The Circular Staircase (Chapter 9, page 1 of 9)


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Chapter 9

"Aunt Ray!" Halsey said from the gloom behind the lamps. "What in the
world are you doing here?"

"Taking a walk," I said, trying to be composed. I don't think the
answer struck either of us as being ridiculous at the time. "Oh,
Halsey, where have you been?"

"Let me take you up to the house." He was in the road, and had Beulah
and the basket out of my arms in a moment. I could see the car plainly
now, and Warner was at the wheel--Warner in an ulster and a pair of
slippers, over Heaven knows what. Jack Bailey was not there. I got
in, and we went slowly and painfully up to the house.

We did not talk. What we had to say was too important to commence
there, and, besides, it took all kinds of coaxing from both men to get
the Dragon Fly up the last grade. Only when we had closed the front
door and stood facing each other in the hall, did Halsey say anything.
He slipped his strong young arm around my shoulders and turned me so I
faced the light.

"Poor Aunt Ray!" he said gently. And I nearly wept again. "I--I must
see Gertrude, too; we will have a three-cornered talk."

And then Gertrude herself came down the stairs. She had not been to
bed, evidently: she still wore the white negligee she had worn earlier
in the evening, and she limped somewhat. During her slow progress down
the stairs I had time to notice one thing: Mr. Jamieson had said the
woman who escaped from the cellar had worn no shoe on her right foot.
Gertrude's right ankle was the one she had sprained!

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