The Filigree Ball
8. Slyer Woes
Let me repeat. The person who had left the marks of his presence in the upper chamber of
the Moore house was not the man popularly known as Uncle David. Who, then, had it
been? But one name suggested itself to me, - Mr. Jeffrey.
It was not so easy for me to reach this man as it had been for me to reach his singular and
unimaginative uncle. In the first place, his door had been closed to every one since his
wife's death. Neither friends nor strangers could gain admittance there unless they came
vested with authority from the coroner. And this, even if I could manage to obtain it,
would not answer in my case. What I had to say and do would better follow a chance
encounter. But no chance encounter with this gentleman seemed likely to fall to my lot,
and finally I swallowed my pride and asked another favor of the lieutenant. Would he see
that I was given an opportunity for carrying some message, or of doing some errand
which would lead to my having an interview with Mr. Jeffrey? If he would, I stood ready
to promise that my curiosity should stop at this point and that I would cease to make a
nuisance of myself.
I think he suspected me by this time; but he made no remark, and in a day or so I was
summoned to carry a note to the house in K Street.
Mrs. Jeffrey's funeral had taken place the day before and the house looked deserted. But
my summons speedily brought a neat-looking, but very nervous maid to the door, whose
eyes took on an unmistakable expression of resistance when I announced my errand and
asked to see Mr. Jeffrey. The expression would not have struck me as peculiar if she had
raised any objection to the interview I had solicited. But she did not. Her fear and
antipathy, consequently, sprang from some other source than her interest in the man most
threatened by my visit. Was it-could it be, on her own account? Recalling what I had
heard whispered about the station concerning a maid of the Jeffreys who always seemed
on the point of saying something which never really left her lips, I stopped her as she was
about to slip upstairs and quietly asked:
"Are you Loretta?"
The way she turned, the way she looked at me as she gave me a short affirmative, and
then quickly proceeded on her way, convinced me that my colleagues were right as to her
being a woman who had some cause for dreading police interference. I instantly made up
my mind that here was a mine to be worked and that I knew just the demure little soul
best equipped to act the part of miner.
In a moment she came back, and I had a chance to note again her pretty but
expressionless features, among which the restless eyes alone bespoke character or
"Mr. Jeffrey is in the back room upstairs," she announced. "He says for you to come up."