By: ram kumar
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|Friday, 20-Mar-2009 06:35
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Pass Your Free MB6-206 Exam
Old Swallowtail came home at about four o'clock in the afternoon. The day was hot, yet the old man seemed neither heated nor wearied. Without a word to his daughter or Ingua he drew a chair to the little shady porch and sat down in their company. Nan was mending her child's old frock; Ingua sat thinking.
For half an hour, perhaps, silence was maintained by all. Then Nan turned and asked:
"Have you covered your tracks?"
He turned his http://www.certifyme.com/MB6-204.htm glassy, expressionless eyes toward her.
"My tracks, as you call them," said he, "have been laid for forty years or more. They are now ruts. I cannot obliterate them in a day."
The woman studied his face thoughtfully.
"You are not worrying over your probable arrest?"
"Then it's all right," said she, relieved. "You're a foxy old rascal, Dad, and you've held your own for a good many years. I guess you don't need more than a word of warning."
He made no reply, his eyes wandering along the path to the bridge. Mary Louise was coming their way, walking briskly. Her steps slowed a bit as she drew nearer, but she said in an eager voice:
"Oh, Mrs. Scammel, Josie has told me you are here and who you are. Isn't it queer how lives get tangled up? But I remember you with gratitude and kindliest thoughts, because you were so considerate of my dear Gran'pa Jim. And to think that you are really Ingua's mother!"
Nan rose and took the girl's hands in her own.
"I fear I've been a bad mother to my kid," she replied, "but I thought she was all right with her grandfather and happy here. I shall look after her better in the future."
Mary Louise bowed to Mr. Cragg, who nodded his head in acknowledgment. Then she sat down beside Ingua.
"Are you plannin' to take me away from here, Mama?" asked the child.
"Wouldn't you rather be with me than with your grandfather?" returned Nan with a smile.
"I dunno," said Ingua seriously. "You're a detective, an' I don't like detections. You ain't much like a mother to me, neither, ner I don't know much about you. I dunno yet whether I'm goin' to like you or not."
A wave of color swept over Nan's face; Mary Louise was shocked; the old man turned his inscrutable gaze down the path once more.
"I like it here," continued the child, musingly: "Gran'dad makes me work, but he don't bother me none 'cept when the devils get, hold o' him. I 'member that you git the devils, too, once in awhile, Marm, an' they're about as fierce as Gran'dad's is. An' I gets 'em 'cause I'm a Cragg like the rest o' you, an' devils seem to be in the Cragg blood. I've a notion it's easier to stand the devils in the country here, than in the city where you live."
Nan didn't know whether to be amused or angry.
"Yet you tried to run away once," she reminded Ingua, "and it was Mary Louise who stopped you. You told me of this only an hour ago.
"Didn't I say the devils pick on _me_ sometimes?" demanded the girl. "An' Mary Louise was right. She fought the devils for me, and I'm glad she did, 'cause I've had a good time with her ever since," and she pressed Mary Louise's hand gratefully.
Her child's frankness was indeed humiliating to Nan Scammel, who was by no means a bad woman at heart and longed to win the love and respect of her little girl. Ingua's frank speech had also disturbed Mary Louise, and made her sorry for both the child and her mother. Old Swallowtail's eyes lingered a moment on Ingua's ingenuous countenance but he exhibited no emotion whatever.
"You're a simple little innocent," remarked Nan to Ingua, after a strained pause. "You know so little of the world that your judgment is wholly unformed. I've a notion to take you to Washington and buy you a nice outfit of clothes--like those of Mary Louise, you know--and put you into a first-class girls' boarding-school. Then you'll get civilized, and perhaps amount to something."
"I'd like that," said Ingua, with a first display of enthusiasm; "but who'd look after Gran'dad?"
"Why, we must provide for http://www.certifyme.com/MB6-203.htm Dad in some way, of course," admitted Nan after another pause. "I can afford to hire a woman to keep house for him, if I hold my present job. I suppose he has a hoard of money hidden somewhere, but that's no reason he wouldn't neglect himself and starve if left alone. And, if he's really poor, I'm the one to help him. How does that arrangement strike you, Ingua?"
"It sounds fine," replied the girl, "but any woman that'd come _here_ to work, an' would stan' Gran'dad's devils, wouldn't amount to much, nohow. If we're goin' to move to the city," she added with a sigh, "let's take Gran'dad with us."
This conversation was becoming too personal for Mary Louise to endure longer. They talked of Mr. Cragg just as if he were not present, ignoring him as he ignored them. With an embarrassed air Mary Louise rose.
"I must go now," said she. "I just ran over to welcome you, Mrs. Scammel, and to ask you and Ingua to dine with us to-morrow night. Will you come? Josie O'Gorman is with us, you know, and I believe you are old friends."
Nan hesitated a moment.
"Thank you," she replied, "we'll be glad to come. You've been mighty good to my little girl and I am grateful. Please give my regards to Colonel Hathaway."
When Mary Louise had gone the three lapsed into silence again. Ingua was considering, in her childish but practical way, the proposed changes in her life. The mother was trying to conquer her annoyance at the child's lack of filial affection, tacitly admitting that the blame was not Ingua's. The old man stared at the path. Whatever his thoughts might be he displayed no hint of their nature.
Presently there appeared at the head of the path, by the bridge, the form of a stranger, a little man who came on with nervous, mincing steps. He was dressed in dandified fashion, with tall silk hat, a gold-headed cane and yellow kid gloves. Almost had he reached the porch when suddenly he stopped short, looked around in surprise and ejaculated:
"Bless me--bless me! I--I've made a mistake. This is a private path to your house. No thoroughfare. Dear me, what an error; an unpardonable error. I hope you will excuse me--I--I hope so!"
