Part 4 out of 6
Postlethwaite's child by his first wife is coming to live with
us. I have expressed my wishes in this regard to my lawyer, and
there is nothing left to be said. You, with your close mouth and
dependable nature, are to remain here as before, and occupy the
same position towards my boy that you did towards his father. We
shall move soon into a larger house, and the nature of our duties
will be changed and their scope greatly increased; but I know
that you can be trusted to enlarge with them and meet every
requirement I shall see fit to make. Do not try to express your
thanks. I see them in your face.'
"Did she, or just the last feeble struggle my conscience was
making to break the bonds in which she held me, and win back my
own respect? I shall never know, for she left me on completion of
this speech, not to resume the subject, then or ever.
"But though I succumbed outwardly to her demands, I had not
passed the point where inner conflict ends and peace begins. Her
recognition of Helena and her reception into the family calmed me
for a while, and gave me hope that all would yet be well. But I
had never sounded the full bitter-ness of madam's morbid heart,
well as I thought I knew it. The hatred she had felt from the
first for her husband's child ripened into frenzied dislike when
she found her a living image of the mother whose picture she had
come across among Frank's personal effects. To win a tear from
those meek eyes instead of a smile to the sensitive lips was her
daily play. She seemed to exult in the joy of impressing upon the
girl by how little she had missed a great fortune, and I have
often thought, much as I tried to keep my mind free from all
extravagant and unnecessary fancies, that half of the money she
spent in beautifying this house and maintaining art industries
and even great charitable institutions was spent with the base
purpose of demonstrating to this child the power of immense
wealth, and in what ways she might expect to see her little
brother expend the millions in which she had been denied all
"I was so sure of this that one night while I was winding up the
clocks with which Mrs. Postlethwaite in her fondness for old
timepieces has filled the house, I stopped to look at the little
figure toiling so wearily upstairs, to bed, without a mother's
kiss. There was an appeal in the small wistful face which smote
my hard old heart, and possibly a tear welled up in my own eye
when I turned back to my duty."
"Was that why I felt the hand of Providence upon me, when in my
halt before the one clock to which any superstitious interest was
attached--the great one at the foot of the stairs--I saw that it
had stopped and at the one minute of all minutes in our wretched
lives: Four minutes past two? The hour, the minute in which Frank
Postlethwaite had gasped his last under the pressure of his
wife's hand! I knew it--the exact minute I mean--because
Providence meant that I should know it. There had been a clock on
the mantelpiece of the hotel room where he and his brother had
died and I had seen her glance steal towards it at the instant
she withdrew her palm from her husband's lips. The stare of that
dial and the position of its hands had lived still in my mind as
I believed it did in hers.
"Four minutes past two! How came our old timepiece here to stop
at that exact moment on a day when Duty was making its last
demand upon me to remember Frank's unhappy child? There was no
one to answer; but as I looked and looked, I felt the impulse of
the moment strengthen into purpose to leave those hands
undisturbed in their silent accusation. She might see, and, moved
by the coincidence, tremble at her treatment of Helena.
"But if this happened--if she saw and trembled--she gave no sign.
The works were started up by some other hand, and the incident
passed. But it left me with an idea. That clock soon had a way of
stopping and always at that one instant of time. She was forced
at length to notice it, and I remember, an occasion when she
stood stock-still with her eyes on those hands, and failed to
find the banister with her hand, though she groped for it in her
frantic need for support.
"But no command came from her to remove the worn-out piece, and
soon its tricks, and every lesser thing, were forgotten in the
crushing calamity which befell us in the sickness and death of
"Oh, those days and nights! And oh, the face of the mother when
the doctors told her that the case was hopeless! I asked myself
then, and I have asked myself a hundred times since, which of all
the emotions I saw pictured there bit the deepest, and made the
most lasting impression on her guilty heart? Was it remorse? If
so, she showed no change in her attitude towards Helena, unless
it was by an added bitterness. The sweet looks and gentle ways of
Frank's young daughter could not win against a hate sharpened by
disappointment. Useless for me to hope for it. Release from the
remorse of years was not to come in that way. As I realized this,
I grew desperate and resorted again to the old trick of stopping
the clock at the fatal hour. This time her guilty heart
responded. She acknowledged the stab and let all her miseries
appear. But how? In a way to wring my heart almost to madness,
and not benefit the child at all. She had her first stroke that
night. I had made her a helpless invalid."
"That was eight years ago, and since then what? Stagnation. She
lived with her memories, and I with mine. Helena only had a right
to hope, and hope perhaps she did, till--Is that the great clock
talking? Listen! They all talk, but I heed only the one. What
does it say? Tell! tell! tell! Does it think I will be silent now
when I come to my own guilt? That I will seek to hide my weakness
when I could not hide her sin?"
"Explain!" It was Violet speaking, and her tone was stern in its
command. "Of what guilt do you speak? Not of guilt towards
Helena; you pitied her too much--"
"But I pitied my dear madam more. It was that which affected me
and drew me into crime against my will. Besides, I did not know--
not at first--what was in the little bowl of curds and cream I
carried to the girl each day. She had eaten them in her step-
mother's room, and under her step-mother's eye as long as she had
strength to pass from room to room, and how was I to guess that
it was not wholesome? Because she failed in health from day to
day? Was not my dear madam failing in health also; and was there
poison in her cup? Innocent at that time, why am I not innocent
now? Because--Oh, I will tell it all; as though at the bar of
God. I will tell all the secrets of that day."
"She was sitting with her hand trembling on the tray from which I
had just lifted the bowl she had bid me carry to Helena. I had
seen her so a hundred times before, but not with just that look
in her eyes, or just that air of desolation in her stony figure.
Something made me speak; something made me ask if she were not
quite so well as usual, and something made her reply with the
dreadful truth that the doctor had given her just two months more
to live. My fright and mad anguish stupefied me; for I was not
prepared for this, no, not at all;--and unconsciously I stared
down at the bowl I held, unable to breathe or move or even to
meet her look."
As usual she misinterpreted my emotion.
"'Why do you stand like that?' I heard her say in a tone of great
irritation. 'And why do you stare into that bowl? Do you think I
mean to leave that child to walk these halls after I am carried
out of them forever? Do you measure my hate by such a petty yard-
stick as that? I tell you that I would rot above ground rather
than enter it before she did?'
"I had believed I knew this woman; but what soul ever knows
another's? What soul ever knows itself?
"'Bella!' I cried; the first time I had ever presumed to address
her so intimately. 'Would you poison the girl?' And from sheer
weakness my fingers lost their clutch, and the bowl fell to the
floor, breaking into a dozen pieces.
For a minute she stared down at these from over her tray, and
then she remarked very low and very quietly:
"'Another bowl, Humphrey, and fresh curds from the kitchen. I
will do the seasoning. The doses are too small to be skipped. You
won't?'--I had shaken my head--'But you will! It will not be the
first time you have gone down the hall with this mixture.'
"'But that was before I knew--' I began.
"'And now that you do, you will go just the same.' Then as I
stood hesitating, a thousand memories overwhelming me in an
instant, she added in a voice to tear the heart, 'Do not make me
hate the only being left in this world who understands and loves
She was a helpless invalid, and I a broken man, but when that
word 'love' fell from her lips, I felt the blood start burning in
my veins, and all the crust of habit and years of self-control
loosen about my heart, and make me young again. What if her
thoughts were dark and her wishes murderous! She was born to rule
and sway men to her will even to their own undoing."
'I wish I might kiss your hand,' was what I murmured, gazing at
her white fingers groping over her tray.
"'You may,' she answered, and hell became heaven to me for a
brief instant. Then I lifted myself and went obediently about my
"But puppet though I was, I was not utterly without sympathy.
When I entered Helena's room and saw how her startled eyes fell
shrinkingly on the bowl I set down before her, my conscience
leaped to life and I could not help saying:
"Don't you like the curds, Helena? Your brother used to love them
"'What these are not,' she murmured.
"I stared at her, terror-stricken. So she knew, and yet did not
seize the bowl and empty it out of the window! Instead, her hand
moved slowly towards it and drew it into place before her.
"'Yet I must eat,' she said, lifting her eyes to mine in a sort
of patient despair, which yet was without accusation.
"But my hand had instinctively gone to hers and grasped it.
"'Why must you eat it?' I asked. 'If--if you do not find it
wholesome, why do you touch it?'
"'Because my step-mother expects me to,' she cried, 'and I have
no other will than hers. When I was a little, little child, my
father made me promise that if I ever came to live with her I
would obey her simplest wish. And I always have. I will not
disappoint the trust he put in me.'
"'Even if you die of it?'
"I do not know whether I whispered these words or only thought
them. She answered as though I had spoken.
"'I am not afraid to die. I am more afraid to live. She may ask
me some day to do something I feel to be wrong.'
"When I fled down the hall that night, I heard one of the small
clocks speak to me. Tell! it cried, tell! tell! tell! tell! I
rushed away from it with beaded forehead and rising hair.
"Then another's note piped up. No it droned. No! no! no! no! I
stopped and took heart. Disgrace the woman I loved, on the brink
of the grave? I--, who asked no other boon from heaven than to
see her happy, gracious, and good? Impossible. I would obey the
great clock's voice; the others were mere chatterboxes."
But it has at last changed its tune, for some reason, quite
changed its tune. Now, it is Yes! Yes! instead of No! and in
obeying it I save Helena. But what of Bella? and 0 God, what of
A sigh, a groan, then a long and heavy silence, into which there
finally broke the pealing of the various clocks striking the
hour. When all were still again and Violet had drawn aside the
portiere, it was to see the old man on his knees, and between her
and the thin streak of light entering from the hall, the figure
of the doctor hastening to Helena's bedside.
