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The House of a Thousand Candles by Meredith Nicholson

Part 2 out of 6

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suit and heavy shoes, ready for a tramp abroad, and
went below.

The great library seemed larger than ever when I beheld
it in the morning light. I opened one of the
French windows and stepped out on a stone terrace,
where I gained a fair view of the exterior of the house,
which proved to be a modified Tudor, with battlements
and two towers. One of the latter was only half-finished,
and to it and to other parts of the house the workmen’s
scaffolding still clung. Heaps of stone and piles of lumber
were scattered about in great disorder. The house
extended partly along the edge of a ravine, through
which a slender creek ran toward the lake. The terrace
became a broad balcony immediately outside the library,
and beneath it the water bubbled pleasantly around
heavy stone pillars. Two pretty rustic bridges spanned
the ravine, one near the front entrance, the other at the
rear. My grandfather had begun his house on a generous
plan, but, buried as it was among the trees, it suffered
from lack of perspective. However, on one side toward
the lake was a fair meadow, broken by a water-tower,
and just beyond the west dividing wall I saw a little
chapel; and still farther, in the same direction, the outlines
of the buildings of St. Agatha’s were vaguely perceptible
in another strip of woodland.

The thought of gentle nuns and school-girls as neighbors
amused me. All I asked was that they should keep
to their own side of the wall.

I heard behind me the careful step of Bates.

“Good morning, Mr. Glenarm. I trust you rested
quite well, sir.”

His figure was as austere, his tone as respectful and
colorless as by night. The morning light gave him a
pallid cast. He suffered my examination coolly enough;
his eyes were, indeed, the best thing about him.

“This is what Mr. Glenarm called the platform. I
believe it’s in Hamlet, sir.”

I laughed aloud. “Elsinore: A Platform Before the

“It was one of Mr. Glenarm’s little fancies, you might
call it, sir.”

“And the ghost,—where does the murdered majesty of
Denmark lie by day?”

“I fear it wasn’t provided, sir! As you see, Mr. Glenarm,
the house is quite incomplete. My late master had
not carried out all his plans.”

Bates did not smile. I fancied he never smiled, and
I wondered whether John Marshall Glenarm had played
upon the man’s lack of humor. My grandfather had
been possessed of a certain grim, ironical gift at jesting,
and quite likely he had amused himself by experimenting
upon his serving man.

“You may breakfast when you like, sir,”—and thus
admonished I went into the refectory.

A newspaper lay at my plate; it was the morning’s
issue of a Chicago daily. I was, then, not wholly out of
the world, I reflected, scanning the head-lines.

“Your grandfather rarely examined the paper. Mr.
Glenarm was more particularly interested in the old
times. He wasn’t what you might call up to date,—if
you will pardon the expression, sir.”

“You are quite right about that, Bates. He was a
medievalist in his sympathies.”

“Thank you for that word, sir; I’ve frequently heard
him apply it to himself. The plain omelette was a great
favorite with your grandfather. I hope it is to your liking,

“It’s excellent, Bates. And your coffee is beyond

“Thank you, Mr. Glenarm. One does what one can,

He had placed me so that I faced the windows, an
attention to my comfort and safety which I appreciated.
The broken pane told the tale of the shot that had so
narrowly missed me the night before.

“I’ll repair that to-day, sir,” Bates remarked, seeing
my eyes upon the window.

“You know that I’m to spend a year on this place;
I assume that you understand the circumstances,” I
said, feeling it wise that we should understand each

“Quite so, Mr. Glenarm.”

“I’m a student, you know, and all I want is to be left

This I threw in to reassure myself rather than for
his information. It was just as well, I reflected, to assert
a little authority, even though the fellow undoubtedly
represented Pickering and received orders from

“In a day or two, or as soon as I have got used to the
place, I shall settle down to work in the library. You
may give me breakfast at seven-thirty; luncheon at one-thirty
and dinner at seven.”

“Those were my late master’s hours, sir.”

“Very good. And I’ll eat anything you please, except
mutton broth, meat pie and canned strawberries.
Strawberries in tins, Bates, are not well calculated to
lift the spirit of man.”

“I quite agree with you, sir, if you will pardon my

“And the bills—”

“They are provided for by Mr. Pickering. He sends
me an allowance for the household expenses.”

“So you are to report to him, are you, as heretofore?”

I blew out a match with which I had lighted a cigar
and watched the smoking end intently.

“I believe that’s the idea, sir.”

It is not pleasant to be under compulsion,—to feel
your freedom curtailed, to be conscious of espionage. I
rose without a word and went into the hall.

“You may like to have the keys,” said Bates, following
me. “There’s two for the gates in the outer wall
and one for the St. Agatha’s gate; they’re marked, as
you see. And here’s the hall-door key and the boat-house
key that you asked for last night.”

After an hour spent in unpacking I went out into the
grounds. I had thought it well to wire Pickering of
my arrival, and I set out for Annandale to send him a
telegram. My spirit lightened under the influences of
the crisp air and cheering sunshine. What had seemed
strange and shadowy at night was clear enough by

I found the gate through which we had entered the
grounds the night before without difficulty. The stone
wall was assuredly no flimsy thing. It was built in a
thoroughly workmanlike manner, and I mentally computed
its probable cost with amazement. There were,
I reflected, much more satisfactory ways of spending
money than in building walls around Indiana forests.
But the place was mine, or as good as mine, and there
was no manner of use in quarreling with the whims of
my dead grandfather. At the expiration of a year I
could tear down the wall if I pleased; and as to the incomplete
house, that I should sell or remodel to my

On the whole, I settled into an amiable state of mind;
my perplexity over the shot of the night before was passing
away under the benign influences of blue sky and
warm sunshine. A few farm-folk passed me in the
highway and gave me good morning in the fashion of
the country, inspecting my knickerbockers at the same
time with frank disapproval. I reached the lake and
gazed out upon its quiet waters with satisfaction. At
the foot of Annandale’s main street was a dock where
several small steam-craft and a number of catboats were
being dismantled for the winter. As I passed, a man
approached the dock in a skiff, landed and tied his boat.
He started toward the village at a quick pace, but turned
and eyed me with rustic directness.

“Good morning!” I said. “Any ducks about?”

He paused, nodded and fell into step with me.

“No,—not enough to pay for the trouble.”

“I’m sorry for that. I’d hoped to pick up a few.”

“I guess you’re a stranger in these parts,” he remarked,
eying me again,—my knickerbockers no doubt
marking me as an alien.

“Quite so. My name is Glenarm, and I’ve just come.”

“I thought you might be him. We’ve rather been expecting
you here in the village. I’m John Morgan, caretaker
of the resorters’ houses up the lake.”

“I suppose you all knew my grandfather hereabouts.”

“Well, yes; you might say as we did, or you might
say as we didn’t. He wasn’t just the sort that you got
next to in a hurry. He kept pretty much to himself.
He built a wall there to keep us out, but he needn’t have
troubled himself. We’re not the kind around here to
meddle, and you may be sure the summer people never
bothered him.”

There was a tone of resentment in his voice, and I
hastened to say:

“I’m sure you’re mistaken about the purposes of that
wall. My grandfather was a student of architecture. It
was a hobby of his. The house and wall were in the line
of his experiments, and to please his whims. I hope the
people of the village won’t hold any hard feelings
against his memory or against me. Why, the labor there
must have been a good thing for the people hereabouts.”

“It ought to have been,” said the man gruffly; “but
that’s where the trouble comes in. He brought a lot of
queer fellows here under contract to work for him,
Italians, or Greeks, or some sort of foreigners. They
built the wall, and he had them at work inside for half
a year. He didn’t even let them out for air; and when
they finished his job he loaded ’em on to a train one
day and hauled ’em away.”

“That was quite like him, I’m sure,” I said, remembering
with amusement my grandfather’s secretive

“I guess he was a crank all right,” said the man conclusively.

It was evident that he did not care to establish friendly
relations with the resident of Glenarm. He was about
forty, light, with a yellow beard and pale blue eyes. He
was dressed roughly and wore a shabby soft hat.

“Well, I suppose I’ll have to assume responsibility
for him and his acts,” I remarked, piqued by the fellow’s

We had reached the center of the village, and he left
me abruptly, crossing the street to one of the shops. I
continued on to the railway station, where I wrote and
paid for my message. The station-master inspected me
carefully as I searched my pockets for change.

“You want your telegrams delivered at the house?”
he asked.