"To be sure we will," replied Nan with a laugh, curiously eyeing the dapper little man. "The only way out, sir, is back by the bridge."
"Thank you. Thank you very much," he said earnestly. "I--I am indulging in a stroll and--and my mind wandered, as did my feet. I--I am an invalid in search of rest. Thank you. Good afternoon."
He turned around and with the same mincing, regular steps retreated along the path. At the bridge he halted as if undecided, but finally continued along the country road past the Kenton Place.
Ingua laughed delightedly at the queer man. Nan smiled. Old Swallowtail had altered neither his position nor his blank expression.
"He's a queer fish, ain't he?" remarked the girl. "He's pretty lively for an invalid what's lookin' for rest. I wonder when he landed, an' where he's stoppin'."
Something in the child's remark made Nan thoughtful. Presently she laid down her work and said:
"I believe I'll take a little walk, myself, before dark. Want to go along, Ingua?"
Ingua was ready. She had on her new dress and hoped they might meet someone whom she knew. They wandered toward the town, where most of the inhabitants were sitting outf of doors--a Sunday afternoon custom. Jim Bennett, in his shirtsleeves, was reading a newspaper in front of the postoffice; Sol Jerrems and his entire family occupied the platform before the store, which was of course locked; Nance Milliker was playing the organ in the brown house around the corner, and in front of the hotel sat Mary Ann Hopper in her rocking-chair.
Nan strolled the length of the street, startling those natives who had formerly known her, Ingua nodded and smiled at http://www.certifyme.com/MB6-206.htm everyone. Mary Ann Hopper called, as they passed her: "Hullo, Ingua. Where'd ye git the new duds?"
"Miss Huckins made 'em," answered Ingua proudly.
"I guess I'll go and shake hands with Mrs. Hopper," said Nan. "Don't you remember me, Mary Ann? I'm Nan Cragg."
"Gee! so y'are," exclaimed Mary Ann wonderingly. "We all 'spicioned you was dead, long ago."
"I'm home for a visit. You folks seem prosperous. How's business?"
"Pretty good. We got a new boarder to-day, a feller with bum nerves who come from the city. Gee! but he's togged out t' kill. Got money, too, an' ain't afraid to spend it. He paid Dad in advance."
"That's nice," said Nan. "What's his name?"
"It's a funny name, but I can't remember it. Ye kin see it on the register."
Nan went inside, leaving Ingua with Mary Ann, and studied the name on the register long and closely.
|Friday, 20-Mar-2009 06:33
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Pass Your Free MB7-227 Exam
"And how do you like your grandfather? Is he good to you?" asked Mrs. Scammel on Sunday forenoon, as she sat on the porch beside her small daughter. Old Swallowtail did not usually go to his http://www.certifyme.com/MB2-184.htm office on Sundays, but kept his room at the cottage and wrote letters. To-day, however, he had wandered down the path and disappeared, and Nan and Ingua were both glad to see him go.
"No," answered the child to both questions.
"You don't like him?"
"How can I, when he jes' sets an' glares at me ev'ry time he comes into the house--'cept when he complains I ain't doin' my work proper? It were a sort o' mean trick o' yours, Marm, leavin' me here to slave fer that ol' man while you was off in the cities, havin' a good time."
"Yes," said Nan, "I was frolicking with starvation until I got a job, and it was the sort of job that wouldn't allow having a child around. But since I've been making money I've sent Dad five dollars every week, for your clothes and board."
"Ten cents a week would pay for all the grub he gives me, an' there ain't a beggar in the county that sports the rags an' tatters I does. That new dress I had on las' night was the first thing in clothes he's bought me for a year, and I guess I wouldn't have had that if Mary Louise hadn't told him he orter dress me more decent."
Nan's brow grew dark.
"I'll have it out with him for that," she promised. "What does he do with his money, Ingua?"
"Salts it, I guess. I never see him have any. It's one o' the mysteries, Marm. Mysteries is thick aroun' Gran'dad, an' folks suspicion 'most anything about him. All I know is that he ain't no spendthrift. Once, when Ned Joselyn used to come here, there was lots of money passed between 'em. I saw it myself. I helped pick it up, once, when they quarreled an' upset the table an' spilled things. But since Ned run ayray. Gran'dad's be'n more savin' than ever."
"Ingua," said Nan, thoughtfully, "I want you to tell me all you know about Ned Joselyn, from the time he first came here."
Ingua regarded her mother with serious eyes.
"All?" she inquired.
"Everything, little or big, that you can recollect."
"You'll stick to Gran'dad, won't ye?"
"That's what I'm here for. There are enemies on his trail and I mean to save him."
"What's he done?"
"I've got to find that out. When I was here before, I knew he had some secret interest to which he was devoted, but I was too indifferent to find out what it was. Now I want to know. If I'm going to save him from the penalties of his crime I must know what the crime is. I think this man Joselyn is mixed http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-214.htm up with it in some way, so go ahead and tell me all you know about him."
Ingua obeyed. For more than an hour she earnestly related the story of Ned Joselyn, only pausing to answer an occasional question from her mother. When she came to that final meeting at Christmas week and Joselyn's mysterious disappearance, Nan asked:
"Do you think he killed him?"
"I was pretty sure of it till yest'day, when Josie told me a friend of hers had seen him alive an' well."
"No, Josie Jessup. She's the sewin'-girl over to Mary Louise's."
"I know; but that girl has more names than one. Do you know her very well, Ingua?"
"She's my best chum," declared the child. "Josie's a dandy girl, an' I like her."
"Have you told her anything about your gran'dad?"
"A little," Ingua admitted, hesitating.
