THE MYSTERY OF
By CAROLYN WELLS
“The Vanishing of Betty Varian,” “The Mystery Girl,” “Anybody But Anne,” “The Come-Back,” “The Curved Blades,” “A Chain of Evidence,” “In the Onyx Lobby,” “The Luminous Face,” “Raspberry Jam,” etc.
A. L. BURT COMPANY
Publishers New York
Published by arrangement with J. B. Lippincott Company
Printed in U. S. A.
COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY STREET & SMITH CORPORATION,
UNDER TITLE OF “THE PARDON TREE”
COPYRIGHT, 1921, BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY
- CHAPTER PAGE
- I. The Letter that Said Come 9
- II. North Door and South Door 28
- III. One Last Argument 47
- IV. The Big Sycamore Tree 65
- V. The Bugle Sounded Taps 83
- VI. The Other Heir 101
- VII. Inquiries 119
- VIII. Confession 137
- IX. Counter-Confessions 155
- X. The Phantom Bugler 173
- XI. Fleming Stone 191
- XII. The Garage Fire 209
- XIII. Sara Wheeler 227
- XIV. Rachel’s Story 245
- XV. The Awful Truth 263
- XVI. Maida’s Decision 281
- XVII. Maida and Her Father 299
- XVIII. A Final Confession 317
THE MYSTERY OF
THE LETTER THAT SAID COME
As the character of a woman may be accurately deduced from her handkerchief, so a man’s mental status is evident from the way he opens his mail.
Curtis Keefe, engaged in this daily performance, slit the envelopes neatly and laid the letters down in three piles. These divisions represented matters known to be of no great interest; matters known to be important; and, third, letters with contents as yet unknown and therefore of problematical value.
The first two piles were, as usual, dispatched quickly, and the real attention of the secretary centred with pleasant anticipation on the third lot.
“Gee whiz, Genevieve!”
As no further pearls of wisdom fell from the lips of the engrossed reader of letters, the stenographer gave him a round-eyed glance and then continued her work.
Curtis Keefe was, of course, called Curt by his intimates, and while it may be the obvious nickname was brought about by his short and concise manner of speech, it is more probable that the abbreviation was largely responsible for his habit of curtness.
Anyway, Keefe had long cultivated a crisp, abrupt style of conversation. That is, until he fell in with Samuel Appleby. That worthy ex-governor, while in the act of engaging Keefe to be his confidential secretary, observed: “They call you Curt, do they? Well, see to it that it is short for courtesy.”
This was only one of several equally sound bits of advice from the same source, and as Keefe had an eye single to the glory of self-advancement, he kept all these things and pondered them in his heart.
The result was that ten years of association with Lawyer Appleby had greatly improved the young man’s manner, and though still brief of speech, his curtness had lost its unpleasantly sharp edge and his courtesy had developed into a dignified urbanity, so that though still Curt Keefe, it was in name only.
“What’s the pretty letter all about, Curtie?” asked the observant stenographer, who had noticed his third reading of the short missive.
“You’ll probably answer it soon, and then you’ll know,” was the reply, as Keefe restored the sheet to its envelope and took up the next letter.
Genevieve Lane produced her vanity-case, and became absorbed in its possibilities.
“I wish I didn’t have to work,” she sighed; “I wish I was an opera singer.”
“‘Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away