Part 5 out of 5
loosening her robe at the throat. My terrified eyes, staring at that
throat, half-expected to find a cruel mark there, but its smoothness
was unsullied. The robe loosened, Godfrey snatched his cap from his
head and began to fan the fresh air in upon her.
"Pray heaven it is not too late!" he murmured, and kept on fanning,
watching the white lips and delicate nostrils, so drawn and livid. "We
must try artificial respiration," he said, after a moment. "But not
here--this atmosphere is stifling. Take her feet, Lester."
We staggered out with her, somehow, across the hall, into her room,
and laid her on her bed. Godfrey, kneeling above her, began to raise
and lower her arms, with a steady, regular rhythm.
"Open the windows wide," he commanded, without looking up. "Wet a
towel, or something, in cold water, and bring it here."
Simmonds threw open the windows, while I went mechanically to the
bath-room, wet a towel, and slapped it against her face and neck as
Godfrey directed. The moments passed, and at last the lips opened in a
fluttering sigh, the bosom rose with a full inhalation, and a spot of
colour crept into either cheek.
"Thank God!" said Godfrey, in a voice that was almost a sob. "Now,
Simmonds, go out and bring that Irish girl, and send one of your men
to 'phone for Hinman."
Simmonds sent one of his men scurrying with a word, and himself dashed
up the stairs to the other floor. He was back in a moment, almost
dragging the frightened girl with him. Her teeth were chattering and
she started to scream when she saw that still form on the bed, but
Simmonds shook her savagely.
"There's nothing to be afraid of," Godfrey assured her. "Your mistress
isn't dead--she'll soon come around. But you must get her undressed
and to bed. And then keep bathing her face with cold water till the
doctor comes. Understand?"
"Ye--yes, sir," faltered the girl. "But--oh!" and a burst of
hysterical sobbing choked her.
Simmonds shook her again.
"Don't be a fool, Annie Crogan!" he said. "Get hold of yourself!"
Godfrey stepped off the bed and picked up one of the limp wrists.
"Her pulse is getting stronger," he said, after a moment. "It will
soon--hello, what's this!"
Clasped tight in the slender fingers was something that looked like a
torn and crumpled rubber glove. He tried to unclasp the fingers, but
when he touched them, they contracted rigidly, and a low moan burst
from the unconscious girl. So, after a moment, he desisted and laid
the hand down again.
"You understand what you're to do?" he asked the maid, and she nodded
mutely. "Then come along, boys," he added, and led the way back to the
hall. His face was dripping with perspiration and his hands were
shaking, but he managed to control them. "And now for Senor Silva," he
said, in another tone, taking the torch from my hand. "I fear he will
have a rude awakening."
"He sat there like a statue, even when I shot the snake," remarked
Simmonds. "He's a wonder, he is."
"Yes," agreed Godfrey, as he stepped into the entry, "he's a wonder."
Then he stopped, glanced around, and turned a stern face on Simmonds.
"Where's the man I left on guard here?" he asked.
"Why," faltered Simmonds, "I remember now--he helped us carry the
young lady. But we were all right there in the hall--you don't
Godfrey stepped to the inner door and flashed his torch about the
room. The divan was empty.
Simmonds paused only for a single glance.
"He can't be far away!" he said. "He can't get away in that white robe
of his. Come along, Tom!" and, followed by his assistant, he plunged
down the stairs.
I saw Godfrey half-turn to follow; then he stopped, ran his hand along
the wall inside the door, found the button, and turned on the lights.
His face was pale and angry.
"It's my fault as much as anyone's," he said savagely. "I might have
known Silva would see the game was up, and try to slip away in the
excitement. I ought to have kept an eye on him."
"Your eyes were fairly busy as it was," I remarked. "Besides, maybe he
hasn't got away."
Godfrey's face, as he glanced about the room, showed that he cherished
no such hope.
"Let's see what happened to Mahbub," he said. "Maybe he got away,
too," and he crossed to the inner door.
The flame in the brazier had died away, and the smoke came only in
fitful puffs, heavy with deadening perfume. The Thug had not got away.
He lay on the floor--a dreadful sight. He was lying on his back, his
hands clenched, his body arched in a convulsion, his head drawn far
back. The black lips were parted over the ugly teeth, and the eyes
had rolled upward till they gleamed, two vacant balls of white. At the
side of his neck, just under the jaw, was a hideous swelling.
Godfrey's torch ran over the body from head to foot, and I sickened as
I looked at it.
"I'm going out," I said. "I can't stand this!" and I hurried to the
Godfrey joined me there in a moment.
"I'm feeling pretty bad myself," he said, putting the torch in his
pocket and mopping his shining forehead. "It's plain enough what
happened. I caught a glimpse of Miss Vaughan on the floor there,
realised that we couldn't do anything with the snake in the way, and
shot at it, but I only ripped away a portion of the hood, and the
thing, mad with rage, sprang upon the Hindu. Nothing on earth could
have saved him after it got its fangs in his neck. Ugh!"
He shivered slightly, and stood gazing for a moment down into the
garden. Then he turned back to me with a smile.
"It's a good night's work, Lester," he said, "even if we don't catch
Silva. I fancy Miss Vaughan will change her mind, now, about becoming
a priestess of Siva!"
"But, Godfrey," I asked, "what happened? What was she doing in there?
He stopped me with a hand upon my arm.
"I don't know. But she'll tell us when she comes around. I only hope
they'll get Silva. That would make the victory complete."
He paused, for the hum of a motor-car came up the drive, and an
instant later we caught the glare of the acetylenes. Then a voice
"Hello, there," it called. "Shall I come up?"
"Is it you, doctor?" asked Godfrey, leaning out.
"Come right up, then, to Miss Vaughan's room."
We met him at the stair-head.
"Oh, it's you!" he said, recognising us. "What has happened now?"
"It's Miss Vaughan--she's been half-suffocated. But how did you get
"The gates were open," Hinman answered, "so I drove right through. Is
Miss Vaughan in here?" and when Godfrey nodded, he opened the door and
closed it softly behind him.
"Open!" repeated Godfrey, staring at me. "Open! Then that is the way
"Yes, yes," I agreed. "He had the key. It was he who let me out."
"And locked the gate after you?"
"Yes--I heard the key turn."
Without a word, Godfrey hurried down the stairs. At the foot we met
"We've searched the grounds," he said, "but haven't found anyone. I've
left my men on guard. I 'phoned for some more men, and notified
"He's not in the grounds," said Godfrey. "He went out by the gate,"
and he told of Hinman's discovery.