"See here," said Nan, scowling, "I'll put you wise. This red-headed Josie O'Gorman is a detective. She's the daughter of the man I work for in Washington--the assistant chief of the Department--and she is here to try to land your gran'dad in jail. What's more, Ingua, she's likely to do it, unless you and I find a way to head her off."
Ingua's face depicted astonishment, grief, disappointment. Finally she said:
"Gran'dad didn't murder Ned, for Josie herself told me so; so I can't see what he's done to go to jail for."
"He has counterfeited money," said Nan in a low voice.
"So they say, and I believe it may be true. Josie has wired her father that she's got the goods on Old Swallowtail and has asked that somebody be sent to arrest him. I saw the telegram and made up my mind I'd get the start of the O'Gormans. Dad won't run away. I've warned him they are on his trail and he didn't make any reply. But I wouldn't be surprised if he's gone, this very day, to cover up his traces. He's bright enough to know that if he destroys all evidence they can't prove anything against him."
She spoke musingly, more to herself than the child beside her, but Ingua drew a deep sigh and remarked:
"Then it's all right. Gran'dad is slick. They'll hev to get up early in the mornin' to beat him at his own game. But I wonder what he does with the counterfeit money, or the real money he trades it for."
"I think I know," said her mother. "He's chucked a fortune into one crazy idea, in which his life has been bound up ever since I can remember, and I suppose he tried counterfeiting to get more money to chuck away in the same foolish manner."
"What crazy idea is that?" inquired Ingua.
"I'll tell you, sometime. Just now I see your friend Josie coming, and that's a bit of good luck. I'm anxious to meet her, but if she sees me first she won't come on." As she spoke she rose swiftly and disappeared into the house. "Stay where you are, Ingua," she called from within in a low voice; "I don't want her to escape."
Josie was even now making her way across the stepping-stones. Presently she ran up the bank, smiling, and plumped down beside Ingua.
"Top o' the morning to you," said she. "How did you enjoy your first evening in society?"
"They were all very good to me," replied Ingua slowly, looking at her friend with troubled eyes. "I had a nice time, but--"
"You were a little shy," said Josie, "but that was only natural. When you get better acquainted with Mary Louise and the dear old Colonel, you'll--"
She stopped abruptly, for looking up she saw standing in the doorway Nan Shelley--by which name she knew her--who was calmly regarding her. The shock of surprise, for shock it surely was, seemed brief, for almost instantly Josie completed her broken speech:
"When you know them better you'll feel quite at home in their society. Hello, Nan."
"What! Josie O'Gorman? You here?" with well-affected surprise.
"You know it. But how came _you_ here, Nan? Has Daddy sent you to help me?"
"Help you! In what way?"
"Help me enjoy country life," said Josie, coloring at her slip.
"Why, I'm on a vacation. You don't seem to understand. I'm--Ingua's mother."
Josie's self-control wasn't proof http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-006.htm against this second shock. Her blue eyes stared amazed. With a low exclamation she stood up and faced the woman.
"Ingua's mother! You, Nan?"
"Just so," with a quiet smile.
"Then you ought to be ashamed of yourself," declared Josie with righteous indignation. "You're one of the best paid women in the Department, and you've left your poor child here to starve and slave for a wretched old--," she paused.
"Well, what is he?" asked Nan with tantalizing gentleness.
"An old skinflint, at the least. Shame on you, Nan! Ingua is a dear little girl, and you--you're an unnatural mother. Why, I never suspected you were even married."
"I'm a widow, Josie."
"And Old Swallowtail is your father? How strange. But--why did you come here just now?" with sudden suspicion.
"I've just finished the Hillyard case and they gave me a vacation. So I came here to see my little girl. I didn't know she was being neglected, Josie. I shall take better care of her after this. My visit to Cragg's Crossing is perfectly natural, for I was born here. But you? What are you up to, Josie?"
"I'm visiting Mary Louise Burrows."
"With what object?"
A detective must be quick-witted. Josie's brain was working with lightning-like rapidity. In a few brief seconds she comprehended that if Nan was Old Swallowtail's daughter, home on a vacation, she must not be allowed to know that Josie was conducting a case against her father. Otherwise she might interfere and spoil everything. She knew Nan of old and respected her keen intelligence. Once, when they had been pitted against each other, Josie had won; but she was not sure she could defeat Nan a second time. Therefore it was imperative that old Cragg's daughter remain in ignorance of the fact that Josie was awaiting reinforcements from Washington in order to arrest Nan's father as a counterfeiter. Also Josie realized instantly that Ingua was likely to tell her mother all she knew about Joselyn, including the story she had told Josie; so, without hesitation she answered Nan's question with apparent frankness:
"Really, Nan, I came here on a wild-goose chase. A man named Ned Joselyn had mysteriously disappeared and his wife feared he had met with foul play. I traced him to this place and as Colonel Hathaway and Mary Louise were living here--in Mrs. Joselyn's own house, by the way-- I had myself invited as their guest. Well, the long and short of it is that Joselyn isn't murdered, after all. He simply skipped, and since I came here to worry my poor brain over the fellow he has been discovered, still in hiding but very much alive."
"You suspected my father of killing him?"
"I did; and so did others; but it seems he didn't. But, even with that precious bubble burst, Mary Louise insists on my staying for a visit; so here I am, and your little girl has become my friend."
Ingua knew this story to be quite correct, as far as it regarded her grandfather and Ned Joselyn. Its straightforward relation renewed her confidence in Josie. But Nan knew more than Josie thought she http://www.certifyme.com/MB7-227.htm did, having intercepted the girl's telegram to her father; so she said with a slight sneer which she took no pains to conceal:
"You're a clever girl, Josie O'Gorman; a mighty clever girl. You're so clever that I wouldn't be surprised if it tripped you, some day, and landed you on your pug nose."
