A Case of Eavesdropping by Algernon Blackwood
Jim Shorthouse was the sort of fellow who
always made a mess of things. Everything with
which his hands or mind came into contact issued
from such contact in an unqualified and irremediable
state of mess. His college days were a mess: he
was twice rusticated. His schooldays were a mess:
he went to half a dozen, each passing him on to
the next with a worse character and in a more
developed state of mess. His early boyhood was
the sort of mess that copy-books and dictionaries
spell with a big "M," and his babyhood—ugh! was
the embodiment of howling, yowling, screaming
At the age of forty, however, there came a
change in his troubled life, when he met a girl
with half a million in her own right, who consented
to marry him, and who very soon succeeded in
reducing his most messy existence into a state of
comparative order and system.
Certain incidents, important and otherwise, of
Jim's life would never have come to be told here
but for the fact that in getting into his "messes"
and out of them again he succeeded in drawing
himself into the atmosphere of peculiar circumstances
and strange happenings. He attracted to
his path the curious adventures of life as unfailingly
as meat attracts flies, and jam wasps. It is to the
meat and jam of his life, so to speak, that he owes
his experiences; his after-life was all pudding,
which attracts nothing but greedy children. With
marriage the interest of his life ceased for all but
one person, and his path became regular as the
sun's instead of erratic as a comet's.
The first experience in order of time that he
related to me shows that somewhere latent behind
his disarranged nervous system there lay psychic
perceptions of an uncommon order. About the
age of twenty-two—I think after his second
rustication—his father's purse and patience had
equally given out, and Jim found himself stranded
high and dry in a large American city. High and
dry! And the only clothes that had no holes in
them safely in the keeping of his uncle's wardrobe.
Careful reflection on a bench in one of the city
parks led him to the conclusion that the only
thing to do was to persuade the city editor of one
of the daily journals that he possessed an observant
mind and a ready pen, and that he could "do good
work for your paper, sir, as a reporter." This,
then, he did, standing at a most unnatural angle
between the editor and the window to conceal the
whereabouts of the holes.
"Guess we'll have to give you a week's trial,"
said the editor, who, ever on the lookout for good
chance material, took on shoals of men in that way
and retained on the average one man per shoal.
Anyhow it gave Jim Shorthouse the wherewithal
to sew up the holes and relieve his uncle's wardrobe
of its burden.
Then he went to find living quarters; and in
this proceeding his unique characteristics already
referred to—what theosophists would call his
Karma—began unmistakably to assert themselves,
for it was in the house he eventually selected that
this sad tale took place.
There are no "diggings" in American cities.
The alternatives for small incomes are grim enough—rooms
in a boarding-house where meals are
served, or in a room-house where no meals are
served—not even breakfast. Rich people live in
palaces, of course, but Jim had nothing to do
with "sich-like." His horizon was bounded by
boarding-houses and room-houses; and, owing to
the necessary irregularity of his meals and hours,
he took the latter.
It was a large, gaunt-looking place in a side street,
with dirty windows and a creaking iron gate, but
the rooms were large, and the one he selected and
paid for in advance was on the top floor. The landlady
looked gaunt and dusty as the house, and quite
as old. Her eyes were green and faded, and her
"Waal," she twanged, with her electrifying
Western drawl, "that's the room, if you like it, and
that's the price I said. Now, if you want it, why,
just say so; and if you don't, why, it don't hurt
Jim wanted to shake her, but he feared the
clouds of long-accumulated dust in her clothes, and
as the price and size of the room suited him, he
decided to take it.
"Anyone else on this floor?" he asked.
She looked at him queerly out of her faded eyes
before she answered.
"None of my guests ever put such questions to
me before," she said; "but I guess you're different.
Why, there's no one at all but an old gent that's
stayed here every bit of five years. He's over
thar," pointing to the end of the passage.
"Ah! I see," said Shorthouse feebly. "So I'm
alone up here?"
"Reckon you are, pretty near," she twanged out,
ending the conversation abruptly by turning her
back on her new "guest," and going slowly and
The newspaper work kept Shorthouse out most
of the night. Three times a week he got home at
1 a.m., and three times at 3 a.m. The room proved
comfortable enough, and he paid for a second week.
His unusual hours had so far prevented his meeting
any inmates of the house, and not a sound had
been heard from the "old gent" who shared the
floor with him. It seemed a very quiet house.
