Part 5 out of 6
ordered the new sign. When it was put up, the whole town, including
the "loafers" were present. "I s'pose he fixed it with the trustees"
said Benoni Hill to Abner Stiles.
"Danged if I think so," was the reply. "He's allers been meaner'n
dirt to Hiram, an' has allers wanted to git him out. Burnin' up the
store giv' him his chance."
"You mean the store burnin' up," corrected Benoni.
"I dunno. The Bible says God works in a mysterious way his wonders to
perform, an' so do some individooals."
One noon after dinner, Mr. Strout said to his wife. "Bessie, put on
your things an' come down to the new store. I want to show you
"And leave the dishes?"
"You can bring 'em with you if you want to," her husband replied.
When they reached the store, upon which the painters were at work, he
pointed to the new sign.
"See that? Read it out loud."
Mrs. Strout complied:
"O. STROUT. FINE GROCERIES."
"What did I tell yer?" was his only comment.
THE HOME COMING
Quincy desired to have his return to America unheralded by items in
the newspapers of stories of his wonderful rescue, captivity, and
final recovery of his reason, so when he booked for passage on the
_Gallia_ he gave the name of Mr. S. Adams, wife and son.
During the homeward voyage the father and son had an opportunity to
become acquainted. The father told the story of his life at Mason's
Corner; first going back to his college days. He told his son how he
had opposed his father's wish that he would become a lawyer and
sustain the reputation of the old firm of Sawyer, Crowninshield, and
Lawrence; about his health breaking down and his visit to Mason's
Corner; about the blind girl whom he had made his wife, and how he
had secured medical assistance and her sight had been restored. Once
again he lived over his life in the country town, and told about his
friends and foes--Obadiah Strout and Bob Wood--who were enemies no
longer, and honest, good-hearted 'Zeke Pettingill, and his sweet
wife, little Huldah Mason. And Hiram who stammered so and Mandy who
didn't. Nearly all the people mentioned in their long talks were well
known to young Quincy and after his father had finished his
reminiscences the young man supplied the sequel.
"What do you think of Mr. Strout?" asked the father.
"Think? I know he's a dishonest man. You say that you parted friends.
He is no friend of yours or mine."
Then he told of his encounter with young Bob Wood.
"I had some trouble with his father many years ago," said Quincy.
"What did he do to you?"
"Nothing to me. He insulted a young lady, and I took her part. Tom
was going to help me but I arranged to handle him, in a very
unscientific way though."
"It was a rough and tumble of the worst sort," interjected Tom. "I
was afraid they'd bite each other before they got through."
"Quincy," said his father, "you must take boxing lessons. When
occasion requires, it is the gentleman's weapon."
The mention of Mary Dana naturally led to a rehearsal of the Wood
case, and all Mary had done in helping Quincy at the beginning of the
search for his father.
"I think I see which way the wind blows," laughed his father, while
Quincy blushed to the roots of his hair, "and I want to meet the
young lady who did so much to bring us all together again."
Alice was proud of her son. He resembled her, having light hair and
blue eyes; a decided contrast to his father whose skin had been
darkened by Italian suns, who had dark eyes, dark hair frosted at the
ends, and a heavy beard, cut in Van Dyke fashion. Few, if any, would
have recognized in him the young man who more than twenty-three years
before had taken passage on the _Altonia_, looking forward to a
pleasant trip and an early return to his native land.
Alice explained to her son her apparent lack of affection for him in
allowing him to be separated from her so long.
"I knew you were with your relatives and good friends, Quincy. In my
nervous, depressed state I was poor company for a young, healthy boy.
Then, I had such a fear of the ocean I dared not go to you and was
afraid to have you come to me. Can you forgive me?"
"My darling mother," said young Quincy, "what you did turned out for
the best. I have been educated as an American and that fully atones
for my apparent neglect. Your beautiful letters kept you always in my
mind, and I used to take great pleasure in telling my schoolmates
what a pretty mother I had."
Alice, despite her years, blushed.
"Quincy, you are like your father in praising those you love."
Tom gave Quincy's father graphic descriptions of the changes in
Fernborough and fully endorsed his friend's opinion of Mr. Strout.
"He's a snake in the grass," said Tom. "He'd pat you on the back with
one hand and cut your throat, figuratively speaking, with the other."
"Do you think he'd recognize me?" asked Quincy.
"I think not," said Tom. "His perceptive powers are not strong. He's
sub-acute rather than 'cute."
Quincy and Alice sat for hours looking out upon the wide expanse of
ocean, and at the blue sky above them. It did not seem possible that
so many years had passed since they were together. Memory is a great
friend. It bridged the great gap in their lives. They were lovers as
of yore, and would be always. They did not hesitate to talk of the
cruel past--not sadly, for were they not in the happy present?
Said Alice one morning, "While you were gone I was in a terribly
nervous condition. Aunt Ella said that I must have something to
employ my mind--and I wrote, or tried to write. I couldn't keep my
mind on one thing long enough to write a story, but I have collected
the material for one, and now that I am happy once more, when we have
settled down, I am going to write it."
"What's the title, or, rather, the subject?" her husband inquired.
"Oh, it opens with a ship-wreck--not a collision but a fire was the
cause. Among the passengers are many children--of high and low
degree--and they get mixed up--fall into wrong persons' hands,--
fathers and mothers are lost and cannot claim them, and their future
lives have supplied me with the strongest and most intricate and
exciting plot that I have ever constructed."
"Which is the 'star' child?"
"He is the son of a Russian Grand Duke--the offspring of a morganatic
marriage--his mother is driven from the country by order of the Czar.
The title is _The Son of Sergius_."
They did not remain in New York but took the first train for Boston.
They were driven to the Mount Vernon Street house.
"I knew you were coming," cried Maude, as she ran eagerly down the
steps to meet them.
"Who has turned traitor? I pledged them all to secrecy," cried
"Harry told me, and I had a cablegram from Florence."
"Did she use my name? If so, we are undone and the reporters will
swarm like bees."
"You are safe," said Maude. "The message read: Brother found. Keep
Tom was prevailed upon to remain in Boston until Quincy could go to
Fernborough. At supper they were introduced to Maude's family.
"Six of them," said Quincy. "I am uncle to a numerous extent. Maude,
what are all their names--the girls first."
"This is Sarah, named after mother; Ella for Aunt Ella, and little
Maude for her mother."
"Good! Now the boys."
"Stuart--the old gentleman was so nice to Harry and me when we were
on our wedding tour--Nat for father, and Harry--"
"Thank Heaven--no Quincy. That name was becoming contagious. I am
glad, Maude, that you were wise and kept the epidemic out of your
That evening Quincy and Mr. Merry talked about business matters.
Harry told of Hiram's accident and the destruction of the store by
"There's something funny about it," said Harry. "We authorized Mr.
Strout to rebuild and restock at once, and we hear that he has done
so, but he has not called on us for a dollar, nor has he sent up any
bills for payment."
"I wish you would send a telegram to Mr. Ezekiel Pettingill the first
thing to-morrow morning asking him to come to the city--say important
About three o'clock Ezekiel arrived at the office of Sawyer,
Crowninshield, Lawrence and Merry. He was shown into what had been
the late Hon. Nathaniel's private office, and came face to face with
"I'm heartily glad to see you again," he exclaimed as he wrung
Quincy's helpless hand after the first surprise of the meeting.
"Huldy'll be delighted too. You must come down and tell us all about
it. Just to think--more'n twenty years--but you're looking well."
Quincy assured him that his health was never better.
"What I wanted to see you about are affairs in Fernborough. What is
Strout up to?"
"You've used just the right word. He's up to something. He's got up a
sign--O. Strout, Fine Groceries--an' says Hiram's out of the firm,
and that he owns the whole business."
Quincy smiled. "So, I've got to fight it out with him again, have I?
Well it will be the final conflict. To use Mr. Strout's words, one or
the other of us will have to leave town. You aren't going back to-
"Oh, I must."
"Well, come up to the house first and see Alice and the boy. Well go
THE FINAL CONFLICT
When Tom Chripp showed his father the photograph of the house in
which he was born, he burst into tears.
"Just as pretty as ever," he exclaimed. "The roof's been mended,
beent it, and just the same flowers all around it as when I was a
boy. Tom, I'm glad to see you back safe and sound--but that picter--
Tom, when I die, you just put that picter in the coffin with me,
won't you? I want your grandfather to see that the old place was
looked after when he was gone."
A dark featured, dark haired man entered Mr. Strout's store. The
proprietor knew he was a stranger--perhaps just moved into town, and
a prospective customer.
