
“Feint for the front entrance and then run for the
terrace and the library-door,” he commanded, as we
crossed the little ravine bridge. “They’ve got us headed
Twice the guns boomed behind us, and twice I saw
shot cut into the snow about me.
“I’m all right,” called Stoddard reassuringly, still
at my back. “They’re not a bit anxious to kill me.”
I was at the top of my speed now, but the clergyman
kept close at my heels. I was blowing hard, but he
made equal time with perfect ease.
The sheriff was bawling orders to his forces, who
awaited us before the front door. Bates and Larry were
not visible, but I had every confidence that the Irishman
would reappear in the fight at the earliest moment
possible. Bates, too, was to be reckoned with, and the
final struggle, if it came in the house itself, might not
be so unequal, providing we knew the full strength
of the enemy.
“Now for the sheriff—here we go!” cried Stoddard—
beside me—and we were close to the fringe of trees that
shielded the entrance. Then off we veered suddenly to
the left, close upon the terrace, where one of the French
windows was thrown open and Larry and Bates stepped
out, urging us on with lusty cries.
They caught us by the arms and dragged us over
where the balustrade was lowest, and we crowded
through the door and slammed it. As Bates snapped
the bolts Morgan’s party discharged its combined artillery
and the sheriff began a great clatter at the front
“Gentlemen, we’re in a state of siege,” observed
Larry, filling his pipe.
Shot pattered on the wails and several panes of glass
cracked in the French windows.
“All’s tight below, sir,” reported Bates. “I thought
it best to leave the tunnel trap open for our own use.
Those fellows won’t come in that way,—it’s too much
like a blind alley.”
“Where’s your prisoner, Larry?”
“Potato cellar, quite comfortable, thanks!”
It was ten o’clock and the besiegers suddenly withdrew
a short distance for parley among themselves. Outside
the sun shone brightly; and the sky was never bluer.
In this moment of respite, while we made ready for
what further the day might bring forth, I climbed up
to the finished tower to make sure we knew the enemy’s
full strength. I could see over the tree-tops, beyond the
chapel tower, the roofs of St. Agatha’s. There, at least,
was peace. And in that moment, looking over the black
wood, with the snow lying upon the ice of the lake white
and gleaming under the sun, I felt unutterably lonely
and heart-sick, and tired of strife. It seemed a thousand
years ago that I had walked and talked with the
child Olivia; and ten thousand years more since the
girl in gray at the Annandale station had wakened in
me a higher aim, and quickened a better impulse than I
had ever known.
Larry roared my name through the lower floors. I
went down with no wish in my heart but to even matters
with Pickering and be done with my grandfather’s
legacy for ever.
“The sheriff and Morgan have gone back toward the
lake,” reported Larry.
“They’ve gone to consult their chief,” I said. “I
wish Pickering would lead his own battalions. It would
give social prestige to the fight.”
“Bah, these women!” And Larry tore the corner
from a cartridge box.
Stoddard, with a pile of clubs within reach, lay on
his back on the long leather couch, placidly reading his
Greek testament. Bates, for the first time since my arrival,
seemed really nervous and anxious, He pulled a
silver watch from his pocket several times, something I
had never seen him do before. He leaned against the
table, looking strangely tired and worn, and I saw him
start nervously as he felt Larry’s eyes on him.
“I think, sir, I’d better take another look at the outer
gates,” he remarked to me quite respectfully.
His disturbed air aroused my old antagonism. Was
he playing double in the matter? Did he seek now an
excuse for conveying some message to the enemy?
“You’ll stay where you are,” I said sharply, and I
found myself restlessly fingering my revolver.
“Very good, sir,”—and the hurt look in his eyes
“Bates is all right,” Larry declared, with an emphasis
that was meant to rebuke me.
THE FIGHT IN THE LIBRARY
“They’re coming faster this time,” remarked Stoddard.
“Certainly. Their general has been cursing them
right heartily for retreating without the loot. He wants
his three-hundred-thousand-dollar autograph collection,”
“Why doesn’t he come for it himself, like a man?” I
“Like a man, do you say!” ejaculated Larry. “Faith
and you flatter that fat-head!”
It was nearly eleven o’clock when the attacking party
returned after a parley on the ice beyond the boat-house.
The four of us were on the terrace ready for them.
They came smartly through the wood, the sheriff and
Morgan slightly in advance of the others. I expected
them to slacken their pace when they came to the open
meadow, but they broke into a quick trot at the water-tower
and came toward the house as steady as veteran
“Shall we try gunpowder?” asked Larry.
“We’ll let them fire the first volley,” I said.
“They’ve already tried to murder you and Stoddard,
—I’m in for letting loose with the elephant guns,” protested
“Stand to your clubs,” admonished Stoddard, whose
own weapon was comparable to the Scriptural weaver’s
beam. “Possession is nine points of the fight, and we’ve
got the house.”
“Also a prisoner of war,” said Larry, grinning.
The English detective had smashed the glass in the
barred window of the potato cellar and we could hear
him howling and cursing below.
“Looks like business this time!” exclaimed Larry.
“Spread out now and the first head that sticks over the
balustrade gets a dose of hickory.”
When twenty-five yards from the terrace the advancing
party divided, half halting between us and the
water-tower and the remainder swinging around the
house toward the front entrance.
“Ah, look at that!” yelled Larry. “It’s a battering-ram
they have. O man of peace! have I your Majesty’s
consent to try the elephant guns now?”
Morgan and the sheriff carried between them a stick
of timber from which the branches had been cut, and,
with a third man to help, they ran it up the steps and
against the door with a crash that came booming back
through the house.
Bates was already bounding up the front stairway, a
revolver in his hand and a look of supreme rage on his
face. Leaving Stoddard and Larry to watch the library
windows, I was after him, and we clattered over the loose
boards in the upper hall and into a great unfinished
chamber immediately over the entrance. Bates had the
window up when I reached him and was well out upon
the coping, yelling a warning to the men below.
He had his revolver up to shoot, and when I caught
his arm he turned to me with a look of anger and indignation
I had never expected to see on his colorless, mask-like
“My God, sir! That door was his pride, sir,—it came
from a famous house in England, and they’re wrecking
it, sir, as though it were common pine.”
He tore himself free of my grasp as the besiegers
again launched their battering-ram against the door
with a frightful crash, and his revolver cracked smartly
thrice, as he bent far out with one hand clinging to
the window frame.
His shots were a signal for a sharp reply from one of
the men below, and I felt Bates start, and pulled him
in, the blood streaming from his face.
“It’s all right, sir,—all right,—only a cut across my
cheek, sir,”—and another bullet smashed through the
glass, spurting plaster dust from the wall. A fierce
onslaught below caused a tremendous crash to echo
through the house, and I heard firing on the opposite
side, where the enemy’s reserve was waiting.
Bates, with a handkerchief to his face, protested that
he was unhurt.
“Come below; there’s nothing to be gained here,”—.
and I ran down to the hall, where Stoddard stood, leaning
upon his club like a Hercules and coolly watching
the door as it leaped and shook under the repeated blows
of the besiegers.
A gun roared again at the side of the house, and I ran
to the library, where Larry had pushed furniture against
all the long windows save one, which he held open. He
stepped out upon the terrace and emptied a revolver at
the men who were now creeping along the edge of the
ravine beneath us. One of them stopped and discharged
a rifle at us with deliberate aim. The ball snapped snow
from the balustrade and screamed away harmlessly.
