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Full text of "Quill's window"

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QUILL'S WINDOW 



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you doing up 1 



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QUILL'S WINDOW 



GEORGE BARR McCUTCHEON 

Author of " Graintark," " Sherry," " Weit 
Wind Drift," " Mr. Blngle," " N«dn," etc 



FROtmSFIECB BT 

C. ALLAN GILBERT 



NEW YORK 

DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY 

IMl 



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[ C9VVtBt \ 



Cornuon, ltd 
Sv DODD, HEAD AHD COHPAMT, ] 



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I 


T^E FOKBIDDEN ROCE . 


1 


n 


The Stoey the Old AIan Tqld . 


13 


m 


CocRTNET Thane .... 


38 


IV 


Dowd'b Tavebn .... 


50 


V 


Trespass 


63 


VI 


Charlie Webster Entertains . 


72 


VII 


Courtney Appears in Public . 


92 


VIII 


Alk the Third . . . 


104 


IX 


A Mm-OcTOBER Day 


111 


X 


The Chimney Corner . 


128 


XI 


Thane Visits Two Houses . 


143 


xn 


Words and Letters 


161 


xm 


The Old Indian Trail 


180 


xrv 


Suspicion 


192 


XV 


The Face at the Window . 


205 


XVI 


Rosabel 


220 


XVII 


Shadows 


228 


xvni 


Mr. Gileillan Is Puzzled . 


241 


XIX 


Bringing Up the Past . 


255 


XX 


The Disappearance of Rosabel Vici 


I 267 


XXI 


Out op the Night 


285 


XXII 


The Thrower of Stones . 


301 


xxm 


A Message and Its Answer . 


316 


XXIV 


At Quill's Window . 


329 



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QUILL'S WINDOW 



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QUILL'S WINDOW 

CHAPTER I 

TRB VOKBIDDIN SOCK 

A YOUNG man and an old one Bat in the shade of 
the viUoffa beside the wide, still river. The 
^are of a hot August sun failed to peneiTate 
the shelter in which thej idled; out upon the slow- 
gliding river it beat relentlessly, creating a pale, thin 
vapour that clung close to the shimmering surface and 
dazzled the eye with an ever-shifting glaze. The air 
was lifeless, sultry, stifling; not a leaf, not a twig in 
the tall, drooping willows moved unless stirred by the 
passage of some vagrant bird. 

The <dder man sat on the ground, his back against 
the trunk oi a tree ttiat grew so near to the edge that 
it seemed on the point of toppling over to shatter the 
smooth, green mirror below. Some of its sturdy ex- 
posed roots reached down from the bank into the water, 
where they caught and held the drift from upstream, — 
reeds and twigs and matted grass, — a dirty, sickly mass 
that swished lazily on the flank of the slow-moving 
current. 

The water here in the shade was deep and clear and 
limpid, contrasting sharply with tiie steel-white surface 
out beyond. 

The young man occupied a decrepit camp stool, 
1 



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2 QUILL'S WINDOW 

placed ctnrvenientty against the trunk of another tre«> 
hard bj. A discarded bamboo rod lay beside him m 
the bank, the hook and line hopelessly tangled in the 
drift below. He smoked cigarettes. 

His companion held a well-chewed black cigar in the 
vise-like comer of his mouth. His hook and line were 
far out in the placid water, an ordinary cork serving 
as a " bob " from which his dreary, unwavering gaze 
seldom shifted. 

" I guess they're through bitin' for today," he re- 
marked, after a long unbroken silence. 

" How many have we got? " inquired the other lan- 
guidly. 

" Between us we've got twenty-tour. That's a fair- 
sized mess. Sunfish don't make much of a showing 
unless you get a barrel of 'em." 

" Good eating though," mused the young man. 

" Fried in butter," supplemented the other. " What 
time is it?" 

" Half-past nine." 

" Well, that's just about what I'd figured. I've been 
fishin' in this ' hole ' for something like forty years, off 
and on, and I've found out that these here sunfish get 
throu^ breakfast at exactly eighteen minutes past 
nine. I always allow^about ten minutes' leeway in case 
one or two of 'em might have been out late the night 
before or something, — but as a general thing they're 
pretty dog-goned prompt for breakfast. Specially in 
August. Even a fish is lazy in August. Look at that 
fish-worm. By gosh, it's boiled! That shows you how 
hot the water is." 

He removed the worm from the hook and slowly be- 
gan to twist the pole in the more or less perfunctory 



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THE FORBIDDEN ROCK 9 

process of " winding up " the line. The young man 
looked on disinterestedly. 

"Ain't you going to untangle that UneP" inquired 
the old man, jerking his thumb. 

*' What's the use? The worm is dead by this time, 
and God knows I prefer to let him rest in peace. The 
quickest way to untangle a line is to do it like this." 

He severed it with his pocket-knife, 

" A line like that costs twenty-five cents," said the 
old man, a trace of dismay in his voice. 

" That's what it cost when it was new," drawled the 
other. ** You forget it's been a second-hand article 
since ei^t o'clock this morning, — ajid what's a second- 
hand fish-line worth? — tell me that. How much would 
you give, in the open market, or at an auctitm sale, for 
a second-hand fish-line? " 

" I guess we'd better be gittin' back to the house," 
«aid the other, ignoring the question. " Got to clean 
these fish if we're expectin' to have 'em for dinner,— or 
lunch, as you fellers call it. I'll bet your grandfather 
never called it lunch. And as for him callin' supper 
'dinner, — why, by crickey, he never got drunk enou^ 
for that." 

" More than that," said the young man calmly, " he 
never saw a cigarette, or a telephone, or a Ford, or a 
safety-razor, — or a lot of other things that have sprung 
up since he cashed in his checks. To be sure, he did see 
a few things I've never seen, — such as clay-pipes, canal 
boats, horse-hair sofas, top-boots and rag-carpets,— 
and he probably saw Abraham Lincoln, — but, for all 
that, I'd rather be where I am today than where he is, — 
and I'm not saying he isn't in heaven, either." 

Tbe older man's eyes twinkled, " I don't think he's 



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4 QUILL'S WINDOW 

SDy nearer heaven than he was fort7 years ago, — and 
he's been dead just about that long. He wasn't what 
you'd call a far-seeing man, — and jou've got to look 
a long ways ahead if you want to see heaven. Your 
grandma's in heaven all right, — and I'll bet she was 
the most surprised mortal tbat ever got inside the 
peariy gates if she found him there ahead of her. Lite 
as not she would have backed out, thinking sbe*d got 
into the wrong place by mistake. And if he tt up 
there, I bet he's making the place an everlastin' hell 
for her. Yep, your grandpa was about as mean as they 
make 'em. As you say, he didn't know anything about 
cigarettes, but he made up for it by runnin* after 
women and fast horses, — or maybe it was bosses and 
fast women, — and cheatin' the eye teetli ou.t of every- 
body he had any dealings with." 

" I don't understand how he happened to die young, 
if all these things were true about 1^," said the other, 
lighting a fresh cigarette and drawing in a deep, full 
breath of the pungent smoke. The old man waited a 
few seconds for the smoke to be expelled, and then, as 
it came out in a far-reaching volume, carrying far on 
the still air, his face betrayed not only relief but 
wonder, 

"You don't actually swaller it, do you?" he in- 
quired. 

" Certainly not. I inhale, that's all. Any one can 
do it." 

*' I'd choke to death," said the old man, shifting his 
cigar hastily from one side of bis mouth to the other, 
and taking a fresh grip on it with his teeth, — as if 
fearing the consequences of a momentary lapse of 
controL 



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THE FORSroDEN ROCK 6 

" YouVe been chewing that cigar for nearly two 
hours," observed the young man, " I call that a filthy 
habit." 

" I guess you*re right," agreed the other, amiably. 
** The best you can say for it is that it's a man's job, 
and not a woman's," he added, with all the scorn that 
the cigar smoker has for the man who affects nothing 
but cigarettes. 

" You can't make me sore by talking like that," said 
his companion, stretching himself lazily. "Approii- 
mately ten millian men smoked cigarettes over in 
France for four years and more, and I submit that they 
had what you might call a man's job on their hands.** 

" How many of them things do you smoke in a dayP ** 

" It depends entirely on how eady I get up in the 
morning, — and how late I stay up at night. Good 
Lord, it's getting hotter every minute. For two cents, 
I'd strip and jump in there for a game of hide and seek 
with the fish. By the way, I don't suppose there are 
any mermaids in these- parts, are there?" 

*' You stay out of that water," commanded the old 
man. " Yoo ain't strong enough yet to be takin* any 
such chances. You're here to get well, and yon got 
to be mighty all-fired careful. The bed of that river 
is full of cold springs, — and it's pretty deep along this 
stretch. Weak as you are, — and as hot as you are^ — 
you'd get cramps in less'n a minute." 

" I happen to be a good swimmer." 

" So was Bart Edgecomb, — best swimmer I ever saw. 
He coold swim back an' forth across this river half a 
dozen times, — and do you know what happened to him 
last September? He drowned in three foot of water up 
above the bend, that's what he did. Come on. Let's 



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6 QUILL'S WINDOW 

be movin'. Itll be hotter'n blazes by eleven o'clock, 
and you oughtn't to be walkin* in the sun." 

The young man settled himself a little more com- 
fortably against the tree. 

" I think 111 stay here in the shade for a while 
longer. Don't be uneasy, I shan't go popping into the 
water the minute your back's turned. What was it 
you said early this morning about sniffing rain in the 
air?" 

" Thunderstorms today, sure as my name's Brown. 
Been threatening rain for nearly a week. Got to come 
some time, and I figure today's — " 

" Threats are all we get," growled the young man 
peevishly. " Lord, I never dreamed I could get so 
sick of white skies and what you call fresh air. You 
fanners go to bed every night praying for rain, and 
you get up in the morning still praying, and what's 
the result? Nothing except a whiter sky than the day 
before, and a greater shortage of fresh air. Don't 
talk to me about country air and country sunshine 
end country quiet. My God, it never was so hot and 
stifling as this in New York, and as for peace and 
quiet, — why, those rotten birds in the trees around 
the bouse make more noise than the elevated trains 
at the rush hour, and the rotten roosters begin crow- 
ing just about the time I'm going to sleep, and the 
dogs bark, and the cows, — the cows do whatever cows do 
to make a noise, — and then the crows begin to yawp. 
And all nt^t long the katydids keep up their beastly 
racket, and the frogs in the pond back of the bams, — 
my God, man, the city is as silent as the grave com- 
pared to what you get in the country." 

** I manage to sleep through it all," said the old man 



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THE FORBIDDEN ROCK 7 

drily. " The frogs and katydids don't keep me awake." 
" Ves, and that reminds me of another noise that 
makes the night hideous. It's the way you people 
sleep. At nine o'clock sharp, every night, the whole 
house begins to snore, and — Say, I've seen service in 
France, I've slept in barracks with scores of tired sol- 
diers, I've walked through carops where thousands of 
able-bodied men were snoring their heads off, — but 
never have I heard anything so terrifying as the racket 
that lasts from nine to five in the land of my fore- 
fathers. Gad, it sometimes seems to me you're all 
trying to make my forefathers turn over in their graves 
up there on the hiU." 

** You're kind of peevish today, ain't you? " inquired 
the other, grinning. *' You'll get used to the way we 
snore before long, and you'll kind of enjoy it. I'd be 
scared to death if I got awake in the night and didn't 
bear everybody in the house snoring. It's kind of 
restful to know that everybody's asleep, — and not 
dead. If they wasn't snoring, I'd certainly think they 
was dead." 

The young man smiled. " 111 say this much for you 
farmers, — you're a good-natured bunch. I ought to 
be ashamed of myself for grousing. I suppose it's be- 
cause I've been sick. You're all so kind and tiiou^t- 
fuJ, — and so darned genuine, — even when you're asleep, 
— that I feel like a dog for finding fault. By the way, 
you said something awhile ago about that big black 
cliff over yonder having a history. I've been looking 
at that cliff or hill or rock, or whatever it is, and it 
doesn't look reaL It doesn't look as thou^ God had 
mode it. It's more like the work of man. So far as 
I can see, there isn't another hill on either bank of the 



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a QUILL'S WINDOW 

river, and yet that thing' over there must be three or 
fonr hundred feet high, sticking up like a gigantic vart 
on the face of the earth. What is it? Solid rock? " 

" Sort like slate rock, I gue«g. There's a stretch of 
about a mile on both sides of the river along here that's 
solid rock. This bank we're standin* on is rock, cov- 
ered irith six or ei^t foot of earth. You're right 
about that big rock over there being a queer thing. 
There's been college professors and all sorts of sci- 
entific men here, off and on, to examine it and to try 
to account for its being there. But, thunderation, if 
it's been there for a million years as they say, whafs 
the sense of esplainiug itP " 

" There's something positively forbidding about it. 
Gives you the willies. How did it come by the name 
you called it a while ago? " 

"Quill's Window? Goes back to the days of the 
Indians. Long before the time of Tecumseh or The 
Prophet. They used to range up and down this river 
more than a hundred years ago. The old trail is over 
there on the other bank as plain as day, covered with 
grass but beaten down till it's like a macadam road. 
I suppose the Indiana followed that trail for hundreds 
of years. There's still traces of their camps over there 
on that side, and a little ways down the river is a. 
place where they bad a regular village. Over here on 
this side, quite a little ways farther down, is the re- 
mains of an old earthwork fort used by the French 
long before the Revolution, and afterwards by Amer- 
ican soldiers about the time of the War of 1812. We'll 
go and look at it some day if yoa like. Most people 
are interested in it, but for why, I can't see. 

" There ain't nothing to see but some boated up 



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THE FOBBIDDEN BOCK 9 

breastworks and lunettes, covered with weeds, with here 
and there a sort of opening where they must have had 
s cannon sticking out to scare the squaws and papooses. 
You was aakin* about the name of that rock. Well^ 
it originallj had an Indian name, which I atwajs for- 
get because it's the easiest way to keep from prn- 
sooncing it. Then the French came along and sort 
of Frenchified the name, — which made it worse, far 
as I'm concerned. I'm not much on French. About 
three-quarters of the way up the rock, facing the river, 
is a sort of care. You can't see the opening from here, 
, psaiAi it faces north, looking up the river from the 
bend. There are a lot of little caves and cracks in 
the TOck, bat none of *em amounts to anything except 
this one. It runs back something like twenty foot in 
the rock and is about as high as a man's head. 

" Shortly after General Harrison licked The Prophet 
and his warriors up on the Tippecanoe, a man named 
Quill, — an Irishman from down the river some'eres 
towards Vincennes, — all this is hearsay so far as I'm 
concerned, mind yon, — but as I was saying, this man 
QoiU begin to make his home up in that cave. He was 
what you might call a hermit. There were no white 
people in these parts except a few scattered trappers 
and ,^ome people living in a settlement twenty-odd mOes 
south of here. As the story goes, this man Quill lived 
up there in that cave for about four or five years, 
hunting and trapping all around the country. White 
people begin to get purty thick in these parts soon 
after that, Indiana having been made a state. There 
was a lot of coming and going up and down the river. 
A feller named Digby started a kind of settlement or 
tradin^post farther up, and clearings were made all 



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10 QUnX'S WINDOW 

around, — farms and all that, you see. Your great 
grandfather was one of the first men to settle in thia 
section. Coining down the river by night you could 
see the light up there in Quill's Cave. You could see 
it for miles, they say. People begin to speak of it as 
the light in Quill's window, — and that's how the name 
happened. I'm over seventy, and I've never heard that 
hill called anything but Quill's Window." 

"What happened to Quill?" 

" Well, that's something nobody seems to be quite 
certain about. Whether he hung himself or somebody 
else done the job for him, nobody knows. According 
to the story that was told when 1 was a boy, it seems 
he killed somebody down the river and come up here 
to hide. The relations of the man he killed never 
stopped hunting for him. A good many people were 
of the opinion they finally tracked him to that cave. In 
any case, his body was found hanging by the neck up 
there one day, on a sort of ridge-pole he had put in. 
This was after people had missed seeing the light in 
Quill's Window for quite a spell. There are some 
people who still say the cave is ha'nted. When I was 
a young boy, shortly before the Civil War, a couple 
of horse thieves were chased up to that cave and — 
sJiem! — I reckon your grandfather, it he was alive, 
could tell you all about what became of 'cm and who 
was in the party that stood 'em up against the back 
wall of the cave and shot 'em. There's another story 
that goes back even farther than the horse thieves. The 
skeleton of a woman was found up there, with the skull 
split wide open. That was back in 1830 or 1840. So, 
you see, when all of them ghosts get together and be- 
gin scrapping over property rights, it's enough to scare 



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THE FORBIDDEN ROCK IX 

the gizzard out of 'most anybody that happens to be 
in the neighbourhood. But I guess old man Quill was 
the first white man to shuffie o£F, so it's generally under- 
stood that his ghost rules the roost. Come on now, let's 
be moving. It's gettin' hotter every minute, and you 
ou^tn't to be out in all this heat. For the Lord's 
sake, you ain't going to light another one of them 
things, are youP " 

'• Sure, It's the only vice I'm capable of enjoying 
at present. Being gassed and shell-shocked, and then 
having the flu and pneumonia and rheumatism, — and 
God knows what else, — sort of purifies a chap, you 
see." 

** Well, all I got to say is — I guess I'd better not 
■ay it, after alL" 

** You can't hurt my feelings." 

" Fm not so sure about that," said the old mtui 
gruffly. 

"How do you get up to that cave?" 

" You ain't thinking of trying it, are you? " appre- 
bensively. 

** When I'm a bit huskier, yes." 

The old man removed his cigar in order to obtain 
the fall effect of a triumphant grin. 

" Well, in the first place, you can't get up to it. 
You've got to come down to it. The only way to get 
to the mouth of that cave is to lower yourself from the 
top of the rock. And in the second place, you can't 
get down to it because it ain't allowed. The owner of 
all the land along that side of the river has got ' no 
trespass * signs up, and nobody's allowed to climb to 
the top of that rock. She's all-fired particular about 
it, too. The top of that rock is sacred to her. No- 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



12 ftunx's window; 

body ever thinks of violatin* it. All around the bottom 
of the slope back of the hill she's got a white picket 
fence, and the gate to it is padlocked. You see it's 
her family buryin'-ground." 

"Her what?" 

** Buryin'-ground. Her father and mother are bur- 
ied ri^t smack on top of that rock." 

The young man lifted his eyebrows. " Does that 
mean there are a couple of married ghosts fighting oa 
top of the rock every night, besides the gaug down 
in the—" 

*' It ain't a joking matter,*' broke in the other 
sharply. 

" Go on, tell me more. The monstrosity gets more 
and more interesting erery minute." 

The old man chewed his cigar energetically for a few 
seconds before responding. 

" 111 tell you the story toni^t after supper, — ^not 
now. The only thing I want to make clear to you is 
this. Everybody in this section respects her wishes 
about keeping off of that rock, and I want to ask you 
to respect *em, too. It would be a dirty trick for you 
to go up there, knowin' it's dead against her wishes." 

" A dirty trick, eh? " said the young man, fixing his 
gaze on the blue-black summit of the forbidden rock. 



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CHAPTER n 

THB STOKT THE OU> MAN TOLD 

DAVID WINDOM'S daughter AUx ran away 
with and married Edward Crown in the spring 
of 1894. 

Windom was one of the most prosperous fanners 
in the county. His lands were wide, his cattle were 
many, hia fields were vast stretches of green and gold ; 
his granaries, his cribs and his mows, filled and emptied 
each year, brought riches and dignity and power to this 
man of the soO. 

Back when the state was young, his forefathers had 
fared westward from the tide-water reaches of Virginia, 
coming at length to the rich, unbroken region along 
the river with the harsh Indian name, and there they 
built their cabins and huts on Isinds that had cost them 
fittle more than a song and yet were of vast dimensions. 
They were of English stock. (Another branch of the 
family, closely related, remains English to this day, its 
men sitting sometime in Parliament and always in the 
councils of the nation, far removed in every way from 
the Windoms in the fertile valley once traversed by the 
war-like redskins.) But these Windoms of the valley 
vere no longer English. There had been six genera- 
tions of them, and those of the first two fought under 
General Washington against the red-coats and the 
Hessians in the War of '76. 

David Windom, of the fourth generation, went to 



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14 QUnX'S WINDOW 

England for a wife, however, — a girl he hacl met mt 
the locally celebrated trip to Europe in the earl; sey- 
enties. For jears he was known from one end of the 
county to the other as *' the man who has been across 
the Atlantic Ocean." The dauntless English bride had 
come anafraid to a land she had been taught to regard 
as wild, peopled by savages and overrun by ravenous 
beasts, and she had found it populated instead by the 
gentlest sort of men and equally gentle beasts. 

She did a great deal for David Windom. He was 
a proud man and ambitious. He saw the wisdom of her 
teachings and he followed them, not reluctantly but 
with a fierce desire to refine what God had given hint 
in the shape of raw material: a good brain, a sturdy 
sense of honour, and above all an imagination that lifted 
him safely, — if not always sanely, — above the narrow 
vorld in which the fanner of that day spent his entire 
lifft Not that he was uncouth to begin with,— far 
from it. He had been irritatiagly fastidious from boy- 
hood up. His thoughts had wandered afar on frequent 
journeys, and when they came back to take up the dull 
occupation they had abandoned temporarily, they were 
broader than when they went out to gather wool. The 
strong, well-poised English Wife found rich soil in which 
to work; he grew apace and flourished, and manifold 
were the innovations that stirred a complacent com- 
munity into actual unrest. A majority of the farmers 
and virtually all of the farmers* wives were convinced 
that Dave Windom was losing his mind, the way he 
was letting that woman boss him around. 

The women did not like her. She was not one of them 
and never could be one of them. Her " hired girls " 
became " servants " the day she entered the ugly old 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD IS 

farmhouse on the ridge. Thej were no longer consid- 
ered members of the family; they were made to feel 
something they had never felt before in their lives : that 
they were not their mistress's equals. 

The " hired girl " of those days was an institution. 
As a rule, she moved in the same social circle as the 
lady of the house and it was customary for her to in- 
timately address her mistress by her christian name. 
She enjoyed the right to engage in all conversations; 
she was, in short, " as good as anybody." The new 
Mrs. Windom was not long in transporting the general 
housework " girl " into a totally unexampled state of 
astonishment. This *' girl," — aged forty-five and a 
prominent member of the Methodist Church, — an- 
nounced to everybody in the community except to Mrs. 
Windom herself that she was going to leave. She did 
not leave. The calm serenity of the new mistress pr&- 
vaQed, even over the time-honoured independence in 
which the " girl " and her kind unconsciously gloried. 
Respect succeeded injury, and before the bride had 
been in the Windom house a month, Maria Bliss waa 
telling the other " hired girls " of the neighbourhood 
that she wouldn't trade places with them for anything 
in the world. 

Greatly to the consternation and disgust of other 
householders, a " second girl '* was added to the Win- 
dom menage, — a parloui^maid she was called. This was 
too much. It was rank injustice. General housework 
girls began to complain of having too much work to 
do, — getting up at five in the morning, cooking for 
half a dozen " hands," doing all the washing and inm- 
ing, milking, sweeping and so on, and not getting to bed 
itiU nine or ten o'clock at ni^t, — to say aothin|> of 



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Iff QUILL'S WINDOW 

family dinners on Sunday and tbe preacher in every 
nov and then, and all that. Moreover, Mrs. Windom 
herself never looked bedraggled. She took care of her 
liair, wore good clothes, went to the dentist regularly 
(whether she had a toothache or not), had meals served 
in what Maria Bliss loftily described as " courses," 
and saw to it that David Windom shaved once a day, 
dressed better than his neighbours, kept his *' surrey " 
and ** side-bar buggy " washed, his harness oiled and 
polished, and wore real riding-boots. 

The barnyard took on an orderly appearance, the 
stables were repaired, the picket fences gleamed white 
in the sun, the roof of the house was painted red, the 
sides a shimmering white, and there were green window 
jshatters and green window boxes filled with geraniums. 
The front yard was kept mowed, and there were great 
flower-beds encircled by snow-white boulders; a ham- 
mock was swung in the shade of two great oaks, and 
— ^worst of all! a tennis-court was laid out alongside 
the house. 

Tennis ! That was a game played only by " dudes " ! 
Passers-by looked with scorn upon young David Win- 
dom and his flaxen-haired wife as they played at the 
silly game before supper every evening. And they 
went frequently to the " opera house " at the county 
seat, ten miles up the river; they did not wait for sum- 
mer to come with its circus, as all the other farmers 
were content to do ; whenever there was a good " show ** 
at the theatre in town they sent up for reserved seats 
and drove in for supper at the principal hoteL Alto- 
gether, young Mrs. Windom was simply " raising 
Cain " with the conventions. 

Strange to say, David did not '* go to smash." To 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 17 

the intense chagrin of the wiseacres he prospered de- 
spite an unprecedented disregard for the teachings of 
his father and his grandfather before him. The wolf 
stayed a long way off from his door, the prophetic 
mortgage failed to lay its bli^t upon his lands, Ms 
crops were bountiful, his acreage spread as the yeara 
went by, — and so his uncles, his cousins and his aunts 
vere never so happy as when wishing for the good old 
idays when his father was alive and running the farm 
as it should be run ! If David had married some good, 
sensible, thrifty, hard-working farmer's daughter, — 
.W^ it mi^t not have meant an improvement in the 
crops but it certainly would have spared him the ex- 
pense of a tennis court, and theatre-going, and abso- 
hitely unnecessary trips to Chicago or Indianapolis 
whenever she took it into her head to go. Besides, it 
wasn't natural that they should deliberately put off 
having children. It wasn't what God and the country 
expected. After a year had passed and there were 
no symptoms of approaching motherhood, certain 
narrow-minded relatives began to blame Great Britain 
jfor the outrage and talked a great deal about a worn- 
ont, deteriorating race. 

Then, after two years, when a girl baby was bom 
to David and his wife, they couldn't, for the life of 
them, imderstand how it came to pass that it wasn't 
B boy. There had been nothing but boys in the Wtndom 
family for years and years. It appeared to be a Win- 
idom custom. And here was this fair-haired outsider 
from across the aea breaking in with a girl! They 
could not believe it possible. Darid, — a great, strong, 
perfect specimen of a Windom, — the father of a prl ! 
yniy, they emphasized, he was over six feet tall, strong 



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18 QUILL'S WINDOW 

as aa ox, broad-shouldered, — as fine & figure as you 
would see in a lifetime. There was something wrong, — 
radicallj wrong. 

The district suffered another shock when a nurse 
maid was added to David's household, — a girl from 
the city who had nothing whatever to do except to take 
care of the baby while the unnatural mother tinkered 
with the flower-beds, took long walks about the farm, 
rode horseback, and played tennis with David and a 
eilly crowd of young people who had fallen into evil 
ways. 

She died when her daughter was ten years old. Those 
who had misunderstood her and criticized her in the 
beginning, mourned her deeply, sincerely, earnestly in 
the end, for she had triumphed over prejudice, narrow- 
mindedness, and a certain form of malice. The whole 
district was the better for her once hateful innovations, 
and there was no one left who scoffed at David Windom 
for the choice he had made of a wife. 

Her death wrought a remarkable, enduring change 
in Windom. He became a silent, brooding man who 
rarely smiled and whose heart lay up in the little grave- 
yard on the ridge. The gay, larksome light fled from 
his eyes, his face grew stem and sometimes forbidding. 
She had taken with her the one great thing she had 
brought into his life : ineffable buoyancy. He no longer 
played, for there was no one with whom he would play ; 
he no longer sang, for the music had gone out of his' 
soul; he no longer whistled the merry tunes, for his 
lips were stiff and unyielding. Only when he looked 
upon his little daughter did the soft light of love well 
up into his eyes and the ri^d mouth grow tender. 

She was like her mother. She was joyous, brave and 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 19 

fair to look upon. She bad the same heart of Bunshine, 
the same heart of iron, and the blue in her eyes was like 
the blue of tbe darkening skies. She adored the grim, 
■ilent man who was her father, and she was the breath 
of life to him. 

And then, when she was nineteen, she broke tbe heart 
of David Windom. For two years she had been a stu- 
dent in the University situated but half a score of mOes 
from the place where she was bom, a co-educational 
institutioir of considerable size and importance, Win- 
dom did not believe in women's colleges. He believed in 
the free school with its broadening influence, its com- 
mingling of the sexes in the search for learning, and 
in the divine right of woman to develop her mind 
through the channels that lead ultimately and inevi- 
tably to superiority of man. He believed that the girl 
trained and educated in schools devoted exclusively to 
the finer sex falls to achieve understanding as well as 
education. The only way to give a girl a practical 
education, — and he believed that every woman should 
have one, — ^wae to start her off even with the boy who 
was training to become her master in all respects. 

During her second year at the University she met 
Edward Crown, a senior. He was the soa of a black- 
smith in the city, and^e was working his way through 
college with small assistance from his parent, who held 
to the conviction that a man was far better off if he 
developed his muscles by hard work and allowed the 
brain to take care of itself. Young Crown was a good- 
looking fellow of twenty-three, clean-minded, ambitious, 
dogged in work and dogged in play. He had " made " 
the football team in his sophomore year. Customary 
snobbishness had kept him out of the fraternities and 



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20 QUnX'S WINDOW 

college societies. He maj have been a good fellov, a 
fine student, and a cracking end on the eleven, and all 
that, but he was not acceptable material for anj me 
of the half dozen fraternities. 

When he left college vith his hard-earned degree it; 
was to accept a positicn with a big engineering com- 
pany, a job which called him out to the far North- 
west. Alix Windom was his promised wife. Thej were 
deeply, madly in lore with each other, Separati<Hi 
seemed unendurable. Ste was willing to go into the 
wilderness with him, willing to endure the hardships and 
the discomforts of life in a construction camp up in the 
mountains of Montana. She would share his poverty^ 
and his trials as she would later share his triumphs. 
But when they went to David Windom with their beau- 
tiful dream, the world fell about their ears. 

David Windom, recovering from the shock of sur- 
prise, ordered £dward from the house. He would 
sooner see his child dead than the wife of Nick Crown's 
son, — Nick Crown, a drunken rascal who had been 
known to beat his wife, — ^Nick Crown who was not even 
fit to lick the feet of the horses he shod ! 

One dark, rainy night in late June, Alix stole out of 
the old farmhouse on the ridge and met her lover at the 
abandoned tollgate half a mile up the road. He waited 
there with a buggy and a fast team of horses. Oat of 
a ramshackle cupboard built in the wall of the toll- 
house, they withdrew the bundles surreptitiously placed 
there by Alls in anticipation of this great and daring 
event, and made off toward the city at a break-neck, 
reckless speed. They were married before midnight, 
and the next day saw them on their way to the Far 
West. But not before Alix had despatched a messen- 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 21' 

ger to her father, telling him of her act and asking 
his forgiveness for the sake of the love she bore him. 
The same courier carried back to the city a brief re- 
sponse from David Windom. In a shaken, sprawling 
hand he informed her that if she ever decided to return 
to her home alojte, he would receive her and forgive her 
for the sake of the love he bore her, but if she came 
with the coward who stole ber away from bim, he would 
kin bim before her eyes. 



The summer and fall and part of the winter passed, 
'and u) early March Alix came home. 

David Windom, then a man of fifty, gaunt and grey 
and powerful, seldom had left the farm in all these 
months. He rode about his far-spread estate, grim 
and silent, his eyes clouded, his voice almost metallic* 
lus manner cold and repellent. His tenants, his la- 
boorers, his neighbours, fearing him, rarely broke in 
;npon bis reserve. Only his animals loved him and were 
glad to see him, — his dogs, his horses, even his cattlei 
He loved them, for they were staunch and faithful. 
Never had he uttered his daughter's name in all these 
months, nor was there a soni in the community pos- 
sessed of the hardihood to inquire about her or to sym- 
pathize with him. 

It was a fierce, cruel night in March that saw the 
Tetam of Alix. A fine, biting snow blew across the 
vide, open farmlands; the beasts of the field were 
snugly under cover; no man stirred abroad unless 
driven by necessity; the cold, wind-swept roads were 
'deserted. So no one witnessed the return of Alix Crown 



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22 QUILL'S WINDOW 

and her husband. They came out of the bleak, im-' 
friendly night and knocked at David Windom'a door.' 
There were lights in bis sitting-room windows ; throu^ 
them they could see the logs blazing in the big fireplace, 
beside which sat the lonely, brooding figure of Alix's 
father. It was late, — nearly midnight, — and the house 
was still. Old Maria Bliss and the one other servant 
had been in bed for hours. The farmhands slept in a 
cottage Windom had erected years before, acting upon 
his wife's suggestion. It stood some two or three hun- 
dred yards from the main house. 

A dog in the stables barked, first in anger and then 
with unmistakable joy. David's favourite, a big collie, 
sprang up from his place on the rug before the fire and 
looked uneasUy toward the door opening onto the halL 
Then came a rapping at the front door. The eoUie 
growled softly as he moved toward the door. He 
sniffed the air in the hall and suddenly began to whine 
joyously, wa^ng hb tail as he bounded back and forth 
between his master and the door- 
David Windom knew then that his daughter had come 
home. 

He sprang to his feet and took two long stridea 
toward the door. Abruptly, as if suddenly turned to 
stone, he stopped. For a long time he stood immovable 
in the middle of the room. The rapping was repeated, 
louder, heavier than before. He turned slowly, retraced 
his steps to the fireplace and took from its rack in the 
comer a great iron poker. His face was ashen grey, 
his eyes were wide and staring and terrible. Then he 
strode toward the door, absolutely unconscious of the 
glad, prancing dog at his side. 

In the poor shelter of the little porch stood Alix, bent 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 28 

and shivering, and, bdiiDd her, Edward Crown, at whose 
feet rested two huge " telescope satchels." The light 
from within feQ diml; npon the white, upturned face 
of the girl. She held out her hands to the man who 
towered above her on the doorstep. 

" Daddj ! Daddy ! " she cried brokenly. " Oh, my 
daddy ! Let me come in — let me, — I — I am freezing." 

But David Wisdom was peering over her head at the 
indistinct face of the man beyond. He wanted to be 
rare. Lifting his powerful arm, he struck. 

Edward Crown, stiff and numb with cold and weak 
from an illness of some duration, did not raise an arm 
to ward off the blow, nor was he even prepared to 
dodge. The iron rod crashed down upon his head. His 
legs crumpled up ; he dropped in a heap at the top of 
the steps and rolled heavily to the bottom, sprawling 
out on the snow-covered brick walk. 

The long night wore on. Windom had carried his 
daughter into the sitting-room, where he placed her on 
a lounge drawn up before the fire. She had fainted. 
After an hour he left her and went out into the night. 
The body of Edward Crown was lying where it had 
fallen. It was covered by a thin blanket of snow. For 
a long time he stood gazing down upon the lifeless 
shape. The snow cut his face, the wind threshed about 
his coatless figure, but he heeded them not. He was 
muttering to himself. At last he turned to re-enter 
the house. His daughter was standing In the open 
doorway. 

"Is— is that Edward down there?" she asked, in 
sreak, lifeless tones. She seemed dull, witless, utterly 
^thout realization. 

" Go back in the house," be whispered, as he drew 



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34 QUILL'S WINDOW 

back from her in a sort of horror, — horror that had 
not struck him in the presence of the dead. 

" Is that Edward? " she insisted, her voice rising to 
a queer, monotonous irail. 

" I told you to stay in the house," he said. " I told 
you I would look after him, didn't I? Go back, Alix, — 
that's a good girl. Your — your daddy will — Oh, my 
God ■ Don't look at me like that ! " 

*' Is he dead? " she whispered, still standing very 
straight in the middle of the doorway. She was not 
looking at the inert thing on the walk below, but into 
her father's eyes. He did not, could not answer. He 
seemed frozen stiff. She went on in the same dull, 
whispered monotone. " I begged him to let me come 
alone. I begged him to let me see you first. But he 
would come. He brought me all the way from the West 
and he — ^he was not afraid of you. You have done what 
you said you would do. You did not give him a 
chance. And always, — always I have loved you so. 
You will never know how I longed to come back and 
have you kiss me, and pet me, and call me those silly 
names you used — " 

** What's done, is done," he broke in heavily. " He 
is dead. It had to be. I was insane, — ^mad with all 
these months of hatred. It is done. Come, — there is 
nothing you can do. Come back into the house. I will 
carry him in — and wake somebody. Tomorrow they 
will come and take me away. They will hang me. I 
am ready. Let them come. You must not stand there 
in the cold, my child." 

She toppled forward into his arms, and he lifted her 
as if she were a babe and carried her into the house. 
The collie was whining in the comer. Windom sat 



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THE STOKY THE OLD MAN TOLD 25 

down in the bi^ armchair before the fire, still holding 
the girl in his arms. She vas moaning weakly. Sud- 
denly a great, overwhelming fear seized hJm, — the fear 
of being hanged! 

A long time afterward,^ — it was after two, — he arose 
from his knees beside the lounge and prepared to go 
out into the night once more. Alix had promised not 
to send her father to the gallows. She was almost in 
a stupor after the complete physical and mental col- 
lapse, but she knew what she was doing, she realized 
what she was promising in return for the blow that bad 
robbed her of the man she loved. 

No one will ever know just what took place in that 
darkened sitting-room, for the story as afterwards re- 
lated was significantly lacking in details. The light had 
been extinguished and the doors silently closed by the 
slayer. The stiffening body of Edward Crown out in 
the snow was not more silent than the interior of the 
old farmhouse, apart from the room in which David 
Windom pleaded with his stricken daughter. 

And all the while he was begging her to save him 
from the consequences of his crime, his brain was 
searching for the means to dispose of the body of Ed- 
ward Crown and to provide an explanation for the re- 
turn of Alix without her husband. 

Circumstances favoured him in a surprising manner. 
Voung Crown and his wife had travelled down from 
Chicago in a day coach, and they had left the train at 
a small way station some five miles west of the Windom 
farm. Crown was penniless. He did not possess the 
means to engage a vehicle to transport them from the 
city to the farm, nor the money to secure lodging for 
the night in the cheapest hotel. Alix*s pride stood in 



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26 QUILL'S WINDOW 

the ws; of an appeal to her husband's father or to any 
one of his friends for assistance. It wag she who in- 
sisted that they leave the train at Hawkins station and 
walk to Windom's house. They hod encountered no 
one who knew them, either on the train or at the sta- 
tion; while on their cold, tortuous journey along the 
dark highway they did not meet a solitary human 
being. 

No one, therefore, was aware of their return. 

Edward Crown's presence in the neighbourhood was 
unknown. If David Windom's plan succeeded, the fact 
that Crown had returned with his wife never would be 
known. To all inquirers both he and his daughter were 
to return the dat but evasive answer: " It is something 
I cannot discuss at present," leaving the world to ar- 
rive at the obvious conclusion that Alix's husband had 
abandoned her. And presently people, from sheer deli- 
cacy, would cease to inquire. No one would know that 
Crown had been ill up in the mountains for weeks, had 
lost his position, and had spent his last penny in get- 
ting his wife back to the house in which she was bom,-~ 
and where her own child was soon to be bom. 

Windom went about the task of secreting his son- 
in-law's body in a most systematic, careful manner. He 
first carried the two " telescopes " into the house and 
hid them in a closet. Then he put on an old overcoat 
and cap, his riding boots and gloves. Stealing out to 
the rear of the house, he found a lantern and secured it 
to his person by means of a strap. A few minutes later 
he was ready to start off on his ghastly mission. Alix 
nodded her head dumbly when he commanded her to 
remain in the sitting-room and to make no sound that 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 27 

mij^t arouse Maria Blias. He promised to return in 
less than an hour. 

" Your father's life depends on your silence, my 
child, from this moment on," he idiispered in her ear. 

She started up. '* And how ahout my husband's 
life? " she moaned. " What of him? Why do you put 
yourself — " 

" Sh ! Your husband is dead. You cannot bring him 
to life. It is your duty, — do your hear? — your duty to 
spare the living. Remember what I said to you awhile 
ago. Never forget it, my child." 

" Yes," she muttered. " ' Blood is thicker than 
water.' I remember." 

m 

He went out into the night, closing the door softly 
behind him. The collie was at his heels. He was afraid 
to go alone. Grimly, resolutely he lifted the body of 
Edward Crown from the ground and slung it across his 
shoulder, the head and arms hanging down his back. 
Desperation added strength to his powerful frame. As 
if his burden were a sack of meal, he strode swiftly down 
the walk, through the gate and across the gravel road. 
The night was as black as ink, yet he went unerringly 
to the pasture gate a few rods down the road. Un- 
latching it, he passed through and struck out across 
the open, wind-swept meadow. The dog slunk along 
close behind him, growling softly. Snow was still fall- 
ing, but the gale from the north was sweeping it into 
drifts, obliterating his tracks almost as soon as they 
were made. 

Straight ahead lay the towering, invisible rock, a 



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28 QUILL'S WINDOW 

quarter of a mile awaj. He descended the ridge slope, 
swung tirelessly across the swales and mounds in the 
little valley, and then bent his hack to the climb up the 
steep incline to Quill's Window, Picking his waj 
through a fringe of trees, he came to the tortuous path 
that led to the crest of the great rock. Panting, 
dogged, straining every ounce of hie prodigious 
strength, he struggled upward, afraid to stop for rest, 
afraid to lower his burden. The sides and the flat buof 
mit of the rock were full of treacherous fissures, but he 
knew them well. He had climbed the sides of Quilt's 
Window scores of times as a boy, to sit at the top and 
gaze off over the small world belov, there to dream of 
the great world outside, and of love, adventure, travel. 
Many a ni^t, after the death of his beloved Alix, he 
had gone up there to mourn alone, to be nearer to the 
heaven which she had entered, to be closer to her. He 
knew well of the narrow fissure at the top, — six feet 
deep and the length of a grave ! Filled only with the 
leaves of long dead years ! 

He lowered his burden to the bare surface of the 
rock. The wind had swept it clean. Under the pro- 
tecting screen of his overcoat he struck a match and 
lifted the lantern. Then for the first time he studied 
closely the grey, still face of the youth he had slain. 
The skull was crushed. There was frozen blood down 
the back of the head and neck — He started up in 
sudden consternation. There would be blood-stains 
where the body had lain so long, — tell-tale, convicting 
stains ! He must be swift with the work in hand. Those 
stains must be wiped out before the break of day. 

Lowering himself Into the opening, he began digging 
at one end with his hands, scooping back quantities of 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 29 

wet leaves. There was snow down there in the pit, — a 
foot or more of it. After a few minutes of vigorous 
clawing, a hole in the aide of the fissure was revealed, — 
an aperture large enou^ for a man to crawl into. He 
knew where it led to: down into Quill's cave twenty 
feet below. 

Some one, — perhaps an Indian long before the time 
of Quill, or it may have been Quill himself, — ^had chis- 
elled hand and toe niches in the sides of this well and 
had used the strtinge shaft as means of getting into and 
out of the cave. Windom's father had closed this shaft 
when David was a small boy, after the venturesome 
youngster hod gone down into the cave and, unable to 
climb out again, had been the cause of an all-day search 
by his distracted parent and every nei^bour for miles 
around. The elder Windom had blocked the bottom of 
the hole with a huge boulder, shorn from the aide of the 
cave by some remote wrench of nature. Then he had 
half filled the cavity from the top by casting in all of 
the loose stones to be found on the crest of the rock, 
together with a quantity of earth. The work had never 
been completed. There still remained a hole some ten 
feet deep. 

David Windom clambered out, leaving !his lantern 
below. Letting the dead man's body slide into the 
crevice, he followed, bent on at least partially finishing 
the job. When he climbed out a second time, Edward 
Crown was at the bottom of the hole and the wet, foul 
leaves again hid the opening. Tomorrow night, and 
the night after, he would come again to close the hole 
entirely with earth and stones, hiding forever the grew^ 
Bome tiling in Quill's " chimney," as the flue-like pas- 
sage was called. 



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80 QXHLL'S WINDOW 

Eztin^shing the lantern, he started down the hill 
at a reclclefis, break-neck speed. He had the uncanny 
feeling that he was being foUowed, that Edward Crown 
was dogging his footsteps. Halfway down, he stum- 
bled and fell sprawling. As he started to rise, a sound 
smote his ears — the sound of footsteps. For many 
seconds he held his breath, terror clutching his throat. 
He Joat being followed ! Some one was shuffling down 
the rock behind him. The coUie ! He bad forgotten the 
dog. But even as he drew in the deep breath of relief, 
he felt his blood suddenly freeze in his veins. It was 
not the dog. Something approached that moaned and 
whimpered and was not mortal. It passed by him as 
he crouched to the earth, — a shadow blacker than the 
night itself. Suddenly the truth burst upon him. 

"My God! Alix!" 

Half an hour later he staggered into his house, hear- 
ing the form of his dau^ter, — tenderly, carefully, not 
as he had borne the despised dead. 

She had followed him to the top of Quill's Window, 
she had witnessed the ghastly interment, and she had 
whispered a prayer for the boy who was gone. 

The next day her baby was bom and that ni^t she 
died. Coming out of a stupor just before death claimed 
her, she said to David Windom: 

*' I am going to Edward. I do not forgive you, 
father. You must not ask that of me. You say it ia 
my duty to save you from the gallows, — a child's duty 
to her parent. I have promised. I shall keep my 
promise. It is not in my heart to send you to the 
gallows. You are my father. You have always loved 
me. This is my baby, — mine and Edward's. She may 
live, — Gtod knows I wish I might have died yesterday 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 8l 

and spared her the accursed breath of life, — she may 
^ow up to be a woman, just as I grew up. I do not 
ask much of you in return for what I have done for 
you, father. You have killed my Edward. I loved him 
with all my soul. I do not care to live. But my child 
must go on living, I suppose. My child and his. She 
is his dau^ter. I cannot expect you to love her, but I 
do expect you to take care of her. You say that blood 
is thicker than water. You are right. I cannot find it 
in my heart to betray you. You may tell the world 
whatever story you like about Edward. He is dead, 
and I shall soon be dead. You can hurt neither of us, 
no matter what you do. I ask two things of you. One 
is that you will be good to my baby as long as you may 
live, and the other is that you will bury rae up there 
where you put Edward last nJ^t. I must lie near him 
always. Say to people that I have asked you to bury 
me in that pit at the top of Quill's Window, — ^that it 
was my whim, if you like. Close it up after you have 
placed me there and cover it with great rocks, so that 
Edward and I may never be disturbed. I want no 
headstone, no epitaph. Just the stones as they were 
hewn by God." 

David Windom promised. He was alone in the room 
with her when she died. 



IV 

Twenty years passed. Windom came at last to the 
end of his days. He had fulfilled his promises to Alix. 
He had taken good care of her daughter, he had given 
her everything in his power to give, and he had wor- 
shipped her because she was like both of the AlLxes 



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82 QUILL'S WINDOW 

he had loved. She was Alix Ciown, — Alix the Third, 
he called her. 

On the day of his death, Windom confessed the crime 
of that far off night in March. In the presence of 
his lawyer, his doctor, his granddaughter and the prose- 
cuting attorney of the county, he revealed the secret he 
had kept for a score of years. The mystery of Edward 
Crown's disappearance was cleared up, and for the first 
time in her young life Ali^ was shorn of the romantic 
notion that one day her missing father would appear 
in the flegh, out of the silences, to claim her as his own. 
From earliest childhood, her imagination had dealt with 
all manner of dramatic situations; she had existed in 
the glamour of uncertainty; she had looked upon her- 
self as a character worthy of a place in some grip- 
ping tale of romance. The mound of rocks on the crest 
of Quill's Window, surrounded by a tall iron paling 
fence with its padlocked gate, covered only the body 
of the mother she had never seen. She did not know 
until this enlightening hour that her father was also 
there and had been throughout all the years in which 
fancy played so important a part. 

Like all the rest of the world, she was given to under- 
stand that her father had cruelly abandoned her 
mother. In her soul she had always cherished the hope 
that this heartless monster might one day stand before 
her, pleading and penitent, only to be turned away 
with the scorn he so richly deserved. She even pic- 
tured him as rich and powerful, possessed of everything 
except the one greet boon which she alone could give 
him, — a daughter's love. And she would [toint to the 
top of Quill's Window and tell him that he must first 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 83 

look there for forgiveness, — under the rocks where his 
broken-hearted victim slept. 

The truth stunned her. She was a long time in realiz- 
ing that her grandfather, whom she both loved and 
feared, — this grim, adoriog old giant, — not only had 
murdered her father but undoubtedly had kiUed her 
mother as well. The story that David Windom had 
written out and signed at the certain approach of 
death, read aloud in his prescDce by the shocked and 
incredulous lawyer, and afterwards printed word for 
word in the newspapers at the old man's command, 
changed the whole course of life for her. In fact, her 
nature underwent a sharp but subtle change. There 
was nothing left to her of the old life, no thought, no 
purpose, no fancy ; all had been swept up in a heap and 
destroyed in the short space of half an hour. Every- 
thing in her life had to be reconstructed, made-over to 
suit the new order. She could no longer harbour venge- 
ful thoughts concerning her father, she could no longer 
charge him with the wanton destruction of her mother's 
happiness. 

The grandfather she had loved all her life assumed 
another shape entirely ; he was no longer the same, and 
never again could be the same. She did not hate him. 
That was impossible. She had never seen her parents, 
BO she had not known the love of either. They did not 
belong in her life except through the sheerest imagina- 
tion. Her grandfather was the only real thing she had 
had in life, and she had adored him. He had killed two 
people who were as nothing to her, but he had taken 
the place of both. How could she bring herself to hate 
this man who bad destroyed what were no more than 



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84 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Dames to her? Father, — Mother! Two words, — that 
was all. And for twentj lon^ years he had been paying, 
— Oh, how he must have paid ! 

She recalled his reason for taking her to England 
when she was less than eight years old and leaving her 
there until she was twelve. She remembered that he 
had said he wanted her to be like her grandmother, to 
grow up among her people, to absorb from them alt that 
had made the first Alix so strong and fine and true. 
And then he had come to take her from them, back to 
the land of her birth, because, he said, he wanted her to 
be like her mother, the second Alix, — an American 
woman. She recalled his bitter antipathy to co-educa- 
tional institutions and his unyielding resolve that she 
should complete her schooling in a Sacred Heart Con- 
vent. She remembered the commotion this decision cre- 
ated among his neighbours. In her presence they had 
assailed him with the charge that he was turning the 
girl over, body and soul, to the Catholic Church, and he 
bad uttered in reply the^ever to be forgotten words : 

" If I never do anything worse than that for her, 
III be damned well satisfied with my chance of getting 
into heaven as soon as the rest of you." 

When David's will was read, it was found that except 
for a few small bequests, his entire estate, real and per- 
sonal, was left to his granddaughter, Alix Crown, to 
have and to hold in perpetuity without condition or 
restriction of any sort or character. 

The first thing she did was to have a strong picket 
fence constructed around the base of the hill leading 
up to Quill's Window, shutting off all accessible ave- 
nues of approach to the summit. Following close upon 
the publication of David Windom's confession, large 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 85 

numbers of people were urged by morbid curiosity to 
visit the strange burial-place of Edward and Alls 
Crown. The top of Quill's Window became the most 
interesting spot in the county. Alii the Third was 
likewise an object of vast interest, and the old, deserted 
farmhouse on the ridge came in for Us share of 
curiosity, 

Almost immediately after the double tragedy and the 
birth of little Alix, David Windom moved out of the 
house and took up his residence in the riverside village 
of Windomville, a mile to the south. The old house was 
closed, the window shutters nailed up, the doors barred* 
and alt signs of occupancy removed. It was said that 
be never put foot inside the yard after his hasty, in- 
explicable departure. The place went to rack and ruin. 
In course of time he built a new and modern house 
nearer the village, and this was now one of the show 
places of the district. 

The influence of Alix the First was expressed in the 
modelling of house and grounds, the result being a 
picturesque place with a distinctly English atmosphere, 
set well back from the highway in the heart of a grove 
of oaks, — a substantial bouse of brick with a steep red 
tile roof, white window casements, and a wide brick 
terrace guarded by a low ivy-draped wall. English ivy 
swathed the two comers of the house facing the road, 
mounting high upon the tall red chimneys at the ends. 
There were flower-beds below the terrace, and off to 
the right there was an old-fashioned garden. The 
stables were at the foot of the hill some distance to the 
rear of the house. 

The village of Windomville lay below, hugging the 



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86 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Tiver, a relic of the days when steamboats plied up aiu] 
down the stream and railways were remote, a sleepy, 
insi^ificant, intensely rural hamlet of less than alz 
hundred inhabitants. Its one claim to distinction was 
the venerable but still active ferry that laboured back 
and forth across the river. Of secondary importance 
was the ancient dock, once upon a time the stoppinfjf 
place of steamboats, but now a rotten, rickety obstruc- 
tion upon which the downstream drift lodged in aa 
unsightly mass. 

In the solid red-brick house among the oaks AHt the 
Third had spent her childhood days. She was taken to 
England when she was eight by her haunted grand- 
father, not only to receive the bringing-up of an Eng- 
lish child, but because David Wtndom's courage was 
breaking down. As she grew older, the resemblance to 
Edward Crown became more and more startling. She 
had his dark, smiling eyes; his wavy brown hair; her 
very manner of speech was like his. To David Windom, 
she was the re-incamatioa of the youth he had slain. 
Out of her eyes seemed to look the soul of Edward 
Crown. He could not stand it. She became an obses- 
sion, a curious source of fascination. He could not 
bear her out of his sight, and yet when she was with 
him, smiling up into his eyes, — he was deathly afraid 
of her. There were times when he was almost over- 
come by the impulse to drop to his knees and plead for 
forgiveness as he looked into the clear, friendly, ques- 
tioning eyes of Edward Crown. 

And her voice, her speech, — therein lay the true 
cause of his taking her to England. When she came 
home to him, after four years, there was no trace of 
Edward Crown in her voice or manner of speaking. 



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THE STORY THE OLD MAN TOLD 37 

She was almost as English as Alii the First. But her 
eyes had not changed ; he was still a haunted man. 

In the little graveyard on the outskirts of the village 
more than a score of Windoms lie. With them lies all 
that was mortal of fair Alix the First, and beside her 
ia David Windom, the murderer. 



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CHAPTER m 

COTIETNEr THANE 

" A ^^ ^^** ^'^ become of Alii the Third? " in- 
/■\ quired the young maB, equiotiiig at his wrist- 
"^watch and making out in the semi-darkness 
that it was nearly half-past nine. 

He had listened somewhat indulgently to the story 
of the three Alixes. The old man, prompted and 
sometimes disputed by other members of the family, 
had narrated in his own simple way the foregoing tale, 
arriving at the end in a far more expeditious and cer- 
tainly in a less studied manner than the present chron- 
icler employs in putting the facts before his readers. 
The night was hot. He was occasionally interrupted 
by various members of the little group on the front 
porch of the big old farmhouse, the interruption inva- 
riably taking the form of a conjecture concerning the 
signiticance of certain signs ordinarily infallible in de- 
noting the approach of rain. Heat lightning had been 
playing for an hour or more in the gloomy west ; a tree- 
toad in a nearby elm was prophesying thunder in un- 
melodious song: night-birds fluttered restlessly among 
the lofty branches ; widely separated whiffs of a freshen- 
ing wind came around the comer of the house. All of 
these had a barometric meaning to the wistful group. 
There was a thunderstorm on the way. It was sure to 
come before morning. The prayers inaugurated a 
month ago were at last to be answered. 



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COUBTNEY THANE 89 

Ab old man Brown drily remarked: " There's one sat- 
isfaction about prajin* for rain. If ;ou keep at it 
long enough, you're bound to get what ;ou*re askin' 
for. Works the same way when you're prayin' for it 
to stop rainin'. My grandfather once prayed for a 
solid two months before he got rain, and then, by gosh, 
he had to pray for nearly three weeks to get it to quit." 

Supper over, the young man had reminded his ven- 
erable angling companion of his promise to relate the 
history of Quill's Window. Old Caleb Brown was the 
father of Mrs. Vick, — Lucinda Vick, wife of the farmer 
in whose house the young man was spending a month as 
a boarder. 

The group en the porch included Amos Vick, anxious, 
preoccupied, and interested only in the prospect of 
rain ; his daughter Rosabel, aged eighteen, a very pretty 
and vivacious girl, interested only in the young man 
from the far-off, mysterious city in the East; his son 
Caleb, a rugged youth of nineteen; Mrs. Vick, and a 
neighbour named White, who had come over for the sole 
purpose of finding out just what Amos Vick thought 
about the weather. Two dogs lay panting on the dry 
grass at the foot of the steps. 

" Oh, she's living over there in the Windom house," 
said Mrs. Vick. 

" Sort of running the place," explained Mr. Brown, 
a trace of Irony in his voice. 

"Well," put in Amos Vick, speaking for the first 
time in many minutes, " she's got a lot of sense, that 
girl has. She may be letting on that she's running the 
farm, but she ain't, you bet. That's where she's smart. 
She's got sense enough to know she don't know anything 
about running a farm, and while she puts on a lot of 



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40 QUILL'S WINDOW 

airs and acts kind of important like, the real truth is 
she leaves everything to old Jim Bagley. I gaess you 
don't know who Jim Baglej is, do you, Courtney? " 

" I can't say that I doj" replied the young man. 

" Well, he's about the slickest citizen you ever saw. 
From what father here says about your granddad, he 
must have been a purty hard customer to deal with, but, 
by ginger, if he was any worse than Jim Bagley in driv- 
ing a bargain, I'm glad he died as long ago as he did." 

"You're just sore, Amos," said his wife, "because 
Mr. Bagley got the best of you in that hog deal three 
years ago." 

" Oh, Lord, ain't you ever going to' get tired of 
throwin* that up to me? " groaned Mr. Vick. *' I never 
mention Jim Bagley*a name but what you up and say 
something about them hogs. Now, as a matter of fact, 
them hogs — " 

*' For goodness sake, Fa, you're not going to tell 
Mr, Thane about that hog business, are you?" cried 
Rosabel. 

" Well, when your Ma begins to insinuate that I got 
the ^rorst of — " 

" I don't say that you got the worst of it, Amos," 
interrupted Mrs. Vick good-humouredly. *• I only say 
that he got the best of it." 

*' Well, if that don't come to the same — " 

** Looks to me, Amos, like we'd get her ^od and 
plenty before mornin'," broke in Mr. White, He was 
referring to the weather. " That ain't all heat light- 
nin' over there. Seems to me I heard a little thunder 
just now." 

*' Alix Crown is away a good part of the time, Court- 



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COURTNEY THANE 41 

ney,*' SAid Mis. Vick, tftkin^ up th« thread where it 
had b*eK severed hj recrimiDatioo. " AU through the 
war, — long before we went in, — she was up in towK 
wotkiog for the Bclgiums, and then, when we did go id, 
she went East some*eres to kam how to be a nurse or 
drive an anibulance or scHnething, — New York, I be- 
lieve. And as for mose;, she contributed quite a bit — 
how much do thej saj it was, Amos? " 

" WcD, all I know is that Mar; Simmons says she 
gave tea thousand dollars and Josie Fiddler says it 
was three hundredt — so ;ou can choose between 'em." 

" She did her share, all right," said yomg Caleb 
defensively. " That's more'n a lot of people around 
here did." 

" Cale's in love with her, Mr. Thaae,*' exphuned 
Rosabel. ** She's five years older than he is, and don't 
know he's on earth." 

" Aw, cut that out," growled Caleb. 

*• Is she good-looki»g? ** inquired Courtney Thane, 

" I dent like *em quite as tall as she is," said Mr. 
White. 

** She's got a good pair of legs," said old Calel> 
Brown, shifting his cigar with his tcmgue. 

" We're not talking about horses, father,** said Mrs. 
Tick sharply. 

" WhoJWkid we wasf ** demanded old Caleb. 

" Modf people think she's good-looking,"' said Rosa- 
bel, sonKwhat grudgingly. " And she isn't any taller 
than I am, Mr. White." 

** Wen, yott aint no dwarft, Roeie," exclaimed 
Farmer White, with a brave laugh. ** You must be five 
foot seveB <w ei^t, bub you ain't skinny Uk* she is. 



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43 QUnX'S WINDOW 

She'd ought to veigh about a hunderd and sixty, for 
her height, and Fll bet she don't weigh more'n a hun- 
derd and thirty." 

" I wouldn't call that skinny," remariced Courtney, 

" She wears these here new-fangled britches when 
she's on horseback," said old Caleb, justifying his ob- 
servation. " Rides straddle, like a man. You can't 
help seeing what kind of — " 

" That will do, Pa>" broke in his wife. ** It's no 
crime for a woman to wear pants when she's riding, 
although I must say I don't think it's very modest. I 
never rode any way except side-saddle, — and neither 
has Rosabel. I've brou^t her up — " 

" Don't you be too sure of that. Ma," interrupted 
young Caleb maliciously. 

