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The Gold Bag by Carolyn Wells

Part 2 out of 5

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worth of the young secretary was far more to be desired than the
riches and rank advocated by her uncle. This time Gregory Hall
looked at the speaker with a faint smile, that showed
appreciation, if not adoration.

But I did not gather from his attitude that he did not adore his
beautiful bride-to-be; I only concluded that he was not one to
show his feelings in public.

However, I couldn't help feeling that I had learned which of the
two was more anxious for the engagement to continue.

"In what way was your uncle more definite in his threat last
night, than he had been heretofore?" the coroner continued.

Miss Lloyd gave a little gasp, as if the question she had been
dreading had come at last. She looked at the inexorable face of
the butler, she looked at Mr. Randolph, and then flashed a half-
timid glance at Hall, as she answered

"He said that unless I promised to give up Mr. Hall, he would go
last night to Mr. Randolph's and have a new will drawn up."

"Did he do so?" exclaimed Gregory Hall, an expression almost of
fear appearing on his commonplace face.

Miss Lloyd looked at him, and seemed startled. Apparently his
sudden question had surprised her.

Mr. Monroe paid no attention to Mr. Hall's remark, but said to
Miss Lloyd, "He had made such threats before, had he not?"

"Yes, but not with the same determination. He told me in so many
words, I must choose between Mr. Hall or the inheritance of his

"And your answer to this?"

"I made no direct answer. I had told him many times that I had
no intention of breaking my engagement, whatever course he might
choose to pursue."

Mr. Orville was clearly delighted with the turn things were
taking. He already scented a sensation, and he scribbled
industriously in his rapidly filling note-book.

This habit of his disgusted me, for surely the jurors on this
preliminary inquest could come to their conclusions without a
detailed account of all these conversations.

I also resented the looks of admiration which Mr. Orville cast at
the beautiful girl. It seemed to me that with the exception of
Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Porter, who were family friends, the jurors
should have maintained a formal and impersonal attitude.

Mr. Hamilton spoke directly to Miss Lloyd on the subject.

"I am greatly surprised," he said, "that Mr. Crawford should take
such a stand. He has often spoken to me of you as his heiress,
and to my knowledge, your engagement to Mr. Hall is not of
immediately recent date."

"No," said Miss Lloyd, "but it is only recently that my uncle
expressed his disapprobation so strongly; and last night at
dinner was the first time he positively stated his intention in
regard to his will."

At this Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Porter conversed together in
indignant whispers, and it was quite evident that they did not
approve of Mr. Crawford's treatment of his niece.

Mr. Philip Crawford looked astounded, and also dismayed, which
surprised me, as I had understood that had it not been for Miss
Lloyd, he himself would have been his brother's heir.

Mr. Randolph showed only a lawyer-like, noncommittal expression,
and Gregory Hall, too, looked absolutely impassive.

The coroner grew more alert, as if he had discovered something of
definite import, and asked eagerly

"Did he do so? Did he go to his lawyer's and make another will?"

Miss Lloyd's cold calm had returned, and seemed to rebuke the
coroner's excited interest.

"I do not know," she replied. "He went out after dinner, as I
have told you, but I retired to my bedroom before he came home."

"And you did not come down-stairs again last night?"

"I did not."

The words were spoken in a clear, even tone; but something made
me doubt their truth. It was not the voice or inflection; there
was no hesitation or stammer, but a sudden and momentary droop of
Miss Lloyd's eyelids seemed to me to give the lie to her words.

I wondered if Gregory Hall had the same thought, for he slowly
raised his own eyes and looked at her steadily for the first time
since her testimony began.

She did not look at him. Instead, she was staring at the butler.
Either she had reason to fear his knowledge, or I was fanciful.
With an endeavor to shake off these shadows of suspicion, I
chanced to look at Parmalee. To my disgust, he was quite
evidently gloating over the disclosures being made by the
witness. I felt my anger rise, and I determined then and there
that if suspicion of guilt or complicity should by any chance
unjustly light on that brave and lovely girl, I would make the
effort of my life to clear her from it.

"You did not come down again," the coroner went on pointedly, "to
ask your uncle if he had changed his will?"

"No, I did not," she replied, with such a ring of truth in her
scornful voice, that my confidence returned, and I truly believed

"Then you were not in your uncle's office last evening at all?"

"I was not."

"Nor through the day?"

She reflected a moment. "No, nor through the day. It chanced I
had no occasion to go in there yesterday at all."

At these assertions of Miss Lloyd's, the Frenchman, Louis, looked
greatly disturbed. He tried very hard to conceal his agitation,
but it was not at all difficult to read on his face an endeavor
to look undisturbed at what he heard.

I hadn't a doubt, myself, that the man either knew something that
would incriminate Miss Lloyd, or that they two had a mutual
knowledge of some fact as yet concealed.

I was surprised that no one else seemed to notice this, but the
attention of every one in the room was concentrated on the
coroner and the witness, and so Louis's behavior passed

At this juncture, Mr. Lemuel Porter spoke with some dignity.

"It would seem," he said, "that this concludes Miss Lloyd's
evidence in the matter. She has carried the narrative up to the
point where Mr. Joseph Crawford went out of his house after
dinner. As she herself retired to her room before his return,
and did not again leave her room until this morning, she can have
nothing further to tell us bearing on the tragedy. And as it is
doubtless a most painful experience for her, I trust, Mr.
Coroner, that you will excuse her from further questioning."

"But wait a minute," Parmalee began, when Mr Hamilton interrupted
him - "Mr. Porter is quite right," he said; "there is no reason
why Miss Lloyd should be further troubled in this matter. I feel
free to advise her dismissal from the witness stand, because of
my acquaintance and friendship with this household. Our coroner
and most of our jurors are strangers to Miss Lloyd, and perhaps
cannot appreciate as I do the terrible strain this experience
means to her."

"You're right Hamilton," said Mr. Philip Crawford; "I was remiss
not to think of it myself. Mr. Monroe, this is not a formal
inquest, and in the interest of kindness and humanity, I ask you
to excuse Miss Lloyd from further questioning for the present."

I was surprised at the requests of these elderly gentlemen, for
though it seemed to me that Miss Lloyd's testimony was complete,
yet it also seemed as if Gregory Hall were the one to show
anxiety that she be spared further annoyance.

However, Florence Lloyd spoke for herself.

"I am quite willing to answer any further questions," she said;
"I have answered all you have asked, and I have told you frankly
the truth. Though it is far from pleasant to have my individual
affairs thus brought to notice, I am quite ready to do anything
to forward the cause of justice or to aid in any way the
discovery of my uncle's murderer."

"Thank you," said Mr. Monroe; " I quite appreciate the extreme
unpleasantness of your position. But, Miss Lloyd, there are a
few more questions I must ask you. Pardon me if I repeat myself,
but I ask you once more if you did not come down to your uncle's
office last evening after he had returned from his call on Mr.

As I watched Florence Lloyd I saw that her eyes did not turn
toward the coroner, or toward her fiance, or toward the jury, but
she looked straight at Louis, the valet, as she replied in clear

"I did not."



"Is this yours?" asked Mr. Monroe, suddenly whisking into sight
the gold-mesh bag.

Probably his intent had been to startle her, and thus catch her
off her guard. If so, he succeeded, for the girl was certainly
startled, if only at the suddenness of the query.

"N-no," she stammered; "it's - it's not mine."

"Are you sure?" the coroner went on, a little more gently,
doubtless moved by her agitation.

"I'm - I'm quite sure. Where did you find it?"

"What size gloves do you wear, Miss Lloyd?"

"Number six." She said this mechanically, as if thinking of
something else, and her face was white.

"These are number six," said the coroner, as he took a pair of
gloves from the bag. "Think again, Miss Lloyd. Do you not own a
gold-chain bag, such as this?"

"I have one something like that - or, rather, I did have one."

"Ah! And what did you do with it?"

"I gave it to my maid, Elsa, some days ago."

"Why did you do that?"

"Because I was tired of it, and as it was a trifle worn, I had
ceased to care to carry it."

"Is it not a somewhat expensive trinket to turn over to your

"No; they are not real gold. At least, I mean mine was not. It
was gilt over silver, and cost only about twelve or fourteen
dollars when new."

"What did you usually carry in it?"

"What every woman carries in such a bag. Handkerchief, some
small change, perhaps a vanity-box, gloves, tickets - whatever
would be needed on an afternoon's calling or shopping tour."

"Miss Lloyd, you have enumerated almost exactly the articles in
this bag."

