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The Nevada County picayune. (Prescott, Ark.) 190?-current, June 10, 1909, Image 3

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Persistent link: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn90050306/1909-06-10/ed-1/seq-3/

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ulujtxathvv OCTAVE THANET
r rtsrr AUTHOR. O/*
^ • WEIL—d yy/E SIAN of y* HOUX*
As They Peered Into the Dusky Space Below.
The story opens at Harvard where Col
R [ rt Wmb r. I'. S \.. visiting. saw the
guiiid' of vminK Mercer lie met Cary
Merecr. brother nl the dead stud tit
Threi t ears later. In Chh ago. In llMb
Co) Winter overheard Cary Mercer ap
parently planning to kidnap An hie, tie
■ i| nel ward, and to gain possession of
Aunt R« hi . i a Winter s millions A Miss
Smith was mi ntlotted apparently .as a
cm plrat \ (treat flna m ia I magn ite
tv;.4 id the train on wldeh Col. Win
ter n t Ids Aunt lb he. . a, Miss Smith
and An lr C<d Winter learned that the
flnate il magnate is Kdwln S Keateham
Winter aided by Ar hie. cleverly frus
trated a hold-up on the train, lie took a
re it liking to Miss Smith, despite ler
pins plot \rchie mvsteri*
mi.'ly dts.inp. .11 ed in I 'ris aa. Itlood in a
neiit'.y room at tin lioli 1 entitled fears for
tin ’ ■ 4 s iir. Tin- I,ad's voice was heard
ot * r thi telephone. Iioweyer. and a mln
ut* r a w4 man's voice tl at of Miss
Smith Col Winter and a detective s-t
'■i:t f..r the emplt mansion owned by
Arte.id a Harvard graduate Tint wire
its t tty a an ■ 'cplosion within. Mir .r
«t 1 lit 1 -4 11 • ■ I Winter that Ar hie
'all !■• '.lied Tile colonel saw a vision
flit!.i or from the supposedly haunted
It a.IS Miss .1 met Smith. Col
V\ • r himself admitted that he loved
Miss Merest told Winter that
Ar • el oyerlmanl plans for a coup
e ad ' 44 eii kidnapi d < »in of M r • ’
frlet .|« on returning the boy to his aunt
| d atia sled for speeding and when
' • r •■■•,! from the police station to his
44 4 ' ' 1 141 lias Untie. Mercer 4 a U1 f4 SSed
I’4 foT (Illy detaining Keateham.
M- ’ 1 • Ilf4- story, relating how
a m ml his scoundrel scent tv.
A'k - id mined him, the blow killing
■ M< i • r was holding him prison
•a in rdcr that he could not get control
1 ' r..,ul v,'lilch was the pet project of
r of i i< college friend. Mndieott
\unt Rein a i-h saw Archie In a
ml: two men Then he vanlsln I
^ • Unwed in an auto into the Chinese
t and by the use of a mysterious
jade ornann iit she secured a
from an influential Chinaman
bov would be returned. Archie
i and told his story. Atkins, for
ma • piurv to Kialehum. being his
1' rut per. < Jot Winter and Tra< y
a t to the "hnunted house." They
■ ' Keateham, apparently stabbed to
<1* ' lb itiliam was not dead. Iiovv
‘ ' C 'rv Mercer tippeared on the scene,
” mtia believing his actions suspicious
aril ,iiser\lng blood on his cuffs and
,r - Mrs Mllllccnt Melville, in l"t
!' 1 her husband, revealed that she al
■information to "leak" to Atkins
j I "Hr dlreeied themselves at Atkins
,fl ' Keateham assault. Vnknowingly
M - Melville had inaili4 herself a tool for
s dark scheme in stocks.
CHAPTER XV.—Continued.
•Mi th<>ir instantly expressed desire
' i sen the hidden way, the colonel led
>l'rn to the patio. He walked to the
ei iL-i'i column which once before
had uiterested him; he pressed a eon
" iCd spring under the boldly carved
'' -‘o pointed llower; instantly, the en
'■1Vl‘ *ide of the columns swung as a
lin' i might swing. As they peered
hito the dusky space below, the cofo
,u'l who had put down his arm,
I’1' 'd an electric button and the
"Htt light Hooded the shaft, revealing
an ingenious ladder of cleats fitted into
steel Uprights.