" I never did it but once, and you know it, Cale Vick," 
cried Rosabel, blushing violently. 

The subject was abruptly changed by Mr. White. 

" Well, I guess I'll be moseyin' along home, Amos. 
That certainly did sound like thunder, didn't itP And 
that tree-toad has stopped signallin', — that's a sure 
sign. Like as not I'll get caught in the rain if I don't, 
—what say, Lucindy? " 

" Do you want an umberell, Steve? " 

" I should say not! What do you want me to do? 
Scare the rain off? No, sir ! Rain's the funniest thing 
in the world. If it sees you got an umberell it won't 
come within a hunderd miles of you. That's why I got 
my Sunday clothes on, and my new straw hat. Some- 
times that'll bring rain out of a clear sky, — that an* 
a Sunday-school picnic. It's a pity we couldn't have 
got up a Sunday-school picnic, — ^but then, of course, 
that wouldn't have done any good. You can't fool a 



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COURTNEY THANE 43 

TainBtorm. So long, Amos. Night, everybody. Night, 
CourtDey. As I was sayin' awhile ago, I used to go to 
school with your pa when him an' me was little shavers, 
—up yonder at the old Kennedy schoolhouse. Fifty 
odd years ago. Seems like yesterday. How old did you 
say jou was? " 

" Twenty-eight, Mr. White." 

" And your pa's been dead — how long did you say? " 

*' He died when I was twenty-two." 

'* Funny your ma didn't bring him out here and bury 
him 'longside his father and all the rest of *em u^ in 
the family burying-ground," was Mr. White's conclud- 
ing observation as he ambled off down the gravel walk 
to the front gate. 

" I wish you'd brought your croiv de guerre along 
with you, Mr. Thane," said young Caleb, his eyes 
gleaming in the faint light from the open door. " I 
guess I don't pronounce it as it ought to be. I'm not 
much of a hand at French." 

" You came pretty close to it," said Thane, with a 
smile. " You see, Cale, it's the sort of thing one puts 
away In a safe place. That's why I left it in New York. 
Mother likes to look at it occasionally. Mothers are 
queer creatures, you know. They like to be reminded 
of the good things their sons have done. It helps 'em 
to forget the bad things, I suppose." 

"You're always joking," pouted Rosabel, leaning 
forward, ardour in her wide, young eyes. " If I was a 
boy and had been in the war, I'd never stop talking 
about it." 

** And rd have been in it, too, if pa hadn't up and 
told 'em I was only a little more than fifteen," said 
Cftle, glowering at his father in the darkness. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



44 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" You mustn't blame your pa, Cale," rebuked hid 
mother, ** He knows what a soldier's life is better than 
jou do. He was down in that camp at Chattanooga 
during the Spanish War, and almost died of typhoid, 
Courtney. And when I think of the way our boys died 
by the millions of the flu, I — well, I just know yoa 
would have died of it, sonny, and I wouldn't have bad 
any cross or medal to look at, and — and — " 

" Don't begin cryin', Lucindy," broke in old CaleV 
hastily. " He didn't die of the flu, so what's the sense 
of worryin' about it now? He didn't even ketch it, and 
gosh knows, the whole blamed country was full of it 
that winter." 

" Well," began Mrs. Vick defensively, and then com- 
pressed her lips in silence. 

" I think it was perfectly wonderful of you, Mr. 
Thane, to go over to France and fight in the Americatf 
Ambulance so long before we went into the war." Thial 
from the adoring Kosabel. *' I wish you'd tell us more 
about your experiences. They must have been terrible. 
You never talk about them, though. I think the real 
heroes were the fellows who went over when you did, — i 
when you didn't really have to, because America wasn't; 
in it." 

** The American Ambulance wasn't over there to 
flj^t, you know," explained Courtney. 

" What did you get the cross for if you weren't 
fighting? " demanded young Cale. 

" For doing what a whole lot of other fellows did, — 
simply going out and getting a wounded man or two 
in No-Man's Land. We didn't think much about it at 
the time." 

"Was it very dangerous P " asked Rosabel. 



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COURTNEY THANE 45 

*• I suppose it was, — more or less so," replied Thane 
indifferently. He even yawned. " I'd rather talk about 
Alix the Third, if it's ell the same to you. Is she light 
or dark? " 

" She's a brunette," said Rosabel shortly. ** All ex- 
cept her eyes. They're blue. How long were you up 
at the front, Mr. Thane? " 

" Oh, quite a while, — several months, la fact. At 
first we were in a place where there wasn't much fight- 
ing. Just before the first big Verdun drive we were 
transferred to that sector, and then we saw a lot of 
action." 

" Some battle, wasn't it? " exdaimed young Cale, a 
thrill in his voice. 

" Certainly was," said Courtney. " We used to 
work forty-eight Hours at a stretch, taking 'em back b; 
the thousands." 

"How near did the shells ever come to you?" 

" Oh, sometimes as close as twenty or thirty feet. I 
remember one that dropped in the road about fifty feet 
ahead of my car, and before I could stop we ran plunk 
into the bole it made and upset. I suppose the Windom 
estate must be a pretty big one, isn't it, Mr. Vick? " 

*' Taking everything into consideration, it amounts 
to nearly a million dollars. David Windom had quite 
a bit of property up in the city, aside from his farm, 
and he owned a big ranch out in Texas. The grain 
elevator in Windomville belonged to him, — still belongs 
to Alix Crown, — and there's a three mile railroad con- 
jiecting with the main line over at Smith's Siding, 
Every foot of it is on his land. He built the railroad 
about twenty year ago, and the elevator, too, — out of 
spite, they say, for the mea that run the elevator at 

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46 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Hawkins a little further up the road. Hawkina is the 
place where his daughter and Edward Crown got off 
the train the night of the murder." 

" And this young girl owns all of it, — farms, ranch> 
railroad and everything? " 

" Every cent's worth of it is her'n. There tun't a 
sign of a mortgage on any of it, either. It's as clear 
as a hlank sheet of writin' paper." 

"When was it you were gassed, Mr. Thane?" in- 
quired young Caleh. 

" Oh, that was when I was in the air service, — only 
a few weeks before the armistice." 

" You left your wings at home, too, I suppose? " 

" Yes. Mother likes to look at the only wings 1'U 
probably ever have, — now or hereafter." 

*' How does it come. Court, that you went into the 
British air corpse, 'stead of in the U. S. A.? " inquired 
old Caleb. 

" I joined the Royal Flying Corps, Mr. Brown, be- 
cause the Americans wouldn't have me," replied Thane 
tersely. " I tried to get in, but they wouldn't pass me. 
Said I had a weak heart and a whole lot of rubbish like 
that. It's no wonder the American Air Service was 
punk. I went over to Toronto and they took me like a 
shot in the Royal British. They weren't so blamed 
finicky and old womanish. All they asked for in an 
applicant was any kind of a heart at all so long as it 
was with the cause. I don't suppose I ought to say 
it, but the American Air Service was a joke," 

*' I hope you ain't turning British in your feelings, 
Court," remarked Amos Vick. " It's purty difficult to 
be both, you know, — English and Yankee." 

'* I'm American through and through, Mr, Vick, even 



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COURTNEY THANE 47 

tboaj^ I did serve under the British flag till I waa 
gassed and invalided out." 

"AiFccts the lungs, don't it?" inquired old Caleb. 

" I don't like to talk about it, Mr. Brown. Vm 
trying to forget what hell was like. I was in hospital 
for four months. It took a lot more nerve to draw 
a breath then than it did to flj over the German lines 
with the Boches popping away from all sides. I didn't 
mind the wounds I sustained, — but the gas! Gee, it 
was horrible." 

" Your ma said in her letter to me that you'd had 
pneumonia twice since you got back," said Mrs. Vick. 
" Was that due to the gas? " 

" I suppose so. They thought I had tuberculosis 
for awhile, you see. Then, this spring, I had to go 
and have a bout with typhoid, I ought to be dead, with 
all I've had, — but here I am, alive and happy, and if 
jou keep on feeding me as you have been for the past 
three days, I'll live forever." 

" You mustn't overdo, Courtney," warned the 
fanner's wife. ** Your ma sent you out here to get 
well, and I feel a kind of responsibility for you, I guess 
it's about time you was oJF to bed. Come on, Amos, 
It isn't going to bring rain any sooner for you to be 
setting out here watching for it," 

Old Caleb had his say, ** I suppose it was all right 
for you to serve with the British, Court, but if you'd 
Vaited a little while longer you might have carried a 
gun over there under the Stars and Stripes. But, as 
you say, you couldn't bear to wait. I give you credit 
for it. I'm derned glad to see one member of the Thane 
family that had the nerve to volunteer. At the time 
of the Civil War your grandpa was what we call a 

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48 QUILL'S WINDOW 

clacker in these days. He hired a feUer to go in hitf 
place, and when that feUer was killed and a second cail 
for volunteers come up, dogged if he didn't up and hire 
another one. One of your grandpa's brothers skipped 
off to Canada ao's he wouldn't have to serve, and tbti 
other, — his name was George Washington Thane, b^ 
the way, — accidentally shot two of his fingers off while 
his company was in camp down at Crawfordsville, 
gettin* ready to go down and meet Morgan's Riders,— 
and that let him out, I admit it takes right smart o^ 
courage to accidentally shoot your fingers off, specially 
when nobody is lookin', but at any rate he had a uni- 
form on when he done it. Course, there wasn't any 
wars during your pa's day, so I don't know how he 
would have acted. He wasn't much of a feUer for 
fightin*, thou^, — t remember that. I mean fist 
£j^tin'. I'm glad to know you don't take after your 
granddad. I never had any use for a coward, and 
that's why I'm proud to shake hands with you, my 
hoy. There was a demed bad streak in your family 
back in your granddad's day, and it certainly is good 
to see that you have wiped it out. It don't always hap- 
pen so. Yeller streaks are purty hard to wipe out. 
Takes more than two generations to do it as a rule. 
I'm happy to know you ain't gun shy." 

The young man laughed. " I don't mind teUing you, 
Mr. Brown, that I never went into action without being 
scared half out of my boots. But I wasn't alone in 
that, you see. I never knew a man over there who 
wasn't scared when he went over the top. He went> 
just the same, — and that's what I call courage." 

** So do I," cried Rosabel. 

" Did you ever know for sure whether you got m 



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TOURTNEY THANE 49 

German ? " asked the intense young Caleb. " I mean,' 
— did you ever ktU one? " 

" That's pretty hard to say, Cale. We never knew^ 
you see, — we fellows up in the clouds. I was in a bomb- 
ing machine. I*d bate to think that we watted any 
bombs." 

*' Come now, — all of you,— oflf to bed," interposed 
Mrs. Vick. " I don't want to hear any more, Courtney. 
1 wouldn't sleep a wink." 

*' Strikin* ten," said Amos, arising from his rocking- 
chair and turning it upside down at the back of the 
porch. 

" Don't do that, Amos," protested old Caleb. " lt*ll 
never rain if you-— Why, dog-gone it, ain't you learned 
that it's bad luck to turn a chair bottom-side up when 
rain's needed P Turn it right-side up and put it right 
out here In front again where the rain can get at it. 
Nothin' tickles the weather more'n a chance to spoil 
something. That's right. Now we c'n go to bed. Bet- 
ter leave them cushions on the steps too, Rosie." 

Courtney Thane went to his room, — the spare-room 
on the second floor, — and prepared to retire. The proc- 
ess was attended by the smoking of three cigarettes. 
Presently he was stretched out on the bed without even 
BO much as a sheet over him. The heat was stifling. 
Not a breath of air came in through the wide-open 
windows. He lay awake for a long time, staring ont 
into the night. 

" So my precious granddad had a yellow streak in 
bim, did he? And father wasn't much of a fighter 
either. Takes more than two generations to wipe out 
a yellow streak, does it? I wonder what the old boob 
meant by that rotten slam at my people." 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



CHAPTER IV 

dowd's taveen 

THE last week in August Courtney Thane left the 
Vick farm and, crossing the river, took lodgings 
at the boarding house conducted by the Misses 
Dowd in the town of Windomville. 

In a letter to his mother, informing her of the change, 
he had said: 

Of conrse, I appreciate the fact that yon are paying the 
bills, old dear, and ont of consideration for yon I dare say 
I ought to stick it ont with the Vicks till November as we 
arranged. But I simply cannot stand it any longer. The 
old woman almost puts n>e to bed, the girl almost sits on 
my lap, the boy drives me crazy with his infernal questions 
about the war, and old man Brown, — the one who went to 
school with father ont in this gosh awful land of the grass- 
hopper, — he is the limit. He never lets a day go by without 
some slur about my grandfather or some other member of 
the family who existed long before I was bom. Thinks he's 
witty. He is always nagging at me about cigarette smoking. 
I wish yon could see the way he mishandles a cigar. As you 
know, I seldom smoke more than a half dosen cigarettes a 
day, but he swears to God I am everlastingly ruining my 
health, and it has got on my nerves so that if I stay on 
here another week I'll call the old jay so hard hell drop 
dead from the shock. And, my heavens, how lonesome it is 
here. I almost die of homesickness. I just had to find a 
place where there is some one to talk to besides the cows 
and sheep and people who never think of anything but 



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DOWiyS TAVERN 51 

crops and the weatber, last Sandaj'g sermon and Theodore 
Roosevelt. Tbey are honest, but, my God, how could they 
be anything elae? It would not be right for me to deny 
that I have improved a great deal in the last couple of 
weeks, I am beginning to feel pretty fit, and I've put on 
four or five pounds. Still, I'm getting sick of fresh e^s 
and fresh milk and their everlasting bacon, — ^they call it 
side-meat, — and preserves. She simply stufTs me with 
them. The air is wonderful, even during that awful hot 
spell I wrote yon about. I am sure that another month or 
two oat here, — perhaps three, — will put me back on my 
pins stronger than ever, and then I'll be in condition to go 
back to work. I am eager to get at it as soon as possible in 
order to pay back all you have put up for me during this 
beastly year. If I did not know you can well afford to do 
what you have been doing for me, mother dear, I wouldn't 
allow you to spend another penny on me. But yon will get 
it all back some day, not in cash, of course, — for that means 
nothing to yon, — but in the joy of knowing that it was 
worth while to bring your only son into the world. Now, 
as to this change I am going to make. I've been across 
the river several times and I like it over there much better 
than here. I think the air is better and certainly the snr- 
roundings are pleasanter. Windomville is a funny little 
village of five or six hundred people, about the same number 
of dogs (exaggeration !), and the sleepiest place you've ever 
imagined. Old Caleb Brown says it was laid out back in 
1830 or thereabouts by the first Windom to come to these 
parts. It has a public school, a town hall, a motion-picture 
house (with last year's reels), a drug store where you can 
get soda water, a grain elevator, and a wonderful old log 
hut that was built by the very first settler, making it nearly 
a hundred years old. Miss Aliz Crown, who owns nearly 
everything in sight, — including the log hut, — has had the 
latter restored and turned into the quaintest little town 
library you've ever seen. But you ought to see the 



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52 QUILL'S WINDOW 

librarian! She is a dried-op, sqnintj old maid of some 
Berenty snmmers, and so full of Jane Atuten and the Bronte 
iromen and Mrs. Southworth that she hasn't an inch of 
Toom left in her for the modem writers. Her name caps 
the climax. It is Alaska Spigg. Can yon beat it? No one 
ever calls her Miss Spigg, — not even the kids, — nor is she 
ever spoken of or to as Alaska. It is always Alaska Spigg. 
I wish you could see her. Miss Crovn is the girl I vrote 
you about, the one with the dime novel history back of her. 
She has a house on the edge of tbe town, — a very attractive 
place. I have not seen her yet. She is up in Michigan, — 
Harbor Point, I believe, — but I hear she is expected home 
within a week or two. I am rather curious to see her. Tbe 
place where I have token a room is run by a couple of old ' 
maids named Dowd. It is really a sort of hotel. At least, 
you would insult them if you called it a boarding house. 
Their grandfather built the house and ran it as a tavern 
back before the Civil War. When he died hia son carried 
on the business. And now his two daughters run the place. 
They have built on a couple of wings and it is really an 
interesting old shack. Clean as a pin, and they say the grub 
is good. It will be, as I said, a little more expensive living 
here than with the Vicks but not enough to amount to any- 
thing. The Dowda ask only fifteen dollars a week for room 
and board, which is cheaper than tbe Rits-Carlton or the 
Commodore, isn't it? . . . Here is my new address in the 
Metropolis of Windomville-by-the-Crick: Dowd's Tavern, 
Main Street. 

Her reply was prompt. She wrote from Bar Harbor, 
where she was spending the summer: 

. . . perfectly silly of you, dearest, to apeak of repay- 
ing me. All I possess will be yours some day, so why be- 
grudge you a little of what should be yours now? Your 
dear father perhafM thought be was doing the right thing 
for both of us when he left everything to me during my 



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DOWD'S TAVERN 58 

lifetime, bat I do not believe it was fair. . . . There will 
not be a great deal, of course. Yoa imderstand how heary 
m; expenses have been. ... In an; case, yon are in 
wretched health, my dear bof . Nothing must stand in the 
Tray of yonr complete recovery. When yon are completely 
recovered, well and strong and eager to take up life where 
this cmel war cut it ofT, I shall be the happiest mother 
alive. I am sure yon will have no difficulty in establishing 
yourself. They tell me the returned soldiers are not hav- 
ing an easy time finding satisfactory and lucrative positions. 
It is a shame the way certain concerns have treated a good 
many of them, after actually promising to hold their places 
open for them. But with you it will be different. I spoke 
to Mr. Roberts yesterday about you. He wants to have a 
talk with you. I have an idea he wants to put yoa in 
charge of one of their offices in Spain. At any rate, he 
asked if yoa spoke Spanish well. ... So I can easilj] 
afford to increase your allowance to one hundred and fif^ 
a month. More, if you should ask for it, but you are so 
proud and self-reliant I can do absolutely nothing with you, 
dear boy. I quite understand your unwillingness to accept 
more than yon actually need from me. It is splendid, and 
I am very proud of yon. . . . This girl you wrote me 
about, is she so very rich? . . . Your father used to speak 
of a young man named Windom and how he envied him 
because he was so tail and handsome. Of course, your 
dear father was a small boy then, and that is always one 
of the laments of small boys. That, and falling in love 
with women old enough to be their mothers. , , . Do 
write me often. But don't be angry with me if I fail to 
answer all of your letters. I am so frightfully busy. I 
rarely ever have more than a minute to myself. How I 
have managed to find the time to write this long letter to 
yon I cannot imagine. It is really quite a nice long one, 
isn't it? . . . and don't be writing home to me in a few 
week* to say yoa are engaged to bi: married to her. It 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



54 QUILL'S WINDOW 

took me a great many years to convert yonr dear father 
into what he was aa yoa knew him. I don't relish the 
thought at my time of life of transforming a crude farmer's 
daughter into a Fifth Aveone lady, no matter hov pretty 
she may be in the rough. The days of Cinderella are long 
since past. One has so much to overcome in the way of 
a Toice with these country girls, to say nothing of the letter 
r. Your poor father never quite got over being an Indiana 
farmer's son, hut he did manage to subdue the aforesaid 
letter. . . . And these country-girls take a harmless, 
amusing flirtation very seriously, dear boy, . . . Your 
adoring mother. 

Courtney Thane's fame had preceded hitn to Win* 
i]onivi11e. By this time, the entire district had heard of 
the man who was gassed, and who had actually won two 
or three medals for bravery in the Great War. The 
^oung men from that section of the state who had seen 
fighting in France were still in New York City, looking 
for jobs. Most of them hod " joined up " at the first 
call for volunteers. Some of them had been killed, manj 
of them wounded, but not one of them had received a 
medal for bravery. The men who had been called by 
the draft into the great National Army were all home 
again, having got no nearer to the battle front than 
an embarkation camp in New Jersey, — and so this tall, 
slender young fellow from the East was an object not 
only of curiosity but of envy. 

The Misses Dowd laid themselves out to make him 
comfortable, — as well as prominent. They gave him a 
comer room on the upper floor of Dowd's Tavern, dis- 
possessing a tenant of twelve years' standing, — a pho- 
tographer named Hatch, whose ability to keep from 
living too far in arrears depended on his luck in in- 



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DOWD'S TAVERN 5S 

Teigling certain sentimental customers into taking 
*' crayon portraits " of deceased loved ones, satisfac- 
tion guaranteed, frames extra. Two windows, looking 
out over the roof of the long front porch, gave him an 
unobstructed view of Main (Street, including such 
edifices as the postoffice, the log-hut library, the ancient 
watering trough, the drug store, and the steeple of the 
Presbyterian Church rising proudly above the roofs of 
the houses in between. 

Main Street ran almost parallel with the river. With 
commendable forethought, the first settlers had built 
their houses and stores some little distance back from 
the stream along the summit of a wooded ridge perhaps 
forty feet above the river at its midsummer low-water 
leveL The tremendous, devastating floods that came 
annually with the breaking up of winter failed to reach 
the bouses, — although in 1883, — according to the rec- 
ords,^ — the water came up to within a foot of Joe 
Soush's blacksmith shop, situated at that time halfway 
down the slope, compelling the smith to think seriously 
of " moving op a couple of hops," a precaution that was 
rendered unnecessary by a subsequent midsummer bolt 
of lightning that destroyed not only the forge but 
shocked Joe so severely that he " saw green " for a 
matter of six weeks and finally resulted in his falling 
oflF the dock into deep water in the middle of what was 
intended to be a protracted spree brought on by the 
discovery that his insurance policy did not cover " loss 
by lightning," To this day, the older inhabitants of 
Windomville will tell you about the way his widow 
" took on " until she couldn't stand it any longer, — and 
then married George Hooper, the butcher, four months 
after the shocking demise of Joseph, 



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Se QUILL'S WINDOW 

Dowd'i Tavern hcul few truisient guests. " Drun- 
mers " from the city hard-bj dropped in occ«si(m«lly 
for a midda; meal, but tbej sever stayed the sight. 
iTbe guests were what the Misses "Dowd colled " regu- 
lars." They included Hatch, Uie photographer; an old 
and indigent couple, parents of a farmer whose wife 
objected so vehemently to their well-meant efforts to 
*' run ** her house for her that he was obliged to " board 
*em " with the Dowd girls, an arrangement that seemed 
to satisfy every cme concerned except the farmer him- 
self, who never missed an opportunity to praise the 
food and the comforts to be enjoyed at the county 
** poorhouse " when he paid his semi-annual visit to the 
venerable dependents ; Mr. Charlie Webster, the rotund 
manager of the grain elevator, who spent every Satai> 
day night and Sunday in the city and showed up for 
duty on Monday with pinkish eyes and a rather tremu- 
lous whistle that was supposed to be reminiscent of 
ecclesiastical associations ; Miss Flora Grady, the dress- 
maker; Doctor Simpson, the dentist, a pale young man 
with extremely bad teeth and a habit of smiling, eves 
at funerals; Miss Miller, the principal of the school, 
who was content with a small room over the kitchen at 
ten dollars a week, thereby permitting her to save some- 
thing out of her salary, which was fifty dollars a month ; 
A. Lincoln Pollock, the editor, owner and printer of 
the Weekly Sun, and his wife, Maude Baggs Pol- 
lock, who besides contributing a poem to each and every 
issue of the paper, (over her own signature)., collected 
news and society items, ran the postoflSce for her hus- 
band, (he being the postmaster), and taught the Bible 
Class in the Presbyterian Sunday-school, as well as offi- 
ciating as president and secretary of the Literary So- 



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DOWD'S TAVERN St 

ciety, secretary to the town board, secretary of the 
W. C. T. U., secretary of the Woman's Foreign Mis- 
sionary Society, secretary of the American Soldiers* 
and Sailors' Relief Fund, secretary of the Windom- 
ville Improvement Association, secretary of the Lady 
Maccabees, and, last but far from least, secretary of 
the local branch of the Society for the Freserration of 
the Redwood Forests of California. She was a bom 
secretary. 

A. Lincoln Follock, being a good democrat and hold- 
ing office under a democratic administration, had 
deemed it wise to abbreviate his first name, thereby re- 
moving all taint of republicanism. He reduced Abraham 
to an initial, but, despite his supreme struggle for dig- 
nity, was forced by public indolence to submit to a 
sharp curtailment of bis middle name. He was known 
as Link. 

The Weekly Sun duly reported the advent of 
Colonel Courtney Thane, of New York and London, and 
gave him quite a " send-off," at the same time getting 
in a good word for the " excellent hostelry conducted 
by the Misses Dowd," aa well as a paragraph congrat- 
ulating the readers of the Sun on the *' scoop " that 
paper had obtained over the ** alleged " newspapers up 
at the county seat. *' If you want the news, read the 
Swn," was the slogan at the top of the editorial col- 
umn on the second page, followed by a line in parenthe- 
sis: ("If you want the Sun, don't put off till to- 
morrow what you can do today. Price Three Dollars a 
Year in Advance.") 

All of the boarders sat at the same table in the dining^ 
room. Punctuality at meals was obligatory. Miss 
Jennie Dowd was the cook. She was assisted by Miss 



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t» QUILL'S WINDOW 

Margaret Slattery, daughter of Martin Slattery, the 
grocer. Miss Marj Dowd had charge of the diiung- 
room. She wa» likewise assisted by Miss Slattery. Be- 
tween meals Miss Slattery did the dish-washing, cham- 
ber-work, light cleaning and " straightening," and stiU 
found room for her daily exercise, which consisted of 
half a dozen turns up and down Main Street in her best 
frock. Old Jim House did the outside chores about the 
place. He had worked at Dowd's Tavern for thirty- 
seven years, and it was his proud boast that he had 
never missed a day's work, — drunk or sober. 

The new guest was given the seat of honour at table. 
He was placed between Mrs. Pollock and Miss Flora 
Grady, supplanting Doctor Simpson, who had held the 
honour ever since Charlie Webster's unfortunate miscal- 
culation as to the durability of an unfamiliar brand 
of bourbon to which he had been introduced late one 
Sunday evening. It was a brand that wore extremely 
well, — so well, in fact, that when he appeared for din- 
ner at noon on Monday he was still in a lachrymose 
condition over the death of his mother, an event which 
took place when he was barely six years old. Doctor 
Simpson relinquished the seat cheerfully. He had held 
it a year and he had grown extremely tired of having 
to lean back as far as possible in his chair so that 
Mrs. Pollock and Miss Grady could converse unob- 
structedly in front of him, a position that called for 
the utmost skill and deliberation on his part, especially 
when it came to conveying soup and " floating island *' 
to such an oltituda. (He had once resorted to the ex- 
pedient of bending over until his nose was almost in the 
plate, so that they might talk across his back, but 



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DOWiyS TAVERN 69 

gun it up when Miss Molly Dowd acridly inquired if 
he smelt anything wrong with the soup.) 

Mr. Hatch invited Courtney dowa to the studio to 
hare his photograph taken, free of charge ; Mr, Pollock 
subjecUd him to a long interview about the War; Mr. 
Webster notified him that he had laid in a small stock 
just prior to Jul; the first and that all he bad to do 
was to " say the word," — or wink if it wasn't conven- 
ient to speak; Miss Grady told him, at great length, 
of her trip to New York in 1896, and inquired about 
certain landmarks in the Metropolis, — such as the 
aquarium, the HofPman House, Madison Square, Stew- 
art's Drygoods Store, Tiffany's place, — revealing a 
sort of lofty nonchalance in being able to speak of 
things she had seen while the others had merely read 
about them ; Mrs. Pollock had him write in her auto- 
graph album, and wondered if he would not consent 
to give a talk before the Literary Society at its next 
meeting ; and Margaret Slattery made a point of pass- 
ing things to him first at nuals, going so far as to 
indicate the choicest bits of " white meat," or the " sec- 
ond joint," if he preferred the dark, whenever they 
bad chicken for dinner, — ^which was quite often. 

Old Mr. Nichols, (the indigent father), remembered 
Courtney's grandfather very well, and, being apt to 
repeat himself, told and retold the story of a horse- 
trade in which he got the better of Silas Thane. Mrs. 
Nichols, living likewise in the remote past, remembered 
being in his grandmother's Sunday-school class, and 
how people used to pity the poor thing because Silas 
ran around considerable after other women,— 'spe- 
cially a lively-stableman's wife up in the city, — and 



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60 QUILL'S WINDOW 

vhat a terrible time she had when John Robinson** 
Circus came to town a little while before her first child 
was born and the biggest boa-constnctor in captiritj 
escaped and eat up two lambs on Silas's farm before 
it went to sleep and was shot out in the apple orchard 
by Jale Billings. She often wondered whether her 
worrying about that snake had had an; effect on the 
baby, who, it appears, ultimately grew up and became 
Courtney's father. Tbe young man smilingly sought 
to reassure her, but after twice repeating his remark, 
looked so embarrassed that Mr. Hatch gloomily an- 
nounced from the foot of the table: 

« She's deef." 

Now, as to Mr. Courtney Thane. He was a tall, 
spare young man, very erect and soldierly, with an al- 
most unnoticeable limp. He explained this limp by 
confessing that he had got into the habit of favouring 
his left leg, which had been injured when his machine 
came down in flames a sort distance back of the lines 
during a vicious gas attack by the enemy — (it was 
on this occasion that he was " gassed " while drag- 
ging a badly wounded comrade to a place of safety) — 
but that the member was quite as sound as ever and 
it was sUly of him to go on being so confounded timid 
about it, especially as it hadn't been anything to speak 
of in the beginning, — ^nothing more, in fact, than a 
cracked knee joint and a trifling fracture of tbe ankle. 

His hair was light brown, almost straw-coloured, and 
was brushed straight back from the forehead. A small, 
j aunty moustache, distinctly English in character, 
adorned his upper lip. His eyes were brown, set well 
back under a perfectly level, rather prominent brow. 
His mouth was wide and faintly satirical ; his chin ag- 



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DOWD'S TAVERN 61 

gressively square ; his nose ]ong and straight. His Toice 
was deep and pleasant, and be spoke with what Miss 
Miller described as a " perfectly fascinating drawl." 
Mrs. Pollock, who was quite an extensive reader of 
novels and governed her conversation accordingly went 
so far as to say that he was " the sort of chap that 
women fall in love with easily," — and advised Miss 
Miller to keep a pretty sharp watch on her heart, — a 
remark that drew from Miss Miller the confession that 
she had rejected at least half a dozen offers of mar- 
riage and she guessed if there was any watching to be 
done it would have to be done by the opposite sex. 
(As Miss Miller had repeatedly alluded to these fruit- 
less masculine manifestations, Mrs. Pollock merely 
sniffed, — and afterwards confided to Miss Molly Dowd 
her belief that if any one had ever asked Angie Miller 
to marry him she'd be a grandmother by this time.) 
From this, it may be correctly surmised that Miss Miller 
was DO longer in the first bloom of youth. 

Whenever Courtney appeared on Main Street, he 
was the centre not only of observation but of active 
attention. Nearly every one had some form of greeting 
for him. Introductions were not necessary. Women as 
well as men passed the time of day with him, and not a 
few of the former solicitously paused to inquire how he 
was feeling. Young girls stared at him and blushed, 
young boys followed his progress about town with wide, 
worshipful eyes, — for was he not a hero out of their 
cherished romance? He had to hear from the lips of 
ancient men the story of Antietam, of ChancellorsviUe 
and of Shiloh; eulogies and criticisms of Grant, McCIel- 
lan and Meade; praise for the enemy chieftains, Lee, 
Stonewall Jackson and Johnston; comparisons in the 



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62 QUILL'S WI^aX)W 

matter of fatalities, markstnanship, generalship, hard- 
ships and all each, and with the inevitable conclusion 
that the Civil War was the greatest war ever fought 
for the simple reason that it was fought hy men and 
not by machinery. 

*< And, what's more," declared old Captain House 
vigorously, " it waa fit entirely by Americans, and not 
by every dodgasted nation on the face of the earth, 
no two of 'em able to understand a blamed word of 
what was being said by friend er foe." " And," added 
ei-Corporal Grimes, stamping the sidewalk with his peg 
leg, " what's more, there wasn't ary one of them Johnny 
Rebs that couldn't pick off a squirrel five hundred 
yards away with a rifle — a rifie, mind ye, not a bat- 
tery of machine guns. Every time they was a Bgbt, big 
er little, we used to stand out in the open and shoot 
at each other like soldiers — and gentlemen — aimin' 
straight at the feller we'd picked out to kill. They tell 
me they was more men shot right smack between the 
eyes in the Civil War than all the other wars put to- 
gether. Ye&-aiT-eel And as fer r««-connoiterin', why 
it was nothin' for our men, — er the rebs, either, fer that 
matter, — to crawl up so close to the other side's camps 
that they could smell the vittels cookin', — and I re- 
member a case when one of our scouts, bein' so over- 
come by the smell of a fried chicken, snuck right up and 
grabbed it offen the skillet when the cook's back was 
turned, and got away with it safe, too, b'gosh ! " 



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CHAPTER V 

TSESFAaS 

COURTNEY ncTer was without the heavy English 
walking-stick on which he occasionally leaned 
for lopport. He took long strolls in the coun- 
try, freqaently passing the Windom place, and twice 
he had gone as far as the railed-in base of Quill's Win- 
dow. From the footpath at the bottom he could look 
through the trees op to the hare crest of the rock. The 
gate through the hi^ fence was padlocked, and con- 
tained a sign with the curt warning: " No Trespass.** 
On the opposite side of the wide strip of meadow-land, 
in which cattle grazed placidly, he could see the aban- 
doned house where Alix Crown was bom, — a colourless, 
weather-beaten, two-storey frame building with faded 
green window shutters and a high-pitched roof black- 
ened by rain and rot. Every shutter was closed; an 
atmosphere of utter desolation hung over the place. 

Across that brown, sunburnt stretch of meadow-land 
when it was white and cold, old David Windom had 
carried the stiff body of Edward Crown, — and return- 
ing had borne the soft, limp figure of his stricken child. 
Courtney permitted his fancy to indulge in calculation. 
He followed with his eye what must have been the path 
of the slayer on that dreadful night. It led, no doubt, 
to the spot on which he now was standing, for just be- 
hind him was the suggestion of a narrow, weed-lined 



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64 QUILL'S WINDOW 

path that wormed its way through the trees toward the 
top of the great rock. He decided that one day soon 
he would disregard that sign on the gate, and climb 
up to the strange burial place of Edward Crown and 
Alix the Second. 

He had tested his increasing strength and endurance 
by rowing up the river with Rosabel for a fair view of 
the bole in the face of the rock — Quill's Window. It 
was plainly visible from the river, a wide black gash in 
the almost perpendicular wall that reached well above 
the fringe of trees and underbrush along the steep bank 
of the stream. 

He tried to picture Quill as he sat in his strange 
abode, a hundred years ago, cowering over the fire or 
reading perhaps by the light of a huge old-fashioned 
lanthom. He thought of him han^ng by the neck back 
in the dark recess, victim either of his own conscience 
or the implacable hatred of the enemy " down the 
river." And then there were the others who had found 
death in the heart of that mysterious cavern, — uj^y 
death. 

He wondered what the interior of the cave was like, 
and whether he could devise some means of entering it. 
A rope ladder attached to a substantial support at the 
top of the cliff would afford the easiest way of reaching 
the mouth of the cave, — in fact, he recalled that Quill 
employed some such means of descending to his eerie 
home. The entrance appeared to be no more than 
twenty feet below the brow of the cliff. It would not 
even be a hazardous undertaking. Besides, if Quill and 
his successors were able to go up and down that wall 
safely and repeatedly, why not he? No doubt scores 
of men, — perhaps even schoolboys of the Tom Sawyer 



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TRESPASS 6S 

tjpe, — bad made frequent visits to the cave. He knew 
he would be disregarding the command of Alix Crown, 
— a comraand that all people respected and observed, — 
if be passed the barrier and climbed to the top of the 
rock, but who, after all, was Alix Crown that she should 
aay " no trespass " to the world at large? 

The thought of Edward Crown wedged in at the bot- 
torn of Quill's Chimney, weighted down with stones and 
earth, alone served as an obstacle to the enterprise. 
He shrank from certain gruesome posgibilitiesj-^such as 
the dislodgment of stones at the bottom of the crevice 
and the consequent exposure of a thing that would 
haunt him forever. And even though the stones re- 
mained in place there would still remain the fact that 
almost within arm's length was imprisoned the crushed, 
distorted remains of the murdered man. 

Toward the end of his second week at Dowd's Tav- 
ern, he set out to climb to the top of the big rock. He 
had no intention of descending to the cavern's mouth 
on this occasion. That feat was to be reserved for 
another da;. Arriving at the gate, he was surprised 
and gratified to discsvcr that it was unlocked. While 
it was latched, the padlock and chain hung tooselj from 
the post to which the latter was attached. Without 
hesitation, he opened the gate and strode holdly into 
proscribed territory. 

The ascent was gradual at first, then steep and 
abrupt for a matter of fifty or sixty feet to the bald 
summit of the hill. Once at the top, he sat down pant- 
ing and exhausted upon the edge of the shallow fissure 
he had followed as a path up the rock, and again his 
thoughts went back to the night of the murder. This 
had been David Windom's route to the top of the hill. 



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66 QUILL'S WINDOW 

He found himself discrediting one feature at least of the 
man's confesBton. Only a fabled giant could have car- 
ried the bodj of a man up that steep, tortuous incline. 
Why, he vas exhausted, and he had borne no heavier 
burden than his stout walking-stick. That part of 
Windom's story certainly was " fishy." 

Presently he arose and strode out upon the roughs 
uneven " roof " of the height. He could look in all di- 
rections over the tops of the trees below. The sun beat 
down fiercely upon the unsheltered rock. Off to the 
north lay the pall of amoke indicating the presence of 
the invisible county seat. Thin, anfractuous highways 
and dirt roads scarred the green and brown landscape, 
and as far as the eye could reach were to be seen farm- 
houses and bams and silos. 

Avoiding the significant heap of rocks near the centre 
of the little plateau, he made his way to the brink o£ 
the cliff overlooking the river. There he had a won- 
derful view of the winding stream, the harvest fields, the 
groves, and the herds in the far-reaching stretches of 
what was considered the greatest corn raising " belt '* 
in the United States. Some yards back from the edge 
of the cliff he discovered the now thoroughly rotted 
section of a tree trunk, eight or ten inches in diameter, 
driven deeply into a narrow fissure and rendered abso- 
lutely immovable by a solid mass of stones and gravel 
that completely closed the remainder of the crevice. He 
was right in surmising that this was the support from 
which Quill's rope or vine ladder was suspended a hun- 
dred years ago. Nearby were two heavy iron rings at- 
tached to standards sunk firmly into the rock, a modem 
improvement on the hermit's crude device. (He after- 
wards learned that David Windom, when a lad of fif- 



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TRESPASS 67 

teen, had drOled the holes in the rock and imbedded the 
stout iron shafts, so that he might safely descend 
to the month of the cave.) 

Turning back, he approached the heap of boulders 
that covered the grave of Edward and Alix Crown. No 
visible sign of the cleft in the surface of the rock re- 
mained. Six huge boulders, arranged in a row, rose 
above a carefully made bed of stones held in place bj a 
low, soundly mortared wall. 

Chiselled on one of the end boulders was the name of 
Alix Windom Crown, with the date of her birth and 
hep death, with the line : *' Rock of Ages Cleft for Me." 
Below this inscription was the recently carved name of 
Edward Joseph Crown, Born July 7, 1871. Died 
March 22, 1895. Three words followed this. They 
were " Abide With Me." 



Thane stood for a long time looking at the pile. He 
was not sentimental. His life had been spent in an ir- 
reverent city, among people hardened by pleasure or 
coarsened by greed. His thoughts as he stood there 
were not of the unhappy pair who reposed beneath those 
ugly rocks ; they were of the far-off tragedy that had 
brought them to this singular resting-place. The fact 
that this was a grave, sacred in the same sense that his 
father's grave in Woodlawn was supposed to be sacred 
to him and to his mother, was overlooked in the silent 
contemplation of what an even less sophisticated person 
might have been justified in describing as a " freak." 
Nothing was farther from his mind, however, than the 
desire or impulse to be disrespectful. And yet, as he 



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68 QUILL'S WINDOW 

was about to turn away from this sombre pile, he leaned 
oyer and struck a match on one of the huge boulders. 
As he was convejing the lighted sulphur match, — with 
which Oowd's Tavern abounded, — to the cigarette that 
hung limply from his lips, he was startled by a sharp, 
almost agonized cry. It seemed to come from nowhere. 
He experienced the uncanny feeling that a ghost, — the 
ghost that haunted Quill's Window, — standing guard 
over the mound, had cried out under the pain inflicted 
by that profane match. 

Even as he turned to search the blazing, sunlit rock 
with apprehensive eyes, a voice, shrill with anger, flung 
these words at him: 

" What are you doing up here? " 

His gaze fell upon the speaker, standing stockstill in 
the cloven path below him, not twenty feet away. In 
his relief, he laughed. He beheld a slim figure in riding- 
togs. Nothing formidable or ghostlike in that 1 Never- 
theless, a pair of dark blue eyes transfixed him with 
indignation. They looked out from under the rim of 
a black sailor hat, and they were wide and inimical. 

'* Did you not see that sign on the gate P " demanded 
the girl. 

" I did," he replied, still smiling as he removed his 
hat, — one of Enox's panamas. " And I owe you an 
apology." 

She advanced to the top. He noted the riding-crop 
gripped rather firmly in her clenched hand. 

** No one is permitted to come up here," she an- 
nounced, stopping a few feet away. She was quite tall 
and straight. She panted a little from the climb up the 
steep. He saw her bosom rise and fall under the khaki 



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TRESPASS 60 

jacket; het nostrils were slightly distended. In that 
first ^impse of her, he took in the graceful, perfect 
figure; the lovelj, brilliant face; the glorious though 
unsmiling eyes. " You must leave at once. This is 
private property. Go, please." 

" I cannot go before telling you how rotten I feel 
for striking that match. X beg of you, Miss Crown, — 
you are Miss Crown? — ^I can only ask you to believe 
that it was not a conscious act of desecration. It was 
sheer thoughtlessness. I would not have done it for the 
world if I had — " 

** It is not necessary for you to explain," she broke 
in curtly. " I saw what you did, — and it is just be- 
cause of such as you that this spot is forbidden ground. 
Idle curiosity, utter disregard for the sacreduess of 
that lonely grave, — Oh, you need not attempt to deny 
it. You are a stranger here, but that is no excuse for 
your passing through that gate. I am Miss Crown. 
This hill belongs to me. It was I who had that fence 
put up and it was I who directed the sign to be put on 
the gate. They are meant for strangers as well as for 
friends. It was not thoughtlessness that brought you 
up here. You thouj^t a long time before you came. 
Will you be good enough to go? " 

He flushed under the scornful dismissal. 

" The gate was unlocked — " he began. 

" That doesn't matter. It might have been wide 
open, sir, — but that did not grant you any special 
privileges." 

" I can only ask your pardon. Miss Crown, and de- 
part in disgrace," said he, quite humbly. As he started 
down the path, be paused to add : " X did not know you 



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70 QUILL'S WINDOW 

had returned. I daresay I should have been less ven- 
turesome bad I known ;ou were in the neighbourhood.** 

The thinly veiled sarcasm did not escape her. 

" I suppose you are the young man from New York 
that every one is talking about. That may account for 
your ignorance. In order that you may not feel called 
upon to visit this place again to satisfy your curiosity, 
I will point out to you the objects of interest. This 
pfle of rocks marks the grave of my father and mother. 
The dates speak for themselves. You may have noticed 
them when you scratched your match just above my 
mother's name. My father was murdered by my grand- 
father before I was bom. My mother died on the day 
I was bom. I never saw them. I do not love them, 
because I never knew them. But I do respect and 
honour them. They were good people. I have no 
reason to be ashamed of them. U you will look out 
over those trees and across that pasture, you will see 
the house in which my mother died and where I was 
bom. Directly in front of the little porch my father 
died as the result of a blow delivered by my grand- 
father. As to the disposal of the body, you may ob- 
tain all the information necessary from Alaska Spigg, 
our town librarian, who will be more than delighted to 
supply you with all the ghastly details. To your right 
is the post to which a man named Quill attached his 
ladder in order to reach the cave in the face of this 
rock, — ^where he lived for many years. This is the 
path leading down to the gate, which you will still find 
unlocked. It will not be necessary for you to come up 
here again. You have seen all there is to see." 

With that, she deliberately turned her back on him 
and walked toward the edge of the cliflf. He stared 



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TRESPASS 71 

after her for a few seconds, his lips parted as if to 
speak, and then, as the flush of mortification deepened 
in his cheeks, be began picking his way rather blindly 
down the steep path. 

He was never to forget his first encounter with Alix 
the Third. 



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CHAPTER VI 

CHABLIE WEB8TEK ENTEftTAIlfg 

THAT evening at the supper table, Mr. Pollock 
politely informed him that Alix Crovn had re- 
turned from Michigan, looking as fit as a fiddle. 

" You've been so sort of curious about her, Court? " 
(it had not taken the male boarders long to dispense 
vith formalities), " that I thought you'd be interested 
in knowing that she's home. Got back last evening. Her 
Packard automobile met her at the depot up in the city. 
You'll know her when you see her. Tall giri and fairly 
good-looking. Puts on an awful lot of ' dog.' What is 
it you fellows in the Army call it? Swunk? " 

" Swank," said Courtney, rather shortly. He was 
still smarting under the sting of his afternoon's ex- 
perience. 

" Lemme help you to some more squash, Mr, Thane," 
said Margaret Slattery in his ear. " And another 
biscuit." 

** Thank you, no," said he. 

"What's the matter with your appetite.^" she 
demanded. " You ain't hardly touched anything this 
evenjn'. Sick? " 

" I'm not hungry, Margaret." 

" Been out in the sun too much, that's what's the 
matter with you. First thing you know you'll get a 
sunstroke, and thenf My Uncle Mike was sunstruck 
when I was — " 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 78 

" Pafis me the biscuits, Maggie, and doa't be all night 
about it," put in Mr. Webster. " I'm hungry, even if 
Court isn't. I can distinctly remember when you used 
to pass everything to me first, and almost stufif it — " 
" Yes, and she used to do the same for me before you 
shaved oGF your chin whiskers, Charlie," said Mr, Hatch 
gloomily. " How times have changed." 

" It ain't the times that's changed," said Margaret. 
** It's you men. You ain't what you used to be, lemme 
tell you that." 

" True, — oh so true," lamented Mr. Webster. " I 
used to be nice and thin and graceful before you began 
showering me with attention. Now look at me. You 
put something hke fifty pounds on me, and then you 
desert me. I was a handsome feller when I first came 
Kere, wasn't I, Flora P I leave it to you if I wasn't." 

" I don't remember how you looked when you first 
came here," replied Miss Grady loftily. 

"Can you beat that?" cried Charlie to Courtney 
across the table. " And she used to say I was the 
handsomest young feller she'd ever laid eyes on. Used 
to say I looked like,— who was it you used to say I 
looked like. Flora ? " 

" The only thing I ever said you looked like was a 
mud fence, Charlie Webster,'* 

"What did she say, Pa? Hey?" This from old 
Mrs. Nichols, holding her hand to her ear, ** What 
are they laughing at? " 

" She says Charlie looks like a mud fence," shouted 
old Mr. Nichols, his lips close to her ear, 
"His pants? What about his pants P'^ 
This time Courtney joined in the laugh. 
After supper be sat on the front porch with the 



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74 QUUX'S WINDOW 

Pollocks and Miss Grady. It was a warm, starry ni^t. 
Charlie Webster and Doc Simpson had strolled off 
down the street. Mr. Hatch and Miss Miller sat in 
the parlour. 

" She's going to land Furman Hatch, sure as you're 
a foot hif^," confided Mr. Pollock, with a significant 
jerk of his head in the direction of the parlour. 

" Heaven knows she's been trying long enough," said 
Miss Grady. " I heard him ask Doc and Charlie to 
wait for him, hut she nabhed him before he could get 
out. Now he's got to sit in there and listen to her teO 
about how interested she is in art, — and him just dyin* 
for a smoke. Why, there's Aliz Crown now. She's 
comin* in here." 

A big touring car drew up to the sidewalk in front 
of the Tavern. Miss Crown sprang lightly out of the 
seat beside the chauffeur and came up the steps. 

"How do you do, Mrs. Pollock P Hello, Flora. Good 
evening, Mr. Editor," was her cheery greeting as she 
passed by and entered the house. 

" She comes around every once in a while and takes 
the Dowd girls out riding in her car," explained Mrs. 
Pollock. 

'* Mighty nice of her," said Mr. Pollock, taking his 
feet down from the porch-rail and carefully brushing 
the cigar ashes off of his coat sleeve. " Takes old 
Alaska Spigg out too, and the Nicholses, and — " 

" We've been out with her a great many times," broke 
in Mrs. Pollock. " I think a Packard is a wonderful 
car, don't you, Mr. Thane? So smooth and — " 

" I think I'U take a little stroll," said Courtney 
abruptly ; and snatching np his hat from the floor be- 
side his chair he hurried down the steps. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 75 

She had Dot even glanced at him as she crossed the 
porch. He bad the -very uDeasj conyiction that so far 
as she was concerned he might just as well not have 
been there at all. In the early dusk, her face vas 
clearly revealed to him. There was nothing cold or un- 
friendly about it now. Instead, her smile was radiant; 
her eyes, — even in the subdued light, — glowed with 
pleasure. Her voice was clear and soft and singularly 
appealing. In the afternoon's encounter he had been 
struck by its unexpected combinatiou of English and 
American qualities; the sharp querulousness of the 
English and the melodious drawl of the American were 
strangely blended, and although there had been casti- 
gation in her words and manner, he took away with him 
the disturbing memory of a voice he was never to for- 
get. And now he had seen the smile that even the most 
envious of her kind described as '* heavenly." It waa 
broad and wholesome and genuine. There was a flash of 
white, even teeth between warm red lips, a gleam of 
merriment in the half-closed eyes, a gay tilt to the 
bare, shapely head. Her dark hair was coiled neatly, 
and the ears were exposed. He liked her ears. He re- 
membered them as he had seen them in the afternoon, 
fairly large, shapely and close to the head. No need 
for her to follow the prevailing fashion of the day ! She 
had no reason to hide her ears beneath a mat of hair. 

In the evening glow her face was gloriously beautiful, 
— clear-cut as a cameo, warm as a rose. It was no 
longer clouded with anger. She seemed taller. The 
smart riding- costume had brought her trim figure into 
direct contrast with his own height and breadth, and 
she had looked like a slim, half-grown boy beside his 
flix feet and over. Now, in her black and white checked 



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76 QUILL'S WINDOW 

sport skirt and dark sweater jacket, she was revealed 
as a woman quite well aboTe the average height. 

He was standing in front of the drug store when the 
big car went by a few minutes later, filled with people. 
She was driving, the chauffeur sitting in the seat beside 
her. In the tonneau he observed the two Dowd sisters, 
Mr. and Mrs. FoUock and Flora Gradj. 

As the car whizzed by, A. Lincoln Pollock espied him. 
Waring his hand triumphantly, the editor called out : 

"HeUo, Court!'* 

The object of this genial shout did not respond by 
word or action. He looked to see if the girl at the wheel 
turned her head for a glance in his direction. She did 
not, and he experienced a fresh twinge of annoyance. 
He muttered something under his breath. The car dis- 
appeared around a bend a» he turned to enter the store. 

" That was AlJi Crown, Court," remarked Charlie 
Webster from the doorway. " Little too dark to get 
a good look at her, but wait till she flashes across you 
in broad daylight some time. She'll make you forget 
all those Fifth Avenue skirts so quick your head'll 
swim." 

''Is that so?" retorted Courtney, allowing rancour 
to get the better of fairness. Down in his heart he had 
said that Aliz Crown was the loveliest girl he had ever 
seen. " What do you know about Fifth Avenue? " 

Charlie Webster grinned amiably. He was not of- 
fended by the other's tone. 

" Well, I've seen it in the movies," he explained. 
" What are you sore about? " 

" Sore? Tta not sore. What put that into your 
bead? " 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS Tt 

The rotund superintendent of the elevator fanned 
himself lazilj with bis straw hat. 

** If I was fifteen jears jounger and fifiy pounds 
lighter," said he, " Fd be sore too. But what's the use 
of a fat old slob like me getting peeved because Miss 
Alix Crown don't happen to notice meP Oh, we're great 
friends and all that, mind jou, and she thinks a lot of 
me,^ — as manager of her grain elevator. Same as she 
thinks a lot of Jim Baglej, her superintendent, — and 
Ed Stevens, her chauffeur, and so on. Now, as for you, 
it's different. You're from New York and it goes 
against the grain to be overlooked, you might say, by 
a girt from Indiana. Oh, I know what you New Yorkers 
think of Indiana, — and all that therein is, as the Scrip- 
tures would say. You think that nothing but boobs and 
corn-fed squaws come from Indiana, but if you hang 
around long enough you'll find you're mistaken. This 
state is full of girts like Alix Crown,— bri^t, smart, 
good-looking girls that have been a hell of a ways 
farther east than New York. Of course, there are 
boobs like me and Boc Simpson and Tintype Hatch 
who get up to Chicago once every three or four years 
and have to sew our return trip tickets inside our belly- 
bands so's we can be sure of getting back home after 
Chicago gets through admiring us, but now since pro- 
hibition has come in I don't know but what we're as 
bright and clever as anybody else. Most of the fellers 
I've run across in Chicago seem to be brightest just 
after they diange feet on the rail and ask the bartender 
if he knows how to make a cucumber cocktail, or some- 
thing else as clever as that. But that ain't what we 
were talldng about. We were talking about — " 



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78 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" I wasn't talking about anything," inteirupted 
Courtney. 

** Oh, yea, you were," said Charlie. " Not out loud, 
of course, — ^but talking just the same. You were talk- 
ing about Alix Crown and the way she forgot to invite 
you to take a ride with the rest of — " 

" See here, Webster, — are you trying to be of- 
fensive ? " 

** Offensive? Lord, no! I'm just telling you, that's 
alL On the level now, am I right or wrong? " 

" I do not know Miss Crown," replied Thane stiffly. 
*' Why should I expect her to ask me, — a total stranger, 
— to go out in her car? " 

** Didn't Maude Pollock introduce you a while ago? " 

" No," said the other succinctly. 

" Well, by gosh, that ain't like Maude," exclaimed 
Charlie. " I'd 'a' bet two dollars she said ' I want to 
present my friend from New York, Mr. Courtney 
Thane, the distinguished aviator, Miss Crown,* or some- 
thing like that. I can't understand Maude missing a 
chance like that. She just lovei it." 

Courtney smiled. " I daresay she wasn't quick 
enough," he said drily. " Miss Crown was in a hurry. 
And I left before she came out of the house. Now is 
your curiosity satisfied?" 

" Absolutely," said Charlie. " Now I'll sleep soundly 
tonight. I was afraid the darned thing would keep me 
awake all night. Remember me saying I had a small 
stock hid away up in my room? What say to going 
up, — now that the coast is clear, — and having a nip 
or two?" 

"No, thanks, old man. I don't drink. Doctor's 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 79 

orders. Besides, I've got some letters to write. I'll 
waUc home with jou if you're ready to go." 



Mr. Webster shook his head sadly. " That's the one 
drawback to Ijvin' in Windomville," he said. ** People 
cither want to drink too much or they don't want to 
drink at all. Nobody wants to drink in dioderation. 
Now, here's you, for instance. You look like a feller 
that coutd kiss a highball or two without compromising 
yourself, and there's Hatch that has to hold his nose 
so's he won't get drunk if he comes within ten feet of a 
glass of whiskey." They were strolUng slowly toward 
the Tavern. ** Now you up and claim you're on the 
water wagon. I'd been counting on you, Court, — ^I 
certainly had. The last time I took Hatch and Doc 
Simpson up to my room, — that was on the Fourth of 
last July, — I had to sleep on the floor. Coarse, if I 
was skinny like Doc and Hatch that wouldn't have been 
necessary. But I can't bear sleepin' three in a bed. 
Doctor's orders, eh? That comes of livin' In New York. 
There ain't a doctor in Indiana that would stoop so 
low as thatt-~not one. Look at old man Nichols. He's 
eighty-two years old and up to about a year ago he 
never missed a day without taking a couple o' swigs of 
rye. He swears he wouldn't have lived to be more than 
seventy-five if he hadn't taken his daily nip. That 
shows how smart and sensible our doctors are out here. 
They—" 

'* By the way, Mrs. Nichols appears to be a remark- 
ably well-preserved old lady, — aside from her hearing. 
How old is sheP " 



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80 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** Ei^ty-three. Wonderful old woman." 

" Z suppose she lias always had her daily swig of 
rye." 

Charlie Webster wag silent for a moment. He had 
to think. This was a very serious and unexpected com- 
plication. 

" What did you say? " he inquired, fencing for time, 

" Has she always been a steady drinker, like the old 
man? " 

Charlie was a gentleman. He sighed. 

** I guess it's time to change the subject," he said. 
" The only way you could get a spoonful of whiskejr 
down that old woman would be to chloroform her. If 
I'm any good at guessin', she'll outlive the old man 
by ten years,— so what's the sense of me preachin* to 
you about the life preserving virtues of booze? Oh, 
Lordj ! There's another of my best arguments knocked 
galley-west. It's no use. I've been playing old man 
Nichols for nearly fifteen years as a bright and shining 
light, and he turns out to be nothing but a busted flush. 
She's had eleven children and he's never had anything 
worse than a headache, and, by gosh, he's banjpn' onto 
her with both hands for support to keep his other foot 
from slippin' into the grave. But," — and here his face 
bri^tened suddenly, — " there's one thing to be said, 
Court. She didn't consult any darned fool doctor 
about it." 

Courtney was ashamed of his churlishness toward this 
good-natured little man. 

" Say no more, Charlie. I'll break my rule this once 
if it will make you feel any better. One little drink, 
that's all, — in spite of the doctor. He's a long way 
off, and I daresay he'U never know the difference. Lead 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 81 

the way, old chap. Anything to cheer up a disconso- 
late comrade." 

A few minutes later they were in Webster's room, 
second floor back. The highly gratified host had 
lij^ted the kerosene lamp on the table in the centre of 
the room, and pulled down the window shades. Then, 
putting his fingers to his Ups to enjoin silence, he tip- 
toed to the door and threw it open suddenly. After 
peering into the hall and listening intently for a mo- 
ment, he cautiously closed it again. 

*' All's well, as the watchman says at midni^t,** he 
remarked, as he drew his key ring from his hip pocket 
and selected a key with unerring precision from the 
extensive assortment, " I always do that," he added. 
" I don't suppose it was necessary tonight, because 
Angie Miller has got Hatch where he can't possibly 
escape. Long as she knows where he is, she don't do 
much snooping. She used to be the same way with me, 
— and Doc, too, for that matter. Poor Hatch, — set- 
ting down there in the parlour, — listening to her talk 
about birds and flowers and trying to help her guess 
what she's going to give him for next Christmas. It's 
hell to be a bachelor. Court." 

He unlocked a trunk in the comer of the room, and 
after lifting out two trays produced a half empty 
whiskey bottle. 

" I had a dozen of these to begin with,'* said he, 
holding the bottle up to the light. "Dollar sixty a 
quart. Quite a nifty little stock, ehP ** 

" Is that all you have leftP " 

Charlie scratched his ear reflectively. 

"Well, you see, I've had a good deal of toothache 
lately," he announced. " And as soon as Doc Simpson 



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82 QUILL'S WINDOW 

and Hatch found out about it, they begin to complain 
about their teeth achin' too. Seemed to be a sort of 
epidemic of toothache, Court. Nothing like whiBkey 
for the toothache, you know." 

" But Simpson is a dentist, Wbj don't you have him 
treat your teeth? " 

** SeemB aa though he'd sooner have me treat his," 
■aid Charlie, with a slight grimace. Rummaging about 
in the top tray of the trunk, he produced a couple of 
bar glasses, which he carefully rinsed at the washstand. 
" Tastes better when you drink it out of a regular 
glass," he explained. ** Always seems sort of cowardly 
to me to take it with water, — almost as if you were 
trying to drown it so's it won't be able to bite back 
when you tackle it. Needn't mind sayin' * when.' The 
glass holds just so much, and I know enough to stop 
when it begins to run over. Well! Here's hoping 
your toothache will be better in the morning. Court." 

" I don't think I ought to rob you like this, 
Charlie,— " 

" I.ord, man, you're not robbing me. If you're rob- 
bing anybody, it's Doc Simpson, — and he's been abso- 
lutely free from toothache ever since I told him this 
room was dry. Excuse me a second. Court. I always 
propose a toast before I take a drink up here. Here's 
to Miss Alix Crown, the finest girl in the U. S. A., and 
the best boss a man ever had. Course Pve never said 
that in a saloon, but up here it's different, — and kind 
of sacred." 

