Part 3 out of 5
threatened it, to see if Florence persisted in keeping her
This was a generous speech on the part of Philip Crawford. To be
sure, generosity of speech couldn't affect the disposal of the
estate. If no will were found, it must by law go to the brother,
but none the less the hearty, whole-souled way in which he spoke
of Miss Lloyd was greatly to his credit as a man.
"I think so, too," agreed Mr. Porter. "As you know, I called on
Mr. Joseph Crawford during the - the last evening of his life."
The speaker paused, and indeed it must have been a sad
remembrance that pictured itself to his mind.
"Did he then refer to the matter of the will?" asked Mr.
Randolph, in gentle tones.
"He did. Little was said on the subject, but he told me that
unless Florence consented to his wishes in the matter of her
engagement to Mr. Hall, he would make a new will, leaving her
only a small bequest."
"In what manner did you respond, Mr. Porter?"
"I didn't presume to advise him definitely, but I urged him not
to be too hard on the girl, and, at any rate, not to make a new
will until he had thought it over more deliberately."
"What did he then say?"
"Nothing of any definite import. He began talking of other
matters, and the will was not again referred to. But I can't
help thinking he had not destroyed it."
At this, Miss Lloyd seemed about to speak, but, glancing at
Gregory Hall, she gave a little sigh, and remained silent.
"You know of nothing that can throw any light on the matter of
the will, Mr. Hall?" asked Mr. Randolph.
"No, sir. Of course this whole situation is very embarrassing
for me. I can only say that I have known for a long time the
terms of Mr. Crawford's existing will; I have known of his
threats of changing it; I have known of his attitude toward my
engagement to his niece. But I never spoke to him on any of
these subjects, nor he to me, though several times I have thought
he was on the point of doing so. I have had access to most of
his private papers, but of two or three small boxes he always
retained the keys. I had no curiosity concerning the contents of
these boxes, but I naturally assumed his will was in one of them.
I have, however, opened these boxes since Mr. Crawford's death,
in company with Mr. Randolph, and we found no will. Nor could we
discover any in the New York office or in the bank. That is all
I know of the matter."
Gregory Hall's demeanor was dignified and calm, his voice even
and, indeed, cold. He was like a bystander, with no vital
interest in the subject he talked about.
Knowing, as I did, that his interest was vital, I came to the
conclusion that he was a man of unusual self-control, and an
ability to mask his real feelings completely. Feeling that
nothing more could be learned at present, I left the group in the
library discussing the loss of the will, and went down to the
district attorney's office.
He was, of course, surprised at my news, and agreed with me that
it gave us new fields for conjecture.
"Now, we see," he said eagerly, "that the motive for the murder
was the theft of the will."
"Not necessarily," I replied. "Mr. Crawford may have destroyed
the will before he met his death."
"But that would leave no motive. No, the will supplies the
motive. Now, you see, this frees Miss Lloyd from suspicion. She
would have no reason to kill her uncle and then destroy or
suppress a will in her own favor."
"That reasoning also frees Mr. Hall from suspicion," said I,
reverting to my former theories.
"Yes, it does. We must look for the one who has benefited by the
removal of the will. That, of course, would be the brother, Mr.
I looked at the attorney a moment, and then burst into laughter.
"My dear Mr. Goodrich," I said, "don't be absurd! A man would
hardly shoot his own brother, but aside from that, why should
Philip Crawford kill Joseph just at the moment he is about to
make a new will in Philip's favor? Either the destruction of the
old will or the drawing of the new would result in Philip's
falling heir to the fortune. So he would hardly precipitate
matters by a criminal act. And, too, if he had been keen about
the money, he could have urged his brother to disinherit Florence
Lloyd, and Joseph would have willingly done so. He was on the
very point of doing so, any way."
"That's true," said Mr. Goodrich, looking chagrined but
unconvinced. "However, it frees Miss Lloyd from all doubts, by
removing her motive. As you say, she wouldn't suppress a will in
her favor, and thereby turn the fortune over to Philip. And, as
you also said, this lets Gregory Hall out, too, though I never
suspected him for a moment. But, of course, his interests and
Miss Lloyd's are identical."
"Wait a moment," I said, for new thoughts were rapidly following
one another through my brain. "Not so fast, Mr. District
Attorney. The disappearance of the will does not remove motive
from the possibility of Miss Lloyd's complicity in this crime -
or Mr. Hall's either."
"Because, if Florence Lloyd thought her uncle was in possession
of that will, her motive was identically the same as if he had
possessed it. Now, she certainly thought he had it, for her
surprise at the news of its loss was as unfeigned as my own. And
of course Hall thought the will was among Mr. Crawford's effects,
for he has been searching constantly since the question was
"But I thought that yesterday you were so sure of Miss Lloyd's
innocence," objected Mr. Goodrich.
"I was," I said slowly, "and I think I am still. But in the
light of absolute evidence I am only declaring that the
non-appearance of that will in no way interferes with the motive
Miss Lloyd must have had if she is in any way guilty. She knew,
or thought she knew, that the will was there, in her favor. She
knew her uncle intended to revoke it and make another in her
disfavor. I do not accuse her - I'm not sure I suspect her - I
only say she had motive and opportunity."
As I walked away from Mr. Goodrich's office, those words rang in
my mind, motive and opportunity. Truly they applied to Mr. Hall
as well as to Miss Lloyd, although of course it would mean Hall's
coming out from the city and returning during the night. And
though this might have been a difficult thing to do secretly, it
was by no means impossible. He might not have come all the way
to West Sedgwick Station, but might have dropped off the train
earlier and taken the trolley. The trolley! that thought
reminded me of the transfer I had picked up on the grass plot
near the office veranda. Was it possible that slip of paper was
a clue, and pointing toward Hall?
Without definite hope of seeing Gregory Hall, but hopeful of
learning something about him, I strolled back to the Crawford
house. I went directly to the office, and by good luck found
Gregory Hall there alone. He was still searching among the
papers of Mr. Crawford's desk.
"Ah, Mr. Burroughs," he said, as I entered, "I'm glad to see you.
If detectives detect, you have a fine chance here to do a bit of
good work. I wouldn't mind offering you an honorarium myself, if
you could unearth the will that has so mysteriously disappeared."
Hall's whole manner had changed. He had laid aside entirely the
grave demeanor which he had shown at the funeral, and was again
the alert business man. He was more than this. He was eager, -
offensively so,- in his search for the will. It needed no
detective instinct to see that the fortune of Joseph Crawford and
its bestowment were matters of vital interest to him.
But though his personal feelings on the subject might be
distasteful to me, it was certainly part of my duty to aid in the
search, and so with him I looked through the various drawers and
filing cabinets. The papers representing or connected with the
financial interests of the late millionaire were neatly filed and
labelled; but in some parts of the desk we found the hodge-podge
of personal odds and ends which accumulates with nearly
Hall seemed little interested in those, but to my mind they
showed a possibility of casting some light on Mr. Crawford's
But among old letters, photographs, programs, newspaper
clippings, and such things, there was nothing that seemed of the
slightest interest, until at last I chanced upon a photograph
that arrested my attention.
"Do you know who this is?" I inquired.
"No," returned Hall, with a careless glance at it; "a friend of
Mr. Crawford's, I suppose."
"More than a friend, I should judge," and I turned the back of
the picture toward him. Across it was written, "with loving
Christmas greetings, from M.S.P."; and it was dated as recently
as the Christmas previous.
"Well," said Hall, "Mr. Crawford may have had a lady friend who
cared enough about him to send an affectionate greeting, but I
never heard of her before, and I doubt if she is in any way
responsible for the disappearance of this will."
He went on searching through the desks, giving no serious heed to
the photograph. But to me it seemed important. I alone knew of
the visiting card in the gold bag. I alone knew that that bag
belonged to a lady named Purvis. And here was a photograph
initialed by a lady whose surname began with P, and who was
unmistakably on affectionate terms with Mr. Crawford. To my mind
the links began to form a chain; the lady who had sent her
photograph at Christmas, and who had left her gold bag in Mr.
Crawford's office the night he was killed, surely was a lady to
But I had not yet had a reply to my telegram to headquarters, so
I said nothing to Hall on this subject, and putting the
photograph in my pocket continued to assist him to look for the
will, but without success. However, the discovery of the
photograph had in a measure diverted my suspicions from Gregory
Hall; and though I endeavored to draw him into general
conversation, I did not ask him any definite questions about
But the more I talked with him, the more I disliked him: He not
only showed a mercenary, fortune-hunting spirit, but he showed
himself in many ways devoid of the finer feelings and chivalrous
nature that ought to belong to the man about to marry such a
perfect flower of womanhood as Florence Lloyd.
After spending an evening in thinking over the situation and
piecing together my clues, I decided that the next thing to be
done was to trace up that transfer. If I could fasten that upon
Gregory Hall, it would indeed be a starting point to work from.