"What can I do for you?" he inquired blandly, for he was capable of
"I am looking for Mr. Hiram Maxwell."
"He ain't here no more."
"But he's your partner, isn't he?"
"Didn't you read my sign? There ain't no partner on it."
"There ought to be."
Mr. Strout looked at the stranger with astonishment. Then he laughed,
and, with a remembrance of Mr. Richard Ricker, asked sneeringly:
"What asylum did you come from?"
"I beg your pardon," said the stranger. "I used to know Mr. Maxwell,
and they told me in the city that he was a member of the firm of
Strout and Maxwell."
"Who told ye?"
"The trustees of the estate of Mr. Sawyer. Mr. Quincy Adams Sawyer.
Did you know him?"
"I never knew any good of him. So they told yer, did they? That shows
how much attention they give to business. The old store was burned up
and that busted the firm. This store's mine from cellar to chimney."
"The old firm must have paid you well."
"Pretty well--but I made my money in State Street, speculating and
I'm well fixed."
"I'm glad to hear that you've prospered. I wish my friend Maxwell had
been as fortunate. What became of his interest and Mr. Sawyer's in
"Went up in smoke, didn't I tell yer?"
"I beg your pardon," said the stranger again. "But doesn't your store
stand on land belonging to the old firm?"
Strout squinted at the stranger. "I guess you're a lawyer lookin' for
points, but you're on the wrong track. You won't get 'em."
"I'm not a lawyer, Mr. Strout. I only inquired thinking my friend Mr.
"Well, he won't," said Strout. "Mr. Quincy Adams Sawyer cheated me
out of one store but he can't drive me out of this. He thought he was
awful smart, but when he bought the store he didn't buy the land. It
belonged to the town. I'm one of the selectmen, and one of the
assessors found it out and told me, and I bought it--an' this store
an' way up to the sky, and the land way down to China belongs to O.
"I am much obliged, Mr. Strout, for your courtesy--only one more
question and then I'll try and find my friend Mr. Maxwell--if
somebody will be kind enough to tell me where he is."
"You didn't ask where he was. If you want to know he's up to the
Hospital. He's had his leg off, an'll have to walk on crutches."
"So bad as that,--I'm _very_ sorry," said the stranger.
"I've got to put up some orders--see that sign?" and he pointed to
one which read:
"When You've transacted your Business, Think of Home, Sweet Home."
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Strout, for taking so much of your valuable
time. Do you know whether Mr. Quincy Adams Sawyer is in town?"
Strout laughed scornfully. "In town? That's good. Why, man, he's been
dead more'n twenty years--food for fishes, if they'd eat him, which I
doubt. He's left a boy, same name, that used to go to school here,
but, thank Heaven, he's got lots of money, and probably won't trouble
us any more. Perhaps he's the one you want."
"Are you sure the boy's father is dead? I saw him in Boston
"I don't take any stock in any such nonsense. This ain't the days of
"I saw him in this town this morning."
"Where?" gasped Strout.
"Right here. That's my name, Quincy Adams Sawyer. Do you want me to
identify myself?" He stepped back, puckered up his mouth, and began
whistling "Listen to the Mocking Bird."
Strout was both startled and mad. "Just like you to come spyin'
round. You allers was a meddler, an' underhanded. But now you know
the truth, what are you going to do about it?"
Quincy walked to the door. "Well, Mr. Strout, I'm going to put it
about as you did when I first came to Mason's Corner, Either you or I
have got to leave town. This is our last fight, and I'm going to
He left the store quickly and made his way to where Ezekiel was
waiting for him with the carryall.
"Now, 'Zeke, we'll go to the Hospital and see poor Hiram."
They found him hobbling about on crutches in the grounds of the
"How long have you been here, Hiram?" was Quincy's first question.
"About twelve weeks. You see, besides breaking my leg I cracked my
knee pan an' that's made it wuss."
"We'll fix you up very soon. I'll get you an artificial leg from New
York. You'll be able to walk all right but you mustn't do any heavy
"Guess I shan't have no chance to lift anything now Strout's got the
"Don't worry about that, Hiram. There are towns that have two stores
in them. How's Mandy?"
[Illustration: "'JUST LIKE YOU TO COME SPYIN' ROUND. YOU ALLERS WAS A
"Gettin' along all right. Mr. Pettingill, there, sends a man over to
help her, and Mrs. Crowley is as good as two any day."
"Don't worry, Hiram. You'll come out on top yet"
"If I do, 'twill be because you'll put me there, I reckon."
As they were driving back 'Zekiel asked Quincy if he knew Mrs.
Hawkins was going to sell out.
"No, why. Getting too old?"
"No, she's as spry as a cat, and she's seventy odd. That ain't the
reason. Jonas is dead."
"What was the matter?"
"No, somebody stole his chickens. So he arranged a gun with a spring
and he must have forgotten it."
"He didn't 'kalkilate' on its hitting him?"
"Guess not. Mrs. Hawkins says she's too old to marry agin, and she
can't run the house without a man she can trust."
"Let's stop and see her."
When they entered, Mrs. Hawkins threw up her hands. "Lord a Massy! I
heerd at the store all about you comin' back, but where on airth
_did_ you come from? They said you was dead an' here you are as
handsome as ever. How's your wife, an' that boy o' yourn?"
"Both well, I'm happy to say. 'Zeke tells me you want to sell out."
"Yes. Now Jonas has gone there's nobody to take care of the chickens,
an' a hotel 'thout chickens an' fresh eggs is no home for a hungry
"What will you take for the place just as it stands?"
"Well, I've figured up an' I should lose money ef I took less'n four
thousand dollars, an' I ought to have five."
"I'll take the refusal of it for forty-eight hours at five thousand.
Is it agreed?"
"I'd hold it a month for you, Mister Sawyer, but I want to go and
help Mandy soon's I can now that Hiram's laid up for nobody knows how
"We'll have Hiram on his feet again very soon, Mrs. Hawkins. I'll be
down again in a few days."
"Give my love to Alice," she called after them as they were driving
The next evening Quincy asked his son to come to the library with
"Quincy, I want to borrow fifty thousand dollars. Can you spare it?"
"Twice as much if you need it. I'll give it to you. It's yours
"No, I want to borrow it at six per cent."
"Are you going into business?"
"Yes." Then Quincy told him of his conversation with Mr. Strout.
"How are you going to beat him?" asked young Quincy.
"I'll tell you. I'm going to buy the Hawkins House. I shall have it
lifted up and another story put underneath. There will be room for a
store twice as large as Strout's, and a hotel entrance and office on
the ground floor. I'll put Hiram Maxwell in charge of the store."
"Who'll run the hotel?"
"'Zeke says Sam Hill is the man for the place, and his wife Tilly
will be the housekeeper, chief cook, etc."
"Do you mean to run Mr. Strout out of town?"
"That is my present intention. Not for personal vengeance but for the
ultimate good of the community."
"I'd like to help, but the work isn't in my line."
"Seriously speaking, Quincy, what is your line--the law?"
"Don't know. Am thinking it over."
"Have you seen that Miss Dana yet?"
"No. Mr. Isburn told me she is out West now on an important case."
"We'll get her to find Strout after he leaves Fernborough. Give me
that check to-morrow early. I'm going to Fernborough with an
architect to have plans made for the alterations."
Mr. Strout could look from his window and see what was going on at
the Hawkins House.
"Who's bought the hotel, Abner?"
"Well, Mr. Strout, they do say it's Mr. Quincy Adams Sawyer, an' that
Sam Hill and his wife Tilly are going to run it."
"I won't sell them a darned thing."
Mr. Stiles grinned. "Can't they buy in Cottonton, or Montrose, or
Eastborough? Mr. Sawyer's got stores there."
"Well they'll want things in a hurry, but they won't get them from
A month later Abner rushed into the store.
"Say, Strout, they're putting up a new sign on the Hawkins House.
Come and see it."
Mr. Strout walked leisurely to the window and put up his hand to
shade his eyes. Great white letters on a blue ground.
THE SAWYER GROCERY COMPANY
"By George, Strout, there's going to be another grocery."
Mr. Strout did not speak, but walked back behind the counter. Abner
went to see the sign raising.
Mr. Strout soliloquized: "So, he's going to fight me, is he? Well,
I'll spend every dollar I have, and borrow some more, before I'll
give in. He'll cut prices--so will I."
Then a troubled look came into his face.
"Confound it. My commission as postmaster runs out in a month, but
our Congressman is a good friend of mine."