“Bah, such monkeys!” he muttered. “I believe I’ve
hit that chap!” One man had fallen and lay howling
in the ravine, his hand to his thigh, while his comrades
“Serves you right, you blackguard!” Larry muttered.
I pulled him in and we jammed a cabinet against the
Meanwhile the blows at the front continued with increasing
violence. Stoddard still stood where I had left
him. Bates was not in sight, but the barking of a revolver
above showed that he had returned to the window
to take vengeance on his enemies.
Stoddard shook his head in deprecation.
“They fired first,—we can’t do less than get back at
them,” I said, between the blows of the battering-ram.
A panel of the great oak door now splintered in, but
in their fear that we might use the opening as a
loophole, they scampered out into range of Bates’ revolver.
In return we heard a rain of small shot on the
upper windows, and a few seconds later Larry shouted
that the flanking party was again at the terrace.
This movement evidently heartened the sheriff, for,
under a fire from Bates, his men rushed up and the log
crashed again into the door, shaking it free of the upper
hinges. The lower fastenings were wrenched loose an
instant later, and the men came tumbling into the hall,
—the sheriff, Morgan and four others I had never seen
before. Simultaneously the flanking party reached the
terrace and were smashing the small panes of the French
windows. We could hear the glass crack and tinkle
above the confusion at the door.
In the hall he was certainly a lucky man who held to
his weapon a moment after the door tumbled in. I
blazed at the sheriff with my revolver as he stumbled
and half-fell at the threshold, so that the ball passed
over him, but he gripped me by the legs and had me
prone and half-dazed by the rap of my head on the floor.
I suppose I was two or three minutes, at least, getting
my wits. I was first conscious of Bates grappling the
sheriff, who sat upon me, and as they struggled with each
other I got the full benefit of their combined, swerving,
tossing weight. Morgan and Larry were trying for a
chance at each other with revolvers, while Morgan
backed the Irishman slowly toward the library. Stoddard
had seized one of the unknown deputies with both
hands by the collar and gave his captive a tremendous
swing, jerking him high in the air and driving him
against another invader with a blow that knocked both
fellows spinning into a corner.
“Come on to the library!” shouted Larry, and Bates,
who had got me to my feet, dragged me down the hall
toward the open library-door.
Bates presented at this moment an extraordinary appearance,
with the blood from the scratch on his face
coursing down his cheek and upon his shoulder. His
coat and shirt had been torn away and the blood was
smeared over his breast. The fury and indignation in
his face was something I hope not to see again in a human
“My God, this room—this beautiful room!” I heard
him cry, as he pushed me before him into the library.
“It was Mr. Glenarm’s pride,” he muttered, and sprang
upon a burly fellow who had came in through one of
the library doors and was climbing over the long table
we had set up as a barricade.
We were now between two fires. The sheriff’s party
had fought valiantly to keep us out of the library, and
now that we were within, Stoddard’s big shoulders held
the door half-closed against the combined strength of
the men in the ball. This pause was fortunate, for it
gave us an opportunity to deal singly with the fellows
who were climbing in from the terrace. Bates had laid
one of them low with a club and Larry disposed of another,
who had made a murderous effort to stick a knife
into him. I was with Stoddard against the door, where
the sheriff’s men were slowly gaining upon us.
“Let go on the jump when I say three,” said
Stoddard, and at his word we sprang away from the
door and into the room. Larry yelled with joy as the
sheriff and his men pitched forward and sprawled upon
the floor, and we were at it again in a hand-to-hand conflict
to clear the room.
“Hold that position, sir,” yelled Bates.
Morgan had directed the attack against me and I was
driven upon the hearth before the great fireplace. The
sheriff, Morgan and Ferguson hemmed me in. It was
evident that I was the chief culprit, and they wished to
eliminate me from the contest. Across the room, Larry,
Stoddard and Bates were engaged in a lively rough and
tumble with the rest of the besiegers, and Stoddard, seeing
my plight, leaped the overturned table, broke past
the trio and stood at my side, swinging a chair.
At that moment my eyes, sweeping the outer doors,
saw the face of Pickering. He had come to see that his
orders were obeyed, and I remember yet my satisfaction,
as, hemmed in by the men he had hired to kill me
or drive me out, I felt, rather than saw, the cowardly
horror depicted upon his face.
Then the trio pressed in upon me. As I threw down
my club and drew my revolver, some one across the
room fired several shots, whose roar through the room
seemed to arrest the fight for an instant, and then, while
Stoddard stood at my side swinging his chair defensively,
the great chandelier, loosened or broken by the shots,
fell with a mighty crash of its crystal pendants. The
sheriff, leaping away from Stoddard’s club, was struck
on the head and borne down by the heavy glass.
Smoke from the firing floated in clouds across the
room, and there was a moment’s silence save for the
sheriff, who was groaning and cursing under the debris
of the chandelier. At the door Pickering’s face appeared
again anxious and frightened. I think the scene
in the room and the slow progress his men were making
against us had half-paralyzed him.
We were all getting our second wind for a renewal
of the fight, with Morgan in command of the enemy.
One or two of his men, who had gone down early in the
struggle, were now crawling back for revenge. I think
I must have raised my hand and pointed at Pickering,
for Bates wheeled like a flash and before I realized what
happened he had dragged the executor into the room.
“You scoundrel—you ingrate!” howled the servant.
The blood on his face and bare chest and the hatred
in his eves made him a hideous object; but in that lull
of the storm while we waited, watching for an advantage,
I heard off somewhere, above or below, that same
sound of footsteps that I had remarked before. Larry
and Stoddard heard it; Bates heard it, and his eyes fixed
upon Pickering with a glare of malicious delight.
“There comes our old friend, the ghost,” yelled Larry.
“I think you are quite right, sir,” said Bates. He
threw down the revolver he held in his hand and leaned
upon the edge of the long table that lay on its side, his
gaze still bent on Pickering, who stood with his overcoat
buttoned close, his derby hat on the floor beside him,
where it had fallen as Bates hauled him into the room.
The sound of a measured step, of some one walking,
of a careful foot on a stairway, was quite distinct. I even
remarked the slight stumble that I had noticed before.
We were all so intent on those steps in the wall that
we were off guard. I heard Bates yell at me, and Larry
and Stoddard rushed for Pickering. He had drawn a
revolver from his overcoat pocket and thrown it up to
fire at me when Stoddard sent the weapon flying through
“Only a moment now, gentlemen,” said Bates, an odd
smile on his face. He was looking past me toward the
right end of the fireplace. There seemed to be in the
air a feeling of something impending. Even Morgan
and his men, half-crouching ready for a rush at me, hesitated;
and Pickering glanced nervously from one to the
other of us. It was the calm before the storm; in a moment
we should be at each other’s throats for the final
struggle, and yet we waited. In the wall I heard still
the sound of steps. They were clear to all of us now.
We stood there for what seemed an eternity—I suppose
the time was really not more than thirty seconds—inert,
waiting, while I felt that something must happen; the
silence, the waiting, were intolerable. I grasped my pistol
and bent low for a spring at Morgan, with the overturned
table and wreckage of the chandelier between me
and Pickering; and every man in the room was instantly
on the alert.
All but Bates. He remained rigid—that curious
smile on his blood-smeared face, his eyes bent toward the
end of the great fireplace back of me.