Although this seemed to eliminate Mrs. Purvis, who had already
become a living entity in my mind, I still had haunting
suspicions of Hall; and then, too, there was a possibility of
collusion between these two. It might be fanciful, but if Hall
and the Purvis woman were both implicated, Hall was quite enough
a clever villain to treat the photograph lightly as he had done.
And so the next morning, I started for the office of the trolley
I learned without difficulty that the transfer I had found, must
have been given to some passenger the night of Mr. Crawford's
death, but was not used. It had been issued after nine o'clock
in the evening, somewhere on the line between New York and West
Sedgwick. It was a transfer which entitled a passenger on that
line to a trip on the branch line running through West Sedgwick,
and the fact that it had not been used, implied either a
negligent conductor or a decision on the part of the passenger
not to take his intended ride.
All this was plausible, though a far from definite indication
that Hall might have come out from New York by trolley, or part
way by trolley, and though accepting a transfer on the West
Sedgwick branch, had concluded not to use it. But the whole
theory pointed equally as well to Mrs. Purvis, or indeed to the
unknown intruder insisted upon by so many. I endeavored to learn
something from certain conductors who brought their cars into
West Sedgwick late at night, but it seemed they carried a great
many passengers and of course could not identify a transfer, of
which scores of duplicates had been issued.
Without much hope I interviewed the conductors of the West
Sedgwick Branch Line. Though I could learn nothing definite, I
fell into conversation with one of them, a young Irishman, who
was interested because of my connection with the mystery.
"No, sir," he said, "I can't tell you anythin' about a stray
transfer. But one thing I can tell you. That 'ere murder was
committed of a Toosday night, wasn't it?"
"Yes," I returned.
"Well, that 'ere parlyvoo vally of Mr. Crawford's, he's rid, on
my car 'most every Toosday night fer weeks and weeks. It's his
night off. And last Toosday night he didn't ride with me. Now I
don't know's that means anything, but agin it might."
It didn't seem to me that it meant much, for certainly Louis was
not under the slightest suspicion. And yet as I came to think
about it, if that had been Louis's transfer and if he had dropped
it near the office veranda, he had lied when he said that he went
round the other side of the house to reach the back entrance.
It was all very vague, but it narrowed itself down to the point
that if that were Louis's transfer it could be proved; and if not
it must be investigated further. For a trolley transfer, issued
at a definite hour, and dropped just outside the scene of the
crime was certainly a clue of importance.
I proceeded to the Crawford house, and though I intended to have
a talk with Louis later, I asked first for Miss Lloyd. Surely,
if I were to carry on my investigation of the case, in her
interests, I must have a talk with her. I had not intruded
before, but now that the funeral was over, the real work of
tracking the criminal must be commenced, and as one of the
principal characters in the sad drama, Miss Lloyd must play her
Until I found myself in her presence I had not actually realized
how much I wanted this interview.
I was sure that what she said, her manner and her facial
expression, must either blot out or strengthen whatever shreds of
suspicion I held against her.
"Miss Lloyd," I began, "I am, as you know, a detective; and I am
here in Sedgwick for the purpose of discovering the cowardly
assassin of your uncle. I assume that you wish to aid me in any
way you can. Am I right in this?"
Instead of the unhesitating affirmative I had expected, the girl
spoke irresolutely. "Yes," she said, "but I fear I cannot help
you, as I know nothing about it."
The fact that this reply did not sound to me as a rebuff, for
which it was doubtless intended, I can only account for by my
growing appreciation of her wonderful beauty.
Instead of funereal black, Miss Lloyd was clad all in white, and
her simple wool gown gave her a statuesque appearance; which,
however, was contradicted by the pathetic weariness in her face
and the sad droop of her lovely mouth. Her helplessness appealed
to me, and, though she assumed an air of composure, I well knew
it was only assumed, and that with some difficulty.
Resolving to make it as easy as possible for her, I did not ask
her to repeat the main facts, which I already knew.
"Then, Miss Lloyd," I said, in response to her disclaimer, "if
you cannot help me, perhaps I can help you. I have reason to
think that possibly Louis, your late uncle's valet, did not tell
the truth in his testimony at the coroner's inquest. I have
reason to think that instead of going around the house to the
back entrance as he described, he went around the other side,
thus passing your uncle's office."
To my surprise this information affected Miss Lloyd much more
seriously than I supposed it would.
"What?" she said, and her voice was a frightened whisper. "What
time did he come home?"
"I don't know," I replied; "but you surely don't suspect Louis of
anything wrong. I was merely hoping, that if he did pass the
office he might have looked in, and so could tell us of your
uncle's well-being at that time."
"At what time?"
"At whatever time he returned home. Presumably rather late. But
since you are interested in the matter, will you not call Louis
and let us question him together?"
The girl fairly shuddered at this suggestion. She hesitated, and
for a moment was unable to speak. Of course this behavior on her
part filled my soul with awful apprehension. Could it be
possible that she and Louis were in collusion, and that she
dreaded the Frenchman's disclosures? I remembered the strange
looks he had cast at her while being questioned by the coroner.
I remembered his vehement denial of having passed the office that
evening, - too vehement, it now seemed to me. However, if I were
to learn anything damaging to Florence Lloyd's integrity, I would
rather learn it now, in her presence, than elsewhere. So I again
asked her to send for the valet.
With a despairing look, as of one forced to meet an impending
fate, she rose, crossed the room and rang a bell. Then she
returned to her seat and said quietly, "You may ask the man such
questions as you wish, Mr. Burroughs, but I beg you will not
include me in the conversation."
"Not unless it should be necessary," I replied coldly, for I did
not at all like her making this stipulation. To me it savored of
a sort of cowardice, or at least a presumption on my own
When the man appeared, I saw at a glance he was quite as much
agitated as Miss Lloyd. There was no longer a possibility of a
doubt that these two knew something, had some secret in common,
which bore directly on the case, and which must be exposed. A
sudden hope flashed into my mind that it might be only some
trifling secret, which seemed of importance to them, but which
was merely a side issue of the great question.
I considered myself justified in taking advantage of the man's
perturbation, and without preliminary speech I drew the transfer
from my pocket and fairly flashed it in his face.
"Louis," I said sternly, "you dropped this transfer when you came
home the night of Mr. Crawford's death."
The suddenness of my remark had the effect I desired, and fairly
frightened the truth out of the man.
"Y-yes, sir," he stammered, and then with a frightened glance at
Miss Lloyd, he stood nervously interlacing his fingers.
I glanced at Miss Lloyd myself, but she had regained entire
self-possession, and sat looking straight before her with an air
that seemed to say, "Go on, I'm prepared for the worst."
As I paused myself to contemplate the attitudes of the two, I
lost my ground of vantage, for when I again spoke to the man, he
too was more composed and ready to reply with caution. Doubtless
he was influenced by Miss Lloyd's demeanor, for he imitatively
assumed a receptive air.
"Where did you get the transfer?" I went on.
"On the trolley, sir; the main line."
"To be used on the Branch Line through West Sedgwick?"
"Why did you not use it?"
"As I tell you, sir, and as I tell monsieur, the coroner, I have
spend that evening with a young lady. We went for a trolley
ride, and as we returned I take a transfer for myself, but not
for her, as she live near where we alight."
"Oh, you left the main line and took the young lady home,
intending then yourself to come by trolley through West
"Yes, sir; it was just that way."
At this point Louis seemed to forget his embarrassment, his gaze
strayed away, and a happy expression came into his eyes. I felt
sure I was reading his volatile French nature aright, when I
assumed his mind had turned back to the pleasant evening he had
spent with his young lady acquaintance. Somehow this went far to
convince me of the fellow's innocence for it was quite evident
the murder and its mystery were not uppermost in his thoughts at
that moment. But my next question brought him beck to
realization of the present situation.
"And why didn't you use your transfer?"
"Only that the night, he was so pleasant, I desired to walk."
"And so you walked through the village, holding, perhaps, the
transfer in your hand?"
"I think, yes; but I do not remember the transfer in my hand,
though he may have been there."
And now the man's unquiet had returned. His lips twitched and
his dark eyes rolled about, as he endeavored in vain to look
anywhere but at Miss Lloyd. She, too, was controlling herself by
a visible effort.
Anxious to bring the matter to a crisis, I said at once, and
"And then you entered the gates of this place, you walked to the
house, you walked around the house to the back by way of the path
which leads around by the library veranda, and you accidentally
dropped your transfer near the veranda step."
I spoke quietly enough, but Louis immediately burst into voluble
"No, no!" he exclaimed; "I do not go round by the office, I go
the other side of the house. I have tell you so many times."
"But I myself picked up your transfer near the office veranda."
"Then he blow there. The wind blow that night, oh, something
fearful! He blow the paper around the house, I think."
