“I know,” muttered Mr. Gryce. He did know, everybody knew, that this house, once the seat of one of New
York’s most aristocratic families, was inhabited at present by a Mr. Adams, noted alike for his more than
common personal attractions, his wealth, and the uncongenial nature of his temperament, which precluded all
association with his kind. It was this knowledge which had given zest to this investigation. To enter the house
of such a man was an event in itself: to enter it on an errand of life and death–Well, it is under the inspiration
of such opportunities that life is reawakened in old veins, especially when those veins connect the heart and
brain of a sagacious, if octogenarian, detective.
The hall in which they now found themselves was wide, old-fashioned, and sparsely furnished in the ancient
manner to be observed in such time-honored structures. Two doors led into this hall, both of which now stood
open. Taking advantage of this fact, they entered the nearest, which was nearly opposite the top of the
staircase they had just ascended, and found themselves in a room barren as a doctor’s outer office. There was
nothing here worth their attention, and they would have left the place as unceremoniously as they had entered
it if they had not caught glimpses of richness which promised an interior of uncommon elegance, behind the
half-drawn folds of a portière at the further end of the room.
Advancing through the doorway thus indicated, they took one look about them and stood appalled. Nothing in
their experience (and they had both experienced much) had prepared them for the thrilling, the solemn nature
of what they were here called upon to contemplate.
Shall I attempt its description?
A room small and of circular shape, hung with strange tapestries relieved here and there by priceless curios,
and lit, although it was still daylight, by a jet of rose-colored light concentrated, not on the rows and rows of
books around the lower portion of the room, or on the one great picture which at another time might have
drawn the eye and held the attention, but on the upturned face of a man lying on a bearskin rug with a dagger
in his heart and on his breast a cross whose golden lines, sharply outlined against his long, dark, swathing
garment, gave him the appearance of a saint prepared in some holy place for burial, save that the dagger spoke
of violent death, and his face of an anguish for which Mr. Gryce, notwithstanding his lifelong experience,
found no name, so little did it answer to a sensation of fear, pain, or surprise, or any of the emotions usually
visible on the countenances of such as have fallen under the unexpected stroke of an assassin.