" I usually make a wry face when I drink it neat like 
this," said Courtney. 

"You'll like her just as well as I do when you get 
to know her, boy. I've known her since she was a 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 88 

little kid, — ^long before she was sent abroad,— and she's 
the salt of the earth. That's one thing on which Doc 
and Hatch and me always agree. We differ on most 
everything else, but — well, as I was saying, you wait 
tin you get to know her." 

He tossed off the whiskey in one prodigious gulp, 
smacked his lips, and then stood watching his guest 
drink his. 

Tears came into Courtney's eyes as he drained the 
last drop of the fiery liquid. A shudder distorted his 
face. 

"Pretty hot stuff, eh?" observed Charlie sympa- 
thetically. 

Courtney's reply was a nod of the head, speech being 
denied him. 

"Don't try to talk yet," said Charlie, as if ad- 
monishing a child who has choked on a swallow of water. 
*' Anyhow," he went on quaintly, after a moment, " it 
makes you forget all about your toothache, don't it?" 

The other cleared his throat raucously. " Now I 
know why the redskins call it fire water," said he. 

" Have another? " 

" Not on .your life," exclaimed the New Yorker. 
** Put it back in the trunk, — and lock it up ! " 

" No sooner said than done," said Charlie amicably. 
** Now I'll pull up the shades and let in a little of our 
well-known hoosier atmosphere, — and some real moon- 
ahine. Hello! There go Hatch and Angie, out for a 
stroll. Yep! She's got him headed toward Foster's 
soda water joint. rU bet every tooth in his head is 
achin'." 

" How long have you been running the grain ele- 
vator, Charlie?" 



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84 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Ever since David Windom built it, back in 1897, — 
twenty-two years. I took a few months off in '98, 
expecting to see something of Cuba, but the darned 
Spaniards surrendered when they heard I was on the 
way, so I never got any farther than Indianapolis. 
Twenty-two years. That's ahnost as long as Alix 
Crown has lived altogether," 

*' Have you ever seen the grave at the top of Quill's 
Window? " 

*' When I first came here, yes. Nobody ever goes 
up there now. In the first place, she don't like it, and 
in the second place, most people in these parts are hon- 
ourable. We wouldn't any more think of trespassin' 
up there than we'd think of pickin' somebody's pocket. 
Besides which, there's supposed to be rattlesnakes up 
there among the rocks. And besides that, the place is 
haunted." 

"Haunted? I understood it was the old Windom 
house that is haunted." 

" Well, spooks travel about a bit, being restless sort 
of things. Thirty or forty years back, people swore 
that old Quill and the other people who croaked up 
there used to come back during the dark of the moon 
and hold hi^ revels, as the novel writers would say. 
Strange to say, they suddenly stopped coming back 
when the sheriff snook up there one night with a couple 
of deputies and arrested a gang of male and female 
mortids and confiscated a couple of kegs of beer at the 
same time. Shortly after old David Windom confessed 
that he killed Alix's father and buried him on the rock, 
people begin to talk about seeing things again. Funny 
that Eddie Crown's ghost neglected to come back till 
after he'd been dead ei^teen years or so. Ghosts ain't 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 86 

usually so considerate, Nobodj ever claims to have 
seen ilim floating around the old Windom front yard 
before Mr. Windom confessed. But, by gosh, the story 
hadn't been printed in the newspapers for more than 
two days before George Heffner saw Eddie in the front 
yard, plain as day, and ran demed near a mile and a 
half past his own house before he could stop, as he told 
some one that met him whea he stopped for breath. 
Course, that story sort of petered out when George's 
wife went down and cowbided a widow who lived just a 
mile and a half south of their place, and that nig^it 
George kept on running so hard the other way that he's 
never been heard of since. Since then there hasn't been 
much talk about j^osts, — 'specially among the married 
men." 

"And the rattlesnakes P " said Courtney, grinning. 
" Along about 1876 David Windom killed a couple 
of rattlers up there. It's only natural that their 
ghosts should come hack, same as anybody else's. Far 
as I can make out, nobody has ever actually seen one, 
but the Lord only knows how many people claim to 
have heard 'em." 

He went on in this whimsical fashion for half an hour 
or more, and finally came back to Alix Crown again. 

** She did an awful lot of good during the war, — 
contributed to everything, drove an ambulance in New 
York, took up nursing, and all that, and if the war 
hadn't been ended by you fellers when it was, she'd have 
been over in France, sure as you're a foot hi^." 

" Strange she hasn't married, young and rich and 
beautiful as she is," mused Courtney. 

" Plenty of fellers been after her all ri^t. She don't 
seem to be aUe to see 'em though. Now that the war's 

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8« QUILL'S WINDOW 

over maybe she'll settle down and pay some attention 
to sufferin* humanity. There's one thin^ sure. If 
she's got a beau he don't belong around these parts. 
Nobody around here's got a look-in." 

" Does she live alt alone in that house up there? I 
mean, has she no — er — chaperon ? " 

" Nancy Strong is keeping hpuse for her, — ^her hus- 
band used to run the blacksmith shop here and did all 
of David Windom's work for him. He's been dead a 
good many years. Nancy is one of the finest women 
you ever saw. Her father was an Episcopal minister 
up in the city up to the time he died. Nancy had to 
earn her own living, so she got a job as school teacher 
down here. Let's see, that waa over thirty years ago. 
Been here ever since. Tom Strong wasn't good enough 
for her. Too religious. He was the feller that led 
the mob that wiped out Tony Zimmerman's saloon soon 
after I came here. I'll never forget that night. I hap- 
pened to be in the saloon, — ^just out of curiosity, be- 
cause it was new and everybody was dropping in to see 
the bar and fixtures he'd got from Chicago,— but I got 
out of a back window in plenty of time. But as I was 
saying, Nancy Strong keeps house for Alii. She's got 
a cook and a second girl besides, and a chauffeur." 

" An ideal arrangement," said Courtney, looking at 
his wrist- watch. 

" I wonder if you ever came across Nancy Strong's 
son over in France. He was in the Medical Corps in 
our Army. He's a doctor. Went to Rush Medical 
College in Chicago and afterwards to some place in 
the East, — John Hopkins or some such name as that. 
Feller about your age, I should say. David Strong. 
Mr, Windom sent him through college. They say he's 



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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 87 

paying the money back to Alix Crown as fast as he 
makes it. Alix hates him worge'n poison, according to 
Jim Baglej, her foreman. Of course, she don't let on 
to David's mother on account of her being housekeeper 
and all. Seems that Alix is as sore as can be because 
he insists on paying the money to her, when she claims 
her grandpa gave it to Inn and it's none of her business. 
Davy says he promised to pay Mr. Windom back as 
soon as be was able, and can't see any reason why the 
old man's death should cancel the obligation. Jim was 
telling me some time ago about the letter Alix showed 
him from Davy. She was so mad she actually cried. 
He said in so many words he didn't choose to be be- 
holden to her, and that he was in the habit of paying 
his debts, and she needn't be so high and mighty about 
refusin' to accept the money. He said he didn't accept 
anything from Mr. Windom as charity, — claiming it 
was a loan, — and he'd be damned if he'd accept charity 
from her, I don't believe he swore like that, but then 
Jim can't say good morning to you without getting in 
a cuss word or two. Alix is as stubborn as all get out. 
Jim says that every time she gets a cheque from Davy 
she cashes it and hands the money over to Mrs. Strong 
for a present, never letting on to Nancy that it came 
from Davy. Did I say that Davy is practisin' in Phila- 
delphia? He was hack here for a week to see his 
mother after he got out of the Army, but when AUx 
heard he was coming she beat it up to Chicago. I 
thought maybe you mij^t have run across him over in 
France." 

" I was not with the American Army, — and besides 
there were several million men in France, Charlie," said 
Courtney^ arising and stretching himself. " Well, good 

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88 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Bi^t. Thanks for the uplift. 111 skip along now and 
write a letter or two." 

*' Snappj dreams," said Charlie Webster. 

Just as Courtney was closing a long letter to bis 
mother, the automobile drew up in front of the Tavern 
and Alix Crown's guests got out. There were " good- 
ni^ts " and ** sleep-tights " ^d then the car went 
purring down the dimly lighted road. He bad no 
trouble in distinguishing Alix's clear, young voice, and 
thereupon added the following words of comfort to his 
faraway mother: " You will love her voice, mater dear. 
It's like music. So put away your prejudice and wish 
me luck. I've made a good start. The fact that she 
refused to look at me on the porch tonight is the best 
sign in the world. Just because she deliberately failed 
to notice me is no sign that she didn't expect me to 
notice her. It is an ancient and time-honoured trick 
of your adorable sex." 

ni 

The nest morning his walk took him up the lane past 
the charming, red-brick bouse of Alix the Third. His 
leg was troubling him. He walked with quite a pro- 
nounced limp, and there were times when Hs face winced 
with pain. 

** It's that confounded poison you gave me last 
night," he announced to Charlie Webster as they stood 
chatting in front of the warehouse ofSce. 

" First time I ever heard of booze going to the knee," 
was Charlie's laconic rejoinder. " It's generally aimed 
at the head," 

He made good use of the comer of his eye as he 
strolled leisurely past the Windom house, set well back 



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CHABXIE WEBSTEK ENTERTAINS 89 

at the top of a small tree-surrounded knoll and looking 
down upon the ^assy slope that formed the most beati- 
tifiil *' front yard " in the whole county, according to 
the proud and boastful denizens of Windomville. Along 
the bottom of the lawn ran a neatly trimmed privet 
hedge. There were lilac bushes in the lower comers of 
the extensive grounds, and the wide gravel walk up to 
the house was lined with flowers. Rose bushes guarded 
the base of the terrace that ran the full length of the 
bouse and curved off to the back of it. 

A red and yellow beach umbrdla, tilted against the 
hot morning sun, lent a gay note of colour to the ter- 
race to the left of the steps. Some one, — a woman, — 
sat beneath the big sunshade, reading a newspaper, 
A Belgian police dog posed at the top of the steps, as 
rigid as if shaped of stone, regarding the passer-by who 
limped. Halfway between the house and the road 
stood two fine old oaks, one at either side of the lawn. 
Their cool, alluring shadows were like clouds upon an 
emerald sea. Down near the hedge a whirling garden 
spray cast its benevolent waten over the grateful turf, 
and, reaching out in playful gosts, blew its mist into the 
face of the man outside. Back of the house and farther 
up the timbered slope rose a towering windmOl and 
below it the red water tank, partially screened by the 
tree-tops. The rhythmic beat of a hydraulic pump 
came to the stroller's ears. 

Courtney's saunterings had taken him past this 
charming place before, — half a dozen times perhaps, — 
but never had it seemed so alluring. Outwardly there 
was no change that he could detect, and yet there was 
a subtle difference in its every aspect. The spray, the 
shadows, the lazy windmill, the flowers, — he had seen 



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90 QUILL'S WINDOW 

them all before, just as tbej vere this morning. They 
bad not changed. But now, bj some strange wizardry, 
the tranquil setting bad been transformed into a vi- 
brant, exquisite fairyland, throbbing with life, charged 
with an appeal to every one of the senses. It was as if 
some hand had shaken it out of a sound sleep. 

But, for that matter, the whole village of Windom- 
ville had undergone a change. It was no longer the dull, 
sleepy place of yesterday. Over night it had blos- 
somed. Courtney Thane alone was aware of this amaz- 
ing transformation. It was he who felt the thrill that 
charged the air, who breathed in the sense-quickening 
spice, who beard the pipes of Pan. All these signs of 
enchantment were denied the matter-of-fact, unimagi- 
native inhabitants of Windomville. And you would ask 
the cause of this amazing transformation? 

Before he left the breakfast table Courtney had con- 
sented to give a talk before the Literary Society on the 
coming Friday night. Mrs. Maude Baggs PoUock had 
been at him for a week to tell of his experiences at the 
front. She promised a full attendance. 

" I've never made a speech in my life," he said, " and 
I know I'd be scared stiff, Mrs. Pollock." 

" Pooh ! Don't you talk to me about being scared ! 
Anybody who did the things you did over in France — " 

" Ab, but you forget I was armed to the teeth," be 
reminded her, with a grin. 

" Well," put in Charlie Webster, " we'll promise to 
leave our pistols at home. The only danger you'll be 
in. Court, will come from a lot of hysterical women 
trying to kiss you, but I think I can fix it to have the 
best lookin' ones up in front so that — " 

" I wish you wouldn't always try to be funny, Charlie 

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CHARLIE WEBSTER ENTERTAINS 91 

Webster," snapped Mrs. Pollock. " Mr. Thane and I 
vere discussing a serious matter. If jou can post- 
pone — " 

" I defj anjbod; to prove that there's anything 
funny ahout being kissed bj practically half the grown- 
up population of Windomville with the other Half 
lookin* on and cusbid* u^der their breath." 

" Don't pay any attention to him, Mr. Thane," said 
the poetess of Windomville. " Alix Crown said last 
night she was coming to the meeting this week, and I'd 
so like to surprise her. Now please say you will do it." 

** I really wouldn't know what to talk about," pleaded 
the young man. " You see, as a rule, we fellows who 
were over there don't feel half as well qualified to talk 
about the war as those who stayed at home and read 
about it in the papers." 

*' Nonsense ! AH you will have to do is just to tell 
some of your own personal experiences. Nobody's 
going to think you are brag^ng about them. Well 
understand." f 

" Next Friday night, you sayp Well, III try, Mrs. 
Pollock, if you'll promise to chloroform Charlie Web- 
ster," said he, and Charlie promptly declared he would 
do the chloroforming himself. 



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CHAPTER VII 

COUKTHBT APPKASS m PUBLIC 

THE meetings of the Literary Society were held 
once a month in the Windomville schooUiouse, 
a two story brick building situated some dis- 
tance back from the main street at the upper edge of 
the town. There were four classrooms and three teach- 
ers, including the principal, Miss Angie Miller, who 
taught the upper grade. Graduates from her " room " 
were given diplomas admitting them to the first year 
of High School in the city bard-by in case they desired 
to take advantage of the privilege. As a rule, how- 
ever, the parents of such children were satisfied to call 
it an honour rather than a privilege, with the result 
that but few of them ever saw the inside of the High 
School. They were looked upon as being quite suffi- 
ciently educated for all that Windomville could pos- 
sibly expect or exact of them. When the old school- 
house was destroyed by fire in the winter of 1916, Alix 
Crown contributed fifteen thousand dollars toward ttie 
construction of this new and more or less modem 
structure, with the provision that the town board should 
appropriate the balance needed to complete the build- 
ing. On completion the schoolhouse was found to have 
cost exactly $14,989.75, and so, at the next township 
election, the board was unanimously returned to office 
by an appreciative constituency, and Miss Crown gra- 
ciously notified by the assessor that she had been cred- 



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COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 93 

ited with ten doUars and twentj-five centa against her 
next year's road tax. 

The Literary Society always met in Miss Miller's 
" room," not because it wa« more imposing or commo- 
dious than any o( the others but on account of its 
somewhat rarified intellectual atmosphere. Miss Angle's 
literary attainments, while confined to absorption 
rather than to production, were well known. She was 
supposed to have read all of the major poets. At any 
rate she was able to quote them. Besides, she had made 
a study of Dickens and Thackeray and Trollope, being 
qualified to discuss the astonishing shortcomings of 
those amiable mid- Victorians in a most dependable man- 
ner. She made extensive use of the word " erudite," 
and confused b great many people by employing *' vi- 
carious " and " didactic " and " Teuton d'etre " in the 
course of ordinary conversation. For example, in com- 
plaining to Mr. Hodges, the school trustee, about the 
lack of heat in mid-January, she completely subdued him 
be remarking that there wasn't " the least raiaon d'etre 
for such a condition." In view of these and other in- 
tellectual associations. Miss Miller's " room " was ob- 
viously the place for the Literary Society to meet. 

Mr. George Ade, Mr. Booth Tarkington, Mr. James 
Whitcomb Riley, Mr, Meredith Nicholson and other 
noted Indiana authors had been invited to " read from 
their works " before the Society, and while none of them 
had been able to accept, each and every one had written 
a polite note of regret to the secretary, who not only 
read them aloud to the Society but preserved them in 
her own private scrap book and spoke feelingly of her 
remarkable " collection." 

The room was crowded to hear the " celebrated air- 



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94 QUILL'S WINDOW 

man " relate hU experiences at the front. The exer- 
cises were delayed for nearly an hour while Mr, Hatch, 
the photo^apher, prepared and foozled three attempts 
to get a flashlight picture of the gathering. Everybody 
was coughing violently when A. Lincoln Pollock arose 
to introduce the speaker of the evening. In conclusion 
he said: 

" Mr. Thane was not only wounded in the service of 
humanity but he was also gassed. I wish to state here 
and now that it was not laughing gas the Germans ad- 
ministered. Far from It, my friends, Mr. Thane will 
tell you that it was no laughing matter. He has come 
to God's own country to recuperate and to regain his 
once robust health. After looking the world over, lie 
chose the health-giving climate of his native state,^ 
ahem! I should say, his father's native state, — and 
here he is not only thriving but enjoying himself. I 
take it upon myself to announce that he left all of his 
medals at his home in New York. They are too 
precious to be carried promiscuously about the coun- 
try. It is my pleasure, ladies and gentlemen, to intro- 
duce to you one of the real heroes of the Great War, 
Mr. Courtney Thane, of New York City, who will now 
speak to you." 

Alii Crown sat at the back of the room. There were 
no chairs, of course. Each person present occupied 
a scholar's seat and desk, Courtney had seen her come 
in. She was so late that he began to fear she was not 
coming at all. The little thrill of exultation that came 
irith her arrival was shortly succeeded by an even 
greater fear that she would depart as soon as the meet- 
ing was over, without stopping to meet him at the " re- 
, ception " which was to follow. 



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COCBTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 96 

In his most agreeable drawl and with the barest ref- 
erence to his own exploits, he described, quite simp];, a 
number of incidents that had come under his personal 
observation while with the American Ambulance and 
afterwards in the British Plying Corps. Most of his 
talk was devoted to the feats of others and to the de- 
scription of scenes and events somewhat remote from 
the actual fij^ting zone. He confessed that he knew 
practically nothing of the work of the American Expe- 
ditionary Force, except by hearsay, as he did not come 
in contact with the American armies, except an occa- 
sional unit brigaded with British troops in the Cambrai 
section of the great line. His listeners, no doubt, knew 
a great deal more about the activities and achievements 
of the Americans than he, so he was quite sure there 
was nothing he could say that would interest or en- 
lighten them. In concluding he very briefly touched 
upon his own mishap. 

" We were returning from a bombing flight over the 
German positions when somebody put a bullet into our 
petrol and down we came in flames. There was a gas 
attack going on at the time. We managed to land in 
a cloud of it, and — somehow we got back to our own 
lines, a little the worse for wear and all that sort of 
thing, you know. It wasn't as bad as you'd think, — 
except for the gas, which isn't what you would call 
palatable, — and I came out not much worse off than 
a chap who has been through a hard football scrim- 
mage. Knee and ankle bunged up a little, — and a dusty 
uniform, — that's about all. I hope you will excuse 
me from talking any longer. My silly throat goes 
back on me, you see. My mother probably would tell 
you, * too many cigarettes.* Perhaps she is right. 



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96 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Thank you for listening to all this rot, ladies and gen- 
tlemen. You are very kind to have given me this un- 
deserved honour." 

Not once during his remarks did he allov his gaze 
to rest upon Aliz Crown. It was his means of inform- 
ing her that she had not made the slightest impression 
upon him. 

As he resumed his seat beside Mr. Pollock, and while 
the generous hand-clapping was still going on, Pastor 
Mavit J arose and benignly waited for the applause to 
cease. Mr. Mavity invariably claimed the ecclesiastical 
privilege of speech. No meeting was complete, no topic 
exhausted, until he had exercised that right. It did 
not matter whether he had anything pertinent to say, 
the fact still remained that be felt called upon to say 
something: 

" I should like to ask Mr. Thane if he thinks the Ger- 
mans are preparing for another war. We have heard 
rumours to that effect. Many of our keenest observers 
have declared that it is only a matter of a few years 
before the Germans will be in a position to make war 
again, and that they will make it with even greater 
ferocity than before. We alt know of the conflict now 
raging in Russia, and the amazing rebellion of De 
Annunsio in Fiume, and the— er — as I was saying, the 
possibility of the Kaiser seizing his bloody throne and 
calling upon his minions to^ah — er— renew the gigan- 
tic struggle. The history of the world records no such 
stupendous sacrifice of life on the cruel altars of greed 
and avarice and — ei^— ambition. We may turn back 
tb the vast campaigns of Hannibal and Hatnilcar and 
Julius Caesar and find no— er — no war comparable to 
the one we have so ^oriously concluded. Our own 



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COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 07 

Civil War, with all its, — but I must not keep you stand- 
ing, Mr. Thane. Do you, from your experience and 
observation, regard another war as inevitable? " 

" I do," was Courtney's succinct reply. 

There was a distinctly audible fintter throughout the 
room. Here, at last, was something definite to sup- 
port the general contention that " we aren't through 
with the Germans yet.** A lady up in front leaned 
across the aisle and whispered piercingly to her hus- 
band: 

" There ! What did I teU you? " 

Another lady arose halfway from her seat and anx- 
iously inquired: 

" How soon do you think it will come, Mr. Thane? " 

She had a son just turning serenteen. 

" That is a question I am afraid you will have to 
put to God or the German Emperor," said Courtney, 
with a smile. 

" When David Strong was home this spring I asked 
him what he thought about it,** said Editor Pollock. 
" I published the interview in the Sun. He was of 
the opinion that the Germans had had all they wanted 
of war. I tried to convince him that he was all wrong, 
but all I could get him to say was that if they ever 
did make war again it would be long after the most of 
MB were dead.'* 

" David Strong didn't see anything of the war ex- 
cept what he saw in the hospitals," said a woman con- 
temptuously. 

" Permit me to correct you, Mrs. Primmer,'* said 
Alix Crown, without arising. *' David Strong was un- 
der 6re most of the time. He was not in a base hos- 
pital. He was attached to a field hospital,— first with 



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M QUILL'S WINDOW 

the FreBch, then irith the British, and afterwarilg with 
the Americans." 

*' In that case," said Courtney, facing her, " he was 
in the thick of it. Every man in the army, from general 
down to the humhlest private, takes his hat off to the 
men who served in the lield hospitab. While we may 
differ as to the next war, I do not hesitate to say that 
Dr. Strong saw infinitely more of the last one than I 
did. It may sound incredihle to you, ladies and gentle- 
men, but my job was a picnic compared to his. As a 
matter of fact, I have always claimed that I was in 
greater danger when I was in the American Ambulance 
than when I was ifiying, quite safely, a couple of miles 
up in the air. At any rate, I felt safer." 

" Oh, but think of falling that distance," cried Miss 
Angie Miller. 

*' It was against the rules to think of falling," said 
he, and every one lau^ked. 

The " reception " followed. Every one came up and 
shook hands with Courtney and told him how much his 
address was enjoyed. As the group around him grew 
thicker and at the same time more reluctant to move 
on, he began to despair of meeting Aliz Crown. He 
could see her over near the door conversing with Alaska 
Spigg and Charlie Webster. Then he saw her wave 
her hand in farewell to some one across the room and, 
ix>w to Charlie. There was a bright, gay smile on her 
lips as she said something to Charlie which caused that 
gentleman to laugh prodigiously. AD hope seemed lost 
as she and little old Alaska turned toward the open 
door. 

It was not fate that intervened. It was Pastor 



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COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 99 

Mavlty. Disengaging himself from the group and leav- 
ing a profound sentence uncompleted, he dashed over to 
her, calling out her name as he did so. 

** Alix ! Just a moment, please ! " 

She paused, — and Courtney discreetly turned his 
back. Presently a benevolent hand was laid on his 
shoulder and the voice of the shepherd fell upon his 
ear. 

" I want you to meet Miss Crown, Mr. Thane. She 
has just been telling me how interested she was in your 
remarks. Miss Crown, my very dear friend, Mr. Court- 
ney Thane. Mr. Thane, as you may already know, Is 
sojourning in our midst for — " 

" I am delighted to meet you, Miss Crown," broke in 
Courtney, witii an abashed smile. " Formally, I mean. 
I have a very distinct recollection of meeting you in- 
formally," he added wrilj. 

" Dear me ! " exclaimed Mr. Mavity, elevating his 
eyebrows. 

Courtney's humility disarmed her. She allowed her 
lips to curve slightly in a faint smile. The merest 
trace of a dimple flickered for an instant in her smooth 
cheek. 

** I suppose it was the old story of forbidden fruit, 
Mr. Thane," said she. Then, impulsively, she extended 
her hand. He clasped it firmly, and there was peace 
between them. 

"On the contrary. Miss Crown, it was an unpardon- 
able piece of impudence, for which I am so heartily 
ashamed that I wonder how I can look you in the face." 

" I was tremendously interested in your talk to- 
night," she said, coolly dismissing the subject. " Thank 



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100 QUILL'S WINDOW 

you for giting us the pleasure. It is just such adveu- 
tures as you have had that makes me wish more than 
ever that I had not been born a girl." 

He bowed gallantly. '* What would the vorld be 
like if God had neglected to create the rose? " 

" Bravo ! " cried Mr. Mavity, slapping him on the 
back. *' Spoken like a knight of old." 

" Good night, Mr. Thane, — and thank you again," 
she said. Nodding to Mr. Mavity, she turned to leave 
the group. 

Again the parson intervened. ** My dear Alix, I can't 
let you go without saying a word about your splendid 
defence of David Strong. It was fine. And you, sir, 
were — ah — what shall I say? — you were most generous 
in saying what you did. David is a fine fellow. He — " 

" I should have said the same about any doctor who 
was up at the front,'* said Courtney simply. " Is he 
an old friend, Miss Crown?" 

" I have known him ever since I can remember," she 
replied, and he detected a slight stiffness in her manner. 

" Ahem ! Er — ah — " began Mr. Mavity tactfully. 
*' David was bom here, -Mr. Thane. Well, good night, 
Alix, — ^good night." 

When she was quite out of hearing, the flustered 
parson lowered his voice and said to Courtney: 

*' They — er — don't get along very well, you see. I 
couldn't explain while she was here. Something to do 
with money matters, — nothing of consequence, I assure 
you, — ^but very distressing, most distressing. It is too 
bad, — too bad." 

Mrs. Pollock overheard. " They're both terribly 
set in their ways," she remarked. " Stubborn as mules. 
For my part, I think Alix is too silly for words about 



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COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 101 

it. Especially with hia mother living in the same house 
with her. Now, mind you, I'm not saying anything 
against Aliz. I love her. But just the same, she can 
be the most unreasonable — " 

" They haven't spoken to each other for over three 
years," inserted Angie Miller. " When they were chil- 
dren they were almost inseparable. David Windom 
took a fancy to little David. The story is that 
he was trying to ease his conscience by being nice to 
a blacksmith's sod. You see, his own daughter ran 
away with a blacksmith's son, — and you've heard what 
happened, Mr. Thane. David was in my chtss for two 
years before he went up to High School, and I remem- 
ber he always used to get long letters from Alix when 
she was in England. Then, when she came home, — 
she was about twelve I think, — they were great friends. 
Always together, playing, studying, reading, riding 
and — " 

" Everybody used to say old David Windom was 
doing his best to make a match of it," interrupted Mrs. 
Pollock, who had been out of the conversation longer 
than she liked. " Up to the time the old man died, 
we used to take it for granted that some day they 
Would get married, — but, my goodness, it's like waving 
a red flag at a bull to even mention his name to Alix 
BOW. She hates him, — and I guess he hates her." 

" Oh, my dear friend," cried Mr. Mavity, " I really 
don't think you ought to say that. Hate is a very 
dreadful word. I am sure Alix is incapable of actually 
hating any one. And as for David, he is kindness, gen- 
tleness itself. It is just one of those unfortunate situa- 
tions that cannot be accounted for." 

Charlie Webster came up at that juncture. 



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102 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** Saj, Court, why didn't jou tell 'em about the time 
you called Colonel What's-HiB-Name down,— the 
French guy that — " TTie scowl on Courtney's brow 
silenced the genial Charlie. He coughed and sputtered 
for a moment or two and then said something about 
'* taking a joke." 

As Charlie moved awaj, Misa An^e Miller sniffed 
and said, without appreciably lowering her voice; 

" I wonder where he gets it. There isn't supposed 
to be a drop in Windomville." Suddenly her eyes flew 
wide open. "Furman! Oh, Funnan Hatch!" she 
called out to a man who was sidling toward the door 
in the wake of the pernicious Mr. Webster. 

While there was nothing to indicate that Mr. Hatch 
heard her, the moat disinterested spectator would have 
observed a perceptible acceleration of speed on bis part. 

" You promised to tell me how to — " But Mr. Hatch 
was gone. Mr. Webster turned a surprised and resent- 
ful look upon him as he felt himself being pushed rather 
roughly through the door ahead of the hurrying pho- 
tographer. When Miss Angie reached the door, — she 
had lost some little time because of the seats and the 
stupidity of Mrs. Primmer who blocked the way by 
first turning to the ri^ht, then to the left, and finally 
by not turning at all, — Mr. Hatch was nowhere in sight, 
even though Mr. Webster was barely two-thirds of the 
way down the stairs. 

A pleasant, courteous voice accosted her from be- 
hind as she stood glaring after the chubby warehouse- 
man. 

" Do you mind if I walk home with you, Miss 
Miller? " 

"Oh, is — is that you, Mr. Thane?" she fairly 



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COURTNEY APPEARS IN PUBLIC 103 

gasped. Then she simpered. " I'm reallj not a b!t 
afraid. Still," — hastily^ — " if you really wiflh to, I 
should be delighted." 

If Mr. Hatch was luriung aDjwhere in the shadows, 
he must have been profoundly impressed by the trans- 
formation in Miss Angie Miller as she strode home- 
ward at the side of the tall young New Yorker, her 
hand on his arm, her head held high, — ^he might also 
have noticed that she stepped a littte higher than usuaL 



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CHAPTER Vm 

ALEE THE THIBD 

OCTOBER came, with its red and golden trees, 
its brown pastures, its crisp nights and its 
hazy, smoky dajs. Fires were kindled in 
old-fashioned fireplaces; out in the farmyards busy 
housewives were making soap and apple butter in great 
iron kettles suspended over blazing logs ; wagons laden 
with wheat and com rumbled through country roads 
and up to the Windom elevator ; stores were thriving 
under the spur of new-found money; the school was 
open, Main Street childless for hours at a time, — and 
Courtney Thane was still in WindomviUe. 

He wa« a frequent, almost constant visitor at the 
red-brick house on the knoll. The gossips were busy. 
Sage winks were exchanged when Alix and he were 
seen together in her automobile; many a head was low- 
ered so that its owner might peer quizzically over the 
upper rims of spectacles as they strolled past the post- 
olSce and other public porches; convicting feminine 
smiles pursued the young man up the lane leading to 
Alix's home. There were some doubtful head-shakings, 
but in the main AVindomviUe was rather well pleased 
with the prospect. Opinion, though divided, was almost 
unanimous : few there were who held that " nothin' 
would come of it." 

Cbarlie Webster was one of the latter. His early 
intimacy with the ex-aviator had suffered a decided 



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ALIX THE THIRD 106 

slump. His jovial attempts to plague the joung man 
about his intentions met with the frostiest reception. 
Indeed, on one memorable occasion, the object of these 
good-natured banterings turned upon him coldly and 
said: 

" See here, Webster, you're getting to be consid- 
erable of a nuisance. Cut it out, will youF You are 
not half as funny as yoo think you are. I'm pretty 
well fed up with your freshness — understand? " 

It was a slap in the face that Charlie did undei^ 
stand, and one he never forgot. As the rebuke was 
uttered on the porch of Dowd's Tavern and in the pres- 
ence of Flora Grady, Maude Bsggs Pollock and one 
or two others, the sting was likely to endure. 

While Courtney's manner had undergone a decided 
change so far as nearly all of bis fellow-lodgers were 
concerned, be still maintained a very friendly and cour- 
teous attitude toward the Dowd sisters and Mr. and 
Mrs. Pollock. For some reason known only to him- 
self, — (but doubtless plain to the reader of ^s narra- 
tive), — he devoted most of his attention to the editor 
and his wife and to the two spinsters who were such 
close friends of the young lady of his dreams. As for 
the others, he made no attempt to conceal his disdain. 

It was not long before the Irish in Miss Flora Grady 
was aroused. She announced to Miss Angie Miller 
that he was a " stuck up smart-Aleck,'* and sooner or 
later he'd get a piece of her mind that would " take 
him down A couple of pegs." Miss MiUer, while ih 
complete accord with Flora's views, was content to 
speak of him as " supercilious.'* 

Charlie Webster grew more and more thoughtful un- 
der the weight of indignity. 



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100 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" I certainly missed niy guess as to that feller," he 
remarked to Doc Simpson and Hatch one da;. " I had 
him 8i2ed up as a different sort of feller altogether. 
Why, up to a couple of weeks ago, he was as nice as 
pie to all of us,-~'specially to me. He used to come 
over to my office and sit around for hours, chatting and 
smoking cigarettes and joshing like a good feller. But 
IVe got it all figgered out, boys. He was simply 
workin* me. He always led the conversation round to 
Alis Crown, and then, like a dem* fool, I'd let him 
pump me dry. Why, there's nothing he don't know 
about that girl, — and all through me. Now he*B got 
in with her, — just as he wanted to all along, — and what 
does he do but tie a can to me and give me a swift kick. 
And there's another thing I might as well say to you 
fellers while I'm about it. I've been doing a lot of 
thinking lately, — sort of putting things together in 
my mind, — and it's my opinion that he is one of the 
blamedest liars I've ever come across." 

He paused to see the effect of this startling asser- 
tion. Hatch removed the corn-cob pipe from between 
his lips and laconically observed: 

" Well, I know of one lie he's told." 

" You do? " 

•* Remember him telling lis at the supper table one 
night that a German submarine fired three torpedoes 
at the steamer he was coming home on with a lot of 
other sick and wounded? Well, a couple of nights ago 
he forgot himself and made the statement that he was 
in a hospital in England for nearly two m*nths after 
the armistice was signed." 

" By gosh, that's right," cried Doc Simpson. 

" And what's more," went on Hatch, " wasn't he 



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ALIX THE THIRD 107 

1 the British ArmjP What I'd like to know is 
this : why would England be sending her wounded sol- 
diers over to America? You can bet your life Eng- 
land wasn't doing anything like that." 

"There's another thing that don't sound just right 
to me," said Charlie, his brow furrowed. " He says 
one ni^t he got lost driving his ambulance and the 
first thing he knew he was away behind the German 
lines. I may be wrong, but I've always thought both 
sides had trenches. What puzzles me is how the dickens 
he managed to drive that Ford of his over the German 
trenches without noticin* 'em, — and back again 
besides." 

" Well," said Doc, desiring to be fair, " it seems to be 
the habit of soldiers to lie a little. That's where we 
get the saying, *he lied like a trooper.* I know my 
Uncle George hed so much about what he did in the 
Civil War that he ought to have had twenty pensions 
instead of one. Still, there's a big change in Court, as 
you say, Charlie. I wonder if Alix is really keen about 
him. He's up there all the time, seems to me. Or is she 
just stringin' himP " 

Charlie frowned darkly. " He's a slick one. I — I'd 
hate to see Alix fall for him." 

The sententious Mr. Hatch : " The smartest women 
in the world lose their heads over a feller as soon as 
they find out he's in poor health." 

" He's in perfect health," exploded Charlie. 

" I know, — ^but that don't prevent him from cough- 
ing and holding his side and walking with a cane, does 
it? That's what gets *em, Charlie. The quickest way 
to get a girl interested is to let her think you're in need 
of sympathy.** 



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108 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" It don't work when you're as fat as I am,*' Boid 
Charlie glommly. 

Conscious or unconscious of the varying opinions 
that were being voiced behind his back, Courtney went 
confidently ahead with his wooing. He congratulated 
himself that he was in Alix's good graces. If at times 
she was perpleiingly cool, — or " upstage," as he called 
it, — he flattered himsdf that he knew women too well to 
be discouraged by these purely feminine manifestations. 

This wag a game he knew how to play. The time 
was not yet ripe for him to abandon his well-calculated 
air of indifference. That he was desperately in love 
with her goes without saying. If at the outset of his 
campaign he was inspired by the unworthy motive of 
greed, he was now consumed by an entirely different 
desire, — the desire to have her for his own, even though 
she were penniless. 

Those whirlwind tactics that had swept many an- 
other girl off her feet were not to be thought of here. 
Alix was different. She was not an impressionable, 
hair-brained flapper, such as he had come in contact 
with in past experiences. Despite her sprightly, thor- 
oughly up-to-the-moment ease of manner, and an air 
of complete sophistication, she was singularly old-fash- 
ioned in a great many respects. While she was bright, 
amusing, gay, there was back of it all a certain reserve 
that forbade familiarity, — sufficient, indeed, to inspire 
unexampled caution on his part. She invited friend- 
ship but not familiarity; she demanded respect rather 
than admiration. 

He was not slow in arriving at the conclusion that 
she knew men. She knew how to fence with them. He 
was distinctly aware of this. Other men, of course^ 



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ALIX THE THIRD 109 

had been in love with her; other men no doubt had 
dashed their hopes upon the barrier in their haste to 
seize the treasure. It was inconceivable that one so 
lovelj, so desirable, so utterlj feminine should fail to 
inspire in all men that which she inspired in him. The 
obvious, therefore, was ^atifjing. Granted that she 
had hod proposals, here was the proof that the poor 
fools who laid their hearts at her feet had gone about 
it clumsily. Such would not be the case with him. 
Oh no! He would bide his time, he would watch for the 
first break in her enchanted armour,^ — and then the con- 
quest! 

There were times, of course, when he came near 
to catastrophe, — times when he was almost powerless 
to resist the passion that possessed him. These were 
the times when he realized how easy it would have been 
to join that sad company of fools in the path behind 
her. 

He had no real misjpvings. He felt confident of 
winning. True, her moods puzzled him at times, hat 
were they not, after all, omens of good fortune? Were 
they not indications of the mysterious changes that 
were taking place in her? And the way was clear. So 
far as he knew, there was no other man. Her heart 
was free. What more could he ask? 

On her side, the situation was not so complex. He 
came from the great outside world, he brought the out- 
side world to the lonely little village on the bank of the 
river. He was bright, amusing, cultivated, — at least 
he represented cultivation as it exists in open places 
and on the surface of a sea called civilization. He pos- 
sessed that ineffable quality known as " manner." The 
spice of the Metropolis clung to him. He could talk 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



110 QUILL'S WINDOW 

of the things she loved, — not as she loved the fonu and 
village and the home of her fathers, but of the things 
abe loved because the; stood for that which represented 
the beautiful in intellect, in genius, in accomplishment. 
The breath of far lands and wide seas came with him 
to the town of Windomville, grateful and soothing, and 
yet laden with the tang of turmoil, the spice of iniquity. 

Alix was no Puritan. She had been out in the world, 
she had come up agaiast the elemental in life, she had 
learned that God in His wisdom had peopled the earth 
with saints and sinners, — and she was tolerant of both! 
In a word, she was broad-minded. She had been an 
observer rather than a participant in the passing show. 
She had absorbed knowledge rather than experience. 

The conventions remained unshaken so far as she 
was personally concerned. In others she excused much 
that she could not have excused in herself, — for the 
heritage of righteousness had come down to her through 
a long line of staunch upholders. 

She loved life. She craved companionship. She 
could afford to gratify her desires. Week-ends found 
two or more guests at her home, — friends from the city 
up the river. Sometimes there were visitors from Chi- 
cago, Indianapolis and other places, — girls she had met 
■ at schoel, or in her travels, or in the canteen. Early 
in the war her house was headquarters for the local Red 
Cross workers, the knitters, the bandage rollers, and 
80 on, but after the entry of the United States into the 
conflict, most of her time was spent away from Win- 
domville in the more intense activities delegated to 
women. 

She attended the theatre when anything worth while 
came to the city, frequently taking one or two of the 



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ALIX THE THIRD 111 

Tillage people with her. Once, as she was leaving the 
theatre, she heard herself discussed b; persons in the 
aisle behind. 

" That's Alix Crown. Ill tell yoo all about her when 
we get home. Her father and mother were murdered 
jears ago and buried in a well or something. I wish 
she'd turn around so that ;ou could get a good look 
at her face. She's quite pretty and — " 

And she had deliberately turned to face the speaker, 
who never forgot the cold, unwaTering stare that caused 
her to lower her own eyes and her voice to trail off 
into a confused mumble. 

Alix was a long time in recovering from the distress 
caused by the incident. She avoided the city for weeks. 
It was her Urst intimation that she was an object of 
unusual interest to people, that she was the subject of 
whispered comment, that she was a " character " to be 
pointed out to strangers. Even now, with the sting 
of injury and injustice eased by time and her own 
good sense, there still remained the disturbing con- 
scioQsness that she was, — for ^ant of a milder term, — 
a " marked woman." 

She was thoroughly acquainted with every detail 
connected with the extensive farms and industries that 
had been handed down to her. A great deal of her 
time was devoted to an intelligent and comprehensive 
interest in the management of the farms. She was 
never out of touch with conditions. Her tenants re* 
spected and admired her; her foremen and superintend- 
ents consulted with her as they would not have believed 
it possible to consult with a woman; her bankers de* 
ferred to her. 

She would have laughed at you if you had suggested 



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1X3 QUILL'S WINDOW 

to her that she bad more than a grain of business- 
sense, or ability, or capacity, and yet she was singularly 
far-sighted and capable, — without being in the least 
aware of it. Her pleasures were not allowed to inter- 
fere with her obligations as a landlord, a citizen and a 
taxpayer. A certain part of each day was set aside 
for the business of the farms. She repaired bri^t and 
early to the little office at the back of the house where 
her grandfather had worked before her, and there she 
struggled over accounts, reports, claims, — and her 
cheque-book. And like her grim, silent grandsire, she 
*• rode " the lanes that twined through field and tim- 
ber, — only she rode gaily, blithely, with sunshine in 
her heart. The darkness was always behind her, never 
ahead. 

Courtney undoubtedly had overcome the prejudice 
his visit to Qnill's Window had inspired in her. They 
never spoke of that first encounter. It was as a closed 
book between them. He had forgotten the incident. 
At any rate, he had put it out of his mind. He some- 
times wondered, however, if she would ever invite him 
to accompany her to the top of that forbidden hill. 
In their rambles they had passed the closed gate on 
more than one occasion. The words, " No Trespass," 
still met the eye. Some day he would suggest an adven- 
ture: the descent to the cave in quest of treasure I The 
two of them ! Rope ladder and all I It would be great 
fun! 

He was assiduous in his efforts to amuse her house 
guests. He laid himself out to be entertaining. If he 
resented the presence of young men from the city, he 
managed to conceal his feelings remarkably well. On 
one point he was firm: he would not accompany her on 



DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



ALIX THE THIRD 118 

any of her trips to the city. Once she had invited him 
to motor in with her to a tea, and another time she 
offered to drive him about the city and out to the col- 
lege on a si^t-seeiog tour. It was then that he said 
he was determined to obey " doctor's orders." No city 
streets for him! Even the couldn't entice him! He 
loved every inch of this charming, restful spot, — every 
tree and every stone, — and he would not leave it until 
the time came for him to go away forever. 

He was very well satisfied with the fruits of this ap- 
parently ungracious refusaL She went to the city 
less frequently than before, and only when it was neces- 
sary. This, he decided, was significant. It could have 
but one meaning. 

Her dog, Sergeant, did not like him. 



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CHAPTER IX 

A laS-OCTOBXB DAT 

ONE chilly, rainy afternoon in mid-October 
Courtney appeared at the house on the kttoU 
half an hour earlier than was his custom. Alix 
was expecting friends down from the city for tea. From 
the hall where he was removing his raincoat he had a fair 
vie* through an open door of the north end of the long 
living-room. Logs were blazing merrily in the fireplace. 
Alix was standing before the fire, tearing a sheet of 
paper into small pieces. She was angry. She threw 
rather than dropped the bits of paper into the flames, — 
unmistakably she Was furious. He waited a moment be- 
fore entering the room. Her bacic was toward him. 
She turned in response to his discreet cooj^. Even 
in the dim light that filtered in from the grey, leaden 
day outside, he could detect the heightened colour in 
her cheeks, and as he advanced he saw that her eyes 
were wet with illy-suppressed tears. She hit her Up 
and forced a smile. 

He possessed the philanderer's tact. There was noth- 
ing in his manner to indicate that he noticed anything 
unusual. He greeted her cheerfully and then, affecting 
a shiver, passed on to spread his hands out over the fire. 

" This is great," he exclaimed, his back to her. He 
was giving her a chance to compose herself. *' Nothing 
like a big log fire to warm the cockles of your heart, — 
although it isn't my heart that needs wanning. More- 



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A MID-OCTOBER DAY 115 

over, I don't know what cockles are. I must look 'em 
up in the dictionary. Come here, Sergeant, — there's 
a good dog! Come over and get warm, old fellow. 
Toast your cockles. By Jove, Miss Crown, ian't he 
ever going to make friends with me?" 

" They are ' one man ' dogs, Mr. Thane," she re- 
plied. " Come, Sergeant, — if you're going to be im- 
polite you must leave the room. Excuse me a momenL 
Sergeant! Do you hear me, sir? Come!" 

The big grey dog followed her slowly, reluctantly, 
from the room. Courtney beard her going up the stairs. 

*' That nasty brute is going to take a bite out of me 
some day," he muttered under his breath. " Fat 
chance I'd have to kiss her with that beast around." 

He heard the closing of an upstairs door. His 
thoughts were still of the police dog. 

" There's one thing sure," he said to himself. " That 
dog and I can't live in the same house." Then his 
thoughts rose swiftly to that upstairs room, — ^he was 
sure it was a dainty, inviting room,— to picture her be- 
fore the mirror erasing all visible evidence of agitation. 
He found himself wondering what it was that caused 
this exhibition of temper. A lettcrP Of course, — a 
letter. A letter that contained something she resented, 
something that infuriated her. A personal matter, not 
a business one. She would not have treated a business 
matter in such a way. He knew her too well for that. 
The leaping fiames gave no hint of what they had de- 
stroyed. Was it an anonymous letter? Had it any- 
thing to do with him? 

His eye fell upon several envelopes on the library 
table. After a moment's hesitation and a quick glance 
toward the door, he strode over to inspect them. They 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



116 QUILL'S WINDOW 

were all unopened; Two were postmarked Chicago, one 
New York; on the others the postmarks were indis- 
tinct. The handwriting was feminine on most of them. 
A narrow, folded slip of paper laj a little detached 
from the letters. He picked it up and quickly opened 
it. It proved to be a check on a Philadelphia bank. A 
glance sufficed to show that it was for two hundred and 
fifty dollars, payable to the order of Alix Crown, and 
signed " D. W. Strong." 

The door upstairs was opened and closed. Replacing 
the bit of paper on the table, he resumed his position 
before the fire. Quite a different Alii entered the room 
a few seconds later. She was smihng, her eyes were 
soft and tranquil. All traces of the passing tempest 
were gone. 

" Sit down, — draw this big chair up to the fire,^ — do. 
It M raw and nasty today, isn't it? I think the Mallons 
are coming out in an open car. Isn't it too bodF " 

" Bad for the carls," he drawled. " Mind if I 
smoke F " 

" Certainly not. Don't you know that by this 
time? " 

He had drawn a choir up beside hers. Her reply 
afforded him a very definite sense of elation. 

" It seems to me that the world is getting to be a 
rather heavenly place to live in," he said, and there was 
a trace of real feeling in his voice. " You don't mind 
my sajang it's entirely due to you, do you? " 

" Not in the least," she said calmly. " Charlie Web- 
ster once paraphrased a time-honoured saying. ' He 
said * In the fall an old man's fancy slightly turns to 
thoughts of comfort.' I sha'n't deprive my fireplace 



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A MID-OCTOBER DAY II7 

and mj big armchair of their just due bj believing a 
word of what you say." 

He tossed the match into the fire, drew in a deep 
breath of smoke, settled himself comfortably in the 
chair before exhaling, and then remarked : 

" But I don't happen to be an old man. I happen 
to be a rather young one, — and a very truthful one 
to boot." 

" Do you always tell the truth? " 

He grinned. . " More or less always," was his reply. 
** I never lie in October." 

** And the other eleven months of the year? " 

*' Oh, I merely change the wording. In July I say 
* I never lie in July,' — and so on throughout the twelve- 
month. I don't slight a single month. By the by, I 
hope I didn't pop in too far ahead of time this after- 
noon. You asked me to come at four. I'm half an 
hour early. Were you occupied with anything — " 

" 1 was not busy. A few letters, — Jbut they can 
wait." He caught the faint shadow of a cloud as it 
flitted across her eyes. " They are all personal, — 
nothing important in any of them, I am sure." 

She shot a quick glance at the folded check and, 
arising abruptly, went over to the table where, with 
apparent unconcern, she ran through the little pile of 
letters. He saw her pick up the check and thrust it 
into the pocket of her sport skirt. Then she returned 
to the iireplace. The cloud was on her brow again 
as she stared darkly into the crackling flames. He 
knew now that it was Strong's letter she had destroyed 
in anger. He would have given much to know what 
the man she despised so heartily had written to her. 



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118 QUUX'S WINDOW 

If he could have seen that brief note he would have 
read: 

Dear Alix: 

I enclose my cbecqne for two-fifty. If all goes well I 
hope to clean up the indebtedness by the first of the year. 
In any case, I am sure it can be accomplished by early 
spring, YoQ may thank the flu for my present prosperity. 
It has been pretty bad here in the East again, although 
not so vimlent as before. Please credit me with the amount 
This leaves me owing yon five hundred dollars. It shonld 
not take long to wipe it out entirely, interest and all. 
Sincerely yoors, 

Datid. 

Courinej eyed her narrowly as she stood for a mo- 
ment looking into the fire before resuming her seat. He 
realized that her thoughts were far away and that they 
were not pleasant. 

" It's queer," he said presently, " that you haye 
never learned to smoke." 

She started slightly at the sound of his voice. As 
she turned to sit down, he went on : 

" Almost every girl I know smokes. I will not gay 
that I like to see it, — especially in restaurants and all 
that sort of thing, — but it's rather jolly if there's a 
nice, cosy fire like this, — see what I mean.^ Sort of 
intimate, and friendly, and — soothing. Don't you want 
to try one now? " 

" Thank you, no. If it weren't so shocking, I think 
I should like to learn how to smoke a pipe, — but I sup- 
pose that isn't to be thought of. Somehow I feel that 
a pipe might be a pal, a good old stand-by, or even a 
relative,- — something to depend upon in all sorts of 

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A MID-OCrOBER DAY 119 

weather, fair and foul. Fve noticed that' the men oa 
the place who smoke pipes appear to be contented and 
joUj and good humoured, — and efficient. Yes, I think 
I should like to smoke a pipe." 

" Would you like me better if I cut out the ciga- 
rettes, and took up the pipe of peace — and content" 
mentp" be inquired thoughtfully. 

" I doubt it," she replied, smiling. ** I can't imagine 
you smoking a pipe." 

** Is that supposed to be flattering or scornful? '* 
" Neither. It is an impression, that's all.*' 
He frowned slightly. " I used to smoke a pipe, — in 
college, you know. Up to my sophomore year. It was 
supposed to indicate maturity. But I don't believe I'd 
have the courage to tackle one now. Miss Crown, Not 
since that little gas experience over there. You see, 
my throat isn't what it was in those good old freshman 
days. Pipe smoke, — you may even say tobacco smoke, 
for heaven only knows what these cigarettes are made 
of, — ^pipe smoke is too strong. My throat ia so con- 
founded sensitive I — well, I'd probably cough my head 
off. That beastly gas made a coward of me, I {ear. 
You've no idea what it does to a fellow's throat and 
lungs. If I live to be a thousand years old, I'll never 
forget the tortures I went throu^ for weeks, — ^yes, 
ages. Every breath was like a knife cutting the very — 
But what a stupid foot I am! Distressing you with 
all these wretched details. Please forgive me." 

She was looking at him wonderingly. ** You are so 
different from the poor fellows I saw in Xew York," 
she said slowly. '* I mean the men who had been gassed 
and shell-shocked. I saw loads of them in the hospitals, 
you know, — and talked with them. I was always tre- 

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120 QUILL'S WINDOW 

mendouB]j affected bj their silence, their moodiness, 
their unwillingneBs to speak of what thcj had been 
througlt. The other men, the ones who had lost legs or 
arms or even their eyes, — ^were as a rule cheerful and 
as chatty as could be, — oh, how my heart used to ache 
for them, — bat the shell-shock men and the men who 
hod been gassed, why, it was impossible to get them to 
talk about themselves. I have seen some of them since 
then. They are apparently well and strong, and yet 
not one word can you get out of them ab<?-jt their suf- 
ferings. You are almost unique* Mr. Tiiane. I am 
glad you feel disposed to talk about it all. It is a good 
sign. It— " 

" I didn't say much about it at first," he interrupted 
hurriedly. " Moreover, Miss Crown," he went on, *' a 
lot of those chaps, — the majority of them, in fact,— « 
worked that dodge for all it was worth. It was a de- 
liberate pose with them. They had to act that way or 
people wouldn't think they'd been hurt at all. BonkT 
most of it." 

" I don't believe that, Mr. Thane, I saw too many 
of them. The ones with whom I came in contact cer^ 
tainly were not trying to deceive anybody. They were 
in a pitiable condition, every last one of them, — piti- 
able." 

" I do not say that all of them were shamming, — but 
I am convinced that a great many of them were." 

*' The doctors report that the shell-shock cases — ** 

" Ah, the doctors ! " he broke in, shrugging his shoul- 
ders. *' They were all jolly good fellows. All you had 
to do was to even hint -that you'd been Icnocked over 
by a shell that exploded two hundred yards away and — 
zip! they'd send you back for repairs. As for myself, 

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A MID-OCTOBER DAY 121 

the odIj reason I didn't Uke to talk about mj condition 
at first was because it hurt my throat and lungs. It 
wasn't because I was afflicted with this heroic melan- 
choly they talk so much about. I was mighty glad to 
be alive. I couldn't see anything to mope about, — cer- 
tainly not after I found out I wasn't going to die." 

" I daresay there were others who took it as you 
did. I wish there could have been more." 

He hesitated a moment before speaking again. Then 
he hazarded the question : 

" What does your friend, Dr. Strong, have to say 
about the general run of such cases? " 

** I don't know, I have not seen Dr. Strong since the 
war ended." 

He looked mildly surprised. " Hasn't he been home 
since the war? " 

" I believe-so. I was away at the time." 

" How long was he in France ? " 

" He went over first in 1916 and again in the fall of 
1917, and remained till the end of the war. His mother 
is here with me, you know." 

" Yes, I know. By Jove, I envy him one thing, — 
lucky dog." She remained silent. " You were play- 
mates, weren't you? " 

" Yes," she said, lifting her chin slightly. 

" Well, that's why I envy him. To have been your 
playmate, — Why, I envy him every minute of his boy- 
hood. When I think of my own boyhood and how little 
there was to it that a real boy should have, I — ^I — con- 
found it, I almost find myself hating chaps like Strong, 
chaps who lived in the country and had regular pak, 
and girl sweethearts, and went fishing and hunting, and 
played hookey as it ought to be played, and grew up 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



132 QUILL'S WINDOW 

with something fine cod sweet and wholesome to loiA 
back upon* — and to hsTC had you for a jdaymate, — : 

caajrbe a sweetheart, — ^you in short frocks> with your 
hair in pigtails, barefooted in sommertime, ninnin^— ** 
She interrupted him. ** Your imagination is at fault 
there, Mr. Thane," she said, smiling once more. ** I 
never went barefooted in my life." 

" At any rate, Ar -did. And he played all sorts of 
gamea with yoo ; he — " 

" My impression of David Strong is that he was a 
boy's boy," she broke in rather sti£9y. ** His games 
were with the boys of the town, — and they were rough 
games. Football, baseball, shinney, circus, — ^things like 
that." 

** I don't mean sports. Bliss Crown. I was thinking 
of those wonderful boy and girl games, — sudi as 
' playing house,* * getting married,* ' hide-and-go-seek,' 
— all that sort of thing." 

" Yes, I know," she admitted. " We often played at 
getting married, and we had very large but inanimate 
families, and we quarrelled like real married people, and 
I used to cry and take my playthings home, and he 
used to stand outside our fence and make faces at me 
till I hated him ferociously. But all that was when 
we were very small, you see." 

" And as all such things turn out, I suppose he grew 
up and went o£F and got married to some one else." 

" He is not married, Mr. Thane." 

" Well, for that matter, neither are you," said he, 
leaning forward, his eyes fixed intently on hers. She 
did not flinch. " I wonder just how you feel toward 
him today, Miss Crown." 

She was incapable of coquetry. "W* w* 00% the 



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A MnW)CTOBER DAY 123 

best of friends,'* she said quietly. " Now, if you please, 
let us talk of scoaethiBg else. Did I teU you that an 
old Ambulance man is coming down for a day or two 
next week? A Harvard man who lives in Chicago. Hia 
sister and I went to New York together to take oar 
chances there on getting over to France. I think I've 
told you about her, — ^Mary Blythe? " 

" Blythe? " repeated Courtney thoughtfully. 
** Blythe. Seems to me I heard of a chap named Blythe 
over there in the Ambulance, but I don't remember 
whether I ran across him anywhere or not. He may 
have been after my time, however. I was with the 
Ambulance in '15 and the early part of '16, you see.'*- 

*' Addbon Blythe. He was afterwards a Field Artil- 
lery captain. I've known Mary Blythe for years, but 
I know him very shghtly. He went direct from Har- 
yard to France, you see.'* 

"What section was he with?" 
- ** I don't know. I only know he was at Pont-a-Mous- 
«on for several months. You were there too at one 
time, I remember. I've heard him speak of the Bois le 
pTetre. You may have been there at \he same time." 

" Hardly possible. I should have known him in that 
case. My section was sent up to Bar le Due just be- 
jFore tile first big Verdun battle." 

^ Why, he was all throu^ the first battle of Verdnn. 
His section was transferred from Pont-a-Mousson at 
AD hour's notice. Were there more than tme sectioa 
^t Pont-a-Mousson? ** 

•• I don't know how they were fixed after I left. YvO, 
see, I was trying to get into the aviation end of the 
jgame along about that time, I was in »a aviation camp 
ttft, a couple of months, but went bat^ to the Ambolaace 



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124 QUILL'S WINDOW 

just before the Verdun scrap. They slapped me into 
another section, of course. I used to see fellows from 
my own section occasionally, but I don't recall any one 
named Blythe. He probably was sent up while I was 
at Toul, — or it may have been during the time I was 
with a section in the Vosgea. I was up near Dunkirk 
too for a while, — only for a few weeks. When did you 
say he was coming? " 

" Next Tuesday. They are stopping off on their 
way to attend a wedding in Louisville. You two will 
hare a wonderful time reminiscing." 

*' Blythe, Fll rununage around in my memory and 
See if I can place him. There was a fellow named Bright 
up there at one time, — at least I got the name as 
Bright, It may have been Blythe. I'U be tickled to 
death to meet him, Miss Crown.** 

*' You will love Mary Blythe. She is a darling." 

" I may be susceptible, Miss Crown, but I am not 
inconstant,'* said he, with a gallant bow. 

She was annoyed with herself for blushing. 

" Will yon throw another 1<^ or two on the fire, 
please?** she said, arising. "I think I hear a car 
coming ap the drive. The poor Mallons will be chilled 
to the bone.** 

He smiled to himself as he took the long hickory logs 
ifrom the wood box and placed them carefully on the 
fire. He had seen the swift flood of colour mount to 
her cheeks, and the odd little waver in her eyes before 
she tamed them away. She was at the window, looking 
out, when he straightened himself and gingerly brushed 
the wood dust from his hands. Instead of joining her, 
he remained with his back to the fire, his feet spread 
apart, his hands in his coat pockets, comforting him- 



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A MnM)CTOBER DAY 125 

self with the thought that she waa wondering why he 
had not followed her. It was, he rejoiced, a very cleyer 
bit of strategy on his part. He waited for her to turn 
away from the window and say, with well-aBsumed per- 
plexity : " I was sure I heard a car, Mr, Thane." 

And that is exactly what she did say after a short 
interval, adding: 

" It must have been the wind in the chimney." 

"Very likely," he agreed. 

She remained at the window. He held his position 
before the fire. 

" If I were just a plain damned fool," he was saying 
to himself, ** I'd rush over there and spoil everything. 
It's too soon, — too soon. She's not ready yet, — not 
ready," 

Alix, looking oat across the porch into the grey 
drizzle that drenched the lawn, thrust her hand into 
her skirt pocket and, clutching the bit of paper in her 
fingers, crumpled it into a small baD. Her eyes were 
serene, however, as she turned away and walked back 
to the fireplace. 