"Then that is a coincidence, for it is not my bag."

The girl was entirely self-possessed again, and even a little

I admit that I did not believe her statements. Of course I could
not be sure she was telling untruths, but her sudden
embarrassment at the first sight of the bag, and the way in which
she regained her self-possession, made me doubt her clear
conscience in the matter.

Parmalee, who had come over and sat beside me, whispered:
"Striking coincidence, isn't it?"

Although his sarcasm voiced my own thoughts, yet it irritated me
horribly to hear him say it.

"But ninety-nine women out of a hundred would experience the same
coincidence," I returned.

"But the other ninety-eight weren't in the house last night, and
she was."

At this moment Mrs. Pierce, whom I had suspected of feeling far
deeper interest than she had so far shown, volunteered a remark.

"Of course that isn't Florence's bag," she said; "if Florence had
gone to her uncle's office last evening, she would have been
wearing her dinner gown, and certainly would not carry a street

"Is this a street bag?" inquired Mr. Monroe, looking with a
masculine helplessness at the gilt bauble.

"Of course it is," said Mrs. Pierce, who now that she had found
her voice, seemed anxious to talk. "Nobody ever carries a bag
like that in the house, - in the evening."

"But," began Parmalee, "such a thing might have occurred, if Miss
Lloyd had had occasion to go to her uncle's office with, we will
say, papers or notes."

Personally I thought this an absurd suggestion, but Mr. Monroe
seemed to take it seriously.

"That might be," he said, and I could see that momentarily the
suspicions against Florence Lloyd were growing in force and were
taking definite shape.

As I noted the expressions, on the various faces, I observed that
only Mr. Philip Crawford and the jurors Hamilton and Porter
seemed entirely in sympathy with the girl. The coroner,
Parmalee, and even the lawyer, Randolph, seemed to be willing,
almost eager for her to incriminate herself.

Gregory Hall, who should have been the most sympathetic of all,
seemed the most coldly indifferent, and as for Mrs. Pierce, her
actions were so erratic and uncertain, no one could tell what she

"You are quite positive it is not your bag?" repeated the coroner
once more.

"I'm positive it is not mine," returned Miss Lloyd, without undue
emphasis, but with an air of dismissing the subject.

"Is your maid present?" asked the coroner. "Let her be

Elsa came forward, the pretty, timid young girl, of German
effects, whom I had already noticed.

"Have you ever seen this bag before?" asked the coroner, holding
it up before her.

"Yes, sir."


"This morning, sir. Lambert showed it to me, sir. He said he
found it in Mr. Crawford's office."

The girl was very pale, and trembled pitiably. She seemed afraid
of the coroner, of Lambert, of Miss Lloyd, and of the jury. It
might have been merely the unreasonable fear of an ignorant mind,
but it had the appearance of some more definite apprehension.

Especially did she seem afraid of the man, Louis. Though perhaps
the distressed glances she cast at him were not so much those of
fear as of anxiety.

The coroner spoke kindly to her, and really seemed to take more
notice of her embarrassment, and make more effort to put her at
her ease than he had done with Miss Lloyd.

"Is it Miss Lloyd's bag?"

"I don't think so, sir."

"Don't you know? As her personal maid, you must be acquainted
with her belongings."

"Yes, sir. No, it isn't hers, sir."

But as this statement was made after a swift but noticeable
glance of inquiry at her mistress, a slight distrust of Elsa
formed in my own mind, and probably in the minds of others.

"She has one like this, has she not?"

"She - she did have, sir; but she - she gave it to me."

"Yes? Then go and get it and let us see it."

"I haven't it now, sir. I - I gave it away."

"Oh, you gave it away! To whom? Can you get it back?"

"No, sir; I gave it to my cousin, who sailed for Germany last

Miss Lloyd looked up in surprise, and that look of surprise told
against her. I could see Parmalee's eyes gleam as he concluded
in his own mind that the bag story was all false, was made up
between mistress and maid, and that the part about the departing
cousin was an artistic touch added by Elsa.

The coroner, too, seemed inclined to disbelieve the present
witness, and he sat thoughtfully snapping the catch of the bag.

He turned again to Miss Lloyd. "Having given away your own bag,"
he said suavely, "you have perhaps provided yourself with
another, have you not?"

"Why, no, I haven't," said Florence Lloyd. "I have been
intending to do so, and shall get one shortly, but I haven't yet
selected it."

"And in the meantime you have been getting along without any?"

"A gold-mesh bag is not an indispensable article; I have several
bags of other styles, and I'm in no especial haste to purchase a
new one."

Miss Lloyd's manner had taken on several degrees of hauteur, and
her voice was incisive in its tone. Clearly she resented this
discussion of her personal belongings, and as she entirely
repudiated the ownership of the bag in the coroner's possession,
she was annoyed at his questions.

Mr. Monroe looked at her steadily.

"If this is not your bag, Miss Lloyd," he said, with some
asperity, "how did it get on Mr. Crawford's desk late last night?
The butler has assured me it was not there when he looked in at a
little after ten o'clock. Yet this morning it lay there, in
plain sight on the desk. Whose bag is it?"

"I have not the slightest idea," said Miss Lloyd firmly; "but, I
repeat, it is not mine."

"Easy enough to see the trend of Monroe's questions," said
Parmalee in my ear. "If he can prove this bag to be Miss
Lloyd's, it shows that she was in the office after ten o'clock
last night, and this she has denied."

"Don't you believe her?" said I.

"Indeed I don't. Of course she was there, and of course it's her
bag. She put that pretty maid of hers up to deny it, but any one
could see the maid was lying, also."

"Oh, come now, Parmalee, that's too bad! You've no right to say
such things!"

"Oh, pshaw! you think the same yourself, only you think it isn't
chivalrous to put it into words."

Of course what annoyed me in Parmalee's speech was its inherent
truth. I didn't believe Florence Lloyd. Much as I wanted to, I
couldn't; for the appearance, manner and words of both women were
not such as to inspire belief in their hearers.

If she and Elsa were in collusion to deny her ownership of the
bag, it would be hard to prove the contrary, for the men-servants
could not be supposed to know, and I had no doubt Mrs. Pierce
would testify as Miss Lloyd did on any matter.

I was sorry not to put more confidence in the truth of the
testimony I was hearing, but I am, perhaps, sceptical by nature.
And, too, if Florence Lloyd were in any way implicated in the
death of her uncle, I felt pretty sure she would not hesitate at

Her marvellous magnetism attracted me strongly, but it did not
blind me to the strength of her nature. While I could not, as
yet, believe her in any way implicated in the death of her uncle,
I was fully convinced she knew more concerning it than she had
told and I knew, unless forced to, she would not tell what she
desired to keep secret.

My sympathy, of course, was with her, but my duty was plain. As
a detective, I must investigate fairly, or give up the case.

At this juncture, I knew the point at issue was the presence of
Miss Lloyd in the office last night, and the two yellow rose
petals I had picked up on the floor might prove a clue.

At any rate it was my duty to investigate the point, so taking a
card from my pocket I wrote upon it: "Find out if Miss Lloyd wore
any flowers last evening, and what kind."

I passed this over to Mr. Monroe, and rather enjoyed seeing his
mystification as he read it.

To my surprise he did not question Florence Lloyd immediately,
but turned again to the maid.

"At what time did your mistress go to her room last evening?"

"At about ten o'clock, sir. I was waiting there for her, and so
I am sure."

"Did she at once retire?"

"No, sir. She changed her evening gown for a teagown, and then
said she would sit up for an hour or so and write letters, and I
needn't wait."

"You left her then?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did Miss Lloyd wear any flowers at dinner last evening?"

"No, sir. There were no guests - only the family."

"Ah, quite so. But did she, by chance, pin on any flowers after
she went to her room?"

"Why, yes, sir; she did. A box of roses had come for her by a
messenger, and when she found them in her room, she pinned one on
the lace of her teagown."

"Yes? And what time did the flowers arrive?"

"While Miss Lloyd was at dinner, sir. I took them from the box
and put them in water, sir."

"And what sort of flowers were they?"

"Yellow roses, sir."

"That will do, Elsa. You are excused."

The girl looked bewildered, and a little embarrassed as she
returned to her place among the other servants, and Miss Lloyd
looked a little bewildered also.

