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|II As Seen By Detective Sweetwater||Anna Katharine Green|
XVII In Which A Book Plays Leading Part
|Page 1 of 8||
When Mr. Brotherson came in that night, he noticed that the door of the room adjoining his own stood open. He did not hesitate. Making immediately for it, he took a glance inside, then spoke up with a ringing intonation:
"Halloo! coming to live in this hole?"
The occupant a young man, evidently a workman and somewhat sickly if one could judge from his complexion - turned around from some tinkering he was engaged in and met the intruder fairly, face to face. If his jaw fell, it seemed to be from admiration. No other emotion would have so lighted his eye as he took in the others proportions and commanding features. No dress - Brotherson was never seen in any other than the homeliest garb in these days - could make him look common or akin to his surroundings. Whether seen near or far, his presence always caused surprise, and surprise was what the young man showed, as he answered briskly:
"Yes, this is to be my castle. Are you the owner of the buildings? If so -"
"I am not the owner. I live next door. Haven't I seen you before, young man?"
Never was there a more penetrating eye than Orlando Brotherson's. As he asked this question it took some effort on the part of the other to hold his own and laugh with perfect naturalness as he replied:
"If you ever go up Henry Street it's likely enough that you've seen me not once, but many times. I'm the fellow who works at the bench next the window in Schuper's repairing shop. Everybody knows me."
Audacity often carries the day when subtler means would fail. Brotherson stared at the youth, then ventured another question:
"A carpenter, eh?"
"Yes, and I'm an A1 man at my job. Excuse my brag. It's my one card of introduction."
"I've seen you. I've seen you somewhere else than in Schuper's shop. Do you remember me?"
"No, sir; I'm sorry to be imperlite but I don't remember you at all. Won't you sit down? It's not very cheerful, but I'm so glad to get out of the room I was in last night that this looks all right to me. Back there, other building," he whispered. "I didn't know, and took the room which had a window in it; but -" The stop was significant; so was his smile which had a touch of sickliness in it, as well as humour.
But Brotherson was not to be caught.
"You slept in the building last night? In the other half, I mean?"
"Yes, I - slept."
The strong lip of the other man curled disdainfully.
"I saw you," said he. "You were standing in the window overlooking the court. You were not sleeping then. I suppose you know that a woman died in that room?"
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