One night, about the middle of the second week,
he came home tired after a long day's work. The
lamp that usually stood all night in the hall had
burned itself out, and he had to stumble upstairs
in the dark. He made considerable noise in doing
so, but nobody seemed to be disturbed. The whole
house was utterly quiet, and probably everybody
was asleep. There were no lights under any of the
doors. All was in darkness. It was after two
After reading some English letters that had
come during the day, and dipping for a few
minutes into a book, he became drowsy and got
ready for bed. Just as he was about to get in
between the sheets, he stopped for a moment and
listened. There rose in the night, as he did so, the
sound of steps somewhere in the house below.
Listening attentively, he heard that it was somebody
coming upstairs—a heavy tread, and the
owner taking no pains to step quietly. On it came
up the stairs, tramp, tramp, tramp—evidently the
tread of a big man, and one in something of a hurry.
At once thoughts connected somehow with fire
and police flashed through Jim's brain, but there
were no sounds of voices with the steps, and he
reflected in the same moment that it could only be
the old gentleman keeping late hours and tumbling
upstairs in the darkness. He was in the act of
turning out the gas and stepping into bed, when
the house resumed its former stillness by the footsteps
suddenly coming to a dead stop immediately
outside his own room.
With his hand on the gas, Shorthouse paused a
moment before turning it out to see if the steps
would go on again, when he was startled by a loud
knocking on his door. Instantly, in obedience to a
curious and unexplained instinct, he turned out the
light, leaving himself and the room in total
He had scarcely taken a step across the room to
open the door, when a voice from the other side of
the wall, so close it almost sounded in his ear,
exclaimed in German, "Is that you, father? Come
The speaker was a man in the next room, and
the knocking, after all, had not been on his own
door, but on that of the adjoining chamber, which
he had supposed to be vacant.
Almost before the man in the passage had
time to answer in German, "Let me in at once,"
Jim heard someone cross the floor and unlock
the door. Then it was slammed to with a bang,
and there was audible the sound of footsteps about
the room, and of chairs being drawn up to a table
and knocking against furniture on the way. The
men seemed wholly regardless of their neighbour's
comfort, for they made noise enough to waken the
"Serves me right for taking a room in such a
cheap hole," reflected Jim in the darkness. "I
wonder whom she's let the room to!"
The two rooms, the landlady had told him, were
originally one. She had put up a thin partition—just
a row of boards—to increase her income. The
doors were adjacent, and only separated by the
massive upright beam between them. When one
was opened or shut the other rattled.
With utter indifference to the comfort of the
other sleepers in the house, the two Germans had
meanwhile commenced to talk both at once and at
the top of their voices. They talked emphatically,
even angrily. The words "Father" and "Otto"
were freely used. Shorthouse understood German,
but as he stood listening for the first minute or
two, an eavesdropper in spite of himself, it was
difficult to make head or tail of the talk, for neither
would give way to the other, and the jumble of
guttural sounds and unfinished sentences was
wholly unintelligible. Then, very suddenly, both
voices dropped together; and, after a moment's
pause, the deep tones of one of them, who seemed
to be the "father," said, with the utmost
"You mean, Otto, that you refuse to get it?"
There was a sound of someone shuffling in the
chair before the answer came. "I mean that I don't
know how to get it. It is so much, father. It is
too much. A part of it—"
"A part of it!" cried the other, with an angry
oath, "a part of it, when ruin and disgrace are
already in the house, is worse than useless. If you
can get half you can get all, you wretched fool.
Half-measures only damn all concerned."
"You told me last time—" began the other
firmly, but was not allowed to finish. A succession
of horrible oaths drowned his sentence, and the
father went on, in a voice vibrating with anger—
"You know she will give you anything. You
have only been married a few months. If you ask
and give a plausible reason you can get all we want
and more. You can ask it temporarily. All will
be paid back. It will re-establish the firm, and she
will never know what was done with it. With that
amount, Otto, you know I can recoup all these
terrible losses, and in less than a year all will be
repaid. But without it. . . . You must get it, Otto.
Hear me, you must. Am I to be arrested for the
misuse of trust moneys? Is our honoured name to
be cursed and spat on?" The old man choked and
stammered in his anger and desperation.
Shorthouse stood shivering in the darkness and
listening in spite of himself. The conversation had
carried him along with it, and he had been for some
reason afraid to let his neighbourhood be known.