Opening night came at the new store, Saturday being selected. Over
the doorway was an electric sign--
WELCOME TO ALL
Mr. Strout's store was nearly deserted. About ten o'clock Abner came
"I say, Strout, it's just scrumptious. They got three times as many
goods as you have. An' there's a smoking room back of the store with
a sign over the door _'Exclusively for Loafers. Loaf and Enjoy Your
Soul.'_ They say a poet feller named Whitman writ that last part.
Saturday morning is to be bargain day and everything is to be sold at
half price. And, say, isn't the hotel fine? Everybody was invited
upstairs, an' there was a free lunch spread out."
"Abner, you've talked enough. You'd better go home."
The warfare continued for three months. At the end of the first,
Hiram Maxwell, an old soldier, was appointed postmaster, _vice_
Obadiah Strout. At the end of the second month Mr. Strout resigned
his position as organist and the gentleman who led the orchestra that
played during the evening at the hotel was chosen in his stead. At
the end of the third month a red flag was seen hanging at the door of
Mr. Strout's store and Mr. Beers the auctioneer whose once rotund
voice had now become thin and quavering, sold off the remaining stock
and the fixtures. Then the curtains were pulled down and the door
locked. The next day Mr. and Mrs. Strout and family left town.
"What's become of Strout?" Quincy asked his son, who had just
returned from Fernborough. Another month had passed since the auction
"I heard he was seen on State Street a few days ago, and he said the
best move he ever made was leaving that one-horse country town; that
he could make more money in a day in State Street than he could in a
month in the grocery business. It seems he has become what they call
a curb broker or speculator."
"I am glad," said Quincy, "that Mr. Strout has found a more
profitable and congenial field. It must have been very dull for him
the last three months of his stay in that one-horse town."
TOM, JACK AND NED
Quincy decided to have his company incorporated. This necessitated
visits to the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Tax Commissioner.
The amount paid in cash capital was $200,000. Besides the four stores
doing business, sixteen more were contemplated in Boston, Cambridge,
Lowell, Lawrence, Fall River, New Bedford, and other small cities and
The design was not to form a trust with a view of controlling certain
food products and raising prices, but to establish a line of stores
in which the best grade at the lowest cash price should be the rule.
This price was to be fixed for the Boston store and was to be the
same in all the stores.
"Whom shall I put in charge of the Boston store, Quincy?" his father
asked. "He will have to be general manager for the whole circuit."
"I know a man," said young Quincy, "who is honest, conscientious, and
a perfect tiger for work, but he knows nothing about the grocery
business. He has adaptability, that valuable quality, but, while
learning, he might make some costly mistakes."
"I want you to act as Treasurer for the company. It's your money, and
you should handle it."
"I've no objection to drawing checks. We sha'n't have to borrow any
money for there's half a million available any time. Why didn't you
have a larger capital, father?"
"Because the State taxes it so heavily; but there's no tax on
borrowed money. The fellow who lends pays that."
"If I loan money do I have to pay taxes on it when I haven't got it?"
"Certainly, and you pay just the same if there's no prospect of its
ever being repaid."
"Funny! Why, our Massachusetts tax laws are funnier than a comic
almanac, and about as sensible."
Quincy took up a pen and began writing.
"What are you writing, father?"
"I'll show you in a few minutes."
"How will that do?"
QUINCY ADAMS SAWYER, _President_. QUINCY
ADAMS SAWYER, Jr., _Treasurer_. THOMAS CHRIPP,
_General Manager_. Cash Capital, $200,000.
Cable, _Vienna_. 20 _Stores_.
THE SAWYER GROCERY COMPANY, INC.
Wholesale and Retail.
"Just the man I had in mind, father. You can depend upon him every
time, and he'll keep his subordinates right up to the mark."
Upon his return to his native state Quincy had found many of his old
friends still in office. The governor and higher officials were only
annuals--some not very hardy at that--while the minor officials, in
many cases, were hardy perennials, whom no political hot weather or
cold storm could wither or destroy.
A presidential campaign was on, and speakers, for there were few
orators, were in demand. Quincy's visits to so many cities inspecting
the Company's stores had brought him in contact with hundreds of
local politicians. One day there came a call from the State Committee
to come in and see the Secretary.
"Do you want to do something for the party?" asked Mr. Thwing, the
"I have already subscribed," said Quincy. "Do you need more?"
"Money talks," said Mr. Thwing, "and so do you. I have a score of
letters from different cities asking me to add you to our list of
speakers, and to be sure and let the writers hear you."
"I had no intention--" Quincy began.
"You're an ex-governor, and know all the State. Aren't you in the
grocery business in a big way?"
"'Twill boom your business in great style. Better even for groceries
than boots and shoes, for food is a daily consumption."
"I wouldn't go on the stump just to advertise my business."
"Of course not. You would take just what the gods provided and ask no
questions, and make no comments. Shall we put you down for, say,
Quincy consented, but he stipulated that he was not to be placed in
any city or town where he had a store.
Mr. Thwing vehemently objected. "Why, the men who want you to come
live where the stores are."
"I can't help it. Put me in the next town, and if they're so anxious
to hear me they'll come."
After the campaign was over, the votes cast, and the victory won, Mr.
Thwing said, "That was a good business idea of yours, Governor, about
your not going into the towns where your stores were. Of course you
instructed your general manager."
"I don't know what you mean," said Quincy.
"Didn't you know when you spoke in places adjoining those in which
you had stores that your Mr. Chripp, I think that's the name--just
flooded the towns with circulars announcing that you were to speak
and that you were the President of the grocery company doing business
in the adjoining city, that your goods were the best, your prices the
lowest--and that your teams would deliver goods free of charge in all
places within five miles?"
Mr. Thwing stopped to take breath, and Quincy nearly lost his in
"Great business idea, Mr. Sawyer."
"I knew nothing about it. I should have stopped it had I known."
"Why so? You got a double ad. Bright man that Chripp. You'll have to
raise his salary."
Quincy did not reply. The deed was done, and a public explanation
would do no good. Chripp surely had his employer's interests at
heart, even if he had mixed politics and business rather too openly.
The next month's statement showed a great increase in trade. Mr.
Chripp was not called to account, but his salary was materially
increased at the suggestion of young Quincy.
The new President had been inaugurated, the Cabinet nominees
confirmed, and the distribution of political "plums" began. Quincy
felt that the lightning had struck in the wrong place when he was
approached and sounded as to whether he would accept a foreign
mission. He talked the matter over with his wife.
"Quincy," said she, "I would go, if I were you."
"Are you not happy here?"
"Yes, and no. Happy to be near my son, and relatives and friends; no,
because your business takes you away so much that I see little of
you. If you take the mission, I shall have you with me all the time.
I am selfish, I know, but it is my love for you that makes me so."
The Hon. Quincy Adams Sawyer was nominated and confirmed as
Ambassador to Austria-Hungary. Alice had made the selection.
"Let us go to Vienna, Quincy. It was there we met after our long
separation--and, this is purely a personal matter, I wish to study
the scenes of my story, 'The Son of Sergius,' at close range."
Before Quincy's departure it had been decided to lease the Beacon
Street house for four years. Maude was given her choice but preferred
the house in Mount Vernon Street where she had lived since her
Young Quincy was obliged to take bachelor quarters which he found at
His suite consisted of a sitting-room, two sleeping rooms each with
bath, and a small room intended for a library or study, and which was
utilized by him as an office.
Quincy went down the harbour with his father and mother on the ocean
liner, returning on the tug with Tom. On the way back young Quincy
took a small envelope from his pocket and extracted a short note
which he had read at least a dozen times since its receipt. It was
from Miss Mary Dana and informed him that she had returned to Boston
and would be pleased to see him, the next day, at her office with the
Isburn Detective Bureau.
It was a cold, raw day in the early part of April and when they
reached the city Quincy was taken with a chill. When they reached
Norumbega Chambers the chill had turned to a fever, and Tom suggested
sending for a doctor. Quincy stoutly protested against any such
action being taken, but Tom summoned one despite his objections. In
this way, Quincy became acquainted with John Loring Bannister, M. D.
Dr. Bannister was unknown to his patient when he paid his first
visit, and was professionally non-communicative, but he told him
afterwards, when their acquaintance had ripened to such an extent
that the names Quincy and Jack took the place of more formal
designations, that it had always seemed a wonder to him that he had
survived. Quincy, with no intention of indulging in flattery, replied
that if a certain physician had not been called in he, probably,
would not have done so.
Quincy's condition on the second day was so low, indeed, that Dr.