“Yes, please,” I answered, and he turned away to
his desk of clicking instruments without looking at me

It seemed wise to establish relations with the post-office,
so I made myself known to the girl who stood at
the delivery window.

“You already have a box,” she advised me. “There’s
a boy carries the mail to your house; Mr. Bates hires

Bates had himself given me this information, but the
girl seemed to find pleasure in imparting it with a certain
severity. I then bought a cake of soap at the principal
drug store and purchased a package of smoking-tobacco,
which I did not need, at a grocery.

News of my arrival had evidently reached the villagers;
I was conceited enough to imagine that my presence
was probably of interest to them; but the station-master,
the girl at the post-office and the clerks in the
shops treated me with an unmistakable cold reserve.
There was a certain evenness of the chill which they
visited upon me, as though a particular degree of frigidity
had been determined in advance.

I shrugged my shoulders and turned toward Glenarm.
My grandfather had left me a cheerful legacy of
distrust among my neighbors, the result, probably, of
importing foreign labor to work on his house. The surly
Morgan had intimated as much; but it did not greatly
matter. I had not come to Glenarm to cultivate the
rustics, but to fulfil certain obligations laid down in
my grandfather’s will. I was, so to speak, on duty, and
I much preferred that the villagers should let me alone.
Comforting myself with these reflections I reached the
wharf, where I saw Morgan sitting with his feet dangling
over the water, smoking a pipe.

I nodded in his direction, but he feigned not to see
me. A moment later he jumped into his boat and rowed
out into the lake.

When I returned to the house Bates was at work in
the kitchen. This was a large square room with heavy
timbers showing in the walls and low ceiling. There
was a great fireplace having an enormous chimney and
fitted with a crane and bobs, but for practical purposes
a small range was provided.

Bates received me placidly.

“Yes; it’s an unusual kitchen, sir. Mr. Glenarm
copied it from an old kitchen in England. He took
quite a pride in it. It’s a pleasant place to sit in the
evening, sir.”

He showed me the way below, where I found that the
cellar extended under every part of the house, and was
divided into large chambers. The door of one of them
was of heavy oak, bound in iron, with a barred opening
at the top. A great iron hasp with a heavy padlock and
grilled area windows gave further the impression of a
cell, and I fear that at this, as at many other things in
the curious house, I swore—if I did not laugh—thinking
of the money my grandfather had expended in realizing
his whims. The room was used, I noted with pleasure,
as a depository for potatoes. I asked Bates whether
he knew my grandfather’s purpose in providing a cell in
his house.

“That, sir, was another of the dead master’s ideas.
He remarked to me once that it was just as well to have
a dungeon in a well-appointed house,—his humor again,
sir! And it comes in quite handy for the potatoes.”

In another room I found a curious collection of lanterns
of every conceivable description, grouped on
shelves, and next door to this was a store-room filled
with brass candlesticks of many odd designs. I shall not
undertake to describe my sensations as, peering about
with a candle in my hand, the vagaries of John Marshall
Glenarm’s mind were further disclosed to me. It was
almost beyond belief that any man with such whims
should ever have had the money to gratify them.

I returned to the main floor and studied the titles of
the books in the library, finally smoking a pipe over a
very tedious chapter in an exceedingly dull work on
Norman Revivals and Influences. Then I went out, assuring
myself that I should get steadily to work in a day
or two. It was not yet eleven o’clock, and time was sure
to move deliberately within the stone walls of my
prison. The long winter lay before me in which I must
study perforce, and just now it was pleasant to view the
landscape in all its autumn splendor.

Bates was soberly chopping wood at a rough pile of
timber at the rear of the house. His industry had already
impressed me. He had the quiet ways of an ideal
serving man.

“Well, Bates, you don’t intend to let me freeze to
death, do you? There must be enough in the pile there
to last all winter.”

“Yes, sir; I am just cutting a little more of the hickory,
sir. Mr. Glenarm always preferred it to beech or
maple. We only take out the old timber. The summer
storms eat into the wood pretty bad, sir.”

“Oh, hickory, to be sure! I’ve heard it’s the best firewood.
That’s very thoughtful of you.”

I turned next to the unfinished tower in the meadow,
from which a windmill pumped water to the house. The
iron frame was not wholly covered with stone, but material
for the remainder of the work lay scattered at the
base. I went on through the wood to the lake and inspected
the boat-house. It was far more pretentious
than I had imagined from my visit in the dark. It was
of two stories, the upper half being a cozy lounging-room,
with wide windows and a fine outlook over the
water. The unplastered walls were hung with Indian
blankets; lounging-chairs and a broad seat under the
windows, colored matting on the floor and a few prints
pinned upon the Navajoes gave further color to the

I followed the pebbly shore to the stone wall where
it marked the line of the school-grounds. The wall, I
observed, was of the same solid character here as along
the road. I tramped beside it, reflecting that my grandfather’s
estate, in the heart of the Republic, would some
day give the lie to foreign complaints that we have no
ruins in America.

I had assumed that there was no opening in the wall,
but half-way to the road I found an iron gate, fastened
with chain and padlock, by means of which I climbed
to the top. The pillars at either side of the gate were of
huge dimensions and were higher than I could reach.
An intelligent forester had cleared the wood in the
school-grounds, which were of the same general character
as the Glenarm estate. The little Gothic church
near at hand was built of stone similar to that used in
Glenarm House. As I surveyed the scene a number of
young women came from one of the school-buildings
and, forming in twos and fours, walked back and forth
in a rough path that led to the chapel. A Sister clad in a
brown habit lingered near or walked first with one and
then another of the students. It was all very pretty and
interesting and not at all the ugly school for paupers I
had expected to find. The students were not the charity
children I had carelessly pictured; they were not so
young, for one thing, and they seemed to be appareled
decently enough.

I smiled to find myself adjusting my scarf and
straightening my collar as I beheld my neighbors for
the first time.

As I sat thus on the wall I heard the sound of angry
voices back of me on the Glenarm side, and a crash of
underbrush marked a flight and pursuit. I crouched
down on the wall and waited. In a moment a man
plunged through the wood and stumbled over a low-hanging
vine and fell, not ten yards from where I lay.
To my great surprise it was Morgan, my acquaintance
of the morning. He rose, cursed his ill luck and, hugging
the wall close, ran toward the lake. Instantly the
pursuer broke into view. It was Bates, evidently much
excited and with an ugly cut across his forehead. He
carried a heavy club, and, after listening for a moment
for sounds of the enemy, he hurried after the caretaker.

It was not my row, though I must say it quickened
my curiosity. I straightened myself out, threw my legs
over the school side of the wall and lighted a cigar,
feeling cheered by the opportunity the stone barricade
offered for observing the world.

As I looked off toward the little church I found two
other actors appearing on the scene. A girl stood in a
little opening of the wood, talking to a man. Her hands
were thrust into the pockets of her covert coat; she wore
a red tam-o’-shanter, that made a bright bit of color in
the wood. They were not more than twenty feet away,
but a wild growth of young maples lay between us,
screening the wall. Their profiles were toward me, and
the tones of the girl’s voice reached me clearly, as she
addressed her companion. He wore a clergyman’s high
waistcoat, and I assumed that he was the chaplain whom
Bates had mentioned. I am not by nature an eavesdropper,
but the girl was clearly making a plea of some
kind, and the chaplain’s stalwart figure awoke in me an
antagonism that held me to the wall.

“If he comes here I shall go away, so you may as well
understand it and tell him. I shan’t see him under any
circumstances, and I’m not going to Florida or California
or anywhere else in a private car, no matter who
chaperones it.”

“Certainly not, unless you want to—certainly not,”
said the chaplain. “You understand that I’m only giving
you his message. He thought it best—”

“Not to write to me or to Sister Theresa!” interrupted
the girl contemptuously. “What a clever man
he is!”

“And how unclever I am!” said the clergyman, laughing.
“Well, I thank you for giving me the opportunity
to present his message.”

She smiled, nodded and turned swiftly toward the
school. The chaplain looked after her for a few moments,
then walked away soberly toward the lake. He
was a young fellow, clean-shaven and dark, and with a
pair of shoulders that gave me a twinge of envy. I could
not guess how great a factor that vigorous figure was to
be in my own affairs. As I swung down from the wall
and walked toward Glenarm House, my thoughts were
not with the athletic chaplain, but with the girl, whose
youth was, I reflected, marked by her short skirt, the unconcern
with which her hands were thrust into the
pockets of her coat, and the irresponsible tilt of the tam-o’-shanter.
There is something jaunty, a suggestion of
spirit and independence in a tam-o’-shanter, particularly
a red one. If the red tam-o’-shanter expressed, so to
speak, the key-note of St. Agatha’s, the proximity of the
school was not so bad a thing after all.