"I'll stretch a net over the whole Bronx," said Simmonds. "I don't see
how a fellow dressed as he is can get away," and he hastened off to do
some more telephoning.
"Well, we can't do anything," said Godfrey, "so we might as well rest
awhile," and he passed into the library and dropped into a chair.
I followed him, but as I sat down and glanced about the room I saw
something that fairly jerked me to my feet.
A section of the shelving had been swung forward, and behind it the
door of the safe stood open.
In an instant, I had flung myself on my knees before it, groped for
the locked drawer, pulled it out, and hurried with it to the table.
The five packets of money were gone.
"What is it, Lester?" asked Godfrey, at my side.
"There was--fifty thousand dollars--in money in--this drawer," I
answered, trying to speak coherently.
Godfrey took the drawer from my hands and examined its contents.
"Well, it isn't there now," he said, and replaced the drawer in the
safe. "Sit down, Lester," and he pressed me back into my chair and
flung himself into another. "I wish I knew where Vaughan kept his
whiskey!" he murmured, and ran his fingers furiously through his hair.
"This is getting too strenuous, even for me!"
He fell silent for a moment, and sat looking at the open safe.
"What astonishes me," he mused, "is the nerve of the man, stopping at
such a moment to work that combination. Think what that means, Lester;
to work a combination, a man has to be cool and collected."
"A man who could sit without stirring through that scene upstairs," I
said, "has nerve enough for anything. Nothing Silva does can surprise
me after that!"
"I wonder how he knew the combination?"
"I was sure he knew it. I had to stop Miss Vaughan to keep her from
telling it to me."
"Well, he lessened his chance of escape by just that much. Every
minute he spent before that safe was a minute lost. Ah, here's
Simmonds. What do you think of that, Simmonds?" he added, and pointed
to the safe. "Senor Silva stopped on his way out to gather up fifty
thousand dollars in cash to pay his travelling expenses."
Simmonds walked over to the safe and looked at it.
"Fifty thousand?" he repeated. "But Vaughan must have been a fool to
keep that much money here."
"Oh, I don't know. It's a fireproof safe, and mighty well concealed."
"I'll tell you what I think," I said; "I think he intended to give the
money to Silva. He was going to give him a million--left him that in
his will, you know."
"So Silva was only taking what belonged to him, eh?" and Godfrey
laughed. "Well, I hope you'll get him, Simmonds."
It was at this moment that Dr. Hinman entered, a curious, repressed
excitement in his face, and his eyes shining strangely.
"How is she, doctor?" Godfrey asked.
"She'll be all right in the morning. She is still pretty nervous, so I
gave her a sleeping-draught and waited till it took effect."
Godfrey looked at him more closely.
"Did she tell you anything?" he asked.
"Not much," said Hinman; "I wouldn't let her talk. But she told me
enough to let me guess one thing--she's the bravest girl I ever knew
or heard of!"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean," cried Hinman, his eyes glowing more and more, "that she
stayed in this house and faced the deadliest peril out of love for
that man Swain; I mean that, if he's cleared, as he's certain to be
now, it will be she who clears him; I mean that, if the real murderer
is brought to justice, it will be because of the evidence she stayed
here to get, and did get!"
His voice had mounted shrilly, and his face was working as though he
could scarcely keep back the tears.
"Wait a minute, doctor," broke in Godfrey. "Don't go too fast. What
For answer, Hinman flipped something through the air to him. Godfrey
caught it, and stared at it an instant in bewilderment; then, with a
stifled exclamation, he sprang to the light and held the object close
"By all the gods!" he cried, in a voice as shrill as Hinman's own.
THE BLOOD-STAINED GLOVE
I do not know what it was I expected to see, as I leaped from my chair
and peered over Godfrey's shoulder; but certainly it was something
more impressive than the soiled and ragged object he held in his hand.
It was, apparently, an ordinary rubber glove, such as surgeons
sometimes use, and it was torn and crumpled, as though it had been the
subject of a struggle.
Then I remembered that I had seen it crushed in Miss Vaughan's
unconscious fingers, and I recalled how the fingers had stiffened when
Godfrey tried to remove it, as though some instinct in her sought to
guard it, even in the face of death.
"But I don't understand," said Simmonds, who was staring over the
other shoulder. "What's that thing got to do with the finger-prints?"
"Look here," said Godfrey, and held the glove so that the ends of the
fingers lay in the full light.
Then I saw that against the end of every finger had been glued a strip
of rubber, about an inch in length and half as wide; and, bending
closer, I perceived that the surface of each of these strips was
covered with an intricate pattern of minute lines.
"Forged finger-prints! That's a new idea in crime, isn't it,
Simmonds?" and Godfrey laughed excitedly.
Simmonds took the glove, got out his pocket-glass, and examined the
"You think these reproduce Swain's finger-prints?" he asked, sceptically.
"I'm sure they do! You see it's the right hand; look at the thumb--you
see it's a double whorl. Wait till we put them side by side with
Swain's own, and you'll see that they correspond, line for line. Yes,
and look at those stains. Do you know what those stains are, Simmonds?
They're blood. Did you notice the stains, doctor?"
"Yes," said Hinman. "I think they're blood-stains. That will be easy
enough to determine."
"Whose blood is it?" asked Simmonds, and I could see that even his
armour had been penetrated.
"Well," answered Godfrey, smiling, "science isn't able, as yet, to
identify the blood of individuals; but I'd be willing to give odds
that it's Swain's blood. My idea is that Silva got the blood for the
finger-prints from the blood-soaked handkerchief, which Swain probably
dropped when he fled from the arbour, and which Silva picked up and
dropped beside the chair, after he was through with it, as an
additional bit of evidence."
"That's reasonable enough," agreed Hinman, with a quick nod, "but what
I can't understand is how he made these reproductions."
Godfrey sat down again and contemplated the glove pensively for some
moments. Then he turned to me.
"Where is that book of finger-prints you spoke about, Lester?" he asked.
I went to the book-case and got it out. Godfrey took it and began to
turn the pages quickly.
"Swain's name is in the index," I said, and he glanced at it, and then
turned to the place where the page had been.
"Which reminds me," said Hinman, with a rueful smile, "that I
concocted a very pretty theory to account for that missing page. I
felt quite chesty about it! I'm glad it didn't throw Miss Vaughan off
"So am I!" agreed Godfrey, "for it must have been this missing page
which gave Miss Vaughan her first suspicion of the truth. Perhaps it
was pure inspiration--or perhaps she knew that Silva could reproduce
finger-prints. We shall learn when we hear her story. In any event,
it's a clever trick--and easy enough when you know how!"