Bannister told Tom if his friend had not made a will he had better do
so. Tom's first thought was to send for Mr. Merry, but he decided
that might lead to a charge of family influence, and he appealed to
Dr. Bannister told Tom he was well acquainted with a young lawyer and
that he would send him up to see Mr. Sawyer. Quincy was in such a
condition when Lawyer Edward Everett Colbert made his first visit,
that if he had been asked the name of the principal beneficiary he
would probably have told the lawyer to let it go to the Devil. The
second time that Mr. Colbert called, Quincy's physical will had
resumed control and he had no need of any other.
When convalescing Quincy said to Tom, when the nurse was absent, "If
you thought I was going to die, why didn't you send for Aunt Maude,
and--and--you know whom I mean--Miss Dana?"
"I saw them every day, but you were too weak to see them, but if--
they would have been summoned."
"Tom, your head is so level that a plane couldn't make a shaving."
Tom was obliged to be away daytimes, the buying for twenty stores
requiring much travel.
Dr. Bannister and Lawyer Colbert were occasional visitors and Quincy
received a manifest mental exhilaration from his intercourse with
them. His sickness had led him to think about the future. Was he to
live and die as the treasurer of a grocery company? Had he no higher
A story told by Jack and Ned, which they knew to be true, because
they were the principal actors therein, led Quincy to give himself up
to some mighty thinking.
The story was related one evening in the sitting-room when Tom was
"What I'm going to tell," began Ned, "will include much more than I
saw or knew myself, but it all comes from authentic sources. I shall
omit names, since they are unessential.
"Among my clients was an old gentleman, over seventy years of age,
but still erect and vigorous. One morning I received a letter
requesting me to call at his house. I found him in bed feeling all
tired out. He said he had never had a doctor in his life.
"The doctor, here, assures me that those people who never need a
doctor until they are well advanced in life are not likely to require
a physician's services more than once. The next call is for the
"That's so," broke in Jack; "it's the person who is continually
calling upon a doctor for every little ailment who lives to an old
age, for instead of letting disease creep upon him, he calls for
medical assistance as soon as he experiences any derangement of his
physical system. If all the people would follow this plan, it would
increase the longevity of the human race."
"And materially increase the income of the medical profession," added
"It proved to be the old gentleman's first and last sickness. In
order that you may fully understand the wonderful event which took
place the night he died, I shall have to give you a history of his
Quincy consulted his watch. "It is now but a few minutes past seven.
I will give you until midnight, my usual time for retiring."
"I have an engagement at ten or thereabouts," said Jack, "but it's a
matter of life instead of death."
Ned continued: "My client had a son and daughter, both married. They
were good children and loved their father on the American plan. The
son had married an avaricious woman, while the daughter was married
to a man who was not so avaricious as his sister-in-law. The old
gentleman was very wealthy and like all good children they were
thinking of the time when the property would be divided."
"I see signs of a family squabble," remarked Quincy.
"It came to pass," said Ned. "The French have a maxim which says it
is advisable to search for the woman in all mysterious cases. In this
instance, the woman did not wait to be searched for but came of her
own accord. She insisted upon having the card bearing the name of
Mrs. James Bliss sent up to the sick man; when he saw it he, in turn,
insisted upon seeing the woman. The family wished to be present at
the interview but my client demanded a private conversation which
lasted for an hour.
"Jack had been in daily attendance as a physician, but I was not sent
for until the day following Mrs. Bliss's visit. He had told his son
that he wished to make his will, and the son told the other members
of the family. They wished him to make a will, of course, but they
were afraid that woman had exercised undue influence. As the son
expressed it, the better way would be to let the law make the
"My client insisted upon seeing me alone. He told me the woman's
story. Many years before, when my client was a poor man, her father
had set him up in business. He had told his daughter of the loan
before his death, and her visit was to ask for payment as she was a
widow and poor, with three children to support.
"My client directed me to put her in the will for fifty thousand
dollars, saying the original loan at six per cent, would amount to
fully that amount.
"The son, when told the story by me made no objection to the bequest
but the son's wife and the son-in-law declared that the note she had
was outlawed and that she shouldn't have a cent. The son-in-law put a
private detective on her track who learned that Mrs. Bliss was a test
and trance medium, and that she gave materialization seances at
private houses. The whole family then declared her to be a fraud and
impostor, and declared their intention of breaking the will if it was
"Now we are getting to the lively part of the story. The will was
ready for signing. It was about five minutes past six when I was
admitted and I went right up to my client's room. I had been there
about five minutes when Jack came in. He was followed by the entire
family, the son-in-law having been chosen to prevent the signing of
"Then occurred a sensational episode. Mrs. Bliss came to inquire
about my client's condition and the unsuspecting nurse admitted her.
She came directly to the room where we were all assembled."
"A strong situation for a play," remarked Quincy.
"They played it," said Ned. "The son-in-law took Mrs. Bliss into an
adjoining room and ordered her to stay there. Then he returned. This
was to be a Waterloo but he was the Wellington.
"My client was propped up in bed, a pen placed in his hand, while the
document rested on a large book which Jack held.
"The son-in-law began the oratory. 'I protest,' he screamed. 'This
sacrilege, this injustice shall not be done with my consent.' What
was it you said to him, Jack?"
"I told him unless he stopped talking in such an excited manner, and
made less noise, it would have a very prejudicial effect upon my
"The son-in-law then denounced Mrs. Bliss as an adventuress, and that
she had no legal claim upon his father-in-law. His loud voice and
violent gestures were too much for the invalid. The pen dropped from
his nerveless fingers and he fell back exhausted. I think you had
better take it up now, Ned."
"All right. You gave me a chance to rest my voice. Yes, thank you,"
as Tom passed him a glass of water.
Ned resumed, "The door was opened and Mrs. Bliss looked in. 'Has he
signed?' she asked.
"'No, he hasn't,' yelled the son-in-law, 'and while I live he never
shall' Now you come in again, Jack."
"'Ladies and gentlemen.' said I, 'this excitement must stop. As
medical adviser I order you all to leave the room.' They objected,
but I told them if they didn't, I should resign charge of the case
and refuse to give a death certificate unless there was an inquest.
That frightened them, and they all went out, the son-in-law escorting
"We propped up the patient again, and I gave him some brandy. He
said, 'I must sign.' He took the pen and made a ragged, disjointed
"The pen dropped from his hand and he fell back upon the pillow. Ned
put the unsigned will in his pocket. I found that the end was very
near and I told Ned to call the family. Now, it's your turn, Ned."
"I told the family they had better go to their father's room at once.
Mrs. Bliss arose with the intention of following them but I told her
she was not one of the family; that she could remain with me as my
services were no longer needed. She turned to me and asked: 'Was it
signed?' I shook my head. Without a word she sank upon the nearest
chair and buried her face in her arms.
"I stood irresolute. The spectacle of this silent woman, speechless
because she was to be deprived of what was justly due her, was a
situation with which I did not know how to deal. I was saved the
necessity of saying or doing anything by the sudden entrance of Jack
who cried: 'Ned, it's all over; he's dead.'"
"Now comes the wonderful, inexplainable, part of the story. There was
a single gas-burner alight in the room. It was turned down low; faces
were discernible, but the room was only half lighted. Hearing a movement,
Jack and I turned towards Mrs. Bliss. She had lifted her head from the
table and was gazing directly at us. Her eyes were open, but they had
a glassy look. Then it seemed as though the room was gradually
becoming darker and darker, until the darkness became intense.
"My first thought was that Mrs. Bliss had put out the gas. Before I
had time to question her, Jack and I caught sight of a white spot
that was approaching us from the corner of the room nearest the
doorway which led into the hallway. This light, which was no larger
than a man's hand at first, increased in size and intensity until it
covered a space at least two feet wide and six feet high. I must
admit that my hair was inclined to stand on end."
"And mine too," exclaimed Jack.
"Suddenly," said Ned, "the light, which was nebulous, began to fall
away in places and assume a shape like the form of a man. Then the
portion where a man's head ought to be, assumed the appearance of
one. Jack and I clasped hands and retreated to the farther corner of
the room. This act on our part was purely voluntary. If I had
possessed a Remington rifle, six Colt's revolvers, and a dynamite
bomb, I should have backed out just the same.
"We could not remove our eyes from the glittering, moving, thing; and
now a most surprising change took place. The light seemed to leave
the figure, so that it was not visible as a light, and yet it filled
the room with a radiant glow.
"Who was that who stood before us? Could we believe our eyes? Were
they playing us a trick? Were we the victims of a too active
imagination? No, there could be no mistake. The form that stood
before us was that of the man who lay dead in the next room.
"Turning towards us, from the form came the words distinctly spoken--
'It must be signed!' The figure pointed to the table near which Mrs.
