Part 2 out of 6
Mr. Gryce would like to have carried his inquiries further, but
desisted. His heart was full of compassion for this childless old
man, doomed to have his choicest memories disturbed by cruel doubts
which possibly would never be removed to his own complete
But when he was gone, and Sweetwater had returned, Mr. Gryce made
it his first duty to communicate to his superiors the hitherto
unsuspected fact of a secret romance in Miss Challoner's seemingly
calm and well-guarded life. She had loved and been loved by one
of whom her family knew nothing. And the two had quarrelled, as
certain letters lately found could be made to show.
Before a table strewn with papers, in the room we have already
mentioned as given over to the use of the police, sat Dr. Heath in
a mood too thoughtful to notice the entrance of Mr. Gryce and
Sweetwater from the dining-room where they had been having dinner.
However as the former's tread was somewhat lumbering, the coroner's
attention was caught before they had quite crossed the room, and
Sweetwater, with his quick eye, noted how his arm and hand
immediately fell so as to cover up a portion of the papers lying
nearest to him.
"Well, Gryce, this is a dark case," he observed, as at his bidding
the two detectives took their seats.
Mr. Gryce nodded; so did Sweetwater.
"The darkest that has ever come to my knowledge," pursued the
Mr. Gryce again nodded; but not so, Sweetwater. For some reason
this simple expression of opinion seemed to have given him a mental
"She was not shot. She was not struck by any other hand; yet she
lies dead from a mortal wound in the breast. Though there is no
tangible proof of her having inflicted this wound upon herself, the
jury will have no alternative, I fear, than to pronounce the case
one of suicide."
"I'm sorry that I've been able to do so little," remarked Mr. Gryce.
The coroner darted him a quick look.
"You are not satisfied? You have some different idea?" he asked.
The detective frowned at his hands crossed over the top of his cane,
then shaking his head, replied:
"The verdict you mention is the only natural one, of course. I
see that you have been talking with Miss Challoner's former maid?"
"Yes, and she has settled an important point for us. There was a
possibility, of course, that the paper-cutter which you brought to
my notice had never gone with her into the mezzanine. That she,
or some other person, had dropped it in passing through the lobby.
But this girl assures me that her mistress did not enter the lobby
that night. That she accompanied her down in the elevator, and saw
her step off at the mezzanine. She can also swear that the cutter
was in a book she carried--the book we found lying on the desk.
The girl remembers distinctly seeing its peculiarly chased handle
projecting from its pages. Could anything be more satisfactory if
--I was going to say, if the young lady had been of the impulsive
type and the provocation greater. But Miss Challoner's nature was
calm, and were it not for these letters--" here his arm shifted a
little--"I should not be so sure of my jury's future verdict.
Love--" he went on, after a moment of silent consideration of a
letter he had chosen from those before him, "disturbs the most
equable natures. When it enters as a factor, we can expect anything
--as you know. And Miss Challoner evidently was much attached to
her correspondent, and naturally felt the reproach conveyed in
And Dr. Heath read:
"Dear Miss Challoner:
"Only a man of small spirit could endure what I endured from you
the other day. Love such as mine would be respectable in a
clod-hopper, and I think that even you will acknowledge that I
stand somewhat higher than that. Though I was silent under your
disapprobation, you shall yet have your answer. It will not lack
point because of its necessary delay."
The words sprang from Sweetwater, and were evidently involuntary.
Dr. Heath paid no notice, but Mr. Gryce, in shifting his hands on
his cane top, gave them a sidelong look which was not without a
hint of fresh interest in a case concerning which he had believed
himself to have said his last word.
"It is the only letter of them all which conveys anything like a
reproach," proceeded the coroner. "The rest are ardent enough and,
I must acknowledge that, so far as I have allowed myself to look
into them, sufficiently respectful. Her surprise must consequently
have been great at receiving these lines, and her resentment equally
so. If the two met afterwards--But I have not shown you the
signature. To the poor father it conveyed nothing--some facts have
been kept from him--but to us--" here he whirled the letter about
so that Sweetwater, at least, could see the name, "it conveys a
hope that we may yet understand Miss Challoner."
"Brotherson!" exclaimed the young detective in loud surprise.
"Brotherson! The man who--"
"The man who left this building just before or simultaneously with
the alarm caused by Miss Challoner's fall. It clears away some of
the clouds befogging us. She probably caught sight of him in the
lobby, and in the passion of the moment forgot her usual instincts
and drove the sharp-pointed weapon into her heart.
"Brotherson!" The word came softly now, and with a thoughtful
intonation. "He saw her die."
"Why do you say that?"
"Would he have washed his hands in the snow if he had been in
ignorance of the occurrence? He was the real, if not active, cause
of her death and he knew it. Either he--Excuse me, Dr. Heath and
Mr. Gryce, it is not for me to obtrude my opinion."
"Have you settled it beyond dispute that Brotherson is really the
man who was seen doing this?"
"No, sir. I have not had a minute for that job, but I'm ready for
the business any time you see fit to spare me."
"Let it be to-morrow, or, if you can manage it, to-night. We want
the man even if he is not the hero of that romantic episode. He
wrote these letters, and he must explain the last one. His initials,
as you see, are not ordinary ones, and you will find them at the
bottom of all these sheets. He was brave enough or arrogant enough
to sign the questionable one with his full name. This may speak
well for him, and it may not. It is for you to decide that. Where
will you look for him, Sweetwater? No one here knows his address."
"Not Miss Challoner's maid?"
"No; the name is a new one to her. But she made it very evident
that she was not surprised to hear that her mistress was in secret
correspondence with a member of the male sex. Much can be hidden
from servants, but not that."
"I'll find the man; I have a double reason for doing that now; he
shall not escape me."
Dr. Heath expressed his satisfaction, and gave some orders.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gryce had not uttered a word.
STRANGE DOINGS FOR GEORGE
That evening George sat so long over the newspapers that in spite
of my absorbing interest in the topic engrossing me, I fell asleep
in my cozy little rocking chair. I was awakened by what seemed
like a kiss falling very softly on my forehead, though, to be sure,
it may have been only the flap of George's coat sleeve as he stooped
"Wake up, little woman," I heard, "and trot away to bed. I'm going
out and may not be in till daybreak."
"You! going out! at ten o'clock at night, tired as you are--as we
both are! What has happened-Oh!"
This broken exclamation escaped me as I perceived in the dim
background by the sitting-room door, the figure of a man who called
up recent, but very thrilling experiences.
"Mr. Sweetwater," explained George. "We are going out together. It
is necessary, or you may be sure I should not leave you."
I was quite wide awake enough by now to understand. "Oh, I know.
You are going to hunt up the man. How I wish--"
But George did not wait for me to express my wishes. He gave me a
little good advice as to how I had better employ my time in his
absence, and was off before I could find words to answer.
This ends all I have to say about myself; but the events of that
night carefully related to me by George are important enough for me
to describe them, with all the detail which is their rightful due.
I shall tell the story as I have already been led to do in other
portions of this narrative, as though I were present and shared the
As soon as the two were in the street, the detective turned towards
George and said:
"Mr. Anderson, I have a great deal to ask of you. The business
before us is not a simple one, and I fear that I shall have to
subject you to more inconvenience than is customary in matters like
this. Mr. Brotherson has vanished; that is, in his own proper
person, but I have an idea that I am on the track of one who will
lead us very directly to him if we manage the affair carefully.
What I want of you, of course, is mere identification. You saw the
face of the man who washed his hands in the snow, and would know it
again, you say. Do you think you could be quite sure of yourself,
if the man were differently dressed and differently occupied?
"I think so. There's his height and a certain strong look in his
face. I cannot describe it."
"You don't need to. Come! we're all right. You don't mind making
a night of it?"
"Not if it is necessary.
"That we can't tell yet." And with a characteristic shrug and smile,
the detective led the way to a taxicab which stood in waiting at the
A quarter of an hour of rather fast riding brought them into a
tangle of streets on the East side. As George noticed the swarming
sidewalks and listened to the noises incident to an over-populated
quarter, he could not forbear, despite the injunction he had
received, to express his surprise at the direction of their search.
"Surely," said he, "the gentleman I have described can have no
friends here." Then, bethinking himself, he added: "But if he has
reasons to fear the law, naturally he would seek to lose himself in
a place as different as possible from his usual haunts."
"Yes, that would be some men's way," was the curt, almost
indifferent, answer he received. Sweetwater was looking this way
and that from the window beside him, and now, leaning out gave some
directions to the driver which altered their course.
When they stopped, which was in a few minutes, he said to George:
"We shall have to walk now for a block or two. I'm anxious to
attract no attention, nor is it desirable for you to do so. If you
can manage to act as if you were accustomed to the place and just
leave all the talking to me, we ought to get along first-rate.
Don't be astonished at anything you see, and trust me for the rest;
They alighted, and he dismissed the taxicab. Some clock in the
neighbourhood struck the hour of ten. "Good! we shall be in time,"
muttered the detective, and led the way down the street and round
a corner or so, till they came to a block darker than the rest, and
much less noisy.
It had a sinister look, and George, who is brave enough under all
ordinary circumstances, was glad that his companion wore a badge
and carried a whistle. He was also relieved when he caught sight
of the burly form of a policeman in the shadow of one of the
doorways. Yet the houses he saw before him were not so very
different from those they had already passed. His uneasiness could
not have sprung from them. They had even an air of positive
respectability, as though inhabited by industrious workmen. Then,
what was it which made the close companionship of a member of the
police so uncommonly welcome? Was it a certain aspect of
solitariness which clung to the block, or was it the sudden
appearance here and there of strangely gliding figures, which no
sooner loomed up against the snowy perspective, than they
disappeared again in some unseen doorway?
