Part 4 out of 4
He was as abject as any one could have wished. It was my minute
of triumph, but I can not pretend that I was happy. Evidently it
had been only a passing impulse. If he had really cared, now that
he knew I was free, he would have forgotten himself again at
once. Then a new explanation occurred to me. Suppose it had been
Bella all the time, and the real shock had been to find that she
had been married!
"The fault of the situation was really mine," I said
magnanimously; "I quite blame myself. Only, you must believe one
thing. You never furnished us any amusement." I looked at him
sidewise. "The discovery that Bella and Jim were once married
must have been a great shock."
"It was a surprise," he replied evenly. His voice and his eyes
were inscrutable. He returned my glance steadily. It was
infuriating to have gone half-way to meet him, as I had, and then
to find him intrenched in his self-sufficiency again. I got up.
"It is unfortunate that our acquaintance has begun so
unfavorably," I remarked, preparing to pass him. "Under other
circumstances we might have been friends."
"There is only one solace," he said. "When we do not have
friends, we can not lose them."
He opened the door to let me pass out, and as our eyes met, all
the coldness died out of his. He held out his hand, but I was
hurt. I refused to see it.
"Kit!" he said unsteadily. "I--I'm an obstinate, pig-headed
brute. I am sorry. Can't we be friends, after all?"
"'When we do not have friends we can not lose them,'" I replied
with cool malice. And the next instant the door closed behind me.
It was that night that the really serious event of the quarantine
We were gathered in the library, and everybody was deadly dull.
Aunt Selina said she had been reared to a strict observance of
the Sabbath, and she refused to go to bed early. The cards and
card tables were put away and every one sat around and quarreled
and was generally nasty, except Bella and Jim, who had gone into
the den just after dinner and firmly closed the door.
I think it was just after Max proposed to me. Yes, he proposed to
me again that night. He said that Jim's illness had decided him;
that any of us might take sick and die, shut in that contaminated
atmosphere, and that if he did he wanted it all settled. And
whether I took him or not he wanted me to remember him kindly if
anything happened. I really hated to refuse him--he was in such
deadly earnest. But it was quite unnecessary for him to have
blamed his refusal, as he did, on Mr. Harbison. I am sure I had
refused him plenty of times before I had ever heard of the man.
Yes, it was just after he proposed to me that Flannigan came to
the door and called Mr. Harbison out into the hall.
Flannigan--like most of the people in the house--always went to
Mr. Harbison when there was anything to be done. He openly adored
him, and--what was more--he did what Mr. Harbison ordered without
a word, while the rest of us had to get down on our knees and
Mr. Harbison went out, muttering something about a storm coming
up, and seeing that the tent was secure. Betty Mercer went with
him. She had been at his heels all evening, and called him "Tom"
on every possible occasion. Indeed, she made no secret of it; she
said that she was mad about him, and that she would love to live
in South America, and have an Indian squaw for a lady's maid, and
sit out on the veranda in the evenings and watch the Southern
Cross shooting across the sky, and eat tropical food from the
quaint Indian pottery. She was not even daunted when Dal told her
the Southern Cross did not shoot, and that the food was probably
canned corn on tin dishes.
So Betty went with him. She wore a pale yellow dinner gown, with
just a sophisticated touch of black here and there, and cut
modestly square in the neck. Her shoulders are scrawny. And after
they were gone--not her shoulders; Mr. Harbison and she--Aunt
Selina announced that the next day was Monday, that she had only
a week's supply of clothing with her, and that no policeman who
ever swung a mace should wash her undergarments for her.
She paused a moment, but nobody offered to do it. Anne was
reading De Maupassant under cover of a table, and the rest
pretended not to hear. After a pause, Aunt Selina got up heavily
and went upstairs, coming down soon after with a bundle covered
with a green shawl, and with a white balbriggan stocking trailing
from an opening in it. She paused at the library door, surveyed
the inmates, caught my unlucky eye and beckoned to me with a
"We can put them to soak tonight," she confided to me, "and
tomorrow they will be quite simple to do. There is no lace to
speak of"--Dal raised his eyebrows--"and very little flouncing."