Bliss still sat in an apparently unconscious state. I took the will
from my pocket, opened it, advanced to the table, and laid it
thereon. The figure reached out its right hand and beckoned. The
thought came to me that he wanted a pen. There was none in the room.
Jack divined the situation as quickly as I did and took his
stylographic pen from his visiting book, fitted it for use, and laid
it on the table beside the will. The form advanced, took up the pen,
joined a small letter to the capital 'T' already written, and
finished out the name in full.
"The form then laid the pen upon the table and pointed to the places
set apart for witnesses. I wrote my name, Edward Everett Colbert, and
Jack put his,--John Loring Bannister, under mine."
"Did the form sit down?" asked Quincy.
"No. The only chair near the table was the one in which Mrs. Bliss
sat. I could not resist the inclination to whisper in Jack's ear:
'What do you think of that?' We both turned with the intention of
taking another look at 'That,' but it had disappeared and the gas was
burning at about half-light.
"Mrs. Bliss arose from her seat with a pleasant smile on her face.
'You said that he had signed it--I understood you to say so, did I
not?' I said nothing, but drew the will from my pocket and pointed to
the signatures. Then Jack said it was his duty to see the sorrowing
family and for me to escort Mrs. Bliss to a car.
"Jack and I took dinner together in a private room at Young's the
next day. We decided that it was my duty to present the will for
probate. Although it is presumed by the statutes of this Commonwealth
that a will is signed by a living man, I was unable to find anything
in said statutes to prevent a dead man, if he were so disposed and
able, or enabled, doing so."
"Of course the will was presented for probate," said Quincy.
"It was," replied Ned, "and despite the energetic efforts of the
avaricious son-in-law, was admitted. His lawyer brought up the point
that the will should have had three witnesses, but I showed him the
note, told him Mrs. Bliss's story, and declared that I would fight
the case up to the Supreme Court if necessary.
"There was no doubt in the mind of the registrar as to the
authenticity of the will for was it not duly signed and witnessed by
Dr. Bannister, a physician of the highest repute, and Lawyer Colbert,
a bright and shining light of the legal profession?"
"Your story taxes my credulity," said Quincy, "but I will not allow
it to break our friendship. Tom, kindly ring for that supper to be
sent up." He looked at his watch. "Doctor, you've time to spare. 'Tis
THE GREAT ISBURN RUBY
Mr. Irving Isburn, the proprietor of the great detective bureau was
over seventy years of age, and, although he still had a general
supervision over the business, and was in his office for a short time
anyway, nearly every day, he was leaving the details more and more to
his subordinates. From the very beginning Mary Dana had made
wonderful improvement in her detective work, and the results of her
last case, on which she had been kept in the West for several months,
were so satisfactory that she was given practically the entire
management of the Bureau.
One day, shortly after her return from the West, Mr. Isburn called
her into his private office. He took great interest in electrical
inventions, and had one in his office of a decidedly novel design.
Back of his office chair, standing against the wall, just behind the
door that led into the hallway, was a mahogany bookcase fully seven
feet in height. Upon the top were several valuable statuettes, but
the most noticeable object was a rosy-cheeked apple. It was not
really an apple--only an imitation of one--made of brass. Using the
stem as a handle, the upper portion of the apple could be lifted off,
forming a cover. The apple was fastened firmly to the top of the
While talking over the case in hand with her employer, Miss Dana
chanced to fix her eyes upon the brass apple.
"Mr. Isburn, why do you keep that peculiar ornament on the top of
"Oh, you mean the apple. It contains something that is very valuable.
The method of opening it is a secret, but as somebody may succeed in
doing so some day I will show you its contents, for otherwise I might
be unable to prove that it contained anything."
He opened a secret drawer in his desk, inserted his forefinger and,
apparently, pressed a button. The doors of the bookcase flew open as
if by magic, and, at the same time, a bell inside the bookcase rang
sharply. Miss Dana watched each motion of her employer intently.
"That is all done by electricity," said he. "But it does something
else--opens the apple."
He reached up and lifted the cover. Then he removed something from
the apple and placed it in Miss Dana's hand.
"Oh, how lovely!" she exclaimed.
It was a ring made of the finest gold and containing an immense ruby.
"That," said her employer, "I call the Isburn Ruby. It belonged to my
mother, and it is precious to me, both on account of its great
intrinsic value, and as an heirloom."
He dropped it into the brass apple, replaced the cover, and shut the
doors of the bookcase.
"That cover can only be removed when the bookcase doors are open;
they can only be opened by touching the button in the secret drawer
in my desk, and, even then, a notice of the opening is given by the
electric bell. I think the ruby is well protected, but if anybody
steals it I shall call upon you to find the thief."
Miss Dana said, laughingly, that she feared she would never have a
chance to distinguish herself in that direction.
About a fortnight later, Mr. Isburn sat at his desk one morning
opening his mail. He was so preoccupied with an interesting letter
containing an account of the very mysterious disappearance of a young
woman, that he was not aware, for some time, of the presence of a
person who stood beside his desk.
He looked up, suddenly, and saw a pretty girl, dressed in picturesque
Italian costume, holding a basket filled with roses, pinks, and other
cut flowers. Mr. Isburn was passionately fond of flowers and kept a
vase filled with them upon his desk. He selected a large bunch of
flowers made up of the different kinds.
At that moment the door was opened and a clerk appeared: "Mr. Isburn,
there is a call for you on the long distance telephone."
"I will be back in a moment," he said to the flower girl, as he went
into an adjoining room. The telephone bell was being rung
continuously, and he called "Hello" several times before the
The call was from a town some fifty miles away. The operator informed
him that No. 42 wished her to tell him that she had a valuable clue
in case T 697 and would not return for several days. Mr. Isburn knew
that No. 42 was Miss Dana.
He returned to his office. The young Italian girl still stood by his
desk holding the basket of flowers. He gave her more than the amount
she asked for, and, bowing low and smiling, she left the office:
Referring to his call index, he found that T 697 was that of a young
man, Tarleton, belonging to a wealthy family, who was the buyer for a
manufactory of electrical machines. In their construction, a large
quantity of platinum was used, a metal more valuable, weight for
weight, than gold. His purchases had been very heavy, but a checking
up of stock used showed that not half of it had been applied to
actual construction. The question was--"What had become of the
missing metal?" and that question it was No. 42's business to answer.
Mr. Isburn was a frequenter of clubs and social functions, partly
because he enjoyed them, but, principally, because many valuable
clues had been run across while attending them.
He had been invited to be a guest at a reception tendered to an
Indian Maharajah. He knew that the East Indian princes were profuse
in their use of gems and he decided to wear the ruby, for it was a
beautiful stone and would be sure to attract the Maharajah's
attention. On opening the brass apple he found, to his astonishment,
that the ring was gone. Three days later Miss Dana returned and made
her report on the Tarleton case. The young man had stolen the
platinum, sold it, and lost the money in speculation. His rich father
had made good the company's loss, and there would be no prosecution.
"He'll be a bigger criminal some day," remarked Mr. Isburn.
"Money saved him," said Miss Dana. "While I was in the town a workman
stole a pound of brass screws--he is a poor inventor and needed them
to complete a model, and he got six months in jail."
"Miss Dana, what punishment would be adequate for the thief who stole
She laughed, and said: "Anybody smart enough to do it, should have a
"The reward," said he, "will go to the one who finds and returns it."
"You are joking, Mr. Isburn."
"I wish I were. No, it is gone. I cannot imagine how it was possible
for any one to get possession of that ring. Only you and I knew how
to open the bookcase doors, and I would as soon suspect myself as
"I am glad that you have that opinion," said Miss Dana. "I have
thought several times that I was sorry that you told me about it, for
I have felt that if anything happened I should be an object of
"Oh, no," cried Mr. Isburn. "No such suspicion ever entered my mind.
I could not be so mean and ungenerous as to think such a thing. The
only person I suspect is an Italian girl who came in here to sell
some flowers. It was the day I received the long distance telephone
message from you in regard to the Tarleton case. I was only out of
the room a few minutes, and when I came back she was standing just
where I left her."
"It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack to find that
girl," said Miss Dana.
"Yes, those Italian girls look very much alike. She was one of medium
height, as a great many women are. You are of medium height, Miss
Dana, so that is a very poor clue to work upon. She had dark hair."
"Mine is light," remarked Miss Dana.
"I did not notice the colour of her eyes--probably black."
"Mine are blue."
"Her complexion was dark."
"Well, I surely have not a dark complexion."
"What do you mean?" asked Mr. Isburn.
