The gloved hand, p.1
The Gloved Hand, p.1Burton Egbert Stevenson
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Sparks fell upon the shoulders of two white-robedfigures (_page_ 9)]
THE GLOVED HAND
_A DETECTIVE STORY_
BY BURTON E. STEVENSON
Author of "The Holladay Case," "The Marathon Mystery," "The Mystery ofthe Boule Cabinet," etc.
_WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY THOMAS FOGARTY_
This story was published in _The Popular Magazine_ under the title of"The Mind Master."
BY THE SAME AUTHOR
The Marathon Mystery The Holladay Case That Affair at Elizabeth Affairs of State At Odds with the Regent Cadets of Gascony The Path of Honor A Soldier of Virginia The Heritage The Quest for the Rose of Sharon The Girl with the Blue Sailor The Mystery of the Boule Cabinet The Gloved Hand
I THE FALLING STAR II A STRANGE NEIGHBOUR III THE DRAMA IN THE GARDEN IV ENTER FREDDIE SWAIN V A CALL FOR HELP VI THE SCREAM IN THE NIGHT VII THE TRAGEDY VIII A FRESH ENIGMA IX FIRST STEPS X THE WHITE PRIEST OF SIVA XI SWAIN'S STORY XII GUESSES AT THE RIDDLE XIII FRANCISCO SILVA XIV THE FINGER-PRINTS XV THE CHAIN TIGHTENS XVI MISS VAUGHAN'S STORY XVII THE VERDICT XVIII BUILDING A THEORY XIX THE YOGI CONQUERS XX CHECKMATE! XXI THE VISION IN THE CRYSTAL XXII THE SUMMONS XXIII DEADLY PERIL XXIV KISMET! XXV THE BLOOD-STAINED GLOVE XXVI THE MYSTERY CLEARS XXVII THE END OF THE CASE
SPARKS FELL UPON THE SHOULDERS OF THE TWO WHITE FIGURES (page 9)
"I'M LAWYER ENOUGH TO KNOW," HE SAID, "THAT A QUESTION LIKE THAT IS NOT PERMISSIBLE"
"OH, MASTER RECEIVE ME!"
"I KNEW THAT I WAS LOST"
THE FALLING STAR
I was genuinely tired when I got back to the office, that Wednesdayafternoon, for it had been a trying day--the last of the series oftrying days which had marked the progress of the Minturn case; and myfeeling of depression was increased by the fact that our victory hadnot been nearly so complete as I had hoped it would be. Besides, therewas the heat; always, during the past ten days, there had been theheat, unprecedented for June, with the thermometer climbing higher andhigher and breaking a new record every day.
As I threw off coat and hat and dropped into the chair before my desk,I could see the heat-waves quivering up past the open windows from thefiery street below. I turned away and closed my eyes, and tried toevoke a vision of white surf falling upon the beach, of tall treesswaying in the breeze, of a brook dropping gently between green banks.
"Fountains that frisk and sprinkle The moss they overspill; Pools that the breezes crinkle,"...
and then I stopped, for the door had opened. I unclosed my eyes tosee the office-boy gazing at me in astonishment. He was a well-trainedboy, and recovered himself in an instant.
"Your mail, sir," he said, laid it at my elbow, and went out.
I turned to the letters with an interest the reverse of lively. Thewords of Henley's ballade were still running through my head--
"Vale-lily and periwinkle; Wet stone-crop on the sill; The look of leaves a-twinkle With windlets,"...
Again I stopped, for again the door opened, and again the office-boyappeared.
"Mr. Godfrey, sir," he said, and close upon the words, Jim Godfreyentered, looking as fresh and cool and invigorating as the fountainsand brooks and pools I had been thinking of.
"How do you do it, Godfrey?" I asked, as he sat down.
"Keep so fit."
"By getting a good sleep every night. Do you?"
I groaned as I thought of the inferno I called my bedroom.
"I haven't really slept for a week," I said.
"Well, you're going to sleep to-night. That's the reason I'm here. Isaw you in court this afternoon--one glance was enough."
"Yes," I assented; "one glance would be. But what's the proposition?"
"I'm staying at a little place I've leased for the summer up on thefar edge of the Bronx. I'm going to take you up with me to-night andI'm going to keep you there till Monday. That will give you fivenights' sleep and four days' rest. Don't you think you deserve it?"
"Yes," I agreed with conviction, "I do;" and I cast my mind rapidlyover the affairs of the office. With the Minturn case ended, there wasreally no reason why I should not take a few days off.
"You'll come, then?" said Godfrey, who had been following my thoughts."Don't be afraid," he added, seeing that I still hesitated. "You won'tfind it dull."
I looked at him, for he was smiling slightly and his eyes were verybright.
"No," he said, "for I've discovered certain phenomena in theneighbourhood which I think will interest you."
When Godfrey spoke in that tone, he could mean only one thing, and mylast vestige of hesitation vanished.
"All right," I said; "I'll come."
"Good. I'll call for you at the Marathon about ten-thirty. That's theearliest I can get away," and in another moment he was gone.
So was my fatigue, and I turned with a zest to my letters and to thearrangements necessary for a three days' absence. Then I went up to myrooms, put a few things into a suit-case, got into fresh clothes,mounted to the Astor roof-garden for dinner, and a little after tenwas back again at the Marathon. I had Higgins bring my luggage down,and sat down in the entrance-porch to wait for Godfrey.
