I slipped the card in my pocket, and went out.
It was still daylight, but there was a long walk before
me. Chestnut Street was across the river, in
the more aristocratic section. I had hauled lumber
there the first day of my work, and recalled its characteristics—long
rows of stone-front houses, with an occasional residence
standing alone, set well back from the street.
It was dark enough when I got there, and began seeking
the number. I followed the block twice in uncertainty,
so many of the houses were dark, but finally located
the one I believed must be 108. It was slightly
back from the street, a large stone mansion, surrounded
by a low coping of brick and with no light showing
anywhere. I was obliged to mount the front steps
before I could assure myself this was the place.
The street was deserted, except for two men talking
under the electric light at the corner, and the only
sound arose from the passing of a surface car a block
away. The silence and loneliness got upon my
nerves, but, without yielding, I followed the narrow
cement walk around the corner of the house.
Here it was dark in the shadow of the wall, yet one
window on the first floor exhibited a faint glow at
the edge of a closely drawn curtain. Encouraged
slightly by this proof that the house was indeed occupied,
I felt my way forward until I came to some stone steps,
and a door. I rapped on the wood three times,
my nerves tingling from excitement. There was
a moment’s delay, so that I lifted my hand again,
and then the door opened silently. Within was
like the black mouth of a cave, and I involuntarily
took a step backward.
“This you, Craig?”
“Yes,” I answered, half recognizing the
“All right then—come in. There
is nothing to fear, the floor is level.”
I stepped within, seeing nothing of the man, and the
door was closed behind me. The sharp click of
the latch convinced me it was secured by a spring
“Turn on the light,” said the voice at
my side sharply. Instantly an electric bulb
glowed dazzling overhead, and I blinked, about half
blinded by the sudden change.
THE CASE OF PHILIP HENLEY
It was a rather narrow hallway and, with the exception
of a thick carpet underfoot, unfurnished. Neale,
appearing somewhat more slender in evening clothes,
smiled at me genially, showing a gold-crowned tooth.
“Did not chance to hear your motor,” he
said easily, taking a cigarette case from his vest
pocket. “You are a little late; what was
it, tire trouble?”
“I came afoot,” I answered, not overly-cordial.
“It was farther across town than I supposed.”
“Well, you ’re here, and that is the main
point. Have a cigarette. No?” as
I shook my head. “All right, there are
cigars in the room yonder—the second door
to your left.”