Dark Hollow eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 269 pages of information about Dark Hollow.

XXVIII

THE FIRST EFFORT

LEAVES FROM ALANSON BLACK’S NOTE-BOOK, FOUND BY REUTHER SOME MONTHS LATER, IN A VERY QUEER PLACE, VIZ.:  HER MOTHER’S JEWEL-BOX

At the New Willard.  Awaiting two articles—­Oliver’s picture and a few lines in the judge’s writing requesting his son’s immediate return.  Meanwhile, I have made no secret of my reason for being here.  All my inquiries at the desk have shown it to be particularly connected with a certain bill now before Congress, in which Shelby is vitally interested.

Perhaps I can further the interests of this bill in off minutes.  I am willing to.

The picture is here, as well as the name of the hotel where the two women are staying.  I have spent five minutes studying the face I must be able to recognise at first glance in any crowd.  It’s not a bad face; I can see his mother’s looks in him.  But it is not the face I used to know.  Trouble develops a man.

There’s a fellow here who rouses my suspicions.  No one knows him;- -I don’t myself.  But he’s strangely interested in me.  If he’s from Shelby—­in other words, if he’s from the detective bureau there, I’ve led him a chase to-day which must have greatly bewildered him.  I’m not slow, and I’m not above mixing things.  From the Cairo where our present congressman lives, I went to the Treasury, then to the White House, and then to the Smithsonian—­with a few newspaper offices thrown in, and some hotels where I took pains that my interviews should not be too brief.  When quite satisfied that by these various and somewhat confusing peregrinations I had thrown off any possible shadower, I fetched up at the Library where I lunched.  Then, as I thought the time had come for me to enjoy myself, I took a walk about the great building, ending up with the reading-room.  Here I asked for a book on a certain abstruse subject.  Of course, it was not in my line, but I looked wise and spoke the name glibly.  When I sat down to consult it, the man who brought it threw me a short glance which I chose to think peculiar.  “You don’t have many readers for this volume?” I ventured.  He smiled and answered, “Just sent it back to the shelves.  It’s had a steady reader for ten days.  Before that, nobody.”  “Is this your steady reader?” I asked, showing him the photograph I drew from my pocket.  He stared, but said nothing.  He did not have to.  In a state of strange satisfaction I opened the book.  It was Greek, if not worse, to me, but I meant to read a few paragraphs for the sake of appearances, and was turning over the pages in search of a promising chapter, when—­Talk of remarkable happenings!—­there in the middle of the book was a card,—­his card!—­left as a marker, no doubt, and on this card, an address hastily scribbled in lead pencil.  It only remained for me to find that the hotel designated in this address was a Washington one, for me to recognise in this simple but strangely opportune occurrence, a coincidence—­or, as you would say,—­an act of Providence as startling as those we read of in books.

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Dark Hollow from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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