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This time there was no objection taken; Mr. Bagot
was silenced if not convinced, and Miss Bagot was
bubbling with excitement as she led the way.

"You will excuse me if I am rude," whispered Char-
mian to the lady; "I hardly know what I'm doing when
I'm on a job like this. I am regularly afire."

Miss Bagot murmured some sympathetic words of
respect, and opened the door of a room.

"It was here," she explained.

"Ah!" observed Lord Francis, and instantly sprang
at the window, examining the blind. He also looked
under the bed, and tapped the walls; finally he carefully
inspected the mirror.

Miss Bagot watched him with admiration, which was
enhanced by his exclamations and gestures. Unfor-
tunately Charmian had not yet determined at what
point his investigations should begin; yet he desired
not to disappoint his client, and he cried, "Ah!" or
"Certainly," or nodded, or raised his eyebrows at in-
tervals in the course of his inspection.

"Do — do — you think you can find out?" inquired
Miss Bagot eagerly, when at length he came to a
pause.

"Madam," said he coldly, remembering the best
models in time, "I never promise anything."

254



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

"Oh, but you said you could," cried the girl in dis-
may.

"Quite so; yes, I was thinking of something else,"
said Charmian, hurriedly, and sat down in a flurry
upon the bed with his note-book to cover his confusion.

"Now let us see. Where were we? Oh, who was
here on the 7th?"

"Well, you see, it was a small dinner-party," cried
Miss Bagot, now reassured; "and besides ourselves
there were Mr. and Mrs. Shaw-Bingham, and Aunt
Mary (Mrs. Kelway is her name), and Mr. Granton."

"Ha!" said Charmian. "Addresses?" He set down
these. "Now, who are these people?"

"Oh, it couldn't be any of them!" cried Miss Bagot.
emphatically; "we've known them all our lives."

"Excuse me. my dear lady, you know what I have
told you — the most unlikely is the most certain.
Well, now servants?"

"They've all been with us more than five years, ex-
cept John: he's new. But I don't suspect any one.
Only John's — well, we don't much care for him."

"Ah!" reflected Charmian, "prejudice. A good wo-
man's reason, forsooth — suspects him because she
doesn't like him." But aloud he said, "Oh, we'll catch
him, never fear. I have never yet had a failure. And,
by the way, not a word of this to any one."

"Oh, no," said Miss Bagot eagerly; "not a soul
knows, except, of course, that the necklace has been
lost."

"Good," said Charmian; "I'll look in again this
evening."

"But — but we have a party this evening," said she,
with some hesitation.

"All the better," said Charmian. "Better chance of
catching him."

Vol. 18—17 ^-'-"^



COMEDY

He snapped the locks of his note-book, and took his
departure.

At his club in the afternoon he spent an hour endea-
voring to decipher the mysterious words and 'hiero-
glyphics he found in this book under the dignified
heading, "Notes of a conversation with Richard Bagot
of Clayton Square . . . Do. of a conversation .with
Miss Josephine Bagot, same address." Unhappily he
could make out nothing much, nor did he see his way
to discover the thief. Yet the problem interested his
excitable and frivolous mind, and he abandoned a din-
ner party to pursue his researches at the Bagots'
house that evening.

Miss Bagot looked extremely pretty, but also anxious
and timid. She glanced at him with apprehension.

"It's all right," he whispered; "no one will take me
for what I am in this disguise. I'll put my finger on
the rascal."

"But it can't be one of the guests," said Miss Bagot
in distress. "It really "

"Oh, you never know," said he, cheerfully, "you leave
it to me."

He had an idea by this time which inspirited him,
and the result was that with great reluctance Miss
Bagot was persuaded to leave on her dressing-table a
valuable ring.

"Tempt him," said he: "reconstruct the opportunity.
It is a theory of my own, and I've often seen it come
ofT."

So the trap was baited, and Charmian prepared to
watch. Presently he noticed an old stout lady issue
from the drawing-room and slowly drag herself up-
stairs. His expectations rose high when she stopped
on the second floor and tried the handle of a door
gently. It was Miss Bagot's room.

Charmian slipped from his hiding-place stealthily,

256



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

and approached the door through which the stout lady
had vanished. He peeped in, and saw her pause be-
fore the table. His heart bounded; his simple trick
had succeeded; for real originality, he reflected, trust
a person of inspiration, not the staid and mechanical
professional. The diamonds instantly fascinated the
lady; she reached forth a hand, diffidently, and sud-
denfy snatched up the ring. The act was enough for
Charmian. He entered complacently.