That look on his face held, arrested, numbed me; I
followed it. I forgot Morgan; a tacit truce held us all
again. I stepped back till my eyes fastened on the
broad paneled chimney-breast at the right of the hearth,
and it was there now that the sound of footsteps in the
wall was heard again; then it ceased utterly, the long
panel opened slowly, creaking slightly upon its hinges,
then down into the room stepped Marian Devereux.
She wore the dark gown in which I had seen her last,
and a cloak was drawn over her shoulders.
She laughed as her eyes swept the room.
“Ah, gentlemen,” she said, shaking her head, as she
viewed our disorder, “what wretched housekeepers you
Steps were again heard in the wall, and she turned to
the panel, held it open with one hand and put out the
other, waiting for some one who followed her.
Then down into the room stepped my grandfather,
John Marshall Glenarm! His staff, his cloak, the silk
hat above his shrewd face, and his sharp black eyes were
unmistakable. He drew a silk handkerchief from the
skirts of his frock coat, with a characteristic flourish
that I remembered well, and brushed a bit of dust from
his cloak before looking at any of us. Then his eyes
fell upon me.
“Good morning, Jack,” he said; and his gaze swept
“God help us!”
It was Morgan, I think, who screamed these words as
he bolted for the broken door, but Stoddard caught and
“Thank God, you’re here, sir!” boomed forth in Bates’
It seemed to me that I saw all that happened with a
weird, unnatural distinctness, as one sees, before a
storm, vivid outlines of far headlands that the usual
light of day scarce discloses.
I was myself dazed and spellbound; but I do not like
to think, even now, of the effect of my grandfather’s
appearance on Arthur Pickering; of the shock that
seemed verily to break him in two, so that he staggered,
then collapsed, his head falling as though to strike his
knees. Larry caught him by the collar and dragged him
to a seat, where he huddled, his twitching hands at his
“Gentlemen,” said my grandfather, “you seem to have
been enjoying yourselves. Who is this person?”
He pointed with his stick to the sheriff, who was endeavoring
to crawl out from under the mass of broken
“That, sir, is the sheriff,” answered Bates.
“A very disorderly man, I must say. Jack, what
have you been doing to cause the sheriff so much inconvenience?
Didn’t you know that that chandelier was
likely to kill him? That thing cost a thousand dollars,
gentlemen. You are expensive visitors. Ah, Morgan,—
and Ferguson, too! Well, well! I thought better of both
of you. Good morning, Stoddard! A little work for
the Church militant! And this gentleman?”—he indicated
Larry, who was, for once in his life, without anything
“Mr. Donovan,—a friend of the house,” explained
“Pleased, I’m sure,” said the old gentleman. “Glad
the house had a friend. It seems to have had enemies
enough,” he added dolefully; and he eyed the wreck of
the room ruefully. The good humor in his face reassured
me; but still I stood in tongue-tied wonder, staring
“And Pickering!” John Marshall Glenarm’s voice
broke with a quiet mirth that I remembered as the preface
usually of something unpleasant. “Well, Arthur,
I’m glad to find you on guard, defending the interests
of my estate. At the risk of your life, too! Bates!”
“Yes, Mr. Glenarm.”
“You ought to have called me earlier. I really prized
that chandelier immensely. And this furniture wasn’t
His tone changed abruptly. He pointed to the
sheriff’s deputies one after the other with his stick.
There was, I remembered, always something insinuating,
disagreeable and final about my grandfather’s staff.
“Clear out!” he commanded. “Bates, see these fellows
through the wall. Mr. Sheriff, if I were you I’d
be very careful, indeed, what I said of this affair. I’m
a dead man come to life again, and I know a great deal
that I didn’t know before I died. Nothing, gentlemen,
fits a man for life like a temporary absence from this
cheerful and pleasant world. I recommend you to try
He walked about the room with the quick eager step
that was peculiarly his own, while Stoddard, Larry and
I stared at him. Bates was helping the dazed sheriff
to his feet. Morgan and the rest of the foe were crawling
and staggering away, muttering, as though imploring
the air of heaven against an evil spirit.
Pickering sat silent, not sure whether he saw a ghost
or real flesh and blood, and Larry kept close to him, cutting
off his retreat. I think we all experienced that bewildered
feeling of children who are caught in mischief
by a sudden parental visitation. My grandfather went
about peering at the books, with a tranquil air that was
He paused suddenly before the design for the memorial
tablet, which I had made early in my stay at
Glenarm House. I had sketched the lettering with some
care, and pinned it against a shelf for my more leisurely
study of its phrases. The old gentlemen pulled out his
glasses and stood with his hands behind his back, reading.
When he finished he walked to where I stood.
“Jack!” he said, “Jack, my boy!” His voice shook
and his hands trembled as he laid them on my shoulders.
“Marian,”—he turned, seeking her, but the girl had
vanished. “Just as well,” he said. “This room is hardly
an edifying sight for a woman.” I heard, for an instant,
a light hurried step in the wall.
Pickering, too, heard that faint, fugitive sound, and
our eyes met at the instant it ceased. The thought of
her tore my heart, and I felt that Pickering saw and
knew and was glad.
“They have all gone, sir,” reported Bates, returning
to the room.
“Now, gentlemen,” began my grandfather, seating
himself, “I owe you an apology; this little secret of mine
was shared by only two persons. One of these was Bates,”
—he paused as an exclamation broke from all of us; and
he went on, enjoying our amazement,—“and the other
was Marian Devereux. I had often observed that at a
man’s death his property gets into the wrong hands, or
becomes a bone of contention among lawyers. Sometimes,”
and the old gentleman laughed, “an executor
proves incompetent or dishonest. I was thoroughly
fooled in you, Pickering. The money you owe me is a
large sum; and you were so delighted to hear of my
death that you didn’t even make sure I was really out of
the way. You were perfectly willing to accept Bates’
word for it; and I must say that Bates carried it off
Pickering rose, the blood surging again in his face,
and screamed at Bates, pointing a shaking finger at the
“You impostor,—you perjurer! The law will deal
with your case.”
“To be sure,” resumed my grandfather calmly;
“Bates did make false affidavits about my death; but
“It was in a Pickwickian sense, sir,” said Bates
“And in a righteous cause,” declared my grandfather.
“I assure you, Pickering, that I have every intention of
taking care of Bates. His weekly letters giving an account
of the curious manifestations of your devotion to
Jack’s security and peace were alone worth a goodly
sum. But, Bates—”
The old gentleman was enjoying himself hugely. He
chuckled now, and placed his hand on my shoulder.
“Bates, it was too bad I got those missives of yours
all in a bunch. I was in a dahabiyeh on the Nile and
they don’t have rural free delivery in Egypt. Your
cablegram called me home before I got the letters. But
thank God, Jack, you’re alive!”
There was real feeling in these last words, and I
think we were all touched by them.
“Amen to that!” cried Bates.
“And now, Pickering, before you go I want to show
you something. It’s about this mysterious treasure, that
has given you—and I hear, the whole countryside—so
much concern. I’m disappointed in you, Jack, that you
couldn’t find the hiding-place. I designed that as a part
of your architectural education. Bates, give me a
The man gravely drew a chair out of the wreckage
and placed it upon the hearth. My grandfather stepped
upon it, seized one of the bronze sconces above the mantel
and gave it a sharp turn. At the same moment,
Bates, upon another chair, grasped the companion
bronze and wrenched it sharply. Instantly some mechanism
creaked in the great oak chimney-breast and the
long oak panels swung open, disclosing a steel door with
a combination knob.