Which proved that Nan was _not_ clever, for Josie's indulgent smile masked the thought: "She knows all and is here to defend her father. I must look out for Nan, for she has a notion I'm still on the track of Hezekiah Cragg."
|Friday, 20-Mar-2009 06:30
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Pass Your Free MB2-185 Exam
The "hotel" at the Crossing was not an imposing affair. Indeed, had there not been an "office" in the front room, with a wooden desk in one corner, six chairs and two boxes of sawdust to serve as cuspidors, the building might easily have been mistaken for a private residence. But it stood on the corner opposite the store and had a worn and scarcely legible sign over the front door, calling it a hotel in capital letters.
The Hoppers, who operated the http://www.certifyme.com/MB2-228.htm establishment, did an excellent business. On week days the farmers who came to town to trade made it a point to eat one of Silas Hopper's twenty-five cent dinners, famous for at least five miles around for profusion and good cookery. On Sundays--and sometimes on other days--an automobile party, touring the country, would stop at the hotel for a meal, and Mrs. Hopper was accustomed to have a chicken dinner prepared every Sunday in the hope of attracting a stray tourist. There were two guest rooms upstairs that were religiously reserved in case some patron wished to stay overnight, but these instances were rare unless a drummer missed his train and couldn't get away from the Crossing until the next day.
The Sunday following the arrival of Ingua's mother in town proved a dull day with the Hoppers, who had been compelled to eat their chicken dinner themselves in default of customers. The dishes had been washed and Mary Ann, the daughter of the house, was sitting on the front porch in her Sunday gown and a rocking-chair, when an automobile drove up to the door and a dapper little man alighted. He was very elaborately dressed, with silk hat, patent-leather shoes and a cane setting off his Prince Albert coat and lavender striped trousers. Across his white waistcoat was a heavy gold watch-guard with an enormous locket dangling from it; he had a sparkling pin in his checkered neck-scarf that might be set with diamonds but perhaps wasn't; on his fingers gleamed two or three elaborate rings. He had curly blond hair and a blond moustache and he wore gold-rimmed eyeglasses. Altogether the little man was quite a dandy and radiated prosperity. So, when the driver of the automobile handed out two heavy suit cases and received from the stranger a crisp bill for his services, Mary Ann Hopper realized with exultation that the hotel was to have a guest.
As the car which had brought him rolled away the little man turned, observed Mary Ann, and removing his silt hat bowed low.
"I presume," said he in precise accents, "that this town is that of Cragg's Crossing, and that this building is the hotel. Am I correct in the surmise?"
"I'll call Pa," said Mary Ann, somewhat embarrassed. Drummers she could greet with unconcern, but this important individual was a man of a different sort. His brilliant personality dazzled her.
Mr. Hopper came out in his shirtsleeves, gave one look at his customer and put on his coat.
"Goin' to stay, sir?" he asked.
"For a time, if I like the accommodations," was the reply. "I am in need of perfect quiet. My doctor says I must court tranquility to avoid a nervous breakdown. I do not know your town; I do not know your hotel; I hired a man in the city to drive me until I came to a quiet place. He assured me, on the way, that this is a quiet place."
"I dunno him," said Hopper, "but he didn't put up no bluff. If ye can find a quieter place ner this, outside a graveyard, I'll board ye fer noth'n'."
"I thank you for your assurance, sir. Can you show me to the best room you can place at my disposal?"
"I thank you, yes. I am weary from the long ride. I will lie down for an hour. Then I will take my usual walk. When I return I would like an omelet with mushrooms--I suppose you have no truffles?--for my evening meal."
The landlord grinned and picked up the suit cases.
"We're jest out o' truffles an' we're out o' mushrooms," he said, "but we're long on eggs an' ye can have 'em omeletted or fried or b'iled, as it suits yer fancy. Sophie's best hold is cookin' eggs. Sophie's my wife, ye know, an' there ain't no better cook in seven counties, so the drummers say."
As he spoke he entered the http://www.certifyme.com/MB2-186.htm house and led the way up the stairs.
"Thank you; thank you," said the stranger. "I am glad your good wife is an experienced cook. Kindly ask her to spare no expense in preparing my meals. I am willing to pay liberally for what I receive."
"This room, with board," remarked Hopper, setting down the suit cases in the front corner bedchamber, "will cost you a dollar a day, or five dollars a week--if you eat our reg'lar meals. If ye keep callin' fer extrys, I'll hev to charge ye extry."
"Very reasonable; very reasonable, indeed," declared the stranger, taking a roll of bills from his pocket. "As I am at present unknown to you, I beg you to accept this five-dollar bill in advance. And now, if you will bring me a pitcher of ice-water, I will take my needed siesta. My nerves, as you may have observed, are at somewhat of a tension to-day."
"We're out o' ice," remarked the landlord, pocketing the money, "but ye'll find plenty of good cold water at the pump in the back yard. Anything else, sir?"
"I thank you, no. I am not thirsty. Ice-water is not necessary to my happiness. You will pardon me if I ask to be left alone--with my nerves."
Hopper went away chuckling. His wife and Mary Ann were both at the foot of the stairs, lying in wait to question him.
"That feller's as good as a circus," he asserted, taking off his coat again and lighting his corncob pipe. "He's got nerves an' money, an' he's come here to git rid of 'em both."
"Who is he?" demanded Mrs. Hopper.
"By gum, I fergot to ask him. I got thanked fer ev'rything I did an' ev'rything I couldn't do, an' I've got five dollars o' his money in my jeans as a evidence o' good faith. The whole performance sort o' knocked me out."
"No wonder," asserted, his wife sympathetically.
