And now a crime had taken place in it! Mr. Gryce, in whose ears that word “strange” rang with quiet
insistence, had but to catch the eye of the inspector in charge to receive an order to investigate the affair. He
started at once, and proceeded first to the drug store. There he found the boy, whom he took along with him to
the house indicated in the message. On the way he made him talk, but there was nothing the poor waif could
add to the story already sent over the telephone. He persisted in saying that a lady (he did not say woman) had
come up to him while he was looking at some toys in a window, and, giving him a piece of money, had drawn
him along the street as far as the drug store. Here she showed him another coin, promising to add it to the one
he had already pocketed if he would run in to the telephone clerk with a message for the police. He wanted the
money, and when he grabbed at it she said that all he had to do was to tell the clerk that a strange crime had
been committed in the old house on —- Street. This scared him, and he was sliding off, when she caught him
again and shook him until his wits came back, after which he ran into the store and delivered the message.
There was candor in the boy’s tone, and Mr. Gryce was disposed to believe him; but when he was asked to
describe the lady, he showed that his powers of observation were no better than those of most of his class. All
he could say was that she was a stunner, and wore shiny clothes and jewels, and Mr. Gryce, recognizing the
lad’s limitations at the very moment he found himself in view of the house he was making for, ceased to
question him, and directed all his attention to the building he was approaching.
Nothing in the exterior bespoke crime or even disturbance. A shut door, a clean stoop, heavily curtained
windows (some of which were further shielded by closely drawn shades) were eloquent of inner quiet and
domestic respectability, while its calm front of brick, with brownstone trimmings, offered a pleasing contrast
to the adjoining buildings jutting out on either side, alive with signs and humming with business.
“Some mistake,” muttered Gryce to himself, as the perfect calm reigning over the whole establishment struck
him anew. But before he had decided that he had been made the victim of a hoax, a movement took place in
the area under the stoop, and an officer stepped out, with a countenance expressive of sufficient perplexity for
Mr. Gryce to motion him back with the hurried inquiry: “Anything wrong? Any blood shed? All seems quiet
The officer, recognizing the old detective, touched his hat. “Can’t get in,” said he. “Have rung all the bells.
Would think the house empty if I had not seen something like a stir in one of the windows overhead. Shall I
try to make my way into the rear yard through one of the lower windows of Knapp & Co.’s store, next door?”
“Yes, and take this boy with you. Lock him up in some one of their offices, and then break your way into this
house by some means. It ought to be easy enough from the back yard.”
The officer nodded, took the boy by the arm, and in a trice had disappeared with him into the adjoining store.
Mr. Gryce remained in the area, where he was presently besieged by a crowd of passers-by, eager to add their
curiosity to the trouble they had so quickly scented. The opening of the door from the inside speedily put an
end to importunities for which he had as yet no reply, and he was enabled to slip within, where he found
himself in a place of almost absolute quiet. Before him lay a basement hall leading to a kitchen, which, even
at that moment, he noticed to be in trimmer condition than is usual where much housework is done, but he
saw nothing that bespoke tragedy, or even a break in the ordinary routine of life as observed in houses of like
size and pretension.
Satisfied that what he sought was not to be found here, he followed the officer upstairs. As they emerged upon
the parlor floor, the latter dropped the following information: