“Spencer,” Mr. Holcombe would say—“Spencer shows that every occurrence is the inevitable result of what has gone before, and carries in its train an equally inevitable series of results. Try to interrupt this chain in the smallest degree, and what follows? Chaos, my dear sir, chaos.”
“We see that at the store,” Mr. Reynolds would say. “Accustom a lot of women to a silk sale on Fridays and then make it toothbrushes. That’s chaos, all right.”
Well, Mr. Holcombe came in that night about ten o’clock, and I told him Ladley was back. He was almost wild with excitement; wanted to have the back parlor, so he could watch him through the keyhole, and was terribly upset when I told him there was no keyhole, that the door fastened with a thumb bolt. On learning that the room was to be papered the next morning, he grew calmer, however, and got the paper-hanger’s address from me. He went out just after that.
Friday, as I say, was very quiet. Mr. Ladley moved to the back parlor to let the paper-hanger in the front room, smoked and fussed with his papers all day, and Mr. Holcombe stayed in his room, which was unusual. In the afternoon Molly Maguire put on the striped fur coat and went out, going slowly past the house so that I would be sure to see her. Beyond banging the window down, I gave her no satisfaction.
At four o’clock Mr. Holcombe came to my kitchen, rubbing his hands together. He had a pasteboard tube in his hand about a foot long, with an arrangement of small mirrors in it. He said it was modeled after the something or other that is used on a submarine, and that he and the paper-hanger had fixed a place for it between his floor and the ceiling of Mr. Ladley’s room, so that the chandelier would hide it from below. He thought he could watch Mr. Ladley through it; and as it turned out, he could.
“I want to find his weak moment,” he said excitedly. “I want to know what he does when the door is closed and he can take off his mask. And I want to know if he sleeps with a light.”
“If he does,” I replied, “I hope you’ll let me know, Mr. Holcombe. The gas bills are a horror to me as it is. I think he kept it on all last night. I turned off all the other lights and went to the cellar. The meter was going around.”
“Fine!” he said. “Every murderer fears the dark. And our friend of the parlor bedroom is a murderer, Mrs. Pitman. Whether he hangs or not, he’s a murderer.”
The mirror affair, which Mr. Holcombe called a periscope, was put in that day and worked amazingly well. I went with him to try it out, and I distinctly saw the paper-hanger take a cigarette from Mr. Ladley’s case and put it in his pocket. Just after that, Mr. Ladley sauntered into the room and looked at the new paper. I could both see and hear him. It was rather weird.
“God, what a wall-paper!” he said.