In high good-humor and with a sharp appetite I went
in to luncheon.



“The persimmons are off the place, sir. Mr. Glenarm
was very fond of the fruit.”

I had never seen a persimmon before, but I was in a
mood for experiment. The frost-broken rind was certainly
forbidding, but the rich pulp brought a surprise
of joy to my palate. Bates watched me with respectful
satisfaction. His gravity was in no degree diminished
by the presence of a neat strip of flesh-colored court-plaster
over his right eye. A faint suggestion of arnica
hung in the air.

“This is a quiet life,” I remarked, wishing to give
him an opportunity to explain his encounter of the

“You are quite right, sir. As your grandfather used
to say, it’s a place of peace.”

“When nobody shoots at you through a window,” I

“Such a thing is likely to happen to any gentleman,”
he replied, “but not likely to happen more than once, if
you’ll allow the philosophy.”

He did not refer to his encounter with the caretaker,
and I resolved to keep my knowledge of it to myself. I
always prefer to let a rascal hang himself, and here was
a case, I reasoned, where, if Bates were disloyal to the
duties Pickering had imposed upon him, the fact of his
perfidy was bound to disclose itself eventually. Glancing
around at him when he was off guard I surprised
a look of utter dejection upon his face as he stood with
folded arms behind my chair.

He flushed and started, then put his hand to his forehead.

“I met with a slight accident this morning, sir. The
hickory’s very tough, sir. A piece of wood flew up and
struck me.”

“Too bad!” I said with sympathy. “You’d better
rest a bit this afternoon.”

“Thank you, sir; but it’s a small matter,—only, you
might think it a trifle disfiguring.”

He struck a match for my cigarette, and I left without
looking at him again. But as I crossed the threshold
of the library I formulated this note: “Bates is a
liar, for one thing, and a person with active enemies for
another; watch him.”

All things considered, the day was passing well
enough. I picked up a book, and threw myself on a comfortable
divan to smoke and reflect before continuing my
explorations. As I lay there, Bates brought me a telegram,
a reply to my message to Pickering. It read:

“Yours announcing arrival received and filed.”

It was certainly a queer business, my errand to Glenarm.
I lay for a couple of hours dreaming, and counted
the candles in the great crystal chandelier until my eyes
ached. Then I rose, took my cap, and was soon tramping
off toward the lake.

There were several small boats and a naphtha launch
in the boat-house. I dropped a canoe into the water and
paddled off toward the summer colony, whose gables and
chimneys were plainly visible from the Glenarm shore.

I landed and roamed idly over leaf-strewn walks past
nearly a hundred cottages, to whose windows and verandas
the winter blinds gave a dreary and inhospitable
air. There was, at one point, a casino, whose broad veranda
hung over the edge of the lake, while beneath, on
the water-side, was a boat-house. I had from this point
a fine view of the lake, and I took advantage of it to
fix in my mind the topography of the region. I could
see the bold outlines of Glenarm House and its red-tile
roofs; and the gray tower of the little chapel beyond
the wall rose above the wood with a placid dignity.
Above the trees everywhere hung the shadowy smoke of

I walked back to the wharf, where I had left my
canoe, and was about to step into it when I saw, rocking
at a similar landing-place near-by, another slight
craft of the same type as my own, but painted dark
maroon. I was sure the canoe had not been there when
I landed. Possibly it belonged to Morgan, the caretaker.
I walked over and examined it. I even lifted it
slightly in the water to test its weight. The paddle lay
on the dock beside me and it, too, I weighed critically,
deciding that it was a trifle light for my own taste.

“Please—if you don’t mind—”

I turned to stand face to face with the girl in the red

“I beg your pardon,” I said, stepping away from the

She did not wear the covert coat of the morning, but
a red knit jacket, buttoned tight about her. She was
young with every emphasis of youth. A pair of dark
blue eyes examined me with good-humored curiosity.
She was on good terms with the sun—I rejoiced in the
brown of her cheeks, so eloquent of companionship with
the outdoor world—a certificate indeed of the favor of
Heaven. Show me, in October, a girl with a face of
tan, whose hands have plied a paddle or driven a golf-ball
or cast a fly beneath the blue arches of summer,
and I will suffer her scorn in joy. She may vote me
dull and refute my wisest word with laughter, for hers
are the privileges of the sisterhood of Diana; and that
soft bronze, those daring fugitive freckles beneath her
eyes, link her to times when Pan whistled upon his reed
and all the days were long.

She had approached silently and was enjoying, I felt
sure, my discomfiture at being taken unawares.

I had snatched off my cap and stood waiting beside
the canoe, feeling, I must admit, a trifle guilty at being
caught in the unwarrantable inspection of another person’s
property—particularly a person so wholly pleasing
to the eye.

“Really, if you don’t need that paddle any more—”

I looked down and found to my annoyance that I held
it in my hand,—was in fact leaning upon it with a cool
air of proprietorship.

“Again, I beg your pardon,” I said. “I hadn’t expected—”

She eyed me calmly with the stare of the child that
arrives at a drawing-room door by mistake and scrutinizes
the guests without awe. I didn’t know what I had
expected or had not expected, and she manifested no
intention of helping me to explain. Her short skirt
suggested fifteen or sixteen—not more—and such being
the case there was no reason why I should not be master
of the situation. As I fumbled my pipe the hot coals
of tobacco burned my hand and I cast the thing from

She laughed a little and watched the pipe bound from
the dock into the water.

“Too bad!” she said, her eyes upon it; “but if you
hurry you may get it before it floats away.”

“Thank you for the suggestion,” I said. But I did
not relish the idea of kneeling on the dock to fish for a
pipe before a strange school-girl who was, I felt sure,
anxious to laugh at me.

She took a step toward the line by which her boat was

“Allow me.”

“If you think you can,—safely,” she said; and the
laughter that lurked in her eyes annoyed me.

“The feminine knot is designed for the confusion of
man,” I observed, twitching vainly at the rope, which
was tied securely in unfamiliar loops.

She was singularly unresponsive. The thought that
she was probably laughing at my clumsiness did not
make my fingers more nimble.

“The nautical instructor at St. Agatha’s is undoubtedly
a woman. This knot must come in the post-graduate
course. But my gallantry is equal, I trust, to your

The maid in the red tam-o’-shanter continued silent.
The wet rope was obdurate, the knot more and more
hopeless, and my efforts to make light of the situation
awakened no response in the girl. I tugged away at the
rope, attacking its tangle on various theories.

“A case for surgery, I’m afraid. A truly Gordian knot,
but I haven’t my knife.”

“Oh, but you wouldn’t!” she exclaimed. “I think I
can manage.”

She bent down—I was aware that the sleeve of her
jacket brushed my shoulder—seized an end that I had
ignored, gave it a sharp tug with a slim brown hand and
pulled the knot free.

“There!” she exclaimed with a little laugh; “I might
have saved you all the bother.”

“How dull of me! But I didn’t have the combination,”
I said, steadying the canoe carefully to mitigate the
ignominy of my failure.

She scorned the hand I extended, but embarked with
light confident step and took the paddle. It was growing
late. The shadows in the wood were deepening; a
chill crept over the water, and, beyond the tower of the
chapel, the sky was bright with the splendor of sunset.

With a few skilful strokes she brought her little craft
beside my pipe, picked it up and tossed it to the wharf.

“Perhaps you can pipe a tune upon it,” she said, dipping
the paddle tentatively.

“You put me under great obligations,” I declared.
“Are all the girls at St. Agatha’s as amiable?”

“I should say not! I’m a great exception,—and—I
really shouldn’t be talking to you at all! It’s against
the rules! And we don’t encourage smoking.”

“The chaplain doesn’t smoke, I suppose.”

“Not in chapel; I believe it isn’t done! And we
rarely see him elsewhere.”

She had idled with the paddle so far, but now lifted
her eyes and drew back the blade for a long stroke.

“But in the wood—this morning—by the wall!”

I hate myself to this day for having so startled her.
The poised blade dropped into the water with a splash;
she brought the canoe a trifle nearer to the wharf with
an almost imperceptible stroke, and turned toward me
with wonder and dismay in her eyes.

“So you are an eavesdropper and detective, are you?
I beg that you will give your master my compliments!
I really owe you an apology; I thought you were a gentleman!”
she exclaimed with withering emphasis, and
dipped her blade deep in flight.