"Like standing the egg on end," I suggested.
"Precisely. Every trick is easy when you work it backwards. But just
think, Simmonds," he added, "what problems the police will have to
face, if gloves like these become fashionable among cracksmen!"
Simmonds groaned dismally.
"You haven't told us yet how it's done," he said.
I bit back a smile, for Simmonds's tone was that of pupil to master.
"Well," said Godfrey, slowly, "it might be done in several ways. The
first thing is to get a good set of the prints to be reproduced. That
Silva got from this album. The moulds might be made by cutting them in
wood or metal; but that would take an expert--and besides, I fancy it
would be too slow for Silva. He had a quicker way than that--perhaps
by transferring them to a plate of zinc or copper and then eating them
out with acid. Once the mould is secured, it is merely a question of
pressing india-rubber-mixture into it and then heating the rubber
until it hardens--just as a rubber-stamp is made. The whole process
would take only a few hours."
Simmonds drew a deep breath.
"It may be simple," he said, "but that fellow's a genius, just the
same. He's much too clever to be at large. We've got to get him!"
"Be sure of one thing," retorted Godfrey. "You'll find it harder to
catch him than it was to let him go! He won't walk into your arms. Not
that I blame you, Simmonds," he added; "but I blame those
muckle-headed men of yours--and I blame myself for not keeping my eyes
open. Here's the glove--take good care of it. It means Swain's
acquittal. And now there is one other thing I want to see before we go
to bed. Suppose we make a little excursion to the roof."
"To the roof? What for?" demanded Simmonds, as he wrapped the glove in
his handkerchief and put it in his pocket.
"You know how fond you are of fire-works!" retorted Godfrey, smiling,
and started for the door.
"I haven't the slightest idea what you're talking about," said Hinman,
"but I'm as curious as an old woman,--and I like fire-works, too!"
"Come along, then," laughed Godfrey, and led the way up the stairs.
"This time we'll go as quietly as we can!" he added, over his
In the entry at the top of the stairs leading to the attic story was a
heavy closed door, and Godfrey looked at it with a smile.
"Do you suppose those two German servants have slept on through all
this excitement?" he asked; and we found afterwards that they had!
The flare of Godfrey's torch disclosed a third flight of stairs at the
end of the entry, and, when we reached the foot of these and looked
up, we found ourselves gazing at the stars.
"Ah!" said Godfrey; "I thought so! The stage was set, ready for the
curtain, and then the leading lady failed to appear. So the villain
went in search of her, found her with the glove in her hand, and
started to suppress her, when our timely arrival interrupted him!
Gentlemen, I think I can promise you a most interesting demonstration.
What did Miss Vaughan call it, Lester?"
"An astral benediction," I said.
"That's it!" said Godfrey, and led the way up the steps.
There was a wide, hinged trap-door at the top, lying open, and we
stepped through it out upon the roof. Here had been built a platform
about eight feet square, with a low railing around it. I saw Godfrey's
torch playing rapidly over the boards of the platform, then he
marshalled us in the middle of it.
"Stand here in a row," he said, "facing the west. Extend your arms to
the heavens and concentrate your gaze upon that big star up yonder.
Go ahead, doctor," he urged, as Hinman hesitated. "We're trying to
persuade an astral visitor to pay us a call, and it takes team-work."
We stood silent a moment, with our arms above our heads, and I could
hear Godfrey shifting his feet cautiously along the boards of the
"What's that!" cried Simmonds, for, from the darkness at our feet, had
come a soft whirr as of a bird taking flight.
"Look!" cried Hinman. "Look!"
High above our heads a point of flame appeared, brightened and burned
steel-blue. For a moment it hung there, then it grew brighter and
brighter, and I knew that it was descending. Lower and lower it came,
until it hovered in the air just above us; then it burst into a
million sparks and vanished.
For a moment, no one spoke; then I heard Hinman's voice, and it was
"What is this, anyway?" he demanded. "The Arabian Nights?"
"No," said Godfrey, and in his voice was the ring of triumph. "It's
merely a device of one of the cleverest fakirs who ever lived. Take
the torch, Simmonds, and let us see how it works."
He dropped to his knees, while Simmonds lighted him, and I saw that
there was a hole in the floor about three inches in diameter. Godfrey
felt carefully about it for a moment, and then, with a little
exclamation of triumph, found a hold for his fingers, pulled sharply,
and raised a hinged section of the floor, about eighteen inches square.
"Now give us the light," he said, and plunged it into the opening.
In line with the little hole was an upright metal tube about a foot
long, ending in a small square box. Beside the tube, a slender iron
rod ran from the platform down into the box.
"That's the lever that sets it off," remarked Godfrey, tapping the
rod. "A pressure of the foot did it."
He pulled the rod loose, seized the tube, and lifted the whole
apparatus out upon the platform.
"Let's take it down where we can look at it," he said, and, carrying
it easily in one hand, led the way back to the library, cleared a
place on the table and set it down. Then, after a moment's
examination, he pulled back a little bolt and tilted the top of the
box, with the tube attached, to one side.
A curious mechanism lay revealed. There was a powerful spring, which
could be wound up with a key, and a drum wound with filament-like wire
and connected with a simple clock-work to revolve it. Two small
dry-batteries were secured to one side of the box, their wires running
to the drum.
"Why, it's nothing but a toy catapult!" I said.
"That's all," and Godfrey nodded. "It remained for Silva to add a few
trimmings of his own and to put it to a unique use. Instead of a
missile, he loaded it with his little aerial shell, attached to the
end of this wire. Then he shot it off with a pressure of the foot;
when it reached the end of the wire, the pull brought this platinum
coil against the battery wires and closed the circuit. The spark fired
the shell, and the drum began to revolve and pull it down. That
explains, Lester, why it descended so steadily and in a straight line.
The fellow who could devise a thing like that deserves to succeed!
Here's health to him!"
"He ought to be behind the bars," growled Simmonds. "The cleverer he
is, the more dangerous he is."
"Well," retorted Godfrey, "I admire him, anyway; and he isn't behind
the bars yet. No doubt you'll find some of his shells to-morrow about
the house somewhere, and you might amuse yourself by shooting one off
every night at midnight, on the chance that he sees it and comes back
to see who's stealing his thunder!"
But this brilliant suggestion didn't seem to appeal to Simmonds, who
merely grunted and continued his examination of the catapult.
