Meredith Nicholson.

The House of a Thousand Candles online

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you’ll not have many guests,—in fact,”—he studied the
back of his hand intently,—“while that isn’t stipulated,
I doubt whether it was your grandfather’s intention
that you should surround yourself—”

“With boisterous companions!” I supplied the words
in my cheerfullest tone. “No; my conduct shall be exemplary,
Mr. Pickering,” I added, with affable irony.

He picked up a single sheet of thin type-written
paper and passed it across the table. It was a formal
acquiescence in the provisions of the will. Pickering
had prepared it in advance of my coming, and this assumption
that I would accept the terms irritated me.
Assumptions as to what I should do under given conditions
had always irritated me, and accounted, in a
large measure, for my proneness to surprise and disappoint
people. Pickering summoned a clerk to witness
my signature.

“How soon shall you take possession?” he asked. “I
have to make a record of that.”

“I shall start for Indiana to-morrow,” I answered.

“You are prompt,” he replied, deliberately folding in
quarters the paper I had just signed. “I hoped you
might dine with me before going out; but I fancy New
York is pretty tame after the cafés and bazaars of the

His reference to my wanderings angered me again;
for here was the point at which I was most sensitive.
I was twenty-seven and had spent my patrimony; I had
tasted the bread of many lands, and I was doomed to
spend a year qualifying myself for my grandfather’s
legacy by settling down on an abandoned and lonely
Indiana farm that I had never seen and had no interest
in whatever.

As I rose to go Pickering said:

“It will be sufficient if you drop me a line, say once
a month, to let me know you are there. The post-office
is Annandale.”

“I suppose I might file a supply of postal cards in the
village and arrange for the mailing of one every

“It might be done that way,” be answered evenly.

“We may perhaps meet again, if I don’t die of starvation
or ennui. Good-by.”

We shook hands stiffly and I left him, going down in
an elevator filled with eager-eyed, anxious men. I, at
least, had no cares of business. It made no difference
to me whether the market rose or fell. Something of
the spirit of adventure that had been my curse quickened
in my heart as I walked through crowded Broadway
past Trinity Church to a bank and drew the balance
remaining on my letter of credit. I received in
currency slightly less than one thousand dollars.

As I turned from the teller’s window I ran into the
arms of the last man in the world I expected to see.

This, let it be remembered, was in October of the
year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and one.



“Don’t mention my name an thou lovest me!” said
Laurance Donovan, and he drew me aside, ignored my
hand and otherwise threw into our meeting a casual
quality that was somewhat amazing in view of the fact
that we had met last at Cairo.

“Allah il Allah!”

It was undoubtedly Larry. I felt the heat of the
desert and heard the camel-drivers cursing and our
Sudanese guides plotting mischief under a window far

“Well!” we both exclaimed interrogatively.

He rocked gently back and forth, with his hands in
his pockets, on the tile floor of the banking-house. I
had seen him stand thus once on a time when we had
eaten nothing in four days—it was in Abyssinia, and
our guides had lost us in the worst possible place—with
the same untroubled look in his eyes.

“Please don’t appear surprised, or scared or anything,
Jack,” he said, with his delicious intonation. “I
saw a fellow looking for me an hour or so ago. He’s
been at it for several months; hence my presence on
these shores of the brave and the free. He’s probably
still looking, as he’s a persistent devil. I’m here, as
we may say, quite incog. Staying at an East-side lodging-house,
where I shan’t invite you to call on me.
But I must see you.”

“Dine with me to-night, at Sherry’s—”

“Too big, too many people—”

“Therein lies security, if you’re in trouble. I’m about
to go into exile, and I want to eat one more civilized
dinner before I go.”

“Perhaps it’s just as well. Where are you off for,—
not Africa again?”

“No. Just Indiana,—one of the sovereign American
states, as you ought to know.”


“No; warranted all dead.”

“Pack-train—balloon—automobile—camels,—how do
you get there?”

“Varnished ears. It’s easy. It’s not the getting there;
it’s the not dying of ennui after you’re on the spot.”

“Humph! What hour did you say for the dinner?”

“Seven o’clock. Meet me at the entrance.”

“If I’m at large! Allow me to precede you through
the door, and don’t follow me on the street please!”