Aunt Selina and I went to the laundry. It never occurred to any
one that Bella should have gone; she had stepped into all my
privileges--such as they were--and assumed none of my
obligations. Aunt Selina and I went to the laundry.
It is strange what big things develop from little ones. In this
case it was a bar of soap. And if Flannigan had used as much soap
as he should have instead of washing up the kitchen floor with
cold dish water, it would have developed sooner. The two most
unexpected events of the whole quarantine occurred that night at
the same time, one on the roof and one in the cellar. The cellar
one, although curious, was not so serious as the other, so it
Aunt Selina put her clothes in a tub in the laundry and proceeded
to dress them like a vegetable. She threw in a handful of salt,
some kerosene oil and a little ammonia. The result was
villainous, but after she tasted it--or snuffed it--she said it
needed a bar of soap cut up to give it strength--or flavor--and I
went into the store room for it.
The laundry soap was in a box. I took in a silver fork, for I
hated to touch the stuff, and jabbed a bar successfully in the
semi-darkness. Then I carried it back to the laundry and dropped
it on the table. Aunt Selina looked at the fork with disgust;
then we both looked at the soap. ONE SIDE OF IT WAS COVERED WITH
ROUND HOLES THAT CURVED AROUND ON EACH OTHER LIKE A COILED SNAKE.
I ran back to the store room, and there, a little bit sticky and
smelling terribly of rosin, lay Anne's pearl necklace!
I was so excited that I seized Aunt Selina by the hands and
danced her all over the place. Then I left her, trying to find
her hair pins on the floor, and ran up to tell the others. I met
Betty in the hall and waved the pearls at her. But she did not
"Is Mr. Harbison down there?" she asked breathlessly. "I left him
on the roof and went down to my room for my scarf, and when I
went back he had disappeared. He--he doesn't seem to be in the
house." She tried to laugh, but her voice was shaky. "He couldn't
have got down without passing me, anyhow," she supplemented. "I
suppose I'm silly, but so many queer things have happened, Kit."
"I wouldn't worry, Betty," I soothed her. "He is big enough to
take care of himself. And with the best intentions in the world,
you can't have him all the time, you know."
She was too much startled to be indignant. She followed me into
the library, where the sight of the pearls produced a tremendous
excitement, and then every one had to go down to the store room,
and see where the necklace had been hidden, and Max examined all
the bars of soap for thumb prints.
Mr. Harbison did not appear. Max commented on the fact
caustically, but Dal hushed him up. And so, Anne hugging her
pearls, and Aunt Selina having put a final seasoning of washing
powder on the clothes in the tub, we all went upstairs to bed. It
had been a long day, and the morning would at least bring bridge.
I was almost ready for bed when Jim tapped at my door. I had been
very cool to him since the night in the library when I was
publicly staked and martyred, and he was almost cringing when I
opened the door.
"What is it now?" I asked cruelly. "Has Bella tired of it
already, or has somebody else a rash?"
"Don't be a shrew, Kit," he said. "I don't want you to do
anything. I only--when did you see Harbison last?"
"If you mean 'last,'" I retorted, "I'm afraid I haven't seen the
last of him yet." Then I saw that he was really worried. "Betty
was leading him to the roof," I added. "Why? Is he missing?"
"He isn't anywhere in the house. Dal and I have been over every
inch of it." Max had come up, in a dressing gown, and was
watching me insolently.
"I think we have seen the last of him," he said. "I'm sorry, Kit,
to nip the little romance in the bud. The fellow was crazy about
you--there's no doubt of it. But I've been watching him from the
beginning, and I think I'm upheld. Whether he went down the water
spout, or across a board to the next house--"
"I--I dislike him intensely," I said angrily, "but you would not
dare to say that to his face. He could strangle you with one
Max laughed disagreeably.