"There's a meeting on to-night, of the Associated Brotherhood of
the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel (whatever that means), and it is
the speaker we want to see; the man who is to address them promptly
at ten o'clock. Do you object to meetings?"
"Is this a secret one?"
"It wasn't advertised."
"Are we carpenters or masons that we can count on admittance?"
"I am a carpenter. Don't you think you can be a mason for the
"I doubt it, but--"
"Hush! I must speak to this man."
George stood back, and a few words passed between Sweetwater and
a shadowy figure which seemed to have sprung up out of the sidewalk.
"Balked at the outset," were the encouraging words with which the
detective rejoined George. "It seems that a pass-word is necessary,
and my friend has been unable to get it. Will the speaker pass out
this way?" he inquired of the shadowy figure still lingering in
"He didn't go in by it; yet I believe he's safe enough inside," was
the muttered answer.
Sweetwater had no relish for disappointments of this character, but
it was not long before he straightened up and allowed himself to
exchange a few more words with this mysterious person. These appeared
to be of a more encouraging nature than the last, for it was not long
before the detective returned with renewed alacrity to George, and,
wheeling him about, began to retrace his steps to the corner.
"Are we going back? Are you going to give up the job?" George asked.
"No; we're going to take him from the rear. There's a break in the
fence--Oh, we'll do very well. Trust me."
George laughed. He was growing excited, but not altogether agreeably
so. He says that he has seen moments of more pleasant anticipation.
Evidently, my good husband is not cut out for detective work.
Where they went under this officer's guidance, he cannot tell. The
tortuous tangle of alleys through which he now felt himself led was
dark as the nether regions to his unaccustomed eyes. There was snow
under his feet and now and then he brushed against some obtruding
object, or stumbled against a low fence; but beyond these slight
miscalculations on his own part, he was a mere automaton in the hands
of his eager guide, and only became his own man again when they
suddenly stepped into an open yard and he could discern plainly
before him the dark walls of a building pointed out by Sweetwater as
their probable destination. Yet even here they encountered some
impediment which prohibited a close approach. A wall or shed cut
off their view of the building's lower storey; and though somewhat
startled at being left unceremoniously alone after just a whispered
word of encouragement from the ever ready detective, George could
quite understand the necessity which that person must feel for a
quiet reconnoitering of the surroundings before the two of them
ventured further forward in their possibly hazardous undertaking.
Yet the experience was none too pleasing to George, and he was very
glad to hear Sweetwater's whisper again at his ear, and to feel
himself rescued from the pool of slush in which he had been left to
"The approach is not all that can be desired," remarked the detective
as they entered what appeared to be a low shed. "The broken board
has been put back and securely nailed in place, and if I am not
very much mistaken there is a fellow stationed in the yard who will
want the pass-word too. Looks shady to me. I'll have something to
tell the chief when I get back."
"But we! What are we going to do if we cannot get in front or rear?
"We're going to wait right here in the hopes of catching a glimpse
of our man as he comes out," returned the detective, drawing George
towards a low window overlooking the yard he had described as
sentinelled. "He will have to pass directly under this window on
his way to the alley," Sweetwater went on to explain, "and if I can
only raise it--but the noise would give us away. I can't do that."
"Perhaps it swings on hinges," suggested George. "It looks like
that sort of a window."
"If it should--well! it does. We're in great luck, sir. But
before I pull it open, remember that from the moment I unlatch it,
everything said or done here can be heard in the adjoining yard.
So no whispers and no unnecessary movements. When you hear him
coming, as sooner or later you certainly will, fall carefully to
your knees and lean out just far enough to catch a glimpse of him
before he steps down from the porch. If he stops to light his cigar
or to pass a few words with some of the men he will leave behind,
you may get a plain enough view of his face or figure to identify
him. The light is burning low in that rear hall, but it will do.
If it does not,--if you can't see him or if you do, don't hang out
of the window more than a second. Duck after your first look. I
don't want to be caught at this job with no better opportunity for
escape than we have here. Can you remember all that?"
George pinched his arm encouragingly, and Sweetwater, with an
amused grunt, softly unlatched the window and pulled it wide open.
A fine sleet flew in, imperceptible save for the sensation of damp
it gave, and the slight haze it diffused through the air. Enlarged
by this haze, the building they were set to watch rose in magnified
proportions at their left. The yard between, piled high in the
centre with snow-heaps or other heaps covered with snow, could not
have been more than forty feet square. The window from which they
peered, was half-way down this yard, so that a comparatively short
distance separated them from the porch where George had been told
to look for the man he was expected to identify. All was dark there
at present, but he could hear from time to time some sounds of
restless movement, as the guard posted inside shifted in his narrow
quarters, or struck his benumbed feet softly together.
But what came to them from above was more interesting than anything
to be heard or seen below. A man's voice, raised to a wonderful
pitch by the passion of oratory, had burst the barriers of the
closed hall in that towering third storey and was carrying its tale
to other ears than those within. Had it been summer and the windows
open, both George and Sweetwater might have heard every word; for
the tones were exceptionally rich and penetrating, and the speaker
intent only on the impression he was endeavouring to make upon his
audience. That he had not mistaken his power in this direction was
evinced by the applause which rose from time to time from innumerable
hands and feet. But this uproar would be speedily silenced, and the
mellow voice ring out again, clear and commanding. What could the
subject be to rouse such enthusiasm in the Associated Brotherhood
of the Awl, the Plane and the Trowel? There was a moment when our
listening friends expected to be enlightened. A shutter was thrown
back in one of those upper windows, and the window hurriedly, raised,
during which words took the place of sounds and they heard enough
to whet their appetite for more. But only that. The shutter was
speedily restored to place, and the window again closed. A wise
precaution, or so thought George if they wished to keep their
doubtful proceedings secret.
A tirade against the rich and a loud call to battle could be gleaned
from the few sentences they had heard. But its virulence and pointed
attack was not that of the second-rate demagogue or business agent,
but of a man whose intellect and culture rang in every tone, and
informed each sentence.
Sweetwater, in whom satisfaction was fast taking the place of
impatience and regret, pushed the window to before asking George
"Did you hear the voice of the man whose action attracted, your
attention outside the Clermont?"
"Did you note just now the large shadow dancing on the ceiling over
the speaker's head?"
"Yes, but I could judge nothing from that."
"Well, he's a rum one. I shan't open this window again till he
gives signs of reaching the end of his speech. It's too cold."
But almost immediately he gave a start and, pressing George's arm,
appeared to listen, not to the speech which was no longer audible,
but to something much nearer--a step or movement in the adjoining
yard. At least, so George interpreted the quick turn which this
impetuous detective made, and the pains he took to direct George's
attention to the walk running under the window beneath which they
crouched. Someone was stealing down upon the house at their left,
from the alley beyond. A big man, whose shoulder brushed the
window as he went by. George felt his hand seized again and pressed
as this happened, and before he had recovered from this excitement,
experienced another quick pressure and still another as one, two,
three additional figures went slipping by. Then his hand was
suddenly dropped, for a cry had shot up from the door where the
sentinel stood guard, followed by a sudden loud slam, and the noise
of a shooting bolt, which, proclaiming as it did that the invaders
were not friends but enemies to the cause which was being vaunted
above, so excited Sweetwater that he pulled the window wide open
and took a bold look out. George followed his example and this was
what they saw:
Three men were standing flat against the fence leading from the
shed directly to the porch. The fourth was crouching within the
latter, and in another moment they heard his fist descend upon the
door inside in a way to rouse the echoes. Meantime, the voice in
the audience hall above had ceased, and there could be heard
instead the scramble of hurrying feet and the noise of overturning
benches. Then a window flew up and a voice called down:
"Who's that? What do you want down there?"
But before an answer could be shouted back, this man was drawn
fiercely inside, and the scramble was renewed, amid which George
heard Sweetwater's whisper at his ear:
"It's the police. The chief has got ahead of me. Was that the man
we're after--the one who shouted down?"
"No. Neither was he the speaker. The voices are very different."
"We want the speaker. If the boys get him, we're all right; but if
they don't--wait, I must make the matter sure."
And with a bound he vaulted through the window, whistling in a
peculiar way. George, thus left quite alone, had the pleasure of
seeing his sole protector mix with the boys, as he called them, and
ultimately crowd in with them through the door which had finally
been opened for their admittance. Then came a wait, and then the
quiet re-appearance of the detective alone and in no very, amiable
"Well?" inquired George, somewhat breathlessly. "Do you want me?
They don't seem to be coming out."
"No; they've gone the other way. It was a red hot anarchist
meeting, and no mistake. They have arrested one of the speakers,
but the other escaped. How, we have not yet found out; but I
think there's a way out somewhere by which he got the start of
us. He was the man I wanted you to see. Bad luck, Mr. Anderson,
but I'm not at the end of my resources. If you'll have patience
with me and accompany me a little further, I promise you that I'll
only risk one more failure. Will you be so good, sir?"
THE INCIDENT OF THE PARTLY LIFTED SHADE
The fellow had a way with him, hard to resist. Cold as George was
and exhausted by an excitement of a kind to which he was wholly
unaccustomed, he found himself acceding to the detective's request;
and after a quick lunch and a huge cup of coffee in a restaurant
which I wish I had time to describe, the two took a car which
eventually brought them into one of the oldest quarters of the
Borough of Brooklyn. The sleet which had stung their faces in the
streets of New York had been left behind them somewhere on the
bridge, but the chill was not gone from the air, and George felt
greatly relieved when Sweetwater paused in the middle of a long
block before a lofty tenement house of mean appearance, and
signified that here they were to stop, and that from now on, mum
was to be their watchword.