But at this point he realised that he had listened
too long and that he must inform the two men that
they could be overheard to every single syllable. So
he coughed loudly, and at the same time rattled
the handle of his door. It seemed to have no effect,
for the voices continued just as loudly as before,
the son protesting and the father growing more and
more angry. He coughed again persistently, and
also contrived purposely in the darkness to tumble
against the partition, feeling the thin boards yield
easily under his weight, and making a considerable
noise in so doing. But the voices went on unconcernedly,
and louder than ever. Could it be
possible they had not heard?
By this time Jim was more concerned about his
own sleep than the morality of overhearing the
private scandals of his neighbours, and he went
out into the passage and knocked smartly at their
door. Instantly, as if by magic, the sounds ceased.
Everything dropped into utter silence. There was
no light under the door and not a whisper could
be heard within. He knocked again, but received
"Gentlemen," he began at length, with his lips
close to the keyhole and in German, "please do not
talk so loud. I can overhear all you say in the
next room. Besides, it is very late, and I wish to
He paused and listened, but no answer was
forthcoming. He turned the handle and found
the door was locked. Not a sound broke the
stillness of the night except the faint swish of the
wind over the skylight and the creaking of a
board here and there in the house below. The cold
air of a very early morning crept down the passage,
and made him shiver. The silence of the house
began to impress him disagreeably. He looked
behind him and about him, hoping, and yet fearing,
that something would break the stillness. The
voices still seemed to ring on in his ears; but that
sudden silence, when he knocked at the door,
affected him far more unpleasantly than the voices,
and put strange thoughts in his brain—thoughts
he did not like or approve.
Moving stealthily from the door, he peered over
the banisters into the space below. It was like a
deep vault that might conceal in its shadows
anything that was not good. It was not difficult
to fancy he saw an indistinct moving to-and-fro
below him. Was that a figure sitting on the stairs
peering up obliquely at him out of hideous eyes?
Was that a sound of whispering and shuffling
down there in the dark halls and forsaken
landings? Was it something more than the
inarticulate murmur of the night?
The wind made an effort overhead, singing
over the skylight, and the door behind him rattled
and made him start. He turned to go back to his
room, and the draught closed the door slowly in
his face as if there were someone pressing against
it from the other side. When he pushed it open
and went in, a hundred shadowy forms seemed to
dart swiftly and silently back to their corners and
hiding-places. But in the adjoining room the
sounds had entirely ceased, and Shorthouse soon
crept into bed, and left the house with its inmates,
waking or sleeping, to take care of themselves,
while he entered the region of dreams and silence.
Next day, strong in the common sense that the
sunlight brings, he determined to lodge a complaint
against the noisy occupants of the next room and
make the landlady request them to modify their
voices at such late hours of the night and morning.
But it so happened that she was not to be seen that
day, and when he returned from the office at midnight
it was, of course, too late.
Looking under the door as he came up to bed he
noticed that there was no light, and concluded that
the Germans were not in. So much the better.
He went to sleep about one o'clock, fully decided
that if they came up later and woke him with
their horrible noises he would not rest till he had
roused the landlady and made her reprove them
with that authoritative twang, in which every
word was like the lash of a metallic whip.
However, there proved to be no need for such
drastic measures, for Shorthouse slumbered peacefully
all night, and his dreams—chiefly of the
fields of grain and flocks of sheep on the far-away
farms of his father's estate—were permitted to run
their fanciful course unbroken.
Two nights later, however, when he came home
tired out, after a difficult day, and wet and blown
about by one of the wickedest storms he had ever
seen, his dreams—always of the fields and sheep—were
not destined to be so undisturbed.
He had already dozed off in that delicious glow
that follows the removal of wet clothes and the
immediate snuggling under warm blankets, when
his consciousness, hovering on the borderland
between sleep and waking, was vaguely troubled
by a sound that rose indistinctly from the depths
of the house, and, between the gusts of wind and
rain, reached his ears with an accompanying sense
of uneasiness and discomfort. It rose on the
night air with some pretence of regularity, dying
away again in the roar of the wind to reassert
itself distantly in the deep, brief hushes of the
For a few minutes Jim's dreams were coloured
only—tinged, as it were, by this impression of fear
approaching from somewhere insensibly upon him.
His consciousness, at first, refused to be drawn
back from that enchanted region where it had
wandered, and he did not immediately awaken.
But the nature of his dreams changed unpleasantly.
He saw the sheep suddenly run huddled together,
as though frightened by the neighbourhood of an
enemy, while the fields of waving corn became
agitated as though some monster were moving uncouthly
among the crowded stalks. The sky grew
dark, and in his dream an awful sound came somewhere
from the clouds. It was in reality the sound
downstairs growing more distinct.
