Such an experience could not fail to emphasize Mr. Gryce’s interest in the case and heighten the determination
he had formed to probe its secrets and explain all its extraordinary features. Arrived at Headquarters, where
his presence was doubtless awaited with some anxiety by those who knew nothing of the cause of his long
detention, his first act was to inquire if Bartow, the butler, had come to his senses during the night.
The answer was disappointing. Not only was there no change in his condition, but the expert in lunacy who
had been called in to pass upon his case had expressed an opinion unfavorable to his immediate recovery.
Mr. Gryce looked sober, and, summoning the officer who had managed Bartow’s arrest, he asked how the
mute had acted when he found himself detained.
The answer was curt, but very much to the point.
“Surprised, sir. Shook his head and made some queer gestures, then went through his pantomime. It’s quite a
spectacle, sir. Poor fool, he keeps holding his hand back, so.”
CHAPTER V. 15Mr. Gryce noted the gesture; it was the same which Bartow had made when he first realized that he had
spectators. Its meaning was not wholly apparent. He had made it with his right hand (there was no evidence
that the mute was left-handed), and he continued to make it as if with this movement he expected to call
attention to some fact that would relieve him from custody.
“Does he mope? Is his expression one of fear or anger?”
“It varies, sir. One minute he looks like a man on the point of falling asleep; the next he starts up in fury,
shaking his head and pounding the walls. It’s not a comfortable sight, sir. He will have to be watched night
“Let him be, and note every change in him. His testimony may not be valid, but there is suggestion in every
movement he makes. To-morrow I will visit him myself.”
The officer went out, and Mr. Gryce sat for a few moments communing with himself, during which he took
out a little package from his pocket, and emptying out on his desk the five little spangles it contained,
regarded them intently. He had always been fond of looking at some small and seemingly insignificant object
while thinking. It served to concentrate his thoughts, no doubt. At all events, some such result appeared to
follow the contemplation of these five sequins, for after shaking his head doubtfully over them for a time, he
made a sudden move, and sweeping them into the envelope from which he had taken them, he gave a glance
at his watch and passed quickly into the outer office, where he paused before a line of waiting men.
Beckoning to one who had followed his movements with an interest which had not escaped the eye of this old
reader of human nature, he led the way back to his own room.
“You want a hand in this matter?” he said interrogatively, as the door closed behind them and they found
“Oh, sir–” began the young man in a glow which made his more than plain features interesting to
contemplate, “I do not presume—-”
“Enough!” interposed the other. “You have been here now for six months, and have had no opportunity as yet
for showing any special adaptability. Now I propose to test your powers with something really difficult. Are
you up to it, Sweetwater? Do you know the city well enough to attempt to find a needle in this very big
“I should at least like to try,” was the eager response. “If I succeed it will be a bigger feather in my cap than if
I had always lived in New York. I have been spoiling for some such opportunity. See if I don’t make the effort
judiciously, if only out of gratitude.”
“Well, we shall see,” remarked the old detective. “If it’s difficulty you long to encounter, you will be likely to
have all you want of it. Indeed, it is the impossible I ask. A woman is to be found of whom we know nothing
save that she wore when last seen a dress heavily bespangled with black, and that she carried in her visit to
Mr. Adams, at the time of or before the murder, a parasol, of which I can procure you a glimpse before you
start out. She came from, I don’t know where, and she went–but that is what you are to find out. You are not
the only man who is to be put on the job, which, as you see, is next door to a hopeless one, unless the woman
comes forward and proclaims herself. Indeed, I should despair utterly of your success if it were not for one
small fact which I will now proceed to give you as my special and confidential agent in this matter. When this
woman was about to disappear from the one eye that was watching her, she approached the curbstone in front
of Hudson’s fruit store on 14th Street and lifted up her right hand, so. It is not much of a clew, but it is all I
have at my disposal, except these five spangles dropped from her dress, and my conviction that she is not to
be found among the questionable women of the town, but among those who seldom or never come under the
eye of the police. Yet don’t let this conviction hamper you. Convictions as a rule are bad things, and act as a
CHAPTER V. 16hindrance rather than an inspiration.”
Sweetwater, to whom the song of the sirens would have sounded less sweet, listened with delight and
responded with a frank smile and a gay:
“I’ll do my best, sir, but don’t show me the parasol, only describe it. I wouldn’t like the fellows to chaff me if I
fail; I’d rather go quietly to work and raise no foolish expectations.”
“Well, then, it is one of those dainty, nonsensical things made of gray chiffon, with pearl handle and bows of
pink ribbon. I don’t believe it was ever used before, and from the value women usually place on such
fol-de-rols, could only have been left behind under the stress of extraordinary emotion or fear. The name of
the owner was not on it.”
“Nor that of the maker?