None of it might ever have happened, if Richard Kendrick had gone into
the house of Mr. Robert Gray, on that first night, by the front door.
For, if he had made his first entrance by that front door, if he had
been admitted by the maidservant in proper fashion and conducted into
Judge Calvin Gray's presence in the library, if he had delivered his
message, from old Matthew Kendrick, his grandfather, and had come away
again, ushered out of that same front door, the chances are that he
never would have gone again. In which case there would have been no
story to tell.
It all came about--or so it seems--from its being a very rainy night in
late October, and from young Kendrick's wearing an all-concealing
motoring rain-coat and cap. He had been for a long drive into the
country, and had just returned, mud-splashed, when his grandfather,
having taken it into his head that a message must be delivered at once,
requested his grandson to act as his messenger.
So the young man had impatiently bolted out with the message, had sent
his car rushing through the city streets, and had become a still muddier
and wetter figure than before when he stood upon the porch of the old
Gray homestead, well out in the edge of the city, and put thumb to the
His hand was stayed by the shrill call of a small boy who dashed up on
the porch out of the dusk. "You can't get in that way," young Ted Gray
cried. "Something's happened to the lock--they've sent for a man to fix
it. Come round to the back with me--I'll show you."
So this was why Richard Kendrick came to be conducted by way of the
tall-pillared rear porch into the house through the rear door of the
wide, central hall. There was no light at this end of the hall, and the
old-fashioned, high-backed settee which stood there was in shadow.
With a glance at the caller's muddy condition the young son of the house
decided it the part of prudence to assign him this waiting-place, while
he himself should go in search of his uncle. The lad had seen the big
motor-car at the gate; quite naturally he took its driver for a
Ted looked in at the library door; his uncle was not there. He raced off
upstairs, not noting the change which had already taken place in the
visitor's appearance with the removal of the muddy coat and cap.
Richard Kendrick now looked a particularly personable young man, well
built, well dressed, of the brown-haired, gray-eyed, clear-skinned type.
The eyes were very fine; the nose and mouth had the lines of
distinction; the chin was--positive. Altogether the young man did not
look the part he had that day been playing--that of the rich young idler
who drives a hundred and fifty miles in a powerful car, over the worst
kind of roads, merely for the sake of diversion and a good luncheon.
While he waited Richard considered the hall, at one end of which he sat
in the shadow. There was something very homelike about this hall. The
quaint landscape paper on the walls, the perceptibly worn and faded