But then, for that matter, no body understood the reason for the
questions about the flowers, and though most of the jury merely
looked preternaturally wise on the subject, Mr. Orville scribbled
it all down in his little book. I was now glad to see the man
keep up his indefatigable note-taking. If the reporters or
stenographers missed any points, I could surely get them from

But from the industry with which he wrote, I began to think he
must be composing an elaborate thesis on yellow roses and their

Mr. Porter, looking greatly puzzled, observed to the coroner, "I
have listened to your inquiries with interest; and I would like
to know what, if any, special importance is attached to this
subject of yellow roses."

"I'm not able to tell you," replied Mr. Monroe. "I asked these
questions at the instigation of another, who doubtless has some
good reason for them, which he will explain in due time."

Mr. Porter seemed satisfied with this, and I nodded my head at
the coroner, as if bidding him to proceed.

But if I had been surprised before at the all but spoken
intelligence which passed between the two servants, Elsa and
Louis, I was more amazed now. They shot rapid glances at each
other, which were evidently full of meaning to themselves. Elsa
was deathly white, her lips trembled, and she looked at the
Frenchman as if in terror of her life. But though he glanced at
her meaningly, now and then, Louis's anxiety seemed to me to be
more for Florence Lloyd than for her maid.

But now the coroner was talking very gravely to Miss Lloyd.

"Do you corroborate," he was saying, "the statements of your maid
about the flowers that were sent you last evening?"

"I do," she replied.

"From whom did they come?"

"From Mr. Hall."

"Mr. Hall," said, the coroner, turning toward the young man, "how
could you send flowers to Miss Lloyd last evening if you were in
New York City?"

"Easily," was the cool reply. "I left Sedgwick on the six
o'clock train. On my way to the station I stopped at a florist's
and ordered some roses sent to Miss Lloyd. If they did not
arrive until she was at dinner, they were not sent immediately,
as the florist promised."

"When did you receive them, Miss Lloyd?"

"They were in my room when I event up there at about ten o'clock
last evening," she replied, and her face showed her wonderment at
these explicit questions.

The coroner's face showed almost as much wonderment, and I said:
"Perhaps, Mr. Monroe, I may ask a few questions right here."

"Certainly," he replied.

And thus it was, for the first time in my life, I directly
addressed Florence Lloyd.

"When you went up to your room at ten o'clock, the flowers were
there?" I asked, and I felt a mast uncomfortable pounding at my
heart because of the trap I was deliberately laying for her. But
it had to be done, and even as I spoke, I experienced a glad
realization, that if she were innocent, my questions could do her
no harm.

"Yes," she repeated, and far the first time favored me with a
look of interest. I doubt if she knew my name or scarcely knew
why I was there.

"And you pinned one on your gown?"

"I tucked it in among the laces at my throat, yes."

"Miss Lloyd, do you still persist in saying you did not go
down-stairs again, to your uncle's office?"

"I did not," she repeated, but she turned white, and her voice
was scarce more than a whisper.

"Then," said I, " how did two petals of a yellow rose happen to
be on the floor in the office this morning?"



If any one expected to see Miss Lloyd faint or collapse at this
crisis he must have been disappointed, and as I had confidently
expected such a scene, I was completely surprised at her quick
recovery of self-possession.

For an instant she had seemed stunned by my question, and her
eyes had wandered vaguely round the room, as if in a vain search
far help.

Her glance returned to me, and in that instant I gave her an
answering look, which, quite involuntarily on my part, meant a
grave and serious offer of my best and bravest efforts in her
behalf. Disingenuous she might be, untruthful she might be, yes,
even a criminal she might be, but in any case I was her sworn
ally forever. Not that I meant to defeat the ends of justice,
but I was ready to fight for her or with her, until justice
should defeat us. Of course she didn't know all this, though I
couldn't help hoping she read a little of it as my eyes looked
into hers. If so, she recognized it only by a swift withdrawal
of her own glance. Again she looked round at her various

Then her eyes rested on Gregory Hall, and, though he gave her no
responsive glance, for some reason her poise returned like a
flash. It was as if she had been invigorated by a cold douche.

Determination fairly shone in her dark eyes, and her mouth showed
a more decided line than I had yet seen in its red curves, as
with a cold, almost hard voice she replied

"I have no idea. We have many flowers in the house, always."

"But I have learned from the servants that there were no other
yellow roses in the house yesterday."

Miss Lloyd was not hesitant now. She replied quickly, and it was
with an almost eager haste that she said

"Then I can only imagine that my uncle had some lady visitor in
his office late last evening."

The girl's mood had changed utterly; her tone was almost
flippant, and more than one of the jurors looked at her in

Mr. Porter, especially, cast an her a glance of fatherly
solicitude, and I was sure that he felt, as I did, that the
strain was becoming too much for her.

"I don't think you quite mean that, Florence," he said; "you and
I knew your uncle too well to say such things."

But the girl made no reply, and her beautiful mouth took on a
hard line.

"It is not an impossible conjecture," said Philip Crawford
thoughtfully. "If the bag does not belong to Florence, what more
probable than that it was left by its feminine owner? The same
lady might have worn or carried yellow roses."

Perhaps it was because of my own desire to help her that these
other men had joined their efforts to mine to ease the way as
much as possible.

The coroner looked a little uncomfortable, for he began to note
the tide of sympathy turning toward the troubled girl.

"Yellow roses do not necessarily imply a lady visitor," he said,
rather more kindly. "A man in evening dress might have worn

To his evident surprise, as well as to my own, this remark,
intended to be soothing, had quite the opposite effect.

"That is not at all probable," said Miss Lloyd quite angrily.
"Mr. Porter was in the office last evening; if he was wearing a
yellow rose at the time, let him say so."

"I was not," said Mr. Porter quietly, but looking amazed at the
sudden outburst of the girl.

"Of course you weren't!" Miss Lloyd went on, still in the same
excited way. "Men don't wear roses nowadays, except perhaps at a
ball; and, anyway, the gold bag surely implies that a woman was

"It seems to," said Mr. Monroe; and then, unable longer to keep
up her brave resistance, Florence Lloyd fainted.

Mrs. Pierce wrung her hands and moaned in a helpless fashion.
Elsa started forward to attend her young mistress, but it was the
two neighbors who were jurors, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Porter, who
carried the unconscious girl from the room.

Gregory Hall looked concerned, but made no movement to aid, and I
marvelled afresh at such strange actions in a man betrothed to a
particularly beautiful woman.

Several women in the audience hurried from the room, and in a few
moments the two jurors returned.

"Miss Lloyd will soon be all right, I think," said Mr. Porter to
the coroner. "My wife is with her, and one or two other ladies.
I think we may proceed with our work here."

There was something about Mr. Lemuel Porter that made men accept
his dictum, and without further remark Mr. Monroe called the next
witness, Mr. Roswell Randolph, and a tall man, with an
intellectual face, came forward.

While the coroner was putting the formal and preliminary
questions to Mr. Randolph, Parmalee quietly drew my attention to
a whispered conversation going an between Elsa and Louis.

If this girl had fainted instead of Miss Lloyd, I should not have
been surprised for she seemed on the very verge of nervous
collapse. She seemed, too, to be accusing the man of something,
which he vigorously denied. The girl interested me far more than
the Frenchman. Though of the simple, rosy-cheeked type of
German, she had an air of canniness and subtlety that was at
variance with her naive effect. I soon concluded she was far
more clever than mast people thought, and Parmalee's whispered
words showed that he thought so too.

"Something doing in the case of Dutch Elsa, eh?" he said; "she
and Johnny Frenchy have cooked up something between them."

"Nothing of any importance, I fancy," I returned, for Miss
Lloyd's swoon seemed to me a surrender, and I had little hope now
of any other direction in which to look.

But I resumed my attention to the coroner's inquiries of Mr.

In answer to a few formal questions, he stated that he had been
Mr. Crawford's legal adviser for many years, and had entire
charge of all such matters as required legal attention.

"Did you draw up the late Mr. Crawford's will?" asked the

"Yes; after the death of his wife - about twelve years ago."

"And what were the terms of that will?"

"Except for some minor bequests, the bulk of his fortune was
bequeathed to Miss Florence Lloyd."

"Have you changed that will in any way, or drawn a later one?"


It was by the merest chance that I was looking at Gregory Hall,
as the lawyer gave this answer.

It required no fine perception to understand the look of relief
and delight that fairly flooded his countenance. To be sure, it
was quickly suppressed, and his former mask of indifference and
preoccupation assumed, but I knew as well as if he had put it
into words, that he had trembled lest Miss Lloyd had been
disinherited before her uncle had met his death in the night.

This gave me many new thoughts, but before I could formulate
them, I heard the coroner going an with his questions.

"Did Mr. Crawford visit you last evening?"

