Search      Hot    Newest Novel
HOME > Short Stories > Natalie Page > Chapter XXIII--Waiting for the Human Mouse
Font Size:【Large】【Middle】【Small】 Add Bookmark  
Chapter XXIII--Waiting for the Human Mouse
 After dinner I sat down to read, Amy and Willy played double Canfield, Evelyn and Herbert went off to the little drawing-room to talk about their house, Aunt Penelope ran the victrola, and Uncle Archie, S. K., and our two guests played auction. They put up quite a heavy stake on it, criticized each other’s plays after each hand, and acted as people do when they are playing cards for pleasure. Ito came in with a tray of glasses and some sort of light Italian wine, and then he left, and it began to get late. Of course, Willy didn’t know about it, and at ten he left.
I went with him to the hall, and he told me how insulted he had been by Amy that morning, but that he felt that there were possibilities in her and that he was going to try to develop them.
Then he coughed and said: “You know that offer of mine?”
I said I recalled it.
“Well,” he went on, “it is good. No Southern gentleman ever forgets his honour, but we were both young. You know darned well, Nat, that I’ll go through with it if I have to, but I think you’d be a better pitcher than a wife!”
Everybody had annoyed me that day, Uncle Frank had just left, and saying good-bye to him was hard, and I was excited over the mystery, so I spoke frankly, to be truthful. I almost shouted, “I wouldn’t have you!” and then I turned and saw S. K. coming towards us. He was going down to get a piece of Japanese carving that aunt wanted to see, but he let Willy start before he did.
“Did you hear that?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “thank Heaven I did! . . . Nat, I’m a fool, but that chap’s coming upset me. You see, my conscience keeps me from entering the race just now. His evidently does not.”
I explained and put him right on that. “And anyway,” I added, “there wouldn’t be any race.”
“Dear child,” he said, “if I dared let myself believe you! But,” he continued, with a change in tone, “that is a tabooed subject. Some day, if it is true, you’ll prove it. Now, won’t you?” He looked down at me ever so anxiously, and I laughed up at him. I felt exceedingly light-hearted since the weight of his disapproval was removed. That had really bothered me.
“The subject,” I said, “is tabooed!”
He put his hands on my shoulders, shook me gently, told me I was a “dear scamp,” and started off. The minute after he got outside the lights went out, and I never in all my life have heard anything like the noise that followed! Evelyn and Herbert rushed out of the little drawing-room and fell over a pedestal. Amy fell over a chair that had a pile of records on it, and those tipped off and clattered as they went to pieces on the bare floor. Someone knocked over the card-table, and someone else the chair that held the tray of glasses; Aunt Penelope screamed, and Uncle Archie said things that I cannot quote, repeating them at intervals, in this manner:
“What the blank do you think you’re doing!” or, “Penelope, shut up that blank noise!” He became frightfully natural, as people do in crises, and added considerably to the confusion.
When the lights came on again the detectives looked very silly. One of them said something about hoping “it” would never get out. Then Ito was summoned and asked what had happened to the lights.
“Not can say,” he replied, with a lift of his shoulders.
Then I went to my room, looked for my bracelet, and found it was gone. Everything moved after that. Ito, Jane, and the cook were ordered to the library, where for the first and last time they sat in state; S. K. and his man were sent for, and enough moves to satisfy even Douglas Fairbanks were packed into the next few minutes.
“What was this fellow doing when you went down?” the detective asked of S. K. He looked at Debson.
“I don’t know,” S. K. answered. “I didn’t go down. I heard the noise and tried to get back.”
“How about the outside men?” the detective went on; and I then found that there had been other people on guard--these watching outside. Someone went down and returned with a crest-fallen, baffled air.
“Saw nothing,” he said, “but this fellow”--looking at Debson--“went down the stairs after the lights went out.”
Then Ito spoke. “He has habit,” he explained, “of spending evening with Jane, when Mr. Kempwood suspect him to be answering door-bell, it was therefore that I remove light plug to delay Mr. Kempwood and cover retreat of Debson, since we are friends.”
“That is true,” said Jane, beginning to cry, “and I hope, sir, that you’ll not blame him, since it is my fault and----”
“That’ll do,” someone said, and she relapsed into very moist-sounding sniffs. I don’t know how the “servant class,” as aunt calls them, manage to sniff like that, for theirs is a pervasive, far-carrying sniff. But I notice that they always employ it when they are thinking of leaving, and perhaps strength comes from constant practice.
“Suppose we go down and search,” said Amy. “Probably he’s”--she pointed to S. K.’s man--“hidden it.”
I never saw such a look of outraged innocence as that man wore. “If there is any doubt,” he said, “I will request a search. I am honest.”
“Was there a blind man around?” I asked. “Did you hear of him downstairs?”
The man whom I asked--the man who had been outside--said there was. “But,” he said, “I am afraid you won’t make a detective, miss. He has been watched; he has not moved, and, since this affair, he has been searched.”
“Where was he sitting?” I asked.
“Come to think of it,” said one of the men, “I think he was sitting by a window that leads to the coal cellars.”
“They got in coal to-day,” I said. “I heard it go in. Possibly the inner window was not replaced. If the grating only was locked, my bracelet would go through that.”
Then I saw Debson move. And he spoke quickly, and in doing so made me sure that he was guilty.
“As I said, I am honest,” he began, voice shaking. “I love this girl”--he pointed to Jane--“but, if you want my opinion, you will not have to go as far as the basement to find the bracelet.”
“What leads you to say that?” asked the man who was putting the questions. He asked it sternly.
“My conscience,” replied S. K.’s servant, “and a sudden recollection of having seen it on her arm one night when I took her to the Clover Leaf Social Club ball. I afterward saw it on Miss Page’s arm when she was having tea with Mr. Kempwood.”
Jane cried harder than ever. “Just onct,” she gasped, “and, honest to Gawd, I never done it again----”
But no one was convinced. I felt sure that Jane was being truthful, but I think I was alone in this. Then, after dividing the men and leaving the suspects guarded, a party was sent to the basements. I went with them, and I--found my bracelet.
It was wrapped in a piece of burlap and a string was tied to it.
“Lowered from my window to the blind man,” I said, as I triumphantly undid it. The man who had told me I was not a detective told me he would give me a job any day. I did feel proud. Then we started upstairs once again, and I heard how the bracelet had come back. Evelyn did it, and, after she finished, Herbert put his arm around her, which proved to me th............
Join or Log In! You need to log in to continue reading

Login into Your Account

  Remember me on this computer.

All The Data From The Network AND User Upload, If Infringement, Please Contact Us To Delete! Contact Us
About Us | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Tag List | Recent Search  
©2010-2018, All Rights Reserved