“Gentlemen,”—and my grandfather turned with a
quaint touch of humor, and a merry twinkle in his
bright old eyes—“gentlemen, behold the treasury! It
has proved a better hiding-place than I ever imagined
it would. There’s not much here, Jack, but enough to
keep you going for a while.”
We were all staring, and the old gentleman was unfeignedly
enjoying our mystification. It was an hour
on which he had evidently counted much; it was the
triumph of his resurrection and home-coming, and he
chuckled as he twirled the knob in the steel door. Then
Bates stepped forward and helped him pull the door
open, disclosing a narrow steel chest, upright and held
in place by heavy bolts clamped in the stone of the chimney.
It was filled with packets of papers placed on
shelves, and tied neatly with tape.
“Jack,” said my grandfather, shaking his head, “you
wouldn’t be an architect, and you’re not much of an
engineer either, or you’d have seen that that paneling
was heavier than was necessary. There’s two hundred
thousand dollars in first-rate securities—I vouch for
them! Bates and I put them there just before I went
to Vermont to die.”
“I’ve sounded those panels a dozen times,” I protested.
“Of course you have,” said my grandfather, “but
solid steel behind wood is safe. I tested it carefully before
He laughed and clapped his knees, and I laughed with
“But you found the Door of Bewilderment and Pickering’s
notes, and that’s something.”
“No; I didn’t even find that. Donovan deserves the
credit. But how did you ever come to build that tunnel,
if you don’t mind telling me?”
He laughed gleefully.
“That was originally a trench for natural-gas pipes.
There was once a large pumping-station on the site of
this house, with a big trunk main running off across
country to supply the towns west of here. The gas was
exhausted, and the pipes were taken up before I began
to build. I should never have thought of that tunnel in
the world if the trench hadn’t suggested it. I merely
deepened and widened it a little and plastered it with
cheap cement as far as the chapel, and that little room
there where I put Pickering’s notes had once been the
cellar of a house built for the superintendent of the gas
plant. I had never any idea that I should use that passage
as a means of getting into my own house, but Marian
met me at the station, told me that there was trouble
here, and came with me through the chapel into the
cellar, and through the hidden stairway that winds
around the chimney from that room where we keep the
“But who was the ghost?” I demanded, “if you were
really alive and in Egypt?”
Bates laughed now.
“Oh, I was the ghost! I went through there occasionally
to stimulate your curiosity about the house.
And you nearly caught me once!”
“One thing more, if we’re not wearing you out—I’d
like to know whether Sister Theresa owes you any
My grandfather turned upon Pickering with blazing
“You scoundrel, you infernal scoundrel, Sister
Theresa never borrowed a cent of me in her life! And
you have made war on that woman—”
His rage choked him.
He told Bates to close the door of the steel chest, and
then turned to me.
“Where are those notes of Pickering’s?” he demanded;
and I brought the packet.
“Gentlemen, Mr. Pickering has gone to ugly lengths
in this affair. How many murders have you gentlemen
“We were about to begin actual killing when you arrived,”
replied Larry, grinning.
“The sheriff got all his men off the premises more or
less alive, sir,” said Bates.
“That is good. It was all a great mistake,—a very
great mistake,”—and my grandfather turned to Pickering.
“Pickering, what a contemptible scoundrel you are!
I lent you that three hundred thousand dollars to buy
securities to give you better standing in your railroad
enterprises, and the last time I saw you, you got me to
release the collateral so you could raise money to buy
more shares. Then, after I died”—he chuckled—“you
thought you’d find and destroy the notes and that would
end the transaction; and if you had been smart enough
to find them you might have had them and welcome.
But as it is, they go to Jack. If he shows any mercy
on you in collecting them he’s not the boy I think he is.”
Pickering rose, seized his hat and turned toward the
shattered library-door. He paused for one moment, his
face livid with rage.
“You old fool!” he screamed at my grandfather.
“You old lunatic, I wish to God I had never seen you!
No wonder you came back to life! You’re a tricky old
devil and too mean to die!”
He turned toward me with some similar complaint
ready at his tongue’s end; but Stoddard caught him by
the shoulders and thrust him out upon the terrace.
A moment later we saw him cross the meadow and
hurry toward St. Agatha’s.
CHANGES AND CHANCES
John Marshall Glenarm had probably never been so
happy in his life as on that day of his amazing home-coming.
He laughed at us and he laughed with us, and
as he went about the house explaining his plans for its
completion, he chaffed us all with his shrewd humor
that had been the terror of my boyhood.
“Ah, if you had had the plans of course you would
have been saved a lot of trouble; but that little sketch
of the Door of Bewilderment was the only thing I left,
—and you found it, Jack,—you really opened these good
books of mine.”
He sent us all away to remove the marks of battle, and
we gave Bates a hand in cleaning up the wreckage,—
Bates, the keeper of secrets; Bates, the inscrutable and
mysterious; Bates, the real hero of the affair at Glenarm.
He led us through the narrow stairway by which he
had entered, which had been built between false walls,
and we played ghost for one another, to show just how
the tread of a human being around the chimney sounded.
There was much to explain, and my grandfather’s
contrition for having placed me in so hazardous a predicament
was so sincere, and his wish to make amends
so evident, that my heart warmed to him. He made me
describe in detail all the incidents of my stay at the
house, listening with boyish delight to my adventures.
“Bless my soul!” he exclaimed over and over again.
And as I brought my two friends into the story his delight
knew no bounds, and he kept chuckling to himself;
and insisted half a dozen times on shaking hands with
Larry and Stoddard, who were, he declared, his friends
as well as mine.
The prisoner in the potato cellar received our due attention;
and my grandfather’s joy in the fact that an
agent of the British government was held captive in
Glenarm House was cheering to see. But the man’s detention
was a grave matter, as we all realized, and made
imperative the immediate consideration of Larry’s future.
“I must go—and go at once!” declared Larry.
“Mr. Donovan, I should feel honored to have you remain,”
said my grandfather. “I hope to hold Jack
here, and I wish you would share the house with us.”
“The sheriff and those fellows won’t squeal very hard
about their performances here,” said Stoddard. “And
they won’t try to rescue the prisoner, even for a reward,
from a house where the dead come back to life.”
“No; but you can’t hold a British prisoner in an
American private house for ever. Too many people
know he has been in this part of the country; and you
may be sure that the fight here and the return of Mr.
Glenarm will not fail of large advertisement. All I can
ask of you, Mr. Glenarm, is that you hold the fellow a
few hours after I leave, to give me a start.”
“Certainly. But when this trouble of yours blows
over, I hope you will come back and help Jack to live
a decent and orderly life.”
My grandfather spoke of my remaining with a
warmth that was grateful to my heart; but the place and
its associations had grown unbearable. I had not mentioned
Marian Devereux to him, I had not told him of
my Christmas flight to Cincinnati; for the fact that I
had run away and forfeited my right made no difference
now, and I waited for an opportunity when we should
be alone to talk of my own affairs.
At luncheon, delayed until mid-afternoon, Bates produced
champagne, and the three of us, worn with excitement
and stress of battle, drank a toast, standing, to the
health of John Marshall Glenarm.
“My friends,”—the old gentleman rose and we all
stood, our eyes bent upon him in, I think, real affection,
—“I am an old and foolish man. Ever since I was
able to do so I have indulged my whims. This house
is one of them. I had wished to make it a thing of
beauty and dignity, and I had hoped that Jack would
care for it and be willing to complete it and settle here.