When with inducements needless to name, they finally persuaded
the young girl to leave her unholy habitation, it was in the arms
which had upheld her once before, and to a life which promised to
compensate her for her twenty years of loneliness and unsatisfied
But a black shadow yet remained which she must cross before
reaching the sunshine!
It lay at her step-mother's door.
In the plans made for Helena's release, Mrs. Postlethwaite's
consent had not been obtained nor was she supposed to be
acquainted with the doctor's intentions towards the child whose
death she was hourly awaiting.
It was therefore with an astonishment, bordering on awe, that on
their way downstairs, they saw the door of her room open and
herself standing alone and upright on the threshold--she who had
not been seen to take a step in years. In the wonder of this
miracle of suddenly restored power, the little procession
stopped,--the doctor with his hand upon the rail, the lover with
his burden clasped yet more protectingly to his breast. That a
little speech awaited them could be seen from the force and fury
of the gaze which the indomitable woman bent upon the lax and
half-unconscious figure she beheld thus sheltered and conveyed.
Having but one arrow left in her exhausted quiver, she launched
it straight at the innocent breast which had never harboured
against her a defiant thought.
"Ingrate!" was the word she hurled in a voice from which all its
seductive music had gone forever. "Where are you going? Are they
carrying you alive to your grave?"
A moan from Helena's pale lips, then silence. She had fainted at
that barbed attack. But there was one there who dared to answer
for her and he spoke relentlessly. It was the man who loved her.
"No, madam. We are carrying her to safety. You must know what I
mean by that. Let her go quietly and you may die in peace.
She interrupted him with a loud call, startling into life the
echoes of that haunted hall:
"Humphrey! Come to me, Humphrey!"
But no Humphrey appeared.
Another call, louder and more peremptory than before:
"Humphrey! I say, Humphrey!"
But the answer was the same--silence, and only silence. As the
horror of this grew, the doctor spoke:
"Mr. Humphrey Dunbar's ears are closed to all earthly summons. He
died last night at the very hour he said he would--four minutes
"Four minutes after two!" It came from her lips in a whisper, but
with a revelation of her broken heart and life. "Four minutes
after two!" And defiant to the last, her head rose, and for an
instant, for a mere breath of time, they saw her as she had
looked in her prime, regal in form, attitude, and expression;
then the will which had sustained her through so much, faltered
and succumbed, and with a final reiteration of the words "Four
minutes after two!" she broke into a rattling laugh, and fell
back into the arms of her old nurse.
And below, one clock struck the hour and then another. But not
the big one at the foot of the stairs. That still stood silent,
with its hands pointing to the hour and minute of Frank
Postlethwaite's hastened death.
END OF PROBLEM VI
THE DOCTOR, HIS WIFE, AND THE CLOCK
Violet had gone to her room. She had a task before her. That
afternoon, a packet had been left at the door, which, from a
certain letter scribbled in one corner, she knew to be from her
employer. The contents of that packet must be read, and she had
made herself comfortable with the intention of setting to work at
once. But ten o'clock struck and then eleven before she could
bring herself to give any attention to the manuscript awaiting
her perusal. In her present mood, a quiet sitting by the fire,
with her eyes upon the changeful flame, was preferable to the
study of any affair her employer might send her. Yet, because she
was conscious of the duty she thus openly neglected, she sat
crouched over her desk with her hand on the mysterious packet,
the string of which, however, she made no effort to loosen.
What was she thinking of?
We are not alone in our curiosity on this subject. Her brother
Arthur, coming unperceived into the room, gives tokens of a
similar interest. Never before had he seen her oblivious to an
approaching step; and after a momentary contemplation of her
absorbed figure, so girlishly sweet and yet so deeply intent, he
advances to her side, and peering earnestly into her face,
observes with a seriousness quite unusual to him:
"Puss, you are looking worried,--not like yourself at all. I've
noticed it for some time. What's up. Getting tired of the
"No--not altogether--that is, it's not that, if it's anything.
I'm not sure that it's anything. I--"
She had turned back to her desk and was pushing about the various
articles with which it was plentifully bespread; but this did not
hide the flush which had crept into her cheeks and even dyed the
snowy whiteness of her neck. Arthur's astonishment at this
evidence of emotion was very great; but he said nothing, only
watched her still more closely, as with a light laugh she
regained her self-possession, and with the practical air of a
philosopher uttered this trite remark:
"Everyone has his sober moments. I was only thinking--"
"Of some new case?
"Not exactly." The words came softly but with a touch of mingled
humour and gravity which made Arthur stare again.
"See here, Puss!" he cried. His tone had changed. "I've just come
up from the den. Father and I have had a row--a beastly row."
"A row? You and father? Oh, Arthur, I don't like that. Don't
quarrel with father. Don't, don't. Some day he and I may have a
serious difference about what I am doing. Don't let him feel that
he has lost us all."
"That's all right, Puss; but I've got to think of you a bit. I
can't see you spoil all your good times with these police horrors
and not do something to help. To-morrow I begin life as a
salesman in Clarke & Stebbin's. The salary is not great, but
every little helps and I don't dislike the business. But father
does. He had rather see me loafing about town setting the
fashions for fellows as idle as myself than soil my hands with
handling merchandise. That's why we quarreled. But don't worry.
Your name didn't come up, or--or--you know whose. He hasn't an
idea of why I want to work--There, Violet there!"
Two soft arms were around his neck and Violet was letting her
heart out in a succession of sisterly kisses.
"0, Arthur, you good, good boy! Together we'll soon make up the
amount, and then--"
A sweet soft look robbed her face of its piquancy, but gave it an
aspect of indescribable beauty quite new to Arthur's eyes.
Tapping his lips with a thoughtful forefinger, he asked:
"Who was that sombre-looking chap I saw bowing to you as we came
out of church last Sunday?"
She awoke from her dreamy state with an astonishing quickness.
"He? Surely you remember him. Have you forgotten that evening in
"Oh, it's Upjohn, is it? Yes, I remember him. He's fond of
church, isn't he? That is, when he's in New York."
Her lips took a roguish curve then a very serious one; but she
made no answer.
"I have noticed that he's always in his seat and always looking
"That's very odd of him," she declared, her dimples coming and
going in a most bewildering fashion. "I can't imagine why he
should do that."
"Nor I,--" retorted Arthur with a smile. "But he's human, I
suppose. Only do be careful, Violet. A man so melancholy will
need a deal of cheering."
He was gone before he had fully finished this daring remark, and
Violet, left again with her thoughts, lost her glowing colour but
not her preoccupation. The hand which lay upon the packet already
alluded to did not move for many minutes, and when she roused at
last to the demands of her employer, it was with a start and a
guilty look at the small gold clock ticking out its inexorable
"He will want an answer the first thing in the morning," she
complained to herself. And opening the packet, she took out first
a letter, and then a mass of typewritten manuscript.
She began with the letter which was as characteristic of the
writer as all the others she had had from his hand; as witness:
You probably remember the Hasbrouck murder,--or, perhaps, you
don't; it being one of a time previous to your interest in such
matters. But whether you remember it or not, I beg you to read
the accompanying summary with due care and attention to business.
When you have well mastered it with all its details, please
communicate with me in any manner most convenient to yourself,
for I shall have a word to say to you then, which you may be glad
to hear, if as you have lately intimated you need to earn but one
or two more substantial rewards in order to cry halt to the
pursuit for which you have proved yourself so well qualified.
The story, in deference to yourself as a young and much
preoccupied woman, has been written in a way to interest. Though
the work of an everyday police detective, you will find in it no
lack of mystery or romance; and if at the end you perceive that
it runs, as such cases frequently do, up against a perfectly
blank wall, you must remember that openings can be made in walls,
and that the loosening of one weak stone from its appointed
place, sometimes leads to the downfall of all.
So much for the letter.
Laying it aside, with a shrug of her expressive shoulders,
Violet took up the manuscript.
Let us take it up too. It runs thus:
On the 17th of July, 19--, a tragedy of no little interest
occurred in one of the residences of the Colonnade in Lafayette
Mr. Hasbrouck, a well known and highly respected citizen, was
attacked in his room by an unknown assailant, and shot dead
before assistance could reach him. His murderer escaped, and the
problem offered to the police was how to identify this person
who, by some happy chance or by the exercise of the most
remarkable forethought, had left no traces behind him, or any
clue by which he could be followed.
The details of the investigation which ended so unsatisfactorily
are here given by the man sent from headquarters at the first
When, some time after midnight on the date above mentioned, I
reached Lafayette Place, I found the block lighted from end to
end. Groups of excited men and women peered from the open
doorways, and mingled their shadows with those of the huge
pillars which adorn the front of this picturesque block of
The house in which the crime had been committed was near the
centre of the row, and, long before I reached it, I had learned
from more than one source that the alarm was first given to the
street by a woman's shriek, and secondly by the shouts of an old
man-servant who had appeared, in a half-dressed condition, at the
window of Mr. Hasbrouck's room, crying "Murder! murder!"
But when I had crossed the threshold, I was astonished at the
paucity of facts to be gleaned from the inmates themselves. The
old servant, who was the first to talk, had only this account of
the crime to give:
The family, which consisted of Mr. Hasbrouck, his wife, and three
servants, had retired for the night at the usual hour and under
the usual auspices. At eleven o'clock the lights were all
extinguished, and the whole household asleep, with the possible
exception of Mr. Hasbrouck himself, who, being a man of large
business responsibilities, was frequently troubled with insomnia.