"Well, I only hope he is gone," he threw at me over his shoulder,
"I wouldn't want to be responsible to your father if he had
stayed." I was speechless with wrath.
They went away then, and I could hear them going over the house.
At one o'clock Jim went up to bed, the last, and Mr. Harbison had
not been found. I did not see how they could go to bed at all. If
he had escaped, then Max was right and the whole thing was
heart-breaking. And if he had not, then he might be lying--
I got up and dressed.
The early part of the night had been cloudy, but when I got to
the roof it was clear starlight. The wind blew through the
electric wires strung across and set them singing. The occasional
bleat of a belated automobile on the drive below came up to me
raucously. The tent gleamed, a starlit ghost of itself, and the
boxwoods bent in the breeze. I went over to the parapet and
leaned my elbows on it. I had done the same thing so often
before; I had carried all my times of stress so infallibly to
that particular place, that instinctively my feet turned there.
And there in the starlight, I went over the whole serio-comedy,
and I loathed my part in it. He had been perfectly right to be
angry with me and with all of us. And I had been a hypocrite and
a Pharisee, and had thanked God that I was not as other people,
when the fact was that I was worse than the worst. And although
it wasn't dignified to think of him going down the drain pipe,
still--no one could blame him for wanting to get away from us,
and he was quite muscular enough to do it.
I was in the depths of self-abasement when I heard a sound behind
me. It was a long breath, quite audible, that ended in a groan. I
gripped the parapet and listened, while my heart pounded, and in
a minute it came again.
I was terribly frightened. Then--I don't know how I did it, but I
was across the roof, kneeling beside the tent, where it stood
against the chimney. And there, lying prone among the flower
pots, and almost entirely hidden, lay the man we had been looking
His head was toward me, and I reached out shakingly and touched
his face. It was cold, and my hand, when I drew it back, was
covered with blood.
Chapter XXII. IT WAS DELIRIUM
I was sure he was dead. He did not move, and when I caught his
hands and called him frantically, he did not hear me. And so,
with the horror over me, I half fell down the stairs and roused
Jim in the studio.
They all came with lights and blankets, and they carried him into
the tent and put him on the couch and tried to put whisky in his
mouth. But he could not swallow. And the silence became more and
more ominous until finally Anne got hysterical and cried, "He is
dead! Dead!" and collapsed on the roof.
But he was not. Just as the lights in the tent began to have red
rings around them and Jim's voice came from away across the
river, somebody said, "There, he swallowed that," and soon after,
he opened his eyes. He muttered something that sounded like
"Andean pinnacle" and lapsed into unconsciousness again. But he
was not dead! He was not dead!
When the doctor came they made a stretcher out of one of Jim's
six-foot canvases--it had a picture on it, and Jim was angry
enough the next day--and took him down to the studio. We made it
as much like a sick-room as we could, and we tried to make him
comfortable. But he lay without opening his eyes, and at dawn the
doctor brought a consultant and a trained nurse.
The nurse was an offensively capable person. She put us all out,
and scolded Anne for lighting Japanese incense in the
room--although Anne explained that it is very reviving. And she
said that it was unnecessary to have a dozen people breathing up
all the oxygen and asphyxiating the patient. She was
good-looking, too. I disliked her at once. Any one could see by
the way she took his pulse--just letting his poor hand hang,
without any support--that she was a purely mechanical creature,
Well, as I said before, she put us all out, and shut the door,
and asked us not to whisper outside. Then, too, she refused to
allow any flowers in the room, although Betty had got a florist
out of bed to order some.
The consultant came, stayed an hour, and left. Aunt Selina, who
proved herself a trump in that trying time, waylaid him in the
hall, and he said it might be a fractured skull, although it was
possibly only concussion.