He walked away, his gloved hands clasped lazily behind
him, lounged out upon Broadway and turned
toward the Battery. I waited until he disappeared, then
took an up-town car.

My first meeting with Laurance Donovan was in Constantinople,
at a café where I was dining. He got into
a row with an Englishman and knocked him down. It
was not my affair, but I liked the ease and definiteness
with which Larry put his foe out of commission. I
learned later that it was a way he had. The Englishman
meant well enough, but he could not, of course,
know the intensity of Larry’s feeling about the unhappy
lot of Ireland. In the beginning of my own acquaintance
with Donovan I sometimes argued with him, but I
soon learned better manners. He quite converted me to
his own notion of Irish affairs, and I was as hot an
advocate as he of head-smashing as a means of restoring
Ireland’s lost prestige.

My friend, the American consul-general at Constantinople,
was not without a sense of humor, and I
easily enlisted him in Larry’s behalf. The Englishman
thirsted for vengeance and invoked all the powers. He
insisted, with reason, that Larry was a British subject
and that the American consul had no right to give him
asylum,—a point that was, I understand, thoroughly
well-grounded in law and fact. Larry maintained, on
the other hand, that he was not English but Irish, and
that, as his country maintained no representative in
Turkey, it was his privilege to find refuge wherever it
was offered. Larry was always the most plausible of
human beings, and between us,—he, the American consul
and I,—we made an impression, and got him off.

I did not realize until later that the real joke lay in
the fact that Larry was English-born, and that his devotion
to Ireland was purely sentimental and quixotic.
His family had, to be sure, come out of Ireland some
time in the dim past, and settled in England; but when
Larry reached years of knowledge, if not of discretion,
he cut Oxford and insisted on taking his degree at
Dublin. He even believed,—or thought he believed,—
in banshees. He allied himself during his university
days with the most radical and turbulent advocates of
a separate national existence for Ireland, and occasionally
spent a month in jail for rioting. But Larry’s
instincts were scholarly; he made a brilliant record at
the University; then, at twenty-two, he came forth to
look at the world, and liked it exceedingly well. His
father was a busy man, and he had other sons; he
granted Larry an allowance and told him to keep away
from home until he got ready to be respectable. So,
from Constantinople, after a tour of Europe, we together
crossed the Mediterranean in search of the flesh-pots
of lost kingdoms, spending three years in the pursuit.
We parted at Cairo on excellent terms. He returned
to England and later to his beloved Ireland, for
he had blithely sung the wildest Gaelic songs in the
darkest days of our adventures, and never lost his love
for The Sod, as he apostrophized—and capitalized—his
adopted country.

Larry had the habit of immaculateness. He emerged
from his East-side lodging-house that night clothed
properly, and wearing the gentlemanly air of peace and
reserve that is so wholly incompatible with his disposition
to breed discord and indulge in riot. When we
sat down for a leisurely dinner at Sherry’s we were not,
I modestly maintain, a forbidding pair. We—if I may
drag myself into the matter—are both a trifle under
the average height, sinewy, nervous, and, just then,
trained fine. Our lean, clean-shaven faces were well-browned
—mine wearing a fresh coat from my days on
the steamer’s deck.

Larry had never been in America before, and the
scene had for both of us the charm of a gay and novel
spectacle. I have always maintained, in talking to
Larry of nations and races, that the Americans are the
handsomest and best put-up people in the world, and I
believe he was persuaded of it that night as we gazed
with eyes long unaccustomed to splendor upon the great
company assembled in the restaurant. The lights, the
music, the variety and richness of the costumes of the
women, the many unmistakably foreign faces, wrought
a welcome spell on senses inured to hardship in the
waste and dreary places of earth.

“Now tell me the story,” I said. “Have you done
murder? Is the offense treasonable?”

“It was a tenants’ row in Galway, and I smashed a
constable. I smashed him pretty hard, I dare say, from
the row they kicked up in the newspapers. I lay low
for a couple of weeks, caught a boat to Queenstown, and
here I am, waiting for a chance to get back to The Sod
without going in irons.”

“You were certainly born to be hanged, Larry. You’d
better stay in America. There’s more room here than
anywhere else, and it’s not easy to kidnap a man in
America and carry him off.”