"You talk as though you were, in some way, connected with this
"But I am."
"How so?" and Mr. Isburn's voice betrayed his astonishment.
"Don't you remember saying if the ring was lost or stolen that you
should call upon me to recover it?"
"Why, yes, I do remember. If you find it, you shall have a big
reward. If found, I am going to give the ring to a young lady."
"Who is she? Pardon my hasty inquisitiveness."
"My niece, Rose Isburn. She is my only brother's daughter. He has
just died and left her in my charge. Nothing has happened since I
began my professional career that has so puzzled and disgusted me as
the loss of that ring. I thought myself acute, and I am outwitted by
a chit of a girl. I think I'll sell out, take my niece to Europe and
marry her off to a Prince or a Duke."
"Don't do it!" laughed Miss Dana. "Leave her your money, and let her
choose some honest, clean, young American."
"Well, I think you are right," answered Mr. Isburn, laughing at
Mary's half serious, half comic air, "but I must first sell my
business. Will you find me a purchaser? I want to travel, and loaf
the rest of my life. I've had my fill of adventure and excitement."
"Perhaps you can find a purchaser while I'm finding the ring. As you
say, your description of her is very meagre. But she was a flower
girl and that is one point gained."
"But she may be selling oranges or dragging a hand-organ to-day."
"True," replied Miss Dana, "and she may be selling flowers again to-
morrow," and the conversation dropped.
About a week later, Miss Dana entered Mr. Isburn's private office.
There was a smile upon her face, as she cried:
"I have been successful!"
"You usually are," Mr. Isburn remarked, not comprehending to what she
"You will be somewhat surprised, no doubt, when I tell you--that I
have recovered the ruby!"
Mr. Isburn sprang to his feet.
"I know that you are a truthful young woman, Miss Dana, but, pardon
me, I shall disbelieve your statement, until the ruby is once more in
"I have not only recovered the ruby, but I have induced the Italian
girl who took it--"
"By George!" cried Isburn, "I always suspected her."
"I have induced the culprit, Mr. Isburn, to come here and place it in
"Well, you're a wonder, Miss Dana. You should give up being a
detective and become a teacher of morals."
Miss Dana ignored his suggestion. "I have her in my office and the
door is locked. You see, I have the key here," and she held it up for
"She is quite overcome at being discovered. I am going to talk with
her for a few minutes. You may come, say, in ten minutes. The door
will be unlocked if she is ready. I shall be with her to witness the
restitution of your property."
Never did ten minutes pass so slowly as did those to Mr. Isburn. He
placed his watch upon his desk and watched each minute as it slowly
ticked away. When the time was up, he went to the door of Miss Dana's
office. He turned the knob--the door opened at a slight pressure, and
he entered. In a chair by the window, with her head bowed, sat a
young Italian girl. As Isburn approached her; he glanced about the
room, but Miss Dana was not present.
"Signorita," he said, "I am informed that you have come to restore
the ring which you took from me." Then he noticed by her side was the
same basket in which she had brought the flowers, but this time it
She rose to her feet and looked into his eyes with a glance of mute
appeal. She took up the basket, and walked towards the door,
beckoning to him to follow. Without resenting the incongruity of the
situation, he did so. They passed through the hallway and into his
She lifted the cover of one side of the basket and took from it a
small parcel. She removed the tissue paper disclosing a bunch of
cotton wool. From this she extracted the jewel that he prized so
He reached forward to take it, but she drew back. She first shut down
the cover of the basket. Then she went to the desk, opened the
private drawer and pressed the button. The bookcase doors flew open.
Her next move was to place the basket in front of the bookcase.
Stepping upon it, which enabled her to reach the apple, she removed
the cover, and dropped the ring into its receptacle, replaced the
cover, stepped down and took up her basket, then closed the bookcase
"And that's how you did it," ejaculated Isburn, greatly astonished at
her coolness and audacity. "But how did you find out how to open the
"You told me," said the girl in good English, the first words she had
"I told you?" he cried.
The Italian girl had a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
"Have you forgotten the old adage, Mr. Isburn, that it is a good plan
to set a thief to catch a thief?"
Isburn sank into a chair. "Can I believe my ears? Miss Dana?"
"Exactly," said the young woman. "This is one of my make-ups. This is
what I wore when I discovered the clue that led to the arrest of
Corona in that Italian murder case."
"But I don't understand yet," cried Isburn. "How could you be here as
an Italian flower girl when you telephoned me from a place more than
fifty miles away?"
"Money will do a great deal," replied Miss Dana, "but you must tell
your subordinates what to do for the money. I induced the operator in
that little country town to give you to understand that I was still
there. The fact was, I left the noon before, located young Tarleton,
turned him over to the police, and was in the city by 8 o'clock. I
told the operator to keep on ringing until you came for you were very
deaf. Pardon me for that, but I was afraid you would hear the bell
when the bookcase doors opened. Now, you know all, and I await my
Mr. Isburn looked serious. "Miss Dana, I see but one matter to be
arranged now, and that is your half-interest in the business. You
know I told you that if you found the ruby I would take you as a
"Oh, that's all a joke," cried Miss Dana. "What I did was for fun. I
only wished to show you how the thing could be done, and I beg your
pardon for causing you so many hours of uneasiness on account of
the supposed loss of your valuable ring."
"Yes," said Mr. Isburn, "I feel as though you should make some
atonement for the disquietude you have caused me. I shall insist upon
going to Europe with Rose, and you must manage the business while we
are gone, as full partner."
"The staff won't take orders from a woman." "Yes, they will, if you
tell them how you fooled me. If they object then, call for their
resignations and engage a new force."
"IT WAS SO SUDDEN"
The Hotel Cawthorne was, in some respects, a correct designation but
in others a misnomer. It had rooms to let, or rather suites, and it
had a clerk. So far, a hostelry. It had no dining room, no bar, no
billiard room, no news-stand, no barber shop, no boot-black, no
laundry--and in these respects, at least, it belied its name.
Some childless couples, some aged ones with married children, many
young men, a few confirmed old bachelors, and a few unmarried women
roomed therein. On stormy days, or when their inclinations so
prompted, the tenants could have meals served in their rooms at a
marked increase over hotel rates.
But the "Cawthorne" was exclusive, and for that reason, principally,
Miss Dana had chosen it as her city domicile. Tenants were not
introduced to each other, and one could live a year within its walls
without being obliged to say good morning to any one, with the
possible exceptions of the housekeeper, or the elevator man, but that
was not compulsory, but depended upon the tenant's initiative.
Every hotel has an "out"; at the "Cawthorne" it was an "in." The "in"
was Mr. Lorenzo Cass, the clerk and general _factotum_. His besetting
sin was inordinate curiosity, but it was this oftentime disagreeable
quality which particularly commended him to the ex-Rev. Arthur
Borrowscale, the owner of the "Cawthorne."
Mr. Borrowscale had not given up the ministry on account of advanced
age, for he was only forty; nor on account of physical infirmity, for
he was a rugged specimen of manhood and enjoyed the best of health.
His critics, and all successful men have them, declared that he had
forsaken the service of God for that of Mammon. While officiating, he
had received a large salary. Being a bachelor, he had lived
economically and invested his savings in real estate. He was the
owner of six tenement houses--models of their kind, and the
"Cawthorne." Before leaving college, he had loved a young girl named
Edith Cawthorne. She had died, and at her grave he had parted with
her,--and love of women, but, that sentiment was not wholly dead
within him, the name of his hotel attested.
He had another attribute; he was intensely moral. The "Cawthorne" was
his pride, but he had a constant fear that some undesirable--that is,
immoral--person would find lodgment in his caravansary. For certain
reasons, Mr. Cass was indispensable. He had been a "high roller"
until he came under the Rev. Mr. Borrowscale's tutelage.
"Mr. Cass, you know the bad when you see it--I do not. The reputation
of my house must be like Caesar's ghost--above suspicion."
He had said "ghost." He had seen but two plays--"Hamlet" and "Julius
Caesar," and for that reason his dramatic inaccuracy may be excused.
So Mr. Cass became a moral sleuth, and woe betide an applicant for
rooms, and occasional board, who could not produce unimpeachable
references, and point to an unsullied record in the past.
Miss Dana's respectability and social standing had been abundantly
vouched for, and her financial responsibility had been demonstrated
by monthly payments in advance.
It was the first evening Quincy had been out since his illness.
"Is Miss Dana in?" asked Quincy as he presented his card to Mr. Cass.
"I am quite positive she is. I am strengthened in this belief by the
fact that she had her supper sent up to her room. A fine specimen of
womanhood, and a remarkable appetite for so lovely a creature."