Here," said the colonel, "is a secret
"ay from the patio to the cellar. The
eelini extends a Tittle beyond the patio
*tnd there is a way down from the yard
to the cellar—I can quickly show you,
if .von like.”
*o. thank you,” replied Warnebold,
"ho was a man of full habit and older
than the colonel, “1 will take your per
sonal experience instead.”
1 hen if you will go out into the
• a'd with me 1 will show you where
‘l ‘harming pergola ends in a vine
wreathed sun-dial of stone that you
may tun at and not move; but press
your foot on a certain stone, the whole
dial swings round on a concealed turn
table such as they have in garages,
you know. You will have no difficulty
in finding the right stone, because an
inscription runs round the dial: '.Mas
vale tarde que nunca:' and the stone
is directly opposite nunca.' When you
have moved away your dial you will
see a gently inclining tunnel, high
enough for a man to walk in without
stooping, wide enough for two, and
much better ventilated than the New
York subway. That tunnel leads to a I
secret door opening directly into the
cellar, so skillfully contrived that it !
looks like an air-shaft. This door is
only a few feet from the shaft to the
patio. We have found a bolt and put
it on this entrance, hut there wasn't
any before; nor did any one in the
house know of the secret passage."
Tho colonel went on to say that on
questioning the architect he averred
that he had never mentioned the
secret passage to his knowledge—ex
cept that very recently, only a few
dap s before, at a dinner, he had barely
alluded to it: and one of the gentle
men present, an easterner, bad asked
him where lie got a man to make such
a contrivance—it must take skill. He
had mentioned the name of the work
man. The colonel had hunted up the
artisan mentioned, only to find that
he had left town to take a job some
where; no one seemed to know where.
Of course he had inquired of every
body. The name of the easterner was
“Atkins," rrit'il \\ ameboid, at mis
turn of the narrative, "Keatcham s
secretary? Why, he's the boldest and
slyest scoundrel in the l nited States!
He started a leak in Keatcham's office
that made him a couple of hundred
thousands and lost us a million and
might have lost us more if Mercer
hadn't got on to him. Keatcham
wouldn’t believe he had been done to
the extent he was at first—you know
the old man hafes to own to any one's
getting the better of him; it’s the one
streak of vanity I've ever been able to
discover in him. Otherwise, he’s cold
and keen as a ra.’.or on a frosty morn
ing. He was convinced enough, howj
ever, to discharge Atkins; the next
news I had. he was trying to send him
to tiie pen. Gave us instructions how
to get th(‘ evidence. No allusion to his
past confidence hi the fellow, simply
1 the orders—as if w-e knew all the
preliminaries. Wonderful man, Mr.
Keatcham, Col. Winter."
"Very,” agreed the colonel, dryly.
Hy this time the warrior and the
man of finance were on easy terms.
Warnebold remained three days. Be
fore he left the patient had been pro
nounced out of danger and had re
vived enough to give some succinct
business directions. Mercer had been
sent to look out for the cement deal;
and Keatcham appeared a little re
lieved and brighter when he was told
that Mercer was on his way.
••He will put it through if it can be
put,” he said said weakly to Warne
bold; “he’s moderately smart and per
fectly honest.” Such words, Warne
bold explained later to Mrs. Winter,
coming from Keatcham, might be re
garded almost as extravagant com
mendation. "Your cousin's fortune is
made,” he pronounced, solemnly; “he
can get Atkins’ place, I make no
Mrs. Winter thought that Mercer
was a very valuable man.
"Only always so melancholy; I've
been afraid he had something serious
the matter with his digestion. It's
these abominable quick lunches that
are ruining the health of all our steady
young men. I don’t know but they
are almost as bad as chorus girls and
late suppers. Well, Mrs. Winter, I’m
afraid we shall not have another
chance at bridge until 1 see you in
New York, nut, anyhow, we stung
the colonel once—and with Miss Smith
playing her greatest game, too. Pity
she can’t induce Mr. Keatcham to
play;, but he never touches a card,
hardly ever takes anything to drink,
doesn't like smoking especially, takes
a cigarette once in a while only, never
plays the races or bets on the run of
the vessel—positively such icy virtue
gives an ordinary sinner the cramps!
Very great man, though, Mrs. Winter,
and a man we are all proud to follow;
be may be overbearing; and he doesn't
praise you too much, but somehow
you always have the consciousness
that he sees every bit of good work
you do and is marking it up in your
favor; and you won’t be the loser.
