> DEAR SIR—I have just learned from what I believe to be a trustworthy sourc_hat you have already violated the terms of the agreement under which yo_ntered into residence on the property near Annandale, known as Glenarm House.
The provisions of the will of John Marshall Glenarm are plain and unequivocal, as you undoubtedly understood when you accepted them, and your absence, no_nly from the estate itself, but from Wabana County, violates beyond questio_our right to inherit.
> I, as executor, therefore demand that you at once vacate said property, leaving it in as good condition as when received by you.
> Very truly yours, > Arthur Pickering, > Executor of the Estate of John Marshall Glenarm.
“Very truly the devil’s,” growled Larry, snapping his cigarette cas_iciously.
“How did he find out?” I asked lamely, but my heart sank like lead. Had Maria_evereux told him! How else could he know?
“Probably from the stars,—the whole universe undoubtedly saw you skipping of_o meet your lady-love. Bah, these women!”
“Tut! They don’t all marry the sons of brewers,” I retorted. “You assured m_nce, while your affair with that Irish girl was on, that the short upper li_ade Heaven seem possible, but unnecessary; then the next thing I knew she ha_haken you for the bloated masher. Take that for your impertinence. Bu_erhaps it was Bates?”
I did not wait for an answer. I was not in a mood for reflection or nic_istinctions. The man came in just then with a fresh plate of toast.
“Bates, Mr. Pickering has learned that I was away from the house on the nigh_f the attack, and I’m ordered off for having broken my agreement to sta_ere. How do you suppose he heard of it so promptly?”
“From Morgan, quite possibly. I have a letter from Mr. Pickering myself thi_orning. Just a moment, sir.”
He placed before me a note bearing the same date as my own. It was a shar_ebuke of Bates for his failure to report my absence, and he was ordered t_repare to leave on the first of February. “Close your accounts at th_hopkeepers’ and I will audit your bills on my arrival.”
The tone was peremptory and contemptuous. Bates had failed to satisf_ickering and was flung off like a smoked-out cigar.
“How much had he allowed you for expenses, Bates?”
He met my gaze imperturbably.
“He paid me fifty dollars a month as wages, sir, and I was allowed seventy- five for other expenses.”
“But you didn’t buy English pheasants and champagne on that allowance!”
He was carrying away the coffee tray and his eyes wandered to the windows.
“Not quite, sir. You see—”
“But I don’t see!”
“It had occurred to me that as Mr. Pickering’s allowance wasn’t what you migh_all generous it was better to augment it—Well, sir, I took the liberty o_dvancing a trifle, as you might say, to the estate. Your grandfather woul_ot have had you starve, sir.”
He left hurriedly, as though to escape from the consequences of his words, an_hen I came to myself Larry was gloomily invoking his strange Irish gods.
“Larry Donovan, I’ve been tempted to kill that fellow a dozen times! Thi_hing is too damned complicated for me. I wish my lamented grandfather ha_eft me something easy. To think of it—that fellow, after my treatment o_im—my cursing and abusing him since I came here! Great Scott, man, I’ve bee_njoying his bounty, I’ve been living on his money! And all the time he’s bee_rusting in me, just because of his dog-like devotion to my grandfather’_emory. Lord, I can’t face the fellow again!”
“As I have said before, you’re rather lacking at times in perspicacity. You_ntelligence is marred by large opaque spots. Now that there’s a woman in th_ase you’re less sane than ever. Bah, these women! And now we’ve got to go t_ork.”
Bah, these women! My own heart caught the words. I was enraged and bitter. N_onder she had been anxious for me to avoid Pickering after daring me t_ollow her!
We called a council of war for that night that we might view matters in th_ight of Pickering’s letter. His assuredness in ordering me to leave mad_rompt and decisive action necessary on my part. I summoned Stoddard to ou_onference, feeling confident of his friendliness.
“Of course,” said the broad-shouldered chaplain, “if you could show that you_bsence was on business of very grave importance, the courts might construe i_hat you had not really violated the will.”
Larry looked at the ceiling and blew rings of smoke languidly. I had no_isclosed to either of them the cause of my absence. On such a matter I knew _hould get precious little sympathy from Larry, and I had, moreover, a feelin_hat I could not discuss Marian Devereux with any one; I even shrank fro_entioning her name, though it rang like the call of bugles in my blood.
She was always before me,—the charmed spirit of youth, linked to every foot o_he earth, every gleam of the sun upon the ice-bound lake, every glory of th_inter sunset. All the good impulses I had ever stifled were quickened to lif_y the thought of her. Amid the day’s perplexities I started sometimes, thinking I heard her voice, her girlish laughter, or saw her again comin_oward me down the stairs, or holding against the light her fan with it_olden butterflies. I really knew so little of her; I could associate her wit_o home, only with that last fling of the autumn upon the lake, the snow- driven woodland, that twilight hour at the organ in the chapel, those stole_oments at the Armstrongs’. I resented the pressure of the hour’s affairs, an_hafed at the necessity for talking of my perplexities with the good friend_ho were there to help. I wished to be alone, to yield to the sweet mood tha_he thought of her brought me. The doubt that crept through my mind as to an_ossibility of connivance between her and Pickering was as vague and fleetin_s the shadow of a swallow’s wing on a sunny meadow.
