Mr. Gryce demurred, casting a glance around the room, which at that moment interested him so deeply. At
this the man showed some excitement, and, breaking silence, said:
“Come! I have lighted on the guilty party. He is in a room upstairs.”
“He?” Mr. Gryce was evidently surprised at the pronoun.
“Yes; there can be no doubt about it. When you see him–but what is that? Is he coming down? I’m sure there’s
nobody else in the house. Don’t you hear footsteps, sir?”
Mr. Gryce nodded. Some one was certainly descending the stairs.
“Let us retreat,” suggested Styles. “Not because the man is dangerous, but because it is very necessary you
should see him before he sees you. He’s a very strange-acting man, sir; and if he comes in here, will be sure to
do something to incriminate himself. Where can we hide?”
Mr. Gryce remembered the little room he had just left, and drew the officer toward it. Once installed inside, he
let the curtain drop till only a small loophole remained. The steps, which had been gradually growing louder,
kept advancing; and presently they could hear the intruder’s breathing, which was both quick and labored.
“Does he know that any one has entered the house? Did he see you when you came upon him upstairs?”
whispered Mr. Gryce into the ear of the man beside him.
Styles shook his head, and pointed eagerly toward the opposite door. The man for whose appearance they
waited had just lifted the portière and in another moment stood in full view just inside the threshold.
Mr. Gryce and his attendant colleague both stared. Was this the murderer? This pale, lean servitor, with a tray
in his hand on which rested a single glass of water?
Mr. Gryce was so astonished that he looked at Styles for explanation. But that officer, hiding his own surprise,
for he had not expected this peaceful figure, urged him in a whisper to have patience, and both, turning toward
the man again, beheld him advance, stop, cast one look at the figure lying on the floor and then let slip the
glass with a low cry that at once changed to something like a howl.
“Look at him! Look at him!” urged Styles, in a hurried whisper. “Watch what he will do now. You will see a
murderer at work.”
And sure enough, in another instant this strange being, losing all semblance to his former self, entered upon a
series of pantomimic actions which to the two men who watched him seemed both to explain and illustrate the
crime which had just been enacted there.
With every appearance of passion, he stood contemplating the empty air before him, and then, with one hand
held stretched out behind him in a peculiarly cramped position, he plunged with the other toward a table from
which he made a feint of snatching something which he no sooner closed his hand upon than he gave a quick
side-thrust, still at the empty air, which seemed to quiver in return, so vigorous was his action and so evident
The reaction following this thrust; the slow unclosing of his hand from an imaginary dagger; the tottering of
his body backward; then the moment when with wide open eyes he seemed to contemplate in horror the result
of his own deed;–these needed no explanation beyond what was given by his writhing features and trembling
body. Gradually succumbing to the remorse or terror of his own crime, he sank lower and lower, until, though
with that one arm still stretched out, he lay in an inert heap on the floor.
CHAPTER II. 8″It is what I saw him do upstairs,” murmured Styles into the ear of the amazed detective. “He has evidently
been driven insane by his own act.”
Mr. Gryce made no answer. Here was a problem for the solution of which he found no precedent in all his