I called, stammering incoherently, after her, but her
light argosy skimmed the water steadily. The paddle
rose and fell with trained precision, making scarcely a
ripple as she stole softly away toward the fairy towers
of the sunset. I stood looking after her, goaded with
self-contempt. A glory of yellow and red filled the west.
Suddenly the wind moaned in the wood behind the line
of cottages, swept over me and rippled the surface of the
lake. I watched its flight until it caught her canoe and
I marked the flimsy craft’s quick response, as the shaken
waters bore her alert figure upward on the swell, her
blade still maintaining its regular dip, until she disappeared
behind a little peninsula that made a harbor near
the school grounds.

The red tam-o’-shanter seemed at last to merge in the
red sky, and I turned to my canoe and paddled cheerlessly



I was so thoroughly angry with myself that after
idling along the shores for an hour I lost my way in the
dark wood when I landed and brought up at the rear
door used by Bates for communication with the villagers
who supplied us with provender. I readily found
my way to the kitchen and to a flight of stairs beyond,
which connected the first and second floors. The house
was dark, and my good spirits were not increased as I
stumbled up the unfamiliar way in the dark, with, I
fear, a malediction upon my grandfather, who had built
and left incomplete a house so utterly preposterous. My
unpardonable fling at the girl still rankled; and I was
cold from the quick descent of the night chill on the
water and anxious to get into more comfortable clothes.
Once on the second floor I felt that I knew the way to
my room, and I was feeling my way toward it over the
rough floor when I heard low voices rising apparently
from my sitting-room.

It was pitch dark in the hall. I stopped short and
listened. The door of my room was open and a faint
light flashed once into the hall and disappeared. I heard
now a sound as of a hammer tapping upon wood-work.

Then it ceased, and a voice whispered:

“He’ll kill me if he finds me here. I’ll try again to-morrow.
I swear to God I’ll help you, but no more

Then the sound of a scuffle and again the tapping of
the hammer. After several minutes more of this there
was a whispered dialogue which I could not hear.

Whatever was occurring, two or three points struck
me on the instant. One of the conspirators was an unwilling
party to an act as yet unknown; second, they
had been unsuccessful and must wait for another opportunity;
and third, the business, whatever it was, was
clearly of some importance to myself, as my own apartments
in my grandfather’s strange house had been
chosen for the investigation.

Clearly, I was not prepared to close the incident, but
the idea of frightening my visitors appealed to my sense
of humor. I tiptoed to the front stairway, ran lightly
down, found the front door, and, from the inside,
opened and slammed it. I heard instantly a hurried
scamper above, and the heavy fall of one who had stumbled
in the dark. I grinned with real pleasure at the
sound of this mishap, hurried into the great library,
which was as dark as a well, and, opening one of the long
windows, stepped out on the balcony. At once from the
rear of the house came the sound of a stealthy step,
which increased to a run at the ravine bridge. I listened
to the flight of the fugitive through the wood until the
sounds died away toward the lake.

Then, turning to the library windows, I saw Bates,
with a candle held above his head, peering about.

“Hello, Bates,” I called cheerfully. “I just got home
and stepped out to see if the moon had risen. I don’t
believe I know where to look for it in this country.”

He began lighting the tapers with his usual deliberation.

“It’s a trifle early, I think, sir. About seven o’clock,
I should say, was the hour, Mr. Glenarm.”

There was, of course, no doubt whatever that Bates
had been one of the men I heard in my room. It was
wholly possible that he had been compelled to assist in
some lawless act against his will; but why, if he had
been forced into aiding a criminal, should he not invoke
my own aid to protect himself? I kicked the logs in the
fireplace impatiently in my uncertainty. The man slowly
lighted the many candles in the great apartment.
He was certainly a deep one, and his case grew more
puzzling as I studied it in relation to the rifle-shot of
the night before, his collision with Morgan in the wood,
which I had witnessed; and now the house itself had
been invaded by some one with his connivance. The
shot through the refectory window might have been innocent
enough; but these other matters in connection
with it could hardly be brushed aside.

Bates lighted me to the stairway, and said as I passed

“There’s a baked ham for dinner. I should call it extra
delicate, Mr. Glenarm. I suppose there’s no change
in the dinner hour, sir?”

“Certainly not,” I said with asperity; for I am not a
person to inaugurate a dinner hour one day and change
it the next. Bates wished to make conversation,—the
sure sign of a guilty conscience in a servant,—and I was
not disposed to encourage him.

I closed the doors carefully and began a thorough
examination of both the sitting-room and the little bed-chamber.
I was quite sure that my own effects could
not have attracted the two men who had taken advantage
of my absence to visit my quarters. Bates had
helped unpack my trunk and undoubtedly knew every
item of my simple wardrobe. I threw open the doors
of the three closets in the rooms and found them all in
the good order established by Bates. He had carried my
trunks and bags to a store-room, so that everything I
owned must have passed under his eye. My money even,
the remnant of my fortune that I had drawn from the
New York bank, I had placed carelessly enough in the
drawer of a chiffonnier otherwise piled with collars. It
took but a moment to satisfy myself that this had not
been touched. And, to be sure, a hammer was not necessary
to open a drawer that had, from its appearance,
never been locked. The game was deeper than I had
imagined; I had scratched the crust without result, and
my wits were busy with speculations as I changed my
clothes, pausing frequently to examine the furniture,
even the bricks on the hearth.

One thing only I found—the slight scar of a hammer-head
on the oak paneling that ran around the bedroom.
The wood had been struck near the base and at the top
of every panel, for though the mark was not perceptible
on all, a test had evidently been made systematically.
With this as a beginning, I found a moment later a spot
of tallow under a heavy table in one corner. Evidently
the furniture had been moved to permit of the closest
scrutiny of the paneling. Even behind the bed I found
the same impress of the hammer-head; the test had undoubtedly
been thorough, for a pretty smart tap on oak
is necessary to leave an impression. My visitors had
undoubtedly been making soundings in search of a recess
of some kind in the wall, and as they had failed of
their purpose they were likely, I assumed, to pursue
their researches further.

I pondered these things with a thoroughly-awakened
interest in life. Glenarm House really promised to prove
exciting. I took from a drawer a small revolver, filled
its chambers with cartridges and thrust it into my hip
pocket, whistling meanwhile Larry Donovan’s favorite
air, the Marche Funèbre d’une Marionnette. My heart
went out to Larry as I scented adventure, and I wished
him with me; but speculations as to Larry’s whereabouts
were always profitless, and quite likely he was in jail

The ham of whose excellence Bates had hinted was no
disappointment. There is, I have always held, nothing
better in this world than a baked ham, and the specimen
Bates placed before me was a delight to the eye,—so
adorned was it with spices, so crisply brown its outer
coat; and a taste—that first tentative taste, before the
sauce was added—was like a dream of Lucullus come
true. I could forgive a good deal in a cook with that
touch,—anything short of arson and assassination!

“Bates,” I said, as he stood forth where I could see
him, “you cook amazingly well. Where did you learn
the business?”

“Your grandfather grew very captious, Mr. Glenarm.
I had to learn to satisfy him, and I believe I did it, sir,
if you’ll pardon the conceit.”

“He didn’t die of gout, did he? I can readily imagine

“No, Mr. Glenarm. It was his heart. He had his
warning of it.”

“Ah, yes; to be sure. The heart or the stomach,—one
may as well fail as the other. I believe I prefer to keep
my digestion going as long as possible. Those grilled
sweet potatoes again, if you please, Bates.”

The game that he and I were playing appealed to me
strongly. It was altogether worth while, and as I ate
guava jelly with cheese and toasted crackers, and then
lighted one of my own cigars over a cup of Bates’ unfailing
coffee, my spirit was livelier than at any time
since a certain evening on which Larry and I had
escaped from Tangier with our lives and the curses of
the police. It is a melancholy commentary on life that
contentment comes more easily through the stomach
than along any other avenue. In the great library, with
its rich store of books and its eternal candles, I sprawled
upon a divan before the fire and smoked and indulged
in pleasant speculations. The day had offered much
material for fireside reflection, and I reviewed its history

There was, however, one incident that I found unpleasant
in the retrospect. I had been guilty of most
unchivalrous conduct toward one of the girls of St.
Agatha’s. It had certainly been unbecoming in me to
sit on the wall, however unwillingly, and listen to the
words—few though they were—that passed between her
and the chaplain. I forgot the shot through the window;
I forgot Bates and the interest my room possessed for
him and his unknown accomplice; but the sudden distrust
and contempt I had awakened in the girl by my
clownish behavior annoyed me increasingly.

