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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

Fitch passed it on to his client I never knew


Aunt Sally; I did that the last time I was in Montgomery. I wanted to examine the abstract of title and be ready to close this sale if you and Sylvia approved of it."

"Well, well," Mrs. Owen said, in one of those irrelevances that adorned her conversation.

Dan knew what was in her mind. Since that night on Waupegan, blessed forever by Sylvia's tears, the letter found among Professor Kelton's papers had led him through long, intricate mazes of speculation. It was the torn leaf from a book that was worthless without the context; a piece of valuable evidence, but inadmissible unless supported and illuminated by other testimony.


Sylvia had been singularly silent, and Mrs. Owen's keen eyes saw that something was amiss. She stopped talking, as much as to say, "Now, if you young folks have anything troubling you, now's your time to come out with it."

An old clock on the stair landing boomed ten. Mrs. Owen stirred restlessly. Sylvia, sitting in a low chair by the fire, clasped her hands abruptly, clenched them hard, and spoke, turning her head slowly until her eyes rested upon Dan.

"Dan," she asked, "did you ever know--do you know now--what was in the letter you carried to Grandfather Kelton that first time I saw you--the time I

went to find grandfather for you?"

Dan glanced quickly at Mrs. Owen.

"Answer Sylvia's question, Daniel," the old lady replied.

"Yes; I learned later what it was. And Aunt Sally knows."

"Tell me; tell me what you know about it," commanded Sylvia gravely, and her voice was clear now.

Dan hesitated. He rose and stood with his arm resting on the mantel.

"It's all right, Daniel. Now that Sylvia has asked, she must know just what we know," said Mrs. Owen.

"The letter was among your grandfather's papers. It was an offer to pay for your education. It was an unsigned letter."

"But you know who wrote it?" asked Sylvia, not lifting her head.

"No; I don't know that," he replied earnestly; "we haven't the slightest idea."

"But how did you come to be the messenger? Who gave you the letter?" she persisted quietly.

"Daniel never told me that, Sylvia. But if you want to know, he must tell you. It might be better for you not to know; you must consider that. It can make no difference now of any kind."

"It may make a difference," said Sylvia brokenly, not lifting her head; "it may make a great deal of difference. That's why I speak of it; that's why I must know!"

"Go on, Daniel; answer Sylvia's question."

"Mr. Fitch gave it to me. It had been entrusted to him for delivery by a personal friend or a client: I never knew. He assured me that he had no idea what the letter contained; but he knew of course where it came from. He chose me for the errand, I suppose, because I was a new man in the office, and a comparative stranger in town. I remember that he asked me if I had ever been in Montgomery, as though to be sure I had no acquaintances there. I carried back a verbal answer--which was stipulated in the letter. The answer was 'No,' and in what way Mr. Fitch passed it on to his client I never knew."

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