"Silva had loaded it for to-night's performance," Godfrey went on,
"but, as I remarked before, the leading lady failed to answer her cue,
and it remained for us to touch it off. There it is, Simmonds; I turn
it over to you. It and the glove will make unique additions to the
museum at headquarters. And now," he added, with the wide yawn of
sudden relaxation, "you fellows can make a night of it, if you want
to, but I'm going to bed."
I glanced at my watch. It was half-past four. Another dawn was
brightening along the east.
Hinman ran upstairs, took a look at his patient, and came down to tell
us that she was sleeping calmly.
"She'll be all right in the morning," he assured us; "and while I
don't want to butt in, I'd certainly like to hear her story.
Adventures like this don't happen very often to a country doctor! May
"Most surely!" I assented warmly. "I think we were very fortunate to
have had you in this case, doctor."
"So do I!" echoed Godfrey, while Hinman flushed with pleasure. "And
don't forget, Lester, that it was I who picked him out, with nothing
better than the telephone-book to guide me! That was my infallible
"Suppose we say ten o'clock, then?" I suggested, smiling at Godfrey's
exuberance--but then, I was feeling rather exuberant myself!
"I'll be here!" said Hinman. "And thank you," and a moment later we
heard his car chugging away down the drive.
We listened to it for a moment, then Godfrey yawned again.
"Come along, Lester," he said, "or I'll go to sleep on my feet. Can I
give you a bed, Simmonds?"
"No, thanks," said Simmonds. "I'm not ready for bed. I'm going to comb
this whole neighbourhood, as soon as it's light. Silva can't
escape--unless he just fades away into the air."
"You've found no trace of him?"
"I've had no reports yet," and Simmonds walked beside us down the
drive to the gate; "but my men ought to be coming in pretty soon.
There's a thick grove just across the road, where he may be
He stopped, for a man was hastening toward us, carrying under one arm
a small white bundle.
Simmonds quickened his pace.
"What's that you've got?" he asked.
The man saluted.
"I found it just now, sir, in the bushes near the gate. Looks like a
Simmonds unrolled it slowly. It was the robe of the White Priest of Siva.
Godfrey looked at it and then at Simmonds, whose face was a study.
Then he took me by the arm and led me away.
"I'm afraid Simmonds has his work cut out for him," he said, when we
were out of earshot. "I thought so from the first. A fellow as clever
as Silva would be certain to keep his line of retreat open. He's far
away by this time."
He walked on thoughtfully, a little smile on his lips.
"I'm not altogether sorry," he continued. "It adds an interest to life
to know that he's running around the world, and that we may encounter
him again some day. He's a remarkable fellow, Lester; one of the most
remarkable I ever met. He comes close to being a genius. I'd give
something to hear the story of his life."
That wish was destined to be gratified, for, three years later, we
heard that story, or a part of it, from Silva's lips, as he lay calmly
smoking a cigarette, looking in the face of death,--and without
flinching. Perhaps, some day, I shall tell that story.
"But, Godfrey," I said, as we turned in at his gate, "all this scheme
of lies--the star, the murder, the finger-prints--what was it all
about? I can't see through it, even yet."
"There are still a few dark places," he agreed; "but the outlines are
pretty clear, aren't they?"
"Not to me--it's all a jumble."
"Suppose we wait till we hear Miss Vaughan's story," he suggested.
"After that, I think, we can reconstruct the whole plot. There's one
foundation-stone that's missing," he added, thoughtfully. "I wonder if
Miss Vaughan uses a blotting-book? It all depends upon that!"
"A blotting-book?" I echoed. "But I don't see...."
He shook himself out of his thoughts with a little laugh.
"Not now, Lester. It's time we were in bed. Look, there's the sun!"
and he led the way into the house. "I'll have you called at nine," he
added, as he bade me good-night at my door.
THE MYSTERY CLEARS
Godfrey's powers of recuperation have astonished me more than once,
and never more so than when I found him at the breakfast-table, as
fresh and rosy as though he had had a full night's sleep. But even I
felt better by the time the meal was over. It is wonderful what a cup
of coffee can do for a man!
"I 'phoned a message to Swain, as soon as I was up," Godfrey said,
"telling him, in your name, that we had the evidence to clear him, and
that Miss Vaughan was safe."
"I must go down to him," I said, "and start proceedings to set him
free. I'll get Simmonds to go with me before Goldberger, and then
before the magistrate. We ought to get an order of release at once."
"You've got something to do before that," Godfrey reminded me. "We're
to hear Miss Vaughan's story at ten o'clock. I'm taking it for
granted," he added, with a smile, "that I'll be welcome, as well as
"That doesn't need saying," I retorted, and ten minutes later, we
were on the way to Elmhurst.
There was a man on guard at the library door, but he allowed us to
pass when we gave our names, having evidently had his instructions
from Simmonds. In answer to Godfrey's question, he said that, so far
as he knew, no trace had been found of Silva.
We went on into the room, and found that some one, Simmonds
presumably, had closed the safe and swung the section of shelving back
into place before it. It was not locked, however, and I opened it and
went through its contents carefully, with the faint hope that the
money might have been thrust into some other compartment. But I found
no trace of it, and was replacing the contents, when a voice at the
threshold brought me to my feet.
"Mr. Lester!" it said, and I turned to behold a vision which made me
catch my breath--a vision of young womanhood, with smiling lips and
radiant eyes--a vision which came quickly toward me, with hands
"Miss Vaughan!" I cried, and took the hands and held them.
"Can you forgive me?" she demanded.
"For treating you so badly! Oh, I could see what you thought of me,
and I longed to tell you it was only make-believe, but I didn't dare!
I could see your grimace of disgust, when I fell on my knees beside
the chair yonder...."
"Miss Vaughan," I broke in, "whatever my sentiments may have been--and
I was an idiot not to suspect the truth!--they have all changed into
enthusiastic admiration. You were wiser and braver than all of us."
A wave of colour swept into her cheeks.
"I might add," I went on, "that I thought white robes becoming, but
they were not nearly so becoming as this gown!"
"It is of the last century!" she protested. "But anything is better
than that masquerade! And when--when...."
"I think I can get Swain free this afternoon," I answered. "I'm going
to try, anyway. Mr. Godfrey 'phoned him the good news the first thing
this morning. This is Mr. Godfrey, Miss Vaughan," I added, "and very
eager to shake hands with you."
"Very proud, too," said Godfrey, coming forward and suiting the action
to the word.
There was a step on the walk outside, and Dr. Hinman appeared at the door.
"Well!" he cried, coming in, his face beaming. "There's no need for me
to ask how my patient's doing!"
"I'm afraid you haven't got any patient, any more, doctor," I laughed.