“You don’t intend fighting the fact of your absence, do you?” demanded Larry, after a long silence.
“Of course not!” I replied quietly. “Pickering was right on my heels, and m_bsence was known to his men here. And it would not be square to m_randfather, —who never harmed a flea, may his soul rest in blessed peace!—t_ie about it. They might nail me for perjury besides.”
“Then the quicker we get ready for a siege the better. As I understand you_ttitude, you don’t propose to move out until you’ve found where the siller’_idden. Being a gallant gentleman and of a forgiving nature, you want to b_ure that the lady who is now entitled to it gets all there is coming to her, and as you don’t trust the executor, any further than a true Irishman trusts _ritish prime minister’s promise, you’re going to stand by to watch the boodl_ounted. Is that a correct analysis of your intentions?”
“That’s as near one of my ideas as you’re likely to get, Larry Donovan!”
“And if he comes with the authorities,—the sheriff and that sort of thing,—w_ust prepare for such an emergency,” interposed the chaplain.
“So much the worse for the sheriff and the rest of them!” I declared.
“Spoken like a man of spirit. And now we’d better stock up at once, in case w_hould be shut off from our source of supplies. This is a lonely place here; even the school is a remote neighbor. Better let Bates raid the village shop_o-morrow. I’ve tried being hungry, and I don’t care to repeat th_xperience.”
And Larry reached for the tobacco jar.
“I can’t imagine, I really can’t believe,” began the chaplain, “that Mis_evereux will want to be brought into this estate matter in any way. In fact, I have heard Sister Theresa say as much. I suppose there’s no way o_reventing a man from leaving his property to a young woman, who has no clai_n him,—who doesn’t want anything from him.”
“Bah, these women! People don’t throw legacies to the birds these days. O_ourse she’ll take it.”
Then his eyes widened and met mine in a gaze that reflected the mystificatio_nd wonder that struck both of us. Stoddard turned from the fire suddenly:
“What’s that? There’s some one up stairs!”
Larry was already running toward the hall, and I heard him springing up th_teps like a cat, while Stoddard and I followed.
“Where’s Bates?” demanded the chaplain.
“I’ll thank you for the answer,” I replied.
Larry stood at the top of the staircase, holding a candle at arm’s length i_ront of him, staring about.
We could hear quite distinctly some one walking on a stairway; the sounds wer_nmistakable, just as I had heard them on several previous occasions, withou_ver being able to trace their source.
The noise ceased suddenly, leaving us with no hint of its whereabouts.
I went directly to the rear of the house and found Bates putting the dishe_way in the pantry.
“Where have you been?” I demanded.
“Here, sir; I have been clearing up the dinner things, Mr. Glenarm. Is ther_nything the matter, sir?”
I joined the others in the library.
“Why didn’t you tell me this feudal imitation was haunted?” asked Larry, in _rieved tone. “All it needed was a cheerful ghost, and now I believe it lack_bsolutely nothing. I’m increasingly glad I came. How often does it walk?”
“It’s not on a schedule. Just now it’s the wind in the tower probably; th_ind plays queer pranks up there sometimes.”
“You’ll have to do better than that, Glenarm,” said Stoddard. “It’s as stil_utside as a country graveyard.”
“Only the _slaugh sidhe_ , the people of the faery hills, the cheerfules_hosts in the world,” said Larry. “You literal Saxons can’t grasp the idea, o_ourse.”
But there was substance enough in our dangers without pursuing shadows.
Certain things were planned that night. We determined to exercise ever_recaution to prevent a surprise from without, and we resolved upon a new an_ystematic sounding of walls and floors, taking our clue from the efforts mad_y Morgan and his ally to find hiding-places by this process. Pickering woul_ndoubtedly arrive shortly, and we wished to anticipate his movements as fa_s possible.
We resolved, too, upon a day patrol of the grounds and a night guard. Th_uggestion came, I believe, from Stoddard, whose interest in my affairs wa_nly equaled by the fertility of his suggestions. One of us should remai_broad at night, ready to sound the alarm in case of attack. Bates should tak_is turn with the rest—Stoddard insisted on it.
Within two days we were, as Larry expressed it, on a war footing. We added _ouple of shot-guns and several revolvers to my own arsenal, and piled th_ibrary table with cartridge boxes. Bates, acting as quarter-master, brought _ouple of wagon-loads of provisions. Stoddard assembled a remarkabl_ollection of heavy sticks; he had more confidence in them, he said, than i_unpowder, and, moreover, he explained, a priest might not with propriety hea_rms.
It was a cheerful company of conspirators that now gathered around the bi_earth. Larry, always restless, preferred to stand at one side, an elbow o_he mantel-shelf, pipe in mouth; and Stoddard sought the biggest chair,—an_illed it. He and Larry understood each other at once, and Larry’s stories, ranging in subject from undergraduate experiences at Dublin to adventures i_frica and always including endless conflicts with the Irish constabulary, delighted the big boyish clergyman.
Often, at some one’s suggestion of a new idea, we ran off to explore the hous_gain in search of the key to the Glenarm riddle, and always we came back t_he library with that riddle still unsolved.