" I don*t beheve they are coming, after all. I think 
they might have telephoned," she said, glancing up at 
the old French ormula clock od the mantelpiece. 
" Half-past four. We will wait a few minutes longer 
and then have tea." 

His heart gave a sudden thump. Was it possible — 
but no ! She would not stoop to anything like that. 
The httle thrill of exultation departed as quickly as 
it came. 

" Tire trouble, perhaps," he ventured. 

Tea was being brought in when the belated guests 
arrived. Courtney, spurred by the brief vision of suc- 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



120 QUUX'S WINDOW 

cess ahead, was nerer in better fonn, Dever m(n« en- 
tertsining, nerer bo well provided with polite cyniciBios. 
Later on, when he and Alix were alone and he was 
potting on his raincoat in the hall, she said to bim 
impulsively: ' 

** I don*t know what I should have done without jon, 
Mr. Thane. You were splendid. I was in no mood to 
be nice or agreeable to an jbody.** 

*" Alas 1 " be sighed. " That shows how unobseiring 
I am. I could have sworn you were in a perfectly 
adorable mood.** 

** Well, I wasn't,** she said stubbornly. ** I was qnite 
horrid." 

** Has anything happened to— to distress you, Alisa 
Crown?" he inquired anxiously. His voice was husky 
and a trifle unsteady. ** Can't you tell me? Sometimes 
it helps to — ■" 

" Nothing has happened,** she interrupted nemmsly. 
** I was — just stupid, that's all." 

"When am I to see you again?** he asked, after a 
perceptible pause. " May I come tonight? ** 

" Not toni^t,** she said, shaking her head. 

She gave no reastm, — nothing more than the two 
little words, — and yet he went away exulting. He 
walked home through the light, gusty rain, so elated 
that he forgot to use his cane, — and he had limped quite 
painfully earHer in the afternoon, complaining of the 
dampness and chtll. He had the habit of talking to 
himself when walking alone in the darkness. He thou^t 
aloud; 

" She wants to he alone, — she wants to think. She 
has suddenly realized. She is frightened. She doesn't 
understand. She is bewildered. She doesnt want to 



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A MID-OCTOBER DAY 127. 

see me toni^t. Bless her heart ! Til bet my head she 
doesn't sleep a wink. And tomorrow? Tomorrow I 
shall see her. But not a word, not a sign out of me. 
Not tomorrow or next day or the day after that. Keep 
her thinking, keep her guessing, keep her wondering 
whether I xeally care. Pretty soon she'll realize how 
miserable she is, — and then I" 



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THE CHDfMET COUITEB 

A LINCOLN POLLOCK was fuU of news at 
Bupper that eveDiog. Courtoe;, coming in a 
* little late,— in fact. Miss Margaret Slattery 
already had removed the soup plates and was be^n- 
ning to wonder audibly whether a certain guy thought 
she was a truck-horse or something like that, — foond 
the editor of the Sua anticipating by at least twelve 
hours the forthcoming issue of his paper. He was 
regalmg his fcUow-boarders with news that would be 
off the press the first thing in the morning, — having 
been confined to the composing-room for the better part 
of a week,— and he was enjoying himself. Charlie Web- 
ster once made the remark that ** every time the Sim 
goes to press, Link Pollock acts for all the world like 
a hen that's just laid an egg, he cackles so." 

" I saw Nancy Strong this morning and she was 
telling me about a letter she had from David yesterday. 
He wants her to pack up and come to Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania, to live with him. He says hell take a 
nice little apartment, big enough for the two of *em, 
if shell only come. She can't make up her mind what 
to do. She's so fond of Aliz she don't see how she can 
desert her, — at least, not till she gets married, — and 
yet she feels she owes it to her son to go and make a 
home lor him. Every once in a while Alix makes her 
128 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 129 

ft present of a hundred dollars or so, — once she gave 
her three hundred in cold, clean cash, — and actually 
loves her as if she was her own mother, Nancy's ter- 
ribly upset. She is devoted to Alix, and at the same 
time ahe*s devoted to her son. She seemed to want my 
advice, but of course I couldn't give her any. It's 
a thing she's got to work out for herself. I couldn't 
advise ber to leave Alix in the lurch and I couldn't ad- 
vise her to turn her back on her only son, — could I? " 

" How soon does David want her to come? " inquired 
Miss Molly Dowd. 

" Before Christmas, I believe. He wants her to be 
with him on Christmas day." 

" Well, it would work out very nicely," said Mrs. 
FoUock, " if Alix would only get married before that 
time." 

"I guess that's just what Nancy is kind of hoping 
herself," stated Mr. Pollock. " It would simplify every- 
thing. Of course, when she told Alix about David's 
letter and what he wanted her to do, Alix was mighty 
nice about it. She told Nancy to go by all means, her 
place was with her son if he needed her, and she wouldn't 
stand in the way for the world. Nancy says she had 
about made up her mind to go, but (jianged it last 
night. She was telling me about sneaking up to Alix's 
bedroom door and listening. Alix was crying, sort of 
sobbing, you know. That settled it with Nancy, — tem- 
porarily at any rate. Now she's up in the air again, 
and don't know what to do. She's gone and told Alix 
she won't leave her, but all the time she keeps wonder- 
ing if Davy can get along without her in that great 
big city, surrounded by all kinds of perils and traps 
and pitfalls, — ^nigbt and day. Evil women and — ** 



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180 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** Has Aliz said aa3rthing to ;ou about it, H^. 
Thane?" inquired Maude Baggs Pollock. 

" Not a word," replied Courtney, secretly irritated 
by the discovery that Alix had failed to take him into 
her confidence. " She doesn't discuss servant troubles 
with me." 

" Oh, good gracious ! " cried Miss Dowd. ** If Nancy 
Strong ever heard you speak of her as a serranfc 
she'd — " 

" She'd bite your head off,** put in Miss Margaret 
Slattery. "Are you through with your soup, Mr. 
Thane ? " Without waiting for an answer, she re- 
moved the plate with considerable abruptness. 

** Are you angry with me, Margaret? " he asked, 
with a reproachful smile. His smile was too much 
for Margaret. She blushed and mumbled something 
about being sorry and having a headache. 

" Say, Court, do you know this Ambulance feller 
that's coming to visit Alix next week? '* asked the edi- 
tor, with interest. 

"You mean Addison Blythe? He was up at Pont-a- 
Monsson for a while, I believe, but it was after I had 
left for the Vosges section. I've heard of him. Harvard 
man." 

" You two ought to have a good time when you get 
together," said Doc Simpson. 

" I've got an item in the Sim about him this week, 
and next week well have an interview with him." 

The usually loquacious Mr. Webster had been silent 
since Courtney's arrival. Now he lifted his voice to 
put a question to Miss Angle Miller, across the table. 

" Did you write that letter I spoke about the other 
(Jay, Angle?" 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 181 

" Yes,^ — ^but there ba8n*t been time for an answer 
yet." 

** Speaking about David Strong,'* remarked Mr. 
FoUock, " 111 never forget what he did when Mr. Win- 
dom gave faim a silver watch for his twdfth birthday. 
Shows what a bright, progressive, enterprising feller 
be was even at that age. Yon remember. Miss Moll; ? 
I mean about his setting his watch fifteen minutes 
ahead the very day he got it." 

Miss Molly smiled. " It mu cute of him, wasn^t itF ** 

" What was the idea? " inquired Mr. Hatch. 

'* So*s he would know what time it was fifteen min- 
utes sooner than anybody else in town," said Mr. Pol- 
lock. 

** My, what a handsome boy he was,** said Miss Angie 
MiUer. 

"Do you really think so? " cried Mrs. Pollock. "I 
never could see anything good looking about him, — ex- 
cept bis physique. He has a splendid physique, but I 
never liked his face. It's so—so — well, so, raw-boned 
and alL I like smooth, regular features in a man. I — ** 

"l^e mine," interjected the pudgy Mr. Webster, 
;irith a very serious face. 

" David Strong has what I call a Tery rugged face," 
said Miss MiUer. " I didn't say it was pretty, Maude.'* 

" He takes a very good photograph," remarked Mr. 
Hatch. ** Specially a side-view. I've got one side-view 
of him over at the gallery that makes me think of an 
Indian every time I look at it.'* 

'* Perhaps he has Indian blood in him," suggested 
Courtney, who was tired of David Strong. 

" Well, every drop of blood he's got in him is red," 
said Charlie Webster; " so maybe you're right." 



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132 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" The most interesting item in the Sun tomorrow," 
said Mr. Pollock, " i» the word that young Cale Vick, 
across the river, has enlisted in the navy. He leaves 
on Monday for Chicago to join some sort of a training 
school, preparatory to taking a job on OBe of Uncle 
Sam's newest battleships, — the biggest in the world, ac- 
cording to bis grandfather, who was in to see me a 
day or two ago. I have promised to send young Cale 
the Sun for a year without charging him a cent. Old 
man Brown says Amos Vick's daughter Rosabel isn't 
at all well. Something like walking typhoid, he says, 
— mopes a good deal and don't sleep well." 

" Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," exclaimed Courtney, 
real concern in his voice. " She was such a lively, li^t- 
hearted girl when I was over there. I can't imagine 
her moping. I hope Amos Vick isnt too close-fisted 
to consult a doctor. He's an awful tight-wad — believe 
me." 

" Doctor can't seem to find anything really the mat- 
ter with her, so old Cale Brown told me," said Mr. 
Pollock. " But don't you think it's fine of young Cale 
to join the navy, Court? Maybe your tales about the 
war put it into his head." 

" It's more likely that he'd got fed up with life OQ 
a farm," said Courtney. " Hell find himself longing 
for the farm and mother a good many times before he's 
through with the navy," 

Instead of going up to his room immediately after 
supper, as was his custom of late, Courtney joined 
the company in the " lounging room," so named by Mr. 
Webster who contended that no first-class hotel ever 
had such a thing as a parlour any more. The Missei 
Dowd, of course, called it the parlour, but as they con* 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 183 

tinued to refer to the fireplace as the " chimney cor- 
ner," one may readily forgive thdr reluctance to prog- 
ress. Smoking was permitted in the " lounging room " 
during the fall and winter months only. 

A steady rain was beating against the windows, and 
a rising wind made itself heard in feeble wails as it 
turned the dark comers of the Tavern. Presently it 
was to howl and shridc, and, as the rain ceased, to rattle 
the window shutters and the ancient, creaking sign 
that hung out over the porch, — for on the wind to- 
night came the first chill touch of winter. 

" A fine night to be indoors," remarked Courtney in 
his most genial manner as he moved a rocking diair 
up to the fireplace and gallantly indicated to old Mrs. 
Nichols that it was intended for her. 

" Ain't you going out tonight, Court? " inquired Mr. 
Hatch. 

" Iron horses couldn't drag me out tonight," he re- 
plied. ** Sit here, Mrs. Pollock. Doc, pull up that sofa 
for Miss Grady and Miss Miller. Let's have a chimney- 
corner symposium. Is symposium the right word. Miss 
Miller? Ah, I see it isn't. Well, X did my best. I could 
have got away with it in New York, but no chance 
here. And speaking of New York reminds me that at 
this very instant the curtains are going up and the 
lights are going down in half a hundred theatres, — and 
I don't mind confessing I'd like to be in one of them." 

" That's one thing I envy New York for,'* said Mrs. 
Pollock. " Hand me my knitting off the table, Lincoln, 
please. I love the theatre. I could go every night — " 

" You get tired of them after a little while, Maude," 
said Flora Grady, a trifle languidly. ** Isn't that so, 
Mr. Thane? " 



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134 QUUX'S WINDOW 

" Quite," Agreed Courtney. " You get fed up wi(B 
'em." 

" I remember once Then I was in New York going 
six nights in succession, seeing all the best things ojt 
the boards at that time, and I give you my word," said 
Miss Grady, " they did feed me up terribly." 

*' I know just what you mean. Miss Grady," said 
Courtney, without cracking a smile. "One gets so 
bored with the best plays in town. What one really 
ought to do, you know, is to go to the worst ones." 

" I've always wanted to see * The Blue Bird,' " said 
Miss Miller wistfully. " It's by Maeterlinck, Mr. 
Nichols." 

Old Mr. Nichola looked interested. " You don't say 
so," he ejaculated. ** Give me a good minstrel show,— t 
that's what I like. Haverly's or Barlow, Wilson, Prim- 
rose & West, or Billy Elmerson's or — say, did you ever 
see Luke Schoolcraft? Well, sir, there was the fun- 
niest end man I ever see. There used to be anothei* 
minstrel man named,— er — lemme see, — now what was 
that feller's name? It begin with L, I think— or maybe 
it was W. Now— lemme — think. Go on talkin', the 
rest of you. Ill think of his name before bedtime.'* 
Whereupon the ancient Mr. Nichols relapsed into a 
profound state of thought from which he did not 
emerge until Mr. Waster shook his shoulder some fif- 
teen or twenty minutes later and informed him thaC 
if he got any worse Mrs. Nichols would be able to 
hear him, and then she couldn't go 'round telling people 
that he slept just like a baby. 

Courtney was in his element. He liked talking abouti 
the stage, and stage people. And on this night, — of 
all ni^ts, — he wanted to talk, he wanted company. The! 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 185 

clock OD the mantel-piece struck ten and half-past and 
was close to striking eleven before any one made a move 
toward retiring, — excepting Mr. and Mrs. Nichols who 
had gone off to bed at eight-thirty. The Misses Dowd 
had joined the little company in the " parlour." He 
discussed books with Mrs. Follock and Miss Miller, 
fashions with Miss Grady, politics with Mr. Pollock, — 
(agreeing with the latter on President Wilson), — art 
with Mr. Hatch and the erudite Miss Miller, the drama 
with every one. 

Now, Courtney Thane knew almost nothing about 
books, and even less about pictures. He possessed^ 
however, a remarkable facility when it came to discuss- 
ing them. He belonged to that rather extensive class 
of people who thrive on ignorance. If you wanted to 
talk about Keats or Shelley, he managed to give you 
the impression that he was thoroughly familiar with 
both, — though lamenting a certain rustiness of mem- 
ory at times. He could talk intelligently about Joseph 
Conrad, Arnold Bennet, Bernard Shaw, Galsworthy, 
Walpole, Mackenzie, Wells and others of the modem 
English school of novelists, — that is to say, he could 
differ or agree with you on almost anything they had 
written, notwithstanding tlie fact that he had never 
read a line by any one of them. He professed not to 
care for Thomas Hardy's *' Jude the Obscure," thouf^ 
nothing could have been more obscure to him than the 
book itself or the author thereof, and agreed with the 
delightful Mrs. Pollock that " The Mayor of Caster^ 
bridge" was an infinitely better piece of work than 
"Tess of the D'Urbervillea." As for the American 
writers, he admitted a shameful ignorance about them. 

*' Of course, I read Scott when I was a boy, — ^l was 



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186 QUILL'S WINDOW 

compelled to do so, hj the way, — but as for the others 
I am shockingly unfamiliar with them. Ever since I 
grew up I've preferred the English novelists and poets, 
so I fear I—" 

" I thought Scott was an English writer," put in 
Charlie Webster quietly. 

"What Scott are you referring to, Charlie?" he 
asked indulgently. 

" Why, Sir Walter Scott, — ^he wrote * Ivanhoe,' you 
know." 

" Well, I happen to be speaking of William Scott, 
the American novelist, — ^no doubt unknown to most of 
you. He was one of the old-timers, and I fancy has 
dropped out of the running altogether." 

" Never heard of him," said Mr. Pollock, scratching 
his ear reflectively. 

" Indigenous to New England, I fancy, — ^like the 
estimable codfish," drawled Courtney, and was rewarded 
by a wholesome Middle West laugh, 

"What are those cabarets like?" inquired Mr. 
Hatch. He pronounced it as if he were saying ciga- 
rettes. 

" Pretty rotten," said Thane. 

"Are you fond of dancing, Mr. Thane?" inquired 
Mrs. Pollock. " I used to love to trip the light fan- 
tastic." 

" I am very fond of dancing," said he, and then added 
with a smile: " Especially since the girls have taken to 
parking their corsets." 

There was a shocked silence, broken by Miss Grady, 
who, as a dressmaker, was not quite so finicky about 
the word. 

"What do you mean by parking?" she Inquired. 



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^THE CHIMNEY CORNER 187 

une S8 you park an automobile," said he, enjoy- 
le sensation he had created. '* It's the fashion 
imong the best families as well as the worst, for 
rls when they go to dances to leave their corsets 
dressing rooms. Check *em, same as jou do jour 

Hess my soul," gasped Mr. Pollock. " Haven't 
got any mothers? " 

lure, — but the mothers don't know anything about 
Yon see, it's this way. We fellows won't dauce 
'em if they've got corsets on, — so off they come." 

" What's the world coming to? " cried the editor. 

" You'd better ask where it's going to," said Charlie 
Webster. 

" Do you go to the opera very often? " asked Miss 
Miller nervously. 

He spoke rather loftily of the Metropolitan Opera 
House, and very lightly of the Metropolitan Museum, 
—and gave Charlie Webster a sharp look when that 
amiable gentleman asked him what he thought of the 
Metropolitan Tower. 

But he was at home in the theatre. He told them 
just what Maude Adams and Ethel Barrymore were 
like, and Julia Marlowe, and Elsie Ferguson, and 
Chrystal Heme, and all the rest of them. He spoke 
familiarly of Mr. Faversham as " Fav^-y," of Mr. Col- 
lier as " Willie," of Mr. Sothem as " Ned," of Mr. 
Drew as " John," of Mr Skinner as " Otis," of Mr. 
Prohman as " Dan." 

And when he said good night and reluctantly wended 
his way to the room at the end of the hall, round the 
comer of which the fierce October gale shrieked de- 
risively, he left behind him a group enthralled. 



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188 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** Isn't he a perfect dearP " cried Mrs. Pollock, clasp- 
ing her hands, 

" The most erudite man I have ever met," agreed 
Miss Miller ecstatically. " Don't jou think so, Mr. 
Hatch?" 

Mr. Hatch was startled. " Oh, — er — yes, indeed. 
Absolutely ! " he stammered, and then looked inquir- 
ingly at his finger nails. He hoped he had made the 
proper response. 

Charlie Webster ambled over to one of the windows 
and peered out into>.the whistling night. 

" It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good," said 
he sententiousty. 

"What do you mean by that, Charlie?" inquired 
Flora Grady, at his elbow. 

" Well, if it had been a pleasant night he'd have 
been up at Alix Crown's instead of here," said Charlie. 

" I see," said Flora, after a moment. " You mean 
the ill wind favoured Alix, eh? " 

Charlie's round face was unsmiling as he stared hard 
at the fire. 

" I wonder — " he began, and then checked the words. 

" Don't you worry about Alix," said Flora. " She's 
nobody's fool." 

" I wasn't thinking of AUx just then," said Charlie. 



n 

The following morning, Courtney went, as was his 
custom, to the postoffice. He had arranged for a lock- 
box there. His letters were not brought up to the 
Tavern by old Jim House, the handy-man. 

The day was bright and clear and cold; the gale 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 189 

had died in the early morning hours. Aliz Crown's 
big automobile was standing in front of the post- 
office, the engine running. Catching sight of it as he 
left the Tavern porch, he hastened his steps. He was 
a good two hundred yards away and feared she would 
be off before he could come up with her. As he drew 
near, he saw the lanky chauffeur standing in front 
of the drug store, chatting with one of the villagers. 

Aliz was in the postolBce. As he passed the car, he 
slackened his pace and glanced over his shoulder into 
the tonneau. The side curtains were down. A low 
growl greeted him. He hastened on. 

She was at the registry window. 

" Hello ! " he exclaimed, extending his hand and 
searching her face as he did so for signs of a sleepless 
night. 

" Good morning," she responded cheerily. There was 
nothing in her voice, her eyes or her manner to indi- 
cate an even remotely disturbed state of mind. Her 
gaze met his serenely ; the colour did not rush to her 
cheeks as he had fondly expected, nor did her eyes 
waver under the eager, intense gleam in his. He sud- 
denly felt cheated. 

" Where are you off to this morning? " he inquired. 

" To town for the day. I have some business to 
attend to and some shopping to do. Would you like 
to come along? '* 

He was in a sulky mood. 

" You know I hate the very thought of going to 
town," h» said. Then, as she raised her eyebrows 
slightly, k made haste to add: "I'd go from one end 
of the desert of Sahara to the other with you, but — " 
shaking his head so solemnly that she laughed out- 



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140 QUILL'S WINDOW 

right, — ** not to the city. Just ask me to go to the 
Sahara with yoa and eee how — " 

" Haven't yoa had enough of No-Man's Land? " she 
cried merrily. 

" It depends on what you'd call No-Man's Land," 
said he, and her gaze faltered at last. There was no 
mistaking his meaoing. ** Sometimes it is Paradise, 
you know," he went on softly. 

Twice before she had seen the same look in his eyes, 
and hoth times she had experienced a strange sensa- 
tion, as of the weakness that comes with ecstasy. There 
had been something in his eyes that seemed to caress 
her from head to foot, something that filled her with 
the most disquieting self-consciousness. Strange to 
say, it was not the ardent look of the love-sick admirer, 
— and she had not escaped such tributes, — nor the in- 
quiring look of the adventurous married man. It was 
not soulful nor was it offensive. She reluctantly con- 
fessed to herself that it was warm and penetrating and 
filled her with a strange, delicious alarm. 

She quickly withdrew her gaze and turned to the 
little window where Mrs. Pollock was making out her 
receipt for a registered package. She felt that she 
was cowardly, and the thought made her furious. 

"Will it go out today, Mrs. Pollock?" she asked. 

"'This afternoon," replied the postmaster's wife and 
assistant. " Wasn't that a dreadful wind last night, 
Alix? I thought of you. You must have been fright- 
ened." 

" I slept like a log through all of it," said Alix. " I 
love the wild night wind. It makes me feel so nice and 
comfy in bed. I was awfully tired last night. Thanks." 
Then turning to Courtney : " Sorry you will not go with 



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THE CHIMNEY CORNER 141 

me. I'll bear ;ou in mind if I ever take a trip to the 
Sahara. Good-bye." 

"Will you be at home tonight?" be asked, holding 
the door open for her to pass through. 

" Yes," she replied composedly, 

" I mean,— to me? " 

" If you care to come," she said. 

He did not accompany her to the car. The big 
grey-browa dog vith his pavs on the back of the front 
seat, was eagerly watching her approach. 

She wore a long mole-skin coat and a smart little red 
turban. She had never looked so alluring to the young 
man who waited in the open door until the car started 
away. 

" Close the door, please," called out Mrs. Pollock't 
*' This isn't July, you know." 

** So she slept like a log, did she? " muttered Court- 
ney as he turned away from his lockbox with a letter. 
" Well, that's more than I did." 

He glanced hurriedly through the letter, crumplecE 
it up in his hand, and went jatintily up the street until 
he came to Hatch's- Photograph Gallery. Entering, 
he gave the proprietor a hearty " good morning," and 
then drew a chair up before the low " sheet-iron stove ** 
vhich heated the reception-room. Hatch was " print- 
ing" behind a partition, and their conversation was 
carried on at long range over the top. Presently the 
visitor drew the crumpled letter from his pocket, tor^ 
it into tiny pieces and cast it into the fire. 

" Well, so long. Hatch. I'm off for a stroll in jowt. 
crisp October air.^ 



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CHAPTER XI 

THANE VISITS TWO BOUBSA 

ALL day long Alix was troubled. She could not 
free her thoughts of that searing look or the 
spell it had cast over her during the brief in- 
stant of contact. She was haunted by it. At times she 
gave herself up to a reckless, unmaidenly rejoicing in 
the thrill it had given her; at such times she flushed 
to the roots of her hair despite the chill of ecstasy that 
svept over her. But far more often she found herself 
resenting the liberty his eyes had taken, — a mental 
rather than a physical liberty. She was resolved that 
it should not happen again. 

She had posted a note to David Strong that morn- 
ing. Before the car had covered the first mile on its 
■way to town, she was wishing she had not dropped it 
into the slot at the postofBce. Only the fear of appear- 
ing ridiculous to Mrs. Pollock kept her from turning 
back to reclaim it. She could not explain this sudden, 
almost frantic impulse, — she did not attempt to ac- 
count for it. Somehow she sensed that it had to do 
with the look in Thane's eyes, — ^but it was all so vague 
and intangible that even the suggestion did not take 
the form of thought. 

In this curt little note she had said: 

Dear I>Avn>: 

I hereby acknowledge receipt of your chcqne No. S72 for 
two hundred and fifty dollars, but as I have tried to make 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 143 

yon understand before, it is not only an unnecessaty hut a 
most nnwdcome bit of paper. Yon ore perfectly well aware 
that my grandfather's estate has been settled and, as I have 
informed you time and again, your obligation to him no 
longer exists. Yon may hare owed something to him, hut 
you owe nothing to me. If I were to follow my impulse 
I should tear up this cheque of yours. It would be useless 
to return it to you, for you would only send it back to me, 
«s yon did with the first two cheques that came last winter. 
I want you to understand that I do not accept this money as 
my own. If It is any satisfaction to yon to know that I 
give it away, — no matter bow, — ^yoa are welcome to all 
the consolation you may get out of it 

Yonra truly, 

Aliz Cbowk. 

P.S. — I have advised your mother to go to Philadelphia 
whenever yon are ready for her to come. A. 

P.S.S. — Under separate cover by registered post I am 
also returning to yon the bracelet yon sent me from Paris. 
I think I wrote yon a long time ago how much I admired 
it A. 

Meanwhile, Thane was making the best of a rather 
empty morning. He put off finishing a letter to his 
mother, who had returned to New York and was so 
busy with dressmakers that twice she had employed the 
telegraph in promising to " write soon," — a letter in 
which he already had written, among other rapturous 
passages : " She is positively ravishing, mater dear. I 
am simply mad about her, and I know you will be too." 
He was determined that the day should not be a total 
loss ; he would turn at least a portion of it to profit- 
First of all, he visited Alaska Spigg at the log-hut 
Tillage library. Miss Spigg was very proud of her 
geraniums. No one else in Windomville, — or in the 



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144 ftUnX'S WINDOW 

world, for that matter, if one -were to Wcall Mr. Pol- 
lock's article in the Swt, — ^no one else cultivated such 
geraniums as those to be seen in the pots that crowned 
the superinforced windovsills at the library. 

There was no such thing as a florist's shop in Win- 
domville. Roses or orchids or even carnations were 
unobtainable. A potted geranium plant, in full bloom, 
— one of Alaska Spigg's tall, sturdy, jealously guarded 
treasures was the best he could do in the way of a floral 
offering to his goddess. So he set about the supposedly 
hopeless task of inducing Alaska to part with one of 
her plants. Half an hour after entering the library 
he departed with a balloon shaped object in his arms. 
He was not too proud to be seen shuffling up the lane 
with his prize, a huge thing loosely done up in news- 
papers, — leaving behind him a completely dazzled 
Alaska who went about the place aimlessly folding and 
unfolding a brand new two-dollar bill. 

** I don't know what come over me," explained Alaska 
later on to a couple of astonished ladies who had hur- 
ried in to see if the report was true that she had parted 
with one of her geraniums. " For the life of me, I 
don't know how I happened to do it. 'Specially the 
one I was proudest of, too. IVe always said I'd never 
sell one of my plants, — not even if the President of the 
United States was to come in and offer me untold mil- 
lions for it, — and here I — I — ^why, Martha, I almost 
gave it to him, honest I did. I just couldn't seem to 
help letting him have it. Of course, ! don't mind its 
loss half so much, knowing that it is going to Aliz. She 
loves flowers. She'll take the best of care of it. But 
how I ever came to — '* 

** Don't cry, Alaska," broke in one of her callers 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 146 

cheerfully. " You'll be getting it back before long." 

" Never," lamented Alaska. " What makes jou think 
ni get it back?" she went on, suddenly peeping over 
the edge of her handkerchief, 

" Why, as soon as Alix knows how miserable you are 
about parting with that geranium, she'll send it back to 
you, — and youll be two dollars ahead. Don't be silly." 

Repairing at once to the bouse on the knoll, Court- 
ney took counsel with Mrs. Strong- The housekeeper 
could hardly believe her eyes when she saw the geranium, 

** Well, all I've got to say is that you must have 
stolen it," she exclaimed. " There couldn't be any other 
way to get one of those plants away from Alaska 
Spigg." 

" Be that as it may," said he airily, " what we've 
got to decide now, Mrs. Strong, is just where to put it. 
I want to surprise Miss Crown when she returns from 
town." 

" She'll be surprised all right when she finds out you 
got one of Alaska Spigg*s pet geraniums. I remember 
Alaska saying not so long ago that she wouldn't sell 
one of those plants for a million dollars. Now let me 
see. It ought to go where it will get as much sun as 
possible. That would be in the dining-room. I guess 
we'd better — " 

" I really think it would look better right here in 
this room, Mrs. Strong," said he, indicating one of the 
windows looking out over the terrace. There was little 
or no sunlight there, but he did not mind that. As a 
matter of fact, he wasn't at all concerned about the 
future welfare of the plant. It meant no more to him 
than the customary bunch of violets that one sends, 
** sight unseen," to the lady of the hour. 



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146 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Well, you're the boss. It's your plant," said Mrs. 
Strong briskly. " Alaska Spigg will go into hysterics 
when she hears where you've put it, — but that's of no 
consequence." 

And so the plant was placed on a small table in the 
window of the long living-room. 

" Link Pollock told us last night that you may go 
to Philadelphia to join your son, Mrs. Strong," said 
he, as he watched her arranging the window curtains. 

Mrs. Strong flushed. " It did not occur to me to 
ask Mr. Pollock not to repeat what I said to him in 
confidence," she said, with dignity. 

" I'm sorry I mentioned it. I am sure Pollock didn't 
understand it was — er — a secret or anything like that, 
Mrs. Strong." 

" It isn't a secret, I have talked it over with Misa 
Alii, and I have practically decided to remain with her. 
You may tell that to Mr. Pollock if you like." 

" She would miss you terribly," said he, allowing the 
sarcasm to pass over his head. " Your sod and Miss 
Crown were boy and girl sweethearts, I hear, — oh, 
please don't be offended. Those things happen, you 
know, — and pass off like all of the children's diseases. 
Like the measles, or mumps or chicken pox. Every boy 
and girl has to go through that stage, you know. I 
remember being horribly in love with a girl in our block 
when I was fifteen, — and she with me. But, for the life 
of me, I can't remember her name now, I mean her 
married name," he explained, with his whimsical grin. 

" I don't believe Alix and David ever were in love 
with each other," said she stiffly, " They were won- 
derful friends, — playmates and all that, — but," — here 
she flushed again, " you see, my boy was only the black- 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 147 

smith's son. People may have told yon that, Mr. 
Thane." 

" What has that to do with it? " he cried instantly, 
** Wasn't Miss Crown's father the son of a black- 
smith? " 

He caught the passing flicker of appreciation in her 
eyes as she lifted her head. 

" True," she said quietly. " And a fine young man, 
they tell me, — those who knew him. His father was not 
like my David's father, however. He was a drunkard. 
He beat his wife, they say." 

"Abraham Lincoln was a rail splitter. James A. 
Garfield drove a canal boat. Does anybody think the 
worse of them for that? Your son, Mrs. Strong, — I am 
told by all who know him, — will be a great surgeon, a 
great man. You must not forget that people will speak 
of hit son as the son of Dr. David Strong, the famous 
surgeon." 

Her face glowed with pleasure. Mother love and 
mother pride kindled in her dark eyes. He caught him- 
self wondering if young David Strong was like this 
tall, grey-haired woman with the steady gaze and quiet 
smile. 

"I am sure David will succeed," she said warmly. 
*• He always was a determined boy. Mr. Windom was 
very fond of him. He took a great interest in him." 
A self-conscious, apologetic smile succeeded the proud 
one. ** I suppose you would call Alix and David boy 
and girl sweethearts. As you say, boys and girls just 
simply can't help having such ailments. It's like an 
epidemic. Even the strongest catch it and, — -get over 
it without calling in the doctor." 

He grinned. *' It is a most amiable disease. The 



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148 QUILL'S WINDOW 

onlj medicine necessary is soda vater and ice cream, 
with a few pills in the shape of chocolate caramels or 
marshmallows, taken at all hours and in large doses.** 

Mrs. Strongs eyes softened as she looked out of tfae 
window. A faraway, wistful expression lurked in them. 

** Those were wonderful days, Mr. Thane, — when 
those two children were growing up." She sighed, 
" David is four years older than Alix, but ever since 
she was a tiny child she seemed older than he was. I 
guess it was because he was eo big and strong that he 
just couldn't bear to lord it over her like most boys 
do with girls. He was kind of hke a big shepherd dog. 
Always watching over her and— dear me. 111 never for- 
get the time they got lost in the woods up above here. 
That was when she was about seven. They were not 
found till next morning. We had everybody for miles 
around beating the woods for them all night long. 
Well, sir, that boy had taken off his coat and put it on 
her, and his stockings too, and he had even removed his 
shirt to make a sort of muffler to wrap around her 
throat, because she always had sore throats and croup 
when she was a child. And when the men found them, 
he was sitting up against a tree sound asleep, almost 
frozen stiff, with her in his lap and his cold little arms 
around her. It was late in September and the nights 
Were cold. Then there was the time when she fell off 
the side of the ferry boat and he jumped in after her, — - 
with his best suit on, the little rascal, — and held her 
up till Josh Wilson stopped the ferry and old Mr. 
White, who was crossing with his team, managed to 
throw a buggy rein out to him and pull him in. The 
water oat there in the middle of the river is ten feet 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 149 

Deep, Mr. Thane, and BaTid was just learning hov to 
svim. And they both had croup that night. Mj good- 
ness, I thought that bo; was going to die. But, mj 
land, that seems ages ago- Here they are, a grown 
man and womao, and probably don't even remember 
those happy days." 

" That's the horrible penalty one pays for growing 
up, Mrs. Strong." 

'* I guess you're right. Of course, they write to each 
other every once in a while, — but nothing is like it used 
to be. Alix had a letter from Davy only a day or so 
ago. You'd think she might occasionally tell me some 
of the things he writes about, — ^but she never does. She 
never opens her mouth about them. And he never writes 
anything to me about what she writes to him. I suppose 
that's the way of the world. When they were little 
they used to come to me with everything. ■ 

** You see, I came here to keep house for Mr. Win- 
dom soon after old Maria BUss died. My husband died 
when David was six years old. Alix was only four 
years old when I came here, Mr. Thane. This house 
was new, — ^just finished. I'll never forget the rage Mr. 
Windom got into when he found out that Alix and 
David were going up to the old farmhouse where her 
mother died and were using one of the upstairs rooms 
as a ' den.' They got in throu^ a cellar window, it 
seems. They were each writing a novel, and that was 
where they worked and read what they had written to 
each other. That lasted only about six weeks or so 
before Mr- Windom found out about it. He was tei^ 
rible. You ace, without knowing it, they had picked 
out the room that was most sacred to bim. It was bis 



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150 QUILL'S WINDOW 

wife's own room, — where she died and where Allx's 
mother was bora and where she also died,— -and where 
our Alix was bom. 

** Of course, at that time nobody knew about Edward 
Crown. We all thought he was alive somewhere. The 
children never went there again. No, sirree! They 
both ought to have known better than to go at all. 
Alix was fifteen years old when that happened, and 
Davy was going to college in the winter time." 

"Did your son live here in the house with you all 
those years?" inquired Courtney. 

" We lived in the first cottage down the lane from 
here. Mr. Windom was a very thoughtful man. He 
did not want me to live here in the house with him 
because of what people might say. You see, I was a 
young woman then, and — ^well, people are not always 
kind, you know.** She spoke simply and without the 
slightest embarrassment. 

He looked hard at her half-averted face and was 
suddenly confronted by the realization that this grey, 
motherly woman must have been young once, like Alix, 
and pretty. As it is with the young, he could not think 
of her except as old. He had always thought of his 
mother as old; it was impossible to think of her as 
having once been young and gay like the girls he knew. 
Yes, Mrs. Strong must have been young and pretty 
and desirable, — somebody's sweetheart, somebody's 
" g^rl." The thought astonished him. 

U 

Shortly afterward he took his departure. There was 
a frown of annoyance on his brow as he strode briskly 
up the lane in the direction of the crossroads^ half a 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 161 

mile or more above the village. As usual, he thought 
aloud. 

" There's no way of finding out just how things 
stand between them. The old ladj doesn't know any- 
thing, that's a cinch. If she really knew she would 
have let it out to me. I'll never get a better chance to 
pump her than I had today. She doesn't know. You 
can see she hopes her son will get her. That's as plain 
as *he nose on jour face. But she doesn't know any- 
thing. Is that a good sign or a bad one? I wish I 
knew. Alix isn't the sort to forget. Maybe Strong has 
gotten over it and not she. It's darned aggravating, 
that's what it is. There must be some good reason why 
she's never married. I wonder if she's still keen about 
him. This talk of Charlie Webster's may be plain bunk. 
If she hates him, — why? That's the question. Why 
does she hate him? There must be some reason beside 
that debt he owed to old Windom. Gad, I wish I could 
have seen that letter he wrote her when he sent the 
cheque. Well, anyhow, it's up to me to get busy. 
That's sure ! " 

His walk took him past the Windomville Cemetery 
and up the gravel turnpike leading to the city. Alis 
had traversed this road an hour or so earlier. Swing- 
ing around a bend in the highway, he came in view of 
the abandoned farmhouse half a mile ahead. 

It was a familiar object by this time, for he had 
passed it many times, not only on his solitary walks 
but on several occasions with Alix- The desolate house, 
with its weed-grown yard, its dilapidated paling fence, 
its atmosphere of decay, had always possessed a certain 
fascination for him. He secretly confessed to a queer 
tittle sensation as of awe whenever he looked upon the 



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162 QUILL'S WINDOW 

empty, grees'shuttered house. It suggested death. 
More than once he had paused in the road belov the 
rickety gate to gaze intently at the closed windows, or 
to scrutinize the tanked mass of weeds and rose bushes 
that almost hid the porch and its approach from view. 
He was never without the strange feeling that the body 
of Edward Crown might still be lying at the foot of 
the hidden steps. 

Now he approached the place with a new and deeper 
interest. Strangely enough, it had been shorn within 
the hour of much that was grim and terrifying. It was 
no longer a house to inspire dread and uneasiness. Two 
young and Tenturesome spirits had invaded its silent 
precincts, there to dream in safety and seclusion, un- 
haunted by its spectres, undisturbed by its secret. In 
one of its darkened rooms they had set up a "work- 
shop," a " playhouse." A glaze came over his eyes as 
he wondered what had transpired in that room during 
the surreptitious six weeks' tenancy. Had David 
Strong kissed her? Had she kissed David Strong? 
Were promises made and futures planned? His throat 
was tight with the swell of jealousy. 

He stopped at the gate. After a moment's hesitation 
he lifted the rusty latch and jerked the gate open far 
enough to allow him to squeeze through. Then he 
paused to sweep the landscape with an inquiring eye. 
Par up the pike a load of fodder moved slowly. There 
were cattle in the pasture near at hand, but no human 
being to observe his actions. In a distant upland field 
men were moving among a multitude of corn-shocks, 
trailing the horses and wagons that belonged to Alix 
Crown. Crows cawed in the trees on the eastern edge 
of the strip of meadowland, and on high soared two 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES IfiS 

or three big birds, — bawks or buzzards, he knev not 
vhich, — circling slowly in the arc of the steel blue sky. 

Confident that he was unobserved, he made his way 
up the half-buried walk to the porch, and, deliberately 
mounting the steps, tried the door-knob. As he ex- 
pected, the door was locked. After another searching 
look in all directions, he started off through the tangle 
of weeds and burdocks to circle the house. He passed 
throuj!^ what once must have been the tennis-court of 
Alix the First, — now a weedy patch, — and came to the 
back door. Below him lay the deserted stables and 
outbuildings, facing the barnyard in which a few worn- 
out farm implements were to be seen, weather-beaten 
skeletons of a past generation. 

There was no sign of human life. A lean and thread- 
bare scarecrow flapped his ragged coat-sleeves in the 
wind that swept across the barren garden patch farther 
up the slope, — this was the nearest approach to human 
life that came within the range of vision. And as if 
to invite jovial companionship, this pathetic gentleman 
wore his ancient straw hat cocked rakishly over what 
would have been his left ear if he had had any 
ears at all. 

While standing before the gate, Courtney had come 
to a sadden, amazing decision. He resolved to enter 
and explore the house if it were possible to do so. He 
remembered that Mrs. Strong, in pursuing the subject, 
had declared that Alix and David were not even per- 
mitted to return to the house for their literary prod- 
ucts; moreover, she doubted very much whether the 
former had taken the trouble to recover them after 
she became sole possessor of the property. If they 
were still there, with other tangible proofs of an adoles- 



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aM QUILL'S WINDOW 

cent intimacy, he saw no reason vhy he should not lay 
«jes, — or even hands, — upon them> He saw no wrong 
in the undertaking. It was a justifiable adventure, 
viewed from the standpoint of a lover whose claim was 
in doubt. 

The back door was locked and the window shutters 
securely nailed. Entrance to the cellar was barred bj 
heavy scantlings fastened across the sloping hatch. In 
the barnyard he found a stout single-tree. With thi» 
he succeeded in prying off the two scantlings. The 
staple holding the padlock was easily withdrawn from 
one of the rotten boards. 

Descending the steps, he found himself in the small, 
musty cellar. The vault-like room was empty save for 
a couple of barrels standing in a comer and a small 
pile of firewood under the stairs that led to regions 
ohoTe, Selecting a faggot of kindling-wood from this 
pile, he fashioned a torch by whittling the end into a 
confusion of partially detached slivers. This he U^ted 
with a match, and then mounted the stairs. 

The door at the head opened at the lifting of an 
old-fashioned latch. A thick screen of cobwebs almost 
closed the upper half of the aperture. He burnt it 
away with the flaming torch, and passed on into the 
kitchen. He was grateful for the snapping fire of the 
faggot, for otherwise the silence of the grave would have 
fallen about him as he stood motionless for a moment 
peering about the empty room. No hght penetrated 
from the outside. The air was dead. Spiders had 
clothed the corners and the ceiling with their silk, over 
which the dust of years lay thick and ugly. He felt, 
with a queer little shiver, that the eyes of a thousand 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 155 

epiders peered gloatingly down upon him from the 
murky fastnesses. 

He hurried on. The rooms on the lower floor had 
been stripped of all signs of habitation. His footsteps 
resounded throughout the house. Boards creaked 
innder his tread. Without actually realizing what he 
was doing, he began to tiptoe toward the stairway that 
led to the upper floor. He laughed at himself for this 
precaution, and yet could not rid himself of the feeling 
that some one was listening, that the stealth of the 
midnight burglar was necessary. The stairs groaned 
under his wei^t, the dust-covered banister cracked 
loudly when he laid his hand upon it. He had the 
strange notion that they were sounding the alarm to 
some guardian occupant of the premises, — to a slum- 
bering ghost perhaps. 

He came at last to the room where Alix and David 
had played at book-writing. In the centre stood a 
kitchen table, on either side of which was a rudely 
constructed bench, — evidently the handiwork of David 
3trong. Two strips of rag carpet served as a rug. 
At each end of the table was a candlestick containing 
a half-used tallow candle. There was a single ink pot, 
but there were two penholders beside it, and a couple of 
blue blotters. Nearby were two ancient but substantial 
rocking chairs, — singularly out of place, — no doubt 
discarded survivors of long-distant days of comfort, 
rescued from an attic storeroom by the young tres- 
passers. A scrap basket, half-full of torn and crum- 
pled sheets of paper, stood conveniently near the table. 

He lighted both of the candles and extinguished the 
flickering faggot. The steady glow of the candlehght 



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166 QUILL'S WINDOW 

filled the room. On the mantel above the blackened 
fireplace be saw a Email, vhite framed mirror. A tor- 
gotten pair of gloves lay beside it, and two or three 
hairpiDS. He picked up the gloves, slapped them 
against his leg to rid them of accumulated dust, and 
then stuck them into bis coat pocket. Thej were long 
and slim and soiled b; wear. 

A closet door, standing partly open, drew him across 
the room. Hanging from one of the hooks was a moth- 
eaten vicuna smoking jacket of blue. Beside this gar- 
ment hung a girl's bright red blazer, with black collar; 
protecting, business-like paper cufTs were still attached. 
In the comer of the closet reposed a broom, a mop and 
an empty paiL 

He smiled at the thou^t of young Alix sweeping 
and scrubbing the floor of this sequestered retreat. 

Returning to the table, he pulled out the drawer, 
and there, side by side, lay two neat but far from volum- 
inous manuscripts, each weighted down by the unused 
portion of the scratch pad from which the written 
sheets had been torn. One was in the bold, superior 
Bcr&wt of a boy, the other ineffably feminine in Its pains- 
taking regard for legibility and tidiness. 

Ill 

These literary efiforts had been cut off short in their 
infancy. David's vigorously written pages, marred by 
frequent scratchings and erasures, far outnumbered 
Alix's. He was in the midst of Chapter Three of a 
novel entitled " The Phantom Singer " when the calam- 
itous interruption came. Alix's work had progressed 
to Chapter Five. Inspection revealed the further fact 
that she was thrifty. She had written on both sides 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 167 

of the slieets, wHle the prodigal David confined him- 
self to the inexorable " one side of the sheet only.'* 
There were unmistakable indications of editorial arro- 
gance on the part of Alix on everj sheet of David's 
manuscript. Her small, precise hand was to be seen 
here, there and everywhere, — sometimes in the substi- 
tution of a single word, often in the rewriting of an 
entire sentence. But nowhere on her own pages was to 
be found so much as a scratch by the clumsy hand of 
her fellow novelist. 

Her story bore the fetching title : '* Lady Mor- 
daunt's Lover." 

Courtney read the first page of her script. A sudden 
wave of remorse, even guilt, swept through him. Back 
in his mind he pictured her bending studiously, earn- 
estly to the task, her heart in every line she was pen- 
ning, her dear little brow wrinkled in thought. He 
could almost visualize the dark, wavy hair, the soft 
white neck, — as if he were standing behind looking 
down upon her as she struggled with an obstinate 
muse, — and the quick, gentle rise and fall of her young 
breast. He could see her lift her bead now and then to 
stare dreamily at the ceiling, searching there for in- 
spiration. He could see the cramped, tense fingers that 
gripped the pen as she wrote these precious lines, — with 
David scratching away laboriously at the opposite end 
of the table. A strange tenderness entered his soul. 
Something akin to reverence took possession of him. 
He had invaded sanctuary. 

Slowly, almost tenderly, he replaced the manuscript 
in the drawer beside its bristling mate. Then he reso- 
lutely closed the drawer, blew out the candles, and 
strode swiftly from the room and down the creaking 



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ass QtJILL'S WINDOW 

stairs, lighting the way with matches. Even as be 
convicted himself of wrong, he justified himself as right. 
The virtuous renunciation balanced, aye, overbalanced, 
^the account with cnpidity. He was saying to him- 
self as be made his way down to the cellar: 

''It would be downright rotten to take that story 
of hers, even as a joke, — and I came mighty near to 
doing it. Thank the Lord, I didn't. Of course, it's 
piffle, — both of *em, — ^but I just couldn't take hers 
away for no other reason than to get a good lau^ out 
of it. Anyhow, my conscience is clear. I put it back 
where she left it, — and that's the end of it so far as 
I'm concerned. Damn these cobwebs! Good Lord, I 
wonder if any of these spiders are poisonous ! " 

Brushing the cobwebs from his face as he ran, he 
hurried across the cellar and bolted up the steps, out 
into the brilliant sunlight. He made frantic efforts to 
remove the disgusting webs from his garments, his eyes 
darting everywhere in search of the evil iosects. 

Presently he set to work replacing the staple and 
padlock, inserting the nails in the holes they had left 
in the rotting board. He did his best to fasten the 
scantlings down, making a sorry job of it, and then, 
as he prepared to leave the premises, he was suddenly 
seized by the uncanny feeling that some one was watch- 
ing him. His gaze swept the fields, the bam lot, even 
the high grass that surrounded the house. There was 
DO one in sight, and yet he could feel the eyes of an 
invisible watcher. 

Up in the garden patch, the scarecrow flapped his 
empty sleeves. His hat was stilt tilted jauntily over 
his absent ear. It was ridiculous to suppose that that 
oscanny object could see, — ^yet somehow it seemed to 



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THANE VISITS TWO HOUSES 169 

Courtney that it mat looking at him, looking at him 
.with malicious, accusing eyes. 

Not once, but half a dozen times, he turned in the 
road to glance over his shoulder at the house he had 
left behind. Always his gaze vent to the scarecrow. 
He shivered slightly and cursed himself for a fool. The 
silly thing cotddn't be looking at him! What non- 
sense ! Still he breathed a sigh of relief when he turned 
the bend and was safely screened from view by the grove 
of oaks that crowned the hiU above the village. 

Several automobiles passed him as he trudged along 
the pike; an old man afoot driving a little herd of 
sheep gave him a cheery " good morning," but received 
no response. 

" I wish I hadn't gone into that beastly house,** he 
iwas repeating to himself, a scowl in his eyes. " It gave 
me the * Willies.* Jolly !ot of satisfaction I got out of 
it, — ^I don't think. I daresay he kissed her a good many 
times up there la that, — But, Lord, what's the sense 
of worrying about something that happened ten years 
ago?" 

At the dinner table that noon, Charlie Webster sud- 
denly inquired: 

" Well, what have you been up to this morning. 
Court? " 

Courtney started guiltily and shot a quick, inquiring 
look at the speaker. Satisfied that there was no veiled 
significance in Charlie's question, he replied: 

"Took a long ramble up the pike. The air is like 
wine today. I walked out as far as the old Windom 
house." 

Charlie was interested. "Is that so? Did you see 
lAmos Vick's daughter hanging around the place?" 



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160 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** Amos Vick's — you mean Rosabel? " He swallowed 
hard. " No, I didn't see her. Was she over there? " 

"Jim Baglc; was in the office half aa hour or so 
ago. As he was coming past the house io his Ford he 
saw her standing at the front gate, so he stopped and 
asked her what she was doing over on this side of the 
river. She'd been over here spending the night with 
Annie Jordan,— that's Phil Jordan's girl, jou know, 
the township assessor, — and went out for a long walk 
this morning. She looked awful tired and sort of sickly, 
so Jim told her to hop in and he'd give her a lift back 
to Phil's house. She got in with him and he left her at 
Phil's." 

" I saw her walking down to the ferry with Annie 
as I was coming over from the office a little while ago," 
said Doc Simpson. 

" Sorry I didn't meet her," said Courtney, " She's 
jolly good fun, — and I certainly was in need of some- 
body to cheer me up this morning. For the first time 
since I came out here I was homesick for New York, 
—and mother. It must have been our talk last night 
about the theatres and all that." 



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CHAPTER XII 



W0SD3 AHD I^TTEXS 



MARY BLYTHE and her brother arrived on 
Tuesday for a tvo days* visit. Aliz motored 
to town and brought them out in the automo- 
bile. She was surprised and gratified when Courtney, 
revoking his own decree, volunteered to go up with her 
to meet the visitors at the railway station in the city. 
But when the day came, be was ill and unable to leave 
his room. The cold, steady rains of the past few days 
had brought on an attack of pleurisy, and the doctor 
ordered him to remain in bed. He grumbled a great 
deal over missing the little dinner AUx was giving on 
the first night of their stay, and sent more than one 
lamentation forth in the shape of notes carried up to 
the house on the knoll by Jim House, the venerable 
handy-man at Dowd's Tavern, 

" I really don't recall him," said Addison Blythe, 
frowning thoughtfully. *' He probably came to the 
sector after I left, Miss Crown. I've got a complete 
roster at home of all the fellows who served in the 
American Ambulance up to the time it was taken over. 
I'd like to meet him, I may have run across him any 
number of times. Names didn't mean much, you see, 
except in cases where we hung out together in one 
place for some time. I would remember his face, of 
coarse. Faces made impressions, and that's more than 
names did. Courtney ThaneP Seems to me I have a 
lei 



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162 QUILL'S .WINDOW 

vague recollection of that name. You say he was 
afterward flying with the Britieh? " 

" Yes. He was wounded and gassed at — at — let me 
think. What was the name of the place? Only a few 
*eeks hefore the armistice." 

'* There was a great deal doing a few weeks before 
the armistice," said Bljthe, Bmiling. " You'll hare 
to be a little more definite than that. The air was full 
of British aeroplanea from Iiondon clear to Palestine. 
What is he doing here? " 

" Recovering his health. He has had two attacks of 
pneumonia, you see, — and a touch of typhoid. His 
family originally lived in this country. The old Thane 
farm is almost directly across the river from Windoni' 
ville. Courtney's father was bom there, but went east 
to live during the first Cleveland administration. He 
had some kind of a political appointment in Washings 
ton, and married a Congressman's daughter from 
Georgia, I think — anyhow, it was one of the Southern 
states. He is really quite fascinating, Mary. You 
would lose your heart to him, I am sure." 

" And, pray, have you offered any reward for 
yours?" inquired Mary Blythe, smiling as she studied 
her friend's face rather narrowly. 

Alis met her challenging gaze steadily. A sharper 
observer than Mary Blythe might have detected the 
faintest shadow of a cloud in the dark, honest eyes. 

"When I lose it, dear, I shall say ' good riddance ' 
and live happily ever after without one," she replied 
airily. 

The next morning she started off with her guests for 
a drive down the river, to visit the old fort and the 
remuns of the Indian village. Stopping at the grain 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 163 

ekvfttor, she beckoned to Charlie Webster. The f&i 
little manager came bustling out, beaming with pleasure. 

"How is Mr, Thane today, Charlie?" she inquired, 
after introducing him to the Bljthes. 

Charlie pursed his lips and looked wise. " Well, all 
I can say is, he's doing as well as could be expected. 
Temperature normal, pulse fluctuating, appetite good, 
respiration improTed by a good many cusswords, mus- 
tard plaster itching like all get out, — but otherwise 
he's at the point of death. I was in to see him after 
breakfast. He was sitting up in bed and getting ready 
to tell Doc Smith what he thinks of him for ordering 
him to stay in the house till he says he can go out. He 
ia terribly upset because he can't get up to Aliz^s to 
see you, Mr. Bljthe. I never saw a feUer so cut up 
about a thing as be is." 

** He must not think of coming out in this kind of 
wcath^,** cried Alix firmly. " It would be — " 

" Oh, he's not thinking of coming out," interrupted 
Charlie quietly. 

" I am sorry not to have met him," said BIythe. 
** We probably have a lot of mutual friends." 

A queer little light flashed into Charlie Webster's 
eyes and lingered for an instant. 

** He's terribly anxious to meet you. It wouldn't 
surprise pie at all if he got up today sometime and 
in spite of Doc Smith hustled over to call on you. III 
tell you what we might do, Alix. If Mr. BIythe isn't 
going to be too busy, I might take him up to see Court, 
—that is, when you get back from your drive. I know 
hell appreciate it, and be tickled almost to death." 

•* Pine ! "* cried BIythe. '* If you're sure he will not 
mind, Mr. Webster.** 



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164 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Why should he mind? He says he's crazy to meet 
you, and he's able to see people-—" 

" But I've always understood that talking was very 
painful to any one suffering from pleurisy," protested 
Mix. 

" Doesn't seem to hurt Court very much," declared 
Charlie, *' He nearly talked an arm off of me and 
Furman Hatch this morning, — and it certainly seemed 
to he a real pleasure for him to cuss. I really think 
he'll get veil quicker if you drop in for a chat with 
him, Mr. BIythe." 

" It would be very nice," said AUx warmly, " if you 
could run in for a few minutes — " 

" Sure I will,'* cried the young man. " This after- 
noon, Mr. Webster, — about half-past two? " 

" Any time suits me," said the obliging Mr. Webster. 
As if struck by something irresistibly funny, he sud- 
denly put his hand to his mouth and got very red in 
the face. After an illy-suppressed snort or two, he 
coughed violently, and then stammered: "Excuse me. 
I was just thinking about— er — about something funny. 
I'm always doing some fool thing like that. This was 
about Ed Jones's dog, — wouldn't be the least bit funny 
to anybody but me, so I won't tell you about it. Two- 
thirty it is, then? Ill meet you up at AUx's. It's only 
a step." 

" Will you tell Mr. Thane that you are bringing Mr. 
BIythe to see him this aftemooo, Charlie? " said Alix. 
" You said he was threatening to disobey the doc- 
tor's — " 

" You leave it to me, Alix," broke in Charlie re- 
assuringly. " Trust me to see that he don't escape.** 

A little before two-thirty, tall Mr. BIythe, one tun? 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 166 

Captain in the Field Artillerj, and short Mr. Web- 
ster wended their way through the once busy stable- 
yard in the rear of Dowd's Tavern. Charlie gave his 
companion a brief history of the Tavern and indicated 
certain venerable and venerated objects of interest, — 
such as the ancient log watering-trough (hewn in 1832) ; 
the run-barrels, ash-hoppers and fodder cribs (dating 
back to Civil War days), the huge kettle suspended 
from a thick iron bar the ends of which were supported 
by rusty standards, where apple-butter was made at 
one season of the year, lye at another, and where lard 
was rendered at butchering-time. He took him into 
the wagon-shed and showed him the rickety high-wheeled, 
top-heavy carriage used by the first of the Dowds hack 
in the forties, now ready to fall to pieces at the slightest 
ungentle shake; the once gaudy sleigh with its great 
curved " runners " ; and over in a dark comer two long 
barrelled rifles with rusty locks and rotten stocks, 
that once upon a time cracked the doom of deer and 
wolf and fox, of catamount and squirrel and coon, of 
wild turkeys and geese and ducks — to say nothing of 
an occasional horsethief. 

" They say old man Dowd could shoot the eye out 
of a squirrel three hundreds yards away with one of 
these rifles," announced Charlie ; " and it was no trick 
at all for him to nip a wild turkey's head off at five 
hundred yards. 1*11 bet you didn't run up against any 
such shooting as that over in France." 

Blythe shook his head. " No such rifle shooting, I 
grant you. But what would you say to a German 
cannon twelve miles away landing ten shells in succes- 
sion on a battery half as big as this stable without 
even being able to see the thing they were shooting at? " 



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166 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" I give up," said Charlie gloomil;. " Old man Dowd 
was tome Wnx, but, my gosh, he couldn't hold a — well* 
my respect for the American Army is greater than 
it ever was, I'll say that, Captain. Dan Dowd was 
the rankest kind of an amateur." 

" Do you mean as a shot, — or aa a liar? " inquired 
Blythe, grinning. 

" Both," said Chu-lie, 

He had a very definite purpose in leading his guest 
through the stable-yard. By doing so he avoided the 
customary approach to the Tavern, in full view from 
Courtney's windows. They circled the building and 
arrived at the long, low porch from the north. Here 
they encountered Furman Hatch. Charlie appeared 
greatly surprised to find the photographer there. 

" What are you doing here at this time o' day. Tin- 
type? " he demanded. " Takin' a vacationP " 

" I come over for some prints I left in my room last 
night," explained Mr. Hatch. 

" We're going up to call on Court," said Charlie. 
"Won't you join us?" 

Hatch looked at his watch, frowned dubiously, and 
then said he could spare a few minutes, — and that was 
just what it was understood in advance that he was 
to say ! 

" He goes by the name of Tintype," explained Mr. 
Webster, after the two men had shaken hands. " Not 
because he looks like one, but because the village idiot's 
name is Furman, and we have to have some way of 
tellin' them apart," 

A few minutes later, Charlie knocked resoundingly 
on Courtney's door. 

"Who is it?'^ 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 167 

" It's me, — Charlie Webster. Got a nice surprise 
for you." 

" Come in." 

And in strode Charlie, followed by the tall stranger 
and the lank Mr. Hatch. 

Courtney, full dressed,^ — except that he wore instead 
of his coat a thick blue bath gown, — was sitting at a 
table in front of the small wood-fire stove, playing 
solitaire. A saucer at one comer of the table served 
as an ash tray. It was half full of cigarette stubs. 

" Well, what the — " he began, and then, catching 
si^t of the stranger, scrambled up from his chair, his 
mouth still open. 

" I thought you'd be surprised," said Charlie trium- 
phantly. "This is Mr. BIythe, Mr. Thane,— shake 
hands with each other, comrades. When I told him 
you were so keen to see him and talk over old times, 
he said slap-bang he'd come with me when I offered to 
bring him up." 