"I'm afraid not," agreed Hinman. "I'll have to go back to my office
and wait for another one. But before I go, Miss Vaughan, I want to
hear the story. Mr. Lester promised me I should."
Miss Vaughan looked at me.
"We all want to hear it," I said; "how you came to suspect--how you
got the glove--everything."
Her face grew sober, and a shadow flitted across it.
"Suppose we sit down," she said, and just then the sentry at the door
saluted and Simmonds stepped into the room.
I saw him shake his head in answer to Godfrey's questioning look and
knew that Silva had not been found. Then I brought him forward to Miss
Vaughan and introduced him.
"Mr. Simmonds," I explained, "has been in charge of this case; and it
was he who arranged to watch the house, for fear some harm would
"I know," broke in Miss Vaughan, clasping Simmonds's hand warmly.
"Annie told me all about it this morning. I don't know how to thank
you, Mr. Simmonds."
"Oh, it wasn't me, especially," protested Simmonds, red to the ears.
"It was really Godfrey there, and Mr. Lester. They were worried to death."
"We _were_ rather worried," Godfrey admitted; "especially after we saw
you at that midnight fireworks party."
"You saw that?" she asked quickly; "but how...."
"Oh, we had seen the show every night for a week. It was its failure
to come off last night which first told us something was wrong."
"Well," said Miss Vaughan, with a deep breath, sitting down again and
motioning us to follow her example, "it seems to me that you have a
story to tell, too! But I'll tell mine first. Where shall I begin?"
"Begin," I suggested, "at the moment when you first suspected the
"That was when you were telling me of Fred's arrest. When you told me
of the handkerchief and then of the finger-prints, I knew that someone
was plotting against him. And then, quite suddenly, I thought of
"You jumped up," I said, "as though you were shot, and ran to the
book-case over there and got down that album of finger-prints, and
found that Swain's were missing. That seemed to upset you completely."
"It did; and I will tell you why. My father, for many years, had been
a collector of finger-prints. All of his friends were compelled to
contribute; and whenever he made a new acquaintance, he got his
prints, too, if he could. He believed that one's character was
revealed in one's finger-prints, and he studied them very carefully.
It was a sort of hobby; but it was, for some reason, distasteful to
Senor Silva. He not only refused to allow prints to be made of his
fingers, but he pooh-poohed my father's theories, and they used to
have some terrific arguments about it. One night, after a particularly
hot argument, Senor Silva made the assertion that he could, by
hypnotic suggestion, cause his servant Mahbub to reproduce any
finger-prints he desired. Mahbub's finger-tips had been manipulated in
some way, when he was a child, so that they showed only a series of
"Yes," I said, "his prints were taken at the inquest."
"Father said that if Senor Silva could show him proof of that
assertion, he would never look at finger-prints again. Senor Silva
asked for a week in which to make a study of the prints, in order to
impress them upon his memory; at the end of that time, the test was
made. It was a most extraordinary one. Senor Silva, father, and I sat
at the table yonder, under the light, with the book of prints before
us. Mahbub was placed at a little table in the far corner, with his
back to us, and Senor Silva proceeded to hypnotise him. It took only a
moment, for he could hypnotise Mahbub by pointing his finger at him.
He said Mahbub was a splendid subject, because he had hypnotised him
hundreds of times, and had him under perfect control. Then he placed
an ink-pad on the table in front of him--nothing else. My father wrote
his name and the date upon the top sheet of a pad of paper, and Senor
Silva placed it before Mahbub. Then he sat down with us, selected a
page of prints, and asked us to concentrate our minds upon it. At the
end of a few moments, he asked me to bring the pad from before Mahbub.
I did so, and we found the prints upon it to be identical with those
on the page we had been looking at. My father touched them with his
finger and found that they were fresh, as the ink smeared readily. His
name was on the corner of the page, where he had written it. There
could be no doubt that in some way Mahbub had been able to duplicate
"Senor Silva repeated the experiment with another set of prints and
then with another. I think there were six altogether, and every one of
them was successful."
"Was Swain's one of them?" asked Godfrey.
"No; but when Mr. Lester told me that Fred was suspected because of
those finger-prints, the thought flashed into my mind that if Senor
Silva and Mahbub could imitate those of other people, they could
imitate Fred's, too; and when I looked at the album and found that
sheet torn out, I was sure that was what had happened."
"And so you decided to stay in the house, to win Senor Silva's
confidence by pretending to become a convert, and to search for
evidence against him," I said. "That was a brave thing to do, Miss
"Not so brave as you think," she objected, shaking her head. "I did
not believe that there would be any real danger, with the three
servants in the house. Only at the last did I realise the desperate
nature of the man...."
She stopped and shivered slightly.
"Tell us what happened," I said.
"It was on Sunday afternoon," she continued, "that I went to Senor
Silva and told him that I had decided to carry out my father's wish,
renounce the world, and become a priestess of Siva. I shall never
forget the fire in his eyes as he listened--they fairly burned into me."
"Ah!" said Godfrey. "So that was it!"
She looked at him inquiringly.
"Except upon one hypothesis," he explained, "that action on your part
would have embarrassed Silva, and he would have tried to dissuade you.
He had left him by your father's will this valuable place and a
million dollars. If money had been all he sought, that would have
satisfied him, and he would have tried to get rid of you. That he did
not--that his eyes burned with eagerness when you told him of your
decision--proves that he loved you and wanted you also."
A brighter colour swept into Miss Vaughan's cheeks, but she returned
his gaze bravely.
"I think that is true," she assented, in a low voice. "It was my
suspicion of that which made me hesitate--but finally I decided that
there was no reason why I should spare him and let an innocent man
suffer for him."
"Especially when you loved the innocent man," I added to myself, but
managed to keep the words from my lips.
"As soon as I told him of my decision," Miss Vaughan continued, "he
led me to the room where the crystal sphere is, placed me on the
divan, sat down opposite me, and began to explain to me the beliefs of
his religion. Meditation, it seems, is essential to it, and it was by
gazing at the crystal that one could separate one's soul from one's
body and so attain pure and profound meditation."
"Was that your first experience of crystal-gazing?" Godfrey asked.
"Yes; both he and my father had often tried to persuade me to join
them. They often spent whole nights there. But it seemed to me that
the breaking down of father's will was due to it in some way; I grew
to have a fear and horror of it, and so I always refused."
"The change in your father was undoubtedly directly traceable to it,"
Godfrey agreed. "During those periods of crystal-gazing, he was really
in a state of hypnosis, induced by Silva, with his mind bare to
Silva's suggestions; and as these were repeated, he became more and
more a mere echo of Silva's personality. That was what Silva desired
for you, also."