Suddenly Mrs. Hasbrouck woke with a start. Had she dreamed the
words that were ringing in her ears, or had they been actually
uttered in her hearing? They were short, sharp words, full of
terror and menace, and she had nearly satisfied herself that she
had imagined them, when there came, from somewhere near the door,
a sound she neither understood nor could interpret, but which
filled her with inexplicable terror, and made her afraid to
breathe, or even to stretch forth her hand towards her husband,
whom she supposed to be sleeping at her side. At length another
strange sound, which she was sure was not due to her imagination,
drove her to make an attempt to rouse him, when she was horrified
to find that she was alone in bed, and her husband nowhere within
Filled now with something more than nervous apprehension, she
flung herself to the floor, and tried to penetrate with frenzied
glances, the surrounding darkness. But the blinds and shutters
both having been carefully closed by Mr. Hasbrouck before
retiring, she found this impossible, and she was about to sink in
terror to the floor, when she heard a low gasp on the other side
of the room followed by a suppressed cry.
"God! what have I done!"
The voice was a strange one, but before the fear aroused by this
fact could culminate in a shriek of dismay, she caught the sound
of retreating footsteps, and, eagerly listening, she heard them
descend the stairs and depart by the front door.
Had she known what had occurred--had there been no doubt in her
mind as to what lay in the darkness on the other side of the room-
-it is likely that, at the noise caused by the closing front
door, she would have made at once for the balcony that opened out
from the window before which she was standing, and taken one look
at the flying figure below. But her uncertainty as to what lay
hidden from her by the darkness chained her feet to the floor,
and there is no knowing when she would have moved, if a carriage
had not at that moment passed down Astor Place, bringing with it
a sense of companionship which broke the spell holding her, and
gave her strength to light the gas which was in ready reach of
As the sudden blaze illuminated the room, revealing in a burst
the old familiar walls and well-known pieces of furniture, she
felt for a moment as if released from some heavy nightmare and
restored to the common experiences of life. But in another
instant her former dread returned, and she found herself quaking
at the prospect of passing around the foot of the bed into that
part of the room which was as yet hidden from her eyes.
But the desperation which comes with great crises finally drove
her from her retreat; and, creeping slowly forward, she cast one
glance at the floor before her, when she found her worst fears
realized by the sight of the dead body of her husband lying prone
before the open doorway, with a bullet-hole in his forehead.
Her first impulse was to shriek, but, by a powerful exercise of
will, she checked herself, and ringing frantically for the
servants who slept on the top floor of the house, flew to the
nearest window and endeavoured to open it. But the shutters had
been bolted so securely by Mr. Hasbrouck, in his endeavour to
shut out all light and sound, that by the time she had succeeded
in unfastening them, all trace of the flying murderer had
vanished from the street.
Sick with grief and terror, she stepped back into the room just
as the three frightened servants descended the stairs. As they
appeared in the open doorway, she pointed at her husband's
inanimate form, and then, as if suddenly realizing in its full
force the calamity which had befallen her, she threw up her arms,
and sank forward to the floor in a dead faint.
The two women rushed to her assistance, but the old butler,
bounding over the bed, sprang to the window, and shrieked his
alarm to the street.
In the interim that followed, Mrs. Hasbrouck was revived, and the
master's body laid decently on the bed; but no pursuit was made,
nor any inquiries started likely to assist me in establishing the
identity of the assailant.
Indeed, everyone both in the house and out, seemed dazed by the
unexpected catastrophe, and as no one had any suspicions to offer
as to the probable murderer, I had a difficult task before me.
I began in the usual way, by inspecting the scene of the murder.
I found nothing in the room, or in the condition of the body
itself, which added an iota to the knowledge already obtained.
That Mr. Hasbrouck had been in bed; that he had risen upon
hearing a noise; and that he had been shot before reaching the
door, were self-evident facts. But there was nothing to guide me
further. The very simplicity of the circumstances caused a dearth
of clues, which made the difficulty of procedure as great as any
I had ever encountered.
My search through the hall and down the stairs elicited nothing;
and an investigation of the bolts and bars by which the house was
secured, assured me that the assassin had either entered by the
front door, or had already been secreted in the house when it was
locked up for the night.
"I shall have to trouble Mrs. Hasbrouck for a short interview," I
hereupon announced to the trembling old servant, who had followed
me like a dog about the house.
He made no demur, and in a few minutes I was ushered into the
presence of the newly made widow, who sat quite alone, in a large
chamber in the rear. As I crossed the threshold she looked up,
and I encountered a good, plain face, without the shadow of guile
"Madam," said I, "I have not come to disturb you. I will ask two
or three questions only, and then leave you to your grief. I am
told that some words came from the assassin before he delivered
his fatal shot. Did you hear these distinctly enough to tell me
what they were?"
"I was sound asleep," said she, "and dreamt, as I thought, that a
fierce, strange voice cried somewhere to some one: 'Ah! you did
not expect me!' But I dare not say that these words were really
uttered to my husband, for he was not the man to call forth hate,
and only a man in the extremity of passion could address such an
exclamation in such a tone as rings in my memory in connection
with the fatal shot which woke me."
"But that shot was not the work of a friend," I argued. "If, as
these words seem to prove, the assassin had some other motive
than plunder in his assault, then your husband had an enemy,
though you never suspected it."
"Impossible!" was her steady reply, uttered in the most
convincing tone. "The man who shot him was a common burglar, and
frightened at having been betrayed into murder, fled without
looking for booty. I am sure I heard him cry out in terror and
remorse: 'God! what have I done!'"
"Was that before you left the side of the bed?"
"Yes; I did not move from my place till I heard the front door
close. I was paralysed by fear and dread."
"Are you in the habit of trusting to the security of a latch-
lock only in the fastening of your front door at night? I am told
that the big key was not in the lock, and that the bolt at the
bottom of the door was not drawn."
"The bolt at the bottom of the door is never drawn. Mr. Hasbrouck
was so good a man that he never mistrusted any one. That is why
the big lock was not fastened. The key, not working well, he took
it some days ago to the locksmith, and when the latter failed to
return it, he laughed, and said he thought no one would ever
think of meddling with his front door."
"Is there more than one night-key to your house?" I now asked.
She shook her head.
"And when did Mr. Hasbrouck last use his?"
"To-night, when he came home from prayer meeting," she answered,
and burst into tears.
Her grief was so real and her loss so recent that I hesitated to
afflict her by further questions. So returning to the scene of
the tragedy, I stepped out upon the balcony which ran in front.
Soft voices instantly struck my ears. The neighbours on either
side were grouped in front of their own windows, and were
exchanging the remarks natural under the circumstances. I paused,
as in duty bound, and listened. But I heard nothing worth
recording, and would have instantly reentered the house, if I had
not been impressed by the appearance of a very graceful woman who
stood at my right. She was clinging to her husband, who was
gazing at one of the pillars before him in a strange fixed way
which astonished me till he attempted to move, and then I saw
that he was blind. I remembered that there lived in this row a
blind doctor, equally celebrated for his skill and for his
uncommon personal attractions, and greatly interested not only by
his affliction, but in the sympathy evinced by his young and
affectionate wife, I stood still, till I heard her say in the
soft and appealing tones of love:
"Come in, Constant; you have heavy duties for to-morrow, and you
should get a few hours' rest if possible."
He came from the shadow of the pillar, and for one minute I saw
his face with the lamplight shining full upon it. It was as
regular of feature as a sculptured Adonis, and it was as white.
"Sleep!" he repeated, in the measured tones of deep but
suppressed feeling. "Sleep! with murder on the other side of the
wall!" And he stretched out his arms in a dazed way that
insensibly accentuated the horror I myself felt of the crime
which had so lately taken place in the room behind me.
She, noting the movement, took one of the groping hands in her
own and drew him gently towards her.
"This way," she urged; and, guiding him into the house, she
closed the window and drew down the shades.
I have no excuse to offer for my curiosity, but the interest
excited in me by this totally irrelevant episode was so great
that I did not leave the neighbourhood till I had learned
something of this remarkable couple.
The story told me was very simple. Dr. Zabriskie had not been
born blind, but had become so after a grievous illness which had
stricken him down soon after he received his diploma. Instead of
succumbing to an affliction which would have daunted most men, he
expressed his intention of practising his profession, and soon
became so successful in it that he found no difficulty in
establishing himself in one of the best paying quarters of the
city. Indeed, his intuition seemed to have developed in a
remarkable degree after the loss of his sight, and he seldom, if
ever, made a mistake in diagnosis. Considering this fact, and the
personal attractions which gave him distinction, it was no wonder
that he soon became a popular physician whose presence was a
benefaction and whose word law.
He had been engaged to be married at the time of his illness, and
when he learned what was likely to be its result, had offered to
release the young lady from all obligation to him. But she would
not be released, and they were married. This had taken place some
five years previous to Mr. Hasbrouck's death, three of which had
been spent by them in Lafayette Place.
So much for the beautiful woman next door.
There being absolutely no clue to the assailant of Mr. Hasbrouck,
I naturally looked forward to the inquest for some evidence upon
which to work. But there seemed to be no underlying facts to this
tragedy. The most careful study into the habits and conduct of
the deceased brought nothing to light save his general
beneficence and rectitude, nor was there in his history or in
that of his wife, any secret or hidden obligation calculated to
provoke any such act of revenge as murder. Mrs. Hasbrouck's
surmise that the intruder was simply a burglar, and that she had
rather imagined than heard the words which pointed to the
shooting as a deed of vengeance, soon gained general credence.
But though the police worked long and arduously in this new
direction their efforts were without fruit and the case bids fair
to remain an unsolvable mystery.