" I hope we're not intruding, Mr. Thane," said 
BIythe, advancing with hand extended. " Mr. Web- 
ster assured me you were quite well enough to re* 
ceive — " 

" I am glad you came," cried Courtney, recovering 
from his surprise. *' Awfully good of you. These 
beastly lungs of mine, you know. The least little flare- 
up scares me stiff. Still, I had almost screwed up my 
nerve to going out this afternoon — " 

" It doesn't pay to take any risks," warned BIythe, 
as they shook hands. 

The two men looked each other closely, steadily in 
the eye. Courtney was the first to speak at the end 
of this mutual scrutiny. 



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168 QUnX'S WINDOW 

" I wasn't quite sure whether I met you over there. 
Captain Bljthe," he said, " but now I know that I 
didn't. I've been puzzling my brain for days trying 
to recall the name, or at least your face. I may be 
wrong, however. I haven't much of a memory. I hope 
you will forgive me if we did meet and I have forgotten 
it. I— '» 

" I have no recollection of ever having seen you, 
Mr. Thane," said BIjthe. " It isn't surprising, how- 
ever. It — it was a pretty big war, you know." 

Charlie Webster waa slightly dashed. If anything, 
Courtney Thane was more at ease, more convincing than 
Addison Blythe. He felt rather foolish. Something, it 
seemed, had fallen very flat. He evaded Mr. Hatch's 
eye. 

" Sit down. Captain Blythe," said Courtney affably. 
" Hope you don't mind this bath gown. Charlie, make 
yourself at home on the bed, — ^you too. Hatch. We're 
as shy of chairs here as we were at the front, you see," 

Blythe remained for half an hour and then went 
away with his two companions. Courtney shook hands 
with him and said good-bye at the hall door; then he 
strode over to the bureau to look at himself in the 
glass. He saw reflected therein a very well satisfied 
face, with brightly confident eyes and the suggestion of 
a triumphant smile. 

Hatch accompanied the moody Mr. Webster to the 
warehouse office. 

" Strikes me, Charlie," said he, thoughtfully, " that 
of the two our friend Courtney seems a long sight 
more genuine than this feller Blythe. I guess you're 
off your base, old boy. Why, dam it, he had Blythe up 
in the air half the time. If I was a betting man, 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 169 

I*d put up a hundred or two that Bljthe never even 
saw the places they were talking about." 

" Do jou think Blythc is a fake? " cried Charlie in 
some heat. 

" I wouldn't go so far as to say that," said Hatch 
diplomatically, " but you'll have to admit that Court 
asked him a lot of questions he didn't seem able to 
answer." 

Charlie stared hard at the floor for a few seconds. 
Then : " Well, if I was to ask you what my mother's 
maiden name was, Tintype, you'd have to say you 
didn't know, wouldn't you?" 

" Sure," said Hatch. " But I wouldn't go so far 
as to say I wasn't certain whether she had a maiden 
name or not, would I? " 

" There's no use arguing with you. Hatch," said 
Charlie irritably, and turned to his desk by the win- 
dow, there to frown fiercely over his scales book. 



n 

Alix and Miss Biythe were sitting in front of the 
fireplace when young Bljfthe entered the living-room 
on his return from Dowd's Tavern. The former looked 
up at him brightly, eagerly as he planted himself be- 
tween them with his back to the cheerful blaze. 
' "Did you see him?" she inquired. He was struck 
by the deep, straining look in her dark eyes, — as if 
she were searching for something far back in his brain. 

" Yes," he replied, as he took his pipe and tobacco 
pouch from his pocket. " He was up and around the 
room and was as pleased as Punch to see me." He 
began stuffing the bowl of the pipe. " He is a most at- 



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ITO QUILL'S WINDOW 

tractive chap, Alix. I don't know when I've met a, 
more agreeable fellow." 

" Then you had not met before, — over there? " 

" No. We missed each other by days on two or 
three occasions. He left for the Vosges just before 
I got to Pont-a-Mousson, and was transferred to an- 
other section when we all went up to Bar le Due at 
the time of the Verdun drive. He joined the Amhu-f 
lance several months before I did, and was shifted about 
a good deaL Had some trouble with a French officer 
at Pont-a-Mousson and asked to be transferred." Here 
he smiled feelingly. *' He's got a mustard plaster on 
his back now, be says, that would cover an army mule. 
I know how that feels, by Jinks 1 I wore one for three 
weeks over there because I didn't have the nerve to 
rip it off." 

He was still aware of the unanswered question in her 
eyes. Changing his position slightly, he busied him- 
self with the lighting of his pipe. 

"Was he expecting you?" inquired Alix. 

" Not at all. It seems that your roly-poly friend 
forgot to notify him. I say, Alix, what a wonderful 
lot of prc-bistoric junk there is in that old stable-yard. 
Webster took me around there and showed me the stuff. 
Tell me something about the place." 

Late in the afternoon Blythe, — after submitting to 
an interview at the hands of A. Lincoln Pollock, — sat 
alone before the fire, his long legs stretched out, a 
magazine lying idly in his lap, his pipe dead but gripped 
firmly in the hand that had remained stationary for a 
long, long time halfway to his lips. He was staring 
abstractedly into the neglected fire. 



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WORDS AND LETTERS ITl 

His sister came in. He was not aware of her en- 
trance until she appeared directly in front of him. 

" Hello ! " he exclaimed, blinking. 

" What is on your mind, Addy? " 

He glanced over his shoulder. 

"Where is Alix? " 

" Writing letters. There were two or three she 
has to get off before we start for town." She sat 
down on the arm of his chair. " You may as well tell 
me what you really think of him, Addison. Isn't he 
jgood enough for her? " 

He lowered his voice. The frown of perplexity deep- 
ened in his eyes. 

" I can't make him out, Mary," he said, lowering 
his voice. 

"What do you mean?" she asked quickly. 

"Well, I may be doing him the rottenest injustice, 
but — somehow — he doesn't ring quite true to me." 

*' For goodness sake, Addy, — " she began, and then : 
"In what way? Hurry up! Tell me before she comes 
!down. Isn't he a — a gentleman? " 

" Oh, yes, — I suppose he is. He's a most engaging 
chap; he certainly seems well-bred, and he's darned 
good-looking. That isn't what I mean." He hesitated 
a moment and then blurted out : " Does Alii know 
ponttTKly that he was in the American Ambulance? 
I mean, has she anybody else's word for it except his? " 

Mary BIythe stared at her brother, her lips parted, 
^ben her eyes narrowed suddenly. 

*' Don't — don't you think he's straight, Addy? " she 
lialf-whispered. 

" I confess I'm puzzled. I never dreamed of doubt- 



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173 QUILL'S WINDOW 

ing him when I went there. But I've been doing a lot 
of thinking since I saw him, and, — by George, Mary, 
I'm up a tree- Good. Lord, if he should be — well, if 
he should be putting something over on Alix, he ought 
to be shot, that's all. Do jou think she's in love with 
him ? " 

" I don't know. She's interested in him, I'm sure, 
but two or three times I have caught the queerest little 
look in her eyes when she is speaking of him, — almost 
as if she were afraid of something. I can't describe it. 
It's just — well, the only thing I can think of is that 
it's kind of pleading, if you know what I mean." 

" Groping, I guess is the word you're after." 

" Exactly. But go on, — tell me." 

" It won't do to say anything about this to Alii, 
Mary," said he firmly. " At least not at present. Not 
until I've satisfied myself. I'm going to write to three 
or four fellows who were in Section Two for months, 
—before I was there, — and see if they know anything 
about him. I'd write to Mr. Hereford himself, but he's 
in Europe. He could give me the right dope in a min- 
ute. Piatt Andrew's in France, I understand. The 
records will show, of course, but it will take time to 
get at them. We must not breathe a word of all this 
to Alix, Mary, Understand? I've got to make sure 
first. It would be unpardonable if I were to make a 
break about him and he turned out to be all right." 

" You must find out as qnicklj as possible, Addison. 
We would never forgive ourselves if we allowed AlJx 
to—" 

" Don't you worry ! It won't take long to get a line 
on him. I'd telegraph if I were sure of the addresses. 
I ought to hear in three or four days, a week at the 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 173 

outside. Of course, he talks verj conTiDcingly. That's 
what floors me. But, on the other hand, he's too darned 
convincing. First of all, he called me Captain Blythe 
all the time. That isn't done by fellows in the know. 
I'm just plain Mister these days. He was rather hazy 
about the places I know all about, and tremendously 
clear about places I've never even heard of, — the places 
around Font-a-Mousson, I mean. He actually looked 
suspicious of me when I said I didn't know where they 
were. And he mentioned a lot of men that I am dead 
sure never were up at Pont-a-Mousson, — either before 
or after I was there. Names I had never heard before 
in my life. And, confound it, the way he lifted his 
eyebrows made me feel for a minute or two that I 
hadn't been there myself. He says that since his injury 
and his sicknesses his memory isn't the best, but when 
I spoke of some of the fellows who were there with 
me, he remembered them perfectly. Didn't know them 
well, because he wasn't with the bunch very long, it 
seems. When I remarked that he must see a good 
bit of the chaps who live in New York City, he told 
me he had been sick ever aince he came home from 
England and hadn't seen one of the crowd. He said 
he knew Pottle, and Fay, and Tyler, Sudbery and sev- 
eral others, — so I'm going to write to all of them to- 
morrow." 

" It would be terrible, Addy, if she were to—" 

" Mind you, old girl, I'm not saying this fellow Isn't 
square," he interrupted. " He may be all he says he 
is. He's got me guessing, that's all." 

" She says he has the crmx de guerre and a D. S. 
medal.'* 

He looked at her pityingly. " I've got a couple of 



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17* QUILL'S WINDOW 

Iron CrosBes, old dear, but that doesn't mean I hacl 
'em pinned on me by a Boche general. I've also got a 
GierTDan helmet, but I got it the same waj I got tbe 
Crosses, — oflf of a German whose eyes were closed. Any- 
how, I'd like to see his medals. Has Alix seen them? '* 

" His mother has them in New York," she replied. 
She stared into the fire for a moment or two and then 
turned to him, a look of deep concern in her eyes. " I 
think Aliz is in love with him, Addy. She isn't herself 
at all. She is distrait. Twice this afternoon she has 
asked me if I didn't want to walk down into the village, 
— to the postoffice or the library. What she really 
wanted to do was to walk past the place where he lives. 
Oh, I know the symptoms. I've had them myself, — • 
when I was younger than I am now. We don't do the 
things at thirty-two that we did at twenty-four. She 
is the dearest, finest girl I've ever known, ^ddy. We 
must not let anything happen to her." 

He shook his head slowly. " If she is really in love 
with him, there's nothing we can do. The saying that 
' there's no fool like an old fool ' isn't in it with ' there's 
no fool like a woman in love.' Look at Isabel Harring- 
ton. Wasn't she supposed to be as sensible as they 
make 'emF And didn't everybody she knew tell her 
what kind of a man he was? Did it do any good?" 

" She knew he gambled, — and drank — and he wot a 
fascinating chap, Addy. You'll admit that." 

" You bet I adhiit it. It was certainly proved when 
those other women turned up with marriage certificates, 
and old Mrs. Mason jumped into the scrimmage and 
had him arrested for swindling her out of thirty-five 
thousand dollars, and the New York police came along 
with a warrant for — " 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 175 

" Yes, yes," she interrupted impatiently. " But Alix 
19 quite different. She is not a fool, and Isabel was, — 
and still is, I maintain. You have seen this friend of 
Alix's. Is he attractive? " 

" Well," he mused aloud, " unless I am mistaken, he 
is the sort of fellow that women fall for without much of 
an effort. The sort that can fool women but can't 
fool men, Mary, if that means anything to you. Now 
that I think of it, I believe Webster and that friend 
of his are — Well, I'm sure they don't like him. He — " 

" Sh ! She is coming! " 

Alix's quick, light tread was heard in the hall. She 
came from her " office " in the wing where the kitchen 
was situated. 

There was a heightened colour in her cheeks and her 
loTely eyes were shining. 

*' Well, that job is done," she cried, tossing two or 
three letters on the table, " Don't let tne forget them, 
Mary. Ill post them in the city. We leave at sis 
o'clock, Addison. I telephoned to town and asked 
George Richards to meet us at the Raleigh at a quarter 
before seven. I am dreadfully disappointed, Mary, that 
Mr. Thane cannot go, but you will like George. Mr. 
Thane never goes to town. He was going to break his 
rule tonight, and now he can't go. Isn't that always 
Jhe way ? " 

" Mary's awfully partial to Georges," said Addison, 
"'so don't you worry about her. lAnow I shall have 
a better time if Thane isn't in the party. To be per- 
fectly frank with you, I'm jolly well fed up with Mary, 
)— as we say in London. And if Thane was along I'd 
have to talk to her for three solid— Why, 'pon my 
Soul, Alix, you're blushingl" 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



ITG QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Don't be silly ! " 

** Skip along, ASdy, and see Tiov quickly you cad 
dress," interposed his sister briskly. " You've got 
forty-six minutes.** 

" I can dress and undress three times in forty-six 
minutes, and still have time to read the evening paper 
and do a few odd chores about the place. I say, Alix, 
red is awfully becoming to you." With that parting 
shot, he disappeared. 

m 

One of the envelopes on the table was addressed to 
David Strong. It was a reply to a special delivery 
letter received in the afternoon post. He had been very 
prompt in responding to Alix's curt note, and she was 
being equally prompt with her answer. There were 
stamps sufficient on hers to insure " special delivery '* 
to him. 

He had written: 

Dear Aliz; 

I have not received the bracelet yet Beg:istered mail 
moves slowly. If I did not know you so well, I miglit even 
hope that you had changed your mind at the last minute 
and did not send it But I know it will come along in a day 
or so. I shall not ask you to explain why you are return- 
ing my gift You have a good reason, no doubt We have 
not been very friendly of late. I admit that I have been 
stubborn about paying back the money your grandfather 
lent to me, and I suppose I have not been very gentle- 
manly or tactful in trying to make you understand. I still 
maintain that it is a very silly thing for us to quarrel about, 
bat I am not going to hector you about it now. I trust 
you will forgive ms if I add to your annoyance by saying 



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WORDS AND LETTERS in 

tliat I'd liVe to be wbere I could shake a little sense into 
that stubborn head of yours. 

You are returning tn; gift. As I told you wben I sent 
it to you, it was given me by a French lady whose son I 
had taken care of and for whose nlUmate recovery I was 
perhaps responsible. She appreciated the fact tbat I conld 
not and would not accept pay for my services. This much 
I have told you before. Now, I shall tell yon something 
more. When she pressed it upon me she said that I was to 
give it to my sweetheart back in America. I gave it to 
yrm. I daresay I am greatly to blame for never having told 
y<oa before that you were my sweetheart, Alix. 

Very sincerely yours, 

Datid. 

To this AUx replied: 

Dear David: 

By this time you will have received the bracelet. It ia 
not beyond the bounds of probability that you may yet be 
in a position to carry oat the terms imposed by the lady in 
France. All the more reason for my returning it to you. 
Von are now free to give it to any one to whom yon may 
have confided the astonishing secret you so successfully 
withheld from me. You seem to have forgotten tbat I gave 
yon a receipt in full for the amount you are supposed to 
have owed my grandfather's estate. I did this with the 
consent of my lawyer. He said it was perfectly legal and 
that it was in my power to cancel the so-called obligation, — 
especially as we have no documentary evidence that you 
ever had promised to reimburse my grandfather. On the 
contrary, as I have told you over and over again, I have 
in my possession a statement written by Grandfather Win- 
dom which absolutely settles the matter. He states in so 
many words that in making his will he failed to mention his 
" beloved young friend, David Strong " as a beneficiary, in 



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J78 QUILL'S WINDOW 

view of the fact tbat " I have made htm a substantial gift 
Bnring the closing years of my life in the shape of such 
edacation as he may require, and for which I trust him to 
Tepay me, not in money, but in the simplest and truest form 
of compensation : gratitude." In spite of this, you con- 
tinue to offend me, — I might even say insult me, — by 
choosing to consider his gift as an obligation which can only 
be met by paying money to me. All that yoa owed my 
grandfather was gratitude and respect As for myself, I 
relieve you of the former bnt I do think I am entitled to 
the latter. 

Yours sincerely, 

Alet Crown 

The same post that carrie<l Her letter east was to 
talte one from Courtney Thane to his mother. 

DxARKST Mater: 

I am going to ask Allx Crown to marry me. I have liesl- 
tated to do so for obvious reasons, perfectly clear to yon. 
Now, I have decided. She understands my financial situa- 
tion. She knows that I am almost entirely dependent on 
you for support at present. If it had not been for the war 
and my confounded ill-health, I should, of course, have 
been quite independent by this time. I have explained my 
present unbearable situation to her in a general sort of way, 
and I know tbat she is in complete sympathy with me. 
Your resolve to not increase my allowance is, I suppose, 
irrevocable. J shall soon be in a position, I hope, to dis- 
pense with what you are already so gracious as to allow 
me. I have not deemed it wise to tell her at this time of 
my unfortunate and, as you say, foolish mismanagement of 
m^ affairs before and after father's death. When all is said 
and done, he didn't leave me very much. It went before 
I quite knew what was happening, and I submit tbat it was 
bad judgment due to my youth rather than to recklessness. 



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WORDS AND LETTERS 17^ 

as old Mnmford claims. I'll make him eat his words some 
day. Thanka for your cheque. You are a darling. You're 
the beat mother a fellow ever had. I quite understand your 
position, so don't lose a moment's sleep thinluDg that I 
may be resenting your decision. I shall manage very 
nicely on what you give me. It is ample for my present 
needs. I shall probably find it rather humiliating when it 
comes time for a wedding journey, bu^ bless your dear 
old heart, I'll manage somehow. 

I am quite well and rery happy. Hope yon are the same. 
By the way, have you made that visit to Washington f 
Your loving son, 

Courthet. 

P.S. — I am still looking for the little parcel I asked 
yoQ to send me. Have yon forgotten to attend to itP 

C. 

As Alix and her friends went out to the automobile, 
the big police dog trotted beside Addison Blythe, look- 
ing up into his face with pleased and friendly eyes. 
He allowed the man to stroke his bead and rumple the 
thick fur on his back. 

** He hkes you, Addison," said Alix, a serious little 
frown in her eyes. " I can't understand his not liking 
Courtney Thane. His hair fairly bristles and he growls 
like a bear every time he sees him. Isn't it odd? " 

Blythe looked up quickly. It was on the tip of his 
tongue to say something tactless. What he did say 
was this: 

" Can you blame the poor dog for being jealou#i! '* 



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CHAPTER Xni 

THE OLD INDIAN T&AIL 

COURTNEY delayed. A certain aloofness oa 
Alix's part caused him to hesitate. Something 
in her manner following upon the visit of the 
Blythes invited speculation. She was as pleasant as 
ever, jet he sensed a subtle change that warned him 
of defeat if he attempted to stonn the citadel. His 
confidence was slightly shaken, — but not his resolve. 

** She's been different ever since those infernal Blythes 
were here," he reflected aloud, scowling as he watched 
her pass in the car several days after the departure of 
her guests. 

She went to the city nearly every day now, and 
seldom returned before dark. Somehow he felt that his 
grip was slipping. He was standing in front of the 
Tavern. She had waved her hand to him, and had 
smiled gaily, but it was not the first time that week 
she had failed to stop and repeat her usual invitation 
for him to accompany her, even though she knew be 
would politely decline. He resented this oversight. 
How could she know that he hadn't changed his mind 
about going to the city? As a matter of fact, he had 
changed it. He would have gone like a shot. Indeed, 
he had dressed with that very object in view, — and she 
had gone by with a casual wave of her hand. His 
annoyance was increased by the remark of Mr. Nichols, 
who was standing at the top of the steps at the time. 



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THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL 181 

" Thought you said you was going up to town, Court- 
ney," said the old man, with a detestable grin on his 
wrinkled visage. 

" I didn't say anything of the kind," snapped Court- 
ney, and strode off angrily. 

His stroll, — and his reflections, — looK him up the 
old Indian trail along the bank of the river. He wanted 
solitude. He wanted to be where he could talk without 
fear of being, overheard. There was much that he had 
to say to himself. 

The rarely used path through the willows and un- 
derbrush ran along the steep bank, sometimes within 
a few feet of water. Once before he had walked a 
couple of hundred yards over this ancient, hard-packed 
trail of Tectimseh's people, but had been turned bacid 
by the sight of a small snake wriggjing off into the 
long grass ahead of him. That was in the warm days 
of early September. There was no likelihood of ser- 
pents being abroad on this chill October morning. 

Leaving the road at the cut above the ferry landing, 
he turned into the trail. A half hour's walk brought 
him to the gradually rising, rock-covered slope that led 
to the base of Quill's Window. On all sides were 
great, flat slabs of stone, some of them almost buried 
in the earth, others sticking their jagged points up 
above the brush and weeds. Back in ages dim these 
drab, moss-covered rocks had been sliced from the side 
of the lowering mound by the forces that shaped the 
earth, to be hurled hither and thither with the calm dis- 
dain of the mighty. No human agency had blasted 
them from their insecure hold on the shoulders of the 
cliff. Uncounted centuries ago they had come bound- 
ing, crashing down from the heights, shaken loose by 



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[182 fiUUX'S WINDOW 

the convulsions of Mother Earth, tearing their vay 
throu^ the feeble barrier of trees to a heoceforth place 
of security. 

The trail wound in and out among these boulders, 
dividing at a point several hundred feet eouth of the 
steep ascent to the top of the great black mound. The 
main-travelled path turned in from the river at tlu« 
point, to skirt the hill at its rear. A more tortuous 
way, traversed presumably by the fishers and hunters 
of the tribes, or perhaps by war parties in swift pur- 
suit or retreat, held directly to the bank of the stream, 
and passed along the front of the clifT. 

Courtney took the latter branch. Presently he was 
picking his way carefully along the base of the cliff, 
scrambling over and between the rocks that formed a 
narrow ledge between the river and the sheer face of 
Quill's Window. He was now some fifty or sixty feet 
above the cold, grey water. Below him grew a line of 
stunted, ragged underbrush, springing from the earth- 
filled fissures among the boulders. Across the river 
stretched far away the farms and fields of the far- 
famed grain-belt. 

He sat down upon a rock and gazed out over these 
fertile lands, now crowded with shocks of com or rusty 
with the dead glories of summer. There were great 
square fields of stubble, fenced-in patches of pasture- 
land, small oases of woodland, houses and barns and 
silos as far as the eye could reach, — and always the 
huge red bams dwarfed the houses in which the farmers 
dwelt. Cattle and sheep and horses, wagons and men, 
all made small and insignificant in the swe^ of this 
great and solemn panorama. 



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THE OIJ> INDIAN TRAIL 183 

The home of Amos Vick was visible, standing half- 
a-mile back from tbe river. He looked bard and long 
at the house in which he had spent the first three weeks 
of his stay in the country. So young Cale had gone 
off to join the Navy, eh? Good! And Rosabel, — 
what of her? What was she doing over at the old Win- 
dom house that day? Could it have been she who was 
watching him? Looking badly, too, they said. Such a 
strcmg, pretty, wind-tanned young thing she was ! How 
long ago was it? Not two months. . . . He lit a 
cigarette and resumed his way, the shadow of a fond 
smile lingering in his eyes. 

Rounding the curve, he came to that side of the 
stone hill which faced up the river. He bad passed 
many small, shallow niches along the base of the emi- 
nence, miniature caves from which oozed what might 
welt have been described as sweat. There were, besides, 
deep upright slashes in the side of the rock, higher 
than his head, suggesting to the imagination the vain 
effort of some unhappy giant to burst through the walls 
of his rocky prison, — some monster of a man who now 
lay dead in the heart of the hill- The turn took turn 
farther away from the river. 

He was looking now into the tops of several tall syca- 
mores that rose from the low ground at the foot of 
the hill. Extending far to the north along the river 
was a fringe of these much be-sung trees. The space 
between the straight face of the cliff and the edge of 
the ledge on which he stood was not more than seven 
or eight feet. It was possible, he perceived, for one 
to continue along and down this natural path to the 
bottom of the hill, coming out among the trees in the 



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184 QUILL'S WINDOW 

low ground. The descent, however, waa a great deal 
more precipitous than the ascent from the other direc- 
tion. 

Now that he was immediately below the cave known 
as Quill's Window, he was surprised to find that the 
cliff was not absolutely perpendicular. There was quite 
a pronounced slant; the top of the wall was, at a guess, 
ten feet farther back than the foot. His gaze first 
sought the strange opening three-fourths of the way 
to the top, — a matter of eighty or ninety feet above the 
epot on which he stood. There it was, — a deep, black 
gash in the solid rock, rendered narrow by fore-short- 
ening and a slightly protruding brow. He could tliink 
of nothing more analogous than an open mouth with 
a thick upper lip and the nether lip drawn in. 

Then he saw what surprised him even more, — some- 
thing that none of the chroniclers had mentioned: a 
series of hand-cut niches up the face of the cliff, lead- 
ing directly to the mouth of the cave. He had been 
given to understand that there was no other means of 
reaching Quill's Window save from the top of the rock. 
These niches or " hand-holds " were about two feet 
apart. He examined the lower ones. They were deeply 
chiselled, affording a substantial foothold as well as 
a grip for a strong, resolute climber. Most of them 
were packed with dirty, wind blown leaves from the 
trees nearby, — so tightly packed by the furious rains 
that beat against the rock that he had difficulty in re- 
moving the substance. Higher up they appeared to 
be quite clean and free from obstruction. 

He scraped the leaves out of five or six of the slits, 
one after the other, as he climbed a short distance 



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THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL 18tf 

np the wall. Further prqgresa was checketl, oot so 
much by lack of desire to go to the top, but by aH 
involuntary glance over his shoulder. He was sot 
more than ten feet above the trail, but the trail was 
shockingly narrow and uneven. So down he came, quite 
thrilled by hiB discovery, to lean against the rock and 
laugh scornfully over the silly tales about Quill's Win- 
dow and its eerie impregnability. Anybody could climb 
np there ! All that one needed was a stout heart and 
a good pair of arms. Closer inspection convinced him 
that these niches were of comparatively recent origin, 
— certainly they were not of Quill's time. David Win- 
idomP Had that adventurous lad hewn this ladder to 
the cave long before the beautiful Alix the First came 
to complete the romance of his dreams? 

No matter who cut them, they were still there to 
prove that Quill's Window was accessible. According 
to tradition, no one had put foot inside the cave since 
David Wtndom, in his youth, had ventured to explore 
its grisly interior. Courtney promised himself that 
one day he would enter that unhallowed hole in the 
wall! 

Retracing his steps over the trail, be sooU found 
himself in the village. He was more cheerful now. 
He had talked himself into a better frame of mind. 
., . . She was shy. She had reached the turning 
point, — the inevitable point where women tremble with 
a strange mixture of alarm and rapture, and are as 
timid as the questioning deer. What a fool he was 
not to have thought of that ! 

.There was a small package in his lockbox at the 
postoffice — and two or three letters. The package 



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180 QUnX'S WINDOW 

iras from Nev York, addressed in his mother's hand. 

He stopped at the general delirer; irindow for a 
diat vith Mrs. Folloclc. 

** I had forgotten all about my birthdaj," he said* 
** but here's mother reminding me of it as usual. She 
never forgets, — and, hang it all, she von't let me for- 
get." He fingered the unopened package lovingly, 

" Goodness me, Mr. Thane, — is this your birth- 
day?" she cried excitedly. **We must have a cele- 
bration. We can't allow — " 

*' Alas, it is too late. Your super-efficient postal 
service has brought this to me just forty-eight hours 
behind time. Day before yesterday was the day, now 
that I think of it." 

Mrs. Pollock mentally resolved to indite a short poem 
to him, notwithstanding. She could feel it coming, even 
as she stood there talking to him. The first line was 
already written, so to speak. It went: 

" The flight of Time has brought oace more — " 

He continued, oblivious to the workings of the Muse : 
" Twenty-nine ! By Jove, I begin to feel that I'm get- 
ting on in life." He ripped open one of the envelopes, 

Maude Baggs Pollock looked intently at the ceiling 
of the outer office, and thought of line number two: 

" .The busy Reaper to his door," 

She hastily snatched a pencil from her hair and be- 
gan jotting down these precious lines. Fumbling for a 
bit of paper her fingers encountered an envelope ad- 
dressed to Alaska Spigg- The Muse worked swiftly. 



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THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL 187 

Before she had dashed off the first two lines, the second 
pair were crowding down upon them, to wit: 

" But while be whets bis fatal scythe. 
Gaze ye npon bis victim lithe." 

At this juncture George Rice's son came in for a 
half dozen postal cards, and while she was making 
change for a dime the Muse forsook her. Bent on pre- 
serving the lines already shaped, she stuffed Alaska's 
letter into the pocket of her apron, intending to copy 
them at the first leisure moment. Unfortunately for 
Alaska, there was a rush of business at the window, in* 
eluding an acrimonious dispute with Mrs. Ryan over the 
non-arrival of a letter she was expecting from her son, 
and a lengthy conversation with Miss Flora Grady who 
dropped in to say that her chilblains always began to 
bother her in October. In the meantime, Courtney de- 
parted. 

Two days later, Alaska Spigg received her letter, 
considerably crumpled and smelling of licorice root, — 
(a favourite remedy of Mrs. Pollock's) — but rendered 
precious by the presence of a mysterious " quatrain " 
done in violet hues by some poetic wielder of an indel- 
ible pencil. Guilt denied Maude Baggs Pollock the right 
to claim authorship of these imperishable lines, and 
to this day they remain unidentified in the archives of 
the Windomville Public Library, displayed upon re- 
quest by Alaska Spigg, their proud and unselfish donor. 

Courtney read two of his letters. The third he con- 
signed, unopened, to the fireplace at Dowd's Tavern. 
The little package, minus the wrapping paper, was 
locked away in his trunk. 



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188 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Charlie Webster, emerging from his office at the din- 
ner hour, — twelve noon, — espied Miss Angie Miller huiv 
Tjing toward the Tavern. He hailed her, — not cere- 
monionslj or even gallantly, — but in the manner of 
Windomville. 

"Hey!" he called, and Angie promptly responded, 
not with the dignity for which she was famous but with 
^ entirely human spontaneity: 

" Hey yourself ! " 

She waited till he caught up with her. 

'* Have you bad an answer to that letter, Angie? " he 
inquired, glancing at a small bunch of letters she held 
in her hand. 

'*No, I haTen't,** she replied, somewhat guardedly. 
" I can't understand why he hasn't answered, Charlie^ 
— unless he's away or something." 

** Must be that," said he, frowning slightly. " Yoa 
wrote nearly two weeks ago, didn't you? " 

" Two weeks ago yesterday." 

** Sure you had the right address? " 

" Absolutely. Thirty-three Cedar Street. He'p had 
an office there for ever so long. I ought to know where 
my uncle's office is, oughtn't I?" 

" I thought maybe you might have got the wrong 
tree," explained Oiarlie. 

" It's Cedar," eaid Miss Angie flatly, 

" Cedar and pine are a good deal alike, except in — ^*- 
began Charlie, doubtfully. 

" Goodness ! " cried Miss Angle, stopping short. 
'"ItuPine! How perfectly stupid of me! How utterly 
Teprebensible ! " 

Charlie stared at her a moment in sheer disdain. 

" Well, by gosh, if that ain't like a wcmian," he ez- 



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THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL 189 

claimed disgastedly. " I'd hate to send you for a 
half dozen oranges if there were anj lemons in the 
market." 

" He is BUch a well-known lawyer," began Angie 
hnmblj, " that you would think the mail carrier 
would-—" 

"What did you say hia name was?" 

" Joseph Smith. He is my mother's brother," 

"East or West?" 

" East or west what? " 

"Pine Street. Same as North Fourth Street and 
South Fonrth Street up in the city. It runs both 
ways, Angiei — ^you poor simp." 

" I shall write to him again this evening," said An^e 
stiffly. " And Fll thank you, Charlie Webster, to re- 
member that I am a lady and not a — '* 

" I apologize, An^e," cried Charlie. 

"You'd better!" 

Tbey walked along in silence for a few rods. Then 
Charlie spoke. 

" You say your uncle was mixed up in a lawsuit of 
some kind concerning the Thane family?" 

" I remember it distinctly. It was fire or sis years 
ago, before my mother died. He wrote her a letter 
about it when be found out that the Thanes originally 
came from this neighbourhood. I don't remember what 
it was all about, but I think it was some kind of a 
rumpus over money." 

" Well, you write tonight, Angie,'' ordered Mr. Web- 
ster ; " and remember it ain't Cedar, or Oak, or Ma- 
hogany. It's Pine, — the stuff you make boxes of." 

Much to Courtney's dismay, Alix remained in town 
over ni^t. He went up to the house that evening. 



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190 QUILL'S WINDOW 

only to receive this disconcerting bit of information. 
Halfway home, he stopped short in the road, con- 
fronted b; a most astonishing doubt. Had she really 
stayed in town? Could it be possible that she was at 
home and did not care to see him? Was it an excuse? 
He compressed his lips. With lightning rapidity cer- 
tain bits of circumstantial evidence raced through his 
miod. In the first place, there was Sergeant, the police 
dog. He wished he could remember whether he bad 
seen the animal in the car with her that morning. It 
was her custom to take the dog with her when she went 
up for the day. One thing was certain: Sergeant was 
now at home. Did that mean she bad returned from 
the city? 

And then there was another extraordinary thing,.^ 
Bomething to which he had not given a thought till now. 
The dog was on the terrace when he strode up the 
walk. Not only was be there, but be interposed his lean, 
bristling body between him and the porch-steps, growl- 
ing ominously and showing his teeth. He did not bark. 
He merely stood there, daring him to approach. Court- 
ney remembered saying to himself: 

" There's one thing sure, you and I can't live in 
the same house, you filthy brute. You'd better learn 
how to say your prayers, my amiable friend." 

It was not BO miich the presence of the dog or his 
inimical attitude that troubled him now as the fact 
that Mrs. Strong opened the front door without having 
been summoned by the bell. What did that signify? 
But one thing: either she or some one else had been 
waiting and watching for his arrival, — waiting behind 
the window curtains of a darkened room ! 

"Well, — I'm damned I" he swore to himself, as the 



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THE OLD INDIAN TRAIL 191 

blood rushed furiously to bis bead. For an instant be 
saw red. " Good Lord, wbat have I done to deserve 
such a slap in the face as thisF What can be — But, 
what the devil's the matter with me? Of course, she's 
in town! I must be going battj. Certainly she's in 
town. She — but, even so, why should she have gone 
off like this without saying a word to me about it? 
She didn't mention it last night. Not a word. And 
she must have known then she was planning to spend the 
night, — why, by gad, I wonder if she calls that being 
fair with me? Letting me trail up here tonight, ex- 
pecting — Any way you want to look at it, it's rotten, 
— ^juat plain rotten!" 



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CHAPTER XIV 



EABLY the next momiitg she called him up from 
the city. She explained everything. The little 
dauj^ter of her best friend had fallen down- 
stairs, injuring herself badly, — perhaps fatally. She 
felt it her duty to remain with the distracted mother, — 
she hoped be would understand. And she was in such 
a hurry to reach the city after the child's father had 
called her on the telephone that she really did not have 
the time to stop and explain. He would understand 
that* too, wouldn't he? And she thought perhaps she 
wonld stay over another night. She couldn't leave 
Marjorie, — ^at least, not until something definite was 
known. 

He was vastly relieved. All his worry for nothing! 
He wished now that he had remained in his room in- 
stead of going out a second time last night to tramp 
about the dark, lonely village, driven forth by an uglj 
fit of temper. 

" But Mrs. Strong didn't say anything about the 
accident," he said over the wire. " She simply sfud you 
were in town for the night." 

" I can't understand that," replied Alix. " She knew 
why I came up to town, and I telephoned her during 
the afternoon that I would stay overnight. 

" She might have told me," he complained. ** It 
would have relieved my mind oiormously. I — I was 



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SUSPICION 393 

Horribly unbapp;. Never closed my eyes. I thought 
you, — that is, I wondered if I had done anything to 
offend you. My Lord, you'll never know how happy I 
am this minute. My heart is singing. And to think 
it was like a tump of lead all last ni^t. Do try to 
come out this evening." 

She did not answer at once, but he could plainly 
hear her breathing. Then she said softly : 

« If — ^if the child is better. I can't leave Marjorie 
;until — unto — " 

" I understand," he cried heartily. ** What a selfish 
beast I am. Don't give me another thought. Your 
place is there. Because you are an angel ! " 

Later on he sauntered over to the postoffice. A num- 
ber of men and women were congregated in front of 
the drug store, among them Charlie Webster and A. 
Lincoln Pollock. The latter had his ** pad " in hand 
and was writing industriously. 

" What's the excitement? " Courtney inquired, com- 
ing up to Charlie. 

" Somebody poisoned Henry Brickler's coUie last 
sight," replied Charlie. There was a dark scowl on 
his chubby face. 

" You don't mean that corking dog up at the white 
house on the — " 

" Yep. That's the one," replied Charlie harshly. 
** Anybody that would poison a dog ought to be tarred 
and feathered." 

"Who did it?" 

'* You don't suppose a man mean enough to give an 
nnsuspectin' dog a dose of poison would be kind enough 
to pin his card on the gatepost, dp you? I should say 
not ! " 



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194 QUILL'S WINIX)W 

" But why on earth should any one want to poison 
that big beautiful dogP" cried Courtney indignantly. 
*'Had he bitten anybody? " 

" Not as anybody knows of. Henry aays he never 
harmed a living soul. That dog — " 

" By George ! " exclaimed Courtney suddenly. " This 
reminds me of something. I passed a couple of men 
last night down at the corner where you turn up to 
Miss Crown's. They were leaning against the fence on 
the opposite side of the road, and I had the queerest 
sort of feeling about them. I felt that they were watch- 
ing me. I remember turning my head to look back at 
them. They were still standing there. It was too dark 
to see what they looked like — " 

" Wait a second," broke in Charlie. " Here's Bill 
Foss, the constable. Tell it to him, Court." 

The town constable, vastly excited, came up the 
street, accompanied by two or three stem-visaged 
citizens- 

'* Well, by thunder ! " growled the officer, wiping his 
forehead. ** Somebody's been making a wholesale job 
of it. Dick Hurdle's ' Jackie ' and Bert Little's 
* Prince ' are dead as doornails. That makes three. 
Now, who the hell, — " 

" Just a second, — just a second," cried A. Lincoln 
Pollock, elbowing his way into the thick of the new 
group. " Let me get the facts. You first, Dick. 
Where did you find your dog's remains? Now, take 
it calm, Dick. Don't cuss like that. I can't print a 
word of it, you know, — not a word. Remember there 
are ladies present, Dick. You've got to — " 

Mr. Hurdle said he didn't give a cuss if all the 
women in town were present, he was going to say what 



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SUSPiaON 195 

he thought of any blankety-blank, — and so on at great 
length, despite the fact that the ladies crowded eves 
a little closer, evidently reluctant to miss a word of his 
just and unbridled blasphemy. 

The occasion demanded the sonorous cfEciency of 
Mr. Richard Hurdle. In all Windomville there was 
no one so well qualified to do justice to the situation 
as he. (Later on, Charlie Webster was heard to re- 
mark tliat " as long as these dogs had to be killed, it's 
a great relief that Dick's was one of 'em, because he's 
got the best pair of lungs in town. He can expand 
his chest nearly seven inches, and when he fills all that 
extra space up with words nobody ever even heard of 
before, people dear over in Illinois have to rush out 
and shoo their children into the house and keep *em 
there till it blows over.") 

Doctor Smith came rattling up in his Ford, hopped 
out, and started to enter the drug store. Catching sight 
of the druggist in the crowd, he stopped to bawl out: 

** Who's been buying prussic acid of you, Sam Fos- 
ter? What do you mean by selling — " 

" I ain't sold a grain of prussic acid in ten years," 
roared Mr. Foster. " Or any other kind of poison. 
Don't you accuse me of — " 

"Anything new, DocP Anything new?" cried the 
editor of the San, rushing up to the doctor. 

"They got that dog of Alix Crown's. I tried to 
save him, — but he was as good as dead when I got there. 
Of all the damnable outrages — " 

" Miss Crown's dog? " cried Courtney, aghast. 
** Good God ! Why, — why, it will break her heart ! She 
loved that dog ! Men ! We've got to find the scoundrel. 
We've got to fix him. He ought to be strung up. Has 



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196 QUILL'S WINDOW 

any one called Misa Crown ap, Doctor? She is in the 
city. She—" 

" Mrs. Strong called her up. The automobile started 
for town fifteen or twenty minutes ago to bring hei- 
home." 

" Keep your shirt on. Court," warned Charlie Web- 
ster. " YouTl bust a blood resseL Cool o£F ! There's 
no use talkin' about gettktff him. Whoever it was that 
planted these dog-butt(His around town was slick enough 
to cover up his tracks. We'll neyer find out who did it. 
It's happened before, and the result is always the same. 
Dead dogs tell no tales." 

" But those two fellows I saw down at the corner 
last night — " 

" Would you be able to identify them? " 

" No, — hang it aE! It was too dark. It was about 
half-past nine. Why, earlier in the evening I was at 
Miss Crown's. I saw the dog. He was on the terrace. 
He growled at me, — he always growled at me. He 
didn't hke me. Mrs. Strong came to the door and called 
him into the house. I am sure he was all right then. 
When is he supposed to have got the poison, Doctor? " 

" This morning. She let him out of the house about 
seven o'clock. Ptud no attention to him till he came 
crawling around to the kitchen door some time after- 
ward. He just laid down and kicked a few times, — ■ 
that's what makes me think it was prussic acid. It 
knocks 'em quick." 

*' Come on, Charlie," cried Courtney, clutching the 
other's arm. " We must go up to the house. There 
may be some trace, — something that will give us a clue.'* 

He was at the house when the car returned without 
Alix. She had sent the chauffeur hack with instruct 



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SUSPICION 197. 

tioDS to bury the dog. She could not bear looking at 
lum. She wanted it to be all over with before she came 
home. 

" I don't blame her," said Charlie soberly. " Shows 
bow much she thought of Sergeant when abe'a willing 
to paj five hundred dollars reward for the capture of 
the man or men who poisoned him." 

"Where did you hear that?" demanded Courtney, 
surprised. 

" Ed Stevens says she told him to authorize Bill 
Foss to have reward notices struck off over at the Sim 
office, offering five hundred cash. She idways said that 
dog was the best friend she had on earth." 

" But five hundred dollars ! Why, good Lord, you 
can buy a, dozen police dogs for that amount of — " 

" You couldn't have bought Sergeant for ten times 
five hundred," interrupted Charlie. ** You see, as a 
matter of fact, he didn't actually belong to Alix." 

*' You must be crazy. She has had him since he was 
a puppy three months old." 

** Sure. But, all the same, he didn't belong to her. 
He belonged to David Strong. Davy got him in France 
in the spring of 1918 and sent him clear over here for 
bis mother to take care of for him." 

Courtney vas silent for a moment. ** It's strange 
Miss Crown never told me this," he said, biting his lip. 

" Well," aaid Charlie quaintly, ** far as that goes, I 
don't suppose it ever occurred to her to tell Sergeant 
he belonged to somebody else, but even if she had I don't 
reckon it would have made a dam' bit of difference to 
him. He would have gone on loving her, just the same, 
!— and workin' twenty-four hours a day for her, Sun- 
^ys and holidays included. A dog don't care who be 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



198 QUILL'S WINDOW 

beloDgs to, Court, but he's mighty darned particular 
about who belongs to him." 

" I can't understand why he never seemed to like me," 
mused Courtney. 

"Well, maybe," began Charlie soberly, "—maybe, 
after all, he did sort of know that he was Davy Strong's 
dog." 



For three days Windomville talked oi' nothing but 
the " dog murders." The Sua came out on Thursday 
with a long and graphic account of the mysterious af- 
fairs of Monday night, including the views and the- 
ories of well-known citizens. It also took occasion to 
" lambast " Constable Foss with great severity. The 
Constable, being a Republican, (and not a subscriber 
to the Shin), was described as about the most incom- 
petent official Windomville had ever known, and that 
it would have been quite possible for the miscreant or 
miscreants to have poisoned every dog in town, in broad 
dajlight, accompanied by a brass band, without Bill 
ever " getting onto it-" 

It goes without saying that everybody in town was 
stimulated to prodigious activity by the reward offered 
by Miss Crown. Notices were stuck up in the postoffice 
and on all the telephone poles. A great many em- 
barrassing incidents resulted, and three fist-fights of 
considerable violence occurred, — for the gentlemen ac- 
cused of the crimes took drastic and specific means of 
establishing complete and satisfactory alibis. 

Courtney Thane chafed under the prolonged absence 
of Alix Crown. Valuable time was being wasted. He 



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SUSPICION 199 

hod assisted at the burial of Sergeaot, and had shed 
tears with Mrs. Strong while Ed Stevens, the chauffeur, 
was filling in the grave up back of the orchard; and 
he had done further homage to the dead by phuiting 
a small American flag at the head of the mound and, — 
as aD afterthought, — the flag of Belgium at the foot. 

He felt that he had done very well by a dog that 
would have torn him to pieces if encouraged by the 
merest whisper of the words ** sic 'im ! " 

Alix returned late on Friday afternoon. He bad a 
box of roses, ordered from the city for him by Miss 
Flora Grady, awaiting her, and with them a tender 
little note of sympathy. 

She sat for a long time with Mrs. Strong. Her dark 
eyes softened and filled with tears as David's mother 
gently stroked her hair and sought by words to con- 
vince her that David would understand. 

** It wasn't your fault, Alix darling," she protested. 
** David won't mind, — not in the least. Sergeant didn't 
really mean anything to him. He was yours more than 
he was David's, Don't you worry about David's feel- 
ings, dear. He — " 

" You don't understand. Aunt Nancy, — you don't 
onderstand at all," Alii repeated over and over again 
in her distress. 

*• You're just worrying yourself sick over it," said 
the older woman, " Why, you look all tuckered out, 
child, — I was shocked when you first came in. Now, 
don't be foolish, dear. I tell you it will be all right 
with David. I wrote him all about it, and — ^what's tiiat 
you are saying? " 

'* You don't suppose he will think I — think I did it, 
Aunt Nancy?" Alix whispered bleakly. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



200 QXJILL'S WINDOW 

** Think joq — for the land's sake, Alix, what on eartli 
are you saying? Are you stark, staring crazy? You 
come right upstairs and get into bed this minute. My 
land, I — I believe you're going to be sict You've got 
the queerest look in your eyes. Come on, now, deary, 
and — " 

"I am sick, — ^just sick with unhappiness. Aunt 
Nancy," sobbed the (pri, ** You don't know, — ^you 
don't understand. Oh, he couldn't believe I would do 
such a thing as that! He couldn't tlunk me so cruel, 
and wicked and — and spiteful." 

" Now, listen to me,'* said Mrs. Strong sternly. 
" What is the meaning of all this? What has happened 
between you and David that makes you talk like this? 
Tell me, — tell me this minute, Alix Crown." 

" Hasn't he told you — ^written you about anjftJungf " 
cried the girl. 

" I don't know what you are driving at. Alii, but 
whatever it is I knov David hasn't got anything against 
you that would make yon say such things as you've 
just been saying.** She hesitated a moment and then 
laid her hand on Alix's head. *' IVe been wondering 
a whole lot of late, Alix. Have yon and David had a — 
a misunderstanding? ** 

" We — ^we don't like each other a* — as we used to. 
Aunt Nancy," said the ^rl, lifting her head almost de- 
fiantly to look David's mother full in the eyes. 

"Is it David's fault?" asked Mrs. Strang after a 
moment. 

*' I — I wish yon wouldn't ask me anything more 
about it. At least, not now." 

"Is it David's fault?" demanded the other once 
more, insistently. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



gUSPICION 201 

" I wilt say this much ; it isn't mj fault," replied 
Altx stiffly. 

Mrs. Strong smiled, — a tender, loving smile, 

" I think I could straighten everything out if David 
were only here," she said. " 1 would take you both 
across my knee and give ydu a good sound spanUng. It 
used to work beautifully when you were children, — and 
I think it would work now. I — I wonder if it would 
help matters any if I were to spank — No, I'm sure it 
wouldn't. To do any good at all David would have 
to be here to see me spanking you and to beg me to let 
you off and give it to him just twice as hard." 

" Oh, Aimt Nancy," cried Alix eagerly, " if you only 
vouid! How I wish I were a little girl again! And 
I)avid a little boy ! " 

Then she fied from the room. Nancy Strong put her 
hand over her eyes and sighed. 

" I wish David were here," she said to herself. " If 
he were only here today." 

During dinner that evening Alix was strangely re- 
pressed. It was plain to Mrs. Strong that she was 
inwardly agitated. After they left the table she be- 
came visibly nervous. She was " fidgety," to speak the 
thought of her perplexed companion. Time and again 
she started and appeared to be listening intently, and 
always there was a queer little expression in her eyes 
as of expectancy. Once or twice Mrs. Strong surprised 
a flash of anxiety, — aye, even fear, — in them. 

" You haven't read your letters yet, Alix," she said 
at last, seeking for some means to divert the girl's 
thoughts. " There is quite a pile of them there on the 
table." 

** I don't feel Uke reading letters tonight," said Alix- 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



202 QUILL'S WINDOW 

** They can wait till tomorrow." She arose, howerer, 
and hurriedtj ran throu^ the pile. " I wrote to David 
before dinner, Aunt Nancy," she said suddenly. " A 
long letter about Sergeant's death. I wanted him to 
know how miserably I feel about it." 

" Bless your heart, he'll know that without your tell- 
ing him, child. I am ^ad you wrote to him, however." 

Alii came to a letter addressed in an unfamiliar 
hand, — a bold, masculine scrawl. The postmark was 
Chicago. She tore it open. It began with "Dear 
Alix." She quickly turned to the last page. It was 
signed " Addison BIythe." A *' thank you " letter, of 
course. 

Her back was to Mrs. Strong as she stood beside the 
table, bending slightly forward to get the full light 
from the library lamp. She read the letter through to 
the end ; then she walked over to the fireplace and threw 
it into the flames. Her face had lost every vestige of 
colour : 



Dear Alii: fit began] Yon will no doubt throw this 
letter into the fire the instant fon have finished reading it, 
and you will hate me for having written it Nevertheless, 
I am doinit so becanse I think it is my doty. I offer no 
apology. I only ask you to believe that my intentions are 
good. It is best to come straifdit to the point. I have 
talked it all over with Mary and she approves of this let- 
ter. What I am aboat to say still requires official con- 
firmation. I do not speak with authority, you must under- 
stand. I am merely giving yon certain bits of information 
I have obtained from men who were in France in 1915 and 
1916. It rests with yon to believe or disbelieve. In any 
case, if yon are wise, you will at least take the trouble to 
investigate. I am at yoor service. If I can help yon in 



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SUSPICION 20? 

any way, please call upon me. If yott desiie it, I will 
provide you with the names of at least three men who were 
in Ambulance, all of whom have answered my letters of 
inquiry. One of these men met Courtney Thane in Paris 
in November, 1915. He was living at the Hotel Chatham 
with bis mother. She had a husband up at the front, 
fighting with the French. This husband was a count or 
something of the sort and a good many years her junior. 
My informant writes me that young Thane, who drank a 
great deal and talked quite freely of family affairs, told 
him that his mother had married this young Frenchman a 
few months before the war broke out and went to Paris 
to live with him. He went so far as to say that the 
Frenchman married her for her money and he hoped the 
Germans would make a widow of her again before it was 
too late. According to this chap. Thane had also been in 
Paris since the beginning of the war. He spent money like 
a drunken sailor and touched nothing but the high spots. 
The second or third time he met him. Thane said he would 
like to get into the Ambulance. His mother, however, was 
bitterly opposed to his joining up. The last time be saw 
him, he had on an Ambulance uniform and was as drunk 
as a lord in one of the caf6s. My friend had it straight 
from fellows out at Nenilly that Thane hadn't worn the 
uniform a week before it was taken away from him and he 
was kicked out of the service in disgrace. 

One of the other chaps has written me, saying that he 
was at the base hospital when Thane was stripped of his 
oniform. He was not a witness to this, hut he heard other 
fellows and the nurses talking about it. Not only was his 
nniform taken away, but be was ordered to get ont of Paris 
at once. They heard afterward that he went to Madrid 
with his mother. He was never at Pont-a-Monsson. It is 
obvious that he was not in the Vosges sector, in view of the 
fact that he lasted less than a week in the Ambulance, and 
did a vast amount of carousing in a nniform that I revere. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



204 QUILL'S WINDOW 

It fs Qp to 70a, Alii. The records of the American 
Ambulance are arailable. Yoa can obtain all the informa- 
tion you desire, and I beg of yon to get into communication 
with Mr. Hereford or Mr. Andrew or some other official at 
once. I append below the addresses of several persons to 
whom yon may write. They were high in authority. They 
will give you facts. 

I was convinced that Thane was not on the level when I 
met bim that day. Hia stories did not jibe. I said nothing 
to you at the time, because I could not be sure of my ground. 
I think I am reasonably sure now. 

I may add that I have written to Col. Andrew and 
others on my own hook. If yon care to see their replies, 
when I get them, I shall send them to you. All you have 
to do 19 to say the word. In any case, I ask yon to believe 
that my devotion and Mary's deep and honest love are the 
excuse for this letter, which you may show to Mr. Thane 
if you see fit. I have no right to question his statement 
that be served in the Royal Air Force. I know nothing 
to the contrary. I speak only of the Ambulance. I am, 
dear Alix, 

Yonrs devotedly, 

Addison Bltthe. 



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CHAPTER XV 

THE FACE AT TBE VnmOW 

MBS. STRONG, obserring her pallor, arose 
quickly and went to Aliz's side. 
" What is it, dearP " she cried. " What was 
in that letter? You are as white as a ghost." Receiv- 
ing for answer a pitiful little smile that was not so 
much a smile as a grimace of pain, she placed her hand, 
on the girl's shoulder. " Why did you destroy it? " 

" I — I don't know," murmured Alix through set, 
rigid lips. 

" Yes, you do know," said the other 6rmly. 

Alix looked dumbly into her old friend's eyes for a 
moment, and then her honest heart spoke: *' I destroyed 
it, Aunt Nancy, because I was afraid to read it again. 
It was from Addison Blythe. He has been making in- 
quiries concerning Courtney Thane. In that letter he 
said things which, if true, make Courtney out to be a 
most — a most unworthy person." 

She turned to look into the fire, her eyes narrowing. 
The black, flaky remnants of the letter were still flut- 
tering on the hearth. As she watched, the draft caught 
them and sent them swirling up the chimney. 

A high wind was blowing outside. It whistled mourn- 
fully around the corners of the house. Somewhere oa 
the floor above a door, buffeted by the wind from an 
open window, beat a slow and muffled measure against 
its frame. 

David's mother saw the colour slowly return to her 
205 



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200 QUUX'S WINDOW 

companion's face. She waited. Something akin to J07 
poBEessed her. She was afraid to speak for fear that 
her voice would betray her. At last she said: 

" We know nothing about Mr. Thane except what 
he has told us, Alix." 

The girl looked searchinglj into her eyes. 

" You do not like him, Aunt Nancy. I have felt it 
from the beginning. Is it because you are David*8 
mother? " 

Mrs. Strong started. The direct question had struck 
home. She was confused. 

" Why,— Alii,— I— what a silly thing to ask. What 
has David to do with it? '* 

Alix was still looking at her, broodingly. "Why 
don't you like him, Aunt Nancy? " 

*' Have I ever said I didn't like him? ** 

" No. But I know. I know that Charlie Webster does 
not like him. I knew that Addison did not like him.'* 

Mrs. Strong could not resist the impulse to add: 
" Aod Sergeant did not like him." 

"And you think that convicts him?" said the girl, 
half ironically. 

" I have a good desl of faith in dogs," muttered Mrs. 
Strong, duBhing. 

Alix'a gaze went to the huge vase of roses on the 
table. Then she turned quickly to look once more into 
her companion's eyes. 

" You believe that Courtney poisoned him, don't 
you ? " 

" I have no more reason for believing it than you 
have, Alix," returned Mrs. Strong calmly. 

"Why, — why do you say that?" cried the girl, 
startled. 



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THE FACE AT THE WINDOW 207 

" Because you would not have asked the question if 
jou hadn't been — well, wondering a little yourself* 
Alix." 

" Oh, — ^I don't want to think it," cried Alix miser- 
ably. *' I don't want to think of it ! " 

" No more do I want to think it. Listen to me, Alix. 
I confess that I do not like this man, I have no way 
of explaining my feeling toward Hm. He has always 
been polite and agreeable to me. He has never done 
a thing that I can call to mind that would set me 
against him. Maybe it's because he is not of my world, 
because he comes from a big city, because deep in his 
heart he probably looks down on ns Hoosiers. I will 
go farther, Alix, and say that I do not trust him. That 
is a nasty thing to say. It is none of my business, but 
I — I wish you did not like him so well, Alix." 

" It would appear that my friends are taking more 
than an ordinary interest in my welfare," said Alix 
slowly, and with some bitterness. " Is it possible that 
you all believe me incapable of taking care of myself? '* 

" Smarter women than you, Alix Crown, have been 
fooled by men," said the other sententiously. " Oh, I 
don't mean the way you think, my child, — so don't 
glare at me like that, I know you can take care of 
yourself that way, — but how about falling in love? 
And getting married? And Bnding out afterward that 
roses don't grow on cactus plants? That's how women 
are fooled, — and you're no different from the rest of 
xta." 

" I think, — I am quite sure that he is in love with 
me^ Aunt Nancy," said Alix, somewhat irrelevantly. 
There was no sign of gladness, however, nor of triumph* 
in her dark, brooding eyes. 



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208 QUnX'S WINDOW 

" That's easy to understand. The point is, Alix, — > 
are you in love vith him ? " 

Alix did not answer at once. The little frown in her 
€jee deepened. 

" I don't think so, Aunt Nancy," she said at last. 
*' I don't believe it is love. That is what troubles me 
so. It is something I cannot understand. I don't 
tnow what has come over me. I will be honest with you, 
— and with myself. I do not really trust him. I don't 
believe he is all that he claims to be. And yet,— 
and yet. Aunt Nancy, I, — I — " 

" Don't try to tell me," broke in the older woman 
gently. " My only sister thought she was in love with 
Terry Moore, a fellow who had been in the peniten- 
tiary once for stealing, and was a drunkard, ti gam- 
bler, and a bad man with women, and all that. She was 
crazy about him. She ran off with him and got mar- 
ried. She never was in love with him, AUi. She hated 
him after a few weeks. He just cast some kind of 
a spetl over her — ^not a mental spell, you may be sure. 
It was something physical. He was slick and smart 
and good looking, and he just made up his mind to 
get her. A man can be awful nice when he has once 
set his heart on getting a girl, — and that's what fools 
'em, great and small. All the mistakes are not made 
by ignorant, scatter-brained girls, my dear. My father 
used to say that the more sense a woman has, the more 
likely she is to do something foolish. Now, Alix dear, 
I know just how it is with you. Courtney Thane has 
cast a spell over you. I believe in spells, same as the 
old New Englander used to believe in witchcraft. Yoa 
don't love him, you don't actually believe in him. Yoit 



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JTHE FACE AT THE WINDOW 209 

— yen are sort of like a bird that is being charmed by 
a snake. It knovs it ought to fly away and yet it can't, 
because it's so interested in what the snake is going to 
do next. Thane is attractive. He is, far as I know, 
a gentleman. At any rate, he would pass for one, and 
that's about all you can expect in these days. The 
thought has entered both our minds that he put Ser- 
geant out of the way. Well, my dear, I don't believe 
either of us would ever dream of connecting him with 
it if there wasn't something back in our minds that has 
been asking questions of us ever since he came here. 
You say you were afraid to read Mr. Blythe's letter 
again. Does that mean you are afraid everything he 
says is true ? " 

" Oh, I can't believe it, — I must not allow myself to 
even think it," cried the girl, " Why, if what Addi- 
son says is true, Courtney Thane is not fit to — There 
must be some mistake, Aunt Nancy. There were two 
men of the same name, I wUl not believe it! " 

The two tall women stood tense and rigid, side by 
side, their backs to the fire, gazing straight before them 
down the lamp-lit room. 

" Has Addison BIythe any reason for lying to you, 
Alix? " asked the elder quietly. 

** Of course not," Alix answered impatiently. *' There 
is some mistake, that's all." 
. " Do you mind telling me what he says? " 

" Mr. Thane is coming to see me tonight," sud the 
gfrl, uneasily. " He may come at any moment now. 
What time is it? " 

" Ten minutes of eight. He never comes before half- 
past." She waited a moment, and then went on de- 



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210 QUILL'S WINDOW 

libeTatel;: "I always had an idea it was because he 
wanted to be sure Sergeant was in the bouse and not 
out in the yard." 

Alix closed her eyes for a second or two, as if by 
doing so it were possible to shut out the same thought 
that had floated through Mrs. Strong's mind. 