"I don't think so," I retorted; "I think you went around the
house that way, I think you paused at the office window - "
Just here I made a dramatic pause myself, hoping thus to appeal
to the emotional nature of my victim. And I succeeded. Louis
almost shrieked as he pressed his hands against his eyes, and
cried out: "No! no! I tell you I did not go round that way! I
go round the other way, and the wind - the wind, he blow my
transfer all about!"
I tried a more quiet manner, I tried persuasive arguments, I
finally resorted to severity and even threats, but no admission
could I get from Louis, except that he had not gone round the
house by way of the office. I was positive the man was lying,
and I was equally positive that Miss Lloyd knew he was lying, and
that she knew why, but the matter seemed to me at a deadlock. I
could have questioned her, but I preferred to do that when Louis
was not present. If she must suffer ignominy it need not be
before a servant. So I dismissed Louis, perhaps rather curtly,
and turning to Miss Lloyd, I asked her if she believed his
assertion that he did not pass by the office that night.
"I don't know what I believe," she answered, wearily drawing her
hand across her brow. "And I can't see that it matters anyway.
Supposing he did go by the office, you certainly don't suspect
him of my uncle's murder, do you?"
"It is my duty, Miss Lloyd," I said gently, for the girl was
pitiably nervous, "to get the testimony of any one who was in or
near the office that night. But of course testimony is useless
unless it is true."
I looked her straight in the eyes as I said this, for I was
thoroughly convinced that her own testimony at the inquest had
not been entirely true.
I think she understood my glance, for she arose at once, and said
with extreme dignity: "I cannot see any necessity for prolonging
this interview, Mr. Burroughs. It is of course your work to
discover the truth or falsity of Louis's story, but I cannot see
that it in any way implicates or even interests me."
The girl was superb. Her beauty was enhanced by the sudden
spirit she showed, and her flashing dark eyes suggested a baited
animal at bay. Apparently she had reached the limit of her
endurance, and was unwilling to be questioned further or drawn
into further admissions. And yet, some inexplicable idea came to
me that she was angry, not with me, but with the tangle in which
I had remorselessly enmeshed her. Of a high order of
intelligence, she knew perfectly well that I was conscious of the
fact that there was a secret of some sort between her and the
valet. Her haughty disdain, I felt sure, was to convey the
impression that though there might be a secret between them, it
was no collusion or working together, and that though her
understanding with the man was mysterious, it was in no way
beneath her dignity. Her imperious air as she quietly left the
room thrilled me anew, and I began to think that a woman who
could assume the haughty demeanor of an empress might have
chosen, as empresses had done before her, to commit crime.
However, she went away, and the dark and stately library seemed
to have lost its only spot of light and charm. I sat for a few
minutes pondering over it all, when I saw passing through the
hall, the maid, Elsa. It suddenly occurred to me, that having
failed with the mistress of the house, I might succeed better
with her maid, so I called the girl in.
She came willingly enough, and though she seemed timid, she was
not embarrassed or afraid.
"I'm in authority here," I said, "and I'm going to ask you some
questions, which you must answer truthfully."
"Yes, sir," she said, without any show of interest.
"Have you been with Miss Lloyd long?"
"Yes, sir; about four years, sir."
"Is she a kind mistress?"
"Indeed she is, sir. She is the loveliest lady I ever worked
for. I'd do anything for Miss Lloyd, that I would."
"Well, perhaps you can best serve her by telling all you know
about the events of Tuesday night."
"But I don't know anything, sir," and Elsa's eyes opened wide in
absolutely unfeigned wonderment.
"Nothing about the actual murder; no, of course not. But I just
want you to tell me a few things about some minor matters. Did
you take the yellow flowers from the box that was sent to Miss
"Yes, sir; I always untie her parcels. And as she was at dinner,
I arranged the flowers in a vase of water."
"How many flowers were there?"
For some reason this simple query disturbed the girl greatly.
She flushed scarlet, and then she turned pale. She twisted the
corner of her apron in her nervous fingers, and then said, only
half audibly, "I don't know, sir."
"Oh, yes, you do, Elsa," I said in kindly tones, being anxious
not to frighten her; "tell me how many there were. Were there
not a dozen?"
"I don't know, sir; truly I don't. I didn't count them at all."
It was impossible to disbelieve her; she was plainly telling the
truth. And, too, why should she count the roses? The natural
thing would be not to count them, but merely to put them in the
vase as she had said. And yet, there was something about those
flowers that Elsa knew and wouldn't tell. Could it be that I was
on the track of that missing twelfth rose? I knew,, though
perhaps Elsa did not, how many roses the florist had sent in that
box. And unless Gregory Hall had abstracted one at the time of
his purchase, the twelfth rose had been taken by some one else
after the flowers reached the Crawford House. Could it have been
Elsa, and was her perturbation only because of a guilty
conscience over a petty theft of a flower? But I realized I must
question her adroitly if I would find out these things.
"Is Miss Lloyd fond of flowers?" I asked, casually.
"Oh, yes, sir, she always has some by her."
"And do you love flowers too, Elsa?"
"Yes, sir." But the quietly spoken answer, accompanied by a
natural and straightforward look promised little for my new
"Does Miss Lloyd sometimes give you some of her flowers?"
"Oh, yes, sir, quite often."
"That is, if she's there when they arrive. But if she isn't
there, and you open the box yourself, she wouldn't mind if you
took one or two blossoms, would she?"
"Oh, no, sir, she wouldn't mind. Miss Lloyd's awful kind about
such things. But I wouldn't often do it, sir."
"No; of course not. But you did happen to take one of those
yellow roses, didn't you, though?"
I breathlessly awaited the answer, but to my surprise, instead of
embarrassment the girl's eyes flashed with anger, though she
answered quietly enough, "Well, yes, I did, sir."
Ah, at last I was on the trail of that twelfth rose! But from
the frank way in which the girl admitted having taken the flower,
I greatly feared that the trail would lead to a commonplace
"What did you do with it?" I said quietly, endeavoring to make
the question sound of little importance.
"I don't want to tell you;" and the pout on her scarlet lips
seemed more like that of a wilful child than of one guarding a
"Oh, yes, tell me, Elsa;" and I even descended to a coaxing tone,
to win the girl's confidence.
"Well, I gave it to that Louis."
"To Louis? and why do you call him that Louis?"
"Oh, because. I gave him the flower to wear because I thought he
was going to take me out that evening. He had promised he would,
at least he had sort of promised, and then, - and then - "
"And then he took another young lady," I finished for her in
tones of such sympathy and indignation that she seemed to think
she had found a friend.
"Yes," she said, "he went and took another girl riding on the
trolley, after he had said he would take me."
"Elsa," I said suddenly, and I fear she thought I had lost
interest in her broken heart, "did Louis wear that rose you gave
him that night?"
"Yes, the horrid man! I saw it in his coat when he went away."
"And did he wear it home again?"
"How should I know?" Elsa tossed her head with what was meant to
be a haughty air, but which was belied by the blush that mantled
her cheek at her own prevarication.
"But you do know," I insisted, gently; "did he wear it when he
"Yes, he did."
"How do you know?"
"Because I looked in his room the next day, and I saw it there
all withered. He had thrown it on the floor!"
The tragedy in Elsa's eyes at this awful relation of the cruelty
of the sterner sex called for a spoken sympathy, and I said at
once, and heartily: "That was horrid of him! If I were you I'd
never give him another flower."
In accordance with the natural impulses of her sex, Elsa seemed
pleased at my disapproval of Louis's behavior, but she by no
means looked as if she would never again bestow her favor upon
him. She smiled and tossed her head, and seemed willing enough
for further conversation, but for the moment I felt that I had
enough food for thought. So I dismissed Elsa, having first
admonished her not to repeat our conversation to any one. In
order to make sure that I should be obeyed in this matter, I
threatened her with some unknown terrors which the law would
bring upon her if she disobeyed me. When I felt sure she was
thoroughly frightened into secrecy concerning our interview, I
sent her away and began to cogitate on what she had told me.
If Louis came to the house late that night, as by his own
admission he did; if he went around the house on the side of the
office, as the straying transfer seemed to me to prove; and if,
at the time, he was wearing in his coat a yellow rose with petals
similar to those found on the office floor the next morning, was
not one justified in looking more deeply into the record of Louis
Elsa had been gone but a few moments when Florence Lloyd returned
to the library. I arose to greet her and marvelled at the change
which had come over her. Surely here was a girl of a thousand
moods. She had left me with an effect of hauteur and disdain;
she returned, gentle and charming, almost humble. I could not
understand it, and remained standing after she had seated
herself, awaiting developments.
"Sit down, Mr. Burroughs," she said, and her low, sweet voice
seemed full of cordial invitation. "I'm, afraid I was rude to
you, when I went away just now; and I want to say that if I can
tell you anything you wish to know, I should be glad to do so."