"Yes; he was at my house for perhaps half an hour or mare between
eight and nine o'clock."

"Did he refer to the subject of changing his will?"

"He did. That was his errand. He distinctly stated his
intention of making a new will, and asked me to come to his
office this morning and draw up the instrument."

"But as that cannot now be done, the will in favor of Miss Lloyd
still stands?"

"It does," said Mr. Randolph, "and I am glad of it. Miss Lloyd
has been brought up to look upon this inheritance as her own, and
while I would have used no undue emphasis, I should have tried to
dissuade Mr. Crawford from changing his will."

"But before we consider the fortune or the will, we must proceed
with our task of bringing to light the murderer, and avenging Mr.
Crawford's death."

"I trust you will do so, Mr. Coroner, and that speedily. But I
may say, if allowable, that you are on the wrong track when you
allow your suspicions to tend towards Florence Lloyd."

"As your opinion, Mr. Randolph, of course that sentiment has some
weight, but as a man of law, yourself, you must know that such an
opinion must be proved before it can be really conclusive."

"Yes, of course," said Mr. Randolph, with a deep sigh. "But let
me beg of you to look further in search of other indications
before you press too hard upon Miss Lloyd with the seeming clues
you now have."

I liked Mr. Randolph very much. Indeed it seemed to me that the
men of West Sedgwick were of a fine class as to both intellect
and judgment, and though Coroner Monroe was not a brilliant man,
I began to realize that he had some sterling qualities and was
distinctly just and fair in his decisions.

As for Gregory Hall, he seemed like a man free from a great
anxiety. Though still calm and reserved in appearance, he was
less nervous, and quietly awaited further developments. His
attitude was not hard to understand. Mr. Crawford had objected
to his secretary's engagement to his niece, and now Mr.
Crawford's objections could no longer matter. Again, it was not
surprising that Mr. Hall should be glad to learn that his fiancee
was the heiress she had supposed herself to he. Even though he
were marrying the girl simply for love of her, a large fortune in
addition was by no means to be despised. At any rate, I
concluded that Gregory Hall thought so.

As often happened, Parmalee read my thoughts. "A
fortune-hunter," he murmured, with a meaning glance at Hall.

I remembered that Mr. Carstairs, at the inn had said the same
thing, and I thoroughly believed it myself.

"Has he any means of his own?"

"No," said Parmalee, "except his salary, which was a good one
from Mr. Crawford, but of course he's lost that now."

"I don't feel drawn toward him. I suppose one would call him a
gentleman and yet he isn't manly."

"He's a cad," declared Parmalee; "any fortune hunter is a cad,
and I despise him."

Although I tried to hold my mind impartially open regarding Mr.
Hall, I was conscious of an inclination to despise him myself.
But I was also honest enough to realize that my principal reason
for despising him was because he had won the hand of Florence

I heard Coroner Monroe draw a long sigh.

Clearly, the man was becoming more and more apprehensive, and
really dreaded to go on with the proceedings, because he was
fearful of what might be disclosed thereby.

The gold bag still lay on the table before him; the yellow rose
petals were not yet satisfactorily accounted for; Miss Lloyd's
agitation and sudden loss of consciousness, though not surprising
in the circumstances, were a point in her disfavor. And now the
revelation that Mr. Crawford was actually on the point of
disinheriting his niece made it impossible to ignore the obvious
connection between that fact and the event of the night.

But no one had put the thought into words, and none seemed
inclined to.

Mechanically, Mr. Monroe called the next witness on his list, and
Mrs. Pierce answered.

For some reason she chose to stand during her interview, and as
she rose, I realized that she was a prim little personage, but of
such a decided nature that she might have been stigmatized by the
term stubborn. I had seen such women before; of a certain soft,
outward effect, apparently pliable and amenable, but in reality,
deep, shrewd and clever.

And yet she was not strong, far the situation in which she found
herself made her trembling and unstrung.

When asked by the coroner to tell her own story of the events of
the evening before, she begged that he would question her

Desirous of making it as easy far her as possible, Mr. Monroe
acceded to her wishes, and put his questions in a kindly and
conversational tone.

You were at dinner last night, with Miss Lloyd and Mr. Crawford?"

"Yes," was the almost inaudible reply, and Mrs. Pierce seemed
about to break down at the sad recollection.

"You heard the argument between Mr. Crawford and his niece at the
dinner table?"


"This resulted in high words on both sides?"

"Well, I don't know exactly what you mean by high words. Mr.
Crawford rarely lost his temper and Florence never."

"What then did Mr. Crawford say in regard to disinheriting Miss

"Mr. Crawford said clearly, but without recourse to what may be
called high words, that unless Florence would consent to break
her engagement he would cut her off with a shilling."

"Did he use that expression?"

"He did at first, when he was speaking more lightly; then when
Florence refused to do as he wished he said he would go that very
evening to Mr. Randolph's and have a new will made which should
disinherit Florence, except for a small annuity.

"And what did Miss Lloyd reply to this threat?" asked the

"She said," replied Mrs. Pierce, in her plaintive tones, "that
her uncle might do as he chose about that; but she would never
give up Mr. Hall."

At this moment Gregory Hall looked more manly than I had yet seen

Though he modestly dropped his eyes at this tacit tribute to his
worthiness, yet he squared his shoulders, and showed a
justifiable pride in the love thus evinced for him.

"Was the subject discussed further?" pursued the coroner.

"No; nothing more was said about it after that."

"Will the making of a new will by Mr. Crawfard affect yourself in
any way, Mrs. Pierce?"

"No," she replied, "Mr. Crawford left me a small bequest in his
earlier will and I had reason to think he would do the same in a
later will, even though he changed his intentions regarding

"Miss Lloyd thoroughly believed that he intended to carry out his
threat last evening?"

"She didn't say so to me, but Mr. Crawford spoke so decidedly on
the matter, that I think both she and I believed he was really
going to carry out his threat at last."

"When Mr. Crawford left the house, did you and Miss Lloyd know
where he was going?"

"We knew no more than he had said at the table. He said nothing
when he went away."

"How did you and Miss Lloyd spend the remainder of the evening?"

"It was but a short evening. We sat in the music-room for a
time, but at about ten o'clock we both went up to our rooms."

"Had Mr. Crawford returned then?"

"Yes, he came in perhaps an hour earlier. We heard him come in
at the front door, and go at once to his office."

"You did not see him, or speak to him?"

"We did not. He had a caller during the evening. It was Mr.
Porter, I have since learned."

"Did Miss Lloyd express no interest as to whether he had changed
his will or not?"

"Miss Lloyd didn't mention the will, or her engagement, to me at
all. We talked entirely of other matters."

"Was Miss Lloyd in her usual mood or spirits?"

"She seemed a little quiet, but not at all what you might call

"Was not this strange when she was fully expecting to be deprived
of her entire fortune?"

"It was not strange for Miss Lloyd. She rarely talks of her own
affairs. We spent an evening similar in all respects to our
usual evening when we do not have guests."

"And you both went upstairs at ten. Was that unusually early for

"Well, unless we have guests, we often go at ten or half-past

"And did you see Miss Lloyd again that night?"

"Yes; about half an hour later, I went to her room for a book I

"Miss Lloyd had not retired?"

"No; she asked me to sit down for awhile and chat."

"Did you do so?"

"Only for a few moments. I was interested in the book I had come
for, and I wanted to take it away to my own room to read."

"And Miss Lloyd, then, did not seem dispirited Dr in any way in
an unusual mood?"

"Not that I noticed. I wasn't quizzing her or looking into her
eyes to see what her thoughts were, for it didn't occur to me to
do so. I knew her uncle had dealt her a severe blow, but as she
didn't open the subject, of course I couldn't discuss it with
her. But I did think perhaps she wanted to be by herself to
consider the matter, and that was one reason why I didn't stay
and chat as she had asked me to."

"Perhaps she really wanted to discuss the matter with you."

"Perhaps she did; but in that case she should have said so.
Florence knows well enough that I am always ready to discuss or
sympathize with her in any matter, but I never obtrude my
opinions. So as she said nothing to lead me to think she wanted
to talk to me especially, I said good-night to her."



"Did you happen to notice, Mrs. Pierce, whether Miss Lloyd was
wearing a yellow rose when you saw her in her room?"

Mrs. Pierce hesitated. She looked decidedly embarrassed, and
seemed disinclined to answer. But she might have known that to
hesitate and show embarrassment was almost equivalent to an
affirmative answer to the coroner's question. At last she

"l don't know; I didn't notice."