George was relieved I say, but he was also more astonished than ever.
What kind of haunts were these for the cultured gentleman who spent
his evenings at the Clermont? It was easy enough in these days of
extravagant sympathies, to understand such a man addressing the
uneasy spirits of lower New York--he had been called an enthusiast,
and an enthusiast is very often a social agitator--but to trace him
afterwards to a place like this was certainly a surprise. A tenement
--such a tenement as this--meant home--home for himself or for
those he counted his friends, and such a supposition seemed
inconceivable to my poor husband, with the memory of the gorgeous
parlour of the Clermont in his mind. Indeed, he hinted something
of the kind to his affable but strangely reticent companion, but
all the answer he got was a peculiar smile whose humorous twist he
could barely discern in the semi-darkness of the open doorway into
which they had just plunged.
"An adventure! certainly an adventure!" flashed through poor
George's mind, as he peered, in great curiosity down the long hall
before him, into a dismal rear, opening into a still more dismal
court. It was truly a novel experience for a business man whose
philanthropy was carried on entirely by proxy--that is, by his
wife. Should he be expected to penetrate into those dark,
ill-smelling recesses, or would he be led up the long flights of
naked stairs, so feebly illuminated that they gave the impression
of extending indefinitely into dimmer and dimmer heights of decay
Sweetwater seemed to decide for the rear, for leaving George, he
stepped down the hall into the court beyond, where George could see
him casting inquiring glances up at the walls above him. Another
tenement, similar to the one whose rear end he was contemplating,
towered behind but he paid no attention to that. He was satisfied
with the look he had given and came quickly back, joining George
at the foot of the staircase, up which he silently led the way.
It was a rude, none-too-well-cared-for building, but it seemed
respectable enough and very quiet, considering the mass of people
it accommodated. There were marks of poverty everywhere, but no
squalor. One flight--two flights--three--and then George's
guide stopped, and, looking back at him, made a gesture. It
appeared to be one of caution, but when the two came together at
the top of the staircase, Sweetwater spoke quite naturally as he
pointed out a door in their rear:
"That's the room. We'll keep a sharp watch and when any man, no
matter what his dress or appearance comes up these stairs and
turns that way, give him a sharp look. You understand?"
"Oh, he hasn't come in yet. I took pains to find that out. You
saw me go into the court and look up. That was to see if his
window was lighted. Well, it wasn't."
George felt non-plussed.
"But surely," said he, "the gentleman named Brotherson doesn't live
"The inventor does."
"And--but I will explain later."
The suppressed excitement contained in these words made George
stare. Indeed, he had been wondering for some time at the manner
of the detective which showed a curious mixture of several opposing
emotions. Now, the fellow was actually in a tremble of hope or
impatience;--and, not content with listening, he peered every few
minutes down the well of the staircase, and when he was not doing
that, tramped from end to end of the narrow passage-way separating
the head of the stairs from the door he had pointed out, like one
to whom minutes were hours. All this time he seemed to forget
George who certainly had as much reason as himself for finding the
time long. But when, after some half hour of this tedium and
suspense, there rose from below the faint clatter of ascending
footsteps, he remembered his meek companion and beckoning him to
one side, began a studied conversation with him, showing him a
note-book in which he had written such phrases as these:
Don't look up till he is fairly in range with the light.
There's nothing to fear; he doesn't know either of us.
If it is a face you have seen before;--if it is the one we are
expecting to see, pull your necktie straight. It's a little on one
These rather startling injunctions were read by George, with no very
perceptible diminution of the uneasiness which it was only natural
for him to feel at the oddity of his position. But only the demand
last made produced any impression on him. The man they were waiting
for was no further up than the second floor, but instinctively
George's hand had flown to his necktie, and he was only stopped from
its premature re-arrangement by a warning look from Sweetwater.
"Not unless you know him," whispered the detective; and immediately
launched out into an easy talk about some totally different business
which George neither understood, nor was expected to, I dare say.
Suddenly the steps below paused, and George heard Sweetwater draw
in his breath in irrepressible dismay. But they were immediately
resumed, and presently the head and shoulders of a workingman
of uncommon proportions appeared in sight on the stairway.
George cast him a keen look, and his hand rose doubtfully to his
neck and then fell back again. The approaching man was tall, very
well-proportioned and easy of carriage; but the face--such of it
as could be seen between his cap and the high collar he had pulled
up about his ears, conveyed no exact impression to George's mind,
and he did not dare to give the signal Sweetwater expected from him.
Yet as the man went by with a dark and sidelong glance at them both,
he felt his hand rise again, though he did not complete the action,
much to his own disgust and to the evident disappointment of the
"You're not sure?" he now heard, oddly interpolated in the stream
of half-whispered talk with which the other endeavoured to carry
off the situation.
George shook his head. He could not rid himself of the old
impression he had formed of the man in the snow.
"Mr. Dunn, a word with you," suddenly spoke up Sweetwater, to the
man who had just passed them. "That's your name, isn't it?"
"Yes, that is my name," was the quiet response, in a voice which
was at once rich and resonant; a voice which George knew--the
voice of the impassioned speaker he had heard resounding through
the sleet as he cowered within hearing in the shed behind the
Avenue A tenement. "Who are you who wish to speak to me at so
late an hour?"
He was returning to them from the door he had unlocked and left
"Well, we are--You know what," smiled the ready detective,
advancing half-way to greet him. "We're not members of the
Associated Brotherhood, but possibly have hopes of being so. At
all events, we should like to talk the matter over, if, as you
say, it's not too late."
"I have nothing to do with the club--"
"But you spoke before it."
"Then you can give us some sort of an idea how we are to apply for
Mr. Dunn met the concentrated gaze of his two evidently unwelcome
visitors with a frankness which dashed George's confidence in
himself, but made little visible impression upon his daring
"I should rather see you at another time," said he. "But--" his
hesitation was inappreciable save to the nicest ear--"if you will
allow me to be brief, I will tell you what I know--which is very
Sweetwater was greatly taken aback. All he had looked for, as he
was careful to tell my husband later, was a sufficiently prolonged
conversation to enable George to mark and study the workings of the
face he was not yet sure of. Nor did the detective feel quite easy
at the readiness of his reception; nor any too well pleased to accept
the invitation which this man now gave them to enter his room.
But he suffered no betrayal of his misgivings to escape him, though
he was careful to intimate to George, as they waited in the doorway
for the other to light up, that he should not be displeased at his
refusal to accompany him further in this adventure, and even advised
him to remain in the hall till he received his summons to enter.
But George had not come as far as this to back out now, and as soon
as he saw Sweetwater advance into the now well-lighted interior, he
advanced too and began to look around him.
The room, like many others in these old-fashioned tenements, had a
jog just where the door was, so that on entering they had to take
several steps before they could get a full glimpse of its four walls.
When they did, both showed surprise. Comfort, if not elegance,
confronted them, which impression, however, was immediately lost in
the evidences of work, manual, as well as intellectual, which were
everywhere scattered about.
The man who lived here was not only a student, as was evinced by a
long wall full of books, but he was an art-lover, a musician, an
inventor and an athlete.
So much could be learned from the most cursory glance. A more
careful one picked up other facts fully as startling and impressive.
The books were choice; the invention to all appearance a practical
one; the art of a high order and the music, such as was in view,
of a character of which the nicest taste need not be ashamed.
George began to feel quite conscious of the intrusion of which they
had been guilty, and was amazed at the ease with which the detective
carried himself in the presence of such manifestations of culture
and good, hard work. He was trying to recall the exact appearance
of the figure he had seen stooping in the snowy street two nights
before, when he found himself staring at the occupant of the room,
who had taken up his stand before them and was regarding them while
they were regarding the room.
He had thrown aside his hat and rid himself of his overcoat, and
the fearlessness of his aspect seemed to daunt the hitherto dauntless
Sweetwater, who, for the first time in his life, perhaps, hunted in
vain for words with which to start conversation.
Had he made an awful mistake? Was this Mr. Dunn what he seemed an
unknown and careful genius, battling with great odds in his honest
struggle to give the world something of value in return for what it
had given him? The quick, almost deprecatory glance he darted at
George betrayed his dismay; a dismay which George had begun to share,
notwithstanding his growing belief that the man's face was not
wholly unknown to him even if he could not recognise it as the one
he had seen outside the Clermont.
"You seem to have forgotten your errand," came in quiet, if not
good-natured, sarcasm from their patiently waiting host.
"It's the room," muttered Sweetwater, with an attempt at his
old-time ease which was not as fully successful as usual. "What
an all-fired genius you must be. I never saw the like. And in
a tenement house too! You ought to be in one of those big new
studio buildings in New York where artists be and everything you
see is beautiful. You'd appreciate it, you would."
The detective started, George started, at the gleam which answered
him from a very uncommon eye. It was a temporary flash, however,
and quickly veiled, and the tone in which this Dunn now spoke was
anything but an encouraging one.
"I thought you were desirous of joining a socialistic fraternity,"
said he; "a true aspirant for such honours don't care for beautiful
things unless all can have them. I prefer my tenement. How is it
with you, friends?"
Sweetwater found some sort of a reply, though the thing which this
man now did must have startled him, as it certainly did George.
They were so grouped that a table quite full of anomalous objects
stood at the back of their host, and consequently quite beyond their
own reach. As Sweetwater began to speak, he whom he had addressed
by the name of Dunn, drew a pistol from his breast pocket and laid
it down barrel towards them on this table top. Then he looked up
courteously enough, and listened till Sweetwater was done. A very
handsome man, but one not to be trifled with in the slightest degree.