I drew up a chair and seated myself near her. My heart was
pounding with excitement at this new phase of the girl's nature.
For an instant it seemed as if she must have a personal kindly
feeling toward me, and then my reason returned, and with a
suddenly falling heart and slowing pulses, I realized that I was
a fool, and that after thinking over the disclosures Louis had
made, Miss Lloyd had shrewdly concluded it was to her best
advantage to curry favor with the detective. This knowledge came
to me instinctively, and so I distrusted her gentle voice and
winning smile, and hardening my heart against her, I resolved to
turn this new mood of hers to my own advantage, and learn what I
could while she was willing to converse:
"I'm glad of this opportunity, Miss Lloyd," I said, "for there
are some phases of this affair that I want to discuss with you
alone. Let us talk the matter over quietly. It is as well that
you should know that there are some doubts felt as to the entire
truth of the story you told at the inquest. I do not say this to
frighten you," I added, as the poor girl clasped her hands and
gave me a look of dumb alarm; "but, since it is so, I want to do
all I can to set the matter right. Do you remember exactly all
that took place, to your knowledge, on the night of your uncle's
"Yes," she replied, looking more frightened still. It was
evident that she knew more than she had yet revealed, but I
almost forgot my inquiry, so absorbed was I in watching her
lovely face. It was even more exquisite in its terrified pallor
than when the fleeting pink showed in her cheeks.
"Then," I said, "let us go over it. You heard your uncle go out
at about eight o'clock and return about nine?"
"Yes, I heard the front door open and close both times."
"You and Mrs. Pierce being in the music-room, of course. Then,
later, you heard a visitor enter, and again you heard him leave?"
"Yes - Mr. Porter."
"Did you know it was Mr. Porter, at the time he was here?"
"No; I think not. I didn't think at all who it might be. Uncle
Joseph often had men to call in the evening."
"About what time did Mr. Porter leave?"
"A few minutes before ten. I heard Lambert say, `Good-night,
sir,' as he closed the door after him."
"And soon after, you and Mrs. Pierce went upstairs?"
"Yes; only a few minutes after."
"And, later, Mrs. Pierce came to your room?"
"Yes; about half-past ten, I should say; she came to get a book.
She didn't stay two minutes."
"And after that, you went down-stairs again to speak to your
uncle?" For the merest instant Miss Lloyd's eyes closed and she
swayed as if about to faint, but she regained her composure at
once, and answered with some asperity
"I did not. I have told you that I did not leave my room again
Her dark eyes blazed, her cheeks flushed, and though her full
lower lip quivered it was with anger now, not fear.
As I watched her, I wondered how I could have thought her more
beautiful when pale. Surely with this glowing color she was at
her glorious best.
"Then when did you drop the two rose petals there?" I went on,
calmly enough, though my own heart was beating fast.
"I did not drop them. They were left there by some intruder."
"But, Miss Lloyd," and I observed her closely, "the petals were
from a rose such as those Mr. Hall sent you that evening. The
florist assures me there were no more such blossoms in West
Sedgwick at that time. The fallen petals, then, were from one of
your own roses, or - "
"Or?" asked Miss Lloyd, her hands pressed against the laces at
her throbbing bosom. "Or?"
"Or," I went on, "from a rose worn by some one who had come out
from New York on a late train."
For the moment I chose to ignore Louis's rose for I wanted to
learn anything Miss Lloyd could tell me. And, too, the yellow
petals might have fallen from a flower in Hall's coat after all.
I thought it possible by suggesting this idea, to surprise from
her some hint as to whether she had any suspicion of him.
She gave a gasp, and, leaning back in her chair, she closed her
eyes, as if spent with a useless struggle.
"Wait a moment," she said, putting out her hand with an imploring
gesture. "Wait a moment. Let me think. I will tell you all,
but - wait - "
With her eyes still closed, she lay back against the satin chair
cushion, and I gazed at her, fascinated.
I knew it! Then and there the knowledge came to me! Not her
guilt, not her innocence. The crime seemed far away then, but I
knew like a flash not only that I loved this girl, this Florence
Lloyd, but that I should never love any one else. It mattered
not that she was betrothed to another man; the love that had
suddenly sprung to life in my heart was such pure devotion that
it asked no return. Guilty or innocent, I loved her. Guilty or
innocent, I would clear her; and if the desire of her heart were
toward another, she should ever know or suspect my adoration for
I gazed at her lovely face, knowing that when her eyes opened I
must discreetly turn my glance aside, but blessing every instant
of opportunity thus given me.
Her countenance, though troubled and drawn with anxiety, was so
pure and sweet that I felt sure of her innocence. But it should
be my work to prove that to the world.
Suddenly her eyes flashed open; again her mood had changed.
"Mr. Burroughs," she said, and there was almost a challenge in
her tone, "why do you ask me these things? You are a detective,
you are here to find out for yourself, not to ask others to find
out. I am innocent of my uncle's death, of course, but when you
cast suspicion on the man to whom I am betrothed, you cannot
expect me to help you confirm that suspicion. You have made me
think by your remark about a man on a late train that you refer
to Mr. Hall. Do you?"
This was a change of base, indeed. I was being questioned
instead of doing the catechising myself. Very well; if it were
my lady's will to challenge me, I would meet her on her own
"You took the hint very quickly," I said. "Had you thought of
such a possibility before?"
"No, nor do I now. I will not." Again she was the offended
queen. "But since you have breathed the suggestion, you may not
count on any help from me."
"Could you have helped me otherwise?" I said, detaining her as
she swept by.
To this she made no answer, but again her face wore a troubled
expression, and as she went slowly from the room, she left me
with a strong conviction that she knew far more about Gregory
Hall's connection with the matter than she had told me.
I sat alone for a few moments wondering what I had better do
I had about decided to go in search of Parmalee, and talk things
over with him, but I thought it would be better to see Louis
first, and settle up the matter of his rose more definitely.
Accordingly I rang the bell, and when the parlor maid answered
it, I asked her to send both Louis and Elsa to me in the library.
I could see at once that these two were not friendly toward each
other, and I hoped this fact would aid me in learning the truth
"Now, Louis," I began, "you may as well tell me the truth about
your home coming last Tuesday night. In the first place, you
must admit that you were wearing in your coat one of the yellow
roses which had been sent to Miss Lloyd."
"No, no, indeed!" declared Louis, giving Elsa a threatening
glance, as if forbidding her to contradict him.
"Nonsense, man," I said; "don't stand there and tell useless
lies. It will not help you. The best thing you can do for
yourself and for all concerned is to tell the truth. And,
moreover, if you don't tell it to me now, you will have to tell
it to Mr. Goodrich, later. Elsa gave you a yellow rose and you
wore it away that evening when you went to see your young lady.
Now what became of that rose?"
"I - I lost it, sir."
"No, you didn't lose it. You wore it home again, and when you
retired, you threw it on the floor, in your own room."
"No, sir. You make mistake. I look for him next day in my room,
but cannot find him."
I almost laughed at the man's ingenuousness. He contradicted his
own story so unconsciously, that I began to think he was more of
a simpleton than a villain.
"Of course you couldn't find it," I informed him, "for it was
taken from your room next day; and of course you didn't look for
it until after you had heard yellow roses discussed at the
Louis's easily read face proved my statement correct, but he
glowered at Elsa, as he said: "Who take him away? who take my
rose from my room."
"But you denied having a rose, Louis. Now you're asking who took
it away. Once again, let me advise you to tell the truth.
You're not at all successful in telling falsehoods. Now answer
me this: When you came home Tuesday night, did you or did you not
walk around the house past the office window?"
"No, sir. I walked around the other side. I - "
"Stop, Louis! You're not telling the truth. You did walk around
by the office, and you dropped your transfer there. It never
blew all around the house, as you have said it did."
A look of dogged obstinacy came into the man's eyes, but he did
not look at me. He shifted his gaze uneasily, as he repeated
almost in a singsong way, " go round the other side of the
It was a sort of deadlock. Without a witness to the fact, I
could not prove that he had gone by the office windows, though I
was sure he had.
But help came from an unexpected quarter.
Elsa had been very quiet during the foregoing conversation, but
now she spoke up suddenly, and said: "He did go round by the
office, Mr. Burroughs, and I saw him."
I half expected to see Louis turn on the girl in a rage, but the
effect of her speech on him was quite the reverse. He almost
collapsed; he trembled and turned white, and though he tried to
speak, he made no sound. Surely this man was too cowardly for a
criminal; but I must learn the secret of his knowledge.
"Tell me about it, Elsa," I said, quietly.
"I was looking out at my window, sir, at the back of the house;
and I saw Louis come around the house, and he came around by the
"You're positive of this, Elsa? you would swear to it?
Remember, you are making an important assertion."
"I am telling the truth, sir. I saw him plainly as he came
around and entered at the back door."