I rose presently, found my cap in a closet under the
stairs, and went out into the moon-flooded wood toward
the lake. The tangle was not so great when you knew
the way, and there was indeed, as I had found, the faint
suggestion of a path. The moon glorified a broad highway
across the water; the air was sharp and still. The
houses in the summer colony were vaguely defined, but
the sight of them gave me no cheer. The tilt of her
tam-o’-shanter as she paddled away into the sunset had
conveyed an impression of spirit and dignity that I could
not adjust to any imaginable expiation.

These reflections carried me to the borders of St.
Agatha’s, and I followed the wall to the gate, climbed
up, and sat down in the shadow of the pillar farthest
from the lake. Lights shone scatteringly in the buildings
of St. Agatha’s, but the place was wholly silent.
I drew out a cigarette and was about to light it when
I heard a sound as of a tread on stone. There was, I
knew, no stone pavement at hand, but peering toward
the lake I saw a man walking boldly along the top of the
wall toward me. The moonlight threw his figure into
clear relief. Several times he paused, bent down and
rapped upon the wall with an object he carried in his

Only a few hours before I had heard a similar sound
rising from the wainscoting of my own room in Glenarm
House. Evidently the stone wall, too, was under

Tap, tap, tap! The man with the hammer was examining
the farther side of the gate, and very likely he
would carry his investigations beyond it. I drew up my
legs and crouched in the shadow of the pillar, revolver
in hand. I was not anxious for an encounter; I much
preferred to wait for a disclosure of the purpose that lay
behind this mysterious tapping upon walls on my grandfather’s

But the matter was taken out of my own hands before
I had a chance to debate it. The man dropped to the
ground, sounded the stone base under the gate, likewise
the pillars, evidently without results, struck a spiteful
crack upon the iron bars, then stood up abruptly and
looked me straight in the eyes. It was Morgan, the
caretaker of the summer colony.

“Good evening, Mr. Morgan,” I said, settling the revolver
into my hand.

There was no doubt about his surprise; he fell back,
staring at me hard, and instinctively drawing the hammer
over his shoulder as though to fling it at me.

“Just stay where you are a moment, Morgan,” I said
pleasantly, and dropped to a sitting position on the wall
for greater ease in talking to him.

He stood sullenly, the hammer dangling at arm’s
length, while my revolver covered his head.

“Now, if you please, I’d like to know what you mean
by prowling about here and rummaging my house!”

“Oh, it’s you, is it, Mr. Glenarm? Well, you certainly
gave me a bad scare.”

His air was one of relief and his teeth showed pleasantly
through his beard.

“It certainly is I. But you haven’t answered my question.
What were you doing in my house to-day?”

He smiled again, shaking his head.

“You’re really fooling, Mr. Glenarm. I wasn’t in
your house to-day; I never was in it in my life!”

His white teeth gleamed in his light beard; his hat
was pushed back from his forehead so that I saw his
eyes, and he wore unmistakably the air of a man whose
conscience is perfectly clear. I was confident that he
lied, but without appealing to Bates I was not prepared
to prove it.

“But you can’t deny that you’re on my grounds now,
can you?” I had dropped the revolver to my knee, but
I raised it again.

“Certainly not, Mr. Glenarm. If you’ll allow me to

“That’s precisely what I want you to do.”

“Well, it may seem strange,”—he laughed, and I felt
the least bit foolish to be pointing a pistol at the head
of a fellow of so amiable a spirit.

“Hurry,” I commanded.

“Well, as I was saying, it may seem strange; but I
was just examining the wall to determine the character
of the work. One of the cottagers on the lake left me
with the job of building a fence on his place, and I’ve
been expecting to come over to look at this all fall.
You see, Mr. Glenarm, your honored grandfather was
a master in such matters, as you may know, and I didn’t
see any harm in getting the benefit—to put it so—of his

I laughed. He had denied having entered the house
with so much assurance that I had been prepared for
some really plausible explanation of his interest in the

“Morgan—you said it was Morgan, didn’t you?—you
are undoubtedly a scoundrel of the first water. I make
the remark with pleasure.”

“Men have been killed for saying less,” he said.

“And for doing less than firing through windows at a
man’s head. It wasn’t friendly of you.”

“I don’t see why you center all your suspicions on
me. You exaggerate my importance, Mr. Glenarm. I’m
only the man-of-all-work at a summer resort.”

“I wouldn’t believe you, Morgan, if you swore on a
stack of Bibles as high as this wall.”

“Thanks!” he ejaculated mockingly.

Like a flash he swung the hammer over his head and
drove it at me, and at the same moment I fired. The
hammer-head struck the pillar near the outer edge and
in such a manner that the handle flew around and
smote me smartly in the face. By the time I reached
the ground the man was already running rapidly
through the park, darting in and out among the trees,
and I made after him at hot speed.

[Illustration: Like a flash he swung the hammer, and at the same moment I fired.]

The hammer-handle had struck slantingly across my
forehead, and my head ached from the blow. I abused
myself roundly for managing the encounter so stupidly,
and in my rage fired twice with no aim whatever after
the flying figure of the caretaker. He clearly had the
advantage of familiarity with the wood, striking off
boldly into the heart of it, and quickly widening the
distance between us; but I kept on, even after I ceased
to hear him threshing through the undergrowth, and
came out presently at the margin of the lake about fifty
feet from the boat-house. I waited in the shadow for
some time, expecting to see the fellow again, but he did
not appear.

I found the wall with difficulty and followed it back
to the gate. It would be just as well, I thought, to
possess myself of the hammer; and I dropped down on
the St. Agatha side of the wall and groped about among
the leaves until I found it.

Then I walked home, went into the library, alight
with its many candles just as I had left it, and sat
down before the fire to meditate. I had been absent
from the house only forty-five minutes.



A moment later Bates entered with a fresh supply of
wood. I watched him narrowly for some sign of perturbation,
but he was not to be caught off guard. Possibly
he had not heard the shots in the wood; at any
rate, he tended the fire with his usual gravity, and after
brushing the hearth paused respectfully.

“Is there anything further, sir?”

“I believe not, Bates. Oh! here’s a hammer I picked
up out in the grounds a bit ago. I wish you’d see if it
belongs to the house.”

He examined the implement with care and shook his

“It doesn’t belong here, I think, sir. But we sometimes
find tools left by the carpenters that worked on
the house. Shall I put this in the tool-chest, sir?”

“Never mind. I need such a thing now and then and
I’ll keep it handy.”

“Very good, Mr. Glenarm. It’s a bit sharper to-night,
but we’re likely to have sudden changes at this season.”

“I dare say.”

We were not getting anywhere; the fellow was certainly
an incomparable actor.

“You must find it pretty lonely here, Bates. Don’t
hesitate to go to the village when you like.”

“I thank you, Mr. Glenarm; but I am not much for
idling. I keep a few books by me for the evenings. Annandale
is not what you would exactly call a diverting

“I fancy not. But the caretaker over at the summer
resort has even a lonelier time, I suppose. That’s what
I’d call a pretty cheerless job,—watching summer cottages
in the winter.”

“That’s Morgan, sir. I meet him occasionally when
I go to the village; a very worthy person, I should call
him, on slight acquaintance.”

“No doubt of it, Bates. Any time through the winter
you want to have him in for a social glass, it’s all
right with me.”

He met my gaze without flinching, and lighted me
to the stair with our established ceremony. I voted him
an interesting knave and really admired the cool way
in which he carried off difficult situations. I had no
intention of being killed, and now that I had due warning
of danger, I resolved to protect myself from foes
without and within. Both Bates and Morgan, the caretaker,
were liars of high attainment. Morgan was,
moreover, a cheerful scoundrel, and experience taught
me long ago that a knave with humor is doubly dangerous.

Before going to bed I wrote a long letter to Larry
Donovan, giving him a full account of my arrival at
Glenarm House. The thought of Larry always cheered
me, and as the pages slipped from my pen I could feel
his sympathy and hear him chuckling over the lively beginning
of my year at Glenarm. The idea of being fired
upon by an unseen foe would, I knew, give Larry a real
lift of the spirit.

The next morning I walked into the village, mailed
my letter, visited the railway station with true rustic
instinct and watched the cutting out of a freight car for
Annandale with a pleasure I had not before taken in
that proceeding. The villagers stared at me blankly as
on my first visit. A group of idle laborers stopped talking
to watch me; and when I was a few yards past them
they laughed at a remark by one of the number which
I could not overhear. But I am not a particularly sensitive
person; I did not care what my Hoosier neighbors
said of me; all I asked was that they should refrain
from shooting at the back of my head through the windows
of my own house.