Shorthouse shifted uneasily across the bed with
something like a groan of distress. The next
minute he awoke, and found himself sitting straight
up in bed—listening. Was it a nightmare? Had
he been dreaming evil dreams, that his flesh
crawled and the hair stirred on his head?
The room was dark and silent, but outside the
wind howled dismally and drove the rain with
repeated assaults against the rattling windows.
How nice it would be—the thought flashed
through his mind—if all winds, like the west
wind, went down with the sun! They made such
fiendish noises at night, like the crying of angry
voices. In the daytime they had such a different
sound. If only——
Hark! It was no dream after all, for the sound
was momentarily growing louder, and its cause
was coming up the stairs. He found himself
speculating feebly what this cause might be, but
the sound was still too indistinct to enable him to
arrive at any definite conclusion.
The voice of a church clock striking two made
itself heard above the wind. It was just about the
hour when the Germans had commenced their
performance three nights before. Shorthouse made
up his mind that if they began it again he would
not put up with it for very long. Yet he was
already horribly conscious of the difficulty he
would have of getting out of bed. The clothes
were so warm and comforting against his back.
The sound, still steadily coming nearer, had by this
time become differentiated from the confused
clamour of the elements, and had resolved itself
into the footsteps of one or more persons.
"The Germans, hang 'em!" thought Jim. "But
what on earth is the matter with me? I never felt
so queer in all my life."
He was trembling all over, and felt as cold as
though he were in a freezing atmosphere. His
nerves were steady enough, and he felt no diminution
of physical courage, but he was conscious of a
curious sense of malaise and trepidation, such as
even the most vigorous men have been known to
experience when in the first grip of some horrible
and deadly disease. As the footsteps approached
this feeling of weakness increased. He felt a
strange lassitude creeping over him, a sort of
exhaustion, accompanied by a growing numbness
in the extremities, and a sensation of dreaminess in
the head, as if perhaps the consciousness were
leaving its accustomed seat in the brain and
preparing to act on another plane. Yet, strange
to say, as the vitality was slowly withdrawn from
his body, his senses seemed to grow more acute.
Meanwhile the steps were already on the landing
at the top of the stairs, and Shorthouse, still
sitting upright in bed, heard a heavy body brush
past his door and along the wall outside, almost
immediately afterwards the loud knocking of
someone's knuckles on the door of the adjoining
Instantly, though so far not a sound had proceeded
from within, he heard, through the thin
partition, a chair pushed back and a man quickly
cross the floor and open the door.
"Ah! it's you," he heard in the son's voice.
Had the fellow, then, been sitting silently in there
all this time, waiting for his father's arrival? To
Shorthouse it came not as a pleasant reflection by
There was no answer to this dubious greeting,
but the door was closed quickly, and then there
was a sound as if a bag or parcel had been thrown
on a wooden table and had slid some distance
across it before stopping.
"What's that?" asked the son, with anxiety in
"You may know before I go," returned the other
gruffly. Indeed his voice was more than gruff: it
betrayed ill-suppressed passion.
Shorthouse was conscious of a strong desire to
stop the conversation before it proceeded any
further, but somehow or other his will was not
equal to the task, and he could not get out of
bed. The conversation went on, every tone and
inflexion distinctly audible above the noise of the
In a low voice the father continued. Jim
missed some of the words at the beginning of the
sentence. It ended with: " . . . but now they've
all left, and I've managed to get up to you. You
know what I've come for." There was distinct
menace in his tone.
"Yes," returned the other; "I have been
"And the money?" asked the father impatiently.
"You've had three days to get it in, and I've
contrived to stave off the worst so far—but
to-morrow is the end."
"Speak, Otto! What have you got for me?
Speak, my son; for God's sake, tell me."
There was a moment's silence, during which
the old man's vibrating accents seemed to echo
through the rooms. Then came in a low voice the
"I have nothing."
"Otto!" cried the other with passion, "nothing!"
"I can get nothing," came almost in a whisper.
"You lie!" cried the other, in a half-stifled
voice. "I swear you lie. Give me the money."
A chair was heard scraping along the floor.