There is no question he has a hold on
his associates; but he certainly is
not what I call a genial man.”
Only on the day of his departure did
Warnebold, in young Arnold’s lan
guage, "loosen up" enough to tell
Arnold and the colonel a vital incident.
The night of the attack a telegram
was sent to Warnebold in Keatcham's
confidential cipher, directing the cam
paign against Tracy to be pushed
hard, ordering the dumping of some
big blocks of stock on the market and
arranging for their dummy purchasers.
The naming of Atkins as the man in
charge was plausible enough, presum
ing there had been no knowledge of
the break in his relations with Keatch
am. The message was couched in
Keatcham's characteristic crisp phrase
ology. Hut for the receiver's knowl
edge of the break and but for the
previous long-distance conversation, it
had reached its mark. The associates
of Keatcham were puzzled. The hands
were the hands of Esau, but the voice
was the voice of Jacob. There had
been a hurried consultation into which
the second long-distance telephone
from San Francisco broke like a
thunderclap. It decided the hearers to
keep to their instructions and disre
gard the cipher dispatch.
“And didn’t you send any answer?"
the colonel asked.
“Oh, certainly; we had an address
given, the Palace hotel, Mr. John G.
Makers. We wired Mr. Makers—in
cipher: ‘Dispatch received. Will at
tend to it.’ 1 signed. And I wired to
the manager ol' the hotel to notice the
man who took the dispatch. It wasn’t
a man, it was a lady."
"A lady?"
“Yes, she had an order for Mr.
Makers’ telegrams. Mr. Makers gave
the order. Mr. Makers himself only
stopped one night and went away in
the morning and nobody seemed to re
member him particularly; he was a
nondescript sort of party."
"Hut the lady?" The colonel's mouth
felt dry.
"The lady? She was tall, tine figure,
well dressed, dark hair, the telegraph
girl thought, but she didn't pay any
special attention. She had a very
pleasant, musical voice."
"That doesn't seem to be very defi
nite." remarked the colonel, with a
crooked smile.
It didn't look like a clew to Warne
bold, either; but he was convinced of
one thing, namely: That it would pay
to watch the ex-secretar.v.
"And.” chuckled he, “there's a cheer
ful side to the affair. Atkins is loaded
to the guards with short contracts;
and the Midland is booming; if the
rise continues, he can’t cover without
losing about all he lias. By the way,
we got another wire later in the day
demanding what we were about, what
it all meant that we hadn’t obeyed in
structions. Same address for answer.
This time we thought we had laid a
nice trap. Hut you can’t reckon on a
hotel; somehow, before we got warn
ing, Mr. Makers had telephoned for his
dispatch and got it."
"Where did he telephone from?”
"From his room in the Palace."
"I thought he had given up his
room ?"
"He had. Flui—somebody telephoned
to the telegraph office from somewhere
in the hotel and got Mr. Makers' wire.
You can get pretty much everything
except a moderate bill out of a hotel."
"I see," said the colonel, and im
mediately in his heart compared him
self to the immortal “blind man;” for
his wits appeared to him to be tramp
ing round futilely in a maze; no near
er the exit than when the tramp began.
That night after Warnebold had de
parted, leaving most effusive thanks
and expressions of confidence, Winter
was standing at his window absently
looking at the garden faintly colored
by the moonlight, while his mind was
plying back and forth between half a
dozen contradictions.
He went over the night of the at
tack on Keatcham; he summoned
every look, every motion of Janet
Smith; in one phase of feeling he
cudgeled himself for a wooden fool
who had been absolutely brutal to a
defenseless woman who trusted him; •
he bated himself for the way he would \
not see her when she looked toward 1
him; no wonder at last she stiffened. ]
and now she absolutely avoided him!
But, in a swift revulsion against his
own softness, he was instantly laying i
on ihe b'ows as lustily because of his |
incredible, pig-headed credulity. How
absolutely simple the thing was! She
cared for this scoundrel of an At
kins who had first betrayed his em
ployer and then tried to murder him.