“Possibly not; and yet the situation isn’t wholly tranquil,”
he said, transfixing a bit of pompano with his
fork. “Kindly note the florid gentleman at your right
—at the table with four—he’s next the lady in pink.
It may interest you to know that he’s the British

“Interesting, but not important. You don’t for a
moment suppose—”

“That he’s looking for me? Not at all. But he undoubtedly
has my name on his tablets. The detective
that’s here following me around is pretty dull. He lost
me this morning while I was talking to you in the
bank. Later on I had the pleasure of trailing him for
an hour or so until he finally brought up at the British
consul’s office. Thanks; no more of the fish. Let us
banish care. I wasn’t born to be hanged; and as I’m a
political offender, I doubt whether I can be deported if
they lay hands on me.”

He watched the bubbles in his glass dreamily, holding
it up in his slim well-kept fingers.

“Tell me something of your own immediate present
and future,” he said.

I made the story of my Grandfather Glenarm’s legacy
as brief as possible, for brevity was a definite law of our

“A year, you say, with nothing to do but fold your
hands and wait. It doesn’t sound awfully attractive to
me. I’d rather do without the money.”

“But I intend to do some work. I owe it to my grandfather’s
memory to make good, if there’s any good in

“The sentiment is worthy of you, Glenarm,” he said
mockingly. “What do you see—a ghost?”

I must have started slightly at espying suddenly
Arthur Pickering not twenty feet away. A party of
half a dozen or more had risen, and Pickering and a
girl were detached from the others for a moment.

She was young,—quite the youngest in the group
about Pickering’s table. A certain girlishness of height
and outline may have been emphasized by her juxtaposition
to Pickering’s heavy figure. She was in black,
with white showing at neck and wrists,—a somber contrast
to the other women of the party, who were arrayed
with a degree of splendor. She had dropped her fan,
and Pickering stooped to pick it up. In the second that
she waited she turned carelessly toward me, and our
eyes met for an instant. Very likely she was Pickering’s
sister, and I tried to reconstruct his family, which I had
known in my youth; but I could not place her. As she
walked out before him my eyes followed her,—the erect
figure, free and graceful, but with a charming dignity
and poise, and the gold of her fair hair glinting under
her black toque.

Her eyes, as she turned them full upon me, were the
saddest, loveliest eyes I had ever seen, and even in that
brilliant, crowded room I felt their spell. They were
fixed in my memory indelibly,—mournful, dreamy and
wistful. In my absorption I forgot Larry.

“You’re taking unfair advantage,” he observed quietly.
“Friends of yours?”

“The big chap in the lead is my friend Pickering,”
I answered; and Larry turned his head slightly.

“Yes, I supposed you weren’t looking at the women,”
he observed dryly. “I’m sorry I couldn’t see the object
of your interest. Bah! these men!”

I laughed carelessly enough, but I was already summoning
from my memory the grave face of the girl in
black,—her mournful eyes, the glint of gold in her hair.
Pickering was certainly finding the pleasant places in
this vale of tears, and I felt my heart hot against him.
It hurts, this seeing a man you have never liked succeeding
where you have failed!

“Why didn’t you present me? I’d like to make the
acquaintance of a few representative Americans,—I
may need them to go bail for me.”

“Pickering didn’t see me, for one thing; and for
another he wouldn’t go bail for you or me if he did.
He isn’t built that way.”

Larry smiled quizzically.

“You needn’t explain further. The sight of the lady
has shaken you. She reminds me of Tennyson:

“ ‘The star-like sorrows of immortal eyes—’

and the rest of it ought to be a solemn warning to you,
—many ‘drew swords and died,’ and calamity followed
in her train. Bah! these women! I thought you were
past all that!”

[Illustration: She turned carelessly toward me, and our eyes met for an instant.]

“I don’t know why a man should be past it at twenty-seven!
Besides, Pickering’s friends are strangers to me.
But what became of that Irish colleen you used to
moon over? Her distinguishing feature, as I remember
her photograph, was a short upper lip. You used
to force her upon me frequently when we were in

“Humph! When I got back to Dublin I found that
she had married a brewer’s son,—think of it!”

“Put not your faith in a short upper lip! Her face
never inspired any confidence in me.”

