“Doctor,” she said, “I think I ought to tell you something. Last night and the night before, attempts were made to enter this house. Once an intruder actually got in and was frightened away by Lizzie at the top of that staircase.” She indicated the alcove stairs. “And twice I have received anonymous communications threatening my life if I did not leave the house and go back to the city.”
Dale rose from her settee, startled.
“I didn’t know that, Auntie! How dreadful!” she gasped.
Instantly Miss Cornelia regretted her impulse of confidence. She tried to pass the matter off with tart humor.
“Don’t tell Lizzie,” she said. “She’d yell like a siren. It’s the only thing she does like a siren, but she does it superbly!”
For a moment it seemed as if Miss Cornelia had succeeded. The Doctor smiled; Dale sat down again, her expression altering from one of anxiety to one of amusement. Miss Cornelia opened her lips to dilate further upon Lizzie’s eccentricities.
But just then there was a splintering crash of glass from one of the French windows behind her!
DETECTIVE ANDERSON TAKES CHARGE
“Somebody smashed a windowpane!”
“And threw in a stone!”
“Wait a minute, I’ll—” The Doctor, all alert at once, ran into the alcove and jerked at the terrace door.
“It’s bolted at the top, too,” called Miss Cornelia. He nodded, without wasting words on a reply, unbolted the door and dashed out into the darkness of the terrace. Miss Cornelia saw him run past the French windows and disappear into blackness. Meanwhile Dale, her listlessness vanished before the shock of the strange occurrence, had gone to the broken window and picked up the stone. It was wrapped in paper; there seemed to be writing on the paper. She closed the terrace door and brought the stone to her aunt.
Miss Cornelia unwrapped the paper and smoothed out the sheet.
Two lines of coarse, round handwriting sprawled across it:
Take warning! Leave this house at
once! It is threatened with
disaster which will involve you if you remain!
There was no signature.
“Who do you think wrote it?” asked Dale breathlessly.
Miss Cornelia straightened up like a ramrod—indomitable.
“A fool—that’s who! If anything was calculated to make me stay here forever, this sort of thing would do it!”
She twitched the sheet of paper angrily.
“But—something may happen, darling!”
“I hope so! That’s the reason I—”
She stopped. The doorbell was ringing again—thrilling, insistent. Her niece started at the sound.
“Oh, don’t let anybody in!” she besought Miss Cornelia as Billy came in from the hall with his usual air of walking on velvet.