"You hear, Louis?" I said sternly. "I believe Elsa's statement
rather than yours, for she tells a straight story, while you are
rattled and agitated, and have all the appearance of concealing
Louis looked helpless. He didn't dare deny Elsa's story, but he
would not confirm it. At last he said, with a glance of hatred
at the girl, "Elsa, she tell that story to make the trouble for
There was something in this. Elsa, I knew, was jealous, and her
pride had been hurt because Louis had taken the rose she gave
him, and then had gone to call on another girl. But I had no
reason to doubt Elsa's statement, and I had every reason to doubt
Louis's. I tried to imagine what Louis's experience had really
been, and it suddenly occurred to me, that though innocent
himself of real wrong, he had seen something in the office, or
through the office windows that he wished to keep secret. I did
not for a moment believe that the man had killed his master, so I
concluded he was endeavoring to shield someone else.
"Louis," I said, suddenly, "I'll tell you what you did. You went
around by the office, you saw a light there late at night, and
you naturally looked in. You saw Mr. Crawford there, and he was
perhaps already killed. You stepped inside and discovered this,
and then you came away, and said nothing about it, lest you
yourself be suspected of the crime. Incidentally you dropped two
petals from the rose Elsa had given you."
Louis's answer to this accusation was a perfect storm of denials,
expressed in voluble French and broken English, but all to the
effect that it was not true, and that if he had seen his master
dead, he would have raised an alarm.
I saw that I had not yet struck the right idea, so I tried again.
"Then, Louis, you must have passed the office before Mr. Crawford
was killed, which is really more probable. Then as you passed
the window, you saw something or someone in the office, and
you're not willing to tell about it. Is this it?"
This again brought forth only incoherent denial, and I could see
that the man was becoming so rattled, it was difficult for him to
speak clearly, had he desired to do so.
"Elsa," I said, suddenly, "you took that rose from Louis's room.
What did you do with it?"
"I kept, - I mean, I don't know what I did with it," stammered
the girl, blushing rosy red, and looking shyly at Louis.
I felt sorry to disclose the poor girl's little romance, for it
was easy enough to see that she was in love with the fickle
Frenchman, who evidently did not reciprocate her interest. He
looked at her disdainfully, and she presented a pathetic picture
But the situation was too serious for me to consider Elsa's
sentiments, and I said, rather sternly: "You do know where it is.
You preserved that rose as a souvenir. Go at once and fetch it."
It was a chance shot, for I was not at all certain that she had
kept the withered flower, but dominated by my superior will she
went away at once. She returned in a moment with the flower.
Although withered, it was still in fairly good condition; quite
enough so for me to see at a glance that no petals had been
detached from it. The green calyx leaves clung around the bud in
such a manner as to prove positively that the unfolding flower
had lost no petal. This settled the twelfth ruse. Wherever
those tell-tale petals had come from, they were not from Louis's
rose. I gave the flower back to Elsa, and I said, "take your
flower, my girl, and go away now. I don't want to question you
any more for the present."
A little bewildered at her sudden dismissal, Elsa went away, and
I turned my attention to the Frenchman.
"Louis," I began, "this must be settled here and now between us.
Either you must tell me what I want to know, or you must be take
before the district attorney, and be made to tell him. I have
proved to my own satisfaction that the rose petals in the office
were not from the flower you wore. Therefore I conclude that you
did not go into the office that night, but as you passed the
window you did see someone in there with Mr. Crawford. The hour
was later than Mr. Porter's visit, for he had already gone home,
and Lambert had locked the front door and gone to bed. You came
in later, and what you saw, or whom you saw through the office
window so surprised you, or interested you, that you paused to
look in, and there you dropped your transfer."
Though Louis didn't speak, I could see at once that I was on the
right track at last. The man was shielding somebody. He was
unwilling to tell what he had seen, lest it inculpate someone.
Could it be Gregory Hall? If Hall had come out on a late train,
and Louis had seen him there, he might, perhaps under Hall's
coercion, be keeping the fact secret. Again, if a strange woman
with the gold bag had been in the office, that also would have
attracted Louis's attention. Again, and here my heart almost
stopped beating, could he have seen Florence Lloyd in there? But
a second thought put me at ease again. Surely to have seen
Florence in there, would have been so usual and natural a sight
that it could not have caused him anxiety. And yet, again, for
him to have seen Florence in her uncle's office, would have
proved to him that the story she told at the inquest was false.
I must get out of him the knowledge he possessed, if I had to
resort to a sort of third degree. But I might manage it by
"I quite understand, Louis, that you are shielding some person.
But let me tell you that it is useless. It is much wiser for you
to tell me all you know, and then I can go to work intelligently
to find the man who murdered Mr. Crawford. You want me to find
him, do you not?"
Louis seemed to have found his voice again. "Yes, sir, of course
he must be found. Of course I want him found, - the miscreant,
the villain! but, Mr. Burroughs, sir, what I have see in the
office makes nothing to your search. I simply see Mr. Crawford
alive and well. And I pass by. That fool girl Elsa, she tell
you that I pass by, so I may say so. But I see nothing in the
office to alarm me, and if I drop my transfer there, it is but
because I think of him as no consequence, and I let him go."
"Louis," and I looked him straight in the eye, "all that sounds
straightforward and true. But, if you saw nothing in the office
to surprise or alarm you, why did you at first deny having passed
by the office at all?"
The man had no answer for this. He was not ingenious in
inventing falsehood, and he stood looking helpless and
despairing. I perceived I should have to go on with my
"Was it a man or a woman you saw in there with Mr. Crawford?"
"I see nobody, sir, nobody but my master."
That wouldn't do, then. As long as I asked him direct questions
he could answer falsely. I must trip him up in some roundabout
"Yes," I said pleasantly, "I understand that. And what was Mr.
"He sat at his desk;" and Louis spoke slowly, and picked his
words with care.
"Was he writing?"
"No; that is, yes, sir, he was writing."
I now knew he was not writing, for the truth had slipped out
before the man could frame up his lie. I believed I was going to
learn something at last, if I could make the man tell. Surely
the testimony of one who saw Joseph Crawford late that night was
of value, and though that testimony was difficult to obtain, it
was well worth the effort.
"And was Mr. Hall at his desk also?"
Louis stared at me. "Mr. Hall, he was in New York that night."
This was said so simply and unpremeditatedly, that I was
absolutely certain it was not Hall whom Louis had seen there.
"Oh, yes, of course, so he was," I said lightly; "and Mr.
Crawford was writing, was he?"
"Yes, sir," spoken with the dogged scowl which I was beginning to
learn always accompanied Louis's untruthful statements.
And now I decided to put my worst fear to the test and have it
over with. It must be done, and I felt sure I could do it, but
oh, how I dreaded it!
"Did Mr. Crawford look up or see you?"
"And didn't Miss Florence see you, either?"
It was out. The mere fact that Louis answered that question so
calmly and unconsciously proved he was telling the truth. But
what a truth! for it told me at the same time that Florence Lloyd
was in the office with her uncle, that Louis had seen her, but
that she had not seen him. I had learned the truth from my
reading of the man's expression and demeanor, and though it made
my heart sink, I didn't for a moment doubt that it was the truth
Of course Louis realized the next instant what he had done, and
again he began his stammering denials. "Of course, Miss Lloyd do
not see me for she is not there. How can she see me, then? I
tell you my master was alone!"
Had I been the least uncertain, this would have convinced me that
I was right. For Louis's voice rose almost to a shriek, so angry
was he with himself for having made the slip.
"Give it up, Louis," I said; "you have let out the truth, now be
quiet. You couldn't help it, man, you were bound to trip
yourself up sooner or later. You put up a good fight for Miss
Florence, and now that I understand why you told your falsehoods,
I can't help admiring your chivalry. You saw Miss Lloyd there
that evening, you heard her next day at the inquest deny having
been in the office in the evening. So, in a way, it was very
commendable on your part to avoid contradicting her testimonies,
with your own. But you are not clever enough, Louis, to carry
out that deceit to the end. And now that you have admitted that
you saw Miss Lloyd there, you can best help her cause, and best
help me to help her cause, by telling me all about it. For rest
assured, Louis, that I am quite as anxious to prove Miss Lloyd's
innocence as you can possibly be, and the only way to accomplish
that end, is to learn as much of the truth as I possibly can.
Now, tell me what she was doing."
"Only talking to her uncle, sir." Louis had the air of a
defeated man. He had tried to shield Miss Lloyd's name and had
failed. Now he spoke sullenly, and as if his whole cause were
"And Mr. Crawford was talking to her?"
"He was not writing, then?"
"Did they seem to be having an amicable conversation?"
Louis hesitated, and his hesitation was sufficient answer.
"Never mind," I said, "you need not tell me more. In fact, I
would prefer to get the rest of the story from Miss Lloyd,
Louis looked startled. "Don't tell Miss Lloyd I told you this,"
he begged; "I have try very hard not to tell you."