"I'll bet he's some punkins, though," declared Mary Ann, "an' he'll be a godsend to us after a dull week. Only, remember this, if he kicks on the feed he don't git no satisfaction out o' me."
"I don't think he'll kick on anything," said her father. "He wants eggs for his supper, in a omelet."
"He couldn't want anything that's cheaper to make," said Mrs. Hopper. "The hens are layin' fine jus' now."
"When he comes down, make him register," suggested Mary Ann. "If ye don't, we won't know what ter call him."
"I'll call him an easy mark, whatever his name is," said the landlord, grinning at his own attempt at wit.
The stranger kept his room until five o'clock. Then he came down, spick and span, his cane under his arm, upon his hands a pair of bright yellow kid gloves.
"I will now indulge in my walk," said he, addressing the family group in the office. "My nerves are better, but still vibrant. I shall be further restored on my return."
"Jest sign the register," proposed Hopper, pointing to a worn and soiled book spread upon the counter. "Hate to trouble ye, but it's one o' the rules o' my hotel."
"No trouble, thank you; no trouble at all," responded the stranger, and drawing a fountain-pen from his pocket he approached the register and wrote upon the blank page. "I hope there is, nothing to see in your town," he remarked, turning away. "I don't wish to see anything. I merely desire to walk."
"Yer wish'll come true, I guess," said Hopper. "I've lived here over twenty year an' I hain't seen noth'n' yet. But the walkin' is as good as it is anywhere."
"Thank you. I shall return at six o'clock--for the http://www.certifyme.com/MB2-185.htm omelet," and he walked away with short, mincing steps that seemed to them all very comical.
Three heads at once bent over the register, on which the stranger had I written in clear, delicate characters: "Lysander Antonius Sinclair, B. N., Boston, Mass."
"I wonder what the 'B. N.' stands for," said Mary Ann Hopper, curiously.
"Bum Nerves, o' course," replied the landlord. "He's got 'em, sure enough."
|Friday, 20-Mar-2009 06:24
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Pass Your Free MB3-003 Exam
For a week it was very quiet at Cragg's Crossing. The only ripple of excitement was caused by the purchase of Ingua's new outfit. In this the child was ably assisted by Mary Louise and Josie; indeed, finding the younger girl so ignorant of prices, and even of her own needs, the two elder http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-127.htm ones entered into a conspiracy with old Sol and slyly added another ten dollars to Ingua's credit. The result was that she carried home not only shoes and a new hat--trimmed by Miss Huckins without cost, the material being furnished from the fund--but a liberal supply of underwear, ribbons, collars and hosiery, and even a pair of silk gloves, which delighted the child's heart more than anything else.
Miss Huckins' new dress proved very pretty and becoming, and with all her wealth of apparel Ingua was persuaded to dine with Mary Louise at the Kenton house on Saturday evening. The hour was set for seven o'clock, in order to allow the girl to prepare her grandfather's supper before going out, and the first intimation Old Swallowtail had of the arrangement was when he entered the house Saturday evening and found Ingua arrayed in all her finery.
He made no remark at first, but looked at her more than once--whether approvingly or not his stolid expression did not betray. When the girl did not sit down to the table and he observed she had set no place for herself, he suddenly said:
"I'm goin' to eat with the Hathaways to-night," she replied. "Their dinner ain't ready till seven o'clock, so if ye hurry a little I kin wash the dishes afore I go."
He offered no objection. Indeed, he said nothing at all until he had finished his simple meal. Then, as she cleared the table, he said:
"It might be well, while you are in the society of Mary Louise and Colonel Hathaway, to notice their method of speech and try to imitate it."
"What's wrong with my talk?" she demanded. She was annoyed at the suggestion, because she had been earnestly trying to imitate Mary Louise's speech.
"I will leave you to make the discovery yourself," he said dryly.
She tossed her dishes into the hot water rather recklessly.
"If I orter talk diff'rent," said she, "it's your fault. Ye hain't give me no schooling ner noth'n'. Ye don't even say six words a week to me. I'm just your slave, to make yer bed an' cook yer meals an' wash yer dishes. Gee! how'd ye s'pose I'd talk? Like a lady?"
"I think," he quietly responded, "you picked up your slang from your mother, who, however, had some education. The education ruined her for the quiet life here and she plunged into the world to get the excitement she craved. Hasn't she been sorry for it many times, Ingua?"
"I don't know much 'bout Marm, an' I don't care whether she's sorry or not. But I do know I need an eddication. If Mary Louise hadn't had no eddication she'd 'a' been just like me: a bit o' junk on a scrap-heap, that ain't no good to itself ner anybody else."
He mused silently for a while, getting up finally and walking over to the door.
"Your peculiarities of expression," he then remarked, as if more to himself than to the child, "are those we notice in Sol Jerrems and Joe Brennan and Mary Ann Hopper. They are characteristic, of the rural population, which, having no spur to improve its vocabulary, naturally grows degenerate in speech."
She glanced at him half defiantly, not sure whether he was "pokin' fun at her" or not.
"If you mean I talks country talk," said she, "you're right. Why shouldn't I, with no one to tell me better?"
Again he mused. His mood was gentle this evening.
"I realize I have neglected you," he presently said. "You were thrust upon me like a stray kitten, which one does not want but cannot well reject. Your mother has not supplied me with money for your education, although she has regularly paid for your keep."
"She has?" cried Ingua, astounded. "Then you've swindled her an' me both, for I pays for more'n my keep in hard work. My keep? For the love o' Mike, what does my keep amount to? A cent a year?"
He winced a little at her sarcasm but soon collected himself. Strangely enough, he did not appear to be angry with her.