This might have been a true statement, but I think no one in the
room believed it. The coroner tried again.

"Try to think, Mrs. Pierce. It is important that we should know
if Miss Lloyd was wearing a yellow rose."

"Yes," flared out Mrs. Pierce angrily, "so that you can prove she
went down to her uncle's office later and dropped a piece of her
rose there! But I tell you I don't remember whether she was
wearing a rose or not, and it wouldn't matter if she had on forty
roses! If Florence Lloyd says she didn't go down-stairs, she

"I think we all believe in Miss Lloyd's veracity," said Mr.
Monroe, "but it is necessary to discover where those rose petals
in the library came from. You saw the flowers in her room, Mrs.

"Yes, I believe I did. But I paid no attention to them, as
Florence nearly always has flowers in her room."

"Would you have heard Miss Lloyd if she had gone down-stairs
after you left her?"

"I don't know," said Mrs. Pierce, doubtfully.

"Is your room next to hers?"

"No, not next."

"Is it on the same corridor?"


"Around a comer?"


"And at some distance?"

"Yes." Mrs. Pierce's answers became more hesitating as she saw
the drift of Mr. Monroe's questions. Clearly, she was trying to
shield Florence, if necessary, at the expense of actual

"Then," went on Mr. Monroe, inexorably, "I understand you to say
that you think you would have heard Miss Lloyd, had she gone
down-stairs, although your room is at a distance and around a
corner and the hall and stairs are thickly carpeted. Unless you
were listening especially, Mrs. Pierce, I think you would
scarcely have heard her descend."

"Well, as she didn't go down,, of course I didn't hear her,"
snapped Mrs. Pierce, with the feminine way of settling an
argument by an unprovable statement.

Mr. Monroe began on another tack.

"When you went to Miss Lloyd's room," he said, "was the maid,
Elsa, there?"

"Miss Lloyd had just dismissed her for the night."

"What was Miss Lloyd doing when you went to her room?"

"She was looking over some gowns that she proposed sending to the

The coroner fairly jumped. He remembered the newspaper clipping
of a cleaner's advertisement, which was even now in the gold bag
before him. Though all the jurors had seen it, it had not been
referred to in the presence of the women.

Recovering himself at once, he said quietly "Was not that rather
work for Miss Lloyd's maid?"

"Oh, Elsa would pack and send them, of course," said Mrs. Pierce
carelessly. "Miss Lloyd was merely deciding which ones needed

"Do you know where they were to be sent?"

Mrs. Pierce looked a little surprised at this question.

"Miss Lloyd always sends her things to Carter & Brown's," she

Now, Carter & Brown was the firm name on the advertisement, and
it was evident at once that the coroner considered this a
damaging admission.

He sat looking greatly troubled, but before he spoke again, Mr.
Parmalee made an observation that decidedly raised that young man
in my estimation.

"Well," he said, "that's pretty good proof that the gold bag
doesn't belong to Miss Lloyd."

"How so?" asked the coroner, who had thought quite the contrary.

"Why, if Miss Lloyd always sends her goods to be cleaned to
Carter & Brown, why would she need to cut their address from a
newspaper and save it?"

At first I thought the young man's deduction distinctly clever,
but on second thought I wasn't so sure. Miss Lloyd might have
wanted that address for a dozen good reasons. To my mind, it
proved neither her ownership of the gold bag, nor the contrary.

In fact, I thought the most important indication that the bag
might be hers lay in the story Elsa told about the cousin who
sailed to Germany. Somehow that sounded untrue to me, but I was
more than willing to believe it if I could.

I longed for Fleming Stone, who, I felt sure, could learn from
the bag and its contents the whole truth about the crime and the

But I had been called to take charge of the case, and my pride
forbade me to call on any one for help.

I had scorned deductions from inanimate objects, but I resolved
to study that bag again, and study it more minutely. Perhaps
there were some threads or shreds caught in its meshes that might
point to its owner. I remembered a detective story I read once,
in which the whole discovery of the criminal depended on
identifying a few dark blue woollen threads which were found in a
small pool of candle grease on a veranda roof. As it turned out,
they were from the trouser knee of a man who had knelt there to
open a window. The patent absurdity of leaving threads from
one's trouser knee, amused me very much, but the accommodating
criminals in fiction almost always leave threads or shreds behind
them. And surely a gold-mesh bag, with its thousands of links
would be a fine trap to catch some threads of evidence, however
minute they might be.

Furthermore I decided to probe further into that yellow rose
business. I was not at all sure that those petals I found on the
floor had anything to do with Miss Lloyd's roses, but it must be
a question possible of settlement, if I went about it in the
right way. At any rate, though I had definite work ahead of me,
my duty just now was to listen to the forthcoming evidence,
though I could not help thinking I could have put questions more
to the point than Mr. Monroe did.

Of course the coroner's inquest was not formally conducted as a
trial by jury would be, and so any one spoke, if he chose, and
the coroner seemed really glad when suggestions were offered him.

At this point Philip Crawford rose.

"It is impossible," he said, "not to see whither these questions
are tending. But you are on the wrong tack, Mr. Coroner. No
matter how evidence may seem to point toward Florence Lloyd's
association with this crime, it is only seeming. That gold bag
might have been hers and it might not. But if she says it isn't,
why, then it isn't! Notwithstanding the state of affairs between
my brother and his niece, there is not the shadow of a
possibility that the young woman is implicated in the slightest
degree, and the sooner you leave her name out of consideration,
and turn your search into other channels, the sooner you will
find the real criminal."

It was not so much the words of Philip Crawford, as the sincere
way in which they were spoken, that impressed me. Surely he was
right; surely this beautiful girl was neither principal nor
accessory in the awful crime which, by a strange coincidence,,
gave to her her fortune and her lover.

"Mr. Crawford's right," said Lemuel Porter. "If this jury allows
itself to be misled by a gold purse and two petals of a yellow
rose, we are unworthy to sit on this case. Why, Mr. Coroner, the
long French windows in the office were open, or, at least,
unfastened all through the night. We have that from the butler's
testimony. He didn't lock them last night; they were found
unlocked this morning. Therefore, I hold that an intruder,
either man or woman, may have come in during the night,
accomplished the fatal deed, and departed without any one being
the wiser. That this intruder was a woman, is evidenced by the
bag she left behind her. For, as Mr. Crawford has said, if Miss
Lloyd denies the ownership of that bag, it is not hers."

After all, these declarations were proof, of a sort. If Mr.
Porter and Mr. Philip Crawford, who had known Florence Lloyd for
years, spoke thus positively of her innocence, it could not be

And then the voice of Parmalee again sounded in my ears.

"Of course Mr. Porter and Mr. Crawford would stand up for Miss
Lloyd; it would be strange if they didn't. And of course, Mrs.
Pierce will do all she can to divert suspicion. But the
evidences are against her."

"They only seem to be," I corrected. "Until we prove the gold
bag and the yellow rose to be hers; there is no evidence against
her at all."

"She also had motive and opportunity. Those two points are of
quite as much importance as evidence."

"She had motive and opportunity," I agreed, "but they were not
exclusive. As Mr. Porter pointed out, the open windows gave
opportunity that was world wide; and as to motive, how are we to
know who had or who hadn't it."

"You're right, I suppose. Perhaps I am too positive of Miss
Lloyd's implication in the matter, but I'm quite willing to be
convinced to the contrary."

The remarks of Mr. Parmalee were of course not audible to any one
save myself. But the speeches which had been made by Mr.
Crawford and Mr. Porter, and which, strange to say, amounted to
an arraignment and a vindication almost in the same breath, had a
decided effect upon the assembly.

Mrs. Pierce began to weep silently. Gregory Hall looked
startled, as if the mere idea of Miss Lloyd's implication was a
new thought to him. Lawyer Randolph looked considerably
disturbed, and I at once suspected that his legal mind would not
allow him to place too much dependence on the statements of the
girl's sympathetic friends.

Mr. Hamilton, another of the jurors whom I liked, seemed to be
thoughtfully weighing the evidence. He was not so well
acquainted with Miss Lloyd as the two men who had just spoken in
her behalf, and he made a remark somewhat diffidently.

"I agree," he said, "with the sentiments just expressed; but I
also think that we should endeavor to find some further clues or
evidence. Had Mr. Crawford any enemies who would come at night
to kill him? Or are there any valuables missing? Could robbery
have been the motive?"