Both recognised this fact, and George, for one, began to edge
towards the door.
"Now I feel easier," remarked the giant, swelling out his chest.
He was unusually tall, as well as unusually muscular. "I never
like to carry arms; but sometimes it is unavoidable. Damn it, what
hands!" He was looking at his own, which certainly showed soil.
"Will you pardon me?" he pleasantly apologised, stepping towards a
washstand and plunging his hands into the basin. "I cannot think
with dirt on me like that. Humph, hey! did you speak?"
He turned quickly on George who had certainly uttered an ejaculation,
but receiving no reply, went on with his task, completing it with a
care and a disregard of their presence which showed him up in still
But even his hardihood showed shock, when, upon turning round with
a brisk, "Now I'm ready to talk," he encountered again the clear
eye of Sweetwater. For, in the person of this none too welcome
intruder, he saw a very different man from the one upon whom he had
just turned his back with so little ceremony; and there appeared
to be no good reason for the change. He had not noted in his
preoccupation, how George, at sight of his stooping figure, had made
a sudden significant movement, and if he had, the pulling of a
necktie straight, would have meant nothing to him. But to Sweetwater
it meant every thing, and it was in the tone of one fully at ease
with himself that he now dryly remarked: "Mr. Brotherson, if you
feel quite clean; and if you have sufficiently warmed yourself, I
would suggest that we start out at once, unless you prefer to have
me share this room with you till the morning."
There was silence. Mr. Dunn thus addressed attempted no answer; not
for a full minute. The two men were measuring each other--George
felt that he did not count at all--and they were quite too much
occupied with this task to heed the passage of time. To George,
who knew little, if anything, of what this silent struggle meant to
either, it seemed that the detective stood no show before this Samson
of physical strength and intellectual power, backed by a pistol just
within reach of his hand. But as George continued to look and saw
the figure of the smaller man gradually dilate, while that of the
larger, the more potent and the better guarded, gave unmistakable
signs of secret wavering, he slowly changed his mind and, ranging
himself with the detective, waited for the word or words which should
explain this situation and render intelligible the triumph gradually
becoming visible in the young detective's eyes.
But he was not destined to have his curiosity satisfied so far. He
might witness and hear, but it was long before he understood.
"Brotherson?" repeated their host, after the silence had lasted to
the breaking-point. "Why do you call me that?"
"Because it is your name."
"You called me Dunn a minute ago."
"That is true."
"Why Dunn if Brotherson is my name?"
"Because you spoke under the name of Dunn at the meeting to-night,
and if I don't mistake, that is the name by which you are known here."
"And you? By what name are you known?"
"It is late to ask, isn't it? But I'm willing to speak it now, and
I might not have been so a little earlier in our conversation. I
am Detective Sweetwater of the New York Department of Police, and
my errand here is a very simple one. Some letters signed by you have
been found among the papers of the lady whose mysterious death at
the hotel Clermont is just now occupying the attention of the New
York authorities. If you have any information to give which will
in any way explain that death, your presence will be welcome at
Coroner Heath's office in New York. If you have not, your presence
will still be welcome. At all events, I was told to bring you. You
will be on hand to accompany me in the morning, I am quite sure,
pardoning the unconventional means I have taken to make sure of
The humour with which this was said seemed to rob it of anything
like attack, and Mr. Brotherson, as we shall hereafter call him,
smiled with an odd acceptance of the same, as he responded:
"I will go before the police certainly. I haven't much to tell,
but what I have is at their service. It will not help you, but I
have no secrets. What are you doing?"
He bounded towards Sweetwater, who had simply stepped to the window,
lifted the shade and looked across at the opposing tenement.
"I wanted to see if it was still snowing," explained the detective,
with a smile, which seemed to strike the other like a blow. "If it
was a liberty, please pardon it."
Mr. Brotherson drew back. The cold air of self possession which he
now assumed, presented such a contrast to the unwarranted heat of
the moment before that George wondered greatly over it, and later,
when he recapitulated to me the whole story of this night, it was
this incident of the lifted shade, together with the emotion it had
caused, which he acknowledged as being for him the most inexplicable
event of the evening and the one he was most anxious to hear
As this ends our connection with this affair, I will bid you my
personal farewell. I have often wished that circumstances had made
it possible for me to accompany you through the remaining intricacies
of this remarkable case.
But you will not lack a suitable guide.
AS SEEN BY DETECTIVE SWEETWATER
A DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
At an early hour the next morning, Sweetwater stood before the
coroner's desk, urging a plea he feared to hear refused. He wished
to be present at the interview soon to be held with Mr. Brotherson,
and he had no good reason to advance why such a privilege should be
"It's not curiosity," said he. "There's a question I hope to see
settled. I can't communicate it--you would laugh at me; but it's
an important one, a very important one, and I beg that you will let
me sit in one of the corners and hear what he says. I won't bother
and I'll be very still, so still that he'll hardly notice me. Do
grant me this favour, sir."
The coroner, who had had some little experience with this man,
surveyed him with a smile less forbidding than the poor fellow
"You seem to lay great store by it," said he; "if you want to sort
those papers over there, you may."
"Thank you. I don't understand the job, but I promise you not to
increase the confusion. If I do; if I rattle the leaves too loudly,
it will mean, 'Press him further on this exact point,' but I doubt
if I rattle them, sir. No such luck."
The last three words were uttered sotto voce, but the coroner heard
him, and followed his ungainly figure with a glance of some
curiosity, as he settled himself at the desk on the other side of
"Is the man--" he began, but at this moment the man entered, and Dr.
Heath forgot the young detective, in his interest in the new arrival.
Neither dressed with the elegance known to the habitues of the
Clermont, nor yet in the workman's outfit in which he had thought
best to appear before the Associated Brotherhood, the newcomer
advanced, with an aspect of open respect which could not fail to
make a favourable impression upon the critical eye of the official
awaiting him. So favourable, indeed, was this impression that that
gentleman half rose, infusing a little more consideration into his
greeting than he was accustomed to show to his prospective witnesses.
Such a fearless eye he had seldom encountered, nor was it often his
pleasure to confront so conspicuous a specimen of physical and
"Mr. Brotherson, I believe," said he, as he motioned his visitor to
"That is my name, sir."
"The same, sir."
"I'm glad we have made no mistake," smiled the doctor. "Mr.
Brotherson, I have sent for you under the supposition that you were
a friend of the unhappy lady lately dead at the Hotel Clermont."
"Certainly; Miss Challoner."
"I knew the lady. But--" here the speaker's eye took on a look as
questioning as that of his interlocutor--"but in a way so devoid
of all publicity that I cannot but feel surprised that the fact
should be known."
At this, the listening Sweetwater hoped that Dr. Heath would ignore
the suggestion thus conveyed and decline the explanation it
apparently demanded. But the impression made by the gentleman's
good looks had been too strong for this coroner's proverbial caution,
and, handing over the slip of a note which had been found among Miss
Challoner's effects by her father, he quietly asked:
"Do you recognise the signature?"
"Yes, it is mine."
"Then you acknowledge yourself the author of these lines?"
"Most certainly. Have I not said that this is my signature?"
"Do you remember the words of this note, Mr. Brotherson?"
"Hardly. I recollect its tenor, but not the exact words."
"Excuse me, I had rather not. I am aware that they were bitter and
should be the cause of great regret. I was angry when I wrote them."
"That is evident. But the cause of your anger is not so clear, Mr.
Brotherson. Miss Challoner was a woman of lofty character, or such
was the universal opinion of her friends. What could she have done
to a gentleman like yourself to draw forth such a tirade?"
"You ask that?"
"I am obliged to. There is mystery surrounding her death;--the
kind of mystery which demands perfect frankness on the part of all
who were near her on that evening, or whose relations to her were in
any way peculiar. You acknowledge that your friendship was of such
a guarded nature that it surprised you greatly to hear it recognised.
Yet you could write her a letter of this nature. Why?"
"Because--" the word came glibly; but the next one was long in
following. "Because," he repeated, letting the fire of some strong
feeling disturb for a moment his dignified reserve, "I offered myself
to Miss Challoner, and she dismissed me with great disdain."
"Ah! and so you thought a threat was due her?"
"These words contain a threat, do they not?"
"They may. I was hardly master of myself at the time. I may have
expressed myself in an unfortunate manner."
"Read the words, Mr. Brotherson. I really must insist that you do
There was no hesitancy now. Rising, he leaned over the table and
read the few words the other had spread out for his perusal. Then
he slowly rose to his full height, as he answered, with some slight
display of compunction:
"I remember it perfectly now. It is not a letter to be proud of.
"Pray finish, Mr. Brotherson."
"That you are not seeking to establish a connection between this
letter and her violent death?"
"Letters of this sort are often very mischievous, Mr. Brotherson.
The harshness with which this is written might easily rouse emotions
of a most unhappy nature in the breast of a woman as sensitive as
"Pardon me, Dr. Heath; I cannot flatter myself so far. You overrate
my influence with the lady you name."
"You believe, then, that she was sincere in her rejection of your
A start, too slight to be noted by any one but the watchful
Sweetwater, showed that this question had gone home. But the
self-poise and mental control of this man were perfect, and in an
instant he was facing the coroner again, with a dignity which gave
no clew to the disturbance into which his thoughts had just been
thrown. Nor was this disturbance apparent in his tones when he made
"I have never allowed myself to think otherwise. I have seen no
reason why I should. The suggestion you would convey by such a
question is hardly welcome, now. I pray you to be careful in your
judgment of such a woman's impulses. They often spring from sources
not to be sounded even by her dearest friends."