"I felt something of the sort, though I never really understood it,"
said Miss Vaughan; "and as I sat there on the divan that Sunday
afternoon, with his burning eyes upon me, I was terribly afraid. His
will was so much stronger than mine, and besides, I could not keep my
eyes from the crystal. In the end, I had a vision--a dreadful vision."
She pressed her hands to her eyes, as though it was still before her.
"The vision of your father's death?" I questioned.
"With Swain as the murderer?"
"How did you know?" she asked, astonished.
"Because he induced the same vision in me the next evening. But don't
let me interrupt."
"I don't know how long the seance lasted," she continued; "some hours,
I suppose, for it was dark when I again realised where I was. And
after dinner, there was another; and then at midnight he led me to the
roof and invoked what he called an astral benediction--a wonderful,
Godfrey smiled drily.
"You were over-wrought, Miss Vaughan," he said, "and straight from a
spell of crystal-gazing. No wonder it impressed you. But it was really
only a clever trick."
"I realise, now, that it must have been a trick," she agreed; "but at
the time it seemed an unquestionable proof of his divine power. When
it was over, I had just sufficient strength of will remaining to tear
myself away from him and gain my own room and lock the door."
"You mean he tried to detain you?"
"Not with his hands. But I could feel his will striving to conquer
mine. Even after I was in my room, I could feel him calling me. In the
morning, I was stronger. I lay in bed until nearly noon, trying to
form some plan; but I began to fear that I must give it up. I realised
that, after a few more nights like the night before, I should no
longer have a will of my own--that what I was pretending would became
reality. I decided that I could risk one more day--perhaps two; but I
felt very weak and discouraged. You see, I did not know what to look
for, or where to look. I wanted evidence against him, but I had no
idea what the evidence would be. I wanted to search his room, but I
had not been able to, because he was scarcely ever out of it, except
when he was with me; and, besides, Mahbub was always squatting in the
little closet next to it.
"I got up, at last, and after breakfast he met me here in the library.
He suggested another seance, but I pleaded a headache, and he walked
with me about the grounds. I remembered that you were to come in the
evening, Mr. Lester, and I determined to leave you with him, on some
pretext, and search his room then. I told him you were coming, that I
had asked you to take charge of my affairs; and it was then he told me
of the legacy he believed my father had left him, adding that whether
the legacy should stand or not was entirely in my hands. Then I began
to feel his influence again, and managed to excuse myself and go
"You know what happened in the evening, Mr. Lester. As soon as I left
you, I flew to his room, determined to search it at any cost. But I
was scarcely inside, when I heard the outer door open, and I had just
time to get behind the curtains in one corner, when someone entered.
Peering out, I saw that it was Mahbub. He looked about for a moment,
and then sat down on the divan, folded his feet under him, and fell
into a contemplation of the sphere. I scarcely dared to breathe. I was
always afraid of Mahbub," she added; "far more so than of Senor Silva.
About Senor Silva there was at least something warm and human; but
Mahbub impressed me somehow as a brother to the snake, he seemed so
cold and venomous."
"You knew he was dead?" I asked, as she paused.
"Yes; Annie told me," and she shuddered slightly.
"The cobra, too, is dead," added Godfrey. "I agree with you, Miss
Vaughan. There was a kinship between them--though the cobra turned
against him in the end. How long did he sit there?"
"I do not know--but it seemed an age to me. Finally, in despair, I had
made up my mind to try to steal away, when I heard steps in the entry.
Mahbub slipped from the divan and disappeared behind the curtains,
and then the door opened and Senor Silva and Mr. Lester entered. I
saw, at once, that there was to be another seance, and that I could
not escape, for Senor Silva sat down facing the corner where I was. I
could only brace myself against the wall and wait. It was a dreadful
ordeal. But it had its reward," she added, with a smile.
"And that was?" I asked.
"The discovery of the glove. Senor Silva suddenly switched on the
lights, and I knew that the seance was over; but he had some
difficulty in arousing you--the trance must have been a very deep
one--and finally, leaving you lying on the divan, he went to the wall,
drew aside the hangings, and pressed his hand against a panel. A
little door flew open, and I saw that there was a cupboard in the
wall. He filled a glass with some liquid, pulled the hangings into
place, and went back to you and made you drink it. It seemed to do you
"Yes," I said; "it brought me around at once. And then?"
"And then, as soon as you went out together, I ran to the cupboard and
looked into it. But for a moment I was confused--I saw nothing which
seemed of any importance--some bottles and decanters and glasses, a
glass tray or two, a pile of rubber gloves. I couldn't understand. I
picked up one of the gloves and looked at it, but it was just an
ordinary glove. Then farther back, I saw some others--their
finger-tips were stained with ink--and then another, lying by itself.
I looked at it, I saw the patches on the finger-tips--I saw the
stains--and then I understood. I do not know how I understood, or
why--it was like a flash of lightning, revealing everything. And then,
as I stood there, with the glove in my hand, I heard Senor Silva
She paused a moment, and I could see the shiver which ran through her
at the recollection.
"It was not that I was afraid," she said; "it was that I seemed to be
lost. I let the draperies fall, ran to the divan and sat down before
the sphere. I could think of nothing else to do. I can still see his
astonished face when he entered and found me sitting there.
"'I was waiting for you,' I said, trying to smile. 'You remember I was
to have another lesson to-night.'
"'Yes,' he said, and looked at me, his eyes kindling.
"I was trembling inwardly, for suddenly I began to fear him; I knew
that I must keep my head, that I must not yield to his will, or I
would be swept away.
"'I thought Mr. Lester would never go,' I said.
"He came to the divan and sat down close beside me, and looked into my
"'Did the time really seem so long?' he asked.
"'It seemed very long,' I said.
"He gazed at me for another moment, then rose quickly and turned on
"'Sit where you are,' he said, 'and I will sit here. Fix your eyes
upon the sphere and your mind upon the Infinite Mind--so shall great
wisdom come to you.'
"I felt my will crumbling to pieces; I closed my eyes and crushed the
glove within my hand, and thought of this man's villainy and of the
part I must play, if I were to defeat him. His voice went on and on,
but gradually I ceased to hear it--I was thinking of the glove, of
escape, of Fred...."
Yea, love is strong, I told myself, and it giveth to the dove the
wisdom of the serpent, else how had this child come victorious from
such an ordeal!