Very likely they had been half en
gaged down there in Virginia; and he
had crawled out of his engagement;
it would be quite like the,cur! Later
he found tint just such a distinguished,
charming woman, who had family and
friends, was what he wanted; it would
be easy enough for him to warm up
his old passion, curse him! Then, he
had met her and run in a hunch of
plausible lies that hrd convinced her
that he had been a regular angel in
plain clothes; hadn't done a thing to
Cary or to her. Atkins was such a
smooth devil! Winter could just pic
ture him whining to the girl, putting
his life in her hands and all that rot;
and making all kinds of a tool of her—
why, the whole hand was on thp
board! So she was ready to throw
them all overboard to save Atkins
from getting his feet wet. That was
why she looked so pale and haggard of
a morning sometimes, in spite of that
ready smiles of hers; that was why her
eyes were so wistful; she wasn't a
false woman and she sickened of her
squalid part. She loved Aunt Rebecca
and Archie—all the same, she would
turn them both down for him; while
as to Rupert Winter, late of the United
States army, a worn-out, lame, elderly
idiot who had Hung away the profes
sion he loved and every chance of a
future career in order to have his
hands free to keep her out of danger
—where were there words blistering
enough for such puppy-dog folly! At
this point in his jealous imaginings the
pain in him goaded him into motion;
lie began furiously pacing the room,
although his lame leg, which he had
been using remorselessly all day, was
vending jabs and twists of agony
through him. But after a little he
halted again before the casement
The wide, darkening view; the
great, silent city with its myriad
lights; the shining mist of the bay;
the foot-hills with their sheer, straw
colored streaks throngh the forests]
and vineyards; the illimitable depths
of star-sown, violet sky—all these
touched his fevered mood with a sud
den calm. Mis unrest was quieted, as
one whose senses are cooled by a run
ning stream.
“You hot-headed southerner!” he up
braided himself, “don't get up in the
air without any real proof!”
Almost in the flitting of the words
through his brain he saw her. The
white gown, which was her constant
wear In the sickroom, defined her fig
,ure clearly against a clump of Japan
plum-trees. Their purplish red foliage
rustled; and an unseen fountain be
yond made a delicate tinkle of water
splashing a marble basin. Her face
was hidden; only the moonlight gently
drew the oval of her cheek. She was
standing still, except that one foot was
groping back and forth as if trying to
find something. Hut, as he looked, his
face growing tender, she knelt on the
sod and pulled something out of the
ground. This something she seemed
to dust off with her handkerchief—
he could not see the object, but he
could see the flutter of the handker
chief; and when she rose the white
linen partly hid the thing in her hand.
Only partly, because when she passed
around the terrace wall the glow from
an electric lantern, in an arch, fell full
upon her and burnished a long, thin
blade ol steel.
He looked down on her from his un
lighted chamber; and suddenly she
looked up straight at the windows of
the room where she thought he was
sleeping; and smiled a dim, amused,
weary, tender smile. Then she sped
by, erect and light of foot; and the
deep shadow of the great gateway
took her. All he could see was the
moonlight on the bluish-green lawn;
and the white electric light on the
gleaming rubber-trees and dusty
He sat down. He clasped his hands
over his knee. He whistled softly a
little Spanish air. He laughed very
gently. "My dear little girl,” said he,
' I am going to marry you. You may
be swindled into helping a dozen mur
derers; but I am going to marry you!”
The Real Edwin Keatcham.
One Sunday after Mrs. Melville Win
ter and Archie came to Casa Fuerte,
Mr. Keatcham sent for the colonel.
There waa nothing unusual in such a
“Col. Winter, I Must Beg You Not to Let Those Persons in
th* Room
summons. From the beginning of his
illness he had shown a curious, inex
pressive desire for the soldier’s com
pany. He would have him sit in the
room, although too weak to talk to
him, supposing he wished to talk,
which was not at all sure. “I-like-to
see-him-just-sitting-there," he faltered
to his nurse; “can't-he-read-or-play-sol
Sometimes Winter would be con
scious that the feeble creature in the
bed, with the bluish-white face, was
staring at him. Whether the glassy
eyes beheld his figure or went beyond
him to unfinished colossal schemes
that might change the fate of a con
tinent, or drifted backward to the pov
erty-stricken home, the ferocious toil
and the unending self-denial of
Keatcham’s youth on the Pacific slope,
the dim gaze gave no clew. All that
was apparent was that it was always
on Winter, as he curled his legs under
his chair, wrote or knitted his brow
over rows of playing-cards.