On this day I really began to work. I mapped out
a course of reading, set up a draftsman’s table I found
put away in a closet, and convinced myself that I was
beginning a year of devotion to architecture. Such was,
I felt, the only honest course. I should work every day
from eight until one, and my leisure I should give to
recreation and a search for the motives that lay behind
the crafts and assaults of my enemies.

When I plunged into the wood in the middle of the
afternoon it was with the definite purpose of returning
to the upper end of the lake for an interview with Morgan,
who had, so Bates informed me, a small house back
of the cottages.

I took the canoe I had chosen for my own use from
the boat-house and paddled up the lake. The air was
still warm, but the wind that blew out of the south
tasted of rain. I scanned the water and the borders of
the lake for signs of life,—more particularly, I may as
well admit, for a certain maroon-colored canoe and a
girl in a red tam-o’-shanter, but lake and summer cottages
were mine alone. I landed and began at once my
search for Morgan. There were many paths through
the woods back of the cottages, and I followed several
futilely before I at last found a small house snugly
bid away in a thicket of young maples.

The man I was looking for came to the door quickly
in response to my knock.

“Good afternoon, Morgan.”

“Good afternoon, Mr. Glenarm,” he said, taking the
pipe from his mouth the better to grin at me. He
showed no sign of surprise, and I was nettled by his cool
reception. There was, perhaps, a certain element of
recklessness in my visit to the house of a man who had
shown so singular an interest in my affairs, and his cool
greeting vexed me.

“Morgan—” I began.

“Won’t you come in and rest yourself, Mr. Glenarm?”
he interrupted. “I reckon you’re tired from your trip

“Thank you, no,” I snapped.

“Suit yourself, Mr. Glenarm.” He seemed to like my
name and gave it a disagreeable drawling emphasis.

“Morgan, you are an infernal blackguard. You have
tried twice to kill me—”

“We’ll call it that, if you like,”—and he grinned.
“But you’d better cut off one for this.”

He lifted the gray fedora hat from his head, and
poked his finger through a hole in the top.

“You’re a pretty fair shot, Mr. Glenarm. The fact
about me is,”—and he winked,—”the honest truth is,
I’m all out of practice. Why, sir, when I saw you paddling
out on the lake this afternoon I sighted you from
the casino half a dozen times with my gun, but I was
afraid to risk it.” He seemed to be shaken with inner
mirth. “If I’d missed, I wasn’t sure you’d be scared to

For a novel diversion I heartily recommend a meeting
with the assassin who has, only a few days or hours
before, tried to murder you. I know of nothing in the
way of social adventure that is quite equal to it. Morgan
was a fellow of intelligence and, whatever lay back
of his designs against me, he was clearly a foe to reckon
with. He stood in the doorway calmly awaiting my
next move. I struck a match on my box and lighted a

“Morgan, I hope you understand that I am not responsible
for any injury my grandfather may have inflicted
on you. I hadn’t seen him for several years before
he died. I was never at Glenarm before in my
life, so it’s a little rough for you to visit your displeasure
on me.”

He smiled tolerantly as I spoke. I knew—and he
knew that I did—that no ill feeling against my grandfather
lay back of his interest in my affairs.

“You’re not quite the man your grandfather was, Mr.
Glenarm. You’ll excuse my bluntness, but I take it
that you’re a frank man. He was a very keen person,
and, I’m afraid,”—he chuckled with evident satisfaction
to himself,—”I’m really afraid, Mr. Glenarm, that
you’re not!”

“There you have it, Morgan! I fully agree with you!
I’m as dull as an oyster; that’s the reason I’ve called on
you for enlightenment. Consider that I’m here under a
flag of truce, and let’s see if we can’t come to an agreement.”

“It’s too late, Mr. Glenarm; too late. There was a
time when we might have done some business; but that’s
past now. You seem like a pretty decent fellow, too,
and I’m sorry I didn’t see you sooner; but better luck
next time.”

He stroked his yellow beard reflectively and shook his
head a little sadly. He was not a bad-looking fellow;
and he expressed himself well enough with a broad western

“Well,” I said, seeing that I should only make myself
ridiculous by trying to learn anything from him, “I
hope our little spats through windows and on walls won’t
interfere with our pleasant social relations. And I don’t
hesitate to tell you,”—I was exerting myself to keep
down my anger,—”that if I catch you on my grounds
again I’ll fill you with lead and sink you in the lake.”

“Thank you, sir,” he said, with so perfect an imitation
of Bates’ voice and manner that I smiled in spite
of myself.

“And now, if you’ll promise not to fire into my back
I’ll wish you good day. Otherwise—”

He snatched off his hat and bowed profoundly. “It’ll
suit me much better to continue handling the case on
your grounds,” he said, as though he referred to a
business matter. “Killing a man on your own property
requires some explaining—you may have noticed it?”

“Yes; I commit most of my murders away from
home,” I said. “I formed the habit early in life. Good
day, Morgan.”

As I turned away he closed his door with a slam,—a
delicate way of assuring me that he was acting in good
faith, and not preparing to puncture my back with a
rifle-ball. I regained the lake-shore, feeling no great
discouragement over the lean results of my interview,
but rather a fresh zest for the game, whatever the
game might be. Morgan was not an enemy to trifle
with; he was, on the other hand, a clever and daring
foe; and the promptness with which he began war on
me the night of my arrival at Glenarm House, indicated
that there was method in his hostility.

The sun was going his ruddy way beyond St. Agatha’s
as I drove my canoe into a little cove near which the
girl in the tam-o’-shanter had disappeared the day before.
The shore was high here and at the crest was a
long curved bench of stone reached by half a dozen
steps, from which one might enjoy a wide view of the
country, both across the lake and directly inland. The
bench was a pretty bit of work, boldly reminiscential of
Alma Tadema, and as clearly the creation of John
Marshall Glenarm as though his name had been carved
upon it.

It was assuredly a spot for a pipe and a mood, and
as the shadows crept through the wood before me and
the water, stirred by the rising wind, began to beat below,
I invoked the one and yielded to the other. Something
in the withered grass at my feet caught my eye.
I bent and picked up a string of gold beads, dropped
there, no doubt, by some girl from the school or a careless
member of the summer colony. I counted the separate
beads—they were round and there were fifty of
them. The proper length for one turn about a girl’s
throat, perhaps; not more than that! I lifted my eyes
and looked off toward St. Agatha’s.

“Child of the red tam-o’-shanter, I’m very sorry I
was rude to you yesterday, for I liked your steady stroke
with the paddle; and I admired, even more, the way you
spurned me when you saw that among all the cads in
the world I am number one in Class A. And these
golden bubbles (O girl of the red tam-o’-shanter!), if
they are not yours you shall help me find the owner, for
we are neighbors, you and I, and there must be peace
between our houses.”

With this foolishness I rose, thrust the beads into my
pocket, and paddled home in the waning glory of the

That night, as I was going quite late to bed, bearing
a candle to light me through the dark hall to my room,
I heard a curious sound, as of some one walking stealthily
through the house. At first I thought Bates was still
abroad, but I waited, listening for several minutes, without
being able to mark the exact direction of the sound
or to identify it with him. I went on to the door of my
room, and still a muffled step seemed to follow me,—first
it had come from below, then it was much like some one
going up stairs,—but where? In my own room I still
heard steps, light, slow, but distinct. Again there was a
stumble and a hurried recovery,—ghosts, I reflected, do
not fall down stairs!

The sound died away, seemingly in some remote part
of the house, and though I prowled about for an hour
it did not recur that night.



Wind and rain rioted in the wood, and occasionally
both fell upon the library windows with a howl and a
splash. The tempest had wakened me; it seemed that
every chimney in the house held a screaming demon.
We were now well-launched upon December, and I was
growing used to my surroundings. I had offered myself
frequently as a target by land and water; I had sat
on the wall and tempted fate; and I had roamed the
house constantly expecting to surprise Bates in some act
of treachery; but the days were passing monotonously.
I saw nothing of Morgan—he had gone to Chicago on
some errand, so Bates reported—but I continued to walk
abroad every day, and often at night, alert for a reopening
of hostilities. Twice I had seen the red tam-o’-shanter
far through the wood, and once I had passed my
young acquaintance with another girl, a dark, laughing
youngster, walking in the highway, and she had bowed
to me coldly. Even the ghost in the wall proved inconstant,
but I had twice heard the steps without being able
to account for them.