"It does not seem so," replied the coroner. "Nothing is known to
be missing. Mr. Crawford's watch and pocket money were no

"The absence of the weapon is a strange factor in the case," put
in Mr. Orville, apparently desirous of having his voice heard as
well as those of the other jurors.

"Yes," agreed Mr. Monroe; "and yet it is not strange that the
criminal carried away with him what might have been a proof of
his identity."

"Does Miss Lloyd own a pistol?" blurted out Mr. Parmalee.

Gregory Hall gave him an indignant look, but Coroner Monroe
seemed rather glad to have the question raised - probably so that
it could be settle at once in the negative.

And it was.

"No," replied Mrs. Pierce, when the query was put to her. "Both
Florence and I are desperately afraid of firearms. We wouldn't
dream of owning a pistol - either of us."

Of course, this was significant, but in no way decisive.
Granting that Miss Lloyd could have been the criminal, it would
have been possible for her secretly to procure a revolver, and
secretly to dispose of it afterward. Then, too, a small revolver
had been used. To be sure, this did not necessarily imply that a
woman had used it, but, taken in connection with the bag and the
rose petals, it gave food for thought.

But the coroner seemed to think Mrs. Pierce's assertions greatly
in Miss Lloyd's favor, and, being at the end of his list of
witnesses, he inquired if any one else in the room knew of
anything that could throw light on the matter.

No one responded to this invitation, and the coroner then
directed the jury to retire to find a verdict. The six men
passed into another room, and I think no one who awaited their
return apprehended any other result than the somewhat
unsatisfactory one of "person or persons unknown."

And this was what the foreman announced when the jury returned
after their short collocation.

Then, as a jury, they were dismissed, but from that moment the
mystery of Joseph Crawford's death became the absorbing thought
of all West Sedgwick.

"The murderer of my brother shall be found and brought to
justice!" declared Philip Crawford, and all present seemed to
echo his vow.

Then and there, Mr. Crawford retained Lawyer Randolph to help him
in running down the villain, and, turning to me, asked to engage
my services also.

To this, I readily agreed, for I greatly desired to go on with
the matter, and cared little whether I worked for an individual
or for the State.

Of course Mr. Crawford's determination to find the murderer
proved anew his conviction that Florence Lloyd was above all
suspicion, but in the face of certain details of the evidence so
far, I could not feel so absolutely certain of this.

However, it was my business to follow up every clue, or apparent
clue, and every bit of evidence, and this I made up my mind to
do, regardless of consequences.

I confess it was difficult for me to feel regardless of
consequences, for I had a haunting fear that the future was going
to look dark for Florence Lloyd. And if it should be proved that
she was in any way responsible for or accessory to this crime, I
knew I should wish I had had nothing to do with discovering that
fact. But back of this was an undefined but insistent conviction
that the girl was innocent, and that I could prove it. This may
have been an inordinate faith in my own powers, or it may have
been a hope born of my admiration for the young woman herself.
For there is no doubt, that for the first time in my life I was
taking a serious interest in a woman's personality. Heretofore I
had been a general admirer of womankind, and I had naturally
treated them all with chivalry and respect. But now I had met
one whom I desired to treat in a far tenderer way, and to my
chagrin I realized that I had no right to entertain such thoughts
toward a girl already betrothed.

So I concluded to try my best to leave Florence Lloyd's
personality out of the question, to leave my feelings toward her
out of the question, and to devote my energies to real work on
the case and prove by intelligent effort that I could learn facts
from evidence without resorting to the microscopic methods of
Fleming Stone. I purposely ignored the fact that I would have
been only too glad to use these methods had I the power to do so!



For the next day or two the Crawford house presented the
appearance usual in any home during the days immediately
preceding a funeral.

By tacit consent, all reference to the violence of Mr. Crawford's
death was avoided, and a rigorous formality was the keynote of
all the ceremonies. The servants were garbed in correct
mourning, the ladies of the house refused to see anybody, and all
personal callers were met by Philip Crawford or his wife, while
business acquaintances were received by Gregory Hall.

As private secretary, of course Mr. Hall was in full charge of
Mr. Crawford's papers and personal effects. But, in addition to
this, as the prospective husband of the heiress, he was
practically the head of the house.

He showed no elation or ostentation at this state of affairs, but
carried himself with an air of quiet dignity, tinged with a
suggestion of sadness, which, if merely conventional, seemed none
the less sincere.

I soon learned that the whole social atmosphere of West Sedgwick
was one of extreme formality, and everything was done in
accordance with the most approved conventions. Therefore, I
found I could get no chance for a personal conversation with Miss
Lloyd until after the funeral.

I had, however, more or less talk with Gregory Hall, and as I
became acquainted with him, I liked him less.

He was of a cold and calculating disposition, and when we were
alone, he did not hesitate to gloat openly over his bright

"Terrible thing, to be put out of existence like that," he said,
as we sat in Mr. Crawford's office, looking over some papers;
"but it solved a big problem for Florence and me. However, we'll
be married as soon as we decently can, and then we'll go abroad,
and forget the tragic part of it all."

"I suppose you haven't a glimmer of a suspicion as to who did
it," I ventured.

"No, I haven't. Not the faintest notion. But I wish you could
find out. Of course, nobody holds up that bag business as
against Florence, but - it's uncomfortable all the same. I wish
I'd been here that night. I'm 'most sure I'd have heard a shot,
or something."

"Where were you?" I said, in a careless tone.

Hall drew himself up stiffly. "Excuse me," he said. "I declined
to answer that question before. Since I was not in West
Sedgwick, it can matter to no one where I was."

"Oh, that's all right," I returned affably, for I had no desire
to get his ill will. "But of course we detectives have to ask
questions. By the way, where did you buy Miss Lloyd's yellow

"See here," said Gregory Hall, with a petulant expression, "I
don't want to be questioned. I'm not on the witness-stand, and,
as I've told you, I'm uncomfortable already about these so-called
`clues' that seem to implicate Miss Lloyd. So, if you please,
I'll say nothing."

"All right," I responded, "just as you like."

I went away from the house, thinking how foolish people could be.
I could easily discover where he bought the roses, as there were
only three florists' shops in West Sedgwick and I resolved to go
at once to hunt up the florist who sold them.

Assuming he would naturally go to the shop nearest the railroad
station, and which was also on the way from the Crawford house, I
went there first, and found my assumption correct.

The florist was more than willing to talk on the subject.

"Yes, sir," he said; "I sold those roses to Mr. Hall - sold 'em
to him myself. He wanted something extra nice, and I had just a
dozen of those big yellow beauties. No, I don't raise my own
flowers. I get 'em from the city. And so I had just that dozen,
and I sent 'em right up. Well, there was some delay, for two of
my boys were out to supper, and I waited for one to get back."

"And you had no other roses just like these in stock?"

"No, sir. Hadn't had for a week or more. Haven't any now. May
not get any more at all. They're a scarce sort, at best, and
specially so this year.

"And you sent Miss Lloyd the whole dozen?"

"Yes, sir; twelve. I like to put in an extra one or two when I
can, but that time I couldn't. There wasn't another rose like
them short of New York City."

I thanked the florist, and, guessing that he was not above it, I
gave him a more material token of my gratitude for his
information, and then walked slowly back to my room at the inn.

Since there were no other roses of that sort in West Sedgwick
that evening, it seemed to me as if Florence Lloyd must have gone
down to her uncle's office after having pinned the blossom on her
bodice. The only other possibility was that some intruder had
entered by way of the French window wearing or carrying a similar
flower, and that this intruder had come from New York, or at
least from some place other than West Sedgwick. It was too
absurd. Murderers don't go about decked with flowers, and yet at
midnight a man in evening dress was not impossible, and evening
dress might easily imply a boutonniere.

Well, this well-dressed man I had conjured up in my mind must
have come from out of town, or else whence the flower, after all?

And then I bethought myself of that late newspaper. An extra,
printed probably as late as eleven o'clock at night, must have
been brought out to West Sedgwick by a traveller on some late
train. Why not Gregory Hall, himself? I let my imagination run
riot for a minute. Mr. Hall refused to say where he was on the
night of the murder. Why not assume that he had come out from
New York, in evening dress, at or about midnight? This would
account for the newspaper and the yellow rose petals, for, if he
bought a boutonniere in the city, how probable he would select
the same flower he had just sent his fiancee.

I rather fancied the idea of Gregory Hall as the criminal. He
had the same motive as Miss Lloyd. He knew of her uncle's
objection to their union, and his threat of disinheritance. How
easy for him to come out late from New York, on a night when he
was not expected, and remove forever the obstacle to his future

I drew myself up with a start. This was not detective work.
This was mere idle speculation. I must shake it off, and set
about collecting some real evidence.

