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Chapter 21 PICKERING SERVES NOTICE

  • The next morning Bates placed a letter postmarked Cincinnati at my plate. _pened and read it aloud to Larry:
  • > On Board the Heloise
  • >
  • > December 25, 1901.
  • >
  • > John Glenarm, Esq., > Glenarm House, > Annandale, Wabana Co., Indiana:
  • >
  • > 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?”
  • “Nothing.”
  • 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.