“That,” he muttered, “is probably the reason he didn’t arrest me at the station.”
Bobby, however, had no thought of escape. He was impatient to reach the Cedars where he might learn all that Howells hadn’t told him about his grandfather’s death.
A high wooden fence straggled through the forest. The driveway swung from the road through a broad gateway. The gate stood open. Bobby remembered that it had been old Blackburn’s habit to keep it closed. He entered and hurried among the trees to the edge of the lawn in the centre of which the house stood.
Feeling as guilty as the detective thought him, he paused there and examined the house for some sign of life. At first it seemed as dead as the forest stripped by autumn—almost as gloomy and arid as the wilderness which straggled close about it. He had no eye for the symmetry of its wings which formed the court in the centre of which an abandoned fountain stood. He studied the windows, picturing Katherine alone, surrounded by the complications of this unexpected tragedy.
His feeling of an inimical watchfulness persisted. A clicking sound swung him back to the house. The front door had been opened, and in the black frame of the doorway, as he looked, Katherine and Graham appeared, and he knew the resolution of his last doubt was at hand.
Katherine had thrown a cloak over her graceful figure. Her sunny hair strayed in the wind, but her face, while it had lost nothing of its beauty, projected even at this distance a sense of weariness, of anxiety, of utter fear.
Bobby was grateful for Graham’s presence. It was like the man to assume his responsibilities, to sacrifice himself in his service. He straightened. He must meet these two. Through his own wretched appearance and position he must develop for Katherine more clearly than ever Graham’s superiority. He stepped out, calling softly:
She started. She turned in his direction and came swiftly toward him. She spread her hands.
“Bobby! Bobby! Where have you been?”
There were tears in her eyes. They were like tears that have been too long coming. He took her hands. Her fingers were cold. They twitched in his.
“Look at me, Katherine,” he said hoarsely. “I’m sorry.”
Graham came up. He spoke with apparent difficulty.
“You’ve not been home. Then what happened last night? Quick! Tell us what you did—everything.”
“I’ve seen the detective,” he answered. “He’s told you, too? Be careful. I think he’s back there, watching and listening.”
Katherine freed her hands. The tears had dried. She shook a little.
“Then you were at the station,” she said. “You must have come from New York, but I tried so hard to get you there. For hours I telephoned and telegraphed. Then I got Hartley. Come away from the trees so we can talk without—without being overheard.”