The means I employed to test him were not, I admit,
worthy of a man who intends well toward his own flesh
and blood. Those African adventures of yours scared
me, Jack; but to think”—and he laughed—“that I
placed you here in this peaceful place amid greater dangers
probably than you ever met in tiger-hunting! But
you have put me to shame. Here’s health and peace to
“So say we all!” cried the others.
“One thing more,” my grandfather continued, “I don’t
want you to think, Jack, that you would really have
been cut off under any circumstances if I had died while
I was hiding in Egypt. What I wanted, boy, was to
get you home! I made another will in England, where
I deposited the bulk of my property before I died, and
did not forget you. That will was to protect you in case
I really died!”—and he laughed cheerily.
The others left us—Stoddard to help Larry get his
things together—and my grandfather and I talked for
an hour at the table.
“I have thought that many things might happen
here,” I said, watching his fine, slim fingers, as he polished
his eye-glasses, then rested his elbows on the table
and smiled at me. “I thought for a while that I should
certainly be shot; then at times I was afraid I might
not be; but your return in the flesh was something I
never considered among the possibilities. Bates fooled
me. That talk I overheard between him and Pickering
in the church porch that foggy night was the thing that
seemed to settle his case; then the next thing I knew he
was defending the house at the serious risk of his life;
and I was more puzzled than ever.”
“Yes, a wonderful man, Bates. He always disliked
Pickering, and he rejoiced in tricking him.”
“Where did you pick Bates up? He told me he was
a Yankee, but he doesn’t act or talk it.”
My grandfather laughed. “Of course not! He’s an
Irishman and a man of education—but that’s all I know
about him, except that he is a marvelously efficient servant.”
My mind was not on Bates. I was thinking now of
Marian Devereux. I could not go on further with my
grandfather without telling him how I had run away
and broken faith with him, but he gave me no chance.
“You will stay on here,—you will help me to finish
the house?” he asked with an unmistakable eagerness
of look and tone.
It seemed harsh and ungenerous to tell him that I
wished to go; that the great world lay beyond the confines
of Glenarm for me to conquer; that I had lost as
well as gained by those few months at Glenarm House,
and wished to go away. It was not the mystery, now
fathomed, nor the struggle, now ended, that was uppermost
in my mind and heart, but memories of a girl
who had mocked me with delicious girlish laughter,—
who had led me away that I might see her transformed
into another, more charming, being. It was a comfort
to know that Pickering, trapped and defeated, was not
to benefit by the bold trick she had helped him play upon
me. His loss was hers as well, and I was glad in my
bitterness that I had found her in the passage, seeking
for plunder at the behest of the same master whom Morgan,
Ferguson and the rest of them served.
The fight was over and there was nothing more for me
to do in the house by the lake. After a week or so I
should go forth and try to win a place for myself. I
had my profession; I was an engineer, and I did not
question that I should be able to find employment. As
for my grandfather, Bates would care for him, and I
should visit him often. I was resolved not to give him
any further cause for anxiety on account of my adventurous
and roving ways. He knew well enough that his
old hope of making an architect of me was lost beyond
redemption—I had told him that—and now I wished to
depart in peace and go to some new part of the world,
where there were lines to run, tracks to lay and bridges
These thoughts so filled my mind that I forgot he
was patiently waiting for my answer.
“I should like to do anything you ask; I should like
to stay here always, but I can’t. Don’t misunderstand
me. I have no intention of going back to my old ways.
I squandered enough money in my wanderings, and I
had my joy of that kind of thing. I shall find employment
somewhere and go to work.”
“But, Jack,”—he bent toward me kindly,—“Jack, you
mustn’t be led away by any mere quixotism into laying
the foundation of your own fortune. What I have is
yours, boy. What is in the box in the chimney is yours
“I wish you wouldn’t! You were always too kind,
and I deserve nothing, absolutely nothing.”
“I’m not trying to pay you, Jack. I want to ease my
own conscience, that’s all.”
“But money can do nothing for mine,” I replied, trying
to smile. “I’ve been dependent all my days, and
now I’m going to work. If you were infirm and needed
me, I should not hesitate, but the world will have its
eyes on me now.”
“Jack, that will of mine did you a great wrong; it
put a mark upon you, and that’s what hurts me, that’s
what I want to make amends for! Don’t you see? Now
don’t punish me, boy. Come! Let us be friends!”
He rose and put out his hands.
“I didn’t mean that! I don’t care about that! It
was nothing more than I deserved. These months here
have changed me. Haven’t you heard me say I was going
And I tried to laugh away further discussion of my
“It will be more cheerful here in the spring,” he said,
as though seeking an inducement for me to remain.
“When the resort colony down here comes to life the
lake is really gay.”
I shook my head. The lake, that pretty cupful of
water, the dip and glide of a certain canoe, the remembrance
of a red tam-o’-shanter merging afar off in an
October sunset—my purpose to leave the place strengthened
as I thought of these things. My nerves were
keyed to a breaking pitch and I turned upon him stormily.
“So Miss Devereux was the other person who shared
your confidence! Do you understand,—do you appreciate
the fact that she was Pickering’s ally?”
“I certainly do not,” he replied coldly. “I’m surprised
to hear you speak so of a woman whom you can
“Yes, I know her; my God, I have reason to know her!
But even when I found her out I did not dream that
the plot was as deep as it is. She knew that it was a
scheme to test me, and she played me into Pickering’s
hands. I saw her only a few nights ago down there in
the tunnel acting as his spy, looking for the lost notes
that she might gain grace in his eyes by turning them
over to him. You know I always hated Pickering,—he
was too smooth, too smug, and you and everybody else
were for ever praising him to me. He was always held
up to me as a model; and the first time I saw Marian
Devereux she was with him—it was at Sherry’s the night
before I came here. I suppose she reached St. Agatha’s
only a few hours ahead of me.”
“Yes. Sister Theresa was her guardian. Her father
was a dear friend, and I knew her from her early childhood.
You are mistaken, Jack. Her knowing Pickering
means nothing,—they both lived in New York and
moved in the same circle.”
“But it doesn’t explain her efforts to help him, does
it?” I blazed. “He wished to marry her,—Sister
Theresa told me that,—and I failed, I failed miserably
to keep my obligation here—I ran away to follow her!”
“Ah, to be sure! You were away Christmas Eve,
when those vandals broke in. Bates merely mentioned
it in the last report I got as I came through New York.
That was all right. I assumed, of course, that you had
gone off somewhere to get a little Christmas cheer; I
don’t care anything about it.”
“But I had followed her—I went to Cincinnati to see
her. She dared me to come—it was a trick, a part of
the conspiracy to steal your property.”
The old gentleman smiled. It was a familiar way of
his, to grow calm as other people waxed angry.
“She dared you to come, did she! That is quite like
Marian; but you didn’t have to go, did you, Jack?”
“Of course not; of course I didn’t have to go, but—”
I stammered, faltered and ceased. Memory threw
open her portals with a challenge. I saw her on the
stairway at the Armstrongs’; I heard her low, soft
laughter, I felt the mockery of her voice and eyes! I
knew again the exquisite delight of being near her. My
heart told me well enough why I had followed her.