Just; but how cold! Dr. Heath, eyeing him with admiration rather
than sympathy, hesitated how to proceed; while Sweetwater, peering
up from his papers, sought in vain for some evidence of the bereaved
lover in the impressive but wholly dispassionate figure of him who
had just spoken. Had pride got the better of his heart? or had
that organ always been subordinate to the will in this man of
instincts so varying, that at one time he impressed you simply as a
typical gentleman of leisure; at another, as no more than a fiery
agitator with powers absorbed by, if not limited to the one cause
he advocated; and again--and this seemed the most contradictory of
all--just the ardent inventor, living in a tenement, with Science
for his goddess and work always under his hand? As the young
detective weighed these possibilities and marvelled over the
contradictions they offered, he forgot the papers now lying quiet
under his hand. He was too interested to remember his own part
--something which could not often be said of Sweetwater.
Meantime, the coroner had collected his thoughts. With an apology
for the extremely personal nature of his inquiry, he asked Mr.
Brotherson if he would object to giving him some further details
of his acquaintanceship with Miss Challoner; where he first met her
and under what circumstances their friendship had developed.
"Not at all," was the ready reply. "I have nothing to conceal in
the matter. I only wish that her father were present that he might
listen to the recital of my acquaintanceship with his daughter. He
might possibly understand her better and regard with more leniency
the presumption into which I was led by my ignorance of the pride
inherent in great families."
"Your wish can very easily be gratified," returned the official,
pressing an electric button on his desk;
"Mr. Challoner is in the adjoining room." Then, as the door
communicating with the room he had mentioned swung ajar and stood
so, Dr. Heath added, without apparent consciousness of the dramatic
character of this episode, "You will not need to raise your voice
beyond its natural pitch. He can hear perfectly from where he sits."
"Thank you. I am glad to speak in his presence," came in undisturbed
self-possession from this not easily surprised witness. "I shall
relate the facts exactly as they occurred, adding nothing and
concealing nothing. If I mistook my position, or Miss Challoner's
position, it is not for me to apologise. I never hid my business
from her, nor the moderate extent of my fortune. If she knew me
at all, she knew me for what I am; a man of the people who glories
in work and who has risen by it to a position somewhat unique in
this city. I feel no lack of equality even with such a woman as
A most unnecessary preamble, no doubt, and of doubtful efficacy in
smoothing his way to a correct understanding with the deeply bereaved
father. But he looked so handsome as he thus asserted himself and
made so much of his inches and the noble poise of his head--though
cold of eye and always cold of manner--that those who saw, as well
as heard him, forgave this display of egotism in consideration of
its honesty and the dignity it imparted to his person.
"I first met Miss Challoner in the Berkshires," he began, after a
moment of quiet listening for any possible sound from the other room.
"I had been on the tramp, and had stopped at one of the great hotels
for a seven days' rest. I will acknowledge that I chose this spot
at the instigation of a relative who knew my tastes and how perfectly
they might be gratified there. That I should mingle with the guests
may not have been in his thought, any more than it was in mine at
the beginning of my stay. The panorama of beauty spread out before
me on every side was sufficient in itself for my enjoyment, and might
have continued so to the end if my attention had not been very
forcibly drawn on one memorable morning to a young lady--Miss
Challoner--by the very earnest look she gave me as I was crossing
the office from one verandah to another. I must insist on this look,
even if it shock the delicacy of my listeners, for without the
interest it awakened in me, I might not have noticed the blush with
which she turned aside to join her friends on the verandah. It was
an overwhelming blush which could not have sprung from any slight
embarrassment, and, though I hate the pretensions of those egotists
who see in a woman's smile more than it by right conveys, I could
not help being moved by this display of feeling in one so gifted
with every grace and attribute of the perfect woman. With less
caution than I usually display, I approached the desk where she had
been standing and, meeting the eyes of the clerk, asked the young
lady's name. He gave it, and waited for me to express the surprise
he expected it to evoke. But I felt none and showed none. Other
feelings had seized me. I had heard of this gracious woman from
many sources, in my life among the suffering masses of New York, and
now that I had seen her and found her to be not only my ideal of
personal loveliness but seemingly approachable and not uninterested
in myself, I allowed my fancy to soar and my heart to become touched.
A fact which the clerk now confided to me naturally deepened the
impression. Miss Challoner had seen my name in the guest-book and
asked to have me pointed out to her. Perhaps she had heard my name
spoken in the same quarter where I had heard hers. We have never
exchanged confidences on the subject, and I cannot say. I can only
give you my reason for the interest I felt in Miss Challoner and why
I forgot, in the glamour of this episode, the aims and purposes of
a not unambitious life and the distance which the world and the
so-called aristocratic class put between a woman of her wealth and
standing and a simple worker like myself.
"I must be pardoned. She had smiled upon me once, and she smiled
again. Days before we were formally presented, I caught her
softened look turned my way, as we passed each other in hall or
corridor. We were friends, or so it appeared to me, before ever
a word passed between us, and when fortune favoured us and we were
duly introduced, our minds met in a strange sympathy which made
this one interview a memorable one to me. Unhappily, as I then
considered it, this was my last day at the hotel, and our
conversation, interrupted frequently by passing acquaintances, was
never resumed. I exchanged a few words with her by way of good-bye
but nothing more. I came to New York, and she remained in Lenox.
A month after and she too came to New York."
"This good-bye--do you remember it? The exact language, I mean?"
"I do; it made a great impression on me. 'I shall hope for our
further acquaintance,' she said. 'We have one very strong interest
in common. And if ever a human face spoke eloquently, it was hers
at that moment. The interest, as I understood it, was our mutual
sympathy for our toiling, half-starved, down-trodden brothers and
sisters in the lower streets of this city; but the eloquence--that
I probably mistook. I thought it sprang from personal interest, and
it gave me courage to pursue the intention which had taken the place
of every other feeling and ambition by which I had hitherto been
moved. Here was a woman in a thousand; one who could make a man of
me indeed. If she could ignore the social gulf between us, I felt
free to take the leap. Cowardice had never been a fault of mine.
But I was no fool even then. I realised that I must first let her
see the manner of man I was and what life meant to me and must mean
to her if the union I contemplated should become an actual fact. I
wrote letters to her, but I did not give her my address or even
request a reply. I was not ready for any word from her. I am not
like other men and I could wait. And I did, for weeks, then I
suddenly appeared at her hotel."
The change of voice--the bitterness which he infused into this
final sentence made every one look up. Hitherto he had spoken
calmly, almost monotonously, as if no present heart-beat responded
to this tale of vanished love; but with the words, "Then I suddenly
appeared at her hotel," he showed himself human again, and betrayed
a passion which though curbed was of the fiery quality, befitting
his extraordinary attributes of mind and person.
"This was when?" put in Dr. Heath, anxious to bridge the pause which
must have been very painful to the listening father.
"The week after Thanksgiving. I did not see her the first day, and
only casually the second. But she knew I was in the building, and
when I came upon her one evening seated at the very desk in the
mezzanine which we all have such bitter cause to remember, I could
not forbear expressing myself in a way she could not misunderstand.
The result was of a kind to drive a man like myself to an extremity
of self-condemnation and rage. She rose up as if insulted, and
flung me one sentence and one sentence only before she hailed the
elevator and left my presence. A cur could not have been dismissed
with less ceremony."
"That is not like my daughter. What was the sentence you allude to?
Let me hear the very words." Mr. Challoner had come forward and now
stood awaiting his reply, a dignified but pathetic figure, which all
must view with respect.
"I hate the memory of them, but since you demand it, I will repeat
them just as they fell from her lips," was Mr. Brotherson's bitter
retort. "She said, 'You of all men should recognise the
unseemliness of these proposals. Had your letters given me any
hint of the feelings you have just expressed, you would never have
had this opportunity of approaching me.' That was all; but her
indignation was scathing. Ladies who have supped exclusively off
silver, show a fine scorn for the common ware of the cottager."
Mr. Challoner bowed. "There is some mistake," said he. "My daughter
might be averse to your addresses, but she would never show
indignation to any aspirant for her hand, simply on account of
extraneous conditions. She had wide sympathies--wider than I often
approved. Something in your conduct or the confidence you showed
shocked her nicer sense; not your lack of the luxuries she often
misprised. This much I feel obliged to say, out of justice to her
character, which was uniformly considerate."
"You have seen her with men of her own world and yours," was the
harsh response. "She had another side to her nature for the man
of a different sphere. And it killed my love--that you can see
--and led to my sending her the injudicious letter with which you
have confronted me. The hurt bull utters one bellow before he dies.
I bellowed, and bellowed loudly, but I did not die. I'm my own
man still and mean to remain so."
The assertive boldness--some would call it bravado--with which he
thus finished the story of his relations with the dead heiress,
seemed to be more than Mr. Challoner could stand. With a look of
extreme pain and perplexity he vanished from the doorway, and it
fell to Dr. Heath to inquire:
"Is this letter--a letter of threat you will remember--the only
communication which passed between you and Miss Challoner after this
unfortunate passage of arms at the Clermont?"
"Yes. I had no wish to address her again. I had exhausted in this
one outburst whatever humiliation I felt."
"And she? Did she give no sign, make you no answer?"
"None whatever." Then, as if he found it impossible to hide this
hurt to his pride, "She did not even seem to consider me worthy the
honour of an added rebuke. Such arrogance is, no doubt, commendable
in a Challoner."