" But he need not be afraid of Sergeant now," she 
said, with a little tremor in her voice. " He will come 
earlier tonight." The unintentional sarcasm did not 
escape Mrs. Strong. " Wait till tomorrow. Aunt 
Nancy. Then I may tell you." 

" You are trembling, dear. I wish you would let 
me make your excuses to him when he comes. Don't 
see him tonight. Let me tell him — " 

Alix turned squarely and faced her. There was a 
harassed, haunted expression in her eyes, — and yet 
there was defiance. 

" I stayed away five days," she said huskily. " For 
five days I kept away from him. Then I — I gave up. 
I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to come home. 
Now, you have the truth. I just simply had to see 
him, Aunt Nancy, — I just Had to." 

" Then, — then it w a spell," cried the other, dismay 
in her voice. " You are not yourself, Alix. This is not 
you who say these things." 

" Oh, yes, it is ! " cried the girl recklessly. " I 
wanted to come home. I wanted to see him. I dont 
love him, but I wanted to be with him. I don't trust 
him, but here I am. Now you have it all ! I want to 
see him!" 

Mrs. Strong was looking past her. She stared hard 
at the window in the far end of the room, her eyes 
narrowed, her chin thrust slightly forward. Then sud- 



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THE FACE AT THE WINDOW 211 

denlj she clutched the girl's arm, her eyes now wide- 
spread with alarm. 

" Look ! " she whispered shrilly, pointing. 

The flush faded from Alix's face; the reckless, defiant 
light left her eyes, and in its jAace came fear. 

n 

Plainly outlined in the window was the face of a 
masked man. A narrow black mask, through which a 
pair of eyes gleamed brightly. 

The exposed lower portion of the face, save for the 
heavily bearded upper lip, was ghastly white. Brief as 
this glimpse was, they were able to see that he wore a 
cap, pulled well down over his forehead. 

For a few seconds the two women stood as if pet- 
rified, their eyes wide and staring, their hearts cold, 
their tongues paralyzed. They were gazing straight 
into his shining eyes. Suddenly he turned his head 
for a quick, startled glance over his shoulder. The next 
instant he was gone, vanishing in the blackness that 
hung behind him like the magician's curtain in a thea- 
tre. They heard rapid footsteps on the veranda, the 
crash of a chair overturned, then a loud shout, and 
again the sound of flying footsteps across the brick- 
paved terrace. Another shout, and still another, far- 
ther away. 

" Quick ! " screamed Alix, the first to recover her 
voice. " The telephone ! Call the drug store. Bill Fobs 
is there." 

She ran swiftly out into the haQ. 

" Come back ! " cried Mrs. Strong. " What are you 
doing? Don't open that door! He's got a pistol, 
Alix!" 



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212 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Even as she spolce, the report of a pistol shot camc^ 
to their ears. As Altx stopped short, her hand out- 
stretched to clutch the door knob, a second report came. 

" Oh, my God ! " she cried. " He has killed Court- 
nej! He has shot Courtney!" 

By this time, her companion had reached her side. 
She dragged her back from the door. 

"Killed Courtney? What's the matter with you? 
Why do you say he has killed — " 

"Don't you see — can't you understand? It was 
Courtney who surprised him. That's why he ran. He 
shot, — oh, let go of me ! Let go of me, I say ! " 

" I'll do nothing of the sort," cried Mrs. Strong. 
"Do you want to get shot? Come away from this 
door ! " 

A door slammed against the wall at the back of the 
house. Some one came running through the dining- 
room. First the cook, then the little waitress, dashed 
into the hall. 

" Wha-what is it? What's the matter? " shouted the 
former. " What was that shootin' — " 

** Where is Stevens? " demanded Mrs. Strong, as she 
fairly pushed Alis into the living-room. " Call him ! 
Isn't he out there in — " 

" He went out, — ^half hour ago, — out," stuttered the 
waitress. " Who's been — ^what's happened to Miss 
Alix? " 

"Nothing! Go and yell for Ed! Thieves! On the 
porch. Don't stand there, Hilda. Go out back and 
scream ! " 

" Oh, my God ! Ed's killed ! He's been shot ! My 
husband's been shot ! " It was the cook who sent this 
lamentation to the very roof of the house. 



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THE FACE AT THE WINDOW 213 

Mrs. Strong whispered fiercely in AUx's ear: " That's 
it ! Ed ia the one who surprised him. Courtney noth- 
ing! Now, you stay here! I'll telephone. I>on't you 
dare go outside, Alix Crown. A stray bullet — " 

Far away sounded the third shot, muffled by dis- 
tance and the shriek of the wind. . . . 

Mrs. Strong was off somewhere trying to telephone. 
Shrill voices, out back, were screaming. Alix stood 
alone in the middle of the long room, staring at the 
window in which the sinister face had appeared. She 
had not moved in what seemed to be an age. A strange, 
incredible thing was creeping through her mind, — a 
thought that was not a part of her, something that 
seemed to shape itself outside of her brain and force 
its way in to crowd out the fear and anxiety that had 
gripped her but a few short moments before. 

Wh&t would it mean to her if Courtney Thane were 
dead out there in the night? 

It was not the question but the answer that fixed 
itself in her mind. She was unconscious of the one, 
but vividly aware of the other. His death would mean 
— emancipation! For one brief instant she actually 
longed for the word that he was dead! The reaction 
was swift, overwhelming. 

" God ! " she gasped, shutting her eyes and clench- 
ing her hands in an ecstasy of revulsion. ** What a 
beast, — ^what a horrible beast I am ! What a coward ! " 

Her knees trembled; an icy perspiration seemed to 
start out all over her body. She had wished him dead ! 
She had grasped at that as the solution! Her heart 
had leaped joyously! It was as if some great weight 
suddenly had been lifted from it. Now she was numb 
with horror. Wh(tt devilish power had token posses- 



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214 QUILL'S WINDOW 

sion of her in that brief, sout-destrojing instant? She 
shuddered. She was afraid to open her eyes. She 
reached out with her hand for the support of the table. 
She had longed for some one to come and tell her 
that he was dead! 

Some one was pounding on the outer door. She had 
a dim, vague impression that this pounding had been 
going on for some time. A sort of paralysis benumbed 
her sensibilities. Her eyes were now wide open, star- 
ing. Had her wish come true? Was some one come 
to tell her that her horrible wish had come true? Sud- 
denly the fetters fell away. She rushed frantically to 
the door and turned the knob. The driving wind flung 
it open with a force that almost, swept her off her feet. 

Thane stood on the threshold, hatless, panting. The 
light from the hall, falling upon his face, revealed a 
long red stain that ran from temple to chin. As she 
drew back, alarmed, he staggered into the hall, limping 
painfully, and pushed the door shut behind him. 

" Oh ! " she gasped. 

He shot a swift, searching glance down the halt and 
into the living-room. Then he held out his arms to 
her. She was gazing spell-boimd into his eager, shin- 
ing eyes. He waited. She came to him as if drawn 
by some overpowering magnet. His arms closed about 
her. . . . She was crushed against his body, she 
seemed a part of him. His arms were like smothering 
coils that pressed the life out of her ; his hungry lips 
were fastened upon hers, hot and lustful. 

Presently she began to struggle. Shame, — a vast, 
sickening shame, — possessed her. She was conscious 
of the wild, increasing lust that mastered him. She 
tried to tear herself from contact with his body, as 



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THE PACE AT THE WINDOW 215 

from Bomething base, unclean, revolting. Hig luBses 
held her. She was powerless to resist the passion that 
swept over her. Once more she surrendered, — and then 
came the shame, the overwhelming shame. She was de- 
based, defiled! She put her hand to his face and pushed 
frantically to release herself from those consuming, 
unholy lips. 

Suddenly he freed her, and sprang back, panting but 
triumphant. She heard him whisper, hoarsely, rap- 
turously : 

"God."* 

Some one was coming. He had caught the sound of 
footsteps,- — somewhere. Alix sank breathless, rigid, 
almost fainting, upon the hall-seat. 

" Darling ! " he whispered passionately. She half 
arose, caught once more by the irresistible spell that 
bad first swept her into his embrace. He shook his 
head. Then she beard him speak. He was looking past 
her. 

" I'm all right, Mrs. Strong. Don't mind ate>. Tele- 
phone for help." 

" I have telephoned," cried Mrs. Strong, coming to- 
ward them quickly, " Help is coming. Good heavens ! 
You are bleeding! Were you hit? ** 



m 

The question aroused Alix. She was aware of some- 
thing wet and sticky on the palm of her hand. She 
looked. It was covered with blood. Then she remem- 
bered putting her hand against his cheek. As if fas- 
cinated she stared for a second or two before her wits 
returned, Mrs. Strong must not see that bloody hand. 



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216 QUILL'S WINDOW 

She would know! Guiltily she clenched her fingers 
again and thrust her hand behind her back. She shud- 
dered at the feel of the moist, sticky substance, and 
turned suddenly sick. Her one thought was to get to 
her room where she could wash away the tell-tale evi- 
dence. Again she heard him speaking, and hung on 
his words. 

'* Nothing but a scratch. I fell while chasing hitn. 
He got the start of me. My overcoat bothered me. 
I got it off, but not in time. It's out there somewhere. 
My rotten old leg is the worst. I twisted it when I 
jumped over the fence. That's when I fell. Tripped 
over some bushes or something. I was gaining on him. 
Up in the woods, you see. He was making for the 
road above. Oh, if this leg of mine was any good, I 
would have — " He broke off short to grip his knee 
' with both hands, his face twitching with pain. The sen- 
tences came jerkily, breathlessly. 

" Send for Dr. Smith ! " Alix cried out suddenly. " Be 
quick! He has been shot, — I know he has been shot. 
Go—" 

" It's a scratch, I tell you, AUx," he protested. " He 
didn't get me. He fired at me, but it was dark. I'm 
all right. There is no time to lose. If they get after 
him at once they'll catch him. I can show them which 
way he went. Where the devil are they? We ought 
to have every man in town out there in the woods. Did 
you tell 'em to bring gunsP He's armed. He — " 

" You are hurt," cried Alix. " You mast have the 
doctor. Oh) for heaven's sake, do tomsthmg! " The 
last was directed impatiently to Mrs. Strong, 

** 111 give him a basin of water, — and some court 
plaster,** said the older woman, who had looked closely 



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THE FACE AT THE WINDOW 217 

at the scratch on the joung man's cheek. " It doesn't 
amount to anything, — if that's all, Mr. Thane? '* 

" That's all, — except my knee, and that will be all 
Tight in a few minutes. Let me sit down here a minute. 
Not io there, — I'm covered with dirt and burrs and, — 
X mij^t get some of this filthy blood on, — that's all 
right, Mrs. Strong, thank jou. I'll be able to go out 
with the gang as soon as they come. Gad ! It's going 
to be great sport. Man-hunting I " 

Aliz was leaning against the end of the hall-seat, 
watching him as if fascinated. He bent an ardent, sig- 
nificant look upon her, and her eyes widened slightly 
under the contact, 

" I'll get some water ready for you in the kitchen, 
and'a — " began Mrs. Strong, but Alix, suddenly alive, 
intercepted her with a cry. 

"No! I will go, Aunt Nancy, — I insist!" And 
before Mrs. Strong could offer a word of protest, she 
flashed past her and was running up the stairs. 

A look of chagrin leaped into Courtney's eyes. He 
had counted on another minute or two alone with her. 
.Under his breath he muttered on oath. 

Alix's bedroom door opened and closed. Mrs. Strong 
.was still looking in astonishment up the staircase. 

" 1 — she's pretty badly upset, Mr. Thane," she said 
at last. " That face in the window, — and everything." 

" Giood Lord,— you don't mean to fiay you saw 
him? " 

" Yes, — looking in that window over there. Only 
for a second. You must have scared him away." 

" Then, by George, you can identify him ! ** 

*' He had a mask on. Didn't you soe his face? " 

" No- It was dark. Masked, you say. That's bad. 



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218 QUILL'S WINDOW 

It will be hard to swear — Still, I saw his Rgurc. 
Short, heavy fellow. Wore a cap." 

She CDntinued to look anxiously up the stairs. 

" Wait here," she said shortly. " I must go up to 
her. Go to the kitchen if you like, and wash the blood 
off. I'll be back in a jiffy." 

He waited till she was out of sight, and then limped 
into the living-room, — but with a swiftness incredible 
in one with a twisted knee. Going direct to the fire- 
place, he took something out of hia coat pocket and, 
after a glance at door and window, quickly consigned 
it to the flames. A small black object it was, that 
crumpled softly in his palm and was consumed in a 
flash by the flames. A moment later he entered the 
kitchen, bringing consternation to the two excited do- 
mestics, both of whom sent up cries of alarm at the 
sight of his bloody face. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Strong had surprised Alix in her 
bathroom, frantically washing her hands. She looked 
up and saw the housekeeper standing in the door be- 
hind her. The bowl was half full of reddish water. The 
expression of disgust in her eyes remained for a mo- 
ment and then gave way to confusion. Neither spoke 
for some time. 

"What are you doing?" asked Mrs, Strong. 

'* Oh, Aunt Nancy ! " came in a choked voice from the 
girl's lips. 

"Is that blood?" 

" Yes," replied Alix, looking away. 

" I— I understand. Oh, Alix,— Alix ! " 

" I don't know what made me do it, — I couldn't 
help myself. I — Oh, it was terrible! I don't love 
him, — I don't love him! As long as I live, — as long 



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THE FACE AT THE WINDOW 219 

as I live, X shall never forget it. I sbatl never knov 
anything like it again. I could feel mj soul being 
dragged out of my body, — Oh, Aunt Nancy f What 
am I to do? What is to become of me? " 

" There's only one thing for you to do now," said 
the other, slowly, levelly. " Stay in this room. Lock 
the door. Don't see him again. Keep away from him. 
He's— he's bad, Alii! " 

" But he is not a coward ! '* cried the girl eagerly. 
** He followed ^at man, he chased him, he was shot 
at, — that is not what a coward would do. Addison 
Blythe is mistaken. Those men are mistaken. He — " 

*' I hear people downstairs, — and out in the yard. 
You must obey me, Alix. You must not see him again 
tonight. God in heaven, what kind of a spell has he 
cast upon you? The spell of the devil! Child, child, 
— don't you understand? That's what it is. The spell 
that makes women helpless! Stay here! I will send 
Hilda up to you," 

" Wtj do you blame him for everything? " cried 
the girl hotly. " Doesn't a woman ever cast this spell 
you speak of? What defence has a man against — " 

"Do you call yourself an evil woman? Nonsense! 
Dont talk like that. I am not blaming him. He can't 
help himself. He loves you. That's not his fault. 
But you do not love him. You are afraid of him. 
You would run from him if you could. He must go 
away. You must send him away. Tell him of Blythe's 
letter. Face him with it. Tomorrow, — not tonight. 
You are not yourself tonight. Trust me, dearest Alix, 
Do as I tell you. Promise." 

" I will not come down," said Alix slowly, and Mrs. 
Strong went out. She heard the key turn in the door. 



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CHAPTER XVI 



ALL night long bonds of men scoured the woods 
and fields, with lanterns and dogs and guns. 
Courtnej Thane, thrilled bj that one glorious, 
overpowering moment of contact, sallied forth with the 
first of the searchers- He showed them where the 
masked man vaulted over the pordi rail, and the course 
he took in crossing the terrace, below which Courtney's 
cost was found where he had cast it aside at the be- 
pnning of the chose. The first shot was fired as the 
mon climbed over the fence separating the old-fashioned 
garden from the wooded district to the west, the sec- 
ond following almost immediately. Thane was over the 
fence and picking himself up from the ground after 
tripping when the last shot was fired. He ran forty 
or fifty yards farther on and then his knee gave out. 
Bealizing that pursuit was useless under the circum- 
stances, he hurried back to the house to give the alarm. 
It appears that he first saw the mon as he was near- 
ing the top of the steps leading to the terrace. The 
fellow's figure, in a crouching position, was distinctly 
outlined agoinst the lighted window. 

" Kind of a funny time for a robber to be monkeyin* 

around a house," soid Charlie Webster, after Courtney 

had concluded his brief story. " Eight o'clock is no 

time to figure on breaking into a house." 

** He probably figured that the occupants would be 



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ROSABEL 221 

at dinner," said Courtney. " Or maybe he was getting 
the lay of the land while there were li^ts to guide him. 
That is most likely the case. Lord, bow I wish I had 
had a guQ ! " 

" Maybe it's lucky you didn't," said Charlie. " Guns 
are pretty treacherous things to monkey with, Court. 
You might have shot yourself." 

" Oh, I guess I know how to handle a gun, Charlie," 
retorted Thane, after a perceptible pause. 

" Anyhow," remarked Constable Foss, " we now know 
why that dog of Alix's was killed. This robber bad 
things purty well sized up. He knowed he had to fix 
that dog first of all, — and that goes to show another 
thing. He is purty well posted around these parts. 
He knowed all about that dog. He ain't no tramp or 
common stranger. The chances are he ain't even a 
perfessional burglar. Maybe some dago, — or, by gosh, 
somebody we all know." 

A chosen group waited at the roadside above the 
Windom place for automobiles which were to be used 
in the attempt to head off the invader. This was 
Courtney's idea. He suggested a wide cordon of ma- 
chines and men as the only means of cutting off the 
fellow's escape. 

" You're not likely to get anywhere, Foss, by keep- 
ing up a stern chase," he argued. " He has got too big 
a lead. Our only chance is to rush a lot of men out 
ahead of him in cars, and then work back through the 
woods." 

A boy came up with Courtney's fedora hat, which he 
had picked up in the brush near the fence. 

" There's a bullet hole throng it, Mr. Thane,'* he 
cried in great excitement. " Lookee here! " 



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222 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Sure enough there was a hole in the crown of the hat. 

" Whew t " whistled Courtney, staring at the hat 
blankly. " I never dreamed — Why, good Lord, a 
couple of inches lower and he*d have got me. I remem- 
ber my hat blowing off as I got up, but I thought it was 
the wind. Where did you find it, kid? " 

" Back there by the fence." 

" We must have that hat for evidence," said the 
constable. " Shows the cahbre of the bullet, and all 
that. Bring it down to the oiBce in the morning, Mr. 
Ilane. Better put it on now. You'll ketch cold out 
here bareheaded." 

By this time the lane and grounds were alive with 
excited people, — men, women and children. Several 
automobiles approached, sounding their horns. Men 
were shoutmg directions, dogs were barking, small chil- 
dren were squalling lustily. Shadowy, indistinct figures 
scuttled through the darkness, here and there coming 
into bold relief as they passed before the lamps of 
automobiles or entered the radius of light shed by an 
occasional lantern. Half the town was already on the 
scene, and the belated remainder was either on the way 
or grimly guarding cash drawers in empty, deserted 
stores. 

Courtney reluctantly announced that he did not feel 
up to accompanying the searchers, his leg was bother 
ing him so. No, he didn't need a doctor. The con- 
founded thing simply gave out on him whenever he got 
the least bit reckless, but it seldom if ever amounted to 
anything. Only made him realize that he couldn't " get 
gay " with it. He'd be all right in a day or two. 
Hobble a little, that's all, — like a lame dog. More 
scored than hurt, you know, etc., etc. 



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ROSABEL 223 

He picked his way through the evei^increasiag crowd 
of agitated people, avoiding rampant automobiles and 
inquisitive citizens with equal skill, and approached 
Alix's gate. His blood was rioting. The memory of 
that triumphant moment when her warm bodj laj in 
his arms, — when her lips were his, — when his eager 
hand pressed the firm, round breast, — ah, the memory 
of it all set fire to his blood. She had come to him, she 
had clung to him, she had kissed him ! He had won *. 
She was his i He must see her again tonight, hold her 
once more in his arms, drink of the rapture that came 
through her lips, caress the throbbing heart she had 
surrendered to him. Anticipation sent the blood rush- 
ing to his head. He grew strangely dizzy. He na^ 
rowly escaped being struck by a car. 

" The darned fools ! " he muttered, as he leaped aside 
into the shallow ditch. 

A figure separated itself from a group near the gate 
and approached him. There were no lights near and 
the lane was dark. He could not see the face of the 
woman who halted directly in front of him, barring 
the path, 

" It is I, Courtney, — ^Rosabel," came in low, tremu- 
lous tones. 

He stood steckstill, peering intently. 

** Rosabel I " he repeated vacantly. 

" I — I saw you. The auto lamp shone on your 
face." 

Her teeth were chattering. Her voice was little 
more than a whisper. 

" You — you poor child ! " he cried. " What are you 
doing here? How do you happen to be—" 

" I came over to spend the ni^t with Annie Jordan. 



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224 QUILL'S WDTOOW 

I — I do thmt quite often, Courtney. Aren't — aren't 
70a ever coming to see me again f " 

" I was planning to come over tomorrow, Rosie, — to- 
morrow sure. I've been meaning to run over to your 
Iiouae — " 

" I — I thought you had forgotten all about us," she 
broke in, pathetically. " You wouldn't do that, would 
you? Didn't you get my letters? I wrote four or five 
tiroes and you never answered. You — you haven't 
forgotten, have youi'" 

" Bless your heart, no! I should say not. I've been 
so busy. Working like a dog on my book. The one 
we talked about, Rosie. The story of my experiences 
over in France, you know." 

"Oh, Courtney, are you really, truly writing it?" 
she cried eagerly- 

" Sure," he replied. " It's a tough job, believe m*. 
I've been so busy I haven't even had time to write let- 
ters. Mother complains that I never write to her. Dear 
old mater, — I ought to be kicked for neglecting her. 
Stacks of unanswered letters. Really, it's appalling. 
But I've just got to finish this work. The publisher 
wants it before Christmas." 

" You promised to read it to roe as you wrote it, 
Courtney," she murmured wistfully. "Don't you 
remember? " 

*' Just as soon as I've got it in little better shape, 
Rosie. You see, it's an awful mess now. I'm trying 
so hard to concentrate. It would be different if I were 
an experienced writer. But I'm a terrible duffer, you 
know. The least little thing throws me off. I — " 

" I wouldn't interfere for the world, Courtney. I 
will wait. I don't want to bother you. Please don't 



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ROSABEL 225 

think about reodiBg it to me now. But, — oh, Court- 
ney, I have wanted to see jou so much. You tctZ^ come 
over, won't you. Or would you rather have me 
come — " 

" I'll be over, Rosie, — tomorrow," he said hastily. 
" Or the day after, sure. I'm all done up. I can hardly 
stand on this leg. Did they tell youP I chased the 
robber up through the woods. Had a bad fall. Bunged 
up this rotten old knee again." 

*' You poor boy," she cried. " Yes, 1 heard them 
talking about how brave you were. And he shot at 
you, too. I saw the plaster on your face when the light 
shone on it a while ago. I was frightened. I forgot 
to ask you how bad it is, I forgot everything hut- 
but just speaking to you. Is it dangerous? Is it a 
bad wound ? " 

" I don't know. The doctor is waiting for me up at 
Miss Crown's. They sent me back, the other fellows 
did. I wanted to go with the gang, — but I was weak 
and — Oh, 111 be all ri^t. Don't you worry, little 
girl. Dr. Smith may slap me into bed, — " 

" You must not be foolish, Courtney. Do what the 
doctor says. You must get well—nih, you muit get 
well!" 

She had come quite close to him and was peering at 
his face. Even in the darkness he could see her big, 
dark eyes. Her teeth no longer chattered, but there 
was a perilous quaver in her low, tense voice. She put 
out a hand to touch him. He drew back. 

" I'll be as fit as a fiddle in no time at all," he said 
hurriedly. " See you tomorrow, Rosie, — or as soon as 
the blamed old doctor turns me loose. I've got to be 
on my way now. He's waiting for me up there. May 



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226 QUILL'S WINDOW 

have to put a iititc^ in mj mug, — and jank my leg 
like the devil, but — " 

She stiU blocked his path. 

** Courtney, I'm — I'm terribly unhappy. I want to 
see you, — very soon." 

" I hear you have been ill, Rosie. Some one was tell- 
ing me you were looking thin and — and all that sort of 
thing. I hope you're feeling better." 

She waited a moment. When she spoke it was with 
difficulty. 

" I'm awfully worried, Courtney," she cried, her 
voice little more than a whisper. He was silent, so after 
a little while she went on : "I wish I could die,— I wish 
I could die ! " 

" Come, come ! " he said reassuringly. ** You must 
not talk like that, Bosie. Cheer up! You're too young 
to talk about dying. Think what I've been through, — 
and I'm still alive! Ill run over tomorrow, — or next 
day, — and try to cheer you up a bit, little girl. So 
long- I've got to see the doctor. I'm — I'm suffering 
like the dickens." 

•' I mustn't keep you, Courtney," she murmured, 
atepping aside to let him pass. " Good ni^t ! You — 
you uiU come, won't you? Sure? " 

" Sure ! " he replied, and limped painfully away. 

A little later Annie Jordan found her standing be- 
side the road, where he had left her. She was looking 
up at the brightly lighted house at the top of the lane. 

" Goodness ! " cried Annie. " I thought you were 
lost, Bosie. Where on earth have you been?" 

** Maybe I am lost," replied the prl, and Annie, 
failing to see anything cryptic in the words, laugfied 
gaily at the guaintness of them. 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgIC 



ROSABEL 227 

" Come on," she said, thrusting her arm through 
Rosabel's, " let's go back home. There's nothing doing 
here. And that wind cuts through one like a knife. 
Gee, it's fierce, isn't it?" 

** I don't want to go in jet," protested Rosabel, 
hanging back. " Let's wait awhile. Let's wait till 
Dr, Smith comes out. He's up there with — with Aliz 
Crown. Majbe he can tell us how — " 

" Doc Smith isn't up there. He's gone up the road 
in his car with Dick Hurdle and — why, Rosie, you're 
Bhivering like a leaf. Have you got a chill? Come on 
home. We'll have Dr. Smith in as soon as he gets 
back to— » 

'• I don't want the doctor," cried Rosabel fiercely. 
*• I won't have ORC, I tdl you. I won't have onei •* 



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CEUVPTER XVn 

SHADOWS 

GREATLY to Courtney's chagrin, his triumphal 
progress was summarily checked when he pre- 
sented himself at the door. He could hardly 
believe his ears. Miss Crown was in her room and 
would not be able to see any one that night. She was 
very nervous and " upset," explained the maid, and 
had ^ven orders to admit no one. Of course, Hilda 
went on to say, if Mr. Thane wanted to come in and 
rest himself, or if there was anything she or the cook 
could do for him, — but Courtney brusquely interrupted 
her to say that he was sure Miss Crown did not mean 
to exclude him, and directed Hilda to take word up to 
her that he was downstairs. 

*' It won't do any good," said Hilda, who was direct 
to say the least. " She's gone to bed. My orders ia 
not to disturb her." 

"Are they her orders or Mrs. Strong's orders?'* 
demanded Courtney, driven to exasperation. 

" All I can say, sir, is they're my orders, sir," re- 
plied Hilda, quite succinctly. 

"All ri^t," said he curtly. Then, as an after- 
thought: " Please say that I stopped in to see if I could 
be of any further service to Miss Crown, will you, 
HUda? " 

He was very much crestfallen as he made his way 



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SHADOWS 229 

down the steps to the lane. Thin wasn't at all what 
he had expected. 

There were a number of people near the gate. In- 
stead of going directly down the walk, he turned to the 
right at the bottom of the terrace and cut diagonally 
across the lawn. Coming to one of the big oaks he sat 
down for a moment on the rostic seat that encircled 
its base. Sheltered from the wind he managed to strike 
a match and li^t a cigarette. Assured that no one 
was near, he leaned over and felt with his hand under 
the bench. His fingers closed npon an object wedged 
between the seat and one of the slanting supports. 
Quickly withdrawing it, he dropped it into his over- 
coat pocket, and, after a moment, resumed his progress, 
making for the carriage gate in the left lower comer of 
the grounds. 

He had a sharp eye out for Rosabel Vick. He heard 
Annie Jordan's high-pitched voice in the road ahead 
of him and slackened his pace. In due time he limped 
up the steps of Dowd's Tavern. 

Several women were in the ** lounge," chattering like 
magpies in front of the fire. There were no men about. 
He went in and for ten minutes listened to the singing 
of his praises. Then, requesting a pitcher of hot water, 
he hobbled upstairs, politely declining not only the 
Misses Dowd's offer to bathe and bandage his heroic 
knee, but Miss Grady's bottle of witchhazel, Miss Mil- 
ler's tube of Baume Analgesique and old Mrs. Nichols* 
infallible remedy for every ailment under the sun, — 
a flaxseed poultice. 

The first thing he did on entering his room was to 
open bis trunk and deposit therein the shiny object he 
had recovered from its hiding-place under the tree-seat. 



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280 QUILL*S WINDOW 

Before hanging hia hat on the clothes-tree in the comer 
of the room, he thou^tfullj examined the bullet hole 
in the crown. 

" Thirty-eight calibre, all right," he reflected. Pok- 
ing his forefinger throu^ the hole, he enlarged it to 
some extent. " More like a forty-four now," he said 
in a satisfied tone. 

Margaret Slattery brought up the hot water and 
some fresh firewood for his stove, in which the fire 
burned low. 

" Would you be liking a drink of whiskey, Mr. 
ThaneP" she inquired, with a stealthy look over her 
shoulder. "You're all done up, — and half-frozen, I 
guess." 

" Whiskey P" he exclaimed. "There ain't no sitdi 
animal," he lamented dolefully. 

*' Miss Jennie's got some cooking brandy stuck away 
in the cellar," whispered Margaret. *' We use it at 
Christmas time, — for the plum pudding, you know. Z 
guess it's the same thing as whiskey, ain't it?" 

" Well, hardly. Still, I think I could do with a nip 
of it, Maggie." 

*' I'll see what I can do," said Margaret, and de- 
parted. 

She did not return, for the very good reason that 
Miss Jennie apprehended her in the act of pouring 
something from a dark brown bottle into a brand new 
fruit jar. 

"What are you doing there, Maggie?" demanded 
Miss Dowd from the foot of the cellar stairs. 

Miss Slattery's back was toward her at the time. She 
was startled into hunching it slightly, as if expecting 
the lash of a whip, — an attitude of rigidity maintained 



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SHADOWS 281 

during the brief period in which her heart suspended 
action altogether. 

" Fm — I'm getting some vinegar for Mr. Thane to 
gargle with, Miss Jennie," she mumbled. " He's — he's 
got a sore throat." 

" Let me smell that stuff, Maggie," said Miss Jennie 
sternly. One sniff was sufficient. " You ought to be 
ashamed of yourself, Margaret Slattery, leading a 
young man into temptation like this. You may be 
starting him on the road to perdition. It is just such 
things as this that — " 

"Oh, gosh!" exclaimed Margaret, recovering her- 
self. " Don't you go thinking he's as good as all that. 
From what he was telling me at breakfast the other 
day, he used to make the round trip to purgatory every 
night or so,— only he said it was paradise. Keep your 
old brandy. He wouldn't like it anyway. Not him! 
He says he's swalleref^ enough champagne to float the 
whole American Navy." 

" The very idea I " exclaimed Miss Jennie. " Go to 
your room, Magjpe. It's bad enough for you to be 
stealing but when you make it worse by lying, I — " 

** Fm quitting you in the morning," said Margaret, 
her Irish up. 

" It won't be the first time," said Miss Jennie, im- 
perturbably. 

Courtney sat for a long time before the booming 
little stove. He forgot Margaret Slattery and her 



" I guess it took her off her feet," he reflected aloud. 
" That's the way with some of them. They get pan- 
icky. Go all to pieces when they find out what it really 
means to let go of themselves. God! She's wonder- 



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282 QUILL'S WINDOW 

ful ! " He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes ; 
a smile settled on his lips. For a long time he sat 
there, fondling the memorj of that blissful moment. A 
slight frown made its appearance after a while. He 
opened his eyes. His thoughts had veered. " What 
rotten luck! If it could onl; have been AUx instead of 
that — " He arose abruptly and began pacing the 
floor. After a long time he sighed resignedly. " I 
mustn't forget to telephone her tomorrow.** Then he 
began to undress for bed. 

He looked at his knee. There was a deep, irregular 
scar on the outside of the \tg, while on the inside a 
knuckle-like protuberance of considerable size provided 
ample evidence of a badly shattered joint, long since 
healed. Along the thigh there was another wicked 
looking scar, with sevor^ smaller streaks and blemishes 
of a less pronounced character. He placed some hot 
compresses on the joint, gave it a vigorous massage, 
and, before getting into bed, worked it up and down 
for several minutes. 

" Clumsy ass ! " he muttered- *' Next time youTl 
watch your step. Don't go jumping over fences in the 
dark. Gad, for a couple of minutes I thought I'd put 
it on the blink for keeps.** 

The next morning, up in the woods above Alix's 
house, the crude black mask was found, and some dis- 
tance farther on an old grey cap, from which the lining 
and Bweatband bad been ripped. The search for the 
man, however, was fruitless. Constable Foss visited 
the camp of a gang of Italian railroad labourers near 
Hawkins and was reported to be bringing several in- 
dignant ** dagoes ** over to Windomville to see if Court- 



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SHADOWS 233 

ney or the two ladies could identify them. He was very 
careful to choose men with thick black moustaches. 

Bright and early, Courtney repaired to the house on 
the hiU. His progress was slow. Aside from the effort 
it cost him to walk, he was delayed alt along the route 
by anxious, perturbed citizens who either complimented 
him on his bravery or advised him to " look out for that 
cat " on his cheek, or he'd have " a tough time if blood- ' 
poisoning set in." 

Mrs. Strong admitted him. 

**Well, when will she be able to see me?" he de- 
manded on being informed that Alix was in no con- 
idition to see any one. 

" I can't say," said Mrs. Strong shortly. 

" Have you had the doctor in to see herF " 

"No." 

"Well, that's rather strange, isn't it?" 

" Not at all, Mr. Thane. She isn't ill. She has had 
a shock, — same as I have had, — and she'll get over it 
in good time." 

*' You seem to have survived the shock remarkably 
well, Mrs. Strong," he said with unmistakable irony, 

" How is the scratch on your face? " she asked, ig- 
noring the remark. 

" Amounts to nothing," he replied, almost gruffly. 
*' ini write a little note to Alix, if you'll be so good as 
to take it up to her." 

*' Very well. I'll see that she gets it. Will you write 
it here?" 

'* If you don't mind. I'll wait in case she wants to 
send down an answer." 

" I'll get you some pap«r and pen and ink," said she. 



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284 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Some paper, that's all. I have a fountain pen.** 

He dashed off a few lines, folded the sheet of note 
paper and handed it to Mrs. Strong. He had written 
nothing he was unwilling for her to read. In fact, he 
expected her to read it as soon as she was safel; out 
of his sight, 

" She thinks she may feel up to seeing jou tomorrow, 
—or next daj," reported the housekeeper on her return 
from Alix's room. 

His rankling brain seized upon the words — " to- 
morrow — next daj." He had used them himself only 
the night before. " Tomorrow^ — or next day ! " He 
frowned. Hang it all, was she putting him off? He 
experienced a slight chill, 

" I will run in again in the morning," he said, man- 
aging to produce a sympathetic smile, " And I'll tele- 
phone this evening to see how she is." 

All the way down the walk to the gate, he kept re- 
peating the words " tomorrow, — or next day." In 
some inexplicable, way they had fastened themselves 
upon him. At the gate he turned and looked up at 
Alix's bedroom windows. The lace curtains bung 
straight and immovable. It pleased him to think that 
she was peering out at him from behind one of those 
screens of lace, soft-eyed and longingly. Moved by a 
sudden impulse, he waved his hand and smiled. 

His guess was right. She was looking down through 
the narrow slit between the curtains. Her eyes were 
dark and brooding and slightly contracted by the per- 
plexity that filled them. She started back in confusion, 
her hand going swiftly to her breast. Was it possible 
that he could see through the curtains? A warm flush 



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SHADOWS 235 

mantled her face. She felt it steal down over her body. 
Incontinently she fled from the window and hopped 
back into the warm bed slie had left on hearing the 
front door close. 

*' How silly ! " she cried irritably. She sat bolt up- 
right and looked at her reflection in the mirror of her 
dressing-table across the room. Her night-dress had 
slipped down from one shapely shoulder; her dark, 
glossy hair bung in two long braids down her back ; her 
warm, red lips were parted in a shy, embarrassed smile. 

" I wonder — But of course he couldn't. Unless, — " 
and here the smile faded away,—" unless he possesses 
some strange power to see through walls and — Some- 
times I feel that he has that power. If he could not 
see me, why did he wave his hand at me? " 

There came a knock at her door. She was seized by 
a sudden panic. For a moment she was unable to speak. 

"Alix! Are you awake?" 

It was Mrs. Strong's voice. A vast wave of relief 
^ept through her. 

" Goodness ! " she gasped, and then : " Come in, Aunt 
Nancy? " 

** Courtney Thane has just been here," said the 
housekeeper as she approached the bed. 

** Has he ? " inquired Alix innocently. 

** He left a note for you." 

*' Read it to me," said the girl. 

*' * Dearest: I am grieved beyond words to hear that 
jou are so awfully done up. I am not surprised. It 
was enough to bowl anybody over. I did not sleep a 
wink last ni^t, thinking about it. I have been living 
in a daze ever since. I cannot begin to tell you how 



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,288 QUILL'S WINDOW 

duappointed I am in not being able to see you this 
morning. Perltaps by tonight you will feel like letting 
me come. Ever yours, Courtney.' " 

" Well? ** said Airs. Strong, sitting down on the edge 
of the bed. 

A fine line appeared between AUz's eyes. She was 
ideep in thought. 

" Have they caught the man? " she asked, after a 
moment. 

" Not that I know of. What's more, they'll never 
catch him. Bill Foss sent word up he was bringing 
several Italians here to see if we could identify one of 
them as the man." 

" How can we be expected to identify a man whose 
face was covered by a mask? " 

"Well, Bill is doing his best," replied Mrs. Strong 
patiently. " We've got to say that much for him. 
Charlie Webster was here early this morning to say 
that the police up in town have been notified, and! 
they're sending a detective out. But he won't be any 
better than Bill Foss, so it's a waste of time. What 
we ought to have is a Pinkerton man from Chicago." 

Despite the calm, deliberate manner in which she 
spoke, there was an odd, eager light in Mrs. Strong's 
eyes. 

" I wish you would go down to the warehouse. Aunt 
Nancy, and ask Charlie to take the car and go up to 
the city. Tell him to call up the Pinkerton offices in 
Chicago and ask them to send the best man they have. 
No one must know about it, however. Impress that 
very firmly upon Charlie. Not even the police — or 
Bill Foss. Have him arrange to meet the man in town 
and give him directions and all the information pos- 



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SHADOWS 287 

•ible. Please do it at once, — and tell Ed to have the 
car ready." 

" That's the way I like to hear you talk," cried Mrs. 
Strong. 

Half an hour later, Charlie Webster was on his way 
to the city. He had an additional commission to per- 
form. Mrs. Strong was sending a telegram to her son 
David. 

n 

The next day a well-dressed, breezy-looking young 
man walked into Charlie's office and exclaimed: 

" Hello, Uncle Charlie ! " 

" Good Lord ! " gasped Charlie Webster. " It can't 
be — why, by gosh, if it ain't Harry ! Holy smoke ! " 
He jumped up and grasped the stranger's hand. Pump- 
ing it vigorously, he cried : ** I'd know that Conkling 
nose if I saw it in Ethiopia. God bless my soul, you're 
—you're a man! It beats all how you kidi grow up. 
How's your mother? And what in thunder are you do- 
ing hereP " 

*' I guess I've changed a lot, Uncle Charlie," said the 
young man, "but you ain't? You look just the same 
as you did fifteen years ago." 

"How old are you? My gosh, I can't believe my; 
eyes." 

*' I was twenty-four last birthday. You—" 

*' If ever a feller grew up to look like his father, 
you have, Harry. You're the living image of George 
Conkling, — and you don't look any more like your 
mother than you look like me." 

" Well, you and Mother look a lot alike, Uncle 
jCharlie, She's thinner than you are but — '* 

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288 QUnX'S WINDOW 

" Well, I should hope so," exploded Charlie. ** Take 
a chair, Harry, — and tell us all about yourself. Wait 
a minute. Sam, shake hands with my nephew, Harry 
ConklJng, — Mr. Slutterback, Mr. Conkling. Harry 
lives up in Laporte. His mother—" 

" Guess again, Uncle Charlie. Ko more Laporte 
for me. I've been living in Chicago ever since I got 
married. Working for — " 

"Married? You married? A kid like you? Well, 
111— be— darned ! " 

" Sure. And I'm not Harry, Uncle Charlie. I'm 
Wilbur. Harry's two years older than I am. He's 
married and got a kid three years old. Lives in Gary.** 

" You don't mean to say you're little Wilbur? Little 
freckle-faced Wilbur with the pipe-stem legs ? " 

Mr. Webster's nephew took a chair near the stove, 
unbuttoned his overcoat, and held his hands to the 
fire. He was a tall, rather awkward young man, with 
large ears, a tumed-up nose and a prominent " Adam's 
Apple." 

" I'm working for one of the biggest oil companies 
in the world. We've got six hundred thousand acres 
of the finest oil-producing territory in the United 
States, and we control most of the big concessions in 
Honduras, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia and — thirty mil- 
lion dollar concern, that's all it is. Oh, you needn't 
look worried. I'm not going to try to sell you any 
stock, Uncle Charlie. That is, not unless you've got 
fifty thousand to invest. Ill tell you what I'm here for. 
My company wants to interest Miss Crown in — " 

" Hold on a minute, Wilbur," interrupted Charlie 
firmly. " You might just as well hop on a train and 
go back to Chicago. If you're expecting me to help 



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SHADOWS 289 

you unload a lot of bum oil stock on Miss Aliz Crown 
you're barking up the wrong tree, — ^I don't give a cuaa 
if jou are mj own sister's son. Miss Crown is ro;-^" 

The joung man held up his hand, and favoured hia 
uncle with a tolerant smile. 

" I'm sot asking your help, old chap. Fve got a 
letter to her from Mr. Addison Blythe, one of our big- 
gest stockholders. All I'm asking you to do is to put 
me up at your house for a day or two while I lay the 
whole matter before Miss Crown." 

*' I haven't got any house," said Charlie, rather help- 
lessly. " Wait a second ! Let me think. How long 
(Jo you expect to be here, Wilbur? " 

*' I wouldn't be here more thau half an hour if I could 
"get Miss Crown to say she'd take — " 

" Well, she's sick and can't see anybody for a couple 
of days, — 'specially book agents or oil promoters. I 
was just thinking I might fix something up for you over 
at the Tavern where I'm staying. It won't cost you a 
cent, my boy. I'd be a darned cheap sort of an uncle 
if I couldn't entertain my nephew when he comes to 
our town, — out of a dear sky, you might say. I'll be 
mighty glad to have you, Wilbur, but you've got to 
understand I won't have Miss Crown bothered while 
she's sick." 

" Permit me to remind you. Uncle Charlie, that I 
am a gentleman. I don't go butting in where I'm not 
wanted. My instructions from the General Manager 
are very explicit. I am to see Miss Crown when con- 
venient, and pve her all the dope on our gigantic enter- 
prise, — that's all." 

"By the way,— er, — is that your automobile out 
there? '* 



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240 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" It*s one I hired in the city." 

"You — er — didn't happen to bring your wife witK 
you, did jou? Because it would be darned awkward 
if you did. She'd have to sleep with Angie MiUer or 
Flora—" 

" She's not with me, Uncle Charlie, — so don't worry. 
Of course, if it isn't convenient for you to have me foe 
a day or two, I can motor in and out from the city. 
Money's no object, you know. I've got a roll of ex- 
pense money here that would choke a hippopotamus." 

" Come on over to the Tavern, Wilbur. Well see 
Miss Molly Dowd and fix things up. Sam, if anybody 
asks for me, just say III be back in fifteen minutes." 

And that is how " Mortle " Gilfillan, one of the ablesd 
operatives in the Finkerton service, made his entry into 
the village of Windomville. Inasmuch as he comes toi 
act in a strictly confidential capacity, we will leave 
him to his own devices, content with the simple state- 
- ment that he remained two full days at Dowd's Tavern 
as the guest of his "Uncle Charlie"; that he suc- 
ceeded in obtaining an interview with the rich Miss 
Crown, that he " talked " oil to everybody with whom 
he came in contact, including Courtney Thane ; that he 
declined to consider the appeals of at least a score of 
citizens to be " let in on the ground floor " owing toi 
the company's irrevocable decision to sell only in blocks 
of ten thousand shares at five dollars per share; thaC 
he said good-bye to Mr. Webster at the end of his second 
day and departed — not for Chicago but, very cleverly 
disguised, to accept a job as an ordinary labourer with 
Jim Bagley, manager of the Crown farms. 



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CHAPTER XVni 

HE. GtLFIIXAK IS rVZZIXV 

THREE days passed. The village bad recovered 
from ita excitement. The Weekly Stm ap- 
peared with a long and harrowing account of 
the "vile attempt to rifle the home of our esteemed 
and patriotic citizeness,*' and sang the praises of Court- 
ney Thane, whose " well-known valour, acquired by 
heroic services during the Great War," prevented what 
might have heen " a most lamentable tragedy." 

Those three days were singularly unprofitable to the 
" hero." He was unable to see Alix crown. He made 
daily visits to her home but always with the same result. 
Miss Crown was in no condition to see any one. 

" But she saw this fellow Conkling," he expostulated 
on the third day. " He sold her a lot of phoD;]^ oil stock. 
If she could see him, I — " 

" He came all the way from Chicago to see her, — 
with a letter from Mr. Blythe," explained Mrs. Strong. 
" She had to see him. I guess you can wait, can't 
you, Mr. Thane?" 

" Certainly. That isn't the point. If I had seen her 
in time I should have warned her against buying that 
stock. She's been let in for a whale of a loss, that's 
all I can say, — and it's too late to do anything about 
it. Good Lord, if ever a woman needed a man around 
the house, she does. She — " 

*' I will tell her what you say," said Mrs. Stronjj 
calmly. 



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242 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Don't you do anything of the kind," he exclaimed 
hastily. " I waa speakiag to you as a friend, Mrs. 
Strong. She means a great deal to both of us. You 
understand how it stands with Alix and me, don't you? 
I — -I would cheerfully lay down my life for her. More 
than that, I cannot say or do." 

*' She will be up by tomorrow," said Mrs. Strong, im- 
pressed in spite of herself by this simple, direct appeal. 
(All that day she caught herself wondering if he had 
cast his spell over her!) 

** Please give her my love, — and say that I am think- 
ing about her every second of the day," said he gravely, 
and went away. 

Alix had received another letter from Addison 
Blythe. Enclosed with it was a communication from 
an official formerly connected with the American Am- 
bulance. It was brief and to the point; 

Conrtney Thane volonteered for service in the American 
Ambulance in Paris in November, 1915. He was accepted 
and ordered to appear at the hospital at Nenilly-snr-Seine 
for instmctions. His condnct was such that he was dis- 
Dussed from the service before the expiration of a week, his 
ooiform taken away from bfm, and a request made to the 
French Military authorities to see that he waa ordered to 
leave the country at once. Our records show that he left 
hurriedly for Spain. He was a bad inflnence to onr boys 
In Paris, and there waa but one coarse left open to ns. We 
have no account of his snbaeqnent movements. With his 
dismissal from the service, he ceased to be an object of 
concern to ns. 

Alix did not destroy this letter. She locked it away 
in a drawer of her desk. She had made up her mind 
to confront Thane with this official communication. It 



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MR. GELFILLAN IS PUZZLED 243 

iras as ordeal she dreaded. Her true reason for re- 
fusing to see him was clear to her if to no one else: 
she hated the thought of hurting Mm \ Moreover, she 
was strangelj oppressed by the fear that she would 
falter at the crucial moment and that her half-guarded 
defences would go down before the assault. She knew 
his strength far better than she knew his weakness. 
She had had an illuminating example of his power. Was 
she any stronger now than on that never-to-be-forgotteii 
nightP . . . She put off the evil hour. 

And on the same third daj of renunciation, she bad 
a letter from David Strong. She wept a little over it, 
and driven finally by a restlessness such as she had 
never known before, feverishly dressed herself, and set 
forth late in the afternoon for a long walk in the open 
air. She took to the leaf-strewn woodland roads, and 
there was a definite goal in mind. 

n 

Courtney remembered Rosabel Vick. 

" I guess I'd better call her up," he said to himself. 
** I ought to have done it several days ago. Beastly 
rotten of me to have neglected it. She's probably been 
sitting over there waiting ever since — Gad, she maj^ 
have some good news. Maybe she is mistaken." 

He went over to the telephone exchange and called 
up the Vick house. Rosabel answered. 

"That you, Rosie? . . . Well, I couldn't. I've 
been laid up, completely out of commission ever since 
I saw you. . . . What? . . . I— I didn't get that, 
Bosie. Speak louder, — closer to the telephone." 

Very distinctly now came the words, almost in a 
Toil: 



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344 QUILL'S WINDOW 

"Oh, Courtney, why — why do you lie to me?" 

** Lie to you ? My dear girl, do you know what you 
are — " 

A low moan, and a harsh, choking sob smote lus 
ear, and then the click of the receiver on the hook. 

" Well, 111 be hanged ! " he muttered angrily. 
" That's the last time I'll call you up, take it from me." 

And it was the last time be ever called her up. 

Then he, too, ravaged by uneasy thoughts, struck 
off into the country lanes, the better to commune with 
himself. In due course, he came to the gate leading up 
to the top of Quill's Window, Here he lagged. Hia 
gaze went across the strip of pasture-land to the de- 
serted house above the main-travelled road. He started. 
His gaze grew more intense. A lone figure traversed 
the highway. It turned in at the gate, and, as he 
watched, strode swiftly up the path to the front door. 
,., :, , He saw her bend over, evidently to insert a key 
in the lock. Then the door opened and closed behind 
ber. 

m 

Every word of David's letter was impressed on Alis's 
brain. Over and over again she repeated to herself 
certain passages as she strode rapidly through the 
winding lanes. She spoke them tenderly, wonderingly, 
and her eyes were shining. 

Dearxbt Aliz: 

I have always loved you. I want yon to know it. There 
has never been an hoar in all these years that I have not 
thought of yoo, that your dear face has not been before me. 
In France, here, everywhere, — always I am looking Into 
your eyes, always I am hearing your voice, always I am 



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MR. GILFILLAN IS PUZZLED 246 

feeling the gentle tonch of your hand. Nov yon know. I 
could not have told you before. I am the blacksmith's 
■on. God knows I am not ashamed of that. But I cannot 
foTget, noT can you, that a blacksmith's son lies buried at 
the top of that grim old MI, and that he was not good 
enough for the daughter of a Windom. I hear that yoa 
have given your heart to some one else. Yon will marry^ 
him. But to the end of your days, — and I hope they may 
be many, — I want yon to know that there is one man who 
will love yon with all his heart and all bis sonl to the end 
of hit days. I hope you will be happy. It is my great- 
est, my only wish. Once upon a time, we stole away, yoa 
and I, to write romances of love and adventure. Even then, 
yon were my heroine. I was putting yon into my poor 
story, but you were putting your dreams into yonrs, and I 
was not yonr dream hero. Then we would read to each 
other what we had written. Do yon remember how gaard- 
edJy we read and how stealthy we were so as not to arouse 
snspicion or attract attention to our lair? I shall nevcE 
forget those happy hours. Every line I wrote and read to 
yon, Alix dear, was of yon and for yon. You were my 
heroine. My hero, feeble creature, told yoa how much I 
loved yon, and yon never suspected. 

I am telling yon all this now, when my hope is dead, ao 
that yon may know that my love for yon began when yoa 
were little more than a baby, and has endured to this 
day and will endure forever. I pray God yon may always 
be happy. And now, in closing, I can only add the trite 
sentence, — which I recall reading in more than one novel 
and which I was imitative enough to put into my own un- 
finished masterpiece: If ever yon are in trouble and despair 
and need me, I will come to yon from the ends of the 
earth. I mean it, Alix. With all the best wishes in th^ 
world, I sm and will remain 

Yours devotedly, 

Datis. 



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246 QUnX'S WINDOW 

P.S. — I hare jut looked op from this letter to catcH 
sight of mjself in a mirror across the office. I have to 
smile. That beastlf but honourable glass reveals the tme 
secret of m^ failure to captivate yon. How could any 
self-respecting heroine fall m love vrith a chap with a nose 
like mine, and a month that was intended for old Goliath 
himself, and cheek bones that were handed down by Te- 
cnmseh, and eyes that sqnint a little — but I daresay that's 
because they are somewhat blnrred at this particular in- 
stant. I sm reminded of the " Yank " who had his nose 
shot off at ChSteau Thierry. He said that now that the 
Germans didn't have anything visible to train their artil- 
lery on, the war would soon be over. He had lost his nose 
but not his sense of the ridiculous. I have managed to 
xetain both. 

Up in that bare, dust-laden room, with the two 
candles buminjf at her elbows, sat Alix. There were 
tears in her eyes, a wistful little smile on her lips. 
She was reading again the clumsy lines David had 
written in those long-ago dajs of adolescence. Kow 
thej meant something to her. They were stilted, com- 
monplace expressions ; she would have laughed at them 
had they been written by any one else, and she still 
would have been vastly amused, even now, were it not 
for the revelations contained in his letter. And the 
postscript, — ^how like him to have added that whimsical 
twist ! He wanted her to smile, even though his heart 
was hurt. 

Ten years! Ten years ago they had sat opposite 
each other at this dusty table, their heads bent to 
the task, their brows furrowed, their hands reaching 
out to the same bottle of ink, their souls athrill with 
romance. And she was writing of a handsome, incred- 



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MR. GILFnXAK IS PUZZLED 247 

ibly valiant hero, whilst he — he wa§ writing of her! 
Time and again his hand, in seeking the ink, had 
touched the band of his heroine, — she remembered once 
jabbing her pen into his less nimble finger as she went 
impatiently to the fount of romance, and he had ex- 
claimed with a grimace : " Gee, you must have struck a 
snag, Alizl " She recalled the words as of yesterday, 
almost as of this very moment, and her arrogant re- 
joinder, " Wdl, why can't you keep your hand out of 
the way? " 

She was always hurting him, and he was always pa- 
tient. She was always sorry, and he was always for- 
giving. She was superior in her weakness, he was gentle 
in his strength. 

And his heroine? She read through the mist that 
fiDed her eyes and saw herself. The lofty heroine wooed 
by the poor and humble musician who crept up from un- 
utterable depths to worship unseen at her feet! " The 
Phantom Singer! " The lover she could not see because 
her starry eyes were fixed upon the peak! And yet 
he stood beneath her casement window and sang her 
to sleep, lulled her into sweet dreams, — and went his 
lonely way in the chill of the morning hours, only to 
return again at nightfall. 

She looked up from the sheet she held. She stared, 
not into space, but at the face of David Strong, sitting 
opposite, — the phantom singer. It was as plain to her 
as if he were actually there. She looked into his deep 
grey eyes, honest and true and smiling. 

What was it he said in his letter? About his nose 
and mouth and eyes ? They were before her now. That 
keen, boyish face with its coat of tan, — its broad, whim- 
sical mouth and the white, even teeth that once on a 



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248 QUILL'S WINDOW 

'^tLTe Iiact cracked a walnut for her; its rugged jaw 
and the loDg, straight nose; its wide forehead and 
the strai^t ejebrows ; and the thick hair as black as 
the raven's wing, rumpled by fingers that strove des- 
perately to encourage a recalcitrant brain; and those 
big, btmy hands, so large that her little brown paws 
yrere lost in them; and the broad shoulders hunched 
over the table, supported by widespread elbows that 
encroached upon her allotted space so often that she 
had to remind him: *' I do wish you'd watch what 
you're doing,'* and he would get up and meekly recover 
the scattered sheets of paper from the floor. Ugly? 
David ugly? Why, he was beauHftU! 

Suddenly her head dropped upon her arms, now rest- 
ing on David's manuscript ; she sobbed. 

" Oh, Davy, — Davy, I wish you were here ! I wish 
Jrou were here now ! " 

iThe creaking of the stairs startled her. She half 
arose and stared at the open door, expecting to see — 
the ghost! Goose-flesh crept out all over her. The 
ghost that people said came to — 

The very corporeal presence of Courtney Thane ap- 
peared in the doorway. 

For ntany seconds she was stupefied. She could see 
his lips moving, she knew he was speaking, she could 
see his smile as he approached, and yet only an unintel- 
ligible mnmble came to her ears. 

" — and so I cut across the field and ventured in where 
angels do not fear to tread," were the first words that 
possessed any degree of coherency for her. 

She hastily thrust the precious manuscript into the 
drawer. He stopped several feet away and looked 
about the room curiously, his gaze coming back to her 



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MR. GILFILLAN IS PUZZLED 24» 

after a moment. The light of the candles was full on 
her face. 

" Well, of all the queer places," he said. " What in 
the world brings you here? I thought no one ever 
entered this house, Alix." 

*' I have not been inside this house in ten years,*' 
she said, struggling for control of herself. " I came 
today to — to look for some papers that were left here. 
I was on the point of leaving when you came up." She 
picked up her gloves from the table. 

" It's cold here. Do you think it was wise for you to 
sit here in this chilly — Gad, it's like an ice-house or a 
tomb. Better let me give you my coat.'* He started 
to remove his overcoat. There was an anxious, solici- 
tous expression in his eyes. 

" No, — no, thank you. I am quite warm, — and I 
shall be as warm as toast after I've walked a little way. 
I must be going now, Mr. Thane." She took a few 
steps toward the door. 

'* Are you going away without blowing the candles 
out? " he inquired. 

She halted. She felt herself trapped. She did not 
want to be alone in the dark with him. 

" If you will go ahead whOe there is light, I will 
follow — " The solution came suddenly. " How stupid L 
There is nothing to prevent us carrying the candles 
downstairs with us, is there? Will you take one, 
please? " 

She returned to the table and took up one of the 
candlesticks. 

" I've been terribly worried about you, Alix," he 
said, without moving. " How wonderful it is to see you 
again, — to see what is really you and not the girl I've 



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250 QUILL'S WINDOW 

seen in dreams for the past few endless nights. Yon 
in the flesh, jou with ;our beautiful eyes, you whose 
lips— oh, God, I— I have been nearly mad, Alix. A 
thousand times I have felt you in my arras, — youVe 
never been out of them in my thoughts. I — " 

" Please — please! " she cried, shrinking back and put- 
ting her hands to her temples. 

Still he did not move. There was a gentleness in his 
Toice, a softness that disarmed her. It was not the 
yoice of a conqueror, rather it was that of a suppliant. 

" I am not worthy to touch the hem of your gar- 
ment," he went on, aa expression of pain leaping swiftly 
to his eyes. *' I am most unworthy. My hfe has not 
been perfect. I have done many things that I am 
ashamed of, things I woUld give my soul to recall. But 
my love for you, Alix Crown, is perfect. All the good 
that God ever put into me is in this feeling I have for 
you. You are the very soul of me. If you tell me to 
go away, I wiU go. That is how I love you. You do 
bdieve I love you with all my heart and soul, don't 
you, Alix? You do believe that I would die for you? ** 

Now she was looking into his eyes across the candle 
flames. David's features had vanished. She saw noth- 
ing save the white, drawn face of the man whose voice, 
sweet with passion, fell upon her ears like the murmur 
of far-off music. She felt the warm thrill of blood rush- 
ing back into her icy veins, surging up to her throat, 
to her trembling hps, to her eyes. 

" I — I don't know what to think — I don't know what 
to believe," she heard herself saying. 

He came a step or two nearer. Her eyes never left 
his. She tried to look away. 

" I want you to me mine forever, Alix. X want jou 



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MR. GILFILLAN IS PUZZLED i251 

to be my wife. I want ;oa to be with me to the enS 
of my life. I cannot live without yoa. Do not send 
me away now. It is too late." 

Her knees gave way. She sank slowly to the bench, 
1 — and still she looked into his gleaming eyes. 

He came to her. She was in his arms. His face 
;ira3 close to hers, his breath was on her cheek. . „. .' 

" No ! No ! " she almost shrieked, and wrenched her- 
self free. " Not now ! Not here ! Give me time — ^give 
jne time to think ! " 

She had sprung to her feet and was glaring at him 
:with the eyes of an animal at bay. He fell back in 
astonishment. 

*'You — ^you had no right to follow me here," she 
was crying. " You had no right ! This place is sacred. 
It is sanctuary." Her voice broke. ** My mother was 
bom in this room. She died in this room. And I was 
bom here. Go! Please go!" 

He controlled himself. He held back those words 
that were on his tongue, ready to be flung out at her : 
** Yes, and in this room you behaved like hell with 
David Strong!" But he checked them In time. He 
lowered his head. 

