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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

He scrutinized Harwood carefully for a moment


Fitch

was sitting before the immaculate desk he affected (no one ever dared leave anything on it in his absence) when Harwood entered. The lawyer's chair was an enormous piece of furniture in which his small figure seemed to shrink and hide. His hands were thrust into his pockets, as they usually were, and he piped out "Good-Morning" in a high tenor voice.

"Shut the door, please, Mr. Harwood. What have you to report about your errand to Montgomery?"

He indicated with a nod the one chair in the room and Harwood seated himself.

"I found Professor Kelton without difficulty and presented the letter."

"You delivered the letter and you have told no one of your visit to Montgomery."

"No one, sir; no one knows I have been away from town. I handed the letter to the gentleman in his own house, alone, and he gave me his answer."

"Well?"

"_No_ is the answer."

Fitch polished his eyeglasses with his handkerchief. He scrutinized Harwood carefully for a moment, then asked:--

"Did the gentleman--whose name, by the way, you have forgotten--"

"Yes, sir; I have quite forgotten it," Harwood replied promptly.

"Did he show any

feeling--indignation, pique, as he read the letter?"

"No; but he read it carefully. His face showed pain, I should say, sir, rather than indignation. He gave his negative reply coldly--a little sharply. He was very courteous--a gentleman, I should say, beyond any question."

"I dare say. What kind of an establishment did he keep?"

"A small cottage, with books everywhere, right by the campus. A young girl let me in; she spoke of the professor as her grandfather. She went off to find him for me in the college library."

"A young person. What did she look like?"

"A dark young miss, with black hair tied with a red ribbon."

Fitch smiled.

"You are sure of the color, are you? This man lives there with his granddaughter, and the place was simple--comfortable, no luxuries. You had no conversation with him."

"I think we exchanged a word about the weather, which was warm."

Fitch smiled again. His was a rare smile, but it was worth waiting for.

"What did the trip cost you?"

Harwood named the amount and the lawyer drew a check book from his impeccable desk and wrote.

"I have added one hundred dollars for your services. This is a personal matter between you and me, and does not go on the office books. By the way, Mr. Harwood, what are you doing out there?" he asked, moving his head slightly toward the outer office.

"I'm reading law."

"Is it possible! The other youngsters in the office seem to be talking politics or reading newspapers most of the time. How do you manage to live?"


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