"I've neglected you," he repeated, "but it has been an oversight. I have had so much on my mind that I scarcely realized you were here. I forgot you are Nan's child and that you--you needed attention."
Ingua put on her new hat, looking into a cracked mirror.
"Ye might 'a' remembered I'm a Cragg, anyhow," said she, mollified by his tone of self reproach. "An' ye might 'a' remembered as _you're_ a Cragg. The Craggs orter help each other, 'cause all the world's ag'in 'em."
He gave her an odd look, in which pride, perplexity and astonishment mingled.
"And you are going into the enemy's camp to-night?"
"Oh, Mary Louise is all right. She ain't like them other snippy girls that sometimes comes here to the big houses. _She_ don't care if I _am_ a Cragg, or if I talks country. I like Mary Louise."
When she had gone the old man sat in deep thought for a long time. The summer evening cast shadows; twilight fell; darkness gradually shrouded the bare little room. Still he sat in his chair, staring straight ahead into the gloom and thinking.
Then the door opened. Shifting his eyes he discovered a dim shadow in the opening. Whoever it was stood motionless until a low, clear voice asked sharply:
He got up, then, and shuffled to a http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-010.htm shelf, where he felt for a kerosene lamp and lighted it.
"Come in, Nan," he said without turning around, as he stooped over the lamp and adjusted the wick.
The yellow light showed a young woman standing in the doorway, a woman of perhaps thirty-five. She was tall, erect, her features well formed, her eyes bright and searching. Her walking-suit was neat and modish and fitted well her graceful, rounded form. On her arm was a huge basket, which she placed upon a chair as she advanced into the room and closed the door behind her.
"So you've come back," remarked Old Swallowtail, standing before her and regarding her critically.
"A self-evident fact, Dad," she answered lightly, removing her hat. "Where's Ingua?"
"At a dinner party across the river."
"That's good. Is she well?"
"What do you care, Nan, whether she is well or not?"
"If she's at a dinner party I needn't worry. Forgive the foolish question, Dad. Brennan promised to bring my suit case over in the morning. I lugged the basket myself."
"What's in the basket?"
"Food. Unless you've changed your mode of living the cupboard's pretty bare, and this is Saturday night. I can sleep on that heartbreaking husk mattress with Ingua, but I'll be skinned if I eat your salt junk and corn pone. Forewarned is forearmed; I brought my own grub."
As she spoke she hung her hat and coat on some pegs, turned the lamp a little higher and then, pausing with hands on hips, she looked inquisitively at her father.
"You seem pretty husky, for your age," she continued, with a hard little laugh.
"You've been prospering, Nan."
"Yes," sitting in a chair and crossing her legs, "I've found my forte at last. For three years, nearly, I've been employed by the Secret Service Department at Washington."
"I've made good. My record as a woman sleuth is excellent. I make more money in a week--when I'm working--than you do in a year. Unless--" She paused abruptly and gave him a queer look.
"Unless it's true that you're coining money in a way that's not legal."
He stood motionless before her, reading her face. She returned his scrutiny with interest. Neither resumed the conversation for a time. Finally the old man sank back into his chair.
"A female detective," said he, a little bitterly, "is still--a female."
"And likewise a detective. I know more about you, Dad, than you think," she asserted, in an easy, composed tone that it seemed impossible to disturb. "You need looking after, just at this juncture, and as I've been granted a vacation I ran up here to look after you."
"In what way, Nan?"
"We'll talk that over later. There isn't much love lost between us, more's the pity. You've always thought more of your infernal 'Cause' than of your daughter. But we're Craggs, both of us, and it's the Cragg custom to stand by the family."
It struck him as curious that Ingua had repeated almost those very words earlier that same evening. He had never taught them the Cragg motto, "Stand Fast," that he could remember, yet both Nan and her child were loyal to the code. Was _he_ loyal, too? Had he stood by Nan in the past, and Ingua in the present, as a Cragg should do?
His face was a bit haggard as he sat in his chair and faced his frank-spoken daughter, whose clear eyes did not waver before his questioning gaze.
"I know what you're thinking," said she; "that I've never been much of a daughter to you. Well, neither have you been much of a father to me. Ever since I was born and my unknown mother--lucky soul!--died, you've been obsessed by an idea which, lofty and altruistic as you may have considered it, has rendered you self-centered, cold and inconsiderate of your own flesh and blood. Then there's that devilish temper of yours to contend with. I couldn't stand the life here. I wandered away and goodness knows how I managed to live year after year in a struggle with the world, rather than endure your society and the hardships you thrust upon me. You've always had money, yet not a cent would you devote to your family. You lived like a dog and wanted me to do the same, and I wouldn't. Finally I met a good man and married him. He wasn't rich but he was generous. When he died I was thrown on my own resources again, with a child of my own to look after. Circumstances forced me to leave Ingua with you while I hunted for work. I found it. I'm a detective, well-known and respected in my profession."
"I'm glad to know you are prosperous," he said gently, as she paused. He made no excuses. He did not contradict her accusations. He waited to hear her out.
"So," said Nan, in a careless, offhand tone, "I've come here to save you. You're in trouble."
"I am not aware of it."
"Very true. If you were, the danger would be less. I've always had to guess at most of your secret life. I knew you were sly and secretive. I didn't know until now that you've been crooked."
He frowned a little but made no retort.
"It doesn't surprise me, however," she continued. "A good many folks are crooked, at times, and the only wonder is that a clever man like you has tripped and allowed himself to fall under suspicion. Suspicion leads to investigation--when it's followed up--and investigation, in such cases, leads to--jail."