“That will do, thank you. I’ll have a bit more of that
mayonnaise if the waiter isn’t dead. I think you said
your grandfather died in June. A letter advising you
of the fact reached you at Naples in October. Has it
occurred to you that there was quite an interim there?
What, may I ask, was the executor doing all that time?
You may be sure he was taking advantage of the opportunity
to look for the red, red gold. I suppose you
didn’t give him a sound drubbing for not keeping the
cables hot with inquiries for you?”

He eyed me in that disdain for my stupidity which
I have never suffered from any other man.

“Well, no; to tell the truth, I was thinking of other
things during the interview.”

“Your grandfather should have provided a guardian
for you, lad. You oughtn’t to be trusted with money.
Is that bottle empty? Well, if that person with the fat
neck was your friend Pickering, I’d have a care of
what’s coming to me. I’d be quite sure that Mr. Pickering
hadn’t made away with the old gentleman’s
boodle, or that it didn’t get lost on the way from him
to me.”

“The time’s running now, and I’m in for the year.
My grandfather was a fine old gentleman, and I treated
him like a dog. I’m going to do what he directs in that
will no matter what the size of the reward may be.”

“Certainly; that’s the eminently proper thing for
you to do. But,—but keep your wits about you. If a
fellow with that neck can’t find money where money
has been known to exist, it must be buried pretty deep.
Your grandfather was a trifle eccentric, I judge, but
not a fool by any manner of means. The situation appeals
to my imagination, Jack. I like the idea of it,—
the lost treasure and the whole business. Lord, what a
salad that is! Cheer up, comrade! You’re as grim as
an owl!”

Whereupon we fell to talking of people and places we
had known in other lands.

We spent the next day together, and in the evening,
at my hotel, he criticized my effects while I packed, in
his usual ironical vein.

“You’re not going to take those things with you, I
hope!” He indicated the rifles and several revolvers
which I brought from the closet and threw upon the
bed. “They make me homesick for the jungle.”

He drew from its cover the heavy rifle I had used
last on a leopard hunt and tested its weight.

“Precious little use you’ll have for this! Better let
me take it back to The Sod to use on the landlords.
I say, Jack, are we never to seek our fortunes together
again? We hit it off pretty well, old man, come to think
of it,—I don’t like to lose you.”

He bent over the straps of the rifle-case with unnecessary
care, but there was a quaver in his voice that was
not like Larry Donovan.

“Come with me now!” I exclaimed, wheeling upon

“I’d rather be with you than with any other living
man, Jack Glenarm, but I can’t think of it. I have my
own troubles; and, moreover, you’ve got to stick it out
there alone. It’s part of the game the old gentleman
set up for you, as I understand it. Go ahead, collect
your fortune, and then, if I haven’t been hanged in the
meantime, we’ll join forces later. There’s no chap anywhere
with a pleasanter knack at spending money than
your old friend L. D.”

He grinned, and I smiled ruefully, knowing that we
must soon part again, for Larry was one of the few
men I had ever called friend, and this meeting had only
quickened my old affection for him.

“I suppose,” he continued, “you accept as gospel
truth what that fellow tells you about the estate. I
should be a little wary if I were you. Now, I’ve been
kicking around here for a couple of weeks, dodging the
detectives, and incidentally reading the newspapers.
Perhaps you don’t understand that this estate of John
Marshall Glenarm has been talked about a good bit.”

“I didn’t know it,” I admitted lamely. Larry had
always been able to instruct me about most matters; it
was wholly possible that he could speak wisely about my

“You couldn’t know, when you were coming from
the Mediterranean on a steamer. But the house out
there and the mysterious disappearance of the property
have been duly discussed. You’re evidently an object
of some public interest,”—and he drew from his pocket
a newspaper cutting. “Here’s a sample item.” He read:

“John Glenarm, the grandson of John Marshall Glenarm,
the eccentric millionaire who died suddenly in Vermont
last summer, arrived on the Maxinkuckee from Naples
yesterday. Under the terms of his grandfather’s
will, Glenarm is required to reside for a year at a curious
house established by John Marshall Glenarm near Lake
Annandale, Indiana.

This provision was made, according to friends of the
family, to test young Glenarm’s staying qualities, as he
has, since his graduation from the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology five years ago, distributed a considerable
fortune left him by his father in contemplating the
wonders of the old world. It is reported—”

“That will do! Signs and wonders I have certainly
beheld, and if I spent the money I submit that I got
my money back.”