This time his bitterness did not pass unrebuked by the coroner:
"Remember the grey hairs of the only Challoner who can hear you,
and respect his grief."
Mr. Brotherson bowed.
"I have finished," said he. "I shall have nothing more to say on
the subject." And he drew himself up in expectation of the dismissal
he evidently thought pending.
But the coroner was not done with him by any means. He had a theory
in regard to this lamentable suicide which he hoped to establish by
this man's testimony, and, in pursuit of this plan, he not only
motioned to Mr. Brotherson to reseat himself, but began at once to
open a fresh line of examination by saying:
"You will pardon me, if I press this matter. I have been given to
understand that notwithstanding your break with Miss Challoner, you
have kept up your visits to the Clermont and were even on the spot
at the time of her death."
"On the spot?"
"In the hotel, I mean."
"There you are right; I was in the hotel."
"At the time of her death?"
"Very near the time. I remember hearing some disturbance in the
lobby behind me, just as I was passing out at the Broadway entrance."
"You did, and did not return?"
"Why should I return? I am not a man of much curiosity. There was
no reason why I should connect a sudden alarm in the lobby of the
Clermont with any cause of special interest to myself."
This was so true and the look which accompanied the words was so
frank that the coroner hesitated a moment before he said:
"Certainly not, unless--well, to be direct, unless you had just
seen Miss Challoner and knew her state of mind and what was likely
to follow your abrupt departure."
"I had no interview with Miss Challoner."
"But you saw her? Saw her that evening and just before the accident?"
Sweetwater's papers rattled; it was the only sound to be heard in
that moment of silence. Then--"What do you mean by those words?"
inquired Mr. Brotherson, with studied composure. "I have said that
I had no interview with Miss Challoner. Why do you ask me then, if
I saw her?"
"Because I believe that you did. From a distance possibly, but yet
directly and with no possibility of mistake."
"Do you put that as a question?"
"I do. Did you see her figure or face that night?"
Nothing--not even the rattling of Sweetwater's papers--disturbed
the silence which followed this admission.
"From where?" Dr. Heath asked at last.
"From a point far enough away to make any communication between us
impossible. I do not think you will require me to recall the exact
"If it were one which made it possible for her to see you as clearly
as you could see her, I think it would be very advisable for you to
It was--such--a spot.''
"Then I think I can locate it for you, or do you prefer to locate
"I will locate it myself. I had hoped not to be called upon to
mention what I cannot but consider a most unfortunate coincidence.
As a gentleman you will understand my reticence and also why it is
a matter of regret to me that with an acumen worthy of your position,
you should have discovered a fact which, while it cannot explain
Miss Challoner's death, will drag our little affair before the
public, and possibly give it a prominence in some minds which I am
sure does not belong to it. I met Miss Challoner's eye for one
instant from the top of the little staircase running up to the
mezzanine. I had yielded thus far to an impulse I had frequently
combated, to seek by another interview to retrieve the bad effect
which must have been made upon her by my angry note. I knew that
she frequently wrote letters in the mezzanine at this hour, and
got as far as the top of the staircase in my effort to join her.
But got no further. When I saw her on her feet, with her face
turned my way, I remembered the scorn with which she had received
my former heart-felt proposals and, without taking another step
forward, I turned away from her and fled down the steps and so out
of the building by the main entrance. She saw me, for her hand flew
up with a startled gesture, but I cannot think that my presence on
the same floor with her could have caused her to strike the blow
which terminated her life. Why should I? No woman sacrifices her
life out of mere regret for the disdain she has shown a man she has
taken no pains to understand."
His tone and his attitude seemed to invite the concurrence of Dr.
Heath in this statement. But the richness of the one and the grace
of the other showed the handsome speaker off to such advantage that
the coroner was rather inclined to consider how a woman, even of
Miss Challoner's fine taste and careful breeding, might see in such
a situation much for regret, if not for active despair and the
suicidal act. He gave no evidence of his thought, however, but
followed up the one admission made by Mr. Brotherson which he and
others must naturally view as of the first importance.
"You saw Miss Challoner lift her hand, you say. Which hand, and
what was in it? Anything?"
"She lifted her right hand, but it would be impossible for me to
tell you whether there was anything in it or not. I simply saw
the movement before I turned away. It looked like one of alarm
to me. I felt that she had some reason for this. She could not
know that it was in repentance I came rather than in fulfilment
of my threat."
A sigh from the adjoining room. Mr. Brotherson rose, as he heard
it, and in doing so met the clear eye of Sweetwater fixed upon his
own. Its language was, no doubt, peculiar and it seemed to
fascinate him for a moment, for he started as if to approach the
detective, but forsook this intention almost immediately, and
addressing the coroner, gravely remarked:
"Her death following so quickly upon this abortive attempt of mine
at an interview startled me by its coincidence as much as it does
you. If in the weakness of her woman's nature, it was more than
this--if the scorn she had previously shown me was a cloak she
instinctively assumed to hide what she was not ready to disclose,
my remorse will be as great as any one here could wish. But the
proof of all this will have to be very convincing before my present
convictions will yield to it. Some other and more poignant source
will have to be found for that instant's impulsive act than is
supplied by this story of my unfortunate attachment."
Dr. Heath was convinced, but he was willing to concede something
to the secret demand made upon him by Sweetwater, who was bundling
up his papers with much clatter.
Looking up with a smile which had elements in it he was hardly
conscious of perhaps himself, he asked in an off-hand way:
"Then why did you take such pains to wash your hands of the affair
the moment you had left the hotel?"
"I do not understand."
"You passed around the corner into--street, did you not?"
"Very likely. I could go that way as well as another."
"And stopped at the first lamp-post?"
"Oh, I see. Someone saw that childish action of mine."
"What did you mean by it?"
"Just what you have suggested. I did go through the pantomime of
washing my hands of an affair I considered definitely ended. I had
resisted an irrepressible impulse to see and talk with Miss Challoner
again, and was pleased with my firmness. Unaware of the tragic blow
which had just fallen, I was full of self-congratulations at my
escape from the charm which had lured me back to this hotel again
and again in spite of my better judgment, and I wished to symbolise
my relief by an act of which I was, in another moment, ashamed.
Strange that there should have been a witness to it. (Here he stole
a look at Sweetwater.) Stranger still, that circumstances by the
most extraordinary of coincidences, should have given so unforeseen
a point to it."
"You are right, Mr. Brotherson. The whole occurrence is startling
and most strange. But life is made up of the unexpected, as none
know better than we physicians, whether our practice be of a public
or private character."
As Mr. Brotherson left the room, the curiosity to which he had
yielded once before, led him to cast a glance of penetrating inquiry
behind him full at Sweetwater, and if either felt embarrassment, it
was not the hunted but the hunter.
But the feeling did not last.
"I've simply met the strongest man I've ever encountered," was
Sweetwater's encouraging comment to himself. "All the more glory
if I can find a joint in his armour or a hidden passage to his cold,
ALIKE IN ESSENTIALS
"Mr. Gryce, I am either a fool or the luckiest fellow going. You
must decide which."
The aged detective, thus addressed, laid down his evening paper and
endeavoured to make out the dim form he could just faintly discern
standing between him and the library door.
"Sweetwater, is that you?"
"No one else. Sweetwater, the fool, or Sweetwater, much too wise
for his own good. I don't know which. Perhaps you can find out
and tell me."
A grunt from the region of the library table, then the sarcastic
"I'm just in the mood to settle that question. This last failure
to my account ought to make me an excellent judge of another's folly.
I've meddled with the old business for the last time, Sweetwater.
You'll have to go it lone from now on. The Department has no more
work for Ebenezar Gryce, or rather Ebenezar Gryce will make no more
fool attempts to please them. Strange that a man don't know when
his time has come to quit. I remember low I once scored Yeardsley
for hanging on after he had lost his grip; and here am I doing the
same thing. But what's the matter with you? Speak out, my boy.
Something new in the wind?"
"No, Mr. Gryce; nothing new. It's the same old business. But, if
what I suspect is true, this same old business offers opportunities
for some very interesting and unusual effort. You're not satisfied
with the coroner's verdict in the Challoner case?
"No. I'm satisfied with nothing that leaves all ends dangling.
Suicide was not proved. It seemed the only presumption possible,
but it was not proved. There was no blood-stain on that
"Nor any evidence that it had ever been there."
"No. I'm not proud of the chain which lacks a link where it should
"We shall never supply that link."
"I quite agree with you."
"That chain we must throw away."
"And forge another?"
Sweetwater approached and sat down.
"Yes; I believe we can do it; yet I have only one indisputable fact
for a starter. That is why I want you to tell me whether I'm
growing daft or simply adventurous. Mr. Gryce, I don't trust
Brotherson. He has pulled the wool over Dr. Heath's eyes and
almost over those of Mr. Challoner. But he can't pull it over mine.
Though he should tell a story ten times more plausible than the
one with which he has satisfied the coroner's jury, I would still
listen to him with more misgiving than confidence. Yet I have
caught him in no misstatement, and his eye is steadier than my own.
Perhaps it is simply a deeply rooted antipathy on my part, or the
rage one feels at finding he has placed his finger on the wrong man.
Again it may be--"
"A well-founded distrust. Mr. Gryce, I'm going to ask you a
"Ask away. Ask fifty if you want to."
"No; the one may involve fifty, but it is big enough in itself to
hold our attention for a while. Did you ever hear of a case before,
that in some of its details was similar to this?
"No, it stands alone. That's why it is so puzzling."