Memory kept plucking my sleeve with reminders of
my grandfather. I was touched at finding constantly
his marginal notes in the books he had collected with so
much intelligence and loving care. It occurred to me
that some memorial, a tablet attached to the outer wall,
or perhaps, more properly placed in the chapel, would
be fitting; and I experimented with designs for it, covering
many sheets of drawing-paper in an effort to set
forth in a few words some hint of his character. On this
gray morning I produced this:

The life of John Marshall Glenarm
was a testimony to the virtue of
generosity, forbearance and gentleness
The Beautiful things he loved
were not nobler than his own days
His grandson (who served him ill)
writes this of him

I had drawn these words on a piece of cardboard and
was studying them critically when Bates came in with

“Those are unmistakable snowflakes, sir,” said Bates
from the window. “We’re in for winter now.”

It was undeniably snow; great lazy flakes of it were
crowding down upon the wood.

Bates had not mentioned Morgan or referred even remotely
to the pistol-shot of my first night, and he had
certainly conducted himself as a model servant. The
man-of-all-work at St. Agatha’s, a Scotchman named
Ferguson, had visited him several times, and I had surprised
them once innocently enjoying their pipes and
whisky and water in the kitchen.

“They are having trouble at the school, sir,” said
Bates from the hearth.

“The young ladies running a little wild, eh?”

“Sister Theresa’s ill, sir. Ferguson told me last

“No doubt Ferguson knows,” I declared, moving the
papers about on my desk, conscious, and not ashamed of
it, that I enjoyed these dialogues with Bates. I occasionally
entertained the idea that he would some day
brain me as I sat dining upon the viands which he prepared
with so much skill; or perhaps he would poison
me, that being rather more in his line of business and
perfectly easy of accomplishment; but the house was
bare and lonely and he was a resource.

“So Sister Theresa’s ill!” I began, seeing that Bates
had nearly finished, and glancing with something akin
to terror upon the open pages of a dreary work on English
cathedrals that had put me to sleep the day before.

“She’s been quite uncomfortable, sir; but they hope
to see her out in a few days!”

“That’s good; I’m glad to hear it.”

“Yes, sir. I think we naturally feel interested, being
neighbors. And Ferguson says that Miss Devereux’s devotion
to her aunt is quite touching.”

I stood up straight and stared at Bates’ back—he was
trying to stop the rattle which the wind had set up in
one of the windows.

“Miss Devereux!” I laughed outright.

“That’s the name, sir,—rather odd, I should call it.”

“Yes, it is rather odd,” I said, composed again, but
not referring to the name. My mind was busy with a
certain paragraph in my grandfather’s will:

Should he fail to comply with this provision, said property
shall revert to my general estate, and become, without
reservation, and without necessity for any process of
law, the property, absolutely, of Marian Devereux, of the
County and State of New York.

“Your grandfather was very fond of her, sir. She
and Sister Theresa were abroad at the time he died. It
was my sorrowful duty to tell them the sad news in New
York, sir, when they landed.”

“The devil it was!” It irritated me to remember that
Bates probably knew exactly the nature of my grandfather’s
will; and the terms of it were not in the least
creditable to me. Sister Theresa and her niece were
doubtless calmly awaiting my failure to remain at
Glenarm House during the disciplinary year,—Sister
Theresa, a Protestant nun, and the niece who probably
taught drawing in the school for her keep! I was sure
it was drawing; nothing else would, I felt, have brought
the woman within the pale of my grandfather’s beneficence.

I had given no thought to Sister Theresa since coming
to Glenarm. She had derived her knowledge of me
from my grandfather, and, such being the case, she
would naturally look upon me as a blackguard and a
menace to the peace of the neighborhood. I had, therefore,
kept rigidly to my own side of the stone wall. A
suspicion crossed my mind, marshaling a host of doubts
and questions that had lurked there since my first night
at Glenarm.


He was moving toward the door with his characteristic
slow step.

“If your friend Morgan, or any one else, should shoot
me, or if I should tumble into the lake, or otherwise end
my earthly career—Bates!”

His eyes had slipped from mine to the window and I
spoke his name sharply.

“Yes, Mr. Glenarm.”

“Then Sister Theresa’s niece would get this property
and everything else that belonged to Mr. Glenarm.”

“That’s my understanding of the matter, sir.”

“Morgan, the caretaker, has tried to kill me twice
since I came here. He fired at me through the window
the night I came,—Bates!”

I waited for his eyes to meet mine again. His hands
opened and shut several times, and alarm and fear convulsed
his face for a moment.

“Bates, I’m trying my best to think well of you; but
I want you to understand”—I smote the table with my
clenched hand—“that if these women, or your employer,
Mr. Pickering, or that damned hound, Morgan, or you—
damn you, I don’t know who or what you are!—think
you can scare me away from here, you’ve waked up the
wrong man, and I’ll tell you another thing,—and you
may repeat it to your school-teachers and to Mr. Pickering,
who pays you, and to Morgan, whom somebody has
hired to kill me,—that I’m going to keep faith with my
dead grandfather, and that when I’ve spent my year
here and done what that old man wished me to do, I’ll
give them this house and every acre of ground and every
damned dollar the estate carries with it. And now one
other thing! I suppose there’s a sheriff or some kind of
a constable with jurisdiction over this place, and I could
have the whole lot of you put into jail for conspiracy,
but I’m going to stand out against you alone,—do you
understand me, you hypocrite, you stupid, slinking spy?
Answer me, quick, before I throw you out of the room!”

I had worked myself into a great passion and fairly
roared my challenge, pounding the table in my rage.

“Yes, sir; I quite understand you, sir. But I’m
afraid, sir—”

“Of course you’re afraid!” I shouted, enraged anew
by his halting speech. “You have every reason in the
world to be afraid. You’ve probably heard that I’m a
bad lot and a worthless adventurer; but you can tell
Sister Theresa or Pickering or anybody you please that
I’m ten times as bad as I’ve ever been painted. Now
clear out of here!”

He left the room without looking at me again. During
the morning I strolled through the house several
times to make sure he had not left it to communicate
with some of his fellow plotters, but I was, I admit, disappointed
to find him in every instance busy at some
wholly proper task. Once, indeed, I found him cleaning
my storm boots! To find him thus humbly devoted
to my service after the raking I had given him dulled
the edge of my anger. I went back to the library and
planned a cathedral in seven styles of architecture, all
unrelated and impossible, and when this began to bore
me I designed a crypt in which the wicked should be
buried standing on their heads and only the very good
might lie and sleep in peace. These diversions and several
black cigars won me to a more amiable mood. I
felt better, on the whole, for having announced myself
to the delectable Bates, who gave me for luncheon a
brace of quails, done in a manner that stripped criticism
of all weapons.

We did not exchange a word, and after knocking
about in the library for several hours I went out for a
tramp. Winter had indeed come and possessed the
earth, and it had given me a new landscape. The snow
continued to fall in great, heavy flakes, and the ground
was whitening fast.

A rabbit’s track caught my eye and I followed it,
hardly conscious that I did so. Then the clear print of
two small shoes mingled with the rabbit’s trail. A few
moments later I picked up an overshoe, evidently lost
in the chase by one of Sister Theresa’s girls, I reflected.
I remembered that while at Tech I had collected diverse
memorabilia from school-girl acquaintances, and here I
was beginning a new series with a string of beads and an

A rabbit is always an attractive quarry. Few things
besides riches are so elusive, and the little fellows have,
I am sure, a shrewd humor peculiar to themselves. I
rather envied the school-girl who had ventured forth for
a run in the first snow-storm of the season. I recalled
Aldrich’s turn on Gautier’s lines as I followed the
double trail:

“Howe’er you tread, a tiny mould
Betrays that light foot all the same;
Upon this glistening, snowy fold
At every step it signs your name.”

A pretty autograph, indeed! The snow fell steadily
and I tramped on over the joint signature of the girl
and the rabbit. Near the lake they parted company, the
rabbit leading off at a tangent, on a line parallel with
the lake, while his pursuer’s steps pointed toward the

There was, so far as I knew, only one student of adventurous
blood at St. Agatha’s, and I was not in the
least surprised to see, on the little sheltered balcony of
the boat-house, the red tam-o’-shanter. She wore, too,
the covert coat I remembered from the day I saw her
first from the wall. Her back was toward me as I drew
near; her hands were thrust into her pockets. She was
evidently enjoying the soft mingling of the snow with
the still, blue waters of the lake, and a girl and a snow-storm
are, if you ask my opinion, a pretty combination.
The fact of a girl’s facing a winter storm argues
mightily in her favor,—testifies, if you will allow me,
to a serene and dauntless spirit, for one thing, and a
sound constitution, for another.