He gave a low growl that sounded like the cry of an enraged beast, and gripped the arms of his chair fiercely. Then he rose and paced the room with frantic energy. Nan watched him with a half smile on http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-003.htm her face. When he had finally mastered his wrath and became more quiet she said:
"Don't worry, Dad. I said I have come to save you. It will be fun, after working for the Government so long, to work against it. There's a certain red-headed imp in this neighborhood who is the daughter of our assistant chief, John O'Gorman. Her name is Josie O'Gorman and she's in training for the same profession of which I'm an ornament. I won't sneer at her, for she's clever, in a way, but I'd like to show O'Gorman that Nan Shelley--that's my name in Washington--is a little more clever than his pet. This Josie O'Gorman is staying with the Hathaway family. She's been probing your secret life and business enterprises and has unearthed an important clew in which the department is bound to be interested. So she sent a code telegram to O'Gorman, who left it on his desk long enough for me to decipher and read it. I don't know what the assistant chief will do about it, for I left Washington an hour later and came straight to you. What I do know is that I'm in time to spike Miss Josie's guns, which will give me a great deal of pleasure. She doesn't know I'm your daughter, any more than O'Gorman does, so if the girl sees me here she'll imagine I'm on Government business. But I want to keep out of her way for a time. Do you know the girl, Dad?"
|Friday, 20-Mar-2009 06:21
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Pass Your Free MB3-209 Exam
Mary Louise entered her friend's room at seven o'clock and exclaimed: "Not up yet?"
Josie raised her head drowsily from the pillow.
"Let me sleep till noon," she pleaded. "I've been out all night."
"And did you learn anything?" was the eager question.
"Please let me sleep!"
"Shall I send you up some http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-215.htm breakfast, Josie?"
She rolled over, drawing the clothes about her, and Mary Louise softly left the darkened room and went down to breakfast.
"Gran'pa Jim," said she, thoughtfully buttering her toast, "do you think it's right for Josie to be wandering around in the dead of night?"
He gave her an odd look and smiled.
"If I remember aright, it was one Miss Mary Louise Burrows who thrust Josie into this vortex of mystery."
"You didn't answer my question, Gran'pa Jim."
"I can imagine no harm, to girl or man, in being abroad in this peaceful country at night, if one has the nerve to undertake it. You and I, dear, prefer our beds. Josie is wrapped up in the science of criminal investigation and has the enthusiasm of youth to egg her on. Moreover, she is sensible enough to know what is best for her. I do not think we need worry over her nightly wanderings, which doubtless have an object. Has she made any important discovery as yet?"
"I believe not," said Mary Louise. "She has learned enough to be positive that old Mr. Cragg is engaged in some secret occupation of an illegal character, but so far she is unable to determine what it is. He's a very queer old man, it seems, but shrewd and clever enough to keep his secret to himself."
"And how about the disappearance of Mr. Joselyn?"
"We're divided in opinion about that," said the girl. "Ingua and I both believe Mr. Cragg murdered him, but Josie isn't sure of it. If he did, however, Josie thinks we will find the poor man's grave somewhere under the stones of the river bed. There was no grave dug on our grounds, that is certain."
Colonel Hathaway regarded her seriously.
"I am sorry, Mary Louise," he remarked, "that we ever decided to mix in this affair. I did not realize, when first you proposed having Josie here, that the thing might become so tragic."
"It has developed under investigation, you see," she replied. "But I am not very sure of Josie's ability, because she is not very sure of it herself. She dare not, even yet, advance a positive opinion. Unless she learned something last night she is still groping in the dark."
"We must give her time," said the Colonel.
"We have accomplished some good, however," continued the girl. "Ingua is much happier and more content. She is improving in her speech and manners and is growing ambitious to become a respectable and refined young lady. She doesn't often give way to temper, as she used to do on every occasion, and I am sure if she could be removed from her grandfather's evil influence she would soon develop in a way to surprise us all."
"Does her grandfather's influence seem to be evil, then?" asked the Colonel.
"He has surrounded her with privations, if not with actual want," said she. "Only the night before last he was in such a violent rage that he tried to smash everything in the house. That is surely an evil example to set before the child, who has a temper of her own, perhaps inherited from him. He has, however, bought her a new dress--the first one she has had in more than a year--so perhaps the old man at times relents toward his granddaughter and tries to atone for his shortcomings."
Gran'pa Jim was thoughtful for a time.
"Perhaps," he presently remarked, "Mr. Cragg has but little money to buy dresses with. I do not imagine that a man so well educated as you report him to be would prefer to live in a hovel, if he could afford anything better."
"If he is now poor, what has he done with all his money?" demanded Mary Louise.
"That is a part of the mystery, isn't it? Do you know, my dear, I can't help having a kindly thought for this poor man; perhaps because he is a grandfather and has a granddaughter--just as I have."
"He doesn't treat her in the same way, Gran'pa Jim," said she, with a loving look toward the handsome old Colonel.
"And there is a perceptible difference between Ingua and Mary Louise," he added with a smile.
They were to have Ingua's dress fitted by Miss Huckins that morning, and as Josie was fast asleep Mary Louise went across to the cottage to go with the girl on her errand. To her surprise she found old Mr. Cragg sitting upon his little front porch, quite motionless and with his arms folded across his chest. He stared straight ahead and was evidently in deep thought. This was odd, because he was usually at his office an hour or more before this time.
Mary Louise hesitated whether to http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-210.htm advance or retreat. She had never as yet come into personal contact with Ingua's grandfather and, suspecting him of many crimes, she shrank from meeting him now. But she was herself in plain sight before she discovered his presence and it would be fully as embarrassing to run away as to face him boldly. Moreover, through the open doorway she could see Ingua passing back and forth in the kitchen, engaged in her customary housework. So on she came.