"I know you tried hard, Louis, not to tell me, and it was not
your fault that I wrung the truth from you. I will not tell Miss
Lloyd that you told me, unless it should become necessary, and I
do not think it will. Go away now, Louis, and do not discuss
this matter with anybody at all. And, also, do not think for a
moment that you have been disloyal in telling me that you saw
Miss Lloyd. As I say, you couldn't help it. I should simply
have kept at you until I made you tell, so you need not blame
yourself in the matter at all."
Louis went away, and though I could see that he believed what I
said, he had a dejected air, and I couldn't help feeling sorry
for the man who had so inadvertently given me the knowledge that
must be used against the beautiful girl who had herself given
MISS LLOYD'S CONFIDENCE
After Louis left me, I felt as if a dead weight had fallen on my
heart. Florence Lloyd had gone down to her uncle's office late
that night, and yet at the inquest she had testified that she had
not done so. And even to me, when talking quietly and alone, she
had repeated her false assertion. This much I knew, but why she
had done if, I did not know. Not until I was forced to do so,
would I believe that even her falsehood in the matter meant that
she herself was guilty. There must be some other reason for her
Well, I would find out this reason, and if it were not a
creditable one to her, I would still endeavor to do all I could
for her. I longed to see her, and try if perhaps kind and gentle
urging might not elicit the truth. But she had left me with such
an air of haughty disdain, I hesitated to send for her again just
now. And as it was nearly dinner time, I resolved to go back to
On the way, I came to the conclusion that it would do no harm to
have a talk with Parmalee.
I had not much confidence in his detective ability, but he knew
the people better than I did, and might be able to give me
information of some sort.
After I reached the Sedgwick Arms I telephoned Parmalee to come
over and dine with me, and he readily consented.
During dinner I told him all that I had learned from Elsa and
Louis. Of course I had no right to keep this knowledge to
myself, and, too, I wanted Parmalee's opinion on the situation as
it stood at present.
"It doesn't really surprise me," he said, "for I thought all
along, Miss Lloyd was not telling the truth. I'm not yet ready
to say that I think she killed her uncle, although I must say it
seems extremely probable. But if she didn't commit the deed, she
knows perfectly well who did."
"No, I don't mean Hall. In fact I don't mean any one in
particular. I think Miss Lloyd was the instigator of the crime,
and practically carried out its commission, but she may have had
an assisting agent for the actual deed."
"Oh, how you talk! It quite gives me the shivers even to think
of a beautiful young woman being capable of such thoughts or
"But, you see, Burroughs, that's because you are prejudiced in
favor of Miss Lloyd. Women are capable of crime as well as men,
and sometimes they're even more clever in the perpetration of it.
And you must admit if ever a woman were capable of crime, Miss
Lloyd is of that type."
"I have to agree to that, Parmalee," I admitted; "she certainly
shows great strength of character."
"She shows more than that; she has indomitable will, unflinching
courage, and lots of pluck. If, for any reason, she made up her
mind to kill a man, she'd find a way to do it."
This talk made me cringe all over, but I couldn't deny it, for so
far as I knew Florence Lloyd, Parmalee's words were quite true.
"All right," I said, "I'll grant her capability, but that doesn't
prove a thing. I don't believe that girl is guilty, and I hope
to prove her innocence."
"But look at the evidence, man! She denied her presence in the
room, yet we now know she was there. She denied the ownership of
the gold bag, yet probably she was also untruthful in that
matter. She is a woman of a complex nature, and though I admire
her in many ways, I shouldn't care to have much to do with her."
"Let us leave out the personal note, Parmalee," I said, for I was
angry at his attitude toward Florence.
"All right. Don't you think for a moment that I don't see where
you stand with regard to the haughty beauty, but that's neither
here nor there."
"Indeed it isn't," I returned; "and whatever may be my personal
feeling toward Miss Lloyd, I can assure you it in no way
influences my work on this case."
"I believe you, old man; and so I'm sure you will agree with me
that we must follow up the inquiry as to Miss Lloyd's presence in
the office that night. She must be made to talk, and perhaps it
would be best to tell Goodrich all about it, and let him push the
"Oh, no," I cried involuntarily. "Don't set him on the track of
the poor girl. That is, Parmalee, let me talk to her again,
first. Now that I know she was down there that night, I think I
can question her in a little different manner, and persuade her
to own the truth. And, Parmalee, perhaps she was down there
because Hall was there."
"Hall! He was in New York."
"So he says, but why should he speak the truth any more than Miss
"You, mean they may both be implicated?"
"Yes; or he may have used her as a tool."
"Not Florence Lloyd. She's nobody's tool."
"Any woman might be a tool at the command of the man she loves.
But," I went on, with an air of conviction which was not entirely
genuine, "Miss Lloyd doesn't love Mr. Hall."
"I don't know about that," returned Parmalee; "you can't tell
about a woman like Florence Lloyd. If she doesn't love him,
she's at least putting up a bluff of doing so."
"I believe it is a bluff, though I'm sure I don't know why she
should do that."
"On the other hand, why shouldn't she? For some reason she's
dead set on marrying him, ready to give up her fortune to do so,
if necessary. He must have some sort of a pretty strong hold on
"I admit all that, and yet I can't believe she loves him. He's
such a commonplace man."
"Commonplace doesn't quite describe him. And yet Gregory Hall,
with all the money in the world, could never make himself
distinguished or worth while in any way."
"No; and what would Miss Florence Lloyd see in a man like that,
to make her so determined to marry him?"
"I don't think she is determined, except that Hall has some sort
of hold over her, - a promise or something, - that she can't
My heart rejoiced at the idea that Florence was not in love with
Hall, but I did not allow myself to dwell on that point, for I
was determined to go on with the work, irrespective of my
feelings toward her.
"You see," Parmalee went on, "you suspect Hall, only because
you're prejudiced against him."
"Good gracious!" I exclaimed; "that's an awful thing to say,
Parmalee. The idea of a detective suspecting a man, merely
because he doesn't admire his personality! And besides, it isn't
true. If I suspect Hall, it's because I think he had a strong
motive, a possible opportunity, and more than all, because he
refuses to tell where he was Tuesday night."
"But that's just the point, Burroughs. A man who'll commit
murder would fix up his alibi first of all. He would know that
his refusal to tell his whereabouts would be extremely
suspicious. No, to my mind it's Hall's refusal to tell that
stamps him as innocent."
"Then, in that case, it's the cleverest kind of an alibi he could
invent, for it stamps him innocent at once."
"Oh, come, now, that's going pretty far; but I will say,
Burroughs, that you haven't the least shred of proof against
Hall, and you know it. Prejudice and unfounded suspicion and
even a strong desire that he should be the villain, are all very
well. But they won't go far as evidence in a court of law."
I was forced to admit that Parmalee was right, and that so far I
had no proof whatever that Gregory Hall was at all implicated in
Mr. Crawford's death. To be sure he might have worn a yellow
rose, and he might have brought the late newspaper, but there was
no evidence to connect him with those clues, and too, there was
the gold bag. It was highly improbable that that should have
been brought to the office and left there by a man.
However, I persuaded Parmalee to agree not to carry the matter to
Mr. Goodrich until I had had one more interview with Miss Lloyd,
and I promised to undertake that the next morning.
After Parmalee had gone, I indulged in some very gloomy
reflections. Everything seemed to point one way. Every proof,
every suspicion and every hint more or less implicated Miss
But the more I realized this, the more I determined to do all I
could for her, and as to do this, I must gain her confidence, and
even liking, I resolved to approach the subject the next day with
the utmost tactfulness and kindliness, hoping by this means to
induce the truth from her.
The next morning I started on my mission with renewed
hopefulness. Reaching the Crawford house, I asked for Miss
Lloyd, and I was shown into a small parlor to wait for her. It
was a sort of morning room, a pretty little apartment that I had
not been in before; and it was so much more cheerful and pleasant
than the stately library, I couldn't help hoping that Miss Lloyd,
too, would prove more amenable than she had yet been.
She soon came in, and though I was beginning to get accustomed to
the fact that she was a creature of variable moods, I was
unprepared for this one. Her hauteur had disappeared; she was
apparently in a sweet and gentle frame of mind. Her large dark
eyes were soft and gentle, and though her red lips quivered, it
was not with anger or disdain as they had done the day before.
She wore a plain white morning gown, and a long black necklace of
small beads. The simplicity of this costume suited her well, and
threw into relief her own rich coloring and striking beauty.
She greeted me more pleasantly than she had ever done before, and
I couldn't help feeling that the cheerful sunny little room had a
better effect on her moods than the darker furnishings of the
"I wish," I began, "that we had not to talk of anything
unpleasant this morning. I wish there were no such thing as
untruth or crime in the world, and that I were calling on you, as
an acquaintance, as a friend might call."