" Forgive me, Alix," he said abjectly. " I — ^I did 
not know. I was wrong to follow you here. I could not 
help myself. I was mad to see you. Nothing could 
have stopped me." He looked up, struck by a sudden 
thought. ** You call this sanctuary. It t* a sacred 
place to you. Will you make it sacred to me? Promise 
here and now, in this sanctuary of yours, to be my 
wife, and all my life it shall be the most sacred spot 
on earth." 

She turned her head quickly to look at David Strong. 



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252 QUILL'S WINDOW 

A startled, incredulous expressioo leaped into her eyes. 
He was not there. By what magic had he Tanished? 
She had felt his presence. He was sitting there a mo- 
ment ago, his tousled head bent down over the pad of 
paper, — she was sure of it ! Then she realized. A wave 
of relief surged over her. He was not there to hear 
this man making love to her in the room where he had 
poured out his soul to her. She experienced a curious 
thrill of exultation. David could never take back 
those unspoken words of love. She had them safely 
stored away in that blessed drawer ! 

A flush of shame leaped to her cheeks. She could 
not banish the notion that he, — ^honest, devoted David, 
—had seen her in this man's arms, clinging to him, giv- 
ing back his passionate kisses with all the horrid rap- 
ture of a — She stiffened. Her head went up. She 
faced the man who had robbed David. 

" I cannot marry you," she said quietly. The spell 
was gone. She was herself again. " I do not love you." 

He stared, speechless, uncomprehending. 

"You — you do not love me? " he gasped. 

" I do not love you," she repeated dehberately. 

" But, good God, you — you couldn't have kissed me 
as you — ** 

"Please!" 

" — as you did just now,*' he went on, honestly be- 
wildered. " You put your arms around my neck, — 
you kissed me — " 

" Stop ! Yes, I know I did, — I know I did. But it 
was not love, — it was not love ! I don't know what it 
was. You have some dreadful, appalling power to — 
Oh, you need not look at me like that ! I don't care that 
for your scorn. Call me a fool, if jou like, — caU hm 



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MR. GILFILLAN IS PUZZLED 253 

anything you like. It is all one to me now. What's 
done, is done. But it can never happen again. I will 
not even say that I am ashamed, for in saying so I 
would be confessing that I was responsible for my ac- 
tions. I was not responsible. That is all, Mr. Thane. 
No doubt you are sincere in asking me to be your 
wife. No doubt your love for me is sincere. I should 
like to think so — always. It would help me to forget my 
own weakness. I am going. I want you to leave this 
house before I go, Mr. Thane." 

She spoke calmly, evenly, with the utmost self-pos- 
session. 

" I can't let you go like this, Alix ! I can't take 
this as final. You — you nuut care for me. How can I 
think otherwise? In God's name, what has happened 
to turn you against meP You owe me more of an 
explanation than — " 

" You are right," she interrupted. " I do owe you 
. an explanation. This is not the time or the place to 
give it. If you will come to see me tomorrow, I will 
tell you everything. It is only fair that you should 
know. But not now." 

** Has some one been lying about rae?" he demanded^ 
his eyes narrowing. 

She waited an instant before replying. 

" No, Mr. Thane," she said ; " no one has beea lying 
about you." 

He took up his hat from the table. 

*' I will come tomorrow," he said. At the door he 
paused to say: " But I am not going to give you up» 
Alix. You mean too much to me. I think I under- 
stand. You are frightened. I — I should not have come 
here." 



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i254 QXJILL'S WINDOW 

**Yes, I wot frightened," she cried out shrillj. ^I 
was frightened, — but I am not afraid how." 

She had moved to Thane's side of the table* and 
there she stood until she heard his foctst^s on the 
little porch outside. 

She was in an exalted frame of mind as she hurried 
from the house. The short October day had turned 
to night. For a moment she paused, peering ahead. 
A queer little thrill of alarm ran throu^ her. She 
had never been afraid of the dark before. But nom 
she shivered. A great uneasiness assailed her. She 
listened intently. Far up the hard gravel road she 
heard the sound of footsteps, gradually diminishing. 
He was far ahead of her and walking rapidly. 

At the gate she stopped again. Then she struck oui 
resolutely for home, — the Phantom Singer was beside 
ber. She was not afraid. 

A farm-hand, leaning on the fence at the lower cor- 
ner of the yard, scratched his head in perplexity. 

•* Well, here's a new angle to the case," he mused 
flouriy. " I'm up a tree for snre. Why the devU should 
Miss Crown be meeting him out there in this old de- 
serted house. My word, it begins to look a trifle spicy- 
It also begins to look like a case that ought to be 
dropped before it gets too hot. I guess it's up to me 
to see my dear old Uncle Charlie What'a-His-Name," 

Whereupon Mr, Gilfillan set off in the wake of the 
giri who bad employed him to catch the masked invader. 



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CHAPTER XIX 

BEtMcnrG TIF THE PAST 

CHARLIE WEBSTER wore a troubled expres- 
sion when he appeared for dinner that same 
evening. He was late. If such a thing were 
belierabJe, his kindly blue eyes glittered malevolently 
as they rested upon the face of Courtney Thane, who 
had taken his place at table a few minutes earlier. The 
fat little man was strangely preoccupied. He was evea 
gruff in his response to Mr. Pollock's bland inquiry as 
to the state of his health. 

*' How's your liver, Charlie?" inquired the genial 
editor. This amiable question was habitufil with Mr. 
Pollock. He varied it a little when the object of his 
polite concern happened to be of the opposite sex; 
then he gallantly substituted the word " appetite.*' It 
was never necessary to reply to Mr. Pollock's ques- 
tion. In fact, he always seemed a little surprised when 
any one did reply, quite as if he had missed a portion 
of the conversation and was trying in a bewildered sort 
of way to get the hang of it again. 

*' Same as it was yesterday," said Charlie, ** I 
don't want any soup, Maggie, Yes, I know it's bean 
■soup, but I don't want it, just the same." 

" Going on a hunger strike, Charlie? " inquired Doc 
Simpson. 

"Sh! He's reducing," scolded Flora Grady. 
■• *'JVhat'8 on your mind, Charlie?" asked Courtney. 

ses 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



256 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Charlie swallowed hard. He made a determined ef- 
fort and succeeded is recovering some of his old-time 
sprightliness, 

" Nothing, now that I've got my hat off." 
"Have you heard the latest news, Charlie?" in- 
quired Mrs. Pollock, a thrill of excitement in her voice. 
He started, and looked up quickly. " There's been 
so blamed much news lately," he muttered, " I can't 
keep track of it." 

" Well, this is the greatest piece of news we've had 
in ages," said the poetess. " Wedding bells are to ring 
in our midst. Somebody you know very well is going 
to be married." 

Mr. Webster's heart went to his boots. He stared 
open-mouthed at the speaker. 

" Oh, my Lord ! " he almost groaned. " Don't tell 
me she has promised to marry — " He broke off to 
glare venomously at Thane. 

" Don't blame me for it, Charlie," exclaimed the 
latter. " I am as innocent as an unborn babe. Charge 
it to woman's wiles." He laughed boisterously, un- 
naturally. 

Mr. Pollock spoke. " The next issue of the Sim will 
contain the formal announcement of the engagement 
of the most popular and beloved young lady in Win- 
domville. No doubt it will be old news by that time, — 
next Thursday, — but publication in the press gives it 
the importance of officialty." 

*' We may congratulate ourselves, however, that we 
are not to lose her," said Mrs. Pollock. " She is to 
remain in — " 

" Whe-when is it to take place?" groaned Charlie» 
moisture starting out on his brow. 



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BRINGING UP THE PAST 26T 

" That," began Mr. Pollock, " is a matter which 
cannot be definitely announced at present, oving to cer< 
tain familj^-er — ah — conditions. In addition to this, 
I may say that there is also the children to consider, 
as well as the township trustee and, to an extent, the 
taxpayer. The — " 

" AU IVe got to say," grated Charlie, " is that the 
police ought to be consulted, first of all." 

" The police ! " exclaimed Angie Miller. 

"The — the what?" gasped Furman Hatch, lifting 
his head suddenly. He was very red in the face, " I'd 
like to know what the devil the police have to do with 
it?" 

Charlie took a look at Angie Miller's face, and then 
the truth dawned upon him. He sank back in his chair 
80 suddenly that the legs gave forth an ominous crack. 

" Don't do that! " cried Margaret Slattery sharply. 
** You know them chairs are not made of iron. And I 
don*t want you flopping all over me when Fm passing 
the stew — " 

"Yes, sir!" boomed Charlie, who had collected his 
wits by this time, and was pointing his finger accus- 
ingly at Mr. Hatch. " The police have simply got to 
be called. It's going to take half the force, including 
Bill Foss, to keep me from drinking the heart's blood of 
my hated rival. Ladies and gents, that infernal, low- 
down villain over there has come between me and — 
But nobody shall say that Charles Darwin Webster is 
a poor loser! Say what you please about him, but do 
not say he is a short sport. It breaks my heart to do 
it, but I'm coming around there to shake hands with 
you, old Tintype. I'm going to congratulate you, but 
I'm never going to get through hating you." 



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2Sa QUILL'S WINDOW 

He arose anil bolted around the table. Mr. Hatdi 
got to his feet and the long and the short maa clasped 
hands. 

" Put her there, old boy ! Tve already made op my 
mind what my wedding present is goin^ to be. The 
day before the wedding I'm coming in and order a dozoi 
photographs of myself, — pay for 'em in advance. And 
I'm going to give every darned one of 'em to the bride, 
bo's she can stick, 'em up all over the b*use just to make 
you feel at home, you blamed old bachelor. And as for 
you, Miss Angelina Miller, the very topmost height of 
my ambition will be reached in less than two mimites 
after the ceremony. Because, then and there, I'm 
going to kiss yon. Bless you, my children. As old Rip 
Van Winkle used to say, ' may you live long and 
brosper.' " 

Having ddivered himself of this felicitotu speech, the 
somewhat relieved Mr. Webster wiped his brow. 

** What did he say? " quaked old Mrs. Nichols, put- 
ting her hand to her ear. 

" Says he hoped they'd be hapKT)" bawled pU Mr. 
Nichols, close to her ear. 

"Fass the bread, Doc," said Mr. Hatdi, gettfii^ 
pinker and pinker. 

*' When's it to take place, AngieF " inquired Charlie, 
resuming his seat. He cast a sharp look at Ovirtney. 
The young man shifted his gaze immediately. 

" As I explained to Mr. Pollock, everything depends 
on my aunt," said Angie composedly. " She is very 
old, — eighty-three, in fact." 

" You don't mean to say your aunt objects to yeur 
marrying old Tintype," exclaimed Charlie. 

*' Not at all," replied An^e, somewhat tartly. 



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BRINGING UP THE PAST 259 

"You see, it's this vaj," volunteered Mr, Pollock. 
" Miss Angle is the sole support of a venerable and 
venerated aunt who lives in Frankfort. That ts a 
thing to be considered. Her duty to her father's 
sister — " 

Courtnej interrupted, chuckling. " It's too much to 
ask of any woman. I suppose it must take nearly all 
you earn. Miss Miller, to support your aged relative, 
so naturally you do not feel like taking on Mr. Hatch 
immediately." 
. There was a moment's silence around the table. 

"I see by the Chicago Tribuae," said Mr, Pollock, 
after a hurried gulp of coffee, " that there's hkely to 
be a strike of the street-car mat op there." 

" You doa't say so," said Doc Simpson, looking so 
concerned that one might have been led to suspect that 
he was disMayed over the prospect of getting to his 
office the next day. 

" What's the world coming toP " sighed Maude Baggs 
Pollock nervously. " Strikes, strikes everywhere. 
IMurder, bloodshed, robbery, revolution — " 

** Next thing we know," put in Charlie Webster, with- 
out looking up from his plate, '* God will strike, and 
when He does there'll be hell to pay, begging your par- 
Jlon, ladies, for using a word that sounds worse than 
it tastes." 

" 1 use it every day of my life,** said Miss Flora 
Grady. *' It's a grand word, Charlie," she added, a 
little defiantly. 

'* Times have changed," remarked Mr. Pollock 
blandly. " It wasn't so very long ago that women 
^aid * pshaw ' when they wanted to let off steam. Then 
jthey g*t t* saying ' shucks/ and from that they pro-^ 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



260 QUILL'S WINDOW 

gressed to * dam,' and now they say * damn ' without 
a quiver. Only yesterday I heard my wife say some- 
thing that sounded suspiciously like ' dammit to hell * 
when she upset a bottle of ink on her desk. She hasn't 
stubbed her toe against a rockin^chair lately, thank 
goodness." 

Doc Simpson stopped Courtney as he was starting 
upstairs after dinner. The dentist was unsmiling. 

*' Say, Court, I'm running a little close this week. 
Been so much excitement a lot of patients have for- 
gotten all about their teeth. Can you let me have that 
ten you borrowed last week? " 

" Sure," said Courtney, in his most affable manner. 
** 111 hand it to you tomorrow, I'll give it to you now 
if youll wait till I run upstairs and get it out of my 
trunk. That's my bank, you know." 

" Tomoriow'll do all right," said Doc, a trifle 
abashed. 

" Can I see you a second, Mr. Thane? " called Miss 
Grady, when he was halfway up the stairs. 

He stopped and smiled down at her. " I hope you'll 
forgive me if I don't come down. Miss Flora. My knee 
is still on the blink. It hurts worse to go downstairs 
than it does up." 

" 111 come up," said Miss Grady promptly, " You 
remember those roses I ordered for you last week? 
Well, I had to pay cash for them, including parcel 
post. You owe me seven dollars and thirteen cents." 

" I'm glad you spoke of it. I hadn't forgotten it, 
of course, but — I simply neglected to square it up with 
you. Have you change for a twenty. Miss Flora?" 

" Not with me." 
. " m hand it to you tomorrow, Seven-thirteen, yott 



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BRINGING UP THE PAST 261 

iayP Shall we make it seven-fifteen?" He favoured 
her with hie most engaging smile, and Miss Grady, who 
thought she had steeled her heart against his blandish- 
ments, suffered a momentary relapse and said, ** No 
hurry. I just thought I'd remind you." 

He failed completely, however, to affect the sus- 
ceptibilities of Miss Mary Dowd, who presently 
rapped at his door, and rapped again when he called 
out " Come in." He opened the door. 

" Pardon me, Mr. Thane, for coming up to speak to 
you about your bill. Will it be convenient for you 
to let me have the money this evening ? " 

She did not soften the dun by offering the usual 
excuse about " expenses being a little heavier this 
month than we expected," or that she " hated to ask 
him for the amount." 

"Is it three or four weeks. Miss Molly?" he in- 
quired, taking out an envelope and a pencil. 

" Four weeks today." 

" Sixty dollars." He jotted it down. " I cannot let 
this opportunity pass to tell you how thoroughly satis- 
fied I have been with everything here. Miss Molly. The 
table is really extraordinarily good. I don't see how 
you can do it for fifteen dollars a week, including 
room." He replaced the envelope in his pocket, and 
smiled politely, his hand going to the door knob. 

" We couldn't do it, Mr. Thane, unless we stuck 
pretty closely to our rule, — that is, of asking our 
patrons to pay promptly at the end of every week." 

" It's really the only way," he agreed. 

" So if you will he kind enough to let me have the 
amount now, I will be very much obliged to you." 

He stepped to the head of the stairs, ostensibly to 



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26e QUILL'S WINDOW 

be nearer a light, and took out his purse. While count- 
ing out the bills, he cast frequent Ranees down into the 
lower hall. The buzz of conversation came up from the 
" lounge." 

" I think you wfU fincl the proper amount here. Miss 
Moll;," he said, after restoring the purse to his pocketf 

She took the bank-notes and counted them. 

" Quite correct, Mr. Thane. Thank you. By the 
way, I have been meaning to ask how much longer joa 
contemplate remaining with us. Pastor Mavity ha» 
been inquiring for room and board for his sister, who 
is coming on from Indianapolis to spend several months 
in WindomviUe. If by any chance you are thinking of 
vacating your room within the next few days, I would 
be obliged if you would let me know as soon as possiUe 
in order that I may give Mr. Mavity an answer." 

" I think I shall be leaving shortly. Miss Dowd. I 
can let you know in a day or two," said he stiffly. *' I 
am afraid your winters are too severe for me. Good 
night, — and thank you for being so patient, Miss 
Dowd." 

Meanwhile, Miss Angie Miller had taken Charlie 
Webster off to a comer of the " lounge " remote from 
the fireplace. She was visibly excited. 

" I had a letter in this afternoon's mail from my 
uncle, Charlie," she announced in subdued tones, ** My 
goodness, youTl simply pass away when you read it." 

"Where is it?" demanded Charlie eagerly. 

" I haven't even shown it to Furman," said rfie, look- 
ing over her shoulder. " I've been wondering iriiether 
I ought to let him read it first." 

*' Not at all," said he promptly. " It's none of his 



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BRINGING UP THE PAST 263 

btisioees. This is between you and me, Angie. Let's 
have a look at it." 

" I don't think you'd better read it here," she whis- 
pered nervously. " It — it is very private and con- 
fidential." 

" That's all right," said Charlie. " 111 sneak up- 
stairs with it, Angie." 

" Well, act as if you are looking out of the window," 
she said, and w^en his back was turned she produced 
the letter from its hiding place inside her blouse. 

n 

Charlie retired to bis room a few minutes later. 
There he perused the following letter, written on the 
stationery of Beck, Blossom, Fredericks & Smith, At- 
tomeys-at-law, New York City; 

Mv DiAX Nncci: 

Pardon my delay in replying to yonr letter of recent 
date. I have been very bnsy in court and bave not been 
In a position to devote even a little of my time to your 
inqniry. Your second letter reached mc yesterday, and 
I now make amends for my previous delinqoency by an- 
swering it with a promptness most oncommon in lawyers. 

Tbe firm of which I am a member appeared in I9li for 
the plaintiff in the case of Bitter vs. Thane. Our client 
was a yotmg woman residing in Brooklyn. The defendant 
was Courtney Thane, the son of Howard Thane, and no 
doubt the young man to whom you refer. In any case, 
be was the grandson of Silas Thane, who lived in your 
part of the State of Indiana. We were demanding one 
hundred tbonsand dollars for our client Miss Bitter was 
s trained nurse. Young Thane had been severely injured 
in an automobile accident. If t/our Courtney Thane is the 



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264 QUHi'S WINDOW 

BBme as mine, he will be walking with a slight limp. His 
left leg was badlf crushed in the accident to which I 
refer. For several months he was onable to walk. Upon 
his remoTal from St. Lake's Hospital to hia father's home 
in Park Avenne, a fortnight after the accident, our client 
was employed as a nurse on the case. This was early in 
the spring of 1918. In June the Thane family went to 
the BerkshircB, where they had rented a bouse for the 
summer. Our client accompanied them. Prior to their 
departure. Thane, senior, had settled out of court with 
the occupants of the automobile with which his sou's car 
had collided in upper Broadway. His son was alone ia 
his car when the accident occurred, but there were a Dum- 
ber of witnesses ready to testify that he was driving at a 
high rate of speed, regardless of traffic or crossings. If 
my memory serves me correctly, his father paid something 
like twenty-five thousand dollars to the three persons in- 
jured. That, however, is neither here nor there, except to 
illustrate the young man's disregard for the law. 

Miss Ritter had been on the case a very short time before 
he began to make ardent love to her. She was an ex- 
tremely pretty girl, two years his senior, and, I am con- 
vinced, a most worthy and exemplary young woman. She 
became infatuated with the yonng man. He asked her to 
marry bim. (Permit me to digress for a moment in order 
to state that while Courtney Thane was in his freshman 
year at college bis father was obliged to pay out quite a 
large sum of money to a chorus-girl with whom, it appears, 
he bad become involved.) To make a long story short, our 
client, trusting implicitly to his honour and submitting to 
the ardour of their joint passion, anticipated the marriage 
ceremony with serious results to herself. When she dis- 
covered that he had no intention of marrying her, she at- 
tempted suicide. Her mother, on learning the truth, went 
to Thane's parents and pleaded for the righting of the 
wrong. Howard Thane had, by this time, lost all patience 



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BRINGING UP THE PAST 265 

with bis son. He refnaed to have anything to do with the 
matter. The yoong man's mother ordered Miss Ritter's 
mother ont of the apartment and threatened to have her 
arrested for blackmail. Shortly after this episode, we were 
consulted by Mrs. Ritter, much against the wishes of her 
daughter, who shrank from the ootoriety and the disgrace 
of a lawsuit. The elder Tbane was adamant in his decision 
that his son should marry the girl, who, be was fair 
enough to admit, was a young woman of very superior 
character and who, he was convinced, bad been basely 
deceived. The mother, on the other band, was lelcntleaaly 
apposed to the sacrifice of her son. We took the matter to 
court. On the morning of the first day of the trial, before 
the opening of court, the defendant's counsel came to us 
with a proposition. They offered to settle out of court for 
twenty-five thousand dollars. In the end, we accepted fifty 
thousand, aud the case was dismissed. Afterwards counsel 
for the other side informed us that the elder Thane turned 
his son out of his home and refused to have anything more 
to do with him. I understand the yonng man went to 
Europe, where he subsisted on an allowance provided by 
his mother. Thane, senior, died shortly after this. Our 
client, I am pained to aay, died with her babe in child- 
birth. 

You may be interested to know, my dear niece, that 
Mrs. Thane married soon after her husband's death. Her 
second husband was a young French nobleman, many years 
her jtmior. He was killed in the war, I think at Verdun. 
I understand she is now living in this city. Her present 
name escapes me, but I know that her widowhood has been 
made endurable by a legacy which happens to be one in 
name only. In other words, he left ber the title of 
Countess. 

If I can be of any further service to you, my dear niece, 
pray do not hesitate to call upon me. Believe me to be . . . 
etc., etc. 



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266 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Within ten minutes after the perusal of this verj 
convincing indictment, Charlie Webster was on his waj 
to Alix's home. He was quite out of hreath when he 
presented himself at the front door, and his first words 
to Alix were: 

" While I'm getting my breath, AHx, you might pre- 
pare yourself for a shock." 



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CHAPTER XX 

THE DISApPEA&AKCE 07 BOSABEI. TICS 

EARLY the next morning, the telephone in town- 
ship assessor Jordan's house rang. Annie Jor< 
dan was " setting " the breakfast table. She 
waited for the call to be repeated; she was not sure 
whether the bell had rung thrice or four times. Their 
call was " Party J, ring four." Four sharp rings came 
promptly. She looked at the kitchen clock. It lacked 
five minutes of seren. 

" Gee," she grumbled, " % didn't know anybody had 
to get up as early as I do." Taking down the receiver 
she uttered a sweet " hello," because, as she said, 
" You never know who's at the other end, and it's just 
as likely to be him as not," 

"Is that you, Annie? This is Mrs. Vick. May I 
speak to Rosabel P" 

*' Why, Rosabel isn't here, Mrs. Vick." 

"What?" 

** Rosabel isn't here.** 

There was a short silence. Then: "Are you joking 
with me, Annie? If she isn't up yet, please tell her 
to—" 

'* Honest to goodness, Mrs. Vick, ^he's not here. I 
haven't seen her since day before yesterday." 

" She said she was going over to spend the night 

with you. She left home about four yesterday. Oh, 

267 



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268 QUILL'S WINDOW 

my gcMxiDesB, I — I — is there any one else she might 
have, — I'm sure she said you, though, Annie. Can you 
think of any one else? She took her nightdress — and 
things." 

" She always conies here, Mrs. Vick," said Annie, and 
felt a little chill creeping over her. " Still she may have 
gone to Mrs. Urline's. She and Hattie are good 
friends. Shall I call up and ask? I'll ring you up in . 
a couple of minutes." 

That -was the heginning. Within the hour the whole 
of Windomville vas talking about the strange dis- 
appearance of the pretty daughter of Amos Vick, 
across the river. Old Jim House, the handy-man at 
Dowd's Tavern, inserted his shaggy head throu^ the 
dining-room door and informed the editor of the Sun 
in a far from ceremonious manner that he had an 
*' item " for the paper. 

" I'll be out as soon as I've finished breakfast," said 
Mr. Pollock. 

" Well, you can't say I didn't tell ye," said Jim, 
and withdrew his head. " No wonder there ain't ever 
anything worth readin' in that pickerune paper of his, 
Maggie," he growled to Margaret Slattery. " If ever I 
do subscribe for a paper, it's goin' to be one that's got 
some git up and go about it. Some Injinapolis er Cin- 
cinnaty paper, b'gosh. There's Link Pollock settin' 
in there eatin' pancakes while a girl is bein' missed from 
one end of the township to the other. Bill Foss has — " 

" What girl? " demanded Margaret. 

" That girl of Amos Vick's. They ain't seen hide 
er hair of her sence yesterday afternoon. Amos is over 
to the drug store, nearly crazy with suspicion. I got 
it all figgered out. One of two things has happened. 



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DISAPPEABANCE OF ROSABEL VICK 269 

She's either run off to get married er else she's been 
waylaid and — er — execrated by some tramp. Like as 
not the very feller that peeped in at Alix Crown's win- 
der the other night. 'Twouldn't surprise me a particle 
if she was found some'eres er other with her head beat 
in or somethin'! And Link Pollock jest sits in there 
stulfin' pan — " 

Margaret Slattery having disappeared abruptly into 
the dining-room, Jim grunted and edged over to the 
kitchen range, where Miss Jennie Dowd was busil}^ 
engaged. 

" I ain't got nothin* personal ag*in Link Pollock, Jen- 
nie," he said, sniffing the browning batter with pleasur- 
able longing, " but if you was to ask me I'd say his wife 
is twice the man he is, and a little over. The minute 
that woman is a widder I'm goin' to subscribe for the 
paper, 'cause I know shell — What say, Jennie? " 

" Bring me another scuttle of coal, — and, for good- 
ness' sake, don't smoke that pipe in my kitcben." 

*' What's the matter with this here pipe ? " demanded 
Mr. House in some surprise. 

*' Never mind. I'm busy." 

" Yes, — cookin* pancakes for that — all right, oK 
right, I'll get your coal fer ye. I ought to be out helpin* 
Amos VIck to investigate fer his daughter, that's where 
I ought to be. First thing you know, hell be offerin' 
twenty-five er fifty dollars fer her and— say, it seems to 
me you ought to be more interested in that pore lost 
girl than makin' pancakes fer Link Pollock." He pre- 
pared to sit down. *' There's a lot of people in this 
here town payin* him two dollars a year fer to git the 
news, and all he does is to — All right, I wasn't goin' 
to set down anyways. I was jest movin* this cheer o«t 



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270 QUnX'S WINDOW 

o* the way a little, so's Maggie — Yeg, anid with coal 
as high as it is now and a lot of pore people starvin' 
and freezin' to death, it exaggerates me considerable to 
see you wastin' — Well, is he still eatin', Maggie? " 

** He's beat it upstairs to change his carpet slippers," 
announced Margaret Slattery excitedly. ** You needn't 
make any more, Miss Jennie. They're all beatin' it, — 
all except Mr. Thane, and be says he don't want any 
more. He says he ain't feelin' weU and thinks he'll go 
up to his room and lay down for a while." 

** Well, seein's you don't need that coal, Jennie, I 
guess I'll mosey along and see if I c'n be any help to 
Amos. This jest goes to show what an ijit I'd ha' been 
to let my pipe go out," 

Courtney lliane hung over the little stove in his room, 
shivering as with a chill. About ten o'clock some one 
knocked at his door. He started up from the chair, 
his gaze fixed on the door. With an effort he pulled 
himself together and inquired who was there. 

" Is there anything I can do for you, Mr. Thane? " 
asked Miss Molly Dowd, outside. 

*' Nothing, thank you." After a moment's inde- 
cision, he crossed over and opened the door. " It's 
awfully good of you, Miss MoUy. There's nothing 
really the matter with me. I was awake most of the 
night with a pain in my back, — something like lumbago, 
I suppose. I was afraid at first it was my old pleurisy 
coming back for aaother visit, but it seems to be lower 
down. I feel much better, thank you. The fresh air 
will do me good. I think I'll go out and see if I can be 
of any assistance to poor Vick. Have they had any 
news of Rosabel? " 



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DISAPPEAHANCE OF ROSABEL VICK 271 

" I think not. They have telephoned to the city to 
ask the police to watch out for her, especially at the 
trains. She's been terrihiy depressed, they say, since 
her brother went to the Navy training school up near 
Chicago. Amos thinks she may have taken it into her 
head to go up there somewhere to be near him." 

" It is possible. She was devoted to her brother. I 
hope nothing worse has happened to her. She is a 
sweet, lovable girl, and they worshipped her." 

Later on, as he was standing in front of the post- 
office, smoking a cigarette, Vick came up in AUs 
Crown's automobile. 

The former had been to the city to consult with the 
police. He inquired anxiously if any word had been 
received from the men who had volunteered to search 
in the woods and along the river bank for the girl. Re* 
ceiving a reply in the negative from several of the 
hangers-on, he turned to give an order to the chauffeur. 
As he did so, his gaze fell upon Courtney, who was on 
the outer edge of the little group surrounding the car. 

After a moment of indecision, the young man pushed 
his way forward, an expression of deep concern in his 
eyes. 

" Morning, Courtney," greeted the older man, ex- 
tending his hand. " I'm glad to see you. I suppose 
you've heard about Rosabel? " 

Thane shook hands with Rosabel's father. 

•* I wouldn't be worried if I were you, Mr. Vick. 
Shell turn up all right. I feel sure of it. If there is 
anything in the world I can do, I wish you would say 
BO, Mr. Vick. Anything, sir. There is nothing I 
wouldn't do for you and Mrs. Vick and Rosabel. I 
adore that child. Why, I get positively sick all over 



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272 QUILL'S WINDOW 

when I let myself think that — but, it's impossible! I 
feel it in my bones shell come home sometime today." 

Vick pressed the young man's hand. 

" I vish I could be sure of that, — God, I wish I could 
be sure," he said, with a little catch in his gruff voice. 
" I don't see what got into her to run away like this. 
She ain't been very chipper since Cale went away, you 
know. Sort of sick and down in the mouth. Her 
mother's heard her crying a good bit lately up in her 
room. I promised her only a couple of days ago to 
take her up to Chicago for a spell, so's she could see 
Cale every once in a while. So it can't be she's gone 
off on her own hook to see him, knowin' that either me or 
her mother was planning to go up with her next week. 
Thank you, Courtney, for offering to help us. If there's 
anything, I'll let you know. We've been telegraphin' 
and telephonin* everywhere to see if we can get track 
of her, and we've been to all her friends' homes to ask 
if they've seen her. I wish, if you feel like it, you'd 
go over and see Mrs. Vick. Maybe you can cheer her 
up, encourage her or something. She's terribly worried. 
I — I think it would break her heart if anything hap- 
pened to — to — " His lips twisted as with pain. He 
bent over and picked a burr from his trousers' leg. 

" Buck up, old fellow," said Courtney, a ringing note 
of confidence in his voice. He laid bis hand on Vick's 
arm, " Tell me all about it. When did she leave the 
house, and where did she say she was going P " 

" Yesterday afternoon. She said she was going to 
spend the night at the Jordans'. She kissed her mother 
good-bye, — just as she always does, — and we ain't seen 
or heard anything of her since. Nobody in Windom- 
Tille saw her. Bill Foss is afraid she may have been 



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DISAPPEARANCE OF ROSABEL VICK 273 

waylaid bj hoboes down along the river road. If — if 
that happened there'll be something worse than lynchin' 
if I ever lay hands on — " 

Thane broke in with an oath. 

" By God, 111 do the job for you if I get hold of 
him first, Vick. I could set fire to a devil like that and 
see him burned alive without moving a muscle." 

** I can't let myself believe she's met with any such 
horrible fate as that, Courtney. I simply can't bear 
to think of my pretty little Rosie in the hands of — " 

" Don't think about it, Vick. I believe she wilt turn 
up safe and sound and— By the way, has it occurred 
to you that she may have eloped? Was she in love with 
anybody? Was she interested in any young fellow that 
you didn't approve of?" 

" She never spoke of being in love with anybody. 
She never even gave us an inklin' of such a thing. She 
would have told her mother. Why, good heavens, 
Courtney, she wasn't much more'n a little girl! She 
was eighteen her last birthday, and we never thought 
of her as anything but a child just out of short dresses. 
Did she ever speak to you about being gone on any of 
these young fellows that come to see herP She liked 
you tremendous, Courtney, — and I didn't know but 
what maybe she might have mentioned something to you 
about it when you were off on those long walks to- 
gether. Some of the times when you used to take a 
lunch basket and go off — " 

" Not a word," broke in Courtney. " Why, she was 
just like a kid, laughing and singing and beting me to 
tell her stories about the war, and life in New York, and 
all that sort of thing. She used to read to me, bless 
her heart, — read by the hour while I smoked,-— or went 



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274 QUILL'S WINDOW 

to sleep. If she wag in love with anybody she cer- 
tainly never took me into ber confidence." 

'* I — I guesa there's nothing in that theory," said 
Amos Vick, shaking bis head. " She didn't ran away 
with anybody. That's out of the question. I'm work- 
ing on tiie theory that she sort of went out of her head 
or something and wandered away. You read about 
cases like that in the papers. I forget what they call 
the disease, but there's — " 

" Aphasia," supphed Courtney absently. His gaze 
was fixed on a graceful, familiar figure down the street. 

Aliz Crown had just dismounted from her horse in 
front of the library. She stood, straight and slim, on 
the sidewalk awaiting the approach of Editor Pollock, 
who was hurrying up from Assessor Jordan's house 
where he had been " interviewing " Annie. 

A warm glow shot through Courtney's veins. He had 
held that adorable, boyish figure tight in his arms ! 
Nothing could rob him of that rapturous thought, — 
nothing could deprive him of those victorious moments. 
Amos Vick's voice recalled him. 

" I'll have to be on the move, Courtney. Here comes 
Bill Foss. He's been telephonin' to Litchtown, down 
the river. I do wish you'd go over and see Lucinda. 
She'll be mi^ty grateful to you." 

" Don't fail to call on me, Mr. Vick, if there's any- 
thing I can do," called out Courtney after the moving 
machine. 

He did not take his eyes from Alix until she dis- 
appeared through the library door. The horse, a very 
fine animal, was wet with sweat. He could see, even at 
that distance, the " lather " on her flaflkg. 



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DISAPPEARANCE OP ROSABEL VICK 276 

" Any news? " he inquired of Pollock, as that worthy 
came up panting. 

" Nope. Alix Crown is just back from Jim Bagley's. 
Some one said a hired man of his had seen a woman 
walking across the pasture yesterday just before dark 
- — oul near the old Windom place, — but it couldn't hare 
been Rosie Vick because she had no way to get across 
the river except by the ferry, and she didn't come that 
way, Joe Burk swears. Alix saw this hired man and he 
says it was almost dark and he couldn't be sure whether 
it was a man or a woman." 

A greyish pallor spread over Courtney's face. He 
turned away abruptly and hurried down the street. He 
remembered the "skiff" that belonged to young Cale, 
salvaged some years before on the abatement of a Feb- 
ruary flood. On more than one occasion he had taken 
Rosabel out on the river in this clumsy old boat, twice 
at least to the base of Quill's Window where she had 
refused to land because of the dread she had for the 
gruesome place. 

Cale kept his boat down among the willows, chained 
to a pole he had driven deep in the bed of the river. 
It was one of fais treasures. He had fished from it up 
and down the stream ; he had gone forth in it at day- 
break for wild ducks and geese. 

Yes, Thane remembered the "skiff." Strange that no 
one else had thought of it. Strange that even Amos 
Vick was satisfied she could not have ccossed the river 
except by the ferry. He wondered whether it was tied 
up in its accustomed place over yonder, or was it now 
on this side of the river P He felt a strange chill in 
lus blood. 

He was nearing the library when Alix came out. If 



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276 QUILL'S WINDOW 

she saw him she gave do sign. She crossed the side- 
walk, threw the bridle rein over the horse's neck, and 
swung herself gracefully into the saddle. Without so 
much as a glance over her shoulder, she rode off at a 
brisk canter in the direction of the ferry. He knew she 
was on her way to see Airs. Vick. 

The R. F. D. postman making his rounds, came to 
Amos Vick's shortly after noon that day. He volun- 
teered a bit of information. Rosabel had given him a 
letter when he stopped the day before. It was ad- 
dressed to Caleb Vick. She asked him how long he 
thought it would take the letter to reach its destina- 
tion. When he told her that it might be delivered to 
Cale early the next day, she thanked him and returned 
to the house. 

He thought at the time that she looked " kind of 
white around the gills." 

n 

Jim Bagley and his new " hired man,** pursuing a 
suggestion made by the latter, went to the top of Quill's 
Window for a bird's-eye view of the river and the sur- 
rounding country. The sharp eyes of the Finkerton 
man descried the rowboat under the willows along the 
opposite bank of the stream. 

Half an hour later, Bagley and several companions 
came upon the boat. On one of the seats lay Rosabel 
Vick's heavy coat and the black fur collar she was 
known to have worn when she left home. Under the 
seat in the stem was a small paper bundle. It con- 
tained a nightgown, a pair of black stockings, and 
several toilet articles. 

Across the river, several hundred yards above Quill's 



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DISAPPEABANCE OF KOSABEL VICK 277 

Window, a small gravelly "aand-bar" reached out 
into the Btream. Here the practised eyes of Gillillan 
found unmistakable indications of a recent landing. 
The prow of the boat, driven well out upon the bar, 
had left its mark. Also, there were two deep cuts in 
the eand where an oar had been used in pushing off. 
It was impossible to make out footprinta in the loose, 
shifting grave. 

I Mr. Gilfillan pondered deeply. 

• " That boat crossed over here yesterday," he re- 
flected. ** It's pretty clear that it belongs over on that 
side. If the Vick girl came over in it, there's no use 
looking for her on this side of the river. That boat 
couldn't have got back to the other side unless some- 
body rowed it over. If it was a woman I saw walking 
across the pasture in the direction of the river, it must 
have been this girl. Now — one of two things happened 
— in case it was the Vick girl. Either she was up near 
that old house before I got there, or she saw me when 
she was approaching, and turned back. In either case, 
she had an object in hanging around that house. Now 
we come to the object. Was she going there to meet 
some one? If so, it would naturally be a man. 

" Now let's get this thing straight. Thane crossed 
the pasture from this direction. That's positive, — 
because I followed him. It is a dead certainty he did 
not meet the Vick ^rl. I would have witnessed any 
such meeting. The fact that he lived at her father's 
house for several weeks may have something to do with 
the case, — but that's guesswork. What we want is 
facts. This much is certain. I did not see Miss Crown 
go into that house, — but I did see her come out. I 
never was so paralysed in my life. It is dear, there- 



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278 QUILL'S WINDOW 

fore, that she waa in there before either I or Than^ 
came upon the Bcene. Now the question is, was she 
there to meet ThaneP I doubt it. Things begin to look 
a little clearer to me. Suppose, for instance, he went 
out to that big hill to meet some one else, — presmnably 
the Vick girl, and that thej had planned to go to that 
old deserted house. He was late. So, thinking she 
had gone on, he hustled across the Geld and received the 
surprise of his life. Now, well say the Vick girl was 
over there waiting for him when Miss Crown came to 
the house, — a thing they cquldn't have foreseen in view 
of the fact that she shunned the place. Our hero comes 
up and enters the house as if he owned it. The other 
girl hangs around outside tilt it gets dark enough for 
her to risk making a getaway without attracting my 
attention, — in case she saw me. She beats it back to 
the river, and then, being afraid that I saw and recog* 
nized her, she concludes to beat it to somebody's house 
over in the next comity, so's she'U have an alibi if I go 
to Miss Crown with the story. Now, that's one way to 
look at it. The other angle ia that she was jealous and 
trailed Thane to his rendezvous, as my old friend Nick 
Carter would say. In that case, — By thunder ! " He 
gave vent to a soft whistle. 

" Jo that case, she may have jumped into the river 
and — Nq, that doesn't hang together. She wouldn't 
have gone' to the trouble to row back to the other side. 
Wait a second ! Now, let me think. Here's an idea. 
We'll suppose somebody waylaid her over there on the 
other side of the river, put the quietus on her and 
chucked her into the water. Then he rowed across here 
and started for the turnpike. Seeing me and also 
Thane, he turns back. It's a man I see in the dark- 



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DISAPPEAKANCE OF KOSABEL VICE 279 

ness instead of a woman. He goes back to the boat, 
rows over to the other side again and — Holj Mack- 
erel! Here's a new one. That girl's body may be 
lying Dp there in the underbrush at this instant. 
Dumped there b; the murderer, who turned back after 
seeing me — I'll take a look ! " 

For an hour Gilfillan searched through the under- 
brush along the bank. Finally he gave it up and started 
toward the viDage. He found the town in a state of 
great excitement. Everybody was hurrying down to 
the river. Overtaking an old man, he inquired if there 
was any news of tlie missing girl. 

" They say she's been drownded," chattered the an- 
cient. " My daughter says they found her things in 
a boat, but no sign of her. Did you ever see the beat? 
They's been more goin' on in this here town in the last 
week than — " 

Gilfillan hurried on. He caught Charlie Webster aa 
he was leaving the warehouse. 

" I want to see Miss Crown as soon as possible, Web- 
ster," he said. " Do you suppose she will go up in the 
air if I mention the fact trfat I know she was with Thane 
yesterday up in that old house? It's a rather ticklish 
thing to spring on her if she — '* 

" It's all right," interrupted Charlie. " I talked with 
her about it last night. She had no idea he was coming 
there. He told her he saw her from across the pasture 
and hustled over. She was surprised almost out of her 
skin when he popped in on her. She tells me she 
ordered him out of the house." 

The detective was thoughtful. " I wonder if it has 
occurred to Miss Crown that Thane might have mis- 
tak(3i her for some one else at that distance." 



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280 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Not 80*8 you'd notice it," declared Charlie, " He 
knew it was Alix all right. She isn't in any doubt on 
that score." 

** It begins to take shape," mused Gilfillan. " He 
didn't wait for her, that*8 all." 

"What say?" 

" I was just thinking," replied the other. " Where is 
Thane at the present moment, Webster? " 

" He just went off in an automobile with Dick Hurdle 
and a couple of fellows to stretch one of Joe Hart's big 
fish nets across the river down at the Narrows, five or 
six miles below here." 

" Would you mind inviting me up to your room at 
the Tavern for a little while, Webster? " 

" Well, I was going down to the ferry. There are half 
a dozen skiif s down — " 

" See here, Webster, as I understand it, my real 
job is to find out all I can about this chap Thane. I am 
really working for you, not for Miss Crown, although 
she is putting up tlie money. I am just as thoroughly 
convinced as you are that Thane staged that masked 
robber business himself. It's an old gag, especially with 
lovers — and occasionally with husbands." 

Charlie grinned sheepishly, a guilty flush staining bis 
rubicund face. 

" I guess I might as well confess that I was guilty of 
something of the sort when I was about seventeen," he 
said. " That's how I came to figger out that maybe 
he was up to the same kind of heroism." 

" Nearly every kid has done the same thing. It's boy 
nature." 

" I reckon that's right. I fixed it for a boy friend 
of mine to jump out of a dark place one night when I 



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DISAPPEARANCE OP ROSABEL VICK 281 

Tas walkin' home from a church sociable with mj girl. 
He had false vhiskers on. I helped him glue them 
on, — and he bad an awful time getting 'em off. Course 
when be jumped out and growled ' hands up,* I just 
sailed into him and the fur flew for a few seconds. Then 
he run like a whitehead. It didn't work out very well, 
however. That kid's sister got onto the trick and told 
m; girl about it, and — well, I almost had to leave town. 
But it ain't a game for a grown-up man to play, and 
that's what I think this feller Thane has been pulling." 

" What you want to find out, before it's too late, is 
whether Thane is all that he professes to be," said the 
other. "Well, I'm simply sitting tight on the job, 
stalling along until I hear from our people in New 
York. They have cabled England to find out whether 
he was connected with the British air forces. Now, 
what I want to do is to get into that fellow's room for 
ten or fifteen minutes. Can you fix it?" 

" It — it wouldn't be legal," protested Charlie. 
" You've got to get out a search warrant." 

" My dear fellow, I'm not planning to steal any- 
thing," exclaimed Gilfillan. " I merely want to get into 
his room by mistake. That happens frequently, — you 
know." 

Charlie was finally persuaded. He cast an apprehen- 
sive glance down the road leading to the ferry, searched 
the Main Street for observers, and then led the way 
over to the practically deserted Tavern. 

Half an hour later Mr. Gilfillan re-entered Charlie's 
room. 

" Remember I don't know where you've been or what 
you were up to," warned the fat man firmly. " I'm not 
a party to this nefarious — " 



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282 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" Righto ! " said the detcctiye cheerily. " Your 
skirts are clear. The; are immaculate. Let's beat it.** 

"Well, what did jou find out?" inquired Charlie, 
when thej -were in the street once more. He was burst- 
ing with curiosity. 

" In as much as you don't know where I was or what 
I've been doing, it will not compromise you if I say 
that I found a thirty-eight calibre revolver with three 
empty shells in the cylinder. I also found a theatrical 
malce-up box, with grease paints, gauze, and all that. 
Also currency amounting to about three hundred dol- 
lars. Nothing incriminating, nothing actually crooked. 
Simply circumstantial as relating to recent events in 
your midst, Mr. Webster." 

" Makes it look mighty certain that he was the feller 
with the mask, don't it? Only three shots were fired, 
you know. I've been thinking a lot about what you said 
awhile ago. You don't think that he had anything to 
do with — with putting the Vick girl out of the way? 
You spoke about him being mistaken in the woman." 

*' He had nothing to do with it, Webster. I told 
you I saw a figure in the pasture -after he had gone 
into the house. If it was the Vick girl, she was cer- 
tainly alive then. He went straight home after leaving 
that house. He didn't go out of the Tavern again last 
night, that's positive. Now, what I want to find out is 
this: was the girl in love with him? Was there any- 
thing between themP If she's at the bottom of the 
river down there, it's a plain case of suicide, my friend, 
and people do not take their own lives unless there's 
a mighty good reason. With a young girl it's usually 
a case of unrequited love, — or worse. According to 
that letter Miss Miller had from New York, Thane is 



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DISAPPEARANCE OF ROSABEL VICK 288 

Bot above betrajiog a girl. Of course, if the Vick girl 
18 dead and left nothing behind to implicate Thane, it 
vill be out of the question to charge bim with being 
even indirectly responsible for her death." 

'* The main thing," said Charlie, who had turned a 
shade paler during this matter-of-fact, cold-blooded 
analysis, " is to keep Alix Crown from falling into his 
clutches. He's a bad egg, that feller is, and he's made 
up his mind to win her by fair means or foul." 

" Well, if she falls for him after reading that law- 
yer's letter and when she hears what I believe to be 
the truth about that heroic episode the other night, — 
why, she ought to get what's coming to her, that's all 
I have to say," said Mr. Gilfillan flatly. " I've dis- 
covered one thing, Mr. Webster. If a woman makes 
up her mind to marry a man, hell-fire and brimstone 
can't stop her. The older I get and the more I see of 
women, the more I am convinced that vice is its own 
reward. I guess we'd better stroll down to the river 
and see what's doing." 

" I've been thinking," said Charlie as they walked 
along, " that if Thane wasn't in the British Army and 
wasn't in our army, then he must be a slacker and 
wanted by the government for — " 

*' Nothing doing on that line. You forget he was 
crippled long before the war. He couldn't get by a 
medical board. They'd turn him down in a second. 
If he was in this country at the time of the draft, he 
would have had no trouble getting an exemption. What 
I can't understand is why he, a New Yorker, should be 
hiding out here in the jungles of Indiana. There's 
something queer about that, my friend." 

♦'Kind of fishy," said Charlie darkly. Then upon 

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284 QUnX'S WINDOW 

reflection, he added vith considerable vehemence: 
" Damn him ! " 

Already half a dozen rowboats vere out in the 
stream, with men peering over the sides into the defep, 
slow-moving -water. Burk's Ferry did a thriving busi- 
ness. It plied back and forth from one " road-cut " 
to the other, crowded with foot passengers, all of whom 
studied the water intently. Men, women and children 
tramped close to the edge of both banks. People spoke 
in subdued voices ; an atmosphere of the deepest solem- 
nity hung over the scene. 

The sky itself was overcast; a raw wind moaned 
through the trees, sighing a requiem. The drab, silent 
river went placidly, mockingly on its way down to the 
sea, telling no tales : if Rosabel Vick was rolling, glid- 
ing along the bottom, gently urged by the current, tlie 
grim waters covered well the secret. 

The word went from lip to lip that motor-boats were 
on the way down from the city, with police officers and 
grappling-hooks and men experienced in the gruesome 
business of " dragging." The boss of the railway con- 
struction gang at Hawkins, where the new bridge was 
being built, had started for Windomville with a quan- 
tity of dynamite to be exploded on the bottom of the 
river in the hope and expectation of bringing the body 
to the surface. 



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CHAPTER XXI 

OUT OF THE »IGHT 

A IX afternoon the search coDtmued. At intervals 
/-\ and at widely separated pointB dull explosions 
took place on the bed of the river, creating 
smooth, round hillocks that lasted for the fraction of a 
second and then dissolved into swift-spreading wave- 
lets, stained a dirty yellow by the upheaval of sand and 
mud, and went racing in ruffles to the banks which they 
tenderly licked before they died. White-bellied fish, 
killed by the shock of the explosions, came to the sur- 
face and floated away, — scores of them, large and small. 
Spider-like grappling hooks, with their curving iron 
prongs, raked the bottom from side to side, moving 
constantly downstream, feeling here, there and every- 
where with insensate fingers for the body of Rosabel 
Vick. 

A pall settled over the river; it reached far beyond 
the environs of Windomville, for Amos Vick was a man 
known and respected by every farmer in the district. 

Night came. Courtney Thane, considerably shaken 
by the tragedy, set out immediately after dinner for 
the home of Alix Crown. He had been silent and de- 
pressed at dinner, taking his little part in the conver- 
sation, which dealt exclusively with the incomprehen- 
sible act of young Rosabel Vick. 

" What possible reason could that pretty happy 



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286 QUILL'S WINDOW 

young gill have had for killing herself?" That was 
the question every one asked and no one answered. Mrs. 
Alaude Baggs Pollock repeatedly asked it at dinner, and 
once Thane had replied: 

" I still don't believe she killed herself. It is beyond 
belief. If she is out there in the river, as they suspect, 
it is because there was foul play. Some fiend attacked 
her. I will never believe anything else, Mrs. Pollock. 
I knew her too well. She would never dream of killing 
herself. She loved life too well. I can't help feeling 
that she is alive and well somewhere, that they will 
hear from her in a day or two, and that — " 

" But how about the things they found in that 
boat?" demanded Doc Simpson. "She wouldn't be so 
heartless as to play a trick like that on her folks." 

Courtney's answer was a gloomy shake of the head. 

His heart was pounding heavily as he trudged up the 
walk to Alix's door. He knew that the crisis in his af- 
fairs was at hand. She had asked him to come. He had 
not given up hope. He was still confident of his power 
to win in spite of her amazing perversity. Inconsist- 
ency, he called it. Of one thing he was resolved : he 
would brook no delay. She would have to marry him at 
once. He wanted to get away from Windoraville as 
soon as possible. He loathed the place. 

Hilda came to the door. 

" Miss Crown is over at Mr. Tick's," she announced. 
" She's not at home." 

He stiffened. " I had an appointment with her for 
this evening, Hilda. She must be at home." 

" She ain't," said the maid succinctly. 

" Did she leave any word for me ? " 

"Not with me, sir. She telephoned to Mrs. Strong 



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OUT OP THE NIGHT 387 

this evening to say she was going to stay with Mra. 
yick." 

«AU night?" 

'* No, sir. The car's going down to meet her at the 
ferry about ten o'clock." 

He departed in a very unpleasant frame of mind. 
This was laying it on a bit thick, he complained. If she 
thought she could treat him in this cavalier fashion 
she'd soon find out where she " got off." ^Vhat busi- 
ness had she, anyhow, over at the Vicks? All the old 
women in the neighbourhood would be there to^ An 
idea struck him suddenly. 

** I'll do it," he muttered. " ni have to go over some 
time, so why not nowP It's the decent thing to do. I'll 
go tonight." 

He harried up to his room. Opening his trunk, he 
took out his revolver, replaced the discharged shells and 
stuck it into his overcoat pocket. Picking up the little 
package of bank-notes, he fingered them for a moment 
and then, moved by an impulse for which he had no 
explanation, he not only counted them but quickly 
stuffed them into his trousers* pocket. Afterwards he 
was convinced that premonition was responsible for this 
incomprehensible act. 

He crossed the ferry with several other people. The 
moon had broken through the clouds. Its light upon 
the cold, sluggish water produced the effect of polished 
steel. It reminded him of the grey surface of an an- 
cient suit of armour. The crossing was slow. He could 
not repress a shudder when he looked downstream and 
saw lights that seemed to be fixed in the centre of the 
river. He closed his eyes. He could not bear to look 
at the cold, silent water. The soft splashing against 



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288 QUnX'S WINDOW 

the broaU, square bow of the old-fashioned ferrj served 
to increase his nervousnesa. The horrid fancy struck 
him that Rosabel Vick was out there ahead clawing at 
the slim; timbers in the vain effort to draw herself out 
of the water. . . . He wished to God he had not come. 

He was the first person off the ferrj when it came to 
A stop on the farther side of the river. Ahead of him 
l&y the road through the narrow belt of trees that lined 
the bank. He knew that a scant hundred yards lay 
between the river and the open road beyond and yet a 
vast dread possessed him. He shrank from that black 
opening in the wall of trees where dead leaves rustled 
and the wind whispered secrets to the barren branches. 

He fell in behind a couple of men who strode fear- 
lessly into the dark avenue. After him came two men 
and a woman. They were all strangers to him, so far 
as he could make out, but he felt a sense of security in 
their nearness. He gathered that they were bound for 
Amos Vick's. Presently they came to the open road 
beyond the trees. The half moon rode high and clear ; 
the figures of his companions took shape, dusky and 
ghost-like ; the fences alongside the road became visible, 
while straw-ricks, lone trees and other shadowy objects 
emerged from the maw of the night. Here and there 
in the distance points of light indicated the presence of 
invisible farmhouses, while straight ahead, a mile or 
more away, a cluster of li^ts marked the house of 
Amos Vick. 

As he drew nearer. Thane was able to count the 
lights. He looked intently for the sixth window, an 
upstairs comer room was where it would be, — but there 
were lights in only five. The comer window was dark. 



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OUT OP THE NIGHT 280 

He knew that window well. ... He wished he had a 
etiflf drinlc of whiskey. 

Half a dozen automobiles stood at the roadside in 
.front of the house. He stopped beside one of them to 
look at his wrist-watch. It was half-past eight. Alix 
would be starting home in less than an hour. No doubt 
it had been arranged that one of these cars was to take 
her down to the ferrj. He had seen her saddle horse 
late that afternoon standing in front ot the black- 
smith's shop, evidently waiting to be re-shod. 

If he had his way, — and he was determined to have 
it, — Alix would walk with him to the ferry. 

As he turned in at the gate he observed that the 
woman and her two companions, after pausing for a 
moment to look at the house, continued their way up the 
road. The men who had preceded him all the way were 
already on the front porch. He followed the disap- 
pearing trio with his eyes. The woman, he noticed for 
the first time, was very tall, — quite as tall as the men. 
She wore a shawl over her head, and some sort of a long 
cloak. 

Setting his jaw he strode up the walk, looking neither 
to right nor left, mounted the steps where many a night 
he had sat with Rosabel beside him, and after passing 
a group of low-voiced neighbours, knocked on the closed 
door. He was admitted by an elderly woman who 
looked askance at this well-dressed stranger. 

" I am Mr. Thane, a friend," he said, " Will you 
tell Mrs. Vick, please?" 

" She's upstairs, and I — I — " 

** I think she is expecting me. But, — wait. I 
jthou^t I might be able to comfort her, but I can see 



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290 QUILL'S WINDOW 

by your expression that she isn't feeling up to t 
people. I came over primarily to see if there is any- 
thing I can do. Madam. You see, Rosabel and I irere 
great pats.** His voice broke a little, and he bit his 
nether Up. 

" We've finally got her to lie down," said the woman. 
" She's — she's nearly crazy with the suspense and — 
everything. If yau*U wait a little bit, I'll find out if she 
feels like seeing you. Alix Crown is with her. She 
coaxed her to stretch out on the bed. Miss Crown 
understands these things. She did some hospital work 
during the war — " 

" Yes, I know Miss Crown," he interrupted. 

" — and saw a lot of suffering, 'specially among 
mothers who came to see their crippled and sick sons 
in the hospitals." 

*' Perhaps if you were to tell Miss Crown that I am 
here she could — but no, I sha'n't even bother Misa 
Crown. She's got her hands full. I will sit down and 
wait awhile, however. If by any chance, you should 
be able to get word to Mrs. Vick that I am here, I 
think she might feel like seeing me." 

*' I'll see," said the woman dubiously, and went away. 

Courtney sat down on a sofa in the parlour. He 
looked around the lamp-lit room. . . . Over in the 
comer was the upright piano on which Rosabel used to 
play for him. He could see her now — the shapely, girl- 
ish back; the round, white neck and tlie firm young 
shoulders ; the tilt of her head ; the strong, brown hands, 
— he could see her now. And she used to turn her head 
and smile at him, and make dreadful grimaces when this 
diversion resulted in a discord. . . . He got up sud- 
denly and walked out into the dining-room. 



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OUT OF THE NIGHT 291 

B«yond, in the kitchen, he heard the rumble of men's 
Toices. He hesitated for a moment, and then opened 
the door. There were half a dozen men in the kitchen, 
and one of them was Amos Vick. They were preparing 
to go out into the night. Vick*s face was haggard, his 
garments were muddj, his long rubber boots were cov- 
ered with sludge and sand. Catching sight of Thane 
in the doorway, the farmer went toward him, his hand 
outstretched. 

" I'm glad you came, Courtney," he said, his voice 
hoarse but steady. " Lucinda will be pleased. Does 
she know you're here? " 

" I sent word up, hut if she doesn't feel like — " 

*' She'll want to see you. We're starting out again. 
Down the river." (His voice shook a little.) " My 
soul, — boy, — you look as white as a sheet. Here, — take 
a good swig of this. It's some rye that Steve White 
brought over. We all needed it. Help yourself. You've 
been overdoing a little today, Courtney. You're not 
fit for this sort of — That's right ! That will brace 
you up. You needed it, my boy." Courtney drained 
half a tumbler of whiskey neat. He choked a little. 

" I guess we'd better be starting, Amos," said Steve 
White. 

** Take me along with you, Mr. Vick," cried Court- 
ney, squaring his shoulders. " I can't stand being idle 
while — " 

" You'd catch your death of cold," interrupted Vick, 
laying his hand on the young man's shoulder. ** It's 
mighty fine of you and I — ^I sha'n't forget it. But 
you're not fit for an all night job like this. I feel sort 
of responsible for you, my boy. Your mother would 
never forgive me if anything happened to you, and this 



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292 QUILL'S WINDOW 

is a time when we've got to think about the mothers. 
Good night, — God bless you, Courtney," 

" Good night, Amos." 

The men trooped heavily out of the kitchen door. 

Presently he heard the chugging of automobile eli- 
tes and then the roar as they sped off down the road. 
He returned to the parlour. The whiskey had ^ven 
him fresh confidence. 

The elderly woman was talking to a couple of men 
in the hall. Prom the scraps of conversation he was 
able to pick up, he gathered that they were reporters 
from the city. She invited him into the room. 

" We would prefer a very recent picture," one of the 
men was saying. " Something taken within the last few 
weeks, if possible. A snap-shot will do. Madam." 

The speaker was a middle-aged man with horn- 
rinuned spectacles. His companion was much the 
younger of the two. The latter bowed to Thane, who 
had taken a position before the fireplace and was re- 
garding the strangers witli interest. 

" I'll have to speak to Mrs. Vick," murmured the 
woman. " I don't know as she would want Rosabel's 
picture printed in the papers." 

*' It would be of incalculable assistance, Madam, in 
case she has run away from home. We have an idea 
that she may have planted those garments in the boat 
in order to throw people off the track." 

" Oh, she — she wouldn't have done that," cried the 
woman. " She couldn't be so heartless." 

" You overlook the possibility that her mind may be 
affected. Dementia frequently takes the form of— er 
— ^you might say unnatural cunning." 



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OUT OP THE NIGHT 293 

" I'll speak to Mrs. Vick. There's a scrap-book of 
Kodak pictures there on the table. I was looking 
through it today. She and her brother, Cale, made 
heaps of pictures. You might be looking through it 
while I go upstairs." 

Thane was lighting a cigarette. 