"You forget. The wealth, beauty and social consequence of the
present victim has blinded you to the strong resemblance which her
case bears to one you know, in which the sufferer had none of the
worldly advantages of Miss Challoner. I allude to--"
"Wait! the washerwoman in Hicks Street! Sweetwater, what have you
got up your sleeve? You do mean that Brooklyn washerwoman, don't
"The same. The Department may have forgotten it, but I haven't.
Mr. Gryce, there's a startling similarity in the two cases if you
study the essential features only. Startling, I assure you."
"Yes, you are right there. But what if there is? We were no more
successful in solving that case than we have been in solving this.
Yet you look and act like a hound which has struck a hot scent.
The young man smoothed his features with an embarrassed laugh.
"I shall never learn," said he, "not to give tongue till the hunt
is fairly started. If you will excuse me we'll first make sure of
the similarity I have mentioned. Then I'll explain myself. I have
some notes here, made at the time it was decided to drop the Hicks
Street case as a wholly inexplicable one. As you know, I never can
bear to say 'die,' and I sometimes keep such notes as a possible
help in case any such unfinished matter should come up again. Shall
I read them?"
"Do. Twenty years ago it would not have been necessary. I should
have remembered every detail of an affair so puzzling. But my
memory is no longer entirely reliable. So fire away, my boy,
though I hardly see your purpose or what real bearing the affair in
Hicks Street has upon the Clermont one. A poor washerwoman and the
wealthy Miss Challoner! True, they were not unlike in their end."
"The connection will come later," smiled the young detective, with
that strange softening of his features which made one at times
forget his extreme plainness. "I'm sure you will not consider the
time lost if I ask you to consider the comparison I am about to
make, if only as a curiosity in criminal annals."
And he read:
"'On the afternoon of December Fourth, 1910, the strong and persistent
screaming of a young child in one of the rooms of a rear tenement in
Hicks Street, Brooklyn, drew the attention of some of the inmates
and led them, after several ineffectual efforts to gain an entrance,
to the breaking in of the door which had been fastened on the inside
by an old-fashioned door-button.
"'The tenant whom all knew for an honest, hard-working woman, had
not infrequently fastened her door in this manner, in order to
safeguard her child who was abnormally active and had a way of
rattling the door open when it was not thus secured. But she had
never refused to open before, and the child's cries were pitiful.
"'This was no longer a matter of wonder, when, the door having been
wrenched from its hinges, they all rushed in. Across a tub of
steaming clothes lifted upon a bench in the open window, they saw
the body of this good woman, lying inert and seemingly dead; the
frightened child tugging at her skirts. She was of a robust make,
fleshy and fair, and had always been considered a model of health
and energy, but at the sight of her helpless figure, thus stricken
while at work, the one cry was 'A stroke! till she had been lifted
off and laid upon the floor. Then some discoloration in the water
at the bottom of the tub led to a closer examination of her body,
and the discovery of a bullet-hole in her breast directly over
"'As she had been standing with face towards the window, all crowded
that way to see where the shot had come from. As they were on the
fourth storey it could not have come from the court upon which the
room looked. It could only have come from the front tenement,
towering up before them some twenty feet away. A single window of
the innumerable ones confronting them stood open, and this was the
one directly opposite.
"'Nobody was to be seen there or in the room beyond, but during the
excitement, one man ran off to call the police and another to hunt
up the janitor and ask who occupied this room.
"'His reply threw them all into confusion. The tenant of that room
was the best, the quietest and most respectable man in either
"'Then he must be simply careless and the shot an accidental one.
A rush was made for the stairs and soon the whole building was in
an uproar. But when this especial room was reached, it was found
locked and on the door a paper pinned up, on which these words were
written: Gone to New York. Will be back at 6:30! Words that
recalled a circumstance to the janitor. He had seen the gentleman
go out an hour before. This terminated all inquiry in this
direction, though some few of the excited throng were for battering
down this door just as they had the other one. But they were
overruled by the janitor, who saw no use in such wholesale
destruction, and presently the arrival of the police restored order
and limited the inquiry to the rear building, where it undoubtedly
"Mr. Gryce," (here Sweetwater laid by his notes that he might
address the old gentleman more directly), "I was with the boys when
they made their first official investigation. This is why you can
rely upon the facts as here given. I followed the investigation
closely and missed nothing which could in any way throw light on
the case. It was a mysterious one from the first, and lost nothing
by further inquiry into the details.
"The first fact to startle us as we made our way up through the
crowd which blocked halls and staircases was this:--A doctor had
been found and, though he had been forbidden to make more than a
cursory examination of the body till the coroner came, he had not
hesitated to declare after his first look, that the wound had not
been made by a bullet but by some sharp and slender weapon thrust
home by a powerful hand. (You mark that, Mr. Gryce.) As this
seemed impossible in face of the fact that the door had been found
buttoned on the inside, we did not give much credit to his opinion
and began our work under the obvious theory of an accidental
discharge of some gun from one of the windows across the court.
But the doctor was nearer right than we supposed. When the coroner
came to look into the matter, he discovered that the wound was not
only too small to have been made by the ordinary bullet, but that
there was no bullet to be found in the woman's body or anywhere
else. Her heart had been reached by a thrust and not by a shot
from a gun. Mr. Gryce, have you not heard a startling repetition
of this report in a case nearer at hand?
"But to go back. This discovery, so important if true, was as
yet--that is, at the time of our entering the room,--limited to
the off-hand declaration of an irresponsible physician, but the
possibility it involved was of so astonishing a nature that it
influenced us unconsciously in our investigation and led us almost
immediately into a consideration of the difficulties attending
an entrance into, as well as an escape from, a room situated as
"Up three flights from the court, with no communication with the
adjoining rooms save through a door guarded on both sides by heavy
pieces of furniture no one person could handle, the hall door
buttoned on the inside, and the fire-escape some fifteen feet to
the left, this room of death appeared to be as removed from the
approach of a murderous outsider as the spot in the writing-room
of the Clermont where Miss Challoner fell.
"Otherwise, the place presented the greatest contrast possible to
that scene of splendour and comfort. I had not entered the
Clermont at that time, and no, such comparison could have struck
my mind. But I have thought of it since, and you, with your
experience, will not find it difficult to picture the room where
this poor woman lived and worked. Bare walls, with just a newspaper
illustration pinned up here and there, a bed--tragically occupied
at this moment--a kitchen stove on which a boiler, half-filled
with steaming clothes still bubbled and foamed,--an old bureau,--a
large pine wardrobe against an inner door which we later found to
have been locked for months, and the key lost,--some chairs--and
most pronounced of all, because of its position directly before the
window, a pine bench supporting a wash-tub of the old sort.
"As it was here the woman fell, this tub naturally received the
closest examination. A board projected from its further side,
whither it had evidently been pushed by the weight of her falling
body; and from its top hung a wet cloth, marking with its lugubrious
drip on the boards beneath the first heavy moments of silence which
is the natural accompaniment of so serious a survey. On the floor
to the right lay a half-used cake of soap just as it had slipped
from her hand. The window was closed, for the temperature was at
the freezing-point, but it had been found up, and it was put up
now to show the height at which it had then stood. As we all took
our look at the house wall opposite, a sound of shouting came up
from below. A dozen children were sliding on barrel staves down
a slope of heaped-up snow. They had been engaged in this sport all
the afternoon and were our witnesses later that no one had made a
hazardous escape by means of the ladder of the fire-escape, running,
as I have said, at an almost unattainable distance towards the left.
"Of her own child, whose cries had roused the neighbours, nothing
was to be seen. The woman in the extreme rear had carried it off
to her room; but when we came to see it later, no doubt was felt by
any of us that this child was too young to talk connectedly, nor
did I ever hear that it ever said anything which could in any way
"And that is as far as we ever got. The coroner's jury brought in
a verdict of death by means of a stab from some unknown weapon in
the hand of a person also unknown, but no weapon was ever found,
nor was it ever settled how the attack could have been made or the
murderer escape under the conditions described. The woman was poor,
her friends few, and the case seemingly inexplicable. So after
creating some excitement by its peculiarities, it fell of its own
weight. But I remembered it, and in many a spare hour have tried
to see my way through the no-thoroughfare it presented. But quite
in vain. To-day, the road is as blind as ever, but--" here
Sweetwater's face sharpened and his eyes burned as he leaned closer
and closer to the older detective--"but this second case, so unlike
the first in non-essentials but so exactly like it in just those
points which make the mystery, has dropped a thread from its tangled
skein into my hand, which may yet lead us to the heart of both.
Can you guess--have you guessed--what this thread is? But how
could you without the one clew I have not given you? Mr. Gryce,
the tenement where this occurred is the same I visited the other
night in search of Mr. Brotherson. And the man characterised at
that time by the janitor as the best, the quietest and most
respectable tenant in the whole building, and the one you remember
whose window opened directly opposite the spot where this woman lay
dead, was Mr. Dunn himself, or, in other words, our late redoubtable
witness, Mr. Orlando Brotherson."
Mr. GRYCE FINDS AN ANTIDOTE FOR OLD AGE
"I thought I should make you sit up. I really calculated upon
doing so, sir. Yes, I have established the plain fact that this
Brotherson was near to, if not in the exact line of the scene of
crime in each of these extraordinary and baffling cases. A very
odd coincidence, is it not?" was the dry conclusion of our eager
"Odd enough if you are correct in your statement. But I thought it
was conceded that the man Brotherson was not personally near,--was
not even in the building at the time of the woman's death in Hicks
Street; that he was out and had been out for hours, according to the
"And so the janitor thought, but he didn't quite know his man. I'm
not sure that I do. But I mean to make his acquaintance and make
it thoroughly before I let him go. The hero--well, I will say the
possible hero of two such adventures--deserves some attention from
one so interested in the abnormal as myself."