But the thought still clung to me; mere speculation it might be,
but it was founded on the same facts that already threw suspicion
on Florence Lloyd. With the exception of the gold bag - and that
she disclaimed - such evidence as I knew of pointed toward Mr.
Hall as well as toward Miss Lloyd.

However at present I was on the trail of those roses, and I
determined to follow that trail to a definite end. I went back
to the Crawford house and as I did not like to ask for Miss
Lloyd, I asked for Mrs. Pierce.

She came down to the drawing room, and greeted me rather more
cordially than I had dared to hope. I had a feeling that both
ladies resented my presence there, for so many women have a
prejudice against detectives.

But though nervous and agitated, Mrs. Pierce spoke to me kindly.

"Did you want to see me for anything in particular, Mr.
Burroughs?" she asked.

"Yes, I do, Mrs. Pierce," I replied; "I may as well tell you
frankly that I want to find out all I can about those yellow

"Oh, those roses! Shall I never hear the last of them? I assure
you, Mr. Burroughs, they're of no importance whatever."

"That is not for you to decide," I said quietly, and I began to
see that perhaps a dictatorial attitude might be the best way to
manage this lady. "Are the rest of those flowers still in Miss
Lloyd's room? If so I wish to see them."

"I don't know whether they are or not; but I will find out, and
if so I'll bring them down."

"No," I said, "I will go with you to see them."

"But Florence may be in her room."

"So much the better. She can tell me anything I wish to know."

"Oh, please don't interview her! I'm sure she wouldn't want to
talk with you."

"Very well, then ask her to vacate the room, and I will go there
with you now."

Mrs. Pierce went away, and I began to wonder if I had gone too
far or had overstepped my authority. But it was surely my duty
to learn all I could about Florence Lloyd, and what so promising
of suggestions as her own room?

Mrs. Pierce returned in a few moments, and affably enough she
asked me to accompany her to Miss Lloyd's room.

I did so, and after entering devoted my whole attention to the
bunch of yellow roses, which in a glass vase stood on the window
seat. Although somewhat wilted, they were still beautiful, and
without the slightest doubt were the kind of rose from which the
two tell-tale petals had fallen.

Acting upon a sudden thought, I counted them. There were nine,
each one seemingly with its full complement of petals, though of
this I could not be perfectly certain.

"Now, Mrs. - Pierce," I said, turning to her with an air of
authority which was becoming difficult to maintain, "where are
the roses which Miss Lloyd admits having pinned to her gown?"

"Mercy! I don't know," exclaimed Mrs. Pierce, looking bewildered.
"I suppose she threw them away."

"I suppose she did," I returned; "would she not be likely to
throw them in the waste basket?"

"She might," returned Mrs. Pierce, turning toward an ornate
affair of wicker-work and pink ribbons.

Sure enough, in the basket, among a few scraps of paper, were two
exceedingly withered yellow roses. I picked them out and
examined them, but in their present state it was impossible to
tell whether they had lost any petals or not, so I threw them
back in the basket.

Mrs. Pierce seemed to care nothing for evidence or deduction in
the matter, but began to lament the carelessness of the
chambermaid who had not emptied the waste basket the day before.

But I secretly blessed the delinquent servant, and began
pondering on this new development of the rose question. The nine
roses in the vase and the two in the basket made but eleven, and
the florist had told me that he had sent a dozen. Where was the

The thought occurred to me that Miss Lloyd might have put away
one as a sentimental souvenir, but to my mind she did not seem
the kind of a girl to do that. I knew my reasoning was absurd,
for what man can predicate what a woman will do? but at the same
time I could not seem to imagine the statuesque, imperial Miss
Lloyd tenderly preserving a rose that her lover had given her.

But might not Gregory Hall have taken one of the dozen for
himself before sending the rest? This was merely surmise, but it
was a possibility, and at any rate the twelfth rose was not in
Miss Lloyd's room.

Therefore the twelfth rose was a factor to be reckoned with, a
bit of evidence to be found; and I determined to find it.

I asked Mrs. Pierce to arrange for me an interview with Miss
Lloyd, but the elder lady seemed doubtful.

"I'm quite sure she won't see you," she said, "for she has
declared she will see no one until after the funeral. But if you
want me to ask her anything for you, I will do so."

"Very well," I said, surprised at her willingness; "please ask
Miss Lloyd if she knows what became of the twelfth yellow rose;
and beg her to appreciate the fact that it is a vital point in
the case."

Mrs. Pierce agreed to do this, and as I went down the stairs she
promised to join me in the library a few moments later.

She kept her promise, and I waited eagerly her report.

"Miss Lloyd bids me tell you," she said, "that she knows nothing
of what you call the twelfth rose. She did not count the roses,
she merely took two of them to pin on her dress, and when she
retired, she carelessly threw those two in the waste basket. She
thinks it probable there were only eleven in the box when it
arrived. But at any rate she knows nothing more of the matter."

I thanked Mrs. Pierce for her courtesy and patience, and feeling
that I now had a real problem to consider, I started back to the

It could not be that this rose matter was of no importance. For
the florist had assured me he had sold exactly twelve flowers to
Mr. Gregory Hall, and of these, I could account for only eleven.
The twelfth rose must have been separated from the others, either
by Mr. Hall, at the time of purchase, or by some one else later.
If the petals found on the floor fell from that twelfth rose, and
if Florence Lloyd spoke the truth when she declared she knew
nothing of it, then she was free from suspicion in that

But until I could make some further effort to find out about the
missing rose I concluded to say nothing of it to anybody. I was
not bound to tell Parmalee any points I might discover, for
though colleagues, we were working independently of each other.

But as I was anxious to gather any side lights possible, I
determined to go for a short conference with the district
attorney, in whose hands the case had been put after the
coroner's inquest.

He was a man named Goodrich, a quiet mannered, untalkative
person, and as might be expected he had made little or no
progress as yet.

He said nothing could be done until after the funeral and the
reading of the will, which ceremonies would occur the next

I talked but little to Mr. Goodrich, yet I soon discovered that
he strongly suspected Miss Lloyd of the crime, either as
principal or accessory.

"But I can't believe it," I objected. "A girl, delicately
brought up, in refined and luxurious surroundings, does not
deliberately commit an atrocious crime."

"A woman thwarted in her love affair will do almost anything,"
declared Mr. Goodrich. "I have had more experience than you, my
boy, and I advise you not to bank too much on the refined and
luxurious surroundings. Sometimes such things foster crime
instead of preventing it. But the truth will come out, and soon,
I think. The evidence that seems to point to Miss Lloyd can be
easily proved or disproved, once we get at the work in earnest.
That coroner's jury was made up of men who were friends and
neighbors of Mr. Crawford. They were so prejudiced by sympathy
for Miss Lloyd, and indignation at the unknown criminal, that
they couldn't give unbiased judgment. But we will yet see
justice done. If Miss Lloyd is innocent, we can prove it. But
remember the provocation she was under. Remember the opportunity
she had, to visit her uncle alone in his office, after every one
else in the house was asleep. Remember that she had a motive - a
strong motive - and no one else had."

"Except Mr. Gregory Hall," I said meaningly.

"Yes; I grant he had the same motive. But he is known to have
left town at six that evening, and did not return until nearly
noon the next day. That lets him out."

"Yes, unless he came back at midnight, and then went back to the
city again."

"Nonsense!" said Mr. Goodrich. "That's fanciful. Why, the
latest train - the theatre train, as we call it - gets in at one
o'clock, and it's always full of our society people returning
from gayeties in New York. He would have been seen had he come
on that train, and there is no later one."

I didn't stay to discuss the matter further. Indeed, Mr.
Goodrich had made me feel that my theories were fanciful.

But whatever my theories might be there were still facts to be

Remembering my determination to examine that gold bag more
thoroughly I asked Mr. Goodrich to let me see it, for of course,
as district attorney, it was now in his possession.

He gave it to me with an approving nod. "That's the way to
work," he said. "That bag is your evidence. Now from that, you
detectives must go ahead and learn the truth."

"Whose bag is it?" I said, with the intention of drawing him out.

"It's Miss Lloyd's bag," he said gravely. "Any woman in the
world would deny its ownership, in the existing circumstances,
and I am not surprised that she did so. Nor do I blame her for
doing so. Self preservation is a mighty strong impulse in the
human heart, and we've all got a right to obey it."

