Behind The Table And Half-Way up The Wall Was a Picture

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Behind the table and half-way up the wall was a picture, the only large picture in the room. It was the portrait

of a young girl of an extremely interesting and pathetic beauty. From her garb and the arrangement of her hair,

it had evidently been painted about the end of our civil war. In it was to be observed the same haunting quality

of intellectual charm visible in the man lying prone upon the floor, and though she was fair and he dark, there

was sufficient likeness between the two to argue some sort of relationship between them. Below this picture

CHAPTER II. 6were fastened a sword, a pair of epaulettes, and a medal such as was awarded for valor in the civil war.

“Mementoes which may help us in our task,” mused the detective.

Passing on, he came unexpectedly upon a narrow curtain, so dark of hue and so akin in pattern to the draperies

on the adjoining walls that it had up to this time escaped his attention. It was not that of a window, for such

windows as were to be seen in this unique apartment were high upon the wall, indeed, almost under the

ceiling. It must, therefore, drape the opening into still another communicating room. And such he found to be

the case. Pushing this curtain aside, he entered a narrow closet containing a bed, a dresser, and a small table.

The bed was the narrow cot of a bachelor, and the dresser that of a man of luxurious tastes and the utmost

nicety of habit. Both the bed and dresser were in perfect order, save for a silver-backed comb, which had been

taken from the latter, and which he presently found lying on the floor at the other end of the room. This and

the presence of a pearl-handled parasol on a small stand near the door proclaimed that a woman had been

there within a short space of time. The identity of this woman was soon established in his eyes by a small but

unmistakable token connecting her with the one who had been the means of sending in the alarm to the police.

The token of which I speak was a little black spangle, called by milliners and mantua-makers a sequin, which

lay on the threshold separating this room from the study; and as Mr. Gryce, attracted by its sparkle, stooped to

examine it, his eye caught sight of a similar one on the floor beyond, and of still another a few steps farther

on. The last one lay close to the large centre-table before which he had just been standing.

The dainty trail formed by these bright sparkling drops seemed to affect him oddly. He knew, minute observer

that he was, that in the manufacture of this garniture the spangles are strung on a thread which, if once broken,

allows them to drop away one by one, till you can almost follow a woman so arrayed by the sequins that fall

from her. Perhaps it was the delicate nature of the clew thus offered that pleased him, perhaps it was a

recognition of the irony of fate in thus making a trap for unwary mortals out of their vanities. Whatever it was,

the smile with which he turned his eye upon the table toward which he had thus been led was very eloquent.

But before examining this article of furniture more closely, he attempted to find out where the thread had

become loosened which had let the spangles fall. Had it caught on any projection in doorway or furniture? He

saw none. All the chairs were cushioned and–But wait! there was the cross! That had a fretwork of gold at its

base. Might not this filagree have caught in her dress as she was tearing down the cross from the wall and so

have started the thread which had given him this exquisite clew?

Hastening to the spot where the cross had hung, he searched the floor at his feet, but found nothing to confirm

his conjecture until he had reached the rug on which the prostrate man lay. There, amid the long hairs of the

bearskin, he came upon one other spangle, and knew that the woman in the shiny clothes had stooped there

before him.


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