Quincy had an inclination to brain him with the telephone stand, but
restrained his murderous impulse.
"Will you please send up my card?" was his interrogatory protest
against further enumeration of Miss Dana's charms and gastronomic
ability. "No need to do so, Mr. Sawyer," for he had inspected the
card carefully. "We have a private telephone in each room. Will you
await her in the public parlour?"
"Hasn't she more than one room?"
"Oh, yes; a three room suite, sitting-room, boudoir, which I am sure
she uses more as a study, a chamber--and private bath."
Quincy said, "I would prefer to see her in her sitting-room."
"Oh, certainly," replied Mr. Cass. "Our rules are only prohibitive in
the case of single chambers or alcove suites, when the caller and
tenant are of opposite sexes. The proprietor--he was formerly a
clergyman--is tenacious on certain points."
"And so am I," was Quincy's response, for his temper was rising, "and
you will oblige me by communicating with Miss Dana at once, and
informing her of my desire to see her."
"Oh, certainly," replied Mr. Cass, "but my employer, who, as I have
said, was formerly a clergyman, is tenacious on another point; all
tenants who receive visitors in their rooms must have their names
entered in a book prescribed for the purpose, and also the names of
Quincy's murderous instinct was again aroused, but Mr. Cass was
unmindful of his danger and made the required entry. The humourous
side of the affair then struck Quincy, and taking a memorandum book
from his pocket, he said:
"I, too, am tenacious on one point. I never visit a hotel for the
first time without writing down the name of the clerk. Will you
"Oh, certainly. Cass, Mr. Lorenzo Cass."
"Do you spell it with a 'C'?" asked Quincy, innocently, as he
pretended to write.
"Oh, certainly. C-a-s-s-."
"Thank you," said Quincy.
"We make it a rule, or rather my employer does, that tenants and
their callers shall be treated with civility and their wants attended
Again Quincy eyed the telephone stand with a view to its use as a
"Ting-a-ling! Ting-a-ling! Miss Dana--yes, Mr. Cass--Mr. Quincy Adams
Sawyer, Junior, wishes to call upon you in your sitting-room. Is it
agreeable to you? Very well, he will come right up."
Mr. Cass replaced the receiver with deliberation, first unwinding a
tangled coil in the cord.
"Take the elevator--third floor--number 42--she insisted upon taking
that suite for some personal reason--"
Quincy waited to hear no more but started for the elevator. Mr. Cass
reached it as soon as he did, and motioned for the elevator man to
postpone the ascent until he had finished his remarks.
"The outside door is locked at eleven, Mr. Sawyer, but you have only
to turn the upper handle to insure an exit."
"Your clerk is quite loquacious," remarked Quincy as they slowly
"He has a sore tongue," said Quincy, as the elevator door was closed
After cordial greetings on both sides, for they had not seen each
other for nearly a year, Quincy exclaimed, as he sank into a
proffered easy chair: "Mary, I am a murderer at heart."
"That is not strange, Quincy. I have read that the friends of police
officers and detectives often imbibe, or rather absorb, criminal
propensities. Who is the intended victim, and how do you expect to
escape arrest, conviction, and punishment, after incriminating
yourself by a confession to a licensed detective?"
"If I had killed your hotel clerk it would have been due to emotional
insanity, and I should expect an acquittal--and, perhaps, a
"I got a testimonial to-day from Mr. Isburn. He said I was a wonder."
"I agree with him."
Miss Dana flushed perceptibly.
"He had what he considered a good reason for his compliment. I am
afraid yours rests on unsupported grounds."
"Not at all. Have I not known you since you were a child? Can he say
as much? Did I not work with you on Bob Wood's case? The help yon
were to me in trying to solve the mystery of the return of my
father's bill of exchange I will never forget," and for a long time
Quincy and Mary talked over the miraculous return of his father.
Finally Quincy said, "I interrupted you. You said that Mr. Isburn
considered he had good reasons for complimenting you. Will you tell
me what they were?"
"It is a long story."
"I'm all attention."
"Then I'll begin at once. If you need a stimulant at any stage of the
narrative, just signify your want and I'll ring for it."
"Is there a bar?"
"No, but there's a cellar."
"I may need some Apollinaris," said Quincy, as he settled himself
more comfortably in the easy chair; "as my flesh is again strong, I
always take my spirit very weak."
Mary had that sweetest of woman's charm--a low-pitched voice, and as
she told the story of the loss of the great Isburn ruby and its
recovery Quincy's thoughts were less on the words that he heard than
the woman who uttered them. In his mind he was building a castle in
which he was the Lord and the story-teller was the Lady.
He was awakened from his dream by Mary's query:
"Didn't I fool him nicely?"
"You certainly did. And so he's going to give you a half-interest in
the business. If he keeps his word"--
"Which I very much doubt," interrupted Mary.
"I'll buy the other half and we'll be partners."
He came near adding "for life," but decided that such a declaration
would be inopportune. "Why should you engage in business, Quincy? You
are not obliged to work."
"That's the unfortunate part of it. I wish I were. I have so much
money that I don't know what to do with it, except let it grow. But,
speaking seriously, I've no intention of remaining a do-nothing. I'm
treasurer of my father's grocery company but I have no liking for
mercantile business. I can give away, but can neither buy nor sell--
to advantage. I heard a story not long ago that set me thinking."
"I told you my story, Quincy, why not tell me yours?"
"I will. It's a mystery--unsolved, and, I think, unsolvable. But I
feel that my vocation will be the solving of mysteries. My mother
wrote detective stories and I must have inherited a mania for
mysteries and criminal problems. But I'll tell you what set me
Then he related the story that had been told him by Jack and Ned. As
he concluded, he asked: "Do you think it was signed?"
"Of course it was, but not by the dead man."
"By whom, then?"
"By Mrs. Bliss. She materialized the form by her mediumistic
prowess, but she signed the will."
"But Jack and Ned saw the form, as they called it, take the pen and
write his name."
"They thought they did. She hypnotized them so they saw whatever she
impressed upon their minds."
"Can sensible, highly educated people be so influenced?"
"The bigger the brain the more easily influenced. She couldn't have
so impressed an idiot, or an illiterate, unreceptive man. Let me tell
you how a hundred people were fooled lately."
"I should be delighted to hear you tell it."
"You should have sympathy for them, after your spiritualistic
experience," said Mary with a smile.
"There is a married couple in this city whom we will call Mr. and
Mrs. Cartwright, because those are not their names. They have been
married less than two years. He is 68 and she 28, so you see it was
what they call a December and May union. It was worse. He is a bank
president and his god is money--his diversion sitting in his elegant
library and reading _de luxe_ editions of the world's literary
masterpieces. She is young, and beautiful, and craves society,
"She didn't get the last two at home, but society furnished them. He
attended her to parties and receptions and then went back to his
library until it was time to escort her home.
"One night when he went for her she could not be found. No one had
seen her leave--she had mysteriously disappeared. Mr. Isburn gave me
the case. I'll make the story short for it is eleven o'clock." "I
know how to get out. Mr. Cass told me." "Your knowledge of a method
of egress does not warrant an extension of your visit to midnight,
does it?" asked Mary laughingly.
"Considering the attractions presented, I think they do," replied
She resumed her story.
"There was a man in the case, young, handsome, and wealthy. Just such
a man as she should have married. They had planned an elopement to
Europe. Not together. She was to go to Liverpool, he was to follow
later to Paris, and there meet her. Quite ingenious, wasn't it? Our
agent at Liverpool was called to locate her and prevent her inamorata
from communicating with her, at the same time using his influence to
induce her to return to Boston without meeting her lover. His powers
of persuasion, I mean our agent's, must have been great, for she
"A month later she attended a reception next door to the house from
which she disappeared, and silenced the tongue of scandal by saying
that she had been hastily summoned to the bedside of a sick friend,
her chum at Wellesley, and had returned home only the day previous.
Her last statement was true. Good detective work by a good detective,
and a great, big white lie fooled her friends and acquaintances, but
if I were her husband she would not lack attention or admiration in
the future, and I would furnish it."
"When I get married, I will bear your admonition in mind."
"I have another admonition. If you meet Mr. Cass when you go down, be
nice to him. Why, when you know him, he is a treasure. I can bear his
inquisitiveness, for it shields me from others. This is my sanctuary,
and Mr. Cass protects me from the literary wolves--the reporters. He
thinks I am a writer because I have so many books, and, to him, an
author is next to an angel. Was he rude to you? You must forgive him,
for he is my Saint George who protects me from the Dragon."