"I do not know how long I sat there," Miss Vaughan continued, "but
Senor Silva rose suddenly with an exclamation of impatience and
switched on the light.
"'There is something wrong,' he said, coming back and standing over
me. 'Some hostile influence is at work. What is it?'
"'I do not know,' I said. 'I cannot lose myself as I did last night.'
"'Something holds you to earth--some chain. Perhaps it is your own wish.'
"'No, no!' I protested. 'Let us try again.'
"He switched off the light and sat down facing me, and again I felt
his will trying to enter and conquer me. And again I clasped the
glove, and kept my mind upon it, thinking only of escape."
You can guess how we were leaning forward, listening breathless to
this narrative. I fancied I could see her sitting there in the
darkness, with Silva's evil influence visibly about her, but held at
bay by her resolute innocence, as Christian's shield of Faith turned
aside the darts of Apollyon. It was, indeed, a battle of good and
evil, the more terrible because it was fought, not with bodily
weapons, but with spiritual ones.
"At last, Senor Silva rose again," Miss Vaughan continued, "and turned
on the lights, and I shivered when I met his gaze.
"'You are defying me,' he said, very low. 'But I will break you yet,'
and he clapped his hands softly together.
[Illustration: "I knew that I was lost"]
"Mahbub appeared at the inner door, received a sharp order, and
disappeared again. A moment later, there was a little swirl of smoke
from the door of his room, and a sharp, over-powering odour, which
turned me faint.
"And then Senor Silva, who had been pacing, up and down the room,
stopped suddenly and looked at me, his face distorted.
"'Is it that?' he muttered. 'Can it be that?'
"And he strode to the curtain which hung before his secret cupboard
and swept it back.
"I knew that I was lost. I sprang for the outer door, managed to get
it open and set a foot in the hall, before he seized me. I remember
that I screamed, and then his hand was at my throat--and I suppose I
must have fainted," she added, with a little smile, "for the next
thing I remember is looking up and seeing Dr. Hinman."
I sat back in my chair with a long breath of relief. My tension during
the telling of the story had been almost painful; and it was not until
it was ended that I saw two other men had entered while Miss Vaughan
was speaking. I was on my feet as soon as I saw them, for I recognised
Goldberger and Sylvester.
"Simmonds telephoned me this morning that I was needed out here
again," Goldberger explained. "But first I want to shake hands with
"You have met Mr. Goldberger, Miss Vaughan," I said, as he came
forward, "but Dr. Hinman didn't tell you that he's the cleverest
coroner in greater New York."
"He doesn't really think so, Miss Vaughan," Goldberger laughed. "You
ought to read some of the things he's written about me! But I want to
say that I heard most of your story, and it's a wonder. About that
glove, now, Simmonds," he added, turning to the detective. "I'd like
to see it--and Sylvester here is nearly dying to."
"Here it is," said Simmonds, and took it from his pocket and passed it
Goldberger looked at it, then handed it to Sylvester, who fairly
seized it, carried it to the door, and examined it with gleaming eyes.
Then, without a word, he took an ink-pad from his pocket, slipped the
glove upon his right hand, inked the tips of the fingers and pressed
them carefully upon a sheet of paper. From an inner pocket, he
produced a sheaf of photographs, laid them beside the prints, and
carefully compared them. Finally he straightened up and looked at us,
his face working.
"Do you know what this does, gentlemen?" he asked, in a voice husky
with emotion. "It strikes at the foundation of the whole system of
finger-print identification! It renders forever uncertain a method we
thought absolutely safe! It's the worst blow that has ever been
struck at the police!"
"You mean the prints agree with the photographs?" asked Godfrey, going
to his side.
"Absolutely!" said Sylvester, and mopped his face with a shaking hand.
THE END OF THE CASE
To Sylvester, head of the Identification Bureau, it seemed that the
world was tottering to its fall; but the rest of us, who had not
really at the bottom of our hearts, perhaps, believed in the
infallibility of the finger-print system, took it more calmly. And
presently we went upstairs to take a look at the contents of Silva's
secret cupboard. When he had first come to the house, Miss Vaughan
explained, he had been given carte-blanche in this suite of rooms. He
had them remodelled, installed the circular divan and crystal sphere,
selected the hangings, and had at the same time, no doubt, caused the
secret cupboard to be built.
Its contents were most interesting. There was a box of aerial bombs,
which Godfrey turned over to Simmonds with the injunction to go and
amuse himself. For Sylvester's contemplation and further confusion
were the gloves with which Silva had managed his parlour mystification
scheme, six pairs of them; and there was also the very simple
apparatus with which the finger-print reproductions had been made--an
apparatus, as Godfrey had suggested, similar in every way to that
used for making rubber stamps. There, too, were the plates of zinc
upon which the impressions of the prints had been etched with acid.
And, finally, there were various odds and ends of a juggler's outfit,
as well as various bottles of perfumes, essences, and liquids whose
properties we could not guess.
Godfrey looked at the gloves carefully, as though in search of
something, and at last selected one of them with a little exclamation
"I thought so!" he said, and held it up. "Look at this glove,
Sylvester. You see it has never been used--there is no ink on it. Do
you know what it is? It's the print of Swain's left hand."
Sylvester took it and looked at it.
"It's a left hand all right," he said. "But what makes you think it is
"Because Silva expected to use both hands, till he learned that Swain
had injured one of his. But for that, the blood needed to make the
prints would have come from the victim, and Silva would have worn this
glove, too; but Swain's injury gave Silva a happy inspiration!
Wonderful man!" he added, half to himself.
Goldberger and Simmonds went on into the inner room to arrange for the
disposition of the body of Mahbub; but Godfrey and Miss Vaughan and I
turned back together, for we did not wish to see the Thug. At her
boudoir door Godfrey paused.
"The case is clear," he said, "from first to last, provided you can
supply us with a final detail, Miss Vaughan."
"What is that?" she asked.
"Did you write that note to Swain in your own room?"
"And will you show me the table at which you wrote it?"
"Certainly," and she opened the door. "Come in. I wrote it at that
little desk by the window."
Godfrey walked to it, picked up a blotting-book which lay upon it, and
turned over the leaves.
"Ah!" he said, after a moment. "I was sure of it. Here is the final
link. Have you a small hand-mirror, Miss Vaughan?"
She brought one from her toilet-table and handed it to him in evident
"What do you see in the mirror?" he asked, and held a page of the
blotting-book at an angle in front of it.
Miss Vaughan uttered an exclamation of surprise, as she read the words
MR. FREDERIC SWAIN,
1010 Fifth Avenue,
New York City.