“Jack, I’m glad I’m not buried up there in that Vermont
graveyard with nobody to exercise the right of
guardianship over you. I’ve had my misgivings about
you; I used to think you were a born tramp; and you disappointed
me in turning your back on architecture,—the
noblest of all professions; but this performance of yours
really beats them all. Don’t you know that a girl like
Marian Devereux isn’t likely to become the agent of any
rascal? Do you really believe for a minute that she
tempted you to follow her, so you might forfeit your
rights to my property?”
“But why was she trying to find those notes of his?
Why did she come back from Cincinnati with his party?
If you could answer me those things, maybe I’d admit
that I’m a fool. Pickering, I imagine, is a pretty plausible
fellow where women are concerned.”
“For God’s sake, Jack, don’t speak of that girl as
women! I put her in that will of mine to pique your
curiosity, knowing that if there was a penalty on your
marrying her you would be wholly likely to do it,—for
that’s the way human beings are made. But you’ve
mixed it all up now, and insulted her in the grossest
way possible for a fellow who is really a gentleman. And
I don’t want to lose you; I want you here with me,
Jack! This is a beautiful country, this Indiana!
And what I want to do is to found an estate, to
build a house that shall be really beautiful,—something
these people hereabouts can be proud of,—
and I want you to have it with me, Jack, to
link our name to these woods and that pretty lake. I’d
rather have that for my neighbor than any lake in Scotland.
These rich Americans, who go to England to live,
don’t appreciate the beauty of their own country. This
landscape is worthy of the best that man can do. And
I didn’t undertake to build a crazy house so much as
one that should have some dignity and character. That
passage around the chimney is an indulgence, Jack,—
I’ll admit it’s a little bizarre,—you see that chimney
isn’t so big outside as it is in!”—and he laughed and
rubbed his knees with the palms of his hands,—“and my
bringing foreign laborers here wasn’t really to make it
easier to get things done my way. Wait till you have
seen the May-apples blossom and heard the robins sing
in the summer twilight,—help me to finish the house,—
then if you want to leave I’ll bid you God-speed.”
The feeling in his tone, the display of sentiment so
at variance with my old notion of him, touched me in
spite of myself. There was a characteristic nobility and
dignity in his plan; it was worthy of him. And I had
never loved him as now, when he finished this appeal,
and turned away to the window, gazing out upon the
“Mr. Donovan is ready to go, sir,” announced Bates
at the door, and we went into the library, where Larry
and Stoddard were waiting.
Larry had assembled his effects in the library, and to
my surprise, Stoddard appeared with his own hand-bag.
“I’m going to see Donovan well on his way,” said the
“It’s a pity our party must break up,” exclaimed my
grandfather. “My obligations to Mr. Donovan are very
great—and to you, too, Stoddard. Jack’s friends are
mine hereafter, and when we get new doors for Glenarm
House you shall honor me by accepting duplicate
“Where’s Bates?” asked Larry, and the man came in,
respectfully, inperturbably as always, and began gathering
up the bags.
“Stop—one moment! Mr. Glenarm,” said Larry.
“Before I go I want to congratulate you on the splendid
courage of this man who has served you and your house
with so much faithfulness and tact. And I want to tell
you something else, that you probably would never learn
“Donovan!” There was a sharp cry in Bates’ voice,
and he sprang forward with his hands outstretched entreatingly.
But Larry did not heed him.
“The moment I set eyes on this man I recognized
him. It’s not fair to you or to him that you should not
know him for what he is. Let me introduce an old
friend, Walter Creighton; he was a student at Dublin
when I was there,—I remember him as one of the best
fellows in the world.”
“For God’s sake—no!” pleaded Bates. He was deeply
moved and turned his face away from us.
“But, like me,” Larry went on, “he mixed in politics.
One night in a riot at Dublin a constable was killed.
No one knew who was guilty, but a youngster was suspected,
—the son of one of the richest and best-known
men in Ireland, who happened to get mixed in the row.
To draw attention from the boy, Creighton let suspicion
attach to his own name, and, to help the boy’s case
further, ran away. I had not heard from or of him until
the night I came here and found him the defender of
this house. By God! that was no servant’s trick,—it was
the act of a royal gentleman.”
They clasped hands; and with a new light in his face,
with a new manner, as though he resumed, as a familiar
garment, an old disused personality, Bates stood transfigured
in the twilight, a man and a gentleman. I think
we were all drawn to him; I know that a sob clutched
my throat and tears filled my eyes as I grasped his hand.
“But what in the devil did you do it for?” blurted
my grandfather, excitedly twirling his glasses.
Bates (I still call him Bates,—he insists on it)
laughed. For the first time he thrust his hands into his
pockets and stood at his ease, one of us.
“Larry, you remember I showed a fondness for the
stage in our university days. When I got to America I
had little money and found it necessary to find employment
without delay. I saw Mr. Glenarm’s advertisement
for a valet. Just as a lark I answered it to see
what an American gentleman seeking a valet looked
like. I fell in love with Mr. Glenarm at sight—”
“It was mutual!” declared my grandfather. “I never
believed your story at all,—you were too perfect in the
“Well, I didn’t greatly mind the valet business; it
helped to hide my identity; and I did like the humor
and whims of Mr. Glenarm. The housekeeping, after
we came out here, wasn’t so pleasant”—he looked at his
hands ruefully—“but this joke of Mr. Glenarm’s making
a will and then going to Egypt to see what would
happen,—that was too good to miss. And when the
heir arrived I found new opportunities of practising
amateur theatricals; and Pickering’s efforts to enlist
me in his scheme for finding the money and making me
rich gave me still greater opportunities. There were
times when I was strongly tempted to blurt the whole
thing; I got tired of being suspected, and of playing
ghost in the wall; and if Mr. Glenarm hadn’t got here
just as he did I should have stopped the fight and
proclaimed the truth. I hope,” he said, turning to
me, “you have no hard feelings, sir.” And he threw
into the “sir” just a touch of irony that made us all
“I’m certainly glad I’m not dead,” declared my grandfather,
staring at Bates. “Life is more fun than I ever
thought possible. Bless my soul!” he said, “if it isn’t a
shame that Bates can never cook another omelette for
We sent Bates back with my grandfather from the
boat-house, and Stoddard, Larry and I started across the
ice; the light coating of snow made walking comparatively
easy. We strode on silently, Stoddard leading.
Their plan was to take an accommodation train at the
first station beyond Annandale, leave it at a town forty
miles away, and then hurry east to an obscure place in
the mountains of Virginia, where a religious order
maintained a house. There Stoddard promised Larry
asylum and no questions asked.
We left the lake and struck inland over a rough country
road to the station, where Stoddard purchased tickets
only a few minutes before the train whistled.
We stood on the lonely platform, hands joined to
hands, and I know not what thoughts in our minds and
“We’ve met and we’ve said good-by in many odd corners
of this strange old world,” said Larry, “and God
knows when we shall meet again.”
“But you must stay in America—there must be no
sea between us!” I declared.
“Donovan’s sins don’t seem heinous to me! It’s simply
that they’ve got to find a scapegoat,”—and Stoddard’s
voice was all sympathy and kindness. “It will
blow over in time, and Donovan will become an enlightened
and peaceable American citizen.”
There was a constraint upon us all at this moment of
parting—so many things had happened that day—and
when men have shared danger together they are bound
by ties that death only can break. Larry’s effort at
cheer struck a little hollowly upon us.
“Beware, lad, of women!” he importuned me.
“Humph! You still despise the sex on account of
that affair with the colleen of the short upper lip.”