Evidently the men had been sitting over the table,
and one of them had risen. Shorthouse heard the
bag or parcel drawn across the table, and then
a step as if one of the men was crossing to the
"Father, what's in that? I must know," said
Otto, with the first signs of determination in his
voice. There must have been an effort on the son's
part to gain possession of the parcel in question,
and on the father's to retain it, for between them
it fell to the ground. A curious rattle followed
its contact with the floor. Instantly there were
sounds of a scuffle. The men were struggling for
the possession of the box. The elder man with
oaths, and blasphemous imprecations, the other
with short gasps that betokened the strength of
his efforts. It was of short duration, and the
younger man had evidently won, for a minute
later was heard his angry exclamation.
"I knew it. Her jewels! You scoundrel, you
shall never have them. It is a crime."
The elder man uttered a short, guttural laugh,
which froze Jim's blood and made his skin creep.
No word was spoken, and for the space of ten
seconds there was a living silence. Then the air
trembled with the sound of a thud, followed
immediately by a groan and the crash of a heavy
body falling over on to the table. A second later
there was a lurching from the table on to the
floor and against the partition that separated the
rooms. The bed quivered an instant at the shock,
but the unholy spell was lifted from his soul and
Jim Shorthouse sprang out of bed and across the
floor in a single bound. He knew that ghastly
murder had been done—the murder by a father
of his son.
With shaking fingers but a determined heart he
lit the gas, and the first thing in which his eyes
corroborated the evidence of his ears was the
horrifying detail that the lower portion of the
partition bulged unnaturally into his own room.
The glaring paper with which it was covered had
cracked under the tension and the boards beneath
it bent inwards towards him. What hideous load
was behind them, he shuddered to think.
All this he saw in less than a second. Since the
final lurch against the wall not a sound had proceeded
from the room, not even a groan or a foot-step.
All was still but the howl of the wind,
which to his ears had in it a note of triumphant
Shorthouse was in the act of leaving the room
to rouse the house and send for the police—in fact
his hand was already on the door-knob—when
something in the room arrested his attention. Out
of the corner of his eyes he thought he caught
sight of something moving. He was sure of it,
and turning his eyes in the direction, he found
he was not mistaken.
Something was creeping slowly towards him
along the floor. It was something dark and
serpentine in shape, and it came from the place
where the partition bulged. He stooped down to
examine it with feelings of intense horror and
repugnance, and he discovered that it was moving
toward him from the other side of the wall. His
eyes were fascinated, and for the moment he was
unable to move. Silently, slowly, from side to side
like a thick worm, it crawled forward into the
room beneath his frightened eyes, until at length
he could stand it no longer and stretched out his
arm to touch it. But at the instant of contact he
withdrew his hand with a suppressed scream. It
was sluggish—and it was warm! and he saw that
his fingers were stained with living crimson.
A second more, and Shorthouse was out in the
passage with his hand on the door of the next room.
It was locked. He plunged forward with all his
weight against it, and, the lock giving way, he fell
headlong into a room that was pitch dark and very
cold. In a moment he was on his feet again and
trying to penetrate the blackness. Not a sound,
not a movement. Not even the sense of a presence.
It was empty, miserably empty!
Across the room he could trace the outline of a
window with rain streaming down the outside, and
the blurred lights of the city beyond. But the
room was empty, appallingly empty; and so still.
He stood there, cold as ice, staring, shivering
listening. Suddenly there was a step behind him
and a light flashed into the room, and when he
turned quickly with his arm up as if to ward off a
terrific blow he found himself face to face with the
landlady. Instantly the reaction began to set in.
It was nearly three o'clock in the morning, and
he was standing there with bare feet and striped
pyjamas in a small room, which in the merciful
light he perceived to be absolutely empty, carpetless,
and without a stick of furniture, or even a
window-blind. There he stood staring at the disagreeable
landlady. And there she stood too,
staring and silent, in a black wrapper, her head
almost bald, her face white as chalk, shading a
sputtering candle with one bony hand and peering
over it at him with her blinking green eyes. She
looked positively hideous.
"Waal?" she drawled at length, "I heard yer
right enough. Guess you couldn't sleep! Or just
prowlin' round a bit—is that it?"
The empty room, the absence of all traces of
the recent tragedy, the silence, the hour, his
striped pyjamas and bare feet—everything together
combined to deprive him momentarily of
speech. He stared at her blankly without a word.
"Waal?" clanked the awful voice.