The men spent most of the morning together in the den, with the
door shut. Now and then one of them would tiptoe upstairs, ask
the nurse how her patient was doing, and creak down again. Just
before noon they all went to the roof and examined again the
place where he had been found. I know, for I was in the upper
hall outside the studio. I stayed there almost all day, and after
a while the nurse let me bring her things as she needed them. I
don't know why mother didn't let me study nursing--I always
wanted to do it. And I felt helpless and childish now, when there
were things to be done.
Max came down from the roof alone, and I cornered him in the
"I'm going crazy, Max," I said. "Nobody will tell me anything,
and I can't stand it. How was he hurt? Who hurt him?"
Max looked at me quite a long time.
"I'm darned if I understand you, Kit," he said gravely. "You said
you disliked Harbison."
"So I do--I did," I supplemented. "But whether I like him or not
has nothing to do with it. He has been injured--perhaps
murdered"--I choked a little. "Which--which of you did it?"
Max took my hand and held it, looking down at me.
"I wish you could have cared for me like that," he said gently.
"Dear little girl, we don't know who hurt him. I didn't, if
that's what you mean. Perhaps a flower pot--"
I began to cry then, and he drew me to him and let me cry on his
arm. He stood very quietly, patting my head in a brotherly way
and behaving very well, save that once he said:
"Don't cry too long, Kit; I can stand only a certain amount."
And just then the nurse opened the door to the studio, and with
Max's arm still around me, I raised my head and looked in.
Mr. Harbison was conscious. His eyes were open, and he was
staring at us both as we stood framed by the doorway.
He lay back at once and closed his eyes, and the nurse shut the
door. There was no use, even if I had been allowed in, in trying
to explain to him. To attempt such a thing would have been to
presume that he was interested in an explanation. I thought
bitterly to myself as I brought the nurse cracked ice and
struggled to make beef tea in the kitchen, that lives had been
wrecked on less.
Dal was allowed ten minutes in the sick room during the
afternoon, and he came out looking puzzled and excited. He
refused to tell us what he had learned, however, and the rest of
the afternoon he and Jim spent in the cellar.
The day dragged on. Downstairs people ate and read and wrote
letters, and outside newspaper men talked together and gazed over
at the house and photographed the doctors coming in and the
doctors going out. As for me, in the intervals of bringing
things, I sat in Bella's chair in the upper hall, and listened to
the crackle of the nurse's starched skirts.
At midnight that night the doctors made a thorough examination.
When they came out they were smiling.
"He is doing very well," the younger one said--he was hairy and
dark, but he was beautiful to me. "He is entirely conscious now,
and in about an hour you can send the nurse off for a little
sleep. Don't let him talk."
And so at last I went through the familiar door into an
unfamiliar room, with basins and towels and bottles around, and a
screen made of Jim's largest canvases. And someone on the
improvised bed turned and looked at me. He did not speak, and I
sat down beside him. After a while he put his hand over mine as
it lay on the bed.
"You are much better to me than I deserve," he said softly. And
because his eyes were disconcerting, I put an ice cloth over
"Much better than you deserve," I said, and patted the ice cloth
to place gently. He fumbled around until he found my hand again,
and we were quiet for a long time. I think he dozed, for he
roused suddenly and pulled the cloth from his eyes.
"The--the day is all confused," he said, turning to look at me,
"but--one thing seems to stand out from everything else. Perhaps
it was delirium, but I seemed to see that door over there open,
and you, outside, with--with Max. His arms were around you."
"It was delirium," I said softly. It was my final lie in that
house of mendacity.
He drew a satisfied breath, and lifting my hand, held it to his
lips and kissed it.
"I can hardly believe it is you," he said. "I have to hold firmly
to your hand or you will disappear. Can't you move your chair
closer? You are miles away." So I did it, for he was not to be
After a little--
"It's awfully good of you to do this. I have been desperately
sorry, Kit, about the other night. It was a ruffianly thing to
do--to kiss you, when I thought--"
"You are to keep very still," I reminded him. He kissed my hand
again, but he persisted.