Just across the street gleamed the lights of the police-station wherehe and I had had more than one adventure. For Godfrey was theprincipal police reporter of the _Record_; it was to him that journalowed those brilliant and glowing columns in which the latest mysterywas described and dissected in a way which was a joy alike to theintellect and to the artistic instinct. For the editorial policy ofthe _Record_, for its attitude toward politics, Wall Street, thetrusts, "society," I had only aversion and disgust; but whenever thetown was shaken with a great criminal mystery, I never missed anissue.
Godfrey and I had been thrown together first in the Holladay case,and that was the beginning of a friendship which had strengthened withthe years. Then came his brilliant work in solving the Marathonmystery, in which I had also become involved. I had appealed to himfor help in connection with that affair at Elizabeth; and he hadcleared up the remarkable circumstances surrounding the death of myfriend, Philip Vantine, in the affair of the Boule cabinet. So I hadcome to turn to him instinctively whenever I found myself confrontingone of those intricate problems which every lawyer has sometimes tountangle.
Reciprocally, Godfrey sometimes sought my assistance; but, of course,it was only with a very few of his cases that I had any personalconnection. The others I had to be content to follow, as the generalpublic did, in the columns of the Record, certain that it would be thefirst to reach the goal. Godfrey had a peculiar advantage over theother police reporters in that he had himself, years before, been amember of the detective force, and had very carefully fostered andextended the friendships made at that time. He was looked on rather asan insider, and he was always scrupulously careful to give the membersof the force every bit of credit they deserved--sometimes considerablymore than they deserved.
In consequence, he had the entree at times when other reporters wererigorously barred.
It was nearly eleven o'clock before Godfrey arrived that evening, butI was neither surprised nor impatient. I knew how many and unexpectedwere the demands upon his time; and I always found a lively interestin watching the comings and goings at the station across theway--where, alas, the entrances far exceeded the exits! Bu
"Jump in," he said, pushing out his clutch and pausing at the curb;and as I grabbed my suit-case and sprang to the seat beside him, helet the clutch in again and we were off. "No time to lose," he added,as he changed into high, and turned up Seventh Avenue.
At the park, he turned westward to the Circle, and then northwardagain out Amsterdam Avenue. There was little traffic, and we were soonskimming along at a speed which made me watch the cross-streetsfearfully. In a few minutes we were across the Harlem and runningnorthward along the uninteresting streets beyond. At this moment, itoccurred to me that Godfrey was behaving singularly as though he werehastening to keep an appointment; but I judged it best not todistract his attention from the street before us, and restrained thequestion which rose to my lips.
At last, the built-up portion of the town was left behind; we passedlittle houses in little yards, then meadows and gardens and strips ofwoodland, with a house only here and there. We were no longer on apaved street, but on a macadam road--a road apparently little used,for our lamps, sending long streamers of light ahead of us, disclosedfar empty stretches, without vehicle of any kind. There was no moon,and the stars were half-obscured by a haze of cloud, while along thehorizon to the west, I caught the occasional glow of distantlightning.
And then the sky was suddenly blotted out, and I saw that we wererunning along an avenue of lofty trees. The road at the left wasbordered by a high stone wall, evidently the boundary of an importantestate. We were soon past this, and I felt the speed of the carslacken.
"Hold tight!" said Godfrey, turned sharply through an open gateway,and brought the car to a stop. Then, snatching out his watch, heleaned forward and held it in the glare of the side-lamp. "Fiveminutes to twelve," he said. "We can just make it. Come on, Lester."
He sprang from the car, and I followed, realising that this was notime for questions.
"This way," he said, and held out a hand to me, or I should have losthim in the darkness. We were in a grove of lofty trees, and at thefoot of one of these, Godfrey paused. "Up with, you," he added; "anddon't lose any time," and he placed my hand upon the rung of a ladder.
Too amazed to open my lips, I obeyed. The ladder was a long one, and,as I went up and up, I could feel Godfrey mounting after me. I am notexpert at climbing ladders, even by daylight, and my progress was notrapid enough to suit my companion, for he kept urging me on. But atlast, with a breath of relief, I felt that I had reached the top.
"What now?" I asked.
"Do you see that big straight limb running out to your right?"
"Yes," I said, for my eyes were growing accustomed to the darkness.
"Sit down on it, and hold on to the ladder."
I did so somewhat gingerly, and in a minute Godfrey was beside me.
"Now," he said, in a voice low and tense with excitement, "look out,straight ahead. And remember to hold on to the ladder."
I could see the hazy mist of the open sky, and from the fitful lightalong the horizon, I knew that we were looking toward the west. Belowme was a mass of confused shadows, which I took for clumps ofshrubbery.
Then I felt Godfrey's hand close upon my arm.
"Look!" he said.
For an instant, I saw nothing; then my eyes caught what seemed to be anew star in the heavens; a star bright, sharp, steel blue--
"Why, it's moving!" I cried.
He answered with a pressure of the fingers.
The star was indeed moving; not rising, not drifting with the breeze,but descending, descending slowly, slowly.... I watched it with partedlips, leaning forward, my eyes straining at that falling light.
"Falling" is not the word; nor is "drifting." It did not fall and itdid not drift. It deliberately descended, in a straight line, at aregular speed, calmly and evenly, as though animated by some definitepurpose. Lower and lower it sank; then it seemed to pause, to hover inthe air, and the next instant it burst into a shower of sparks andvanished.
And those sparks fell upon the shoulders of two white-robed figures,standing apparently in space, their arms rigidly extended, their facesraised toward the heavens.
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