"My dear woman," he burst out finally, "there's
been something awful—" So far his desperation
took him, but no farther. He positively stuck at
"Oh! there hasn't been nothin'," she said slowly
still peering at him. "I reckon you've only seen
and heard what the others did. I never can keep
folks on this floor long. Most of 'em catch on
sooner or later—that is, the ones that's kind of
quick and sensitive. Only you being an Englishman
I thought you wouldn't mind. Nothin' really
happens; it's only thinkin' like."
Shorthouse was beside himself. He felt ready
to pick her up and drop her over the banisters,
candle and all.
"Look there," he said, pointing at her within an
inch of her blinking eyes with the fingers that
had touched the oozing blood; "look there, my
good woman. Is that only thinking?"
She stared a minute, as if not knowing what
"I guess so," she said at length.
He followed her eyes, and to his amazement saw
that his fingers were as white as usual, and quite
free from the awful stain that had been there ten
minutes before. There was no sign of blood. No
amount of staring could bring it back. Had he
gone out of his mind? Had his eyes and ears
played such tricks with him? Had his senses
become false and perverted? He dashed past the
landlady, out into the passage, and gained his own
room in a couple of strides. Whew! . . . the
partition no longer bulged. The paper was not
torn. There was no creeping, crawling thing on
the faded old carpet.
"It's all over now," drawled the metallic voice
behind him. "I'm going to bed again."
He turned and saw the landlady slowly going
downstairs again, still shading the candle with
her hand and peering up at him from time to time
as she moved. A black, ugly, unwholesome object,
he thought, as she disappeared into the darkness
below, and the last flicker of her candle threw a
queer-shaped shadow along the wall and over the
Without hesitating a moment, Shorthouse threw
himself into his clothes and went out of the house.
He preferred the storm to the horrors of that top
floor, and he walked the streets till daylight. In
the evening he told the landlady he would leave
next day, in spite of her assurances that nothing
more would happen.
"It never comes back," she said—"that is, not
after he's killed."
"You gave me a lot for my money," he growled.
"Waal, it aren't my show," she drawled. "I'm
no spirit medium. You take chances. Some'll
sleep right along and never hear nothin'. Others,
like yourself, are different and get the whole
"Who's the old gentleman?—does he hear it?"
"There's no old gentleman at all," she answered
coolly. "I just told you that to make you feel
easy like in case you did hear anythin'. You
were all alone on the floor."
"Say now," she went on, after a pause in which
Shorthouse could think of nothing to say but unpublishable
things, "say now, do tell, did you
feel sort of cold when the show was on, sort of
tired and weak, I mean, as if you might be going
"How can I say?" he answered savagely;
"what I felt God only knows."
"Waal, but He won't tell," she drawled out.
"Only I was wonderin' how you really did feel,
because the man who had that room last was
found one morning in bed—"
"He was dead. He was the one before you.
Oh! You don't need to get rattled so. You're
all right. And it all really happened, they do
say. This house used to be a private residence
some twenty-five years ago, and a German family
of the name of Steinhardt lived here. They had
a big business in Wall Street, and stood 'way up
"Ah!" said her listener.
"Oh yes, they did, right at the top, till one fine
day it all bust and the old man skipped with the
"Skipped with the boodle?"
"That's so," she said; "got clear away with all
the money, and the son was found dead in his
house, committed soocide it was thought. Though
there was some as said he couldn't have stabbed
himself and fallen in that position. They said he
was murdered. The father died in prison. They
tried to fasten the murder on him, but there was
no motive, or no evidence, or no somethin'. I
"Very pretty," said Shorthouse.
"I'll show you somethin' mighty queer any-ways,"
she drawled, "if you'll come upstairs a
minute. I've heard the steps and voices lots of
times; they don't pheaze me any. I'd just as lief
hear so many dogs barkin'. You'll find the whole
story in the newspapers if you look it up—not
what goes on here, but the story of the Germans.
My house would be ruined if they told all, and
I'd sue for damages."
They reached the bedroom, and the woman
went in and pulled up the edge of the carpet
where Shorthouse had seen the blood soaking in
the previous night.
"Look thar, if you feel like it," said the old
hag. Stooping down, he saw a dark, dull stain in
the boards that corresponded exactly to the shape
and position of the blood as he had seen it.
That night he slept in a hotel, and the following
day sought new quarters. In the newspapers on
file in his office after a long search he found
twenty years back the detailed story, substantially
as the woman had said, of Steinhardt & Co.'s
failure, the absconding and subsequent arrest of
the senior partner, and the suicide, or murder, of
his son Otto. The landlady's room-house had
formerly been their private residence.