"I was mad--crazy." I tried to give him some medicine, but he
pushed the spoon aside. "You will have to listen," he said. "I am
in the depths of self-disgust. I--I can't think of anything else.
You see, you seemed so convinced that I was the blackguard that
somehow nothing seemed to matter."
"I have forgotten it all," I declared generously, "and I would be
quite willing to be friends, only, you remember you said--"
"Friends!" his voice was suddenly reckless, and he raised on his
elbow. "Friends! Who wants to be friends? Kit, I was almost
delirious that night. The instant I held you in my arms--It was
all over. I loved you the first time I saw you. I--I suppose I'm
a fool to talk like this."
And, of course, just then Dallas had to open the door and step
into the room. He was covered with dirt and he had a hatchet in
"A rope!" he demanded, without paying any attention to us and
diving into corners of the room. "Good heavens, isn't there a
rope in this confounded house!"
He turned and rushed out, without any explanation, and left us
staring at the door.
"Bother the rope!" I found myself forced to look into two earnest
eyes. "Kit, were you VERY angry when I kissed you that night on
"Very," I maintained stoutly.
"Then prepare yourself for another attack of rage!" he said. And
Betty opened the door.
She had on a fetching pale blue dressing gown, and one braid of
her yellow hair was pulled carelessly over her shoulder. When she
saw me on my knees beside the bed (oh, yes, I forgot to say that,
quite unconsciously, I had slid into that position) she stopped
short, just inside the door, and put her hand to her throat. She
stood for quite a perceptible time looking at us, and I tried to
rise. But Tom shamelessly put his arm around my shoulders and
held me beside him. Then Betty took a step back and steadied
herself by the door frame. She had really cared, I knew then, but
I was too excited to be sorry for her.
"I--I beg your pardon for coming in," she said nervously.
"But--they want you downstairs, Kit. At least, I thought you
would want to go, but--perhaps--"
Just then from the lower part of the house came a pandemonium of
noises; women screaming, men shouting, and the sound of hatchet
strokes and splintering wood. I seized Betty by the arm, and
together we rushed down the stairs.
Chapter XXIII. COMING
The second floor was empty. A table lay overturned at the top of
the stairs, and a broken flower vase was weltering in its own
ooze. Part way down Betty stepped on something sharp, that proved
to be the Japanese paper knife from the den. I left her on the
stairs examining her foot and hurried to the lower floor.
Here everything was in the utmost confusion. Aunt Selina had
fainted, and was sitting in a hall chair with her head rolled
over sidewise and the poker from the library fireplace across her
knees. No one was paying any attention to her. And Jim was
holding the front door open, while three of the guards hesitated
in the vestibule. The noises continued from the back of the
house, and as I stood on the lowest stair Bella came out from the
dining room, with her face streaked with soot, and carrying a
kettle of hot water.
"Jim," she called wildly. "While Max and Dal are below, you can
pour this down from the top. It's boiling."
Jim glanced back over his shoulder. Carry out your own murderous
designs," he said. And then, as she started back with it, "Bella,
for Heaven's sake," he called, "have you gone stark mad? Put that
She did it sulkily and Jim turned to the policeman.
"Yes, I know it was a false alarm before," he explained
patiently, "but this is genuine. It is just as I tell you. Yes,
Flannigan is in the house somewhere, but he's hiding, I guess. We
could manage the thing very well ourselves, but we have no
cartridges for our revolvers." Then as the noise from the rear
redoubled, "If you don't come in and help, I will telephone for
the fire department," he concluded emphatically.
I ran to Aunt Selina and tried to straighten her head. In a
moment she opened her eyes, sat up and stared around her. She saw
the kettle at once.
"What are you doing with boiling water on the floor?" she said to
me, with her returning voice. "Don't you know you will spoil the
floor?" The ruling passion was strong with Aunt Selina, as usual.