"Sweetwater, how came you to discover that Mr. Dunn of this
ramshackle tenement in Hicks Street was identical with the elegantly
equipped admirer of Miss Challoner?"
"Just this way. The night before Miss Challoner's death I was
brooding very deeply over the Hicks Street case. It had so
possessed me that I had taken this street in on my way from Flatbush;
as if staring at the house and its swarming courtyard was going to
settle any such question as that! I walked by the place and I looked
up at the windows. No inspiration. Then I sauntered back and
entered the house with the fool intention of crossing the courtyard
and wandering into the rear building where the crime had occurred.
But my attention was diverted and my mind changed by seeing a man
coming down the stairs before me, of so fine a figure that I
involuntarily stopped to look at him. Had he moved a little less
carelessly, had he worn his workman's clothes a little less
naturally, I should have thought him some college bred man out on
a slumming expedition. But he was entirely too much at home where
he was, and too unconscious of his jeans for any such conclusion on
my part, and when he had passed out I had enough curiosity to ask
who he was.
"My interest, you may believe, was in no wise abated when I learned
that he was that highly respectable tenant whose window had been
open at the time when half the inmates of the two buildings had
rushed up to his door, only to find a paper on it displaying these
words: Gone to New York; will be back at 6:30. Had he returned at
that hour? I don't think anybody had ever asked; and what reason
had I for such interference now? But an idea once planted in my
brain sticks tight, and I kept thinking of this man all the way to
the Bridge. Instinctively and quite against my will, I found
myself connecting him with some previous remembrance in which I
seemed to see his tall form and strong features under the stress of
some great excitement. But there my memory stopped, till suddenly
as I was entering the subway, it all came back to me. I had met
him the day I went with the boys to investigate the case in Hicks
Street. He was coming down the staircase of the rear tenement then,
very much as I had just seen him coming down the one in front. Only
the Dunn of to-day seemed to have all his wits about him, while the
huge fellow who brushed so rudely by me on that occasion had the
peculiar look of a man struggling with horror or some other grave
agitation. This was not surprising, of course, under the
circumstances. I had met more than one man and woman in those halls
who had worn the same look; but none of them had put up a sign on
his door that he had left for New York and would not be back till
6:30, and then changed his mind so suddenly that he was back in
the tenement at three, sharing the curiosity and the terrors of its
"But the discovery, while possibly suggestive, was not of so
pressing a nature as to demand instant action; and more immediate
duties coming up, I let the matter slip from my mind, to be brought
up again the next day, you may well believe, when all the
circumstances of the death at the Clermont came to light and I found
myself confronted by a problem very nearly the counterpart of the
one then occupying me.
"But I did not see any real connection between the two cases, until,
in my hunt for Mr. Brotherson, I came upon the following facts: that
he was not always the gentleman he appeared: that the apartment in
which he was supposed to live was not his own but a friend's; and
that he was only there by spells. When he was there, he dressed
like a prince and it was while so clothed he ate his meals in the
cafe of the Hotel Clermont.
"But there were times when he had been seen to leave this apartment
in a very different garb, and while there was no one to insinuate
that he was slack in paying his debts or was given to dissipation
or any overt vice, it was generally conceded by such as casually
knew him, that there was a mysterious side to his life which no one
understood. His friend--a seemingly candid and open-minded
gentleman--explained these contradictions by saying that Mr.
Brotherson was a humanitarian and spent much of his time in the
slums. That while so engaged he naturally dressed to suit the
occasion, and if he was to be criticised at all, it was for his zeal
which often led him to extremes and kept him to his task for days,
during which time none of his up-town friends saw him. Then this
enthusiastic gentleman called him the great intellectual light of
the day, and--well, if ever I want a character I shall take pains
to insinuate myself into the good graces of this Mr. Conway.
"Of Brotherson himself I saw nothing. He had come to Mr. Conway's
apartment the night before--the night of Miss Challoner's death,
you understand but had remained only long enough to change his
clothes. Where he went afterwards is unknown to Mr. Conway, nor
can he tell us when to look for his return. When he does show up,
my message will be given him, etc., etc. I have no fault to find
with Mr. Conway.
"But I had an idea in regard to this elusive Brotherson. I had
heard enough about him to be mighty sure that together with his
other accomplishments he possessed the golden tongue and easy
speech of an orator. Also, that his tendencies were revolutionary
and that for all his fine clothes and hankering after table luxuries
and the like, he cherished a spite against wealth which made his
words under certain moods cut like a knife. But there was another
man, known to us of the ---- Precinct, who had very nearly these
same gifts, and this man was going to speak at a secret meeting
that very evening. This we had been told by a disgruntled member
of the Associated Brotherhood. Suspecting Brotherson, I had this
prospective speaker described, and thought I recognised my man.
But I wanted to be positive in my identification, so I took Anderson
with me, and--but I'll cut that short. We didn't see the orator
and that 'go' went for nothing; but I had another string to my bow
in the shape of the workman Dunn who also answered to the description
which had been given me; so I lugged poor Anderson over into Hicks
"It was late for the visit I proposed, but not too late, if Dunn was
also the orator who, surprised by a raid I had not been let into,
would be making for his home, if only to establish an alibi. The
subway was near, and I calculated on his using it, but we took a
taxicab and so arrived in Hicks Street some few minutes before him.
The result you know. Anderson recognised the man as the one whom he
saw washing his hands in the snow outside of the Clermont, and the
man, seeing himself discovered, owned himself to be Brotherson and
made no difficulty about accompanying us the next day to the
"You have heard how he bore himself; what his explanations were and
how completely they fitted in with the preconceived notions of the
Inspector and the District Attorney. In consequence, Miss
Challoner's death is looked upon as a suicide--the impulsive act of
a woman who sees the man she may have scouted but whom she secretly
loves, turn away from her in all probability forever. A weapon was
in her hand--she impulsively used it, and another deplorable suicide
was added to the melancholy list. Had I put in my oar at the
conference held in the coroner's office; had I recalled to Dr. Heath
the curious case of Mrs. Spotts, and then identified Brotherson as
the man whose window fronted hers from the opposite tenement, a
diversion might have been created and the outcome been different.
But I feared the experiment. I'm not sufficiently in with the
Chief as yet, nor yet with the Inspector. They might not have
called me a fool--you may; but that's different--and they might
have listened, but it would doubtless have been with an air I could
not have held up against, with that fellow's eyes fixed mockingly on
mine. For he and I are pitted for a struggle, and I do not want to
give him the advantage of even a momentary triumph. He's the most
complete master of himself of any man I ever met, and it will take
the united brain and resolution of the whole force to bring him to
book--if he ever is brought to book, which I doubt. What do you
think about it?"
"That you have given me an antidote against old age," was the
ringing and unexpected reply, as the thoughtful, half-puzzled aspect
of the old man yielded impulsively to a burst of his early
enthusiasm. "If we can get a good grip on the thread you speak of,
and can work ourselves along by it, though it be by no more than an
inch at a time, we shall yet make our way through this labyrinth of
undoubted crime and earn for ourselves a triumph which will make
some of these raw and inexperienced young fellows about us stare.
Sweetwater, coincidences are possible. We run upon them every day.
But coincidence in crime! that should make work for a detective, and
we are not afraid of work. There's my hand for my end of the
"And here's mine."
Next minute the two heads were closer than ever together, and the
business had begun.
TIME, CIRCUMSTANCE, AND A VILLAIN' S HEART
"Our first difficulty is this. We must prove motive. Now, I do
not think it will be so very hard to show that this Brotherson
cherished feelings of revenge towards Miss Challoner. But I have
to acknowledge right here and now that the most skillful and vigourous
pumping of the janitor and such other tenants of the Hicks Street
tenement as I have dared to approach, fails to show that he has ever
held any communication with Mrs. Spotts, or even knew of her
existence until her remarkable death attracted his attention. I
have spent all the afternoon over this, and with no result. A
complete break in the chain at the very start."
"Humph! we will set that down, then, as so much against us."
"The next, and this is a bitter pill too, is the almost
insurmountable difficulty already recognised of determining how a
man, without approaching his victim, could manage to inflict a
mortal stab in her breast. No cloak of complete invisibility has
yet been found, even by the cleverest criminals."
"True. The problem is such as a nightmare offers. For years my
dreams have been haunted by a gnome who proposes just such puzzles."
"But there's an answer to everything, and I'm sure there's an answer
to this. Remember his business. He's an inventor, with startling
ideas. So much I've seen for myself. You may stretch probabilities
a little in his case; and with this conceded, we may add by way of
off-set to the difficulties you mention, coincidences of time and
circumstance, and his villainous heart. Oh, I know that I am
prejudiced; but wait and see! Miss Challoner was well rid of him
even at the cost of her life."
"She loved him. Even her father believes that now. Some lately
discovered letters have come to light to prove that she was by no
means so heart free as he supposed. One of her friends, it seems,
has also confided to him that once, while she and Miss Challoner
were sitting together, she caught Miss Challoner in the act of
scribbling capitals over a sheet of paper. They were all B's with
the exception of here and there a neatly turned O, and when her
friend twitted her with her fondness for these two letters, and
suggested a pleasing monogram, Miss Challoner answered, 'O. B.
(transferring the letters, as you see) are the initials of the
finest man in the world.'"
"Gosh! has he heard this story?"
"The gentleman in question."
"I don't think so. It was told me in confidence."
"Told you, Mr. Gryce? Pardon my curiosity."
"By Mr. Challoner."
"Oh! by Mr. Challoner."