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I As Seen By Two Strangers Anna Katharine Green

IX The Incident Of The Partly Lifted Shade

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The man who lived here was not only a student, as was evinced by a long wall full of books, but he was an art-lover, a musician, an inventor and an athlete.

So much could be learned from the most cursory glance. A more careful one picked up other facts fully as startling and impressive. The books were choice; the invention to all appearance a practical one; the art of a high order and the music, such as was in view, of a character of which the nicest taste need not be ashamed. George began to feel quite conscious of the intrusion of which they had been guilty, and was amazed at the ease with which the detective carried himself in the presence of such manifestations of culture and good, hard work. He was trying to recall the exact appearance of the figure he had seen stooping in the snowy street two nights before, when he found himself staring at the occupant of the room, who had taken up his stand before them and was regarding them while they were regarding the room.

He had thrown aside his hat and rid himself of his overcoat, and the fearlessness of his aspect seemed to daunt the hitherto dauntless Sweetwater, who, for the first time in his life, perhaps, hunted in vain for words with which to start conversation.

Had he made an awful mistake? Was this Mr. Dunn what he seemed an unknown and careful genius, battling with great odds in his honest

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struggle to give the world something of value in return for what it had given him? The quick, almost deprecatory glance he darted at George betrayed his dismay; a dismay which George had begun to share, notwithstanding his growing belief that the man's face was not wholly unknown to him even if he could not recognise it as the one he had seen outside the Clermont.

"You seem to have forgotten your errand," came in quiet, if not good-natured, sarcasm from their patiently waiting host.

"It's the room," muttered Sweetwater, with an attempt at his old-time ease which was not as fully successful as usual. "What an all-fired genius you must be. I never saw the like. And in a tenement house too! You ought to be in one of those big new studio buildings in New York where artists be and everything you see is beautiful. You'd appreciate it, you would."

The detective started, George started, at the gleam which answered him from a very uncommon eye. It was a temporary flash, however, and quickly veiled, and the tone in which this Dunn now spoke was anything but an encouraging one.

"I thought you were desirous of joining a socialistic fraternity," said he; " a true aspirant for such honours don't care for beautiful things unless all can have them. I prefer my tenement. How is it with you, friends?"

Sweetwater found some sort of a reply, though the thing which this man now did must have startled him, as it certainly did George. They were so grouped that a table quite full of anomalous objects stood at the back of their host, and consequently quite beyond their own reach. As Sweetwater began to speak, he whom he had addressed by the name of Dunn, drew a pistol from his breast pocket and laid it down barrel towards them on this table top. Then he looked up courteously enough, and listened till Sweetwater was done. A very handsome man, but one not to be trifled with in the slightest degree. Both recognised this fact, and George, for one, began to edge towards the door.

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