Quincy was mollified to a certain extent. "Do I look like a Dragon?
If I am one, history came near being reversed, for at one time your
Saint George's hold on life was frail."
Late in the afternoon of the next day Quincy made another call on
Mary. He had telephoned and learned that she was in her room. Mr.
Cass was temporarily absent from his desk and Quincy went at once to
"I axed Mr. Cass about his tongue," said the elevator man.
"Was it better?" asked Quincy.
"He said I was labourin' under a misapprihinsion. What's that?"
"He meant that it was improving," said Quincy, as he hurried from the
"How did you get home last night?" was Mary's salutation as he
"I groped my way down two flights of stairs in the dark. When I
opened the front door by the upper handle as Mr. Cass had kindly
instructed me to do, I found that gentleman on the steps. 'Quite
late,' said he. 'Not for me,' said I. At that moment my auto drew up
at the curb."
"A narrow escape from a Cass-trophe," exclaimed Miss Dana. "Pardon
the pun, but sometimes he is insufferably loquacious."
Quincy smiled grimly. "He wasn't through with me. He followed me. 'My
employer.' he began, 'is very tenacious on several points, and one of
them is the acceleration of matrimonial preliminaries, commonly
called courting, in the house which he owns and successfully conducts
with my humble assistance. Will you allow me to ask you a question?'
"Alexander had opened the auto door, and I stood with one foot on the
Quincy was silent for a moment. Miss Dana's curiosity was excited.
"What did he ask you to do?"
"His question was--'are you going to marry Miss Dana?'"
"Preposterous!" cried Miss Dana. "I shall leave the 'Cawthorne' to-
morrow. What answer did you give to so impertinent a question?"
"I said, not to-night. Not until to-morrow. Then I jumped in, slammed
the door, and off we went leaving Mr. Cass fully informed as to my
Mary thought, under the circumstances, that a change of subjects was
"I am working on the Harrison case. I don't believe he poisoned his
wife. I think the law killed an innocent man."
"Another Robert Wood affair? Have you seen your little namesake, Mary
"Yes. I am going to spend to-morrow in the laboratory making toxic
"I've been very busy to-day."
"No, getting ready to. I've bought out an established business."
"You said you disliked business."
"Not this kind. You were right about Isburn. He didn't mean what he
said about giving you a half-interest in the agency."
"I'm not disappointed. I didn't think he did. Why should he pay me
for returning what I took from him as a professional joke?"
"Well I fixed it up with him, and he will sail for Europe with his
niece as soon as we can take charge."
"We? Why, what _do_ you mean, Mr. Sawyer?"
"I mean that I've engaged to pay Mr. Isburn one hundred thousand
dollars for his agency, a one-half interest to become mine and the
other half to be transferred to my wife as soon as I am married,
which will be soon."
"Then you will be my employer," and Mary's blue eyes were opened as
wide as they could be.
"Within a week, I shall be Mr. Isburn. I shall not use my own name."
His manner changed instantly.
"This morning I met an old college friend. He was doing the
historical points of old Boston with his father and his father's
friend, a Rev. Mr. Dysart of Yonkers, New York."
Miss Dana started, and exclaimed, involuntarily, "Mr. Dysart--not Mr.
"Yes, that was the name. Why, do you know him? I'll be honest, I know
"My mother was born in Yonkers, and Mr. Dysart was the clergyman who
officiated at my father's wedding. He used to call on us whenever he
came to Boston. But how did he know that you knew me?"
"He said he was going to Fernborough to see your father, and I
availed myself of the opportunity to mention my acquaintance with
you. He wished you could come and see him."
"Where is he? Of course I will go."
"He is staying with Mr. Larned, my college mate's father, who lives
in Jamaica Plain, but he will not be there until this evening. He's
attending a religious conference this afternoon and goes to
Fernborough early to-morrow."
"Then I can't see him."
"Why not? I'm going out this evening--small party invited--entirely
informal--half my auto is at your service."
"Will you get me back to the hotel before the doors are closed? I
shall pack up to-morrow."
"I promise," said Quincy. "I will come for you at seven sharp."
Punctually at seven, a closed auto stopped before the "Cawthorne" and
Quincy alighted. Mary stepped from the elevator, wearing a new spring
costume and a marvellous aggregation of flowers upon her hat, walked
to the door without looking at Mr. Cass, and before he could frame
one of his employer's tenacious points and follow her, she had been
handed into the auto and whirled swiftly away.
"Is Alexander driving?" she asked. "No. He's asleep--up too late last
night. We have a strange _chauffeur_. I selected him for that
"Why, what do you mean?"
"I didn't wish anybody to know where we had gone."
"Why not, pray?"
"I mean, what we'd gone for."
"Nonsense. Why, a friendly call--what more?"
"Are your gloves on?"
"No, I didn't have time. I'll put them on now."
"No hurry--plenty of time. You are agitated. Allow me to feel your
"You are funny to-night, Quincy."
"Not funny--just happy."
Quincy took forcible possession of her half-resisting hand and
slipped a diamond solitaire on the proper finger.
"Why, what are you doing? Isn't it a beauty? Is this the great Sawyer
diamond? Whose is it?"
"It's yours. It is an engagement ring. It's the first step towards
keeping my promise to Mr. Cass, and he's tenacious, you know. I told
you all about it when I called this afternoon. So, please don't say
'this is so sudden.'"
"Are you crazy, Quincy?"
"No, sane. Delightfully so. I told Mr. Cass I couldn't marry you
until to-day. I got the license this noon."
They were passing through a dimly-lighted street, but, occasionally,
the street lamps threw flashes across two earnest faces. She
endeavoured to remove the ring.
"Mary," said Quincy, "if you allow the ring to remain, I shall be a
very happy man, dear,--for I love you. I have loved you ever since
the day that I thrashed Bob Wood, and when I lay exhausted, you
looked down at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said 'all for
me!' I am all for you,--are you for me?"
He put his arm about her and drew her towards him; their lips met. A
bright light shone in the auto windows--but they were sitting erect--
they even looked primly.
"It is a long ride," she ventured.
"Too short," he replied, "and yet, I wish we were there."
Again she spoke: "This is a most unprecedented affair. Can it be
real, or are we actors?"
"We are detectives, and they always do unexpected and unprecedented
"What will your father say--you a multimillionaire and I a poor girl
who works for a living?"
"My mother was poor and blind when my father married her."
"Yes, I know; but she wrote a book and became famous."
"You're a 'wonder' now, and you will become famous."
"What will your friends say?"
"If they wish to remain my friends they will either say nothing, or
congratulate me. How shall we be married--in church? I'll spend a
hundred thousand on our wedding, if you say so."
"No. As little publicity as possible. Use the money to help those
poor creatures who are sick with the disease called crime; that is
the symptom. The cause is often bad environment, and the poverty
which prevents improvement."
"What a philosopher you are. That simple ceremony suits me exactly,
Mary. What a sweet name you have. Why not have Mr. Dysart perform the
ceremony? We'll be married with a ring."
Mary laughed: "Where will you get yours?"
"Detectives are always prepared for emergencies. I bought them this
noon, after I procured the license. They seemed to go together."
"Well, Quincy, I think you are the most presumptuous mortal in
existence. How dared you do such a thing--so many things, I mean?"
"Was not the prize worth even more of an endeavour? I have always
thought _Young Lochinvar_ was a model lover. But here we are."
The Rev. Mr. Dysart received them with pleasant words of welcome, and
reminiscences of life in Yonkers, and memories of Mary's mother, held
Cupid in abeyance for an hour. Quincy passed the license to the
clergyman who read it and looked up inquiringly.
"It's all right, isn't it?" Quincy asked.
"Why yes,--but--I never supposed--why, of course--but when?"
"Now, at once," said Quincy. "We must be home by eleven, for they
lock the doors."
The simple ceremony was soon over.
"Can you give Mrs. Sawyer a certificate, Mr. Dysart?"
"Fortunately, yes. I bought some to-day, for I needed them."
He went into an adjoining room to fill it out.
"Mary, my darling, I am a rich man--richer than I deserve to be, for
I have created nothing--but I would give every dollar of my fortune
rather than lose you. Does your wedding ring fit? Mine is all right."
"It ought to be--you had a chance to try yours on."
"I am a designing villain, Mary. While you were telling that story
last night, you will remember that I walked about the room. One of
your rings was on the mantelpiece and I tried it on."
When the clergyman handed Mrs. Sawyer the certificate, Quincy passed
him his fee.
"You've made a mistake, Mr. Sawyer. This is a hundred dollar bill."