That was all. As Violet dropped the last page from her hand, she
recalled a certain phrase in her employer's letter. "If at the
end you come upon a perfectly blank wall--" Well, she had come
upon this wall. Did he expect her to make an opening in it? Or
had he already done so himself, and was merely testing her much
Piqued by the thought, she carefully reread the manuscript, and
when she had again reached its uncompromising end, she gave
herself up to a few minutes of concentrated thought, then, taking
a sheet of paper from the rack before her, she wrote upon it a
single sentence, and folding the sheet, put it in an envelope
which she left unaddressed. This done, she went to bed and slept
like the child she really was.
At an early hour the next morning she entered her employer's
office. Acknowledging with a nod his somewhat ceremonious bow,
she handed him the envelope in which she had enclosed that one
He took it with a smile, opened it offhand, glanced at what she
had written, and flushed a vivid red.
"You are a--brick," he was going to say, but changed the last
word to one more in keeping with her character and appearance.
"Look here. I expected this from you and so prepared myself."
Taking out a similar piece of paper from his own pocket-book, he
laid it down beside hers on the desk before him. It also held a
single sentence and, barring a slight difference of expression,
the one was the counterpart of the other. "The one loose stone,"
"Seen and noted by both."
"Why not?" he asked. Then as she glanced expectantly his way, he
earnestly added: "Together we may be able to do something. The
reward offered by Mrs. Hasbrouck for the detection of the
murderer was a very large one. She is a woman of means. I have
never heard of its being withdrawn."
"Then it never has been," was Violet's emphatic conclusion, her
dimples enforcing the statement as only such dimples can. "But--
what do you want of me in an affair of this kind? Something more
than to help you locate the one possible clue to further
enlightenment. You would not have mentioned the big reward just
"Perhaps not. There is a sequel to the story I sent you. I have
written it out, with my own hand. Take it home and read it at
your leisure. When you see into what an unhappy maze my own
inquiries have led me, possibly you will be glad to assist me in
clearing up a situation which is inflicting great suffering on
one whom you will be the first to pity. If so, a line mentioning
the fact will be much appreciated by me." And disregarding her
startled look and the impetuous shaking of her head, he bowed her
out with something more than his accustomed suavity but also with
a seriousness which affected her in spite of herself and
effectually held back the protest it was in her heart to make.
She was glad of this when she read his story; but later on--
However, it is not for me to intrude Violet, or Violet's feelings
into an affair which she is so anxious to forget. I shall
therefore from this moment on, leave her as completely out of
this tale of crime and retribution as is possible and keep a full
record of her work. When she is necessary to the story, you will
see her again. Meanwhile, read with her, this relation of her
employer's unhappy attempt to pursue an investigation so openly
dropped by the police. You will perceive, from its general style
and the accentuation put upon the human side of this sombre
story, a likeness to the former manuscript which may prove to
you, as it certainly did to Violet, to whose consideration she
was indebted for the readableness of the policeman's report,
which in all probability had been a simple statement of facts.
But there, I am speaking of Violet again. To prevent a further
mischance of this nature, I will introduce at once the above
No man in all New York was ever more interested than myself in
the Hasbrouck affair, when it was the one and only topic of
interest at a period when news was unusually scarce. But,
together with many such inexplicable mysteries, it had passed
almost completely from my mind, when it was forcibly brought
back, one day, by a walk I took through Lafayette Place.
At sight of the long row of uniform buildings, with their
pillared fronts and connecting balconies every detail of the
crime which had filled the papers at the time with innumerable
conjectures returned to me with extraordinary clearness, and,
before I knew it, I found myself standing stockstill in the
middle of the block with my eye raised to the Hasbrouck house and
my ears--or rather my inner consciousness, for no one spoke I am
sure--ringing with a question which, whether the echo of some old
thought or the expression of a new one, so affected me by the
promise it held of some hitherto unsuspected clue, that I
hesitated whether to push this new inquiry then or there by an
attempted interview with Mrs. Hasbrouck, or to wait till I had
given it the thought which such a stirring of dead bones
You know what that question was. I shall have communicated it to
you, if you have not already guessed it, before perusing these
"Who uttered the scream which gave the first alarm of Mr.
Hasbrouck's violent death?"
I was in a state of such excitement as I walked away--for I
listened to my better judgment as to the inadvisability of my
disturbing Mrs. Hasbrouck with these new inquiries--that the
perspiration stood out on my forehead. The testimony she had
given at the inquest recurred to me, and I remembered as
distinctly as if she were then speaking, that she had expressly
stated that she did not scream when confronted by the sight of
her husband's dead body. But someone had screamed and that very
loudly. Who was it, then? One of the maids, startled by the
sudden summons from below, or someone else--some involuntary
witness of the crime, whose testimony had been suppressed at the
inquest, by fear or influence?
The possibility of having come upon a clue even at this late day
so fired my ambition that I took the first opportunity of
revisiting Lafayette Place. Choosing such persons as I thought
most open to my questions, I learned that there were many who
could testify to having heard a woman's shrill scream on that
memorable night, just prior to the alarm given by old Cyrus, but
no one who could tell from whose lips it had come. One fact,
however, was immediately settled. It had not been the result of
the servant-women's fears. Both of the girls were positive that
they had uttered no sound, nor had they themselves heard any till
Cyrus rushed to the window with his wild cries. As the scream, by
whomever given, was uttered before they descended the stairs, I
was convinced by these assurances that it had issued from one of
the front windows, and not from the rear of the house, where
their own rooms lay. Could it be that it had sprung from the
adjoining dwelling, and that--
I remembered who had lived there and was for ringing the bell at
once. But, missing the doctor's sign, I made inquiries and found
that he had moved from the block. However, a doctor is soon
found, and in less than fifteen, minutes I was at the door of his
new home, where I asked, not for him, but for Mrs. Zabriskie.
It required some courage to do this, for I had taken particular
notice of the doctor's wife at the inquest, and her beauty, at
that time, had worn such an aspect of mingled sweetness and
dignity that I hesitated to encounter it under any circumstances
likely to disturb its pure serenity. But a clue once grasped
cannot be lightly set aside by a true detective, and it would
have taken more than a woman's frowns to stop me at this point.
However, it was not with frowns she received me, but with a
display of emotion for which I was even less prepared. I had sent
up my card and I saw it trembling in her hand as she entered the
room. As she neared me, she glanced at it, and with a show of
gentle indifference which did not in the least disguise her
extreme anxiety, she courteously remarked:
"Your name is an unfamiliar one to me. But you told my maid that
your business was one of extreme importance, and so I have
consented to see you. What can an agent from a private detective
office have to say to me?"
Startled by this evidence of the existence of some hidden
skeleton in her own closet, I made an immediate attempt to
"Nothing which concerns you personally," said I. "I simply wish
to ask you a question in regard to a small matter connected with
Mr. Hasbrouck's violent death in Lafayette Place, a couple of
years ago. You were living in the adjoining house at the time I
believe, and it has occurred to me that you might on that account
be able to settle a point which has never been fully cleared up."
Instead of showing the relief I expected, her pallor increased
and her fine eyes, which had been fixed curiously upon me, sank
in confusion to the floor.
"Great heaven!" thought I. "She looks as if at one more word from
me, she would fall at my feet in a faint. What is this I have
"I do not see how you can have any question to ask me on that
subject," she began with an effort at composure which for some
reason disturbed me more than her previous open display of fear.
"Yet if you have," she continued, with a rapid change of manner
that touched my heart in spite of myself, "I shall, of course, do
my best to answer you."
There are women whose sweetest tones and most charming smiles
only serve to awaken distrust in men of my calling; but Mrs.
Zabriskie was not of this number. Her face was beautiful, but it
was also candid in its expression, and beneath the agitation
which palpably disturbed her, I was sure there lurked nothing
either wicked or false. Yet I held fast by the clue which I had
grasped as it were in the dark, and without knowing whither I was
tending, much less whither I was leading her, I proceeded to say:
"The question which I presume to put to you as the next door
neighbour of Mr. Hasbrouck is this: Who was the woman who on the
night of that gentleman's assassination screamed out so loudly
that the whole neighbourhood heard her?"
The gasp she gave answered my question in a way she little
realized, and struck as I was by the impalpable links that had
led me to the threshold of this hitherto unsolvable mystery, I
was about to press my advantage and ask another question, when
she quickly started forward and laid her hand on my lips.
Astonished, I looked at her inquiringly, but her head was turned
aside, and her eyes, fixed upon the door, showed the greatest
anxiety. Instantly I realized what she feared. Her husband was
entering the house, and she dreaded lest his ears should catch a
word of our conversation.
Not knowing what was in her mind, and unable to realize the
importance of the moment to her, I yet listened to the advance of
her blind husband with an almost painful interest. Would he enter
the room where we were, or would he pass immediately to his
office in the rear? She seemed to wonder too, and almost held her
breath as he neared the door, paused, and stood in the open
doorway, with his ear turned towards us.
As for myself, I remained perfectly still, gazing at his face in
mingled surprise and apprehension. For besides its beauty, which
was of a marked order, as I have already observed, it had a
touching expression which irresistibly aroused both pity and
interest in the spectator. This may have been the result of his
affliction, or it may have sprung from some deeper cause; but,
whatever its source, this look in his face produced a strong
impression upon me and interested me at once in his personality.
Would he enter; or would he pass on? Her look of silent appeal
showed me in which direction her wishes lay, but while I answered
her glance by complete silence, I was conscious in some
indistinct way that the business I had undertaken would be better
furthered by his entrance.
The blind have often been said to possess a sixth sense in place
of the one they have lost. Though I am sure we made no noise, I
soon perceived that he was aware of our presence. Stepping
hastily forward he said, in the high and vibrating tone of
"Zulma, are you there?"