As I took the gold bag from his hand, I didn't in the least
believe that Florence Lloyd was the owner of it, and I resolved
anew to prove this to the satisfaction of everybody concerned.

Mr. Goodrich turned away and busied himself about other matters,
and I devoted myself to deep study.

The contents of the bag proved as blank and unsuggestive as ever.
The most exhaustive examination of its chain, its clasp and its
thousands of links gave me not the tiniest thread or shred of any

But as I poked and pried around in its lining I found a card,
which had slipped between the main lining and an inside pocket.

I drew it out as carefully as I could, and it proved to be a
small plain visiting card bearing the engraved name, "Mrs.
Egerton Purvis."

I sat staring at it, and then furtively glanced at Mr. Goodrich.
He was not observing me, and I instinctively felt that I did not
wish him to know of the card until I myself had given the matter
further thought.

I returned the card to its hiding place and returned the bag to
Mr. Goodrich, after which I went away.

I had not copied the name, for it was indelibly photographed upon
my brain. As I walked along the street I tried to construct the
personality of Mrs. Egerton Purvis from her card. But I was able
to make no rational deductions, except that the name sounded
aristocratic, and was quite in keeping with the general effect of
the bag and its contents.

To be sure I might have deduced that she was a lady of average
height and size, because she wore a number six glove; that she
was careful of her personal appearance, because she possessed a
vanity case; that she was of tidy habits, because she evidently
expected to send her gowns to be cleaned. But all these things
seemed to me puerile and even ridiculous, as such characteristics
would apply to thousands of woman all over the country.

Instead of this, I went straight to the telegraph office and
wired to headquarters in a cipher code. I instructed them to
learn the identity and whereabouts of Mrs. Egerton Purvis, and
advise me as soon as possible.

Then I returned to the Sedgwick Arms, feeling decidedly well
satisfied with my morning's work, and content to wait until after
Mr. Crawford's funeral to do any further real work in the matter.



I went to the Crawford house on the day of the funeral; but as I
reached there somewhat earlier than the hour appointed, I went
into the office with the idea of looking about for further clues.

In the office I found Gregory Hall; looking decidedly disturbed.

"I can't find Mr. Crawford's will," he said, as he successively
looked through one drawer after another.

"What!" I responded. "Hasn't that been located already?"

"No; it's this way: I didn't see it here in this office, or in
the New York office, so I assumed Mr. Randolph had it in his
possession. But it seems he thought it was here, all the time.
Only this morning we discovered our mutual error, and Mr.
Randolph concluded it must be in Mr. Crawford's safety deposit
box at the bank in New York. So Mr. Philip Crawford hurried
through his administration papers - he is to be executor of the
estate - and went in to get it from the bank. But he has just
returned with the word that it wasn't there. So we've no idea
where it is."

"Oh, well," said I, "since he hadn't yet made the new will he had
in mind, everything belongs to Miss Lloyd."

"That's just the point," said Hall, his face taking on a
despairing look. "If we don't find that will, she gets nothing!"

"How's that?" I said.

"Why, she's really not related to the Crawfords. She's a niece
of Joseph Crawford's wife. So in the absence of a will his
property will all go to his brother Philip, who is his legal

"Oho!" I exclaimed. "This is a new development. But the will
will turn up."

"Oh, yes, I'm sure of it," returned Hall, but his anxious face
showed anything but confidence in his own words.

"But," I went on, "didn't Philip Crawford object to his brother's
giving all his fortune to Miss Lloyd?"

It didn't matter if he did. Nobody could move Joseph Crawford's
determination. And I fancy Philip didn't make any great
disturbance about it. Of course, Mr. Joseph had a right to do as
he chose with his own, and the will gave Philip a nice little
sum, any way. Not much, compared to the whole fortune, but,
still, a generous bequest."

"What does Mr. Randolph say?"

"He's completely baffled. He doesn't know what to think."

"Can it have been stolen?"

"Why, no; who would steal it? I only fear he may have destroyed
it because he expected to make a different one. In that case,
Florence is penniless, save for such bounty as Philip Crawford
chooses to bestow on her."

I didn't like the tone in which Hall said this. It was
distinctly aggrieved, and gave the impression that Florence
Lloyd, penniless, was of far less importance than Miss Lloyd, the
heiress of her uncle's millions.

"But he would doubtless provide properly for her," I said.

"Oh, yes, properly. But she would find herself in a very
different position, dependent on his generosity, from what she
would be as sole heir to her uncle's fortune."

I looked steadily at the man. Although not well acquainted with
him, I couldn't resist giving expression to my thought.

"But since you are to marry her," I said, "she need not long be
dependent upon her uncle's charity."

"Philip Crawford isn't really her uncle, and no one can say what
he will do in the matter."

Gregory Hall was evidently greatly disturbed at the new situation
brought about by the disappearance of Mr. Crawford's will. But
apparently the main reason for his disturbance was the impending
poverty of his fiancee. There was no doubt that Mr. Carstairs
and others who had called this man a fortune-hunter had judged
him rightly.

However, without further words on the subject, I waited while
Hall locked the door of the office, and then we went together to
the great drawing-room, where the funeral services were about to
take place.

I purposely selected a position from which I could see the faces
of the group of people most nearly connected with the dead man.
I had a strange feeling, as I looked at them, that one of them
might be the instrument of the crime which had brought about this
funeral occasion.

During the services I looked closely and in turn at each face,
but beyond the natural emotions of grief which might be expected,
I could read nothing more.

The brother, Philip Crawford, the near neighbors, Mr. Porter and
Mr. Hamilton, the lawyer, Mr. Randolph, all sat looking grave and
solemn as they heard the last words spoken above their dead
friend. The ladies of the household, quietly controlling their
emotions, sat near me, and next to Florence Lloyd Gregory Hall
had seated himself.

All of these people I watched closely, half hoping that some
inadvertent sign might tell me of someone's knowledge of the
secret. But when the clergyman referred to the retribution that
would sooner or later overtake the criminal. I could see an
expression of fear or apprehension on no face save that of
Florence Lloyd. She turned even whiter than before, her pale
lips compressed in a straight line, and her small black gloved
hand softly crept into that of Gregory Hall. The movement was
not generally noticeable, but it seemed to me pathetic above all
things. Whatever her position in the matter, she was surely
appealing to him for help and protection.

Without directly repulsing her, Hall was far from responsive. He
allowed her hand to rest in his own but gave her no answering
pressure, and looked distinctly relieved when, after a moment,
she withdrew it.

I saw that Parmalee also had observed this, and I could see that
to him it was an indication of the girl's perturbed spirit. To
me it seemed that it might equally well mean many other things.
For instance it might mean her apprehension for Gregory Hall,
who, I couldn't help thinking was far more likely to be a
wrongdoer than the girl herself.

With a little sigh I gave up trying to glean much information
from the present opportunity, and contented myself with the
melancholy pleasure it gave me simply to look at the sad sweet
face of the girl who was already enshrined in my heart.

After the solemn and rather elaborate obsequies were over, a
little assembly gathered in the library to hear the reading of
the will.

As, until then, no one had known of the disappearance of the
will, except the lawyer and the secretary, it came as a

"I have no explanation to offer," said Mr. Randolph, looking
greatly concerned, but free of all personal responsibility. "Mr.
Crawford always kept the will in his own possession. When he
came to see me, the last evening he was alive, in regard to
making a new will, he did not bring the old one with him. We
arranged to meet in his office the next morning to draw up the
new instrument, when he doubtless expected to destroy the old

He may have destroyed it on his return home that evening. I do
not know. But so far it has not been found among his papers in
either of his offices or in the bank. Of course it may appear,
as the search, though thorough, has not yet been exhaustive. We
will, therefore, hold the matter in abeyance a few days, hoping
to find the missing document."

His hearers were variously affected by this news. Florence Lloyd
was simply dazed. She could not seem to grasp a situation which
so suddenly changed her prospects. For she well knew that in the
event of no will being found, Joseph Crawford's brother would be
his rightful heir, and she would be legally entitled to nothing
at all.

Philip Crawford sat with an utterly expressionless face. Quite
able to control his emotion, if he felt any, he made no sign that
he welcomed this possibility of a great fortune unexpectedly
coming to him.

Lemuel Porter, who, with his wife, had remained because of their
close friendship with the family, spoke out rather abruptly

"Find it! Of course it must be found! It's absurd to think the
man destroyed one will before the other was drawn."

"I agree with you," said Philip Crawford.

"Joseph was very methodical in his habits, and, besides, I doubt
if he would really have changed his will. I think he merely

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