I could not find out the trouble from any one; people appeared
and disappeared, carrying strange articles. Anne with a rope, Dal
with his hatchet, Bella and the kettle, but I could get a
coherent explanation from no one. When the guards finally decided
that Jim was in earnest, and that the rest of us were not
crawling out a rear window while he held them at the door, they
came in, three of them and two reporters, and Jim led them to the
Here we found Anne, very white and shaky, with the pantry table
and two chairs piled against the door of the kitchen slide, and
clutching the chamois-skin bag that held her jewels. She had a
bottle of burgundy open beside her, and was pouring herself a
glass with shaking hands when we appeared. She was furious at
"I very nearly fainted," she said hysterically. "I might have
been murdered, and no one would have cared. I wish they would
stop that chopping, I'm so nervous I could scream."
Jim took the Burgundy from her with one hand and pointed the
police to the barricaded door with the other.
"That is the door to the dumb-waiter shaft," he said. "The lower
one is fastened on the inside, in some manner. The noises
commenced about eleven o'clock, while Mr. Brown was on guard.
There were scraping sounds first, and later the sound of a
falling body. He roused Mr. Reed and myself, but when we examined
the shaft everything was quiet, and dark. We tried lowering a
candle on a string, but--it was extinguished from below."
The reporters were busily removing the table and chairs from the
"If you have a rope handy," one of them said, "I will go down the
(Dal says that all reporters should have been policemen, and that
all policemen are natural newsgatherers.)
"The cage appears to be stuck, half-way between the floors," Jim
said. "They are cutting through the door in the kitchen below."
They opened the door then and cautiously peered down, but there
was nothing to be seen. I touched Jim gingerly on the arm.
"Is it--is it Flannigan,:" I asked, "shut in there?"
"No--yes--I don't know," he returned absently. "Run along and
don't bother, Kit. He may take to shooting any minute."
Anne and I went out then and shut the door, and went into the
dining room and sat on our feet, for of course the bullets might
come up through the floor. Aunt Selina joined us there, and
Bella, and the Mercer girls, and we sat around and talked in
whispers, and Leila Mercer told of the time her grandfather had
had a struggle with an escaped lunatic.
In the midst of the excitement Tom appeared in a bathrobe,
looking very pale, with a bandage around his head, and the nurse
at his heels threatening to leave and carrying a bottle of
medicine and a spoon. He went immediately to the pantry, and soon
we could hear him giving orders and the rest hurrying around to
obey them. The hammering ceased, and the silence was even worse.
It was more suggestive.
In about fifteen minutes there was a thud, as if the cage had
fallen, and the sound of feet rushing down the cellar stairs.
Then there were groans and loud oaths, and everybody talking at
once, below, and the sound of a struggle. In the dining room we
all sat bent forward, with straining ears and quickened breath,
until we distinctly heard someone laugh. Then we knew that,
whatever it was, it was over, and nobody was killed.
The sounds came closer, were coming up the stairs and into the
pantry. Then the door swung open, and Tom and a policeman
appeared in the doorway, with the others crowding behind. Between
them they supported a grimy, unshaven object, covered with
whitewash from the wall of the shaft, an object that had its
hands fastened together with handcuffs, and that leered at us
with a pair of the most villainously crossed eyes I have ever
None of us had ever seen him before,
"Mr. Lawrence McGuirk, better known as Tubby,'" Tom said
cheerfully. "A celebrity in his particular line, which is
second-story man and all-round rascal. A victim of the
quarantine, like ourselves."
"We've missed him for a week," one of the guards said with a
grin. "We've been real anxious about you, Tubby. Ain't a week
goes by, when you're in health, that we don't hear something of
Mr. McGuirk muttered something under his breath, and the men
"It seems," Tom said, interpreting, "that he doesn't like us
much. He doesn't like the food, and he doesn't like the beds. He
says just when he got a good place fixed up in the coal cellar,
Flannigan found it, and is asleep there now, this minute."
Aunt Selina rose suddenly and cleared her throat.