"Pardon me," he said, "but I have been a witness."

"Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself to con-
fess it," said the old lady, who had started on his en-
trance with a cry.

"It is most unfortunate," said Charmian benignly.

"I should think so," declared the old lady, eyeing him
with ironical calm. "What are you doing in this bed-



room



"My dear madam, precisely what I was to ask you.
You have anticipated me."

"It seems to me I did well," responded the old lady
with significant emphasis.

"If you refer to your late act. it seems to me that
you might in one sense be said to have done so — very,"
assented Charmian cordially. "But really, you know,
my profession obliges me to take the one course. I
will spare you all I can."

"Spare me!" she echoed angrily.

"Certainly." said Charmian; "only Mr. and Miss
Bagot shall see you."

The old lady glared at him. "I know not what sort
of madman you are, but I do not choose to be alone
with you longer," she said with growing choler.

"Naturally." said Charmian, soothingly; "but in the
circumstances "

She approached with such menace in her face that he
gave way, and went hurriedly to the door, which he

257



COMEDY

shut and locked. There was a scream of rage from
within.

"Lord!" he cried, "she'll have the door down," and
perceiving a figure in the hall below, he hailed it
through the balusters.

The man appeared and answered as a servant. "Hi!
you: is it John?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," said John.

"Well, I've got some one in here, explained Char-
mian, "and I want you to fetch Mr. Bagot and Miss
Bagot at once, d'ye hear?"

"Yes, sir," said John, politely, "certainly, sir." —
and he disappeared, to reappear presently with the lady
and gentleman, both in a condition of evident excite-
ment.

"I've got her — I've got her," said Charmian, tri-
umphantly.

"You mean him," said Miss Bagot.

"No, it's her," explained Charmian.

"This is very awkward, very awkward," murmured
Mr. Bagot.

"You're sure you haven't made a mistake?" sug-
gested Miss Bagot.

"Indeed, no," said Charmian; "put your ear to that
keyhole, and you'll hear the most awful language. At
least, I mean you, Mr. Bagot."

"Thanks I . . . . Well, we had better perhaps inter-
view the — er — thief," said Mr. Bagot, gathering his
wits.

Charmian unlocked the door and threw it open.

"Be prepared," he warned them.

"Aunt Mary!" said both sister and brother together
in amazement.

"Quite so !" exclaimed the stout old lady, who was
very red in the face, "and perhaps you'll be good
enough to explain how that lunatic comes to be in your

258



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

house, not to speak of Josephine's bedroom, where I
caught him?"

"Where you caught him?" said Charmian; "but "

"This is Mrs. Kelway, aunt upon the late Mrs.
Bagot's side," said Mr. Bagot severely. "Perhaps you
will explain how you come to have locked our aunt up,
Mr. Graves?"

"Oh, Lord!" cried poor Charmian, "but I saw her
steal your ring, Miss Bagot."

"The ring," said Mrs. Kelway, with ostentatious
calm, "that I gave my niece Josephine a month ago on
her twenty-first birthday, and which I regret to see has
lost one stone, which I intended to have re-set."

Charmian could think of nothing. He remarked
with feebleness, "I thought you weren't more than
twenty-one, Josephine — Miss Bagot, I mean."

"Perhaps you will kindly explain," repeated Mr.
Bagot angrily. Miss Bagot looked most distressed.

"If he doesn't I shall remember this in my will," said
Mrs. Kelway in a most threatening voice.

Mr. Bagot's agitation increased, and he made a step
toward Charmian, but that supple young man had a
sudden flight of fancy.

"I will explain everything," he said, with a return of
his usual confident manner, "and in anticipation, let me
premise that I apologize. I told you, Miss Bagot, that
I had a theory. I have it still. These little affairs are
not obvious. I took a liberty, madam," to Mrs. Kel-
way with a ceremonious bow, "but it was my only
chance."

"I'd like to know what all this means, young man,"
said that lady significantly.

"You shall," said Charmian, bowing again. "I am
coming to that, but you will excuse me if I don't take
you into my confidence entirely. Suffice it to say
that Miss Bagot has lost a valuable piece of jewelry, a

259



r. ^'jim^trssumf^^i^-j;:^



COMEDY

necklace, and that part of my scheme to discover the
thief was to lock you up."

"May I ask why?" inquired Mr. Bagot in bewilder-
ment.

"Don't you see," said Charmian, in astonishment, "to
make a feint. The real thief is below, and "

"Good gracious, Richard! you don't mean to say that
you have a thief among your guests!" cried Mrs. Kel-
way, startled out of her indignation.

