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A Hoosier Chronicle by Meredith Nicholson

And he had abandoned hope of learning anything of Thatcher


As

Harwood entered the grounds the house loomed darkly before him. Most of the houses in this quarter were closed for the summer, but Dan assumed that there must be some sort of caretaker on the premises and he began patiently punching the front-door bell. Failing of any response, he next tried a side door and finally the extreme rear. He had begun to feel discouraged when, as he approached the front entrance for a second assault, he saw a light flash beyond the dark blinds. The door opened cautiously, and a voice gruffly bade him begone.

"I have a message for Mr. Thatcher; it's very important--"

"Mr. Thatcher not at home; nobody home," growled a voice in broken English. "You get right off dis place, quick!"

Dan thrust his walking-stick into the small opening to guard against having the door slammed in his face and began a parley that continued for several minutes with rising heat on the part of the caretaker. The man's rage at being unable to close the door was not without its humor; but Dan now saw, beyond the German's broad shoulders, a figure lurking within, faintly discernible from the electric lamps in a bronze sconce on the wall.

The reporter and the caretaker were making no progress in their colloquy and Dan was trying to catch a glimpse of the other man, who leaned against the wall quite indifferent to the struggle for the door. Dan

supposed him to be another servant, and he had abandoned hope of learning anything of Thatcher, when a drawling voice called out:--

"Open the door, Hans, and let the gentleman in: I'll attend to him."

Dan found himself face to face with a young man of about his own age, a slender young fellow, clad in blue overalls and flannel shirt. He lounged forward with an air of languor that puzzled the reporter. His dress was not wholly conclusive as to his position in the silent house; the overalls still showed their pristine folds, the shirt was of good quality and well-cut. The ends of a narrow red-silk four-in-hand swung free. He was clean-shaven save for an absurd little mustache so fair as to be almost indistinguishable. His blond hair was brushed back unparted from his forehead. Another swift survey of the slight figure disclosed a pair of patent-leather pumps. His socks, revealed at the ankles, were scarlet. Dan was unfamiliar with the menage of such establishments as this, and he wondered whether this might not be an upper servant of a new species peculiar to homes of wealth. He leaned on his stick, hat in hand, and the big blue eyes of the young man rested upon him with disconcerting gravity. A door slammed at the rear upon the retreating German, whom this superior functionary had dispatched about his business. At a moment when the silence became oppressive the young man straightened himself slightly and spoke in a low voice, and with amusement showing clearly in his eyes and about his lips,--

"You're a reporter."

"Yes; I'm from the 'Courier.' I'm looking for Mr. Thatcher."

"Suppose, suppose--if you're not in a great hurry, you come with me."

The pumps, with the scarlet socks showing below the overalls, turned at the end of the broad hall and began ascending the stairs. The young man's manner was perfectly assured. He had not taken his hands


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