I ran up the steps, my cap in one hand, her overshoe
in the other. She drew back a trifle, just enough to
bring my conscience to its knees.

“I didn’t mean to listen that day. I just happened
to be on the wall and it was a thoroughly underbred
trick—my twitting you about it—and I should have told
you before if I’d known how to see you—”

“May I trouble you for that shoe?” she said with a
great deal of dignity.

They taught that cold disdain of man, I supposed, as
a required study at St. Agatha’s.

“Oh, certainly! Won’t you allow me?”

“Thank you, no!”

I was relieved, to tell the truth, for I had been out of
the world for most of that period in which a youngster
perfects himself in such graces as the putting on of a
girl’s overshoes. She took the damp bit of rubber—a
wet overshoe, even if small and hallowed by associations,
isn’t pretty—as Venus might have received a soft-shell
crab from the hand of a fresh young merman. I was
between her and the steps to which her eyes turned longingly.

“Of course, if you won’t accept my apology I can’t
do anything about it; but I hope you understand that
I’m sincere and humble, and anxious to be forgiven.”

“You seem to be making a good deal of a small matter—”

“I wasn’t referring to the overshoe!” I said.

She did not relent.

“If you’ll only go away—”

She rested one hand against the corner of the boat-house
while she put on the overshoe. She wore, I noticed,
brown gloves with cuffs.

“How can I go away! You children are always leaving
things about for me to pick up. I’m perfectly worn
out carrying some girl’s beads about with me; and I
spoiled a good glove on your overshoe.”

“I’ll relieve you of the beads, too, if you please.”
And her tone measurably reduced my stature.

She thrust her hands into the pockets of her coat and
shook the tam-o’-shanter slightly, to establish it in a
more comfortable spot on her head. The beads had been
in my corduroy coat since I found them. I drew them
out and gave them to her.

“Thank you; thank you very much.”

“Of course they are yours, Miss—”

She thrust them into her pocket.

“Of course they’re mine,” she said indignantly, and
turned to go.

“We’ll waive proof of property and that sort of thing,”
I remarked, with, I fear, the hope of detaining her.
“I’m sorry not to establish a more neighborly feeling
with St. Agatha’s. The stone wall may seem formidable,
but it’s not of my building. I must open the gate.
That wall’s a trifle steep for climbing.”

I was amusing myself with the idea that my identity
was a dark mystery to her. I had read English novels
in which the young lord of the manor is always mistaken
for the game-keeper’s son by the pretty daughter
of the curate who has come home from school to be the
belle of the county. But my lady of the red tam-o’-shanter
was not a creature of illusions.

“It serves a very good purpose—the wall, I mean—
Mr. Glenarm.”

She was walking down the steps and I followed. I
am not a man to suffer a lost school-girl to cross my
lands unattended in a snow-storm; and the piazza of a
boat-house is not, I submit, a pleasant loafing-place on
a winter day. She marched before me, her hands in her
pockets—I liked her particularly that way—with an
easy swing and a light and certain step. Her remark
about the wall did not encourage further conversation
and I fell back upon the poets.

“Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage,”

I quoted. Quoting poetry in a snow-storm while you
stumble through a woodland behind a girl who shows
no interest in either your prose or your rhymes has its
embarrassments, particularly when you are breathing a
trifle hard from the swift pace your auditor is leading

“I have heard that before,” she said, half-turning her
face, then laughing as she hastened on.

Her brilliant cheeks were a delight to the eye. The
snow swirled about her, whitened the crown of her red
cap and clung to her shoulders. Have you ever seen
snow-crystals gleam, break, dissolve in fair, soft, storm-blown
hair? Do you know how a man will pledge his
soul that a particular flake will never fade, never cease
to rest upon a certain flying strand over a girlish temple?
And he loses—his heart and his wager—in a
breath! If you fail to understand these things, and are
furthermore unfamiliar with the fact that the color in
the cheeks of a girl who walks abroad in a driving snow-storm
marks the favor of Heaven itself, then I waste
time, and you will do well to rap at the door of another

“I’d rather missed you,” I said; “and, really, I should
have been over to apologize if I hadn’t been afraid.”

“Sister Theresa is rather fierce,” she declared. “And
we’re not allowed to receive gentlemen callers,—it says
so in the catalogue.”

“So I imagined. I trust Sister Theresa is improving.”

[Illustration: She marched before me, her hands in her pockets.]

“Yes; thank you.”

“And Miss Devereux,—she is quite well, I hope?”

She turned her head as though to listen more carefully,
and her step slackened for a moment; then she
hurried blithely forward.

“Oh, she’s always well, I believe.”

“You know her, of course.”

“Oh, rather! She gives us music lessons.”

“So Miss Devereux is the music-teacher, is she?
Should you call her a popular teacher?”

“The girls call her”—she seemed moved to mirth by
the recollection—“Miss Prim and Prosy.”

“Ugh!” I exclaimed sympathetically. “Tall and hungry-looking,
with long talons that pound the keys with
grim delight. I know the sort.”

“She’s a sight!“—and my guide laughed approvingly.
“But we have to take her; she’s part of the treatment.”

“You speak of St. Agatha’s as though it were a sanatorium.”

“Oh, it’s not so bad! I’ve seen worse.”

“Where do most of the students come from,—all what
you call Hoosiers?”

“Oh, no! They’re from all over—Cincinnati, Chicago,
Cleveland, Indianapolis.”

“What the magazines call the Middle West.”

“I believe that is so. The bishop addressed us once
as the flower of the Middle West, and made us really
wish he’d come again.”

We were approaching the gate. Her indifference to
the storm delighted me. Here, I thought in my admiration,
is a real product of the western world. I felt that
we had made strides toward such a comradeship as it is
proper should exist between a school-girl in her teens
and a male neighbor of twenty-seven. I was—going
back to English fiction—the young squire walking home
with the curate’s pretty young daughter and conversing
with fine condescension.

“We girls all wish we could come over and help hunt
the lost treasure. It must be simply splendid to live in
a house where there’s a mystery,—secret passages and
chests of doubloons and all that sort of thing! My!
Squire Glenarm, I suppose you spend all your nights exploring
secret passages.”

This free expression of opinion startled me, though
she seemed wholly innocent of impertinence.

“Who says there’s any secret about the house?” I demanded.

“Oh, Ferguson, the gardener, and all the girls!”

“I fear Ferguson is drawing on his imagination.”

“Well, all the people in the village think so. I’ve
heard the candy-shop woman speak of it often.”

“She’d better attend to her taffy,” I retorted.

“Oh, you mustn’t be sensitive about it! All us girls
think it ever so romantic, and we call you sometimes the
lord of the realm, and when we see you walking through
the darkling wood at evenfall we say, ‘My lord is brooding
upon the treasure chests.’ ”

This, delivered in the stilted tone of one who is half-quoting
and half-improvising, was irresistibly funny,
and I laughed with good will.

“I hope you’ve forgiven me—” I began, kicking the
gate to knock off the snow, and taking the key from my

“But I haven’t, Mr. Glenarm. Your assumption is,
to say the least, unwarranted,—I got that from a book!”

“It isn’t fair for you to know my name and for me not
to know yours,” I said leadingly.

“You are perfectly right. You are Mr. John Glenarm
—the gardener told me—and I am just Olivia.
They don’t allow me to be called Miss yet. I’m very
young, sir!”

“You’ve only told me half,”—and I kept my hand on
the closed gate. The snow still fell steadily and the
short afternoon was nearing its close. I did not like to
lose her,—the life, the youth, the mirth for which she
stood. The thought of Glenarm House amid the snow-hung
wood and of the long winter evening that I must
spend alone moved me to delay. Lights already gleamed
in the school-buildings straight before us and the sight
of them smote me with loneliness.

“Olivia Gladys Armstrong,” she said, laughing,
brushed past me through the gate and ran lightly over
the snow toward St. Agatha’s.



I read in the library until late, hearing the howl of
the wind outside with satisfaction in the warmth and
comfort of the great room. Bates brought in some sandwiches
and a bottle of ale at midnight.

“If there’s nothing more, sir—”

“That is all, Bates.” And he went off sedately to his
own quarters.

I was restless and in no mood for bed and mourned

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