For a moment I thought she did not mean to answer, but knowing
doubtless from experience the impossibility of deceiving him, she
answered with a cheerful assent, dropping her hand as she did so
from before my lips.
He heard the slight rustle which accompanied the movement, and a
look I found it hard to comprehend flashed over his features,
altering his expression so completely that he seemed another man.
"You have someone with you," he declared, advancing another step,
but with none of the uncertainty which usually accompanies the
movements of the blind. "Some dear friend," he went on, with an
almost sarcastic emphasis and a forced smile that had little of
gaiety in it.
The agitated and distressed blush which answered him could have
but one interpretation. He suspected that her hand had been
clasped in mine, and she perceived his thought and knew that I
perceived it also.
Drawing herself up, she moved towards him, saying in a sweet
"It is no friend, Constant, not even an acquaintance. The person
whom I now present to you is a representative from some detective
agency. He is here upon a trivial errand which will soon be
finished, when I will join you in the office."
I knew she was but taking a choice between two evils, that she
would have saved her husband the knowledge of my calling as well
as of my presence in the house, if her self-respect would have
allowed it; but neither she nor I anticipated the effect which
this introduction of myself in my business capacity would produce
"A detective," he repeated, staring with his sightless eyes, as
if, in his eagerness to see, he half hoped his lost sense would
return. "He can have no trivial errand here; he has been sent by
God Himself to--"
"Let me speak for you," hastily interposed his wife, springing to
his side and clasping his arm with a fervour that was equally
expressive of appeal and command. Then turning to me, she
explained: "Since Mr. Hasbrouck's unaccountable death, my husband
has been labouring under an hallucination which I have only to
mention, for you to recognize its perfect absurdity. He thinks--
oh! do not look like that, Constant; you know it is an
hallucination which must vanish the moment we drag it into broad
daylight--that he--he, the best man in all the world, was himself
the assailant of Mr. Hasbrouck."
"I say nothing of the impossibility of this being so," she went
on in a fever of expostulation. "He is blind, and could not have
delivered such a shot even if he had desired to; besides, he had
no weapon. But the inconsistency of the thing speaks for itself,
and should assure him that his mind is unbalanced and that he is
merely suffering from a shock that was greater than we realized.
He is a physician and has had many such instances in his own
practice. Why, he was very much attached to Mr. Hasbrouck! They
were the best of friends, and though he insists that he killed
him, he cannot give any reason for the deed."
At these words the doctor's face grew stern, and he spoke like an
automaton repeating some fearful lesson:
"I killed him. I went to his room and deliberately shot him. I
had nothing against him, and my remorse is extreme. Arrest me and
let me pay the penalty of my crime. It is the only way in which I
can obtain peace."
Shocked beyond all power of self-control by this repetition of
what she evidently considered the unhappy ravings of a madman,
she let go his arm and turned upon me in frenzy.
"Convince him!" she cried. "Convince him by your questions that
he never could have done this fearful thing."
I was labouring under great excitement myself, for as a private
agent with no official authority such as he evidently attributed
to me in the blindness of his passion, I felt the incongruity of
my position in the face of a matter of such tragic consequence.
Besides, I agreed with her that he was in a distempered state of
mind, and I hardly knew how to deal with one so fixed in his
hallucination and with so much intelligence to support it. But
the emergency was great, for he was holding out his wrists in the
evident expectation of my taking him into instant custody; and
the sight was killing his wife, who had sunk on the floor between
us, in terror and anguish.
"You say you killed Mr. Hasbrouck," I began. "Where did you get
your pistol, and what did you do with it after you left his
"My husband had no pistol; never had any pistol," put in Mrs.
Zabriskie, with vehement assertion. "If I had seen him with such
"I threw it away. When I left the house, I cast it as far from me
as possible, for I was frightened at what I had done, horribly
"No pistol was ever found," I answered with a smile, forgetting
for the moment that he could not see. "If such an instrument had
been found in the street after a murder of such consequence, it
certainly would have been brought to the police."
"You forget that a good pistol is valuable property," he went on
stolidly. "Someone came along before the general alarm was given;
and seeing such a treasure lying on the sidewalk, picked it up
and carried it off. Not being an honest man, he preferred to keep
it to drawing the attention of the police upon himself."
"Hum, perhaps," said I; "but where did you get it. Surely you can
tell where you procured such a weapon, if, as your wife
intimates, you did not own one."
"I bought it that selfsame night of a friend; a friend whom I
will not name, since he resides no longer in this country. I--"
He paused; intense passion was in his face; he turned towards his
wife, and a low cry escaped him, which made her look up in fear.
"I do not wish to go into any particulars," said he. "God forsook
me and I committed a horrible crime. When I am punished, perhaps
peace will return to me and happiness to her. I would not wish
her to suffer too long or too bitterly for my sin."
"Constant!" What love was in the cry! It seemed to move him and
turn his thoughts for a moment into a different channel.
"Poor child!" he murmured, stretching out his hands by an
irresistible impulse towards her. But the change was but
momentary, and he was soon again the stem and determined self-
accuser. "Are you going to take me before a magistrate?" he
asked. "If so, I have a few duties to perform which you are
welcome to witness."
This was too much; I felt that the time had come for me to
disabuse his mind of the impression he had unwittingly formed of
me. I therefore said as considerately as I could:
"You mistake my position, Dr. Zabriskie. Though a detective of
some experience, I have no connection with the police and no
right to intrude myself in a matter of such tragic importance.
If, however, you are as anxious as you say to subject yourself to
police examination, I will mention the same to the proper
authorities, and leave them to take such action as they think
"That will be still more satisfactory to me," said he; "for
though I have many times contemplated giving myself up, I have
still much to do before I can leave my home and practice without
injury to others. Good-day; when you want me you will find me
He was gone, and the poor young wife was left crouching on the
floor alone. Pitying her shame and terror, I ventured to remark
that it was not an uncommon thing for a man to confess to a crime
he had never committed, and assured her that the matter would be
inquired into very carefully before any attempt was made upon his
She thanked me, and slowly rising, tried to regain her
equanimity; but the manner as well as the matter of her husband's
self-condemnation was too overwhelming in its nature for her to
recover readily from her emotions.
"I have long dreaded this," she acknowledged. "For months I have
foreseen that he would make some rash communication or insane
avowal. If I had dared, I would have consulted some physician
about this hallucination of his; but he was so sane on other
points that I hesitated to give my dreadful secret to the world.
I kept hoping that time and his daily pursuits would have their
effect and restore him to himself. But his illusion grows, and
now I fear that nothing will ever convince him that he did not
commit the deed of which he accuses himself. If he were not blind
I would have more hope, but the blind have so much time for
"I think he had better be indulged in his fancies for the
present," I ventured. "If he is labouring under an illusion it
might be dangerous to cross him."
"If?" she echoed in an indescribable tone of amazement and dread.
"Can you for a moment harbour the idea that he has spoken the
"Madam," I returned, with something of the cynicism of my
calling, "what caused you to give such an unearthly scream just
before this murder was made known to the neighbourhood?"
She stared, paled, and finally began to tremble, not, as I now
believe, at the insinuation latent in my words, but at the doubts
which my question aroused in her own breast.
"Did I?" she asked; then with a burst of candour which seemed
inseparable from her nature, she continued: "Why do I try to
mislead you or deceive myself? I did give a shriek just before
the alarm was raised next door; but it was not from any knowledge
I had of a crime having been committed, but because I
unexpectedly saw before me my husband whom I supposed to be on
his way to Poughkeepsie. He was looking very pale and strange,
and for a moment I thought I stood face to face with his ghost.
But he soon explained his appearance by saying that he had fallen
from the train and had only been saved by a miracle from being
dismembered; and I was just bemoaning his mishap and trying to
calm him and myself, when that terrible shout was heard next door
of 'Murder! murder!' Coming so soon after the shock he had
himself experienced, it quite unnerved him, and I think we can
date his mental disturbance from that moment. For he began
immediately to take a morbid interest in the affair next door,
though it was weeks, if not months, before he let a word fall of
the nature of those you have just heard. Indeed it was not till I
repeated to him some of the expressions he was continually
letting fall in his sleep, that he commenced to accuse himself of
crime and talk of retribution."
"You say that your husband frightened you on that night by
appearing suddenly at the door when you thought him on his way to
Poughkeepsie. Is Dr. Zabriskie in the habit of thus going and
coming alone at an hour so late as this must have been?"
"You forget that to the blind, night is less full of perils than
the day. Often and often has my husband found his way to his
patients' houses alone after midnight; but on this especial
evening he had Leonard with him. Leonard was his chauffeur, and
always accompanied him when he went any distance."
"Well, then," said I, "all we have to do is to summon Leonard and
hear what he has to say concerning this affair. He will surely
know whether or not his master went into the house next door."
"Leonard has left us," she said. "Dr. Zabriskie has another
chauffeur now. Besides (I have nothing to conceal from you),
Leonard was not with him when he returned to the house that
evening or the doctor would not have been without his portmanteau
till the next day. Something--I have never known what--caused
them to separate, and that is why I have no answer to give the
doctor when he accuses himself of committing a deed that night so
wholly out of keeping with every other act of his life."
"And have you never asked Leonard why they separated and why he
allowed his master to come home alone after the shock he had
received at the station?"
"I did not know there was any reason for my doing so till long
after he had left us."
"And when did he leave?"
"That I do not remember. A few weeks or possibly a few days after
that dreadful night."
"And where is he now?"
"Ah, that I have not the least means of knowing. But," she
objected, in sudden distrust, "what do you want of Leonard? If he
did not follow Dr. Zabriskie to his own door, he could tell us
nothing that would convince my husband that he is labouring under
"But he might tell us something which would convince us that Dr.