“Verily. And the eyes of that little lady, who guided
your grandfather back from the other world, reminded
me strongly of her! Bah, these women!”
“Precious little you know about them!” I retorted.
“The devil I don’t!”
“No,” said Stoddard, “invoke the angels, not the
“Hear him! Hear him! A priest with no knowledge
of the world.”
“Alas, my cloth! And you fling it at me after I have
gone through battle, murder and sudden death with you
“We thank you, sir, for that last word,” said Larry
mockingly. “I am reminded of the late Lord Alfred:
“I waited for the train at Coventry;
I hung with grooms and porters on the bridge,
To watch the three tall spires,—’ ”
he quoted, looking off through the twilight toward St.
Agatha’s. “I can’t see a blooming spire!”
The train was now roaring down upon us and we
clung to this light mood for our last words. Between
men, gratitude is a thing best understood in silence;
and these good friends, I knew, felt what I could not
“Before the year is out we shall all meet again,” cried
Stoddard hopefully, seizing the bags.
“Ah, if we could only be sure of that!” I replied. And
in a moment they were both waving their hands to me
from the rear platform, and I strode back homeward
over the lake.
A mood of depression was upon me; I had lost much
that day, and what I had gained—my restoration to the
regard of the kindly old man of my own blood, who had
appealed for my companionship in terms hard to deny—
seemed trifling as I tramped over the ice. Perhaps
Pickering, after all, was the real gainer by the day’s
event. My grandfather had said nothing to allay my
doubts as to Marion Devereux’s strange conduct, and
yet his confidence in her was apparently unshaken.
I tramped on, and leaving the lake, half-unconsciously
struck into the wood beyond the dividing wall, where
snow-covered leaves and twigs rattled and broke under
my tread. I came out into an open space beyond St.
Agatha’s, found the walk and turned toward home.
As I neared the main entrance to the school the door
opened and a woman came out under the overhanging
lamp. She carried a lantern, and turned with a hand
outstretched to some one who followed her with careful
“Ah, Marian,” cried my grandfather, “it’s ever the
task of youth to light the way of age.”
AND SO THE LIGHT LED ME
He had been to see Sister Theresa, and Marian was
walking with him to the gate. I saw her quite plainly
in the light that fell from the lamp overhead. A long
cloak covered her, and a fur toque capped her graceful
head. My grandfather and his guide were apparently
in high spirits. Their laughter smote harshly upon me.
It seemed to shut me out,—to lift a barrier against me.
The world lay there within the radius of that swaying
light, and I hung aloof, hearing her voice and jealous of
the very companionship and sympathy between them.
But the light led me. I remembered with bitterness
that I had always followed her,—whether as Olivia,
trailing in her girlish race across the snow, or as the
girl in gray, whom I had followed, wondering, on that
night journey at Christmas Eve; and I followed now.
The distrust, my shattered faith, my utter loneliness,
could not weigh against the joy of hearing that laugh
of hers breaking mellowly on the night.
I paused to allow the two figures to widen the distance
between us as they traversed the path that curved
away toward the chapel. I could still hear their voices,
and see the lantern flash and disappear. I felt an impulse
to turn back, or plunge into the woodland; but I
was carried on uncontrollably. The light glimmered,
and her voice still floated back to me. It stole through
the keen winter dark like a memory of spring; and so
her voice and the light led me.
Then I heard an exclamation of dismay followed by
laughter in which my grandfather joined merrily.
“Oh, never mind; we’re not afraid,” she exclaimed.
I had rounded the curve in the path where I should
have seen the light; but the darkness was unbroken.
There was silence for a moment, in which I drew quite
near to them.
Then my grandfather’s voice broke out cheerily.
“Now I must go back with you! A fine person you
are to guide an old man! A foolish virgin, indeed, with
no oil in her lamp!”
“Please do not! Of course I’m going to see you quite
to your own door! I don’t intend to put my hand to
the lantern and then turn back!”
“This walk isn’t what it should be,” said my grandfather,
“we’ll have to provide something better in the
They were still silent and I heard him futilely striking
a match. Then the lantern fell, its wires rattling
as it struck the ground, and the two exclaimed with renewed
merriment upon their misfortune.
“If you will allow me!” I called out, my hand fumbling
in my pocket for my own match-box.
I have sometimes thought that there is really some
sort of decent courtesy in me. An old man caught in
a rough path that was none too good at best! And a
girl, even though my enemy! These were, I fancy, the
thoughts that crossed my mind.
“Ah, it’s Jack!” exclaimed my grandfather. “Marian
was showing me the way to the gate and our light went
“Miss Devereux,” I murmured. I have, I hope, an
icy tone for persons who have incurred my displeasure,
and I employed it then and there, with, no doubt, its
She and my grandfather were groping in the dark for
the lost lantern, and I, putting out my hand, touched
“I beg your pardon,” she murmured frostily.
Then I found and grasped the lantern.
“One moment,” I said, “and I’ll see what’s the trouble.”
I thought my grandfather took it, but the flame of
my wax match showed her fingers, clasping the wires of
the lantern. The cloak slipped away, showing her arm’s
soft curve, the blue and white of her bodice, the purple
blur of violets; and for a second I saw her face, with a
smile quivering about her lips. My grandfather was
beating impatiently with his stick, urging us to leave the
lantern and go on.
“Let it alone,” he said. “I’ll go down through the
chapel; there’s a lantern in there somewhere.”
“I’m awfully sorry,” she remarked; “but I recently
lost my best lantern!”
To be sure she had! I was angry that she should so
brazenly recall the night I found her looking for Pickering’s
notes in the passage at the Door of Bewilderment!
She had lifted the lantern now, and I was striving to
touch the wax taper to the wick, with imminent danger
to my bare fingers.
“They don’t really light well when the oil’s out,” she
observed, with an exasperating air of wisdom.
I took it from her hand and shook it close to my ear.
“Yes; of course, it’s empty,” I muttered disdainfully.
“Oh, Mr. Glenarm!” she cried, turning away toward
I heard his stick beating the rough path several yards
away. He was hastening toward Glenarm House.
“I think Mr. Glenarm has gone home.”
“Oh, that is too bad!” she exclaimed.
“Thank you! He’s probably at the chapel by this
time. If you will permit me—”
“Not at all!”
A man well advanced in the sixties should not tax his
arteries too severely. I was quite sure that my grandfather
ran up the chapel steps; I could hear his stick
beating hurriedly on the stone.
“If you wish to go farther”—I began.
I was indignant at my grandfather’s conduct; he had
deliberately run off, leaving me alone with a young
woman whom I particularly wished to avoid.
“Thank you; I shall go back now. I was merely walking
to the gate with Mr. Glenarm. It is so fine to have
him back again, so unbelievable!”
It was just such a polite murmur as one might employ
in speaking to an old foe at a friend’s table.
She listened a moment for his step; then, apparently
satisfied, turned back toward St. Agatha’s. I followed,
uncertain, hesitating, marking her definite onward
flight. From the folds of the cloak stole the faint perfume
of violets. The sight of her, the sound of her
voice, combined to create—and to destroy!—a mood
with every step.
I was seeking some colorless thing to say when she
spoke over her shoulder:
“You are very kind, but I am not in the least afraid,
“But there is something I wish to say to you. I
She slackened her step.
“I am going away.”
“Yes; of course; you are going away.”