Mr. Cragg had not seemed to observe her, at first, but as she now approached the porch he rose from his chair and bowed with a courtly grace that astonished her. In many ways his dignified manners seemed to fit his colonial costume.
"You will find Ingua inside, I believe," he said.
"I--I am Mary Louise Burrows."
Again he bowed.
"I am glad to meet you, Miss Burrows. And I am glad that you and Ingua are getting acquainted," he rejoined, in even, well modulated tones. "She has not many friends and her association with you will be sure to benefit her."
Mary Louise was so amazed that she fairly gasped.
"I--I like Ingua," she said. "We're going into town to have her new dress tried on this morning."
He nodded and resumed his chair. His unexpected politeness gave her courage.
"It's going to be a pretty dress," she continued, "and, if only she had a new hat to go with it, Ingua would have a nice outfit. She needs new shoes, though," as an afterthought, "and perhaps a few other little things--like stockings and underwear."
He was silent, wholly unresponsive to her suggestion.
"I--I'd like to buy them for her myself," went on the girl, in a wistful tone, "only Ingua is so proud that she won't accept gifts from me."
Still he remained silent.
"I wonder," she said, with obvious hesitation, "if you would allow me to give _you_ the things, sir, and then you give them to Ingua, as if they came from yourself."
"No!" It was a veritable explosion, so fierce that she started back in terror. Then he rose from his chair, abruptly quitted the porch and walked down the path toward the bridge in his accustomed deliberate, dignified manner.
Ingua, overhearing his ejaculation, came to the open window to see what had caused it.
"Oh, it's you, Mary Louise, is it?" she exclaimed. "Thank goodness, you've drove Gran'dad off to the office. I thought he'd planted himself in that chair for the whole day."
"Are you ready to go to Miss Huckins'?" asked Mary Louise.
"I will be, in a few minutes. Gran'dad was late gett'n' up this mornin' and that put things back. He had the 'wakes' ag'in last night."
"Oh; did he walk out, then?"
"Got back at about daylight and went to bed. That's why he slep' so late."
Mary Louise reflected that in such a case Josie ought to have some news to tell her. She answered Ingua's inquiries after Josie by saying she was engaged this morning and would not go to town with them, so presently the two girls set off together. Mary Louise was much better qualified to direct the making of the new dress than was Josie, and she gave Miss Huckins some hints on modern attire that somewhat astonished the country dressmaker but were gratefully received. There was no question but that Mary Louise was stylishly, if simply, dressed on all occasions, and so Miss Huckins was glad to follow the young girl's advice.
They were in the dressmaker's shop a long time, fitting and planning, and when at length they came down the stairs they saw Sol Jerrems standing in his door and closely scrutinizing through his big horn spectacles something he held in his hand. As Mary Louise wished to make a slight purchase at the store she approached the proprietor, who said in a puzzled tone of voice:
"I dunno what t' say to you folks, 'cause I'm up in the air. This money may be genooine, but it looks to me like a counterfeit," and he held up a new ten-dollar bill.
"I want a roll of tape, please," said Mary Louise. "I hope your money is good, Mr. Jerrems, but its value cannot interest us."
"I dunno 'bout that," he replied, looking hard at Ingua, "Ol' Swallertail gimme this bill, not ten minutes ago, an' said as his gran'darter was to buy whatever she liked, as fur as the money would go. That order was so queer that it made me suspicious. See here: a few days ago ol' Cragg bought Ingua a dress--an' paid for it, by gum!--an' now he wants her t' git ten dollars' wuth o' shoes an' things! Don't that look mighty strange?"
"Why?" asked Mary Louise.
"'Cause it's the first money he's spent on the kid since I kin remember, an' he's allus talkin' poverty an' says how he'll die in the poorhouse if prices keep goin' up, as they hev durin' the furrin war that's now hummin' acrost the water. If he's _that_ poor, an' on a sudden springs a ten-dollar bill on me for fixin's fer his kid, there's sure somethin' wrong somewhere. I got stuck on a bill jus' like this a year ago, an' I ain't goin' to let any goods go till I find out for sure whether it's real money or not."
"When can you find out?" inquired Mary Louise.
"To-morrer there's a drummer due here f'm the city--a feller keen as a razor--who'll know in a minute if the bill is a counterfeit. If he says it's good, then Ingua kin trade it out, but I ain't goin' to take no chances."
Ingua came close to the storekeeper, her face dark with passion.
"Come," said Mary Louise, taking the child's arm, "let us go home. I am sure Mr. Jerrems is over particular and that the money is all right. But we can wait until to-morrow, easily. Come, Ingua."
The child went reluctantly, much preferring to vent her indignation on old Sol. Mary Louise tried to get her mind off the insult.
"We'll have the things, all right, Ingua," she said. "Wasn't it splendid in your grandfather to be so generous, when he has so little money to spend? And the ten dollars will fit you up famously. I wish, though," she http://www.certifyme.com/MB3-209.htm added, "there was another or a better store at the Crossing at which to trade."
"Well, there ain't," observed Ingua, "so we hev to put up with that Sol Jerrems. When I tell Gran'dad about this business I bet he'll punch Sol Jerrems' nose."
"Don't tell him," advised Mary Louise.
"I think he gave this money to Mr. Jerrems on a sudden impulse. Perhaps, if there is any question about its being genuine, he will take it back, and you will lose the value of it. Better wait until to-morrow, when of course the drummer will pronounce it all right. My opinion is that Mr. Jerrems is so unused to new ten dollar bills that having one makes him unjustly suspicious."
"I guess yer right," said Ingua more cheerfully. "It's amazin' that Gran'dad loosened up at all. An' he might repent, like you say, an' take the money back. So I'll be like ol' Sol--I'll take no chances."
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