The new doctor.
Quincy improved the first opportunity offered for safe travelling to make a visit to the city. He had several matters to attend to. First, he had not sent his letter to his friend, requesting him to make inquiries as to Obadiah Strout’s war record, for the great snowstorm had come the day after he had written it. Second, he was going to take Alice’s story to show to a literary friend, and see if he could secure its publication. And this was not all; Alice had told him, after he had finished copying the story she had dictated to him, that she had written several other short stories during the past two years.
In response to his urgent request, she allowed him to read her treasured manuscripts. The first was a passionate love story in which a young Spanish officer, stationed on the island of Cuba, and a beautiful young Cuban girl were the principals. It was entitled “Her Native Land,” and was replete with startling situations and effective tableaus. Quincy was delighted with it, and told Alice if dramatized it would make a fine acting play. This was, of course, very pleasing to the young author. Quincy was her amanuensis, her audience, and her critic, and she knew that in his eyes she was already a success.
She also gave him to read a series of eight stories, in a line usually esteemed quite foreign to feminine instincts. Alice had conceived the idea of a young man, physically weak and suffering from nervous debility, being left an immense fortune at the age of twenty-one. His money was well invested, and in company with a faithful attendant he travelled for fifteen years, covering every nook and corner of the habitable globe. At thirty-six he returned home much improved in health, but still having a marked aversion to engaging in any business pursuit. A mysterious case and its solution having been related to him, he resolved to devote his income, now amounting to a million dollars yearly, to amateur detective work. His great-desire was to ferret out and solve mysteries, murders, suicides, robberies, and disappearances that baffled the police and eluded their vigilant inquiry.
The titles that Alice had chosen for her stories were as mysterious, in their way, as the stories themselves. Arranged in the order of their writing, they were: Was it Signed? The Man Without a Tongue; He Thought He Was Dead; The Eight of Spades; The Exit of Mrs. Delmonnay; How I Caught the Fire-Bugs; The Hot Hand; and The Mystery of Unreachable Island.
When Quincy reached the city, his first visit was to his father’s office, but he found him absent. He was told that he was conducting a case in the Equity Session of the Supreme Court, and would not return to the office that day.
Instead of leaving his letter at his friend’s office, he went directly to the Adjutant-General’s office at the State House. Here he found that an acquaintance of his was employed as a clerk. He was of foreign birth, but had served gallantly through the war and had left an arm upon the battlefield. He made his request for a copy of the war record of Obadiah Strout, of the —th Mass. Volunteers. Then a thought came suddenly to him and he requested one also of the record of Hiram Maxwell of the same regiment.