At the very first, Keatchani'a mind
had wandered; he used to shrink from
imaginary people who were in the
room; he would try to talk to them,
distressing himself painfully, for he
was so weak that his nurses turned his
head on the pillow; he would feebly
motion them away. In such aberra
tions he would sometimes appeal, in
a changed, thin, childish voice, to the
obscure, toil-worn pioneer woman who
had died while he was a lad. “Mother,
I was a good boy; I always got up
when you called me, didn't I? I helped
you iron when the other boys were
playing—mother, please don’t let that
old woman stay and cry here!" Or he
would plead: “Mother, tell her, say
you tell her I didn’t know her son
would kill himself—I couldn’t tell—he
was a damn coward, anyhow—excuse
me, mamma, 1 didn't mean to swear,
but they make me so awful mad!”
There was a girl who came, some
times, from whose presence he
shrank; a girl he had never seen; nor,
indeed, had he ever known in the flesh
any of the shapes which haunted him.
They had lived; but never had his
eyes fallen on them. Nevertheless,
their presence was as real to him as
that of the people about him whom he
could hear and touch and see. It did
not take Winter's imagination long to
piece out the explanation of these ap
parltlons; they were specters of the
characters in those dramas of ruthless
conquest which Mercer had culled out
of newspaper “stories” and affidavits
and court reports and forced upon
Keatcham's attention. Miss Smith
helped him to the solution, although
her own Ignorance of Mercer's meth
od was puzzling. "How did he ever
know old Mrs. Ferris?” she said. "He
called her Ferris and he talks about
her funny dress—she always did wear
a queer little basque and full skirt aft
er ull the world went Into blouses—
but how did he ever come across her?
They had a place on the James that
had been In the family 100 years and
had to lose on account of the Tidewa
ter; and Nelaou Ferris blew his brains
“Don't you know how?” asked t^e
colonel. "Well, I’ll tell you my gue^
sometime. Who Is the girl who seems
to make him throw a fit so?"
“I’m not sure; I Imagine It is poor
Mabel Ray; there were two of them,
sisters; they made money out of their
Tidewater stock and went to New
York to visit some kin; and they got
scared when the stock fell and the
dividends stopped; and they sold out
at a great loss. They never did come
back; they had persuaded all their
kin to invest; and the stopping of the
dividends made it difficult for some of
the poor ones—Mabel said she couldn't
face her old aunts. She went on the
stage in New York. She was very
pretty; she wasn’t very strong. Any
way, you can Imagine the end of the
story. I saw her In the park last win
ter when Mrs. Winter was In New
York; she turned her face away—poor
Through Janet Smith s knowledge
of her dead sister's neighbors. Win
ter got a dozen pitiful records of the
wreckage of the Tidewater. “Mighty
interesting reading,” he thought,
grimly, "but hardly likely to make the
man responsible for them stuck on
himself!" Then he would look at the
drawn face on the pillow and listen to
the babblings of the boy who had no
childhood; and th« frown would melt
off his brow.
lie did not always talk to his moth
er when Ills mind wandered; several
times he addressed an invisible pres
ence as “Helen" and "Dear,” with an
accent of tenderness very strange on
those inflexible lips. When he talked
to this phantasm he was never angry
or distressed; his turgid scowl cleared;
the austere lines chiseling his cheeks
and brow faded; be looked years
younger. Hut for the most part, it was
to no unreal creature that he turned,
but to Col. Rupert Winter. He would
address him with punctilious civility,
but as one who was under some obli
gation to assist him, saying, for in
stance, "Col. Winter, 1 must beg you
not to let those persons in the room
again. They annoy ne. But you
needn't let Mercer know that. Please
attend to it ymisself, and get them
away. Miss Smith says you will. Ex
plain to them that when I get up I
will investigate their claims. I'm too
sick now!”
From Bad to Worse.
A miner In Scotland was visited by
a friend, and among the places of in
terest shown was the pit mouth. See
ing the cage lowered with the stout
steel rope, the friend exclaimed: “My
word! 1 shouldn't like to go down
there on that rope." “Why.'' ex
claimed the miter, Aw wadna Ilk
to gang doon there witkoot it! I»n
don News.
Cannot Boil Her.
New York physicians are worried
because of a hospital inmate whe has
been disseminating typhoid germs for
450 days, as it Is against the laws o£
New York stats to boil her.

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