"You've hit it, ma'am," said Charmian, wondering
in that pause how soon he could get out of the house.

"Then it seems to me that you had just better go and
bring him up, if that's what your business is," said Mrs.
Kelway grimly.

"I will, I will," said Charmian, with alacrity, and
hastened out of the room, stumbling over John, who
begged pardon and drew himself up stiffly.

"John," said Charmian sadly, "I can see you're an ac-
tive fellow. I want your help. I'm going to take you
into my confidence. Who was in the house when Miss
Bagot lost her necklace?"

"Mr. and Mrs. Shaw-Bingham, sir, Mrs. Kelway and
Mr. Granton," said John, promptly.

"Quite so, quite so," said Charmian. "Well, John, I
think I'll be going. I'm not equal to the strain,
and "

"Excuse me, are you the gentleman that's come to
look into that little matter?" asked John.

"I am," assented Charmian, with no readiness.

"I thought you was," explained John, confidentially;
"I seen through you the first minute. I knew you
weren't no regular gentleman."

"Your perspicuity does you credit, John," said Char-
mian, smiling weakly.

"Hanged if I don't believe the old girl done it after

260



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

all," said John, with emphasis: "she's always on the
pry."

"She's a tough customer, John, I admit, but there
are several obstacles in the way of your theory. Well,
I'm not going to be beaten. I don't leave this house
till I lay my hands on the right person."

"I'm sure we'll all be willing to 'ave our boxes
searched," observed John, respectfully.

''Quite right — not a bad idea," assented Charmian;
"meanwhile, I want you to point me out the guests
who were here on that night. Are they all here this
evening?"

John looked about him cautiously. "They are, sir,"
he said in a low voice, "and it's borne in my mind to
say something, though I never suspected him of any-
thing, not knowing, so to speak. But I ketched that
Mr. Granton sneaking down the stairs that night. Oh,
I don't say anything, but I thought as you'd like to
know."

"Good for you, John," said Charmian hastily, "yet we
must be careful; we must not jump to conclusions.
Show me Mr. Granton, and I'll make further in-
quiries."

John had no difficulty in doing this, and Charmian
made his way through the guests to a tall young man
of engaging appearance.

"Excuse me, sir," he said precipitately, "might I
have a word with you?"

"By all means, sir," replied Mr. Granton, looking as-
tonished.

But Charmian remembered that infuriated old lady
who was waiting above, and he could afford to waste
no time. The two went into the hall and confronted
each other. "It is best," reflected Charmian, "to be
abrupt. Then I may catch him out."

261



COMEDY

"There is a piece of jewelry which Miss Bagot
usually wears," said he sharply.

He remarked that Mr. Granton had a slight access of
color.

"Well, sir?" he said, with some acerbity.

"You know of it, Mr. Granton," exclaimed Lord
Francis, pointing a finger accusingly at him.

"What business is it of yours?" asked Mr. Granton
in angry tones, which were clearly intended to "blufif."

"Never mind," said Charmian suavely; "say I am in-
terested. I can explain my right if I like."

"Right!" exclaimed Mr. Granton, displaying consid-
erable agitation. "I've never seen you before. Who
are you?"

"All in good time, my good sir," responded Char-
mian soothingly. "Call me Jones in the meantime."

"Has — has Mr. Bagot found out?" inquired the
young man, with increasing confusion.

Charmian nodded. He was in high spirits, and
rather sorry for Mr. Granton. "I suppose you are
hard up?" he observed expressively.

"Oh, that is obvious," said Mr. Granton, turning
away with an impatient gesture. "I suppose I'd bet-
ter go."

"Well," said Charmian, exhibiting some hesitation,
"I should be glad to let you go myself, but I fear you
must see Mr. Bagot first — and the old lady."

"The old lady!" echoed Mr. Granton in dismay.
"For heaven's sake "

"She's waiting for you; I said I'd bring you up to
her," went on Charmian.

Mr. Granton groaned, but, making no resistance,
followed his captor to the boudoir in which Mr. Bagot
stiffly kept his aunt company.

Charmian rubbed his hands in what he considered a

262



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

professional manner. "Well, madam, here we are at
last," he said cheerfully.

Mr. Bagot gasped. '"What! Mr. Granton!" he
cried.

"Ask him, my dear sir— ask him yourself," said
Charmian, complacently.

Mr. Granton, quite red in the face, shrugged his
shoulders. "I don't deny it; I take the blame entirely
upon myself," he said.