" Have you told Miss Crown that I am here? " asked 
he, as she started toward the stairs. 

" She sajs she'll be down in a few minutes. Mrs. Vick 
wants to see you before you go." 

The two reporters were examining the contents of the 
scrap-book. The younger of the two was standing at 
the end of the little marble-topped table, bis body 
screening the book from Courtney's view. 

There were a number of loose prints lying between 
the leaves toward the end of the hook. Rosabel had 
neglected to paste them in. The man with the horn- 
rimmed spectacles ran through them hastily. He 
stealthily slipped two of these prints up his slcere. 

Thane would have been startled could he have seen 
those prints. They were not pictures of Rosabel Vick, 
but fair-sized, quite excellent likenesses of himself! 

The woman returned to say that Mrs. Vick was very 
much upset by the thought of her daughter's picture 
appearing in the paper, and could not think of allowing 
them to use it. 

The elder man bowed courteously. " I quite under- 
stand, Madam. We would not dream of using the pic- 
ture if it would give pain to the unhappy mother. 
Please assure her that we respect her wishes. Thank 
you for your kindness. We must be on our way back 
to town. Good ni^t, Madam.'* 



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294 QUILL'S WINDOW 

" These reporters are avful nuisances," remarked 
Courtney as the front door closed behind the two men. 
" Always butting in where they're not wanted," 

" They seemed very nice," observed the woman. 

" I've never seen one that wasn't a sneak," said he, 
raising his voice a little. The whiskey was having its 
effect. 

Mtb. Vick and Alix entered the room together. The 
former came straight toward the young man. Her 
rather heavy face was white and drawn, but her eyea 
were wide and bright with anxiety. There was no trace 
of tears. He knew there would be no scene, no hys- 
terics. Lucinda Vick was made of stern, heroic stuflf. 
As he advanced, holding out his hands, he noticed that 
she was fully dressed. She could be ready at a mo- 
ment's notice to go to her daughter. 

" Oh, Courtney ! " she cried, and a little spasm of 
pain convulsed her face for a fleeting second or two. 
Her voice was husky, tight with strain. 

He took her cold, trembling hands in his. 

" It's inconceivable," he cried. *' I can't believe it, 
I won't believe it. You poor, poor thing t" 

" It's true. She's gone. My little girl is gone. I 
could curse God." She spoke in a low, emotionless 
voice. "Why should He have taken her in this way? 
What have we done to deserve this cruelty? Why 
couldn't He have let her die in my arms, with her head 
upon my breast, — where it belongs? " 

" Don't give up — yet," he stammered, confounded by 
thic amazing exhibition of self-control. " There is a 
chance, — yes, there is a chance, Mrs. Vick. Don't give 
up. Be — be brave." 



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OUT OP THE NIGHT 295 

She shook her head. " She is dead," came from her 
stiff lips, and that was all. 

He laid his arm across her shoulder. " I wish to God 
it was me instead of her," he cried fervently. ** I would 
take her place — ^willingly, Mrs. Vick." 

" I — I know you would, Courtney," said she, looking 
into his eyes. " You were her best friend. She adored 
you. I know you would, — God bless you ! " 

He looked away. His gaze fell upon Alix, standing 
in the door. His eyes brightened. The hunted expres- 
sion left them. An eager, hungry light came into them. 
She was staring at him. Gradually fae came to the 
realization that she was looking at him with unspeak- 
able horror. 

Mrs. Vick was speaking. He hardly heard a word 
she uttered. 

" It was kind of you to come, Courtney. Thank you. 
I must go now. I — I can't stand it, — I can't stand it !" 

She left him abruptly. Alix stood aside to allow her 
to pass through the door. They heard her go up the 
stairs, heavily, hurriedly. 

'* Alix ! " he whispered, holding out his hands. 

She did not move. 

** I went up to the house to see you," he hurried on. 
" They told me you were here. I — " 

Her gesture checked the eager words. 

" You snake ! " She fairly hissed the word. 

He drew back, speechless. She came a few steps 
nearer. 

" You snake ! " she repeated, her eyes blazing. 

u ^j,(^ — What do you mean? " he gasped, a fiery 
red roshing to his face. 



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296 QUnX'S WINDOW 

*' Would you have died for the Ritter girl? ** 

A bomb exploding at his feet could not have produced 
a greater shock. His mouth fell open; the colour 
swiftly receded, leaving his face a sickly white. 

'* Who the hell — " he began blankly. 

** Be good enough to remember where you are," cried 
Alix, lowering her voice as she glanced over her shoul- 
der. " I can say all I have to say to you in a very few 
words, Mr. Thane. Don't interrupt me. I have been 
a fool, — a stupid fool. We need not go into that. 
Thank heaven, I happen to be made of a little stronger 
stuff than others who have come under your influence. 
You would have married me, — yes, I believe that, — 
because it would have been the only way. I have the 
complete history of your betrayal of the Ritter girl. 
I know how your leg was injured. I know that you 
were kicked out of the American Ambulance and ad- 
vised to leave France. I don*t believe you ever served 
in the British Army. I have every reason to believe 
that you poisoned my dog, and that you, — were the 
man who came to my window the other night. And I 
suspect that you are the cause of poor Rosabel Vick*S 
suicide. Now you know what I think of you. My God, 
how could you have come here tonight? These people 
trusted you, — they still trust you. Until now I did 
not believe such men as you eKisted, You — " 

" I had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with Rosa- 
bel,** he cried hoarsely. He was trembling like a leaf. 
" Don't you go putting such ideas into their heads. 
Don't you — " 

" Oh, I am not likely to do that," she interrupted 
scornfully. " I shall not add to their misery. If I 
could prove that you betrayed that poor, foolish child, 



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OUT OF THE NIGHT 297 

— then I vould see to it that you paid the price. But 
I cannot prove it. I onlj know that she would have 
been helpless in jour hands. Oh, I know your power! 
I have felt it. And I did not even pretend to myself 
that I loved you. What chance would she have had if 
she loved and trusted youP I shudder at the thought 
of — If Amos Vick should even suspect you of wrong- 
ing his child, he would not wait for proof. He wovld 
tear you to pieces. You may be innocent. That ia why 
I am giving you your chance. Now, go ! " 

" You certainly will pve me the opportunity to de- 
fend myself, Alix. Am I to be condemned unheard? 
If you will allow me to walk to the ferry with you — " 

" And who is to act as my bodyguard? " she inquired 
with a significant sneer. " Go ! I never want to sec 
your face again." 

With that, she left him. He stood perfectly still, 
staring after the slender, boyish figure until jt was 
hidden from view by the bend of the stairway. 

His eyes were glassy. Fear possessed his soul. Sud- 
denly he was aroused to action. 

" Pd better get out of this," he muttered. 

His hand clutched the weapon in his coat pocket as 
he strode swiftly toward the front door. Once outside 
he paused to look furtively about him before descend- 
ing the porch steps. Several men were standing near 
the gate. The porch was deserted. He wondered if 
Amos Vick was down there waiting for him. Then he 
remembered what Alix had said to him : " These people 
trust you, — they still trust you." What had he to 
fearP He laughed, — a short, jerky, almost inaudible 
laugh, — and went confidently down the walk. As he 
passed the little group he uttered a brief " good night "" 



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298 QUILL'S WINDOW 

to the men, and was rewarded by a friendly responae 
from all of them. 

Down the moonlit road he trudged, his brain work- 
ing rapidly, feverishly. In his heart was the rage of 
defeat, in his soul the clamour of fear, — not fear now 
ot the dark strip of woods but of the whole world about 
him. He coarniimed aloud. 

" The first thing to do is to pack. I've got to do 
that tonight. I'm through here. The jig's up. Sho 
means it. How the devil did she find out all this stuff? 
. . . But if I leave immediately it will look sus- 
picious. I've got to stick around for a few days. If I 
beat it tomorrow morning some one's bound to ask 
questions. It will look queer. Tomorrow I'll receive 
an urgent letter calling me home. Mother needs me. 
Her health is bad. ... I wonder if an autopsy would 
reveal anything. . . . Tomorrow sure. I can't stand 
it here another day. . . . There's nothing to worry 
about, — not a thing, — but what's the sense of my han^ 
ing around here any longer P She's on. Some meddling 
whelp has been — Good Lord, I wonder if it could be 
that fat fool, Webster? . . . If I skip out tonight, 
it would set Vick to thinking. , . . What a fool I 
was. ..." 

And so on till he came to the woods. There, his face 
blanched and his heart began to pound like a hammer. 
He drew the revolver from his pocket and plunged des- 
perately into the black tunnel; he was out of breath 
wh^i he ran down to the landing. 

Through the ^oom he distinguished the ferry boat 
three-quarters of the way across the river, nearing the 
opposite bank. His '* halloa " brought an answer from 
the ferryman. Cursing his luck in missing the boat by 



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OUT OP THE NIGHT i299 

80 short a margin of time, he sat down bearily on the 
atout Tooden wall that guarded the approach. It 
would be ten or fifteen minutes before the tortoise-like 
craft could recrosa and pick him up. His gaze in- 
jgtantly went downstream. The faint, rhjtiunic sound 
of oarlocks came to his ears. There were no lights on 
the river, but after a time he made out the vague shape 
of an object moving on the surface a long wa; off. 
From time to time it was lost in the shadows of the tree- 
lined bank, only to steal into view again as it moved 
slowly across a jagged opening in the far-reaching wall 
of black. It was a boat coming upstream, hugging the 
bank to avoid the current farther out. 

Some one approached. He turned quickly and beheld 
the figure of a woman coming down the road. His heart 
leaped. Could it be Alix? He dismissed the thought 
immediately. This was a tall woman — in skirts. She 
came quite close and stopped, her gaze evidently fixed 
upon him. Thm she moved a little farther down the 
slope and stood watching the ferry which, by this time, 
was moving out from the farther side. Ho recognized 
the figure. It was that of the gaunt woman who crossed 
with him earlier in the night. 

The ferry was drawing out from the Windomville 
side when a faint shout came from down the river. Burk 
answered the call, which was repeated, 

*' This is my busy night," growled the ferrjonan. " I 
ain't been up this late in a coon's age. Not since the 
Old Settlers* Picnic three years ago down at the old 
ifort. I wonder if those fellers have got any news? " 

Courtney stepped off the boat a few minutes later 
and hurried up the hill. The woman followed. At the 
top of the slope he passed three or four men standing 



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300 QUILL'S WINDOW 

in the ihdter of the blacksmith shop, where thej were 
protected from the sharp, chill vind that had sprung 
up. A loud shout from beloir caused him to halt. Burk, 
the ferryman, had called out through his cupped bands : 

"What say?" 

The wind bore the answer from an unseen speaker 
in the night, clear and distinct ; " We've got her t " 



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CHAPTER XXn 

THE THKOVZK OF STONES 

An icy chill, as of a gteAt gust of vind, swept 
/■% through and over Courtney Thane. His mouth 
seemed suddenly to fill with water. He could 
not move. The men by the forge ran swiftly down 
the hill. TJie tall woman turned and after a moment 
followed the men, stopping in the middle of the road 
a few rods above the landing. She was still standing 
there when Courtney recovering his power of locomo- 
tion struck off rapidly in the direction of Dowd's Tav- 
ern. Halfway home he came to an abrupt halt. An 
inexplicable irresistible force was drawing his mind and 
body back to the river's edge. He did not want to go 
back there and see — Kosabel. He tried not to turn 
his steps in that direction, and yet something like a 
magnet was dragging him. A sort of fascination, — 
the fascination that goes with dread, and horror, and 
revulsion — took hold of him. . , . He moved slowly, 
hesitatingly at first, then swiftly, not directly back over 
the ground he had just covered but.by a circuitous route 
that took him through the lot at the rear of the forge. 
He made his way stealthily down the slope, creeping 
along behind a thick hedge of hazel brush to a point 
just above the ferry landing and to the left of the old 
dilapidated wharf. Here he could see without himself 
being seen. . . . He watched them lift a dark, inani- 
mate object from the boat and lay it on the :wbarf. 



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302 QtHLL'S WINDOW 

. . . He heard men's voices !□ excited^ subdued con- 
vcrsaUon. . . . He sav the tall voman running up 
the road toward the town. She paused within a dozen 
feet of his hiding place. ■ . . Then something hap- 
pened to him. He seemed to be losing the sense of si^t 
and the sense of bearing. His brain was blurred, the 
sound of voices trailed off into utter silence. He felt 
the earth giving way beneath his quaking knees. . . . 
The next he knew, men's voices fell upon bis dull, un- 
comprehending ears. Gradually his senses returned. 
Out of the confused jumble words took shape. He 
heard bis own name mentioned. Instantly his every 
faculty was alive. 

Through the brush he could see the dark, indistinct 
forms of three or four men. They were in the road 
just below him. 

" You shouldn't have let him out of your sight," one 
of the men was saying. "Hang it all, we can't let 
him give us the slip now." 

The listener's eyes, sharpened by anxiety, made oui 
the figure of the woman. She spoke, — and he was 
startled to hear the deep voice of a man. 

" He was making for the boarding house. Webster 
says he is not in bis room. I took it for granted he 
was going home or I wouldn't have turned back." 

Where had he heard that voice before? It was 
strangely familiar. 

" Well, we've got to locate bim. I'll stake my life 
he is George Ritchie. I compared this snap-shot with 
the photograph I have with me. Shave off that dinky 
little moustache and I'll bet a hundred to one you^ 
have Ritchie's mug all right. Hustle back there, Gil- 
fillan, — you and Simons, He'U be turning up at the 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 808 

Iiouse unless he's got wind of us. Don't let him see 
jou. You staj here with me, C<Ht8tabIe. The chances 
are he'll come back here to wait for Miss Crown, if he's 
as badly stack on her as jou aaj, Gilfillan. They're 
all fools about women." 

The hidden hstener was no longer quaking. His bodj 
■was tense, his mind was working like lightning. He was 
■wide awake, alert ; the fingers that clutohed tlie weapon 
in his pocket were firm and steady ; he scarcely breathed 
for fear of betraying his presence, but the courage 
of the hunted was in his heart. 

The little group broke up. Constable Foss and one 
of the strangers remained on the spot, the others van- 
ished up the road. He glanced over his shoulder in the 
idirection of the wharf, A long dark object was lying 
near the edge, while some distance away a small knot 
of men stood talking. The moon, riding high, cast a 
cold, sickly light upon the scene. 

** I've always been kind of suspicious of him," Foss 
was saying, his voice lowered. " What did you say his 
real name isP " 

" His real name is Thane, I suppose. I guess there's 
no doubt about that. Mind you, I'm not sure he's the 
man we've been looking for these last six months, but 
I'm pretty sure of it. Last February two men and a 
iwoman tried to smuggle a lot of diamonds through the 
customs at New York. I'll not go into details now 
further than to say they landed from one of the big 
ocean liners and came within an ace of getting away 
Jvith the job. The woman was the leader. She was 
nabbed with one of the men at a hotel. The other man 
got away. He was on the passenger list as George 
Ritchie, of Clevdand, Ohio. The woman had half a 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



804 QUILL'S WINDOW 

dozen photographs of him in her possessioD. I've got 
a copj of one of 'em in my pocket now, and it's so 
much hke this fellow Thane that you'd swear it was 
of the same man. This morning Gilfillan, — that's the 
Pinkerton man, — telephoned to his chief in Chicago to 
notify the federal authorities that he was almost dead 
certain that our man was here. He's a wonder at re- 
membering faces, and he had seen our photographs. 
Simons and I took the three o'clock train. GilfiDan 
met us in the city and brought us out after we had 
instructed the police to be ready to help us in case he 
got onto us and gave us the slip." 

**How much of a reward is offered?" inquired Foss. 

** We are not supposed to be rewarded for doing our 
duty," replied the Secret Service man curtly. *' He 
got away from us and it's our business to catch him 
again. You can bet he's our man. He wouldn't be 
hanging around a. burg like this for months unless he 
had a blamed good reason for keeping out of sight." 

" He's been in mighty bad health, — and, if anybody 
should ask you, there ain't a healthier place in the 
world than right here in — " 

" It's healthier than most jails," admitted the other 
with a chuckle. 

" Umph ! " grunted Mr. Foss, delivering without 
words a full and graphic opinion on the subject of 
humour as it exists in the minds of people who live in 
large cities. He chewed for a time in silence. " What 
became of the woman and the other man? " 

" Oh, they were sent up, — I don't know for how long. 
They're old hands. Husband and wife. Steamship 
gamblers before the war. Fleeced any number of suck- 
ers. She must be a peach, judging from the pictured 

DiqilizDdbyGoOgle 



THE THROWER OF STONES 806 

I've seen of her. Thej probably would bave got away 
-with this last job if she and Ritchie hadn't tried to 
put sometbing over on friend husband. She had the 
can all ready to tie to bim when be got wise and laid 
for her lover with a gun. The revenue people had 
been tipped off by agents in Paris and traced the couple 
to the hotel. They sprung the trap too soon, however, 
and the second man got away." 

" Well, I guess there ain't any question but what this 
feller here is old Silas Thane's grandson. They say 
he's the livin' image of old Silas. So he must have 
sailed under a false name." 

" They usually do," said the other patiently. 

** And you w»nt me to arrest him on suspicion, eh ? " 

"Certainly. You're a county official, aren't you?'* 

*' I'm an officer of the law." 

" Well, that's the answer. We are obliged to turn 
such matters over to the local authorities. What do 
you suppose I'm telling you about the case for? When 
I give the word, you land him and — well. Uncle Sam 
will do the rest, never fear." 

" That's all right, but supposin' he ain't the man 
you're after and he turns around and sues me for false 
arrest? " 

" You can detain anybody on information and be- 
lief, my friend. Don't you know that? " 

" Certainly," said Mr. Foss with commendable as- 
perity. *' Supposin' he's got a revolver? " 

" He probably has, — but so have we. Don't worry. 
He won't have a chance to use it. Hello! Isn't that 
a man standing up there by that telephone pole? Well 
just stroll up that way. Don't hurry. Keep cool. 
Talk about the drowning." 



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906 QUnX'S WINIWW 

The;- were halfway up the fa3I before Coartnej 
rnoTed. Ev«T7 nerve was aquirer as be raised himself 
to hii feet aod looked cantioualy aboat. The timig 
he feared had come to pass, but even as he crouched 
ihere in the shelter of the bushes the means of salva- 
itioD flashed through his mind. He realized that the 
next fifteen or twenty minutes would convince these 
dogged, experienced man chasers that their quarrj had 
*' got wind of them " and was in flight. The hunt would 
be on in grim earnest; the alarm would go out in all 
directions. Men would be watching for him at every 
cross-roads, every railway station, every village, atul 
directing the hunt would be — these men who never give 
up until they " land " their man. 

His only chance lay in keeping under cover for a day 
or two, — or even longer, — until the chase went farther 
afield and he could take the risk of venturing forth 
from his hiding place. He had the place in mind. They 
would never think of looking for him in that sinister 
hole in the wall. Quill's Window! There he could lie 
in perfect safety until the coast was clear, and then by 
ni^t steal down the river in the wake of pursuit. 

Their first thou^ts would be of the railroad, the 
highways and the city. They would not beat the woods 
for him. They would cut off all avenues of escape and 
Bet their traps at the end of every trail, confident that 
he would walk into them perforce before another day 
was done. 

Like a ghost he stole across the little clearing that 
lay between the road and the willows above the ferry. 
The snapping of a twig under his feet, the scu£9ing 
of a pebble, the rustling of dead leaves and grass, the 
ecraping of his garments against weeds and shrubbery. 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 807 

vere sounds that took on the magnitude of ear-splitting 
crashes. It was all he could do to keep from breaking 
into a mad, reckless dash for the trees at the farther 
side of this moonlit stretch. With every cautious, fox- 
like step, he expected the shout of alarm to go up from 
behind, and with that shout he knew restraint would 
fail him; he would throw discretion to the winds and 
bolt like a frightened rahbit, and the dogs would be 
st his heels. 

He was nearing the trees when he heard some one 
running in the road, now a hundred yards behind him. 
stooping still lower, be increased his speed almost to 
a run. The sound of footsteps ceased abruptly; the 
runner had come to a sudden halt. Thane reached the 
thicket in another stride or two and paused for a few 
seconds to listen. A quick little thrill of relief shot 
through him. No one was coming along behind him. 
The runner, whoever he was, had not seen him ; no cry 
went up, no loud yell of " There he goes ! " 

Picking his way carefully down the slope he came to 
the trail of the Indians, over which he had trudged 
recently on his trip to the great rock. He could tell by 
the feel of the earth under his feet that he was on the 
hard, beaten path by the river's edge. Now he went 
forward more rapidly, more confidently. There were 
times when he had to cross Uttle moon-streaked open- 
ings among the trees, and at such times he stooped 
almost to a creeping position. 

Occasionally he paused in his flight to listen for 
sounds of pursuit. Once his heart seemed to stop beat- 
ing. He was sure that be heard footsteps back on the 
trail behind him. Again, as he drew near the rock- 
Btrewii base of the bill, a sound as of some one scramr 



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808 QUILL'S WINDOW 

bling through the underbrush came to his straininf 
ears, but the noise ceased even as he stopped to listen. 
He lauded at his fears. An echo, no doubt, of his own 
footsteps ; the wind thrashing a broken limb ; the action, 
of the water upon some obstruction along the bank. 

Nevertheless he dropped to his hands and knees when 
he came to the outlying boulders and jagged slabs close 
to the foot of the black, towering mass. There was no 
protecting foliage here. Never in his life had he known 
the moon to shine so brightly. He whispered curses to 
the high-hanging lantern in the sky. 

The murmur of the river below brought a consoling 
thought to him. He would not suffer from thirst. He 
could go without food for a couple of days, even longer. 
Had not certain English women survived days and days 
of a voluntary hunger strike? But he could not do 
without water. In the black hours before dawn he 
vould climb down from his eerie den and drink his fill 
at the river's brink. 

Now a sickening fear gripped him. What if he were 
to find it impossible to scale that almost perpendicular 
eteepp What if those hand-hewn clefts in the rock fell 
short of reaching to the cave's entrance? The proc- 
esses of time and the elements may have sealed or oblit- 
erated the shallow hand and toe holds. His blood ran 
cold. He had dreaded the prospect of that hazardous 
climb up the face of the rock. Now he was overcome 
by an even greater dread; that he would be unable to 
reach the place of refuge. 

He had no thought of Alix Crown now — no thought 
of her beauty, her body, her riches. His cherished 
dream was over. She took her place among other for- 
gotten dreams. The sinister business of saving his owb 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 809 

■kin drove her out of his mind. It drove out all thought 
of Rosabel Vick. The bounds were at his heels. It was 
no time to think of women ! 

II 

Anxiety that touched almost upon despair hastened 
his steps. Abandoning caution, he ran recklesslj up 
the path among the rocks, stumbling and reeling hut 
always keeping his feet, and came at last to the gloomy, 
forbidding facade of Quill's Window, Here he groped 
along the wall, clawing for the sunken cleats with eager, 
trembling hands. He knew they were there — some- 
where. Not only had he seen them, he had climbed with 
ease, hand over hand, ten or a dozen feet up the cliff. 
He had shuddered a little that day as he looked first 
over his shoulder and then upward along the still un- 
sealed stretch that lay between him and the mouth of 
the cave, seventy or eighty feet away. But that was in 
broad daylight. It would be different now, with dark- 
ness as bis ally. 

He remembered thinking that day how easy it would 
be to reach Quill's Window by this rather simple route. 
All that was required was a stout heart, a steady hand, 
and a good pair of arms. All of these were bestowed 
upon him by magic of darkness. It was what the light 
revealed that made a. coward of him. Why, he could 
shut his eyes tight and go up that cUff by night as 
easily as — but where were the slots? 

At last his hand encountered one of the sharp edges. 
He reached up and found the next one above, — and 
then for the first time realized that his eyes had been 
closed all the time he was feeling along the cold surface 
of the rock. He opened them in a start of actual be- 



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810 ftUILL'S WINDOW 

yilderment. The blackish mass rose almost sheer above 
bim, like a Ta«t wall upon which the moon cast a dull, 
murky light. He closed his ejes again and leaned 
heavily against the rock. His heart began to beat hor- 
ribly. He felt bis courage slipping; he wondered if he 
had the strength, the aerre to go on; he saw himself 
halfway up that endless wall, clutching wildly to save 
himself when a treacherous hand-hold broke loose and — 

He opened his eyes and tried to pierce the shadows 
below the rocky path. Was it best to hide in that hole 
up there, after all? Would it not be wiser, now that he 
had a fair start, to keep on up the river, trusting to — 

A chorus of automobile horns in the distance came 
to his ears suddenly, — a confused jumble of raucous 
blasts produced by many cars. The alarm! The 
search was onl The wild shriek of a siren broke the 
stillness near at hand, followed a few seconds later by 
the graduaUy increasing roar of an engine as it sped up 
the dirt road not three hundred yards to his left, — the 
road that ran past the gate on the other side of the 
hill. God! They were getting close ! 

Another and even more disturbing sound came to 
him as he stood with his fingers gripping one of the 
little ledges, the toe of his shoe fumbling for a foothold 
in another. Somewhere back on the trail he had just 
traversed, a rock went clattering down to the river. 
He heard it bounding — and the splash as it shot into 
the water. 

He hesitated no longer. Shutting his eyes, he began 
the ascent. . , . 

A dark object turned the comer of the cliff below 
and moved slowly, cautiously along the wall. Suddenly 
it stopped. From somewhere in the glpom ahead came 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 311 

a strange and puzzling sound, as of the dragging of a 
tree limb across the face of the rock. The crouching 
object in the trail straightened up and was transformed 
into the tall, shadowy figure of a man. 

For man J seconds be stood motionless, listening, his 
eyes searching the trail ahead. The ijueer sound of 
scraping went on, broken at intervals by the faint 
rattle of s&nd or dirt upon the rocky path. At last he 
looked up. Far up the face of tiie clifF a bulky, shape- 
less thing was crawling, slowly but surely like a great 
beetle. 

The watcher could not believe his eyes. And yet 
there could be no mistake. Something vat crawling up 
the sheer face of the cliff, a bulging shadow dimly out- 
lined against the starlit sky. 

The man below went forward swiftly. Twice he 
stooped to search with eager hands for something at 
his feet, but al#ays with his gaze fixed on the creeping 
shadow. He knew the creeper's goal: that black streak 
in the wall above, rendered thin by foreshortening. He 
knew the creeper! 

Twenty or thirty paces short of the ladder be 
stopped. From that spot be hurkd his first rock. His 
was a young, powerful arm and the nussfle sped up- 
ward as if diot frcnn a catapult. It struck the face of 
. the cliff a short dietanoe above the bead of the climber 
and glanced off to go hurtling down among the trees 
beyond. 

Thane stopped as if paralysed. For one brief, hor- 
rible moment he fdt every vestige of strength deserting 
him, oozing out through his tense, straining finger-tips. 
The shock had stunned him. He moaoedi — a little 
wbimpering moan. He was about to fall! He could 



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812 QUILL'S WINDOW 

hold on no longer vith those weak, trembling hand^. 
His brain reeled. A great dizziness seized him. He 
clung frantically to the face of the rock, making a des- 
perate effort to regain his failing senses. Suddenly his 
strength returned; he vas stronger than ever. A 
miracle had happened. 

The mouth of the cave vas not more than half a 
dozen feet above him. He opened his eyes for one 
brief, daring glance upward. Not more than five or 
six steps to go. Gritting his teeth he went on. Now 
only four more ledges to grip, four more footholds to 
find. 

A second stone whizzed past his head and struck with 
a crash beyond him. He heard it whistle, he felt the 
rush of air. 

"God! If that had got my head ! What an inhuman 
devil he is ! The dirty beast ! " 

The fourth stone caught him in the side after glanc* 
ing off the wall to his left. He groaned aloud, but 
gripped more fiercely than ever at his slender support. 
For a few seconds he could not move. Then he reached 
up and felt for the next ** cleat." He found it but, like 
many others he had encountered, it was filled with sand 
and dirt. That meant delay. He would have to dig 
it out with his fingers before risking his grip on the 
edge. Fast and feverishly he worked. Another stone 
struck below his feet. 

" Hey ! " he yelled. " Let up on that ! Do you want 
to kill me? Cut it out! I can't get away, you damned 
fool! You've got me cornered." His voice was high 
and shrill. 

The answer was another stone which grazed his leg. 

A moment later he reached over and felt along the 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 318 

floor of the caTe for the final hold. Finding it, he drew 
himself up over the edge and crawled, weak and half- 
fainting, out of range of the devilish marksman. 

For a long time he la; still, gasping for breath. 
The; had him cold! There was no use tn trying to 
think of a wa; out of his difficulty. All he wanted now 
was to rest, a chance to pull himself together. After 
a]l was said and done, what were a few years in the 
penitentiary? He was young. Five years, — even ten, 
— what were they at bis time of lifeP He would be 
thirty-five, at the most forty, when he came out, and 
as fit as he was when he went in. 

** It was all my fault, anyway," he reflected bitterly. 
" If I had let Madge alone I — Oh, — ^what's the use 
belly-aching now! That's all over, — and here am I, 
paying pretty blamed dearly for a month's pleasure. 
They've got me. There's no way out of it now. Jail ! 
Well, worse things could happen than that. What will 
mother think? I suppose it will hurt like the devil. But 
she could have fixed this if she'd loosened up a bit. She 
could have gone to Washington as I told her to do and 
— hell, it wouldn't have cost her half as much as it will 
to defend me in court. She can't get a decent lawyer 
under — ^well, God knows how many thousands." 

He sat up and unbuttoned his overcoat in order to 
feel of the spot where the stone had struck him. He 
winced a litUe. After a moment's reflection he drew 
a box of matches from his pocket. 

" No harm in striking a match now," he chattered 
aloud. " I may as weU see what sort of a place it is." 

He crawled farther back in the cave, out of the wind, 
and struck a match. His hand shook violently, his chin 
quivered. During the hfe of the brief flare, the interior 



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814 QUILL^S WINDOW 

of Quill's Window was revealed to him. The caTe was 
perhaps twenty feet deep and almost as wide at the 
front, with an uneven, receding roof and a flat floor that 
dropped at no inconsiderable slant toward the rear. It 
appeared to be empty except for the remains of two or 
three broken-up boxes over against one of the walls. 
He struck a second match to light a cigarette, con- 
tinuing his scrutiny while the tiny blaze lasted. He saw 
no bones, no ghastly skulls, ao signs of the ancient 
tragedies that made the place abhorrent. 

He crawled back to the entrance. Lying flat, he 
peered OTer the ledge. 

** Hallo, down there ! *' he called out. No response. 
He shouted once more, hia voice cracking a little. 

" Where are you ? " 

This time he got an answer. A hoarse voice replied ; 

" I'm here, all right." 

Thane forced a laugh. 

** Well, I'm up here, all right. You've got me treed. 
What's the idea? Waiting for me to come down?" 
No answer. " Say, it's worth a lot of money to you if 
you'll just walk on and forget that I'm up here. Ill 
give you my word of honour to come across with enou^ 
to put you on easy street for the rest of your life." 
He heard the man below walking up and down the path. 

" Did you hear what I said? You can't pick up 
twenty-five thousand every day, you know." He waited 
for the response that never came. " Honesty isn't al- 
ways the best policy. Think it over.** Another long 
silence. Then : ** I suppose you know the government 
does not pay any reward." Still that heavy, steady 
tread. " If you think I'm going to come down you're 
jolly well off your nut." He wriggled nearer the edge 



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THE THROWER OF STONES 815 

and peered over. The black form shuttled reatleaslj 
back and forth past the foot of the ladder, for all the 
irorld like a lion in its cage. Presently it moved off 
toward the bend at the corner of the cliff, where it 
stopped, still in view of the man above, — a vague, 
shapeless object in the faint light of the moon. 

Many minutes passed. Ten, fifteen, — they seemed 
hours to the trapped fugitive, — and then he heard a 
voice, suppressed but distinct. 

" Who's there? " 

There was a moment's silence, and then another voice 
replied, but he could not make out the words. 

The man stepped out of sight around the bend. A 
few seconds later, Thane heard a jumble of voices. 
Drawing away from the ledge, he slunk deeper into the 
cave. He heard some one running along the trail, and 
a muffled voice giving directions. He drew a deep, long 
breath. 

"The death watch, eh?" he muttered. "They're 
going to sit there till I have to come out. Like vultures. 
They haven't the nerve to come up here after me. The 
rotten cowards t " 

Then he heard something that caused blm to start 
up in a sort of panic. He stood half erect, crouching 
back against the wall, his eyes glued on the opening, his 
hand fumbling nervously for the revolver in his pocket. 

Some one was climbing up the cliff! 



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CHAPTER XXin 

A UBSSAaS AND ITS AN8WZK 

CHARLIE WEBSTER met Alix at the ferry. 
The body of the drowned girl had Iwen removed 
to Hart's Undertaking Parlours and Expert 
Carpenter's Shop in obedience to the County Coroner's 
instructions by telephone. 

The fat man was so overcome by escitement he could 
hardly speak. Sitting beside Alix in the automobile, 
he rattled on at a great rate about the extraordinary 
turn of affairs, and it was not until they were neariy 
home that he discovered she was sobbing quietly in ber 
comer of the car. 

"Gosh, what are you crying for, Alix?" he de- 
manded. " It's the greatest piece of good fortune tiiat 
ever — " 

" I am thinking of poor Mrs. Vick," she murmured 
chokingly. 

" Oh ! Yes, that's ri^t. It's terrible for that poor 
woman. Terrible. As I was saying, the last anybody 
saw of him was when he started for the Tavern. Gil- 
fillan follered him part ways and then went back to the 
ferry, never dreaming he — But didn't I tell you that 
before P Fm so upset X don't seem to remember what 
I — Oh, yes, now I know where I was. The detectives 
insisted on searching every room in the Tavern. Angie 
Miller got as sore as a boiled lobster when they knocked 
on her door and asked if be was in her room. You 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 817 

(ragbt to have beard what she said to 'em from behind 
the door when she finally opened it and let *em in, — and 
she nearly had a fit when she saw old Tintype was with 
'em. She lit into him, — my gosh, how she lit into him! 
Accused him of suspecting her of having an erudite 
affair with Courtney, — erudite wasnt the word she 
used, but it don't matter, it's as good as any for an 
old maid. We searched everywhere, but no sign of him. 
You needn't be surprised to find one of the detectives 
hanging around your place, Alix. They think maybe 
hell turn up there before long." 

**He can't be very far away," said she suddenly 
aroused to anxiety. She had ceased crying and was 
drying her eyes with her handkerchief. The car was 
searing the entrance to her grounds. " He wouldn't 
dare come to my house after — after what I said to him 
tonight. He could not expect me to help him in any— ^ 

** Well, yon see, it's barely possible he don't knov 
they're after him, Alii. I guess maybe I'd better stay 
here for a while. You won't be so nervoua with me in 
the house." 

" I am not afraid, Charlie. Of course, I am terribly 
nnstrung and unhappy over poor little Rosabel, — bat 
I am not afraid of him. He will not come here. Tell 
me again just what he is accused of doing." 

The car had drawn up under the porte-cochire. 
Webster repeated the story he had bad from GilfiUan. 
She sat perfectly still during the lengthy recitaL 

** And to think — " she began, but checked the words 
in time. " Oh, what fools we have been, Charlie! " 

" Anyhow," said Charlie, divining her thoughts* 
" there's a good deal to be said for that saying, ' All's 
well that ends welL* I've been thinking what a differ- 



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818 QUILL'S WINDOW 

ence there is in men. Now, take for instance David 
Strong. Just stack him up alongside this slick, smooth- 
talking — " 

" Oh, Charlie ! " It was almost a waiL 

He took her hand in one of his and gentl; patted it 
with the other. 

" I guess you'd kind of like to see Davy for a change, 
wouldn't you, Alix? " 

She caught her breath sharply, as if in pain, 

" Now, there's a feller," went on Charlie after a 
moment, " that's all wool and a yard wide. He — " 

" Good night, Charlie," she broke in abruptly. 
" Thank you for coming to meet me. You — ^you are 
the best, the dearest man in the world. I — " 

** You needen't thank me for standin' up for Davy 
Strong. That's what you're really thankin' me for, 
you know," said he. " I've always loved that boy, 
Alix." She pressed his hand. " That's good ! " he 
cried fervently. " I love him so much I wish he was 
sitting right here where I'm sitting now. I'll bet he'd 
be the happiest feller in all — W^ so long, Alix. 
You've had a hard day. I won't make it any worse 
for you by talking about David Strong. I know how 
much you hate him. Just the same, I wish he was 
sitting here in my place." 

'" So do I, Charlie," she confessed, with a deep Bi^ti. 

" So's you could hate him to your heart's content, 
eh? " he chaffed. 

" Yes," she murmured, — " to my heart's content." 

'* Well, I've got to get busy," he exclaimed briskly. 
" Can't sit here talkin' nonsense to you when there's 
so much to do. Link Pollock and Doc and Tintype are 
waiting for me down at the Tavern. I promised to 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 810 

hurry back with the car. That reminds me, Alix. 
We're going :to use your car to go hunting io. I guess 
you don't mind, do you? " 

She spoke to the chauffeur as she got out. ** Take 
Mr. Webster wherever he wants to go, Ed. I shall not 
need the car until eleven o'clock in the morning." 

Mrs. Strong was waiting up for her. There was a 
i»g fire in the living-room, and a tray with hot coffee 
and toast on a table beside the comfortable chair that 
had bees drawn up near the fender. 

Alix dropped wearily into the chair and stretched her 
booted, pantalooned legs out in complete relaxation. 

" You poor child," cried Mrs. Strong. " You're all 
done up. My, but you're white and tired-looking. It's 
been a terrible strain. Sit still now and 111 take your 
hat off for you. Better have your coat and boots off, 
too, dear. Hilda will have a hot bath ready for you 
whenever you're ready to — " 

** I suppose you know they've found her, AuntieP In 
the river." 

" Yes. Ed told me. Now, don't talk about it. 
Here's some hot coffee." 

** Never mind my coat. Fm too tired. You know 
about Courtney ThaneP " 

" I only know they're hunting for him. There's a 
man out in the kitchen. Is — ^is it in connection with 
Rosabel's death?" 

"No. Thank you. Auntie. That feels better. I 
haven't had it off since morning. Charlie told me about 
Thane, hut I am not sure whether I can get it straight. 
He was so excited, — and I was so distressed." 

Her voice was low and husky with fatigue and emo- 
tion; it was apparent that she controlled it with dif- 



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820 QUILL»S WINDOW 

ficultj. In her dark eyes there was a brooding, haunted 
look. She repeated as best she could Charlie's ram- 
bling, disjointed story. 

" And just to think,** cried Mrs. Strong at the end, 
** jou let that beast kiss you and — " 

" Oh, don't ! Don't ! " cried the prl, covering her 
eyes vith her hands. ** I can't bear the thought of it. 
I vasn't myself. I don't know what came over — " 

** There, there ! Don't think about it any more. It's 
aU ri^t now. And you're not the only woman that's 
lost her head since God made Adam, my dear. It's 
pretty hard not to sometimes. You — " 

" Oh, I couldn't, — I couldn't have done anything bad. 
I couldn't — " 

" God bless you, of course you couldn't," cried the 
older woman, stroking the ^rl's hair. " Do you think 
this coiTee will keep you awake? " She poured out a 
steaming cup and dropped two lumps of sugar into it. 

" I sha'n't go to sleep anyway, Auntie, si>— " 

The ringing of the door bell startled them. Alix 
sprang to her feet in alarm. 

•* Don't go to the door ! ** she cried. " It's — ^it's 
Courtney Thane ! " 

"Nonsense! Hell not be coming here. Sit down. 
Fll inquire who it is before I open the door.** 

" Under no circumstances are you to let him in, 
Mrs. Strong," ordered Alix peremptorily. 

*' I should say not ! It would look pretty, wouldn't 
it, if the papers came out and said the notorious bandit 
was captured in the home of Miss Alix Crown, the 
beautiful and wealthy heiress? They always — " The 
bell rang again. " Put the cream in yourself, Alix. 
I'll see who it is.'* 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 821 

Alix followed her with anxious, apprehensiTe eyes as 
she passed into the hall. She heard the following 
dialogue : 

" Who is it? " 

" Does Miss Crown live here? " came in a clear, boy- 
ish voice from the outside. 

" She does. Who are you and what do you want?** 

" Fm a messenger boy. I got a letter for her." 

** A letter? Who's it from? " 

*' Say, open up 1 I can't stand out here all night." 

" Who is it from? " repeated Mrs. Strong Srmly. 

*' How do I know? I ain't no mind-reader." 

Mrs. Strong looked in at Alix. " I guess it's all 
r^ht, isn't it?" 

** Open the door," said Alix quietly. 

A small, shivering messenger boy in uniform entered. 

•* Are you Miss Crown? " 

•* No, I'm not. Where's the letter? ** 

** I got to deliver it to her. Zf she ain't here I'm to 
wait. I got to get an answer," 

Alix came forward. " I am Miss Crown. Come in, 
my hoy, and warm yourself by the fire." 

" Sign here," said the hoy, indicating a line in his 
receipt book. 

While Alix was signing her name, Mrs. Strong looked 
the boy over. " Dear me, you must be nearly frozen, 
child. No overcoat on a night like this. Did you come 
all the way out here from the city on a bicycle? " 

** Give him some coffee, Mrs. Strong," said Alixt 
handing back the book and receiving the envelope in 
return. 

" I got a taxi waiting for me out in front," said the 
boy. " Say, what's goin* on in this burg? We been 



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822 QUILL'S WINDOW 

held up three times, and just now a man stopped me 
out here in the jard and — " 

"What's the matter, Alix? " cried Mrs, Strong. 

The girl was staring at the address on the envelope. 
Doubt, wonder, incredulity filled her eyes. 

" Why, — ^wby. Auntie, — it's David's writing ! Da- 
vid's ! " she cried. " See ! Isn't it? I would recognize 
it—" 

" Bless my soul, so it is ! " exclaimed David's mother. 

"Oh, — what does it mean? Boy, where did you get 
this letter?" Her voice trembled with excitement, her 
eyes were gleaming. 

" Never mind," put in Mrs. Strong, turning her bead 
to hide a smUe. " You run upstairs and read it, AUx, 
and I—" 

" Auntie Strong, do you know anything about this? '* 
demanded Aliz suspiciously. The colour was flowing 
back into her cheeks. *' Have you been keeping some- 
thing — " 

" -^and I will entertain this young gentleman dur- 
ing your absence," went on the other serenely, — 
but there was a flush in her cheeks and her 
eyes were very bright and happy. ** You go and read 
your letter and, — did you say there was to be an an- 
swer, boy? " 

" Yes'm." 

"And write your answer," concluded Mrs. Strong. 
" Come along, my lad, and have a nice hot cup of coffee 
and some toast. I hope you take sugar. There are 
two lumps in it already." 

Alix fairly ran from the room. They beard her 
racing up the stairs. 

" Will you have cream, my boy? " asked Mrs, 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 823 

Strong, steadying her voice vith an eflfort. He had 
shuffled along behind her to the fireplace. 

" Yes'm," and then as an afterthought : " if jou 
please, ma'am." He looked up and saw that his 
hostess's eyes were swimming in tears. " I — I hope it 
ain't bad news," he stammered uncomfortably. 

" Don't you know there are such things as tears of 
joy?" inquired the lady. 

He looked very doubtful. " No ma'am," he sol- 
emnly confessed. The tears he knew about were not 
joyous. 

"Wasn't it just like David to hire an automobile 
to send you out here to deliver the letter to her? I 
suppose it must have coat him a pretty penny. Most 
men would have put a two cent stamp on it. But my 
son is not like other men. He is always doing the most 
unexpected things, — and the very nicest things. Now, 
who else in the world would have thought of luring an 
automobile to send a message by? " 

" Is he your son, ma'am? " 

** Yes. My son David. Did you see him? '* 

" Sure I did." 

"How was he looking?" 

" Fine," said the lad. " Gee, but he's tall." 

** Six feet three, my boy," said David's mother. 
^ That's very hot. Be careful not to scald your mouth. 
Shall I put in another lump, — or two ? " 

*' Will it cool it off any? " 

" I am sure it wilL" 

Meanwhile, Alix was greedily devouring the contents 
of the letter. She stood beside the lif^t over her 
dressing-table; her heart was pounding furiously, her 
eyes were radiantly bright. 



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824 QUILL'S WINDOW 

DzAs Alix: 

I have JDit this instant airivcd In tomi, and I am acrib- 
bling this in the hotel vriting-room, with my overcoat still 
on my back. I shall not go to sleep tonight nntil I have 
had yonr reply. Somehow I will find a way to get this 
letter to yon tonight, I don't know haw at present, but 
where there's a will tiiere's a way. If mother and Clmrlie 
Webster are mistaken, or if tbcy have assumed something 
that is not trae, I shall go away again without bothering 
yon. But if yon want me, I will come straight out to yon. 
Yon are in trouble. I am not asking anything for myself^ 
dear, — yau know me well enough to understand that, — I am 
only asking yon to let me do anything in the world I can 
for you. That is why I dropped everything to come. I 
am happy, yon don't know how happy, to be even this close 
to you. I have always wanted to hang out my shingle in 
this dear old town. I do not like the East. I am a West- 
erner and I can't seem to make myself fit in with the East. 
I shall always be a Hoosier, I fear,— and hope. Just the 
few minutes I have been here in this familiar old hotel, and 
the ride through the qoiet streets, and getting off the train 
at the insignificant little depot, and having the backman, — 
they are taxi-drivers now,— yell out, — " Hello, Davy," and 
ran up to sbake hands with me, — well, I am so homesii^ I 
could cry. But you know why I cannot come here to live 
and practise. If I can't be very, very near to you, Alix 
darling, I must keep myself as far away as passible. It is 
the only way. Bnt if I keep on at this rate, yon will think 
I am writing a love letter to you, when, as a matter of 
fact, I am only asking you if you care to see me and tell 
me what I can do to help yon now, — if you need the help 

^^ Always devoted 

Datid. 
P.S. — If yon would rather not see me, don't hesitote to 
say so. I will understand. And please do not blame 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 825 

mother and Charlie. Th^ ▼onld both die for yoo, dear. 
P.S.S. — You will be pleased to koov, I am sure, that I 
have the five hundred I still ove you in my pocket, all in 
brand new bills, and I think joa might give me the happi- 
ness of quarrelling face to face with jou. about the matter 
instead of under the protection of a two-cent stamp. 

D. 

She read the letter aloud. When she came to the 
end she kissed the aheet of paper rapturously and then 
pressed it to ber breast. For a few moments she stood 
there with her ejes dosed, a little smile on ber lips, the 
blush of roses deepening in her cheeks. 

Suddenly she roused herself. Hurrying to the desk 
across the room, she snatched a sheet of note paper from 
the rack, seated herself, and began to write. 

DiaarsT David: 

Thu is a love letter. I love yon. I have always loved 
yon, ever since I can remember, only I did not realize how 
much until you wouldn't let me have my own way about the 
money. Then I tried to bate yon. The best thing I can 
say for the experiment was that it kept me thinking about 
you all the time. You were never out of my thoughts, 
David dear. Oh, how many nights have I laid awake in- 
venting reasons for hating you, and how many, many times 
have I ended up by hating myself. I am a very mean, 
despicable creature. I am a loathsome, poisonous reptile, 
and you ought to put yonr foot on my neck and keep it 
there forever and ever. Now I knoir why I have been so 
mean to you. It is because I love you so much. Yon can- 
not grasp that, can yon? Yon could if you were a woman. 

The boy is waiting for this. Hoir wonderful of you to 
send him ont here in a taxi ! ! ! I shall tell him to go back 
to town as fast as the car can travel. I hope it is a fast 



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826 QUILL'S WINDOW 

one, becaote I want 70n to get in it and come to me at 
once. I shall wait np for ]roa, David. Please come tonight. 
You don't know bow' badly I need you. Yoa most stay 
here with youT mother and me, and I don't want yoa ever 
to go away again, — unless yon take me with you. 
Your humble sweetheart, 

Alix. 

P.S. — I wouldn't quarrel with you for five hundred mil- 
lion dollars. 

P.S.S. — Oh, how I wish some kind genie could transport 
you to me initantls! A. 

Sealing the envelope, she sprang to her feet and 
started for the door. She stopped halfway, dashed 
back and fished in a drawer of her desk, found her 
purse and extracted a crumbling bank-note. Without 
so much as a glance to ascertain its denomination, she 
turned and sped downstairs. 

Her eyes were aglow with excitement, her lips were 
parted in a divine smile. She was a little out of breath. 
The boy gazed upon her spellbound. In that brief, 
transcendent moment he fell deeply, hopelessly in love, 
— and that is why, a moment later, he manfully en- 
deavoured to refuse the prodigious tip she was offering' 
him. Only when she stuffed it, with her own fingers, 
into the depths of his breast pocket, directly over bis 
heart, was he able to persuade himself that he ought to 
accept it if for no other reason than it would hurt her 
feelings if he didn't, 

" You must go strai^t back just as fast as you 
can," she was saying, — and what a sweet, wonderful 
voice she had, just like some kind of a song he thought, 
— " and see that Mr. Strong has this letter at once. 



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A MESSAGE AND ITS ANSWER 827 

He 18 waiting for it, you know. You will hurry, won't 
you, — that's a good hoy." 

" Yes'm," gulped the lad, and then, realizing he had 
not quite come up to expectations, amplified his promise 
with a stirring: " You bet your hfe I will." 

She went to the door with him, and said good night 
80 sweetly, and with such a thrill in her voice, that he 
experienced the amazing sensation of having wings on 
his feet as he sped down to the gate. 

Alix ran to Mrs. Strong and threw her arms around 
her neck. 

" Oh, Auntie, — he'a in town. He is coming out and 
• — and I am going to marry him. Yes, I am ! Tomor- 
row, if hell let me. I ou^t not to be so happy, I know. 
It is terrible, With so much grief and sorrow over at — 
But I can't help it! I never was so happy in my life — 
never ! " 

Bushing up to the waiting taxi, the boy thrust the 
letter in through the open door. It was seized by a big, 
eager hand. An instant later the owner of that hand 
was out on the ground, reading the missive by the li^t 
of a forward lamp. 

He was not long in getting to the end. Thrusting 
the precious letter into bis overcoat pocket, he sprang 
to the door of the cab, jerked out a heavy suitcase and 
a small black satchel, which he deposited unceremoni- 
ously on the sidewalk, and then dug down into his 
trousers' pocket for a handful of bills, one of which 
he pressed into the small boy's hand. Then, turning to 
the driver, the tall, impetuous fare clapped another into 
his extended palm. 



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828 QUnX'S WINDOW 

" There you are, genie ! " he exclaimed exultantly} 
and, grabbing up his bags, iraa off up the walk as fast 
aa his long legs would carry lum. 

" What was that he called me, kid? " demanded the 
driver uneasily. 

" Janie."* 



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CHAPTER XXIV 

AT QniIJ.*fl WINDOW 

THE scraping, laboured sound grew nearer and 
louder, and presently there was added the thick, 
stertorous breathing of the climber as he drew 
close to the mouth of the cave. 

Courtney crept farther away from the opening and 
watched with narrow, frowning eyes for the head to 
appear above the ledge. He held the rerolver in bis 
shaking band, but be knew be was not going to shoot. 
He thrilled with a strange sort of glee, howerer, at the 
thought of the ease with which be could send the fool 
crashing to the ground far below, hut what would be 
the use? He was trapped. 

He had a queer and strangely ungrudging respect 
for the courage of this man of Uncle Sam's, this man 
who was not to be turned back or daunted by the pros- 
pect of sudden death when engaged in the performance 
of his duty. What use to slay this single, indomitable 
pursuer when nothing was to be gained by the act? 
There were others down there to avenge him, — to starve 
him out, or to bum him out if needs be. Murder, that's 
what it would be, and they would hang him for murder. 
If he shot this fellow there would be but one course left 
open to him. He would have to shoot himself. And he 
loved life too well for that. Five, even ten years be- 
hind the bars, — and then freedom once more. But the 
gallowsj — God, no! 



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880 QUILL'S WINDOW 

He stood up and leaned with bis back ag&Iiut the 
vall, bracing his legs which threatened to crumple up 
under him. With a sort of craven bravado, he inhaled 
deeply. The end of the cigarette created a passing 
but Done the less comforting glow which died awaj 
alnu>st instantly. A jolly brave thing, a cigarette, — 
No wonder the scddiers smoked them ! Nerve steadying, 
— no question about iL 

He waited. Once he thought be was going to scream. 
Why was the fellow so slow? Surely it had not taken 
htm so long to come up that ladder of stone, — and be 
was the pioneer, be had cleared the slots of dirt and 
sand, he had made the hand holds safe, be had torn his 
finger-tips digging them out, — what made the fellow 
so slow? 

At last he made out a vague, slender object moving 
liiLc the tentacle of an octopus above the ledge, — and 
then the bulky head and shoulders of the climber. 

" I surrender! " be called out. *' I give up. If you 
had waited till I pulled myself together, I would have 
come down. I'm all in. I surrender." 

The man scrambled over the ledge and drew himself 
erect. His figure was dimly outlined against the moon- 
lit sky. He came a few steps inside the cave and 
stopped, evidently striving to pierce the darkness with 
his questing eyes. 

Courtney pushed himself away from the supporting 
wall and advanced slowly. 

•* Here's my gun," he faltered, and the weapon clat- 
tered on the rocky floor at his feet. "Don't shoot! 
I am unarmed. My hands are up, — comrade." 

" Stand still," warned the other hoarsely. He was 
breathing heavily. " Don't move ! " 



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AT QUILL'S WINDOW 831 

CouHnej took another pull at the cij^arette that 
hang limply between his sagging lips. He (njuld be as 
brave, ae cool as the other fellow ! He would give them 
somethiag to talk about when they related the story 
of his capture. He would — 

Suddenly the man lunged forward. ... A pair of 
iron arms wrapped themselves about his waist. He 
went down with a crash. Even as the cry of surprise 
and indignation rose to his lips, his bead struck and 
his mind became a blank. 

Slowly, as out of a fog, his senses came back. He 
was hazily aware of a light shining in his eyes, and of 
a dull pain somewhere. Things began to take shape 
before his whirling eyes. He strove to steady them, to 
concentrate on the bright thing that flitted back and 
forth before them. At last the blaze became stationary. 

Quite close at hand was a fire, — a bright, crackling 
fire whose fiames danced merrily. Where was heP It 
was not like any other fire he had ever seen before. . . . 
Then he saw a face. It gradually fashioned itself out 
of the gloom high above the flames. He blinked his 
eyes and stared. Somehow it was vaguely familiar, 
that face. . . . He lifted his head and peered in- 
tently. Then he raised himself on his elbow, all the 
while trying to fix that floating face in his mind. 

Suddenly his brain cleared. The full picture was 
revealed: A man standing over the blazing pile of box- 
wood, gazing down at him with great, unblinking eyes. 
The sloping roof of the cave, half lost in the thin cloud 
of smoke, almost touched the crown of the watcher's 
head, — and this watcher was in the garb of a sailor. 

Caleb Vick! Young Caleb Vick! 

For a long time the two looked into each other's eyes. 



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882 QUILL'S WINDOW 

Courtney's vaTering and uncertain, Caleb's fixed and 
triumphant. 

" l8 — ^is that yaa, Cale? " mumbled the former won- 
deringly. 

Young Vick nodded his head slowly. 

*' How did you get here? " asked Thane, sensing peril 
in those boring, unfaltering eyes. Hb hand went out 
to feel for the revolver be had dropped. " Where — 
What has become of the man that jumped on meP The 
detective." 

" I am the man," said Cale levelly. 

" YouP What's the matter with you, Cale? This is 
a hell of a way to treat a friend. What do you mean 
by helping these — " 

" Cut that out," snarled Cale. " It don't go with 
me. Get up! You dirty cur, — get up!" 

"My God, Cale, — have you gone crazy?" gasped 
Thane, going cold to the marrow. He shot a swift, 
terrified look toward the mouth of the cave. 

" Get up ! It won't do you any good to yelL No one 
will hear you." 

Courtney drew himself to his knees, 

'*It won't, eh? There's a gang of Secret Service 
men down there. They'll blow your brains out if 
you — " 

** There is no one down there," said the boy, a 
crooked smile on his lips. 

" I tell you there is," cried the other, desperately. 
" I heard them. They trailed me here. They — " 

" I guess I put one over on you, Courtney," inter- 
rupted Cale, his voice low and deadly. " I am the fellow 
that chased you here. There's nobody else. Oh, I know 
they're looking for you,— but they don't know where 



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AT QUILL'S WINDOW 333 

^ou are. Nobody knows but me. I saw you sneaking 
across that lot back yonder, I was down at the ferry. 
I saw — Rosabel — there." His voice faltered. He 
steadied it with an effort before going on. " I was too 
late. She wrote me. Then father telegraphed me. 
They let me off. I came as soon as I could. I ran all 
the way from Hawkins. I knew what had happened. 
She wrote me. But I thought maybe she'd lose her 
nerve, — or, maybe you would do the right thing by her, 
and save her. I saw her down there on the dock. You 
did it. You got her into trouble. You — " 

" I don't know what you are talking about," cried 
the other. ** What's this you are saying? Have you 
lost your mind, Calep My God, boy, — I, — ^why, what 
sort of a beast do you think I am? I — I adored her. 
Come, come, Cale! Calm yourself [ You know per- 
fectly well how fond I was of her. I couldn't have done 
anything so foul as — Why, Cale, she was nothing but 
a kid, a little girl to me. I — " 

" Yes, — that's what she was,— a kid, just a poor 
little kid. She trusted you. I trusted you. We all 
trusted you. And now she's — she's dead. My sister ! 
My pretty little sister ! " He strai^tened up and 
threw his arm across his eyes, only to withdraw it in- 
stantly. *' God ^avm you! Get up! Come over here! 
Here's her letter. Read it ! Read it, you dirty swine ! " 

He reached inside his blouse and drew forth a folded 
bit of paper. 

" I — ^I don't want to read it," faltered Thane, shrink- 
ing back. " I know nothing about all this nonsense 
you are — " 

" I give you ten seconds to do what I tell you," 
grated Cale, harshly. **If you don't 111 blow your 



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834 QUILL'S WINDOW 

head off." He levelled the revolTtr. " It's your own 
gun, — so I guess you know it's loaded. Come on ! ** 

Thaoe crawled to the fire. 

" My God, — ^you wouldn't kiU me, CaleP " he gasped, 
reaching out his-shaking hand for the letter. 

** Bead it t " ordered the inexorable voice. 

It was a short letter. Courtney took it in as a 
whole; the dancing, jumbled web of words that raced 
before his glazed eyes. Parts of sentences, a word here 
and there, his own name, filtered throu^ the veil, — 
and were lost in the chaos of his own thoughts. 

He was not thinking of Rosabel's letter. If he could 
only catch Cale off his guard, — ^just for a second or 
two ! A swift leap, a blow, and — but a lightning glance 
out of the comer of hia eye killed the thou^t even as 
it was being created. Cale would not be off his guard. 
He was watching like a hawk, his body bent slightly 
forward, the revolver held in a grip of steel. 

" Well? " cried Cale. *' Have you read it? " 

** Yes," whispered Courtney through his stiff lips. 
" It's not true, Cale, — it's not true ! " 

" Yes, it is true. Rosie would not lie about herself 
like that. No girl would. Every word of it is true." 
He snatched the paper from Courtney's palsied hands 
and cast it into the waning fire. " No one shall ever 
see that letter. I would not have mother know what 
I know for all the world. She'll never know about 
Rosie." 

Courtney took hope. " By gad, Cale, that's fine of 
you. I promise you, on my word of honour, no one 
ever shall know. I'll keep the secret with you. You — " 

*' There will be only one person left in all the world 



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AT QUILL'S WINDOW 836 

that knows about Rosie/* said Cale in a strangely quiet 
tone. 

His left hand went out swiftl;. The fingers clutched 
Courtney's hair, pushing his head back. £ven as the 
wretch opened his lips to squeal for mercy, the cold 
muzzle of the weapon was jammed against the flesh 
under his ear. There was a loud explosion. . . . 

Young Cale Vick stood for a long time looking down 
at the inert thing at his feet. Then he calmly stooped 
over and placed the pistol in one of the outstretched 
hands, closing the stiff fingers over it. Scattering tKe 
fire with his feet, he trampled out what was left of the 
feeble flames, and then strode to the mouth of the cave. 
He stood rigid for a long time, listening. A dog was 
howling mournfully away off in the night; an owl was 
hooting somewhere in the trees nearby. He turned and 
b^an the descent, and there was neither remorse nor 
terror in his souL 

A few days later the report reached Windomville that 
a farmer up the river had seen a light in Quill's Window 
the night that Rosabel Vick was found, and all the 
superstitious shook their heads and talked of ghosts. 



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