Her tone implied that this was something that had
been ordained from the beginning of time, and did not
“And I wish to say a word about Mr. Pickering.”
She paused and faced me abruptly. We were at the
edge of the wood, and the school lay quite near. She
caught the cloak closer about her and gave her head a
little toss I remembered well, as a trick compelled by the
vagaries of woman’s head-dress.
“I can’t talk to you here, Mr. Glenarm; I had no intention
of ever seeing you again; but I must say this—”
“Those notes of Pickering’s—I shall ask Mr. Glenarm
to give them to you—as a mark of esteem from me.”
She stepped backward as though I had struck her.
“You risked much for them—for him”—I went on.
“Mr. Glenarm, I have no intention of discussing that,
or any other matter with you—”
“It is better so—”
“But your accusations, the things you imply, are unjust,
The quaver in her voice shook my resolution to deal
harshly with her.
“If I had not myself been a witness—” I began.
“Yes; you have the conceit of your own wisdom, I
“But that challenge to follow you, to break my pledge;
my running away, only to find that Pickering was close
at my heels; your visit to the tunnel in search of those
notes,—don’t you know that those things were a blow
that hurt? You had been the spirit of this woodland to
me. Through all these months, from the hour I watched
you paddle off into the sunset in your canoe, the thought
of you made the days brighter, steadied and cheered me,
and wakened ambitions that I had forgotten—abandoned
—long ago. And this hideous struggle here,—it seems
so idle, so worse than useless now! But I’m glad I followed
you,—I’m glad that neither fortune nor duty kept
me back. And now I want you to know that Arthur
Pickering shall not suffer for anything that has happened.
I shall make no effort to punish him; for your
sake he shall go free.”
A sigh so deep that it was like a sob broke from her.
She thrust forth her hand entreatingly.
“Why don’t you go to him with your generosity?
You are so ready to believe ill of me! And I shall not
defend myself; but I will say these things to you, Mr.
Glenarm: I had no idea, no thought of seeing him at
the Armstrongs’ that night. It was a surprise to me,
and to them, when he telegraphed he was coming. And
when I went into the tunnel there under the wall that
night, I had a purpose—a purpose—”
“Yes?” she paused and I bent forward, earnestly
waiting for her words, knowing that here lay her great
“I was afraid,—I was afraid that Mr. Glenarm might
not come in time; that you might be dispossessed,—lose
the fight, and I came back with Mr. Pickering because
I thought some dreadful thing might happen here—to
She turned and ran from me with the speed of the
wind, the cloak fluttering out darkly about her. At the
door, under the light of the lamp, I was close upon her.
Her hand was on the vestibule latch.
“But how should I have known?” I cried. “And you
had taunted me with my imprisonment at Glenarm;
you had dared me to follow you, when you knew that
my grandfather was living and watching to see whether
I kept faith with him. If you can tell me,—if there
an answer to that—”
“I shall never tell you anything—more! You were so
eager to think ill of me—to accuse me!”
“It was because I love you; it was my jealousy of that
man, my boyhood enemy, that made me catch at any
doubt. You are so beautiful,—you are so much a part
of the peace, the charm of all this! I had hoped for
spring—for you and the spring together!”
Her flight had shaken the toque to an unwonted angle;
her breath came quick and hard as she tugged at
the latch eagerly. The light from overhead was full
upon us, but I could not go with hope and belief struggling
unsatisfied in my heart. I seized her hands and
sought to look into her eyes.
“But you challenged me,—to follow you! I want to
know why you did that!”
She drew away, struggling to free herself
“Why was it, Marian?”
“Because I wanted—”
“I wanted you to come, Squire Glenarm!”
Thrice spring has wakened the sap in the Glenarm
wood since that night. Yesterday I tore March from
the calendar. April in Indiana! She is an impudent
tomboy who whistles at the window, points to the sunshine
and, when you go hopefully forth, summons the
clouds and pelts you with snow. The austere old woodland,
wise from long acquaintance, finds no joy in her.
The walnut and the hickory have a higher respect for
the stormier qualities of December. April in Indiana!
She was just there by the wall, where now the bluebird
pauses dismayed, and waits again the flash of her golden
sandals. She bent there at the lakeside the splash of
a raindrop ago and tentatively poked the thin, brittle
ice with the pink tips of her little fingers. April in the
heart! It brings back the sweet wonder and awe of those
days, three years ago, when Marian and I, waiting for
June to come, knew a joy that thrilled our hearts like
the tumult of the first robin’s song. The marvel of it
all steals over me again as I hear the riot of melody in
meadow and wood, and catch through the window the
flash of eager wings.
My history of the affair at Glenarm has overrun the
bounds I had set for it, and these, I submit, are not
days for the desk and pen. Marian is turning over the
sheets of manuscript that lie at my left elbow, and demanding
that I drop work for a walk abroad. My
grandfather is pacing the terrace outside, planning, no
doubt, those changes in the grounds that are his constant
Of some of the persons concerned in this winter’s
tale let me say a word more. The prisoner whom Larry
left behind we discharged, after several days, with all
the honors of war, and (I may add without breach of
confidence) a comfortable indemnity. Larry has made
a reputation by his book on Russia—a searching study
into the conditions of the Czar’s empire, and, having
squeezed that lemon, he is now in Tibet. His father
has secured from the British government a promise of
immunity for Larry, so long as that amiable adventurer
keeps away from Ireland. My friend’s latest letters to
me contain, I note, no reference to The Sod.
Bates is in California conducting a fruit ranch, and
when he visited us last Christmas he bore all the marks
of a gentleman whom the world uses well. Stoddard’s
life has known many changes in these years, but they
must wait for another day, and, perhaps, another historian.
Suffice it to say that it was he who married us
—Marian and me—in the little chapel by the wall, and
that when he comes now and then to visit us, we renew
our impression of him as a man large of body and of
soul. Sister Theresa continues at the head of St. Agatha’s,
and she and the other Sisters of her brown-clad
company are delightful neighbors. Pickering’s failure
and subsequent disappearance were described sufficiently
in the newspapers and his name is never mentioned at
As for myself—Marian is tapping the floor restlessly
with her boot and I must hasten—I may say that I am
no idler. It was I who carried on the work of finishing
Glenarm House, and I manage the farms which my
grandfather has lately acquired in this neighborhood.
But better still, from my own point of view, I maintain
in Chicago an office as consulting engineer and I have
already had several important commissions.
Glenarm House is now what my grandfather had
wished to make it, a beautiful and dignified mansion.
He insisted on filling up the tunnel, so that the Door of
Bewilderment is no more. The passage in the wall and
the strong box in the paneling of the chimney-breast
remain, though the latter we use now as a hiding-place
for certain prized bottles of rare whisky which John
Marshall Glenarm ordains shall be taken down only on
Christmas Eves, to drink the health of Olivia Gladys
Armstrong. That young woman, I may add, is now a
belle in her own city, and of the scores of youngsters all
the way from Pittsburg to New Orleans who lay siege
to her heart, my word is, may the best man win!
And now, at the end, it may seem idle vanity for a
man still young to write at so great length of his own
affairs; but it must have been clear that mine is the
humblest figure in this narrative. I wished to set forth
an honest account of my grandfather’s experiment in
looking into this world from another, and he has himself
urged me to write down these various incidents
while they are still fresh in my memory.
Marian—the most patient of women—is walking toward
the door, eager for the sunshine, the free airs of
spring, the blue vistas lakeward, and at last I am ready
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