"Ah!" observed Mr. Bagot dryly, "I think you are
too generous. Surely I am to blame, or Miss Bagot."

"Indeed, she is not," said the young man, eagerly; "I
want you to understand that."

"Oh, well, come, come," interposed Charmian in a
friendly voice, "don't let us apportion responsibility in
this way. The first thing, of course, is that the jew-
elry should be restored."

Mr. Granton laughed shortly. "You make a great
fuss," said he. "But certainly, if Miss Bagot desires.
The matter rests in her hands."

At that moment the door opened, and that young
lady entered, with an exclamation of surprise. "All is
found out, Josephine," remarked Mr. Granton some-
what sheepishly, "and they want you to return my
locket."

"Josephine! Locket!" cried Mr. Bagot. stuttering.

Charmian cast an eye toward the door in consterna-
tion. What on earth had he done? He foresaw that
he should have to bolt.

"Certainly; what is the matter?" stammered Mr.
Granton.

"I shall not return it, as Richard must understand at
once," said Miss Bagot, firmly and with heightened
color. "He shall not dictate to me. I don't care if
you are poor."

"I wish some one would tell me what all this is

263



COMEDY

about," said Mrs. Kelway's voice, feebly breaking in.
"Did this man steal the necklace?"

"Necklace !" cried Mr. Granton, in amazement. "What
necklace?"

All eyes of a sudden turned on Charmian, who
opened his lips to begin a charming little speech, but
hesitated, and finally turned and darted for the open
door, in which stood John. He shook him fiercely, so
that the man's head wobbled on his shoulders.

"Oh, you villain!" he said. "Oh. you blessed
ruffian!"

Something leaped from the struggling John's inner
pockets and rattled to the floor. Mechanically he
picked it up, and, his gaze falling on it, he turned with
one of his rapid changes, cool and polite.

"Madam," he said, "I promised you should have the
villain. Here he is," he thrust the servant forward:
"and here's the booty," saying which he set the neck-
lace, with a bow, in Miss Bagot's hands.

"But — but — what — why did you bring up Mr. Gran-
ton?" asked Mr. Bagot in his bewilderment.

"Oh !" said Charmian lightly, "a little trick was
necessary. I hope the gentleman will forgive it. But
we detectives have our ways, you understand. And I
hope no harm's done, and no offence taken."

This seemed to him an excellent phrase.

"You seem to be a very smart man, after all," com-
mented the stout lady; but I'd like to know "

"Oh, not so smart," interrupted Lord Charmian
hastily. "This was an easy job, very easy. Lord! you
should see some of my jobs. By the way," he added,
"no one is anxious to appear in this business, I sup-
pose. No? Then this fellow had better go. John,
cut your hook as fast as you can."

This order was eagerly obeyed by the frightened
man, and Mr. Bagot formally thanked Mr. Graves for

264



THE SKIRTS OF CHANCE

his services, ending by a request that he would step
downstairs with the gentleman to receive his fee.

"I shall be glad also to be able to inform Mr. Bailey,
who has just arrived, how successfully you have solved
for us this difficult problem," he added; "and if at any
time I have need of your services "

"Thanks, thanks!" said Charmian, quickly. "Did
you say Mr. Bailey was here? On second thoughts
I'll not wait for the check, but you can send it on to
me."

He bowed charmingly and hastened out of the room;
but when he was halfway down the stairs he heard a
voice from above.

"Mr. Graves! Mr. Graves! you haven't left your ad-
dress!"

"Box I3ai, Daily Telegraph," he cried back, glibly,
and slipped down the stairs and escaped out of the
doorway, half a minute before Bailey arrived in the
hall.



265



THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY
HOLLOW



THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY
HOLLOW

By Washington Irving.



A pleasing land of drowsy head it was,

Of dreams that wave before the half-shut, eye;

And of gay castles in the clouds that pass,
Forever flushing round a summer sky.

— Castle of Indolence.

TN the bosom of one of those spacious coves which
indent the eastern shore of the Hudson, at that broad
expansion of the river denominated by the ancient Dutch
navigators the Tappan Zee, and where they always pru-
dently shortened sail, and implored the protection of
St. Nicholas when they crossed, there lies a small market
town or rural port, which by some is called Greens-
burgh, but which is more generally and properly known
by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given it,
we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of
the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of
their husbands to linger about the village tavern on
market days. Be that as it may, I do not vouch for
the fact but merely advert to it for the sake of being
precise and authentic. Not far from this village, perhaps
about three miles, there is a little valley or rather lap
of land among high hills, which is one of the quietest
places in the whole world. A small brook glides through

269



-—~ ■>>—■■ - - ■ - I - - -.-, ,rf ^r - r-nnnf iiriTTTiinrrriMMn'



COMEDY

it with just murmur enough to lull one to repose; and
the occasional whistle of a quail or tapping of a wood-
pecker is almost the only sound that ever breaks in
upon the uniform tranquility.

