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4. She Wore Purple
The library again! but how changed! Evening light now instead of blazing
sunshine; and evening light so shaded that the corners seemed far and the many
articles of furniture, cumbering the spaces between, larger for the shadows in
which they stood hidden. Perhaps the man who sat there in company with the
judge regretted this. Perhaps, he would have preferred to see more perfectly that
portion of the room where Bela had taken his stand and finally fallen. It would
have been interesting to note whether the screen had been replaced before the
mysterious door which this most devoted of servants had protected to his last
gasp. Curiosity is admissible, even in a man, when the cause is really great.
But from the place where he sat there was no getting any possible view of that
part of the wall or of anything connected with it; and so, with every appearance of
satisfaction at being allowed in the room at all, Sergeant Doolittle from
Headquarters, drank the judge's wine and listened for the judge's commands.
These were slow in coming, and they were unexpected when they came.
"Sergeant, I have lost a faithful servant under circumstances which have called
an unfortunate attention to my house. I should like to have this place guarded--
carefully guarded, you understand--from any and all intrusion till I can look about
me and secure protection of my own. May I rely upon the police to do this,
beginning to-night at an early hour? There are loiterers already at the corner and
in front of the two gates. I am not accustomed to these attentions, and ask to
have my fence cleared."
"Two men are already detailed for the job, your honour. I heard the order given
just as I left Headquarters."
The judge showed small satisfaction. Indeed, in his silence there was the hint of
something like displeasure. This surprised Sergeant Doolittle and led him to
attempt to read its cause in his host's countenance. But the shade of the lamp
intervened too completely, and he had to be content to wait till the judge chose to
speak, which he presently did, though not in the exact tones the Sergeant
"Two men! Couldn't I have three? One for each gate and one to patrol the fence
separating these grounds from the adjoining lot?"
The sergeant hesitated; he felt an emotion of wonder--a sense of something
more nearly approaching the uncanny than was usual to his matter-of-fact mind.
He had heard, often enough, what store the judge set on his privacy and of the
extraordinary measures he had taken to insure it, but that a man, even if he aped
the hermit, should consider three men necessary to hold the public away from a
two hundred and fifty foot lot argued apprehensions of a character verging on the
ridiculous. But he refrained from expressing his surprise and replied, after a
minute of thought:
"If two men are not enough to ensure you a quiet sleep, you shall have three or
four or even more, Judge Ostrander. Do you want one of them to stay inside?
That might do the business better than a dozen out."