Depressed by the impenetrable wall of mystery along which he was groping, he returned to the living-room, raised one of the windows and unbolted the front door to make sure of an exit in case these strange, foolish Talbots should unexpectedly return. The shades were up and he shielded his light carefully with his cap as he passed rapidly about the room. It began to look very much as though Shaver would spend Christmas at Happy Hill Farm—a possibility that had not figured in The Hopper’s calculations.
Flashing his lamp for a last survey a letter propped against a lamp on the table arrested his eye. He dropped to the floor and crawled into a corner where he turned his light upon the note and read, not without difficulty, the following:—
I’ve just got back from father’s where I spent the last three hours talking over our troubles. I didn’t tell you I was going, knowing you would think it foolish, but it seemed best, dear, and I hope you’ll forgive me. And now I find that you’ve gone off with Billie, and I’m guessing that you’ve gone to your father’s to see what you can do. I’m taking the trolley into New Haven to ask Mamie Palmer about that cook she thought we might get, and if possible I’ll bring the girl home with me. Don’t trouble about me, as I’ll be perfectly safe, and, as you know, I rather enjoy prowling around at night. You’ll certainly get back before I do, but if I’m not here don’t be alarmed.
We are so happy in each other, dear, and if only we could get our foolish fathers to stop hating each other, how beautiful everything would be! And we could all have such a merry, merry Christmas!
The Hopper’s acquaintance with the epistolary art was the slightest, but even to a mind unfamiliar with this branch of literature it was plain that Shaver’s parents were involved in some difficulty that was attributable, not to any lessening of affection between them, but to a row of some sort between their respective fathers. Muriel, running into the house to write her note, had failed to see Roger’s letter in the studio, and this was very fortunate for The Hopper; but Muriel might return at any moment, and it would add nothing to the plausibility of the story he meant to tell if he were found in the house.