The Bat HTML version

The Hidden Room
A few moments later Jack Bailey, seeing a thin glow of candlelight from the attic above
and hearing Lizzie's protesting voice, made his way up there. He found them in the trunk
room, a dusty, dingy apartment lined with high closets along the walls - the floor littered
with an incongruous assortment of attic objects - two battered trunks, a clothes hamper,
an old sewing machine, a broken-backed kitchen chair, two dilapidated suitcases and a
shabby satchel that might once have been a woman's dressing case - in one corner a
grimy fireplace in which, obviously, no fire had been lighted for years.
But he also found Miss Cornelia holding her candle to the floor and staring at something
"Candle grease!" she said sharply, staring at a line of white spots by the window. She
stooped and touched the spots with an exploratory finger.
"Fresh candle grease! Now who do you suppose did that? Do you remember how Mr.
Gillette, in Sherlock Holmes, when he - "
Her voice trailed off. She stooped and followed the trail of the candle grease away from
the window, ingeniously trying to copy the shrewd, piercing gaze of Mr. Gillette as she
remembered him in his most famous role.
"It leads straight to the fireplace!" she murmured in tones of Sherlockian gravity. Bailey
repressed an involuntary smile. But her next words gave him genuine food for thought.
She stared at the mantel of the fireplace accusingly. "It's been going through my mind for
the last few minutes that no chimney flue runs up this side of the house!" she said.
Bailey stared. "Then why the fireplace?"
"That's what I'm going to find out!" said the spin-ter grimly. She started to rap the mantel,
testing it for Secret springs.
"Jack! Jack!" It was Dale's voice, low and cautious, coming from the landing of the stairs.
Bailey stepped to the door of the trunk room.
"Come in," he called in reply. "And shut the door behind you."
Dale entered, turning the key in the lock behind her.
"Where are the others?"
"They're still searching the house. There's no sign of anybody."