WHAT FRANK HEARD THROUGH THE CREVICE
Frank looked with some surprise at the woman who was looking through the slide of his door. He had expected to see Nathan Graves. She also regarded him with interest.
“I have brought you some supper,” she said.
Frank reached out and drew in a small waiter, containing a cup of tea and a plate of toast.
“Thank you,” he said. “Where is the man who brought me here?”
“He has gone out.”
“Do you know why he keeps me here in confinement?”
“No,” said the woman, hastily. “I know nothing. I see much, but I know nothing.”
“Are many prisoners brought here as I have been?” asked our hero, in spite of the woman’s refusal to speak.
“I can’t understand what object they can have in detaining me. If I were rich, I might guess, but I am poor. I am compelled to work for my daily bread, and have been out of a place for two weeks.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, in a low voice, rather to herself than to him. “But I cannot wait. I must not stand here. I will come up in fifteen minutes, and if you wish another cup of tea, or some toast, I will bring them.”
His confinement did not affect his appetite, for he enjoyed his tea and toast; and when, as she had promised, the woman came up, he told her he would like another cup of tea, and some more toast.
“Will you answer one question?” asked our hero.
“I don’t know,” answered the woman in a flurried tone.
“You look like a good woman. Why do you stay in such a house as this?”
“I will tell you, though I should do better to be silent. But you won’t betray me?”
“On no account.”
“I was poor, starving, when I had an application to come here. The man who engaged me told me that it was to be a housekeeper, and I had no suspicion of the character of the house—that it was a den of—”
She stopped short, but Frank understood what she would have said.
“When I discovered the character of the house, I would have left but for two reasons. First, I had no other home; next, I had become acquainted with the secrets of the house, and they would have feared that I would reveal them. I should incur great risk. So I stayed.”
Here there was a sound below. The woman started.
“Some one has come,” she said. “I must go down I will come up as soon as I can with the rest of your supper.”
“Thank you. You need not hurry.”
Our hero was left to ponder over what he had heard. There was evidently a mystery connected with this lonely house a mystery which he very much desired to solve. But there was one chance. Through the aperture in the closet he might both see and hear something, provided any should meet there that evening.