"I wish so, too," she responded, and as she flashed a glance at
me, I had a glimpse of what it might mean to be friends with
Florence Lloyd without the ugly shadow between us that now was
spoiling our tete-a-tete.
Just that fleeting glance held in it the promise of all that was
attractive, charming and delightful in femininity. It was as if
the veil of the great, gloomy sorrow had been lifted for a
moment, and she was again an untroubled, merry girl. It seemed
too, as if she wished that we could be together under pleasanter
circumstances and could converse on subjects of less dreadful
import. However, all these thoughts that tumultuously raced
through my mind, must be thrust aside in favor of the business in
So though I hated to, I began at once.
"I am sorry, Miss Lloyd, to doubt your word, but I want to tell
you myself rather than to have you learn it from others that I
have a witness who has testified to your presence in your uncle's
office that fateful Tuesday night, although you have said you
didn't go down there."
As I had feared, the girl turned white and shivered as if with a
"Who is the witness?" she said.
I seemed to read her mind, and I felt at once that to her, the
importance of what I had said depended largely on my answer to
this question, and I paused a moment to think what this could
mean. And then it flashed across me that she was afraid I would
say the witness was Gregory Hall. I became more and more
convinced that she was shielding Hall, and I felt sure that when
she learned it was not he, she would feel relieved. However, I
had promised Louis not to let her know that he had told me of
seeing her, unless it should be necessary.
"I think I won't tell you that; but since you were seen in the
office at about eleven o'clock, will you not tell me, - I assure
you it is for your own best interests, - what you were doing
there, and why you denied being there?"
"First tell me the name of your informer;" and so great was her
agitation that she scarcely breathed the words.
"I prefer not to do so, but I may say it is a reliable witness
and one who gave his evidence most unwillingly."
"Well, if you will not tell me who he was, will you answer just
one question about him? Was it Mr. Hall?"
"No; it was not Mr. Hall."
As I had anticipated, she showed distinctly her relief at my
answer. Evidently she dreaded to hear Hall's name brought into
"And now, Miss Lloyd, I ask you earnestly and with the best
intent, please to tell me the details of your visit to Mr.
Crawford that night in his office."
She sat silent for a moment, her eyes cast down, the long dark
lashes lying on her pale cheeks. I waited patiently, for I knew
she was struggling with a strong emotion of some sort, and I
feared if I hurried her, her gentle mood would disappear, and she
might again become angry or haughty of demeanor.
At last she spoke. The dark lashes slowly raised, and she seemed
even more gentle than at first.
"I must tell you," she said. "I see I must. But don't repeat
it, unless it is necessary. Detectives have to know things, but
they don't have to tell them, do they?"
"We never repeat confidences, Miss Lloyd," I replied, "except
when necessary to further the cause of right and justice."
"Truly? Is that so?"
She brightened up so much that I began to hope she had only some
trifling matter to tell of.
"Well, then," she went on, "I will tell you, for I know it need
not be repeated in the furtherance of justice. I did go down to
my uncle's office that night, after Mrs. Pierce had been to my
room; and it was I - it must have been I - who dropped those rose
"And left the bag," I suggested.
"No," she said, and her face looked perplexed, but not confused.
"No, the bag is not mine, and I did not leave it there. I know
nothing of it, absolutely nothing. But I did go to the office at
about eleven o'clock. I had a talk with my uncle, and I left him
there a half-hour later - alive and well as when I went in."
"Was your conversation about your engagement?"
"Was it amicable?"
"No, it was not! Uncle Joseph was more angry than I had ever
before seen him. He declared he intended to make a new will the
next morning, which would provide only a small income for me. He
said this was not revenge or punishment for my loyalty to Mr.
Hall, but - but - "
"But what?" I urged gently.
"It scarcely seems loyal to Mr. Hall for me to say it," she
returned, and the tears were in her eyes. "But this is all
confidential. Well, Uncle Joseph said that Gregory only wanted
to marry me for my fortune, and that the new will would prove
this. Of course I denied that Mr. Hall was so mercenary, and
then we had a good deal of an altercation. But it was not very
different from many discussions we had had on the same subject,
only Uncle was more decided, and said he had asked Mr. Randolph
to come the next morning and draw up the new will. I left him
still angry - he wouldn't even say good-night to me - and now I
blame myself for not being more gentle, and trying harder to make
peace. But it annoyed me to have him call Gregory mercenary - "
"Because you knew it was true," I said quietly.
She turned white to the very lips. "You are unnecessarily
impertinent," she said.
"I am," I agreed. "I beg your pardon." But I had discovered
that she did realize her lover's true nature.
"And then you went to your room, and stayed there?" I went on,
with a meaning emphasis on the last clause.
"Yes," she said; "and so, you see, what I have told you casts no
light on the mystery. I only told you so as to explain the bits
of the yellow rose. I feared, from what you said, that Mr.
Hall's name might possibly be brought into discussion."
"Why, he was not in West Sedgwick that night," I said.
"Where was he?" she countered quickly.
"I don't know. He refuses to tell. Of course you must see that
his absolute refusal to tell where he was that night is, to say
the least, an unwise proceeding."
"He won't even tell me where he was," she said, sighing. "But it
doesn't matter. He wasn't here."
"That's just it," I rejoined. "If he was not here, it would be
far better for him to tell where he really was. For the refusal
to tell raises a question that will not be downed, except by an
alibi. I don't want to be cruel, Miss Lloyd, but I must make you
see that as the inquiry proceeds, the actions of both Mr. Hall
and yourself will be subjected to very close scrutiny, and though
perhaps undue attention will be paid to trifles, yet the trifles
must be explained."
I was so sorry for the girl, that, in my effort not to divulge my
too great sympathy, I probably used a sterner tone than I
At any rate, I had wakened her at last to a sense of the danger
that threatened her and her lover, and now, if she would let me,
I would do all in my power to save them both. But I must know
all she could tell me.
"When did Mr. Hall leave you?" I asked.
"You mean the day - last Tuesday?"
"He left here about half-past five. He had been in the office
with Uncle Joseph all the afternoon, and at five o'clock he came
in here for a cup of tea with me. He almost always comes in at
tea-time. Then he left about half-past five, saying he was going
to New York on the six o'clock train."
"For what purpose?"
"I never ask him questions like that. I knew he was to attend to
some business for Uncle the next day, but I never ask him what he
does evenings when he is in the city, or at any time when he is
not with me."
"But surely one might ask such questions of the man to whom she
Miss Lloyd again put on that little air of hauteur which always
effectually stopped my "impertinence."
"It is not my habit," she said. "What Gregory wishes me to know
he tells me of his own accord."
MR. PORTER'S VIEWS
I began on a new tack.
"Miss Lloyd, why did you tell an untruth, and say you did not
come down-stairs again, after going up at ten o'clock?"
Her hauteur disappeared. A frightened, appealing look came into
her eyes, and she looked to me like a lovely child afraid of
"I was afraid," she confessed. "Yes, truly, I was afraid that
they would think I had something to do with the - with Uncle
Joseph's death. And as I didn't think it could do any good to
tell of my little visit to him, I just said I didn't come down.
Oh, I know it was a lie - I know it was wicked - but I was so
frightened, and it was such an easy way out of it, just to deny
"And why have you confessed it to me now?"
Her eyes opened wide in astonishment.
"I told you why," she said: "so you would know where the rose
leaves came from, and not suspect Gregory."
"Do you suspect him?"
"N-no, of course not. But others might."
It is impossible to describe the dismay that smote my heart at
the hesitation of this answer. It was more than hesitation. It
was a conflict of unspoken impulses, and the words, when they
were uttered, seemed to carry hidden meanings, and to my mind
they carried the worst and most sinister meaning conceivable.
To me, it seemed to point unmistakably to collusion between
Florence Lloyd, whom I already loved, and Gregory Hall, whom I
already distrusted and disliked. Guilty collusion between these
two would explain everything. Theirs the motive, theirs the
opportunity, theirs the denials and false witnessing. The gold
bag, as yet, remained unexplained, but the yellow rose petals and
the late newspaper could be accounted for if Hall had come out on
the midnight train, and Florence had helped him to enter and
leave the house unseen.
Bah! it was impossible. And, any way, the gold bag remained as
proof against this horrid theory. I would pin my faith 1o the
gold bag, and through its presence in the room, I would defy
suspicions of the two people I had resolved to protect.
"What do you think about the gold bag?" I asked.
"I don't know what to think. I hate to accuse Uncle Joseph of
such a thing, but it seems as if some woman friend of his must
have come to the office after I left. The long French windows
were open - it was a warm night, you know - and any one could
have come and gone unseen."
"The bag wasn't there when you were there?"
"I'm sure it was not! That is, not in sight, and Uncle Joseph
was not the sort of man to have such a thing put away in his desk
as a souvenir, or for any other reason."