I paid my bill and took a hansom for the ferry,—
Larry with me, chaffing away drolly with his old zest.
He crossed with me, and as the boat drew out into the
river a silence fell upon us,—the silence that is possible
only between old friends. As I looked back at the lights
of the city, something beyond the sorrow at parting
from a comrade touched me. A sense of foreboding, of
coming danger, crept into my heart. But I was going
upon the tamest possible excursion; for the first time
in my life I was submitting to the direction of another,
—albeit one who lay in the grave. How like my grandfather
it was, to die leaving this compulsion upon me!
My mood changed suddenly, and as the boat bumped at
the pier I laughed.

“Bah! these men!” ejaculated Larry.

“What men?” I demanded, giving my bags to a

“These men who are in love,” he said. “I know the
signs,—mooning, silence, sudden inexplicable laughter!
I hope I’ll not be in jail when you’re married.”

“You’ll be in a long time if they hold you for that.
Here’s my train.”

We talked of old times, and of future meetings, during
the few minutes that remained.

“You can write me at my place of rustication,” I
said, scribbling “Annandale, Wabana County, Indiana,”
on a card. “Now if you need me at any time I’ll come
to you wherever you are. You understand that, old man.

“Write me, care of my father—he’ll have my address,
though this last row of mine made him pretty hot.”

I passed through the gate and down the long train
to my sleeper. Turning, with my foot on the step, I
waved a farewell to Larry, who stood outside watching

In a moment the heavy train was moving slowly out
into the night upon its westward journey.



Annandale derives its chief importance from the fact
that two railway lines intersect there. The Chicago
Express paused only for a moment while the porter deposited
my things beside me on the platform. Light
streamed from the open door of the station; a few
idlers paced the platform, staring into the windows of
the cars; the village hackman languidly solicited my
business. Suddenly out of the shadows came a tall,
curious figure of a man clad in a long ulster. As I
write, it is with a quickening of the sensation I received
on the occasion of my first meeting with Bates. His
lank gloomy figure rises before me now, and I hear his
deep melancholy voice, as, touching his hat respectfully,
be said:

“Beg pardon, sir; is this Mr. Glenarm? I am Bates
from Glenarm House. Mr. Pickering wired me to meet
you, sir.”

“Yes; to be sure,” I said.

The hackman was already gathering up my traps,
and I gave him my trunk-checks.

“How far is it?” I asked, my eyes resting, a little regretfully,
I must confess, on the rear lights of the vanishing

“Two miles, sir,” Bates replied. “There’s no way
over but the hack in winter. In summer the steamer
comes right into our dock.”

“My legs need stretching; I’ll walk,” I suggested,
drawing the cool air into my lungs. It was a still, starry
October night, and its freshness was grateful after the
hot sleeper. Bates accepted the suggestion without
comment. We walked to the end of the platform, where
the hackman was already tumbling my trunks about,
and after we had seen them piled upon his nondescript
wagon, I followed Bates down through the broad quiet
street of the village. There was more of Annandale
than I had imagined, and several tall smoke-stacks
loomed here and there in the thin starlight.

“Brick-yards, sir,” said Bates, waving his hand at
the stacks. “It’s a considerable center for that kind of

“Bricks without straw?” I asked, as we passed a
radiant saloon that blazed upon the board walk.

“Beg pardon, sir, but such places are the ruin of
men,”—on which remark I based a mental note that
Bates wished to impress me with his own rectitude.

He swung along beside me, answering questions with
dogged brevity. Clearly, here was a man who had reduced
human intercourse to a basis of necessity. I was
to be shut up with him for a year, and he was not likely
to prove a cheerful jailer. My feet struck upon a graveled
highway at the end of the village street, and I
heard suddenly the lapping of water.

“It’s the lake, sir. This road leads right out to the
house,” Bates explained.

I was doomed to meditate pretty steadily, I imagined,
on the beauty of the landscape in these parts, and I
was rejoiced to know that it was not all cheerless prairie
or gloomy woodland. The wind freshened cud blew
sharply upon us off the water.

“The fishing’s quite good in season. Mr. Glenarm

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