If not at this address,
please try the Calumet Club.
"'Tall oaks from little acorns grow,'" quoted Godfrey, tossing the
book back upon the desk. "But for the fact that you blotted the
envelope, Miss Vaughan, young Swain would never have been accused of
"I do not understand," she murmured.
"Don't you see," he pointed out, "the one question which we have been
unable to answer up to this moment has been this: how did Silva know
you were going to meet Swain? He had to know it, and know it several
hours before the meeting, in order to have those finger-prints ready.
I concluded, at last, that there _must_ be a blotting-book--and there
Miss Vaughan stared at him.
"You seem to be a very wonderful man!" she said.
"It is my every-day business to reconstruct mysteries," he said.
"Shall I reconstruct this one?"
"Please do!" she begged, and motioned us to be seated.
Godfrey's face was glowing with the sort of creative fire which, I
imagine, illumines the poet's brow at the moment of inspiration.
"Where did you first meet Silva?" he asked.
"What was he doing there?"
"He was practising mysticism. My father went to consult him; he was
much impressed by him, and they became very intimate."
"And Silva, of course, at once saw the possibilities of exploiting an
immensely rich old man, whose mind was failing. So he comes here as
his instructor in Orientalism; he does some very marvellous things; by
continued hypnosis, he gets your father completely under his control.
He secures a promise of this estate and a great endowment; he causes
your father to make a will in which these bequests are specifically
stated. Then he hesitates, for during his residence in this house, a
new desire has been added to the old ones. It had not often been his
fortune to be thrown in daily contact with an innocent and beautiful
girl, and he ends by falling in love with you. He knows of your love
for Swain. He has caused Swain to be forbidden the house; but he finds
you still indifferent. At last, by means of his own entreaties and
your father's, he secures your consent to become his disciple. He
knows that, if once you consent to sit with him, he will, in the end,
dominate your will, also.
"But you ask for three days' delay, and this he grants. During every
moment of those three days, he will keep you under surveillance.
Almost at once, he guesses at your plan, for you return to the house,
you write a letter, and, the moment you leave your room, he enters it
and sees the impression on the blotter. He follows you into the
grounds, he sees you throw the letter over the wall, and suspects that
you are calling Swain to your aid. More than that, Lester," he added,
turning to me, "he saw you in the tree, and so kept up his midnight
fire-works, on the off-chance that you might be watching!"
"Yes; that explains that, too," I agreed thoughtfully.
"When he realises that you are asking your lover's aid," Godfrey
continued to Miss Vaughan, "a fiendish idea springs into his mind. If
Swain answers the call, if he enters the grounds, he will separate him
from you once for all by causing him to be found guilty of killing
your father. He hastens back to the house, tears the leaf from the
album of finger-prints and prepares the rubber gloves. That night, he
follows you when you leave the house; he overhears your talk in the
arbour; and he finds that there is another reason than that of
jealousy why he must act at once. If your father is found to be
insane, the will drawn up only three days before will be invalid.
Silva will lose everything--not only you, but the fortune already
within his grasp.
"He hurries to the house and tells your father of the rendezvous. Your
father rushes out and brings you back, after a bitter quarrel with
Swain, which Silva has, of course, foreseen. You come up to your room;
your father flings himself into his chair again. It is Silva who has
followed you--who has purposely made a noise in order that you might
think it was Swain. And he carries in his hand the blood-soaked
handkerchief which Swain dropped when he fled from the arbour.
"Up to this point," Godfrey went on, more slowly, "everything is
clear--every detail fits every other detail perfectly. But, in the
next step of the tragedy, one detail is uncertain--whose hand was it
drew the cord around your father's throat? I am inclined to think it
was Mahbub's. If Silva had done the deed, he would probably have
chosen a method less Oriental; but Mahbub, even under hypnotic
suggestion, would kill only in the way to which he was accustomed--with
a noose. Pardon me," he added, quickly, as she shrank into her chair,
"I have forgotten how repellent this must be to you. I have
"Please go on," she murmured. "It is right that I should hear it. I
can bear it."
"There is not much more to tell," said Godfrey, gently. "Whoever it
was that drew the cord, it was Silva who moistened the glove from the
blood-soaked handkerchief, made the marks upon your father's robe, and
then dropped the handkerchief beside his chair. Then he returned
softly to his room, closed the door, put away the glove, cleansed his
hands, made sure that Mahbub was in his closet, took his place upon
the divan, and waited. I think we know the rest. And now, Lester," he
added, turning to me, "we would better be getting to town. Remember,
Swain is still in the Tombs."
"You are right," I said, and rose to take my leave, but Miss Vaughan,
her eyes shining, stopped me with a hand upon the sleeve.
"I should like to go with you, Mr. Lester," she said. "May I?"
The colour deepened in her cheeks as she met my gaze, and I understood
what was in her heart. So did Godfrey.
"I'll have my car around in ten minutes," he said, and hastened away.
"I have only to put on my hat," said Miss Vaughan; and I found her
waiting for me in the library, when I entered it after arranging with
Simmonds and Goldberger to appear with me in the Tombs court and join
me in asking for Swain's release.
Godfrey's car came up the drive a moment later, and we were off.
The hour that followed was a silent one. Godfrey was soon sufficiently
occupied in guiding the car through the tangle of traffic. Miss
Vaughan leaned back in a corner of the tonneau lost in thought. It was
just six days since I had seen her first; but those six days had left
their mark upon her. Perhaps, in time, happiness would banish that
shadow from her eyes, and that tremulousness from her lips. Every
battle leaves its mark, even on the victor; and the battle she had
fought had been a desperate one. But, as I looked at her, she seemed
more complete, more desirable than she had ever been; I could only
hope that Swain would measure up to her.
At last, we drew up before the grey stone building, whose barred
windows and high wall marked the prison.
"Here we are," I said, and helped her to alight.
Godfrey greeted the door-keeper as an old friend, and, after a
whispered word, we were allowed to pass. A guard showed us into a
bare waiting-room, and Godfrey hastened away to explain our errand to
"Won't you sit down?" I asked, but my companion shook her head, with a
frightened little smile, and paced nervously up and down, her hands
against her heart. How riotously it was beating I could guess--with
what hope, what fear....
There was a quick step in the corridor, and she stood as if turned to
Then the door was flung open, and, with radiant face, she walked
straight into the outstretched arms of the man who stood there. I
heard her muffled sob, as the arms closed about her and she hid her
face against his shoulder; then a hand was laid upon my sleeve.
"Come along, Lester," said Godfrey softly. "This case is ended!"