LOVERS AND A LETTER
At noon that day I telephoned to Margery.
"Come up," I said, "and bring the keys to the Monmouth Avenue house. I have some things to tell you, and—some things to ask you."
I met her at the station with Lady Gray and the trap. My plans for that afternoon were comprehensive; they included what I hoped to be the solution of the Aunt Jane mystery; also, they included a little drive through the park, and a—well, I shall tell about that, all I am going to tell, at the proper time.
To play propriety, Edith met us at the house. It was still closed, and even in the short time that had elapsed it smelled close and musty.
At the door into the drawing-room I stopped them.
"Now, this is going to be a sort of game," I explained. "It's a sort of button, button, who's got the button, without the button. We are looking for a drawer, receptacle or closet, which shall contain, bunched together, and without regard to whether they should be there or not, a small revolver, two military brushes and a clothes brush, two or three soft bosomed shirts, perhaps a half-dozen collars, and a suit of underwear. Also a small flat package about eight inches long and three wide."
"What in the world are you talking about?" Edith asked.
"I am not talking, I am theorizing," I explained. "I have a theory, and according to it the things should be here. If they are not, it is my misfortune, not my fault."
I think Margery caught my idea at once, and as Edith was ready for anything, we commenced the search. Edith took the top floor, being accustomed, she said, to finding unexpected things in the servants' quarters; Margery took the lower floor, and for certain reasons I took the second.
For ten minutes there was no result. At the end of that time I had finished two rooms, and commenced on the blue boudoir. And here, on the top shelf of a three-cornered Empire cupboard, with glass doors and spindle legs, I found what I was looking for. Every article was there. I stuffed a small package into my pocket, and called the two girls.
"The lost is found," I stated calmly, when we were all together in the library.
"When did you lose anything?" Edith demanded. "Do you mean to say, Jack Knox, that you brought us here to help you find a suit of gaudy pajamas and a pair of military brushes?"
"I brought you here to find Aunt Jane," I said soberly, taking a letter and the flat package out of my pocket. "You see, my theory worked out. Here is Aunt Jane, and there is the money from the Russia leather bag."
I laid the packet in Margery's lap, and without ceremony opened the letter. It began:
When Margery stopped reading, there was an amazed silence. Then we all three burst into relieved, uncontrolled mirth. The dear, little, old lady with her new independence and her sixty-five-year-old, romantic, starved heart!
Then we opened the packet, which was a sadder business, for it had represented Allan Fleming's last clutch at his waning public credit.
Edith ran to the telephone with the news for Fred, and for the first time that day Margery and I were alone. She was standing with one hand on the library table; in the other she held Aunt Jane's letter, half tremulous, wholly tender. I put my hand over hers, on the table.
"Margery!" I said. She did not stir.
"Margery, I want my answer, dear. I love you—love you; it isn't possible to tell you how much. There isn't enough time in all existence to tell you. You are mine, Margery—mine. You can't get away from that."
She turned, very slowly, and looked at me with her level eyes. "Yours!" she replied softly, and I took her in my arms.
Edith was still at the telephone.
"I don't know," she was saying. "Just wait until I see."
As she came toward the door, Margery squirmed, but I held her tight. In the doorway Edith stopped and stared; then she went swiftly back to the telephone.
"Yes, dear," she said sweetly. "They are, this minute."