Zabriskie was not himself after the accident; that he--"
"Hush!" came from her lips in imperious tones. "I will not
believe that he shot Mr. Hasbrouck even if you prove him to have
been insane at the time. How could he? My husband is blind. It
would take a man of very keen sight to force himself into a house
closed for the night, and kill a man in the dark at one shot."
"On the contrary, it is only a blind man who could do this,"
cried a voice from the doorway. "Those who trust to eyesight must
be able to catch a glimpse of the mark they aim at, and this
room, as I have been told, was without a glimmer of light. But
the blind trust to sound, and as Mr. Hasbrouck spoke--"
"Oh!" burst from the horrified wife, "is there no one to stop him
when he speaks like that?"
As you will see, this matter, so recklessly entered into, had
proved to be of too serious a nature for me to pursue it farther
without the cognizance of the police. Having a friend on the
force in whose discretion I could rely, I took him into my
confidence and asked for his advice. He pooh-poohed the doctor's
statements, but said that he would bring the matter to the
attention of the superintendent and let me know the result. I
agreed to this, and we parted with the mutual understanding that
mum was the word till some official decision had been arrived at.
I had not long to wait. At an early day he came in with the
information that there had been, as might be expected, a division
of opinion among his superiors as to the importance of Dr.
Zabriskie's so-called confession, but in one point they had been
unanimous and that was the desirability of his appearing before
them at Headquarters for a personal examination. As, however, in
the mind of two out of three of them his condition was attributed
entirely to acute mania, it had been thought best to employ as
their emissary one in whom he had already confided and submitted
his case to,--in other words, myself. The time was set for the
next afternoon at the close of his usual office hours.
He went without reluctance, his wife accompanying him. In the
short time which elapsed between their leaving home and entering
Headquarters, I embraced the opportunity of observing them, and I
found the study equally exciting and interesting. His face was
calm but hopeless, and his eye, dark and unfathomable, but
neither frenzied nor uncertain. He spoke but once and listened to
nothing, though now and then his wife moved as if to attract his
attention, and once even stole her hand towards his, in the
tender hope that he would feel its approach and accept her
sympathy. But he was deaf as well as blind; and sat wrapped up in
thoughts which she, I know, would have given worlds to penetrate.
Her countenance was not without its mystery also. She showed in
every lineament passionate concern and misery, and a deep
tenderness from which the element of fear was not absent. But
she, as well as he, betrayed that some misunderstanding deeper
than any I had previously suspected drew its intangible veil
between them and made the near proximity in which they sat at
once a heart-piercing delight and an unspeakable pain. What was
the misunderstanding; and what was the character of the fear that
modified her every look of love in his direction? Her perfect
indifference to my presence proved that it was not connected with
the position in which he had placed himself towards the police by
his voluntary confession of crime, nor could I thus interpret the
expression, of frantic question which now and then contracted her
features, as she raised her eyes towards his sightless orbs, and
strove to read in his firm set lips the meaning of those
assertions she could only ascribe to loss of reason.
The stopping of the carriage seemed to awaken both from thoughts
that separated rather than united them. He turned his face in her
direction, and she stretching forth her hand, prepared to lead
him from the carriage, without any of that display of timidity
which had previously been evident in her manner.
As his guide she seemed to fear nothing; as his lover,
"There is another and a deeper tragedy underlying the outward and
obvious one," was my inward conclusion, as I followed them into
the presence of the gentlemen awaiting them.
Dr. Zabriskie's quiet appearance was in itself a shock to those
who had anticipated the feverish unrest of a madman; so was his
speech, which was calm, straightforward, and quietly determined.
"I shot Mr. Hasbrouck," was his steady affirmation, given without
any show of frenzy or desperation. "If you ask me why I did it, I
cannot answer; if you ask me how, I am ready to state all that I
know concerning the matter."
"But, Dr. Zabriskie," interposed one of the inspectors, "the why
is the most important thing for us to consider just now. If you
really desire to convince us that you committed this dreadful
crime of killing a totally inoffensive man, you should give us
some reason for an act so opposed to all your instincts and
But the doctor continued unmoved:
"I had no reason for murdering Mr. Hasbrouck. A hundred questions
can elicit no other reply; you had better keep to the how."
A deep-drawn breath from the wife answered the looks of the three
gentlemen to whom this suggestion was offered. "You see," that
breath seemed to protest, "that he is not in his right mind."
I began to waver in my own opinion, and yet the intuition which
has served me in cases seemingly as impenetrable as this bade me
beware of following the general judgment.
"Ask him to inform you how he got into the house," I whispered to
Inspector D--, who sat nearest me.
Immediately the inspector put the question which I had suggested:
"By what means did you enter Mr. Hasbrouck's house at so late an
hour as this murder occurred?"
The blind doctor's head fell forward on his breast, and he
hesitated for the first and only time.
"You will not believe me," said he; "but the door was ajar when I
came to it. Such things make crime easy; it is the only excuse I
have to offer for this dreadful deed."
The front door of a respectable citizen's house ajar at half-
past eleven at night! It was a statement that fixed in all minds
the conviction of the speaker's irresponsibility. Mrs.
Zabriskie's brow cleared, and her beauty became for a moment
dazzling as she held out her hands in irrepressible relief
towards those who were interrogating her husband. I alone kept my
impassibility. A possible explanation of this crime had flashed
like lightning across my mind; an explanation from which I
inwardly recoiled, even while I felt forced to consider it.
"Dr. Zabriskie," remarked the inspector formerly mentioned as
friendly to him, "such old servants as those kept by Mr.
Hasbrouck do not leave the front door ajar at twelve o'clock at
"Yet ajar it was," repeated the blind doctor, with quiet
emphasis; "and finding it so, I went in. When I came out again, I
closed it. Do you wish me to swear to what I say? If so, I am
What reply could they give? To see this splendid-looking man,
hallowed by an affliction so great that in itself it called forth
the compassion of the most indifferent, accusing himself of a
cold-blooded crime, in tones which sounded dispassionate because
of the will forcing their utterance, was too painful in itself
for any one to indulge in unnecessary words. Compassion took the
place of curiosity, and each and all of us turned involuntary
looks of pity upon the young wife pressing so eagerly to his
"For a blind man," ventured one, "the assault was both deft and
certain. Are you accustomed to Mr. Hasbrouck's house, that you
found your way with so little difficulty to his bedroom?"
"I am accustomed--" he began.
But here his wife broke in with irrepressible passion:
"He is not accustomed to that house. He has never been beyond the
first floor. Why, why do you question him? Do you not see--"
His hand was on her lips.
"Hush!" he commanded. "You know my skill in moving about a house;
how I sometimes deceive those who do not know me into believing
that I can see, by the readiness with which I avoid obstacles and
find my way even in strange and untried scenes. Do not try to
make them think I am not in my right mind, or you will drive me
into the very condition you attribute to me."
His face, rigid, cold, and set, looked like that of a mask. Hers,
drawn with horror and filled with question that was fast taking
the form of doubt, bespoke an awful tragedy from which more than
one of us recoiled.
"Can you shoot a man dead without seeing him?" asked the
Superintendent, with painful effort.
"Give me a pistol and I will show you," was the quick reply.
A low cry came from the wife. In a drawer near to every one of us
there lay a pistol, but no one moved to take it out. There was a
look in the doctor's eye which made us fear to trust him with a
pistol just then.
"We will accept your assurance that you possess a skill beyond
that of most men," returned the Superintendent. And beckoning me
forward, he whispered: "This is a case for the doctors and not
for the police. Remove him quietly, and notify Dr. Southyard of
what I say."
But Dr. Zabriskie, who seemed to have an almost supernatural
acuteness of hearing, gave a violent start at this, and spoke up
for the first time with real passion in his voice:
"No, no, I pray you. I can bear anything but that. Remember,
gentlemen, that I am blind; that I cannot see who is about me;
that my life would be a torture if I felt myself surrounded by
spies watching to catch some evidence of madness in me. Rather
conviction at once, death, dishonour, and obloquy. These I have
incurred. These I have brought upon myself by crime, but not this
worse fate--oh! not this worse fate."
His passion was so intense and yet so confined within the bounds
of decorum, that we felt strangely impressed by it. Only the wife
stood transfixed, with the dread growing in her heart, till her
white, waxen visage seemed even more terrible to contemplate than
his passion-distorted one.
"It is not strange that my wife thinks me demented," the doctor
continued, as if afraid of the silence that answered him. "But it
is your business to discriminate, and you should know a sane man
when you see him."
Inspector D-- no longer hesitated.
"Very well," said he, "give me the least proof that your
assertions are true, and we will lay your case before the
"Proof? Is not a man's word--"
"No man's confession is worth much without some evidence to
support it. In your case there is none. You cannot even produce
the pistol with which you assert yourself to have committed the
"True, true. I was frightened by what I had done, and the
instinct of self-preservation led me to rid myself of the weapon
in any way I could. But someone found this pistol; someone picked
it up from the sidewalk of Lafayette Place on that fatal night.
Advertise for it. Offer a reward. I will give you the money."
Suddenly he appeared to realize how all this sounded. "Alas!"
cried he, "I know the story seems improbable; but it is not the
probable things that happen in this life, as, you should know,
who every day dig deep into the heart of human affairs."
Were these the ravings of insanity? I began to understand the
"I bought the pistol," he went on, "of--alas! I cannot tell you
his name. Everything is against me. I cannot adduce one proof;
yet even she is beginning to fear that my story is true. I know
it by her silence, a silence that yawns between us like a deep
and unfathomable gulf."
But at these words her voice rang out with passionate vehemence.
