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Francis Kelley
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 159 pages of information about Charred Wood.

“No one has lost, Mark, what he sincerely wishes to find.”

CHAPTER VI

WHO IS RUTH?

Leaving Father Murray at the rectory, Mark went on to the hotel.  Entering the lobby, he gave vent to a savage objurgation as he recognized the man speaking to the clerk.  Mark’s thoughts were no longer of holy things, for the man was no other than Saunders, from whom, for the past two weeks, Sihasset had been most pleasantly free.

“Damn!” he muttered.  “I might have known he’d return to spoil it all.”  Then, mustering what grace he could, Mark shook hands with the detective, greeting him with a fair amount of cordiality, for, personally, he rather liked the man.  “You here!” he exclaimed.  “I scarcely expected ever to see you again.”

Saunders grinned pleasantly, but still suspiciously, as he answered.  “I can’t say the same of you, Mr. Griffin.  I knew you would be here when I returned; fact is, I came back to see you.”

“Me?  How could I cart books all over the world with me?  What do you want to see me for?  No, no.  I am bad material for you to work on.  Better go back to the Padre.  He’s what you call an ‘easy mark,’ isn’t he?”

“Oh, he’s not so easy as you think, Griffin.  By the way, have you lunched?”

“No.”

“You will join me then?”

“Thanks; I will.”

“We can get into a corner and talk undisturbed.”

But lunch was disposed of before Saunders began.  When he did, it was right in the middle of things.

“Griffin,” he said, leaning over the table and looking straight at Mark, “Griffin, what’s your game?  Let’s have this thing out.”

“I am afraid, Saunders,” replied Mark, “that I must take refuge again in the picturesque slang which the Padre thinks so expressive:  I really don’t get you.”

“Oh, yes, you do.  What are you doing here?”

“Honestly, my good fellow,” Mark began to show a little pique, “you have remarkable curiosity about what isn’t your business.”

“But it is my business, Griffin.  I am not a book agent, and never was.”

It was Mark’s turn to smile.

“Which fact,” he said, “is not information to me.  I knew it long ago.  You are a detective.”

“I am.  Does that tell you nothing?”

“Nothing,” replied Mark, “except that you make up splendidly as a really decent sort of fellow.”

“Perhaps I am a decent sort, decent enough, anyhow; and perhaps I don’t particularly like my business, but it is my business.  Now, look here, Griffin, I want you to help instead of hindering me.  I have to ask this question of you:  What do you know about Ruth Atheson?  You see her every day.”

“So,” said Mark, annoyed, “the constable has not been around for nothing.”

“You have seen him then?”

“Everywhere.”

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