"Forgive the insinuation, but of course you could not know
positively that Mr. Crawford would not have a feminine souvenir
in his desk."
She looked up surprised. "Of course I could not be positive,"
she said, "but it is difficult to imagine anything sentimental
connected with Uncle Joseph."
She almost smiled as she said this, for apparently the mere idea
was amusing, and I had a flashing glimpse of what it must be to
see Florence Lloyd smile! Well it should not be my fault, or due
to my lack of exertion, if the day did not come when she should
smile again, and I promised myself I should be there to see it.
But stifling these thoughts, I brought my mind back to duty.
Drawing from my pocket the photograph I had found in Mr.
Crawford's desk, I showed it to her.
"In Uncle's desk!" she exclaimed. "This does surprise me. I had
no idea Uncle Joseph had received a photograph from a lady with
an affectionate message, too. Are you quite sure it belonged to
"I only know that we found it in his desk, hidden beneath some
old letters and papers."
"Were the letters from this lady?"
"No; in no case could we find a signature that agreed with these
"Here's your chance, Mr. Burroughs," and again Florence Lloyd's
dimples nearly escaped the bondage which held them during these
sad days. "If you're a detective, you ought to gather at once
from this photograph and signature all the details about this
lady; who she is, and what she had to do with Uncle Joseph."
"I wish I could do so," I replied, "but you see, I'm not that
kind of detective. I have a friend, Mr. Stone, who could do it,
and would tell you, as you say, everything about that lady,
merely by looking at her picture."
As a case in point, I told her then and there the story of
Fleming Stone's wonderful deductions from the pair of muddy shoes
we had seen in a hotel one morning.
"But you never proved that it was true?" she asked, her dark eyes
sparkling with interest, and her face alight with animation.
"No, but it wasn't necessary. Stone's deductions are always
right, and if not, you know it is the exception that proves the
"Well, let us try to deduce a little from this picture. I don't
believe for a moment, that Uncle Joseph had a romantic attachment
for any lady, though these words on the back of the picture do
seem to indicate it."
"Well, go on," said I, so carried away by the fascination of the
girl, when she had for a moment seemed to forget her troubles,
that I wanted to prolong the moment. "Go ahead, and see what
inferences you can draw from the photograph."
"I think she is about fifty years old," Florence began, "or
perhaps fifty-five. What do you think?"
"I wouldn't presume to guess a lady's age," I returned, "and
beside, I want you to try your powers on this. You may be better
at deductions than I am. I have already confessed to you my
inability in that direction."
"Well," she went on, "I think this lady is rather good-looking,
and I think she appreciates the fact."
"The first is evident on the face of it, and the second is a
universal truth, so you haven't really deduced much as yet."
"No, that's so," and she pouted a little. "But at any rate, I
can deduce more about her dress than you can. The picture was
taken, or at least that costume was made, about a year ago, for
that is the style that was worn then."
"Marvellous, Holmes, marvellous!"
She flashed me a glance of understanding and appreciation, but
undaunted, went on: "The gown also was not made by a competent
modiste, but was made by a dressmaker in the house, who came in
by the day. The lady is of an economical turn of mind, because
the lace yoke of the gown is an old one, and has even been darned
to make it presentable to use in the new gown."
"Now that is deduction," I said admiringly; "the only trouble is,
that it doesn't do us much good. Somehow I can't seem to fancy
this good-looking, economical, middle-aged lady, who has her
dressmaking done at home, coming here in the middle of the night
and killing Mr. Crawford."
"No, I can't, either," said Florence gravely; "but then, I can't
imagine any one else doing that, either. It seems like a
horrible dream, and I can't realize that it really happened to
"But it did happen, and we must find the guilty person. I think
with you, that this photograph is of little value as a clue, and
yet it may turn out to be. And yet I do think the gold bag is a
clue. You are quite sure it isn't yours?"
Perhaps it was a mean way to put the question, but the look of
indignation she gave me helped to convince me that the bag was
"I told you it was not," she said, "but," and her eyes fell,
"since I have confessed to one falsehood, of course you cannot
believe my statement."
"But I do believe it," I said, and I did, thoroughly.
"At any rate, it is a sort of proof," she said, smiling sadly,
"that any one who knows anything about women's fashions can tell
you that it is not customary to carry a bag of that sort when one
is in the house and in evening dress. Or rather, in a negligee
costume, for I had taken off my evening gown and wore a tea-gown.
I should not think of going anywhere in a tea-gown, and carrying
a gold bag."
The girl had seemingly grown almost lighthearted. Her speech was
punctuated by little smiles, and her half sad, half gay demeanor
bewitched me. I felt sure that what little suggestion of
lightheartedness had come into her mood had come because she had
at last confessed the falsehood she had told, and her freed
conscience gave her a little buoyancy of heart.
But there were still important questions to be asked, so, though
unwillingly, I returned to the old subject.
"Did you see your uncle's will while you were there?"
"No; he talked about it, but did not show it to me."
"Did he talk about it as if it were still in his possession?"
"Why, yes; I think so. That is, he said he would make a new one
unless I gave up Gregory. That implied that the old one was
still in existence, though he didn't exactly say so."
"Miss Lloyd, this is important evidence. I must tell you that I
shall be obliged to repeat much of it to the district attorney.
It seems to me to prove that your uncle did not himself destroy
"He might have done so after I left him."
"I can't think it, for it is not in scraps in the waste-basket,
nor are there any paper-ashes in the grate."
"Well, then," she rejoined, "if he didn't destroy it, it may yet
"You wish that very much?" I said, almost involuntarily.
"Oh, I do!" she exclaimed, clasping her hands. "Not so much for
myself as - "
She paused, and I finished the sentence for her "For Mr. Hall."
She looked angry again, but said nothing.
"Well, Miss Lloyd," I said, as I rose to go, "I am going to do
everything in my power in your behalf and in behalf of Mr. Hall.
But I tell you frankly, unless you will both tell me the truth,
and the whole truth, you will only defeat my efforts, and work
your own undoing."
I had to look away from her as I said this, for I could not look
on that sweet face and say anything even seemingly harsh or
Her lip quivered. "I will do my best," she said tremblingly. "I
will try to make Mr. Hall tell where he was that night. I will
see you again after I have talked with him."
More collusion! I said good-by rather curtly, I fear, and went
quickly away from that perilous presence.
Truly, a nice detective, I! Bowled over by a fair face, I was
unable to think clearly, to judge logically, or to work honestly!
Well, I would go home and think it out by myself. Away from her
influence I surely would regain my cool-headed methods of
When I reached the inn, I found Mr. Lemuel Porter there waiting
"How do you do, Mr. Burroughs?" he said pleasantly. "Have you
time for a half-hour's chat?"
It was just what I wanted. A talk with this clear-thinking man
would help me, indeed, and I determined to get his opinions, even
as I was ready to give him mine.
"Well, what do you think about it all?" I inquired, after we were
comfortably settled at a small table on the shaded veranda, which
was a popular gathering-place at this hour. But in our corner we
were in no danger from listening ears, and I awaited his reply
His eyes smiled a little, as he said
"You know the old story of the man who said he wouldn't hire a
dog and then do his own barking. Well, though I haven't 'hired'
you, I would be quite ready to pay your honorarium if you can
ferret out our West Sedgwick mystery. And so, as you are the
detective in charge of the case, I ask you, what do you think
about it all?"
But I was pretty thoroughly on my guard now.
"I think," I began, "that much hinges on the ownership of that
"And you do not think it is Miss Lloyd's?"
"I do not."
"It need not incriminate her, if it were hers," said Mr. Porter,
meditatively knocking the ash from said his cigar. "She might
have left it in the office at any time previous to the day of the
crime. Women are always leaving such things about. I confess it
does not seem to me important."
"Was it on Mr. Crawford's desk when you were there?" I asked
He looked up at me quickly, and again that half-smile came into
"Am I to be questioned?" he said. "Well, I've no objections, I'm
sure. No, I do not think it was there when I called on Mr.
Crawford that evening. But I couldn't swear to this, for I am
not an observant man, and the thing might have lain there in
front of me and never caught my eye. If I had noticed it, of
course I should have thought it was Florence's."
"But you don't think so now, do you?"
"No; I can't say I think so. And yet I can imagine a girl
untruthfully denying ownership under such circumstances."
I started at this. For hadn't Miss Lloyd untruthfully denied
coming down-stairs to talk to her uncle?
"But," went on Mr. Porter, "if the bag is not Florence's, then I
can think of but one explanation for its presence there."
"A lady visitor, late at night," I said slowly.
"Yes," was the grave reply; "and though such an occurrence might
have been an innocent one, yet, taken in connection with the
crime, there is a dreadful possibility."
"Granting this," I suggested, "we ought to be able to trace the
owner of the bag."