"No, no, it is false! I will never believe that your hands have
been plunged in blood. You are my own pure-hearted Constant,
cold, perhaps, and stern, but with no guilt upon your conscience
save in your own wild imagination."
"Zulma, you are no friend to me," he declared, pushing her gently
aside. "Believe me innocent, but say nothing to lead these others
to doubt my word."
And she said no more, but her looks spoke volumes.
The result was that he was not detained, though he prayed for
instant commitment. He seemed to dread his own home, and the
surveillance to which he instinctively knew he would henceforth
be subjected. To see him shrink from his wife's hand as she
strove to lead him from the room was sufficiently painful; but
the feeling thus aroused was nothing to that with which we
observed the keen and agonized expectancy of his look as he
turned and listened for the steps of the officer who followed
"From this time on I shall never know whether or not I am alone,"
was his final observation as he left the building.
Here is where the matter rests and here, Miss Strange, is where
you come in. The police were for sending an expert alienist into
the house; but agreeing with me, and, in fact, with the doctor
himself, that if he were not already out of his mind, this would
certainly make them so, they, at my earnest intercession, have
left the next move to me.
That move as you must by this time understand involves you. You
have advantages for making Mrs. Zabriskie's acquaintance of which
I beg you to avail yourself. As friend or patient, you must win
your way into that home? You must sound to its depths one or both
of these two wretched hearts. Not so much now for any possible
reward which may follow the elucidation of this mystery which has
come so near being shelved, but for pity's sake and the possible
settlement of a question which is fast driving a lovely member of
your sex distracted.
May I rely on you? If so--
Various instructions followed, over which Violet mused with a
deprecatory shaking of her head till the little clock struck two.
Why should she, already in a state of secret despondency, intrude
herself into an affair at once so painful and so hopeless?
But by morning her mood changed. The pathos of the situation had
seized upon her in her dreams, and before the day was over, she
was to be seen, as a prospective patient, in Dr. Zabriskie's
office. She had a slight complaint as her excuse, and she made
the most of it. That is, at first, but as the personality of this
extraordinary man began to make its usual impression, she found
herself forgetting her own condition in the intensity of interest
she felt in his. Indeed, she had to pull herself together more
than once lest he should suspect the double nature of her errand,
and she actually caught herself at times rejoicing in his
affliction since it left her with only her voice to think of, in
her hated but necessary task of deception.
That she succeeded in this effort, even with one of his nice ear,
was evident from the interested way in which he dilated upon her
malady, and the minute instructions he was careful to give her--
the physician being always uppermost in his strange dual nature,
when he was in his office or at the bedside of the sick;--and had
she not been a deep reader of the human soul she would have left
his presence in simple wonder at his skill and entire absorption
in an exacting profession.
But as it was, she carried with her an image of subdued
suffering, which drove her, from that moment on, to ask herself
what she could do to aid him in his fight against his own
illusion; for to associate such a man with a senseless and cruel
murder was preposterous.
What this wish, helped by no common determination, led her into,
it was not in her mind to conceive. She was making her one great
mistake, but as yet she was in happy ignorance of it, and pursued
the course laid out for her without a doubt of the ultimate
Having seen and made up her mind about the husband, she next
sought to see and gauge the wife. That she succeeded in doing
this by means of one of her sly little tricks is not to the
point; but what followed in natural consequence is very much so.
A mutual interest sprang up between them which led very speedily
to actual friendship. Mrs. Zabriskie's hungry heart opened to the
sympathetic little being who clung to her in such evident
admiration; while Violet, brought face to face with a real woman,
succumbed to feelings which made it no imposition on her part to
spend much of her leisure in Zulma Zabriskie's company.
The result were the following naive reports which drifted into
her employer's office from day to day, as this intimacy deepened.
The doctor is settling into a deep melancholy, from which he
tries to rise at times, but with only indifferent success.
Yesterday he rode around to all his patients for the purpose of
withdrawing his services on the plea of illness. But he still
keeps his office open, and today I had the opportunity of
witnessing his reception and treatment of the many sufferers who
came to him for aid. I think he was conscious of my presence,
though an attempt had been made to conceal it. For the listening
look never left his face from the moment he entered the room, and
once he rose and passed quickly from wall to wall, groping with
out-stretched hands into every nook and corner, and barely
escaping contact with the curtain behind which I was hidden. But
if he suspected my presence, he showed no displeasure at it,
wishing perhaps for a witness to his skill in the treatment of
And truly I never beheld a finer manifestation of practical
insight in cases of a more or less baffling nature. He is
certainly a most wonderful physician, and I feel bound to record
that his mind is as clear for business as if no shadow had fallen
Dr. Zabriskie loves his wife, but in a way torturing to himself
and to her. If she is gone from the house he is wretched, and yet
when she returns he often forbears to speak to her, or if he does
speak it is with a constraint that hurts her more than his
silence. I was present when she came in today. Her step, which
had been eager on the stairway, flagged as she approached the
room, and he naturally noted the change and gave his own
interpretation to it. His face, which had been very pale, flushed
suddenly, and a nervous trembling seized him which he sought in
vain to hide. But by the time her tall and beautiful figure stood
in the doorway, he was his usual self again in all but the
expression of his eyes, which stared straight before him in an
agony of longing only to be observed in those who have once seen.
"Where have you been, Zulma?" he asked, as contrary to his wont,
he moved to meet her.
"To my mother's, to Arnold & Constable's, and to the hospital, as
you requested," was her quick answer, made without faltering or
He stepped still nearer and took her hand, and as he did so my
eye fell on his and I noted that his finger lay over her pulse in
"Nowhere else?" he queried.
She smiled the saddest kind of smile and shook her head; then,
remembering that he could not see this movement, she cried in a
"Nowhere else, Constant; I was too anxious to get back."
I expected him to drop her hand at this, but he did not; and his
finger still rested on her pulse.
"And whom did you see while you were gone?" he continued.
She told him, naming over several names.
"You must have enjoyed yourself," was his cold comment, as he let
go her hand and turned away. But his manner showed relief, and I
could not but sympathize with the pitiable situation of a man who
found himself forced into means like this for probing the heart
of his young wife.
Yet when I turned towards her, I realized that her position was
but little happier than his. Tears are no strangers to her eyes,
but those which welled up at this moment seemed to possess a
bitterness that promised but little peace for her future. Yet she
quickly dried them and busied herself with ministrations for his
If I am any judge of woman, Zulma Zabriskie is superior to most
of her sex. That her husband mistrusts her is evident, but
whether this is the result of the stand she has taken in his
regard, or only a manifestation of dementia, I have as yet been
unable to determine. I dread to leave them alone together, and
yet when I presume to suggest that she should be on her guard in
her interviews with him, she smiles very placidly and tells me
that nothing would give her greater joy than to see him lift his
hand against her, for that would argue that he is not accountable
for his deeds or assertions.
Yet it would be a grief to see her injured by this passionate and
You have said that you wanted all the details I could give; so I
feel bound to say that Dr. Zabriskie tries to be considerate of
his wife, though he often fails in the attempt. When she offers
herself as his guide, or assists him with his mail or performs
any of the many acts of kindness by which she continually
manifests her sense of his affliction, he thanks her with
courtesy and often with kindness, yet I know she would willingly
exchange all his set phrases for one fond embrace or impulsive
smile of affection. It would be too much to say that he is not in
the full possession of his faculties, and yet upon what other
hypothesis can we account for the inconsistencies of his conduct?
I have before me two visions of mental suffering. At noon I
passed the office door, and looking within, saw the figure of Dr.
Zabriskie seated in his great chair, lost in thought or deep in
those memories which make an abyss in one's consciousness. His
hands, which were clenched, rested upon the arms of his chair,
and in one of them I detected a woman's glove, which I had no
difficulty in recognizing as one of the pair worn by his wife
this morning. He held it as a tiger might hold his prey or a
miser his gold, but his set features and sightless eyes betrayed
that a conflict of emotions was being waged within him, among
which tenderness had but little share. Though alive as he usually
is to every sound, he was too absorbed at this moment to notice
my presence, though I had taken no pains to approach quietly. I
therefore stood for a full minute watching him, till an
irresistible sense of the shame at thus spying upon a blind man
in his moments of secret anguish compelled me to withdraw. But
not before I saw his features relax in a storm of passionate
feeling, as he rained kisses after kisses on the senseless kid he
had so long held in his motionless grasp. Yet when an hour later
he entered the dining- room on his wife's arm, there was nothing
in his manner to show that he had in any way changed in his
attitude towards her.
The other picture was more tragic still. I was seeking Mrs.
Zabriskie in her own room, when I caught a fleeting vision of her
tall form, with her arms thrown up over her head in a paroxysm of
feeling which made her as oblivious to my presence as her husband
had been several hours before. Were the words that escaped her
lips "Thank God we have no children!" or was this exclamation
suggested to me by the passion and unrestrained impulse of her
So much up to date. Interesting enough, or so her employer seemed
to think, as he went hurriedly through the whole story, one
special afternoon in his office, tapping each sheet as he laid it
aside with his sagacious forefinger, as though he would say,
"Enough! My theory still holds good; nothing contradictory here;
on the contrary complete and undisputable confirmation of the one
and only explanation of this astounding crime."
What was that theory; and in what way and through whose efforts
had he been enabled to form one? The following notes may
enlighten us. Though written in his own hand, and undoubtedly a
memorandum of his own activities, he evidently thinks it worth
while to reperuse them in connection with those he had just laid
We can do no better than read them also.
We omit dates.
Watched the Zabriskie mansion for five hours this morning, from
the second story window of an adjoining hotel. Saw the doctor
when he drove away on his round of visits, and saw him when he
returned. A coloured man accompanied him.
