“This is not a letter to be dropped in the mailbox,” said he. “You brought me a line here whose prompt delivery has prevented me from making a fool of myself to-night. You must do as much with this one. It is to be carried to its destination by yourself, given to the person whose name you will find written on it, and the answer brought back before you sleep, mind you, unless you snatch a wink or so on the cars. That it is night need not disturb you. It will be daylight before you arrive at the place to which this is addressed, and if you cannot get into the house at so early an hour, whistle three times like this—listen and one of the windows will presently fly up. You have had no trouble finding me; you’ll have no trouble finding him. When you return, hunt me up as you did to-night. Only you need not trouble yourself to look for me at Haberstow’s,” he added under his breath in a tone that was no doubt highly satisfactory to himself. “I shall not be there. And now, off with you!” he shouted. “You’ve your hundred dollars to make before daylight, and it’s already after two.”
Sweetwater, who had stolen a glimpse at the superscription on the letter he held, stumbled as he went out of the door. It was directed, as he had expected, to a Frederick, probably to the second one of whom Captain Wattles had spoken, but not, as he had expected, to a stranger. The name on the letter was Frederick Sutherland, and the place of his destination was Sutherlandtown.
“Who are you?”
The round had come full circle. By various chances and a train of circumstances for which he could not account, he had been turned from his first intention and was being brought back stage by stage to the very spot he had thought it his duty to fly from. Was this fate? He began to think so, and no longer so much as dreamed of struggling against it. But he felt very much dazed, and walked away through the now partially deserted streets with an odd sense of failure that was only compensated by the hope he now cherished of seeing his mother again, and being once more Caleb Sweetwater of Sutherlandtown.
He was clearer, however, after a few blocks of rapid walking, and then he began to wonder over the contents of the letter he held, and how they would affect its recipient. Was it a new danger he was bringing him? Instead of aiding Mr. Sutherland in keeping his dangerous secret, was he destined to bring disgrace upon him, not only by his testimony before the coroner, but by means of this letter, which, whatever it contained, certainly could not bode good to the man from whom it was designed to wrest two thousand five hundred dollars?