I recollect that when a stripling my first exploit in
squirrel-shooting was in a grove of tall walnut-trees
that shades one side of the valley. I had wandered into
in at noon-time when all nature is peculiarly quiet and
was startled by the roar of my own gun as it broke the
Sabbath stillness around and was prolonged and rever-
berated by the angry echoes. If ever I should wish for
a retreat whither I might steal from the world and its
distractions and dream quietly away the remnant of
a troubled life, I know of none more promising than
this little valley.

From the listless repose of the place, and the peculiar
character of its inhabitants, who are descendants from
the original Dutch settlers, this sequestered glen has
long been known by the name of Sleepy Hollow, and
its rustic lads are called the Sleepy Hollow Boys
throughout all the neighboring country. A drowsy,
dreamy influence seems to hang over the land, and to
pervade the very atmosphere. Some say that the place
was bewitched by a high German doctor, during the
early days of the settlement ; others, that an old Indian
chief, the prophet or wizard of his tribe, held his
powwows there before the country was discovered by
Master Hendrick Hudson. Certain it is the place still
continues under the sway of some witching power, that
holds a spell over the minds of the good people, causing
them to walk in a continual reverie. They are given to
all kinds of marvelous beliefs; are subject to trances
and visions, and frequently see strange sights, and hear
music and voices in the air. The whole neighborhood
abounds with local tales, haunted spots and twilight
superstitions; stars shoot and meteors glare oftener

2/0



THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW

across the valley than in any other part of the country,
and the nightmare, with her whole nine fold, seems to
make it the favorite scene of her gambols.

The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this en-
chanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of
all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure
on horseback without a head. It is said by some to be
the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been
carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle
during the Revolutionary War, and who is ever and
anon seen by the country folk, burring along in the
gloom of night, as if on the wind. His haunts are not
confined to the valley, but extend at times to the ad-
jacent roads, and especially to the vicinity of a church
that is at no great distance. Indeed, certain of the most
authentic historians of those parts, who have been care-
ful in collecting and collating the floating facts con-
cerning this spectre, allege, that the body of the trooper
having been in the churchyard, the ghost rides forth to
the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head, and that
the rushing speed with which he sometimes passes along
the hollow, like a midnight blast, is owing to his being
belated, and in a hurry to get back to the churchyard
before daybreak.

Such is the general purport of this legendary super-
stition, which has furnished materials for many a wild
story in that region of shadows ; and the spectre is
known at all the country firesides, by the name of the
Headless Horseman of Sleepy Hollow.

It is remarkable, that the visionary propensity I have
mentioned is not confined to the native inhabitants of
the valley, but is unconsciously imbibed by every one
who resides there for a time. However wide awake
they may have been before they entered that sleepy
region, they are sure, in a little time, to inhale the witch-

Vol. i8— 18 271



COMEDY

ing influence of the air, and begin to grow imaginative
— to dream dreams, and see apparitions.

I mention this peaceful spot with all possible laud;
for it is in such little retired Dutch valleys, found here
and there embosomed in the great State of New York,
that population, manners and customs remain fixed,
while the great torrent of migration and improvement,
which is making such incessant changes in other parts
of this restless country, sweeps by them unobserved.
They are like those little nooks of still water, which
border a rapid stream, where we may see the straw
and bubble riding quietly at anchor, or slowly revolving
in their mimic harbor, undisturbed by the rush of the
passing current. Though many years have elapsed since
I trod the drowsy shades of Sleepy Hollow, yet I ques-
tion whether I should not find the same trees and the
same families vegetating in its sheltered bosom.

In this by-place of nature there abode, in a remote
period of American history, that is to say, some thirty
years since, a worthy wight of the name of Ichabod
Crane, who sojourned, or, as he expressed it, "tarried,"
in Sleepy Hollow, for the purpose of instructing the
children of the vicinity. He was a native of Connecticut,
a State which supplies the Union with pioneers for the
mind as well as for the forest, and sends forth yearly
its legions of frontier woodmen and country school-
masters. The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable
to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with


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