Today I followed Mrs. Zabriskie. She went first to a house in
Washington Place where I am told her mother lives. Here she
stayed some time, after which she drove down to Canal Street,
where she did some shopping, and later stopped at the hospital,
into which I took the liberty of following her. She seemed to
know many there, and passed from cot to cot with a smile in which
I alone discerned the sadness of a broken heart. When she left, I
left also, without having learned anything beyond the fact that
Mrs. Zabriskie is one who does her duty in sorrow as in joy. A
rare, and trustworthy woman I should say, and yet her husband
does not trust her. Why?
I have spent this day in accumulating details in regard to Dr.
and Mrs. Zabriskie's life previous to the death of Mr. Hasbrouck.
I learned from sources it would be unwise to quote just here,
that Mrs. Zabriskie had not lacked enemies to charge her with
coquetry; that while she had never sacrificed her dignity in
public, more than one person had been heard to declare that Dr.
Zabriskie was fortunate in being blind, since the sight of his
wife's beauty would have but poorly compensated him for the pain
he would have suffered in seeing how that beauty was admired.
That all gossip is more or less tinged with exaggeration I have
no doubt, yet when a name is mentioned in connection with such
stories, there is usually some truth at the bottom of them. And a
name is mentioned in this case, though I do not think it worth my
while to repeat it here; and loth as I am to recognize the fact,
it is a name that carries with it doubts that might easily
account for the husband's jealousy. True, I have found no one who
dares hint that she still continues to attract attention or to
bestow smiles in any direction save where they legally belong.
For since a certain memorable night which we all know, neither
Dr. Zabriskie nor his wife have been seen save in their own
domestic circle, and it is not into such scenes that this
serpent, to whom I have just alluded, ever intrudes, nor is it in
places of sorrow or suffering that his smile shines, or his
And so one portion of my theory is proved to be sound. Dr.
Zabriskie is jealous of his wife; whether with good cause or bad
I am not prepared to decide; since her present attitude, clouded
as it is by the tragedy in which she and her husband are both
involved, must differ very much from that which she held when her
life was unshadowed by doubt, and her admirers could be counted
by the score.
I have just found out where Leonard is. As he is in service some
miles up the river, I shall have to be absent from my post for
several hours, but I consider the game well worth the candle.
Light at last. I have not only seen Leonard, but succeeded in
making him talk. His story is substantially this: That on the
night so often mentioned, he packed his master's portmanteau at
eight o'clock and at ten called a taxi and rode with the doctor
to the Central station. He was told to buy tickets to
Poughkeepsie where his master had been called in consultation,
and having done this, hurried back to join Dr. Zabriskie on the
platform. They had walked together as far as the cars, and Dr.
Zabriskie was just stepping on to the train, when a man pushed
himself hurriedly between them and whispered something into his
master's ear, which caused him to fall back and lose his footing.
Dr. Zabriskie's body slid half under the car, but he was
withdrawn before any harm was done, though the cars gave a lurch
at that moment which must have frightened him exceedingly, for
his face was white when he rose to his feet, and when Leonard
offered to assist him again on the train, he refused to go and
said he would return home and not attempt to ride to Poughkeepsie
The gentleman, whom Leonard now saw to be Mr. Stanton, an
intimate friend of Dr. Zabriskie, smiled very queerly at this,
and taking the doctor's arm led him back to his own auto. Leonard
naturally followed them, but the doctor, hearing his steps,
turned and bade him, in a very peremptory tone, to take the cars
home, and then, as if on second thought, told him to go to
Poughkeepsie in his stead and explain to the people there that he
was too shaken up by his misstep to do his duty, and that he
would be with them next morning. This seemed strange to Leonard,
but he had no reasons for disobeying his master's orders, and so
rode to Poughkeepsie. Wt the doctor did not follow him the next
day; on the contrary he telegraphed for him to return, and when
he got back dismissed him with a month's wages. This ended
Leonard's connection with the Zabriskie family.
A simple story bearing out what the wife has already told us; but
it furnishes a link which may prove invaluable. Mr. Stanton,
whose first name is Theodore, knows the real reason why Dr.
Zabriskie returned home on the night of the seventeenth of July,
19--. Mr. Stanton, consequently, is the man to see, and this
shall be my business tomorrow.
Checkmate! Theodore Stanton is not in this country. Though this
points him out as the man from whom Dr. Zabriskie bought the
pistol, it does not facilitate my work, which is becoming more
and more difficult.
Mr. Stanton's whereabouts are not even known to his most intimate
friends. He sailed from this country most unexpectedly on the
eighteenth of July a year ago, which was the day after the murder
of Mr. Hasbrouck. It looks like a flight, especially as he has
failed to maintain open communication even with his relatives.
Was he the man who shot Mr. Hasbrouck? No; but he was the man who
put the pistol in Dr. Zabriskie's hand that night, and whether he
did this with purpose or not, was evidently so alarmed at the
catastrophe which followed that he took the first outgoing
steamer to Europe. So far, all is clear, but there are mysteries
yet to be solved, which will require my utmost tact. What if I
should seek out the gentleman with whose name that of Mrs.
Zabriskie has been linked, and see if I can in any way connect
him with Mr. Stanton or the events of that night.
Eureka! I have discovered that Mr. Stanton cherished a mortal
hatred for the gentleman above mentioned. It was a covert
feeling, but no less deadly on that account; and while it never
led him into any extravagances, it was of force sufficient to
account for many a secret misfortune occurring to that gentleman.
Now if I can prove that he is the Mephistopheles who whispered
insinuations into the ear of our blind Faust, I may strike a fact
that will lead me out of this maze.
But how can I approach secrets so delicate without compromising
the woman I feel bound to respect if only for the devoted love
she manifests for her unhappy husband!
I shall have to appeal to Joe Smithers. This is something which I
always hate to do, but as long as he will take money, and as long
as he is fertile in resources for obtaining the truth from people
I am myself unable to reach, I must make use of his cupidity and
his genius. He is an honourable fellow in one way, and never
retails as gossip what he acquires for our use. How will he
proceed in this case, and by what tactics will he gain the very
delicate information which we need? I own that I am curious to
I shall really have to put down at length the incidents of this
night. I always knew that Joe Smithers was invaluable not only to
myself but to the police, but I really did not know he possessed
talents of so high an order. He wrote me this morning that he had
succeeded in getting Mr. T-'s promise to spend the evening with
him, and advised me that if I desired to be present as well, his
own servant would not be at home, and that an opener of bottles
would be required.
As I was very anxious to see Mr. T- with my own eyes, I accepted
this invitation to play the spy, and went at the proper hour to
Mr. Smithers's rooms. I found them picturesque in the extreme.
Piles of books stacked here and there to the ceiling made nooks
and corners which could be quite shut off by a couple of old
pictures set into movable frames capable of swinging out or in at
the whim or convenience of the owner.
As I had use for the dark shadows cast by these pictures, I
pulled them both out, and made such other arrangements as
appeared likely to facilitate the purpose I had in view; then I
sat down and waited for the two gentlemen who were expected to
come in together.
They arrived almost immediately, whereupon I rose and played my
part with all necessary discretion. While ridding Mr. T- of his
overcoat, I stole a look at his face. It is not a handsome one,
but it boasts of a gay, devil-may-care expression which doubtless
makes it dangerous to many women, while his manners are
especially attractive, and his voice the richest and most
persuasive that I ever heard. I contrasted him, almost against my
will, with Dr. Zabriskie, and decided that with most women the
former's undoubted fascinations of speech and bearing would
outweigh the latter's great beauty and mental endowments; but I
doubted if they would with her.
The conversation which immediately began was brilliant but
desultory, for Mr. Smithers, with an airy lightness for which he
is remarkable, introduced topic after topic, perhaps for the
purpose of showing off Mr. T-'s versatility, and perhaps for the
deeper and more sinister purpose of shaking the kaleidoscope of
talk so thoroughly, that the real topic which we were met to
discuss should not make an undue impression on the mind of his
Meanwhile one, two, three bottles passed, and I had the pleasure
of seeing Joe Smithers's eye grow calmer and that of Mr. T- more
brilliant and more uncertain. As the last bottle was being
passed, Joe cast me a meaning glance, and the real business of
the evening began.
I shall not attempt to relate the half dozen failures which Joe
made in endeavouring to elicit the facts we were in search of,
without arousing the suspicion of his visitor. I am only going to
relate the successful attempt. They had been talking now for some
hours, and I, who had long before been waved aside from their
immediate presence, was hiding my curiosity and growing
excitement behind one of the pictures, when I suddenly heard Joe
"He has the most remarkable memory I ever met. He can tell to a
day when any notable event occurred."
"Pshaw!" answered his companion, who, by the way, was known to
pride himself upon his own memory for dates, "I can state where I
went and what I did on every day in the year. That may not
embrace what you call 'notable events,' but the memory required
is all the more remarkable, is it not?"
"Pooh!" was his friend's provoking reply, "you are bluffing, Ben;
I will never believe that."
Mr. T-, who had passed by this time into that stage of
intoxication which makes persistence in an assertion a duty as
well as a pleasure, threw back his head, and as the wreaths of
smoke rose in airy spirals from his lips, reiterated his
statement, and offered to submit to any test of his vaunted
powers which the other might dictate.
"You keep a diary--" began Joe.
"Which at the present moment is at home," completed the other.
"Will you allow me to refer to it tomorrow, if I am suspicious of
the accuracy of your recollections?"
"Undoubtedly," returned the other.
"Very well, then, I will wager you a cool fifty that you cannot
tell where you were between the hours of ten and eleven on a
certain night which I will name."