"Am I to understand," she asked severely, "that from now on we
will have to add two newspaper reporters, three policemen and a
burglar to the occupants of this quarantined house? Because, if
that is the case, I absolutely refuse to feed them."
But one of the reporters stepped forward and bowed ceremoniously.
"Madam," he said, "I thank you for your kind invitation, but--it
will be impossible for us to accept. I had intended to break the
good news earlier, but this little game of burglar-in-a-corner
prevented me. The fact is, your Jap has been discovered to have
nothing more serious than chicken-pox, and--if you will forgive a
poultry yard joke, there is no longer any necessity for your
being cooped up."
Then he retired, quite pleased with himself.
One would have thought we had exhausted our capacity for emotion,
but Jim said a joyful emotion was so new that we hardly knew how
to receive it. Every one shook hands with every one else, and
even the nurse shared in the excitement and gave Jim the medicine
she had prepared for Tom.
Then we all sat down and had some champagne, and while they were
waiting for the police wagon, they gave some to poor McGuirk. He
was still quite shaken from his experience when the dumb-waiter
stuck. The wine cheered him a little, and he told his story, in a
voice that was creaky from disuse, while Tom held my hand under
He had had a dreadful week, he said; he spent his days in a
closet in one of the maids' rooms--the one where we had put Jim.
It was Jim waking out of a nap and declaring that the closet door
had moved by itself and that something had crawled under his bed
and out of the door, that had roused the suspicions of the men in
the house--and he slept at night on the coal in the cellar. He
was actually tearful when he rubbed his hand over his scrubby
chin, and said he hadn't had a shave for a week. He took
somebody's razor, he said, but he couldn't get hold of a portable
mirror, and every time he lathered up and stood in front of the
glass in the dining room sideboard, some one came and he had had
to run and hide. He told, too, of his attempts to escape, of the
board on the roof, of the home-made rope, and the hole in the
cellar, and he spoke feelingly of the pearl collar and the
struggle he had made to hide it. He said that for three days it
was concealed in the pocket of Jim's old smoking coat in the
We were all rather sorry for him, but if we had made him
uncomfortable, think of what he had done to us. And for him to
tell, as he did later in court, that if that was high society he
would rather be a burglar, and that we starved him, and that the
women had to dress each other because they had no lady's maids,
and that the whole lot of us were in love with one man, it was
The wagon came for him just as he finished his story, and we all
went to the door. In the vestibule Aunt Selina suddenly
remembered something, and she stepped forward and caught the poor
fellow by the arm.
"Young man," she said grimly. "I'll thank you to return what you
took from ME last Tuesday night."
McGuirk stared, then shuddered and turned suddenly pale.
"Good Lord!" he ejaculated. "On the stairs to the roof! YOU?"
They led him away then, quite broken, with Aunt Selina staring
after him. She never did understand. I could have explained, but
it was too awful.
On the steps McGuirk turned and took a farewell glance at us.
Then he waved his hand to the policemen and reporters who had
"Goodby, fellows," he called feebly. "I ain't sorry, I ain't.
Jail'll be a paradise after this."
And then we went to pack our trunks.
NOTE FROM MAX WHICH CAME THE NEXT DAY
WITH ITS ENCLOSURE.
My Dear Kit--The enclosed trunk tag was used on my trunk,
evidently by mistake. Higgins discovered it when he was unpacking
and returned it to me under the misapprehension that I had
written it. I wish I had. I suppose there must be something
attractive about a fellow who has the courage to write a love
letter on the back of a trunk tag, and who doesn't give a
tinker's damn who finds it. But for my peace of mind, ask him not
to leave another one around where I will come across it. Max.
WRITTEN ON THE BACK OF THE TRUNK TAG.
Don't you know that I won't see you until tomorrow? For Heaven's
sake, get away from this crowd and come into the den. If you
don't I will kiss you before everybody. Are you coming? T.
No indeed. K.
THIS WAS SCRATCHED OUT AND BENEATH.