The Filigree Ball HTML version

24. Tantalizing Tactics
I made my way to the front door, but returned almost immediately. Drawing the major
aside, I whispered a request, which led to a certain small article being passed over to me,
after which I sauntered out on the stoop just in time to encounter the spruce but irate
figure of Mr. Moore, who had crossed from the opposite side.
"Ah!" said I. "Good morning!" and made him my most deferential bow.
He glared and Rudge glared from his place on the farther curb. Evidently the police were
not in favor with the occupants of the cottage that morning.
"When is this to cease?" he curtly demanded. "When are these early-morning trespasses
upon an honest citizen's property coming to an end? I wake with a light heart, expecting
that my house, which is certainly as much mine as is any man's in Washington, would be
handed over this very day for my habitation, when what do I see - one police officer
leaving the front door and another sunning himself in the vestibule. How many more of
you are within I do not presume to ask. Some half-dozen, no doubt, and not one of you
smart enough to wind up this matter and have done with it."
"Ah! I don't know about that," I drawled, and looked very wise.
His curiosity was aroused.
"Anything new?" he snapped.
"Possibly," I returned, in a way to exasperate a saint.
He stepped on to the porch beside me. I was too abstracted to notice; I was engaged in
eying Rudge.
"Do you know," said I, after an instant of what I meant should be one of uncomfortable
suspense on his part, "that I have a greater respect than ever for that animal of yours since
learning the very good reason he has for refusing to cross the street?"
"Ha! what's that?" he asked, with a quick look behind him at the watchful brute straining
toward him with nose over the gutter.
"He sees farther than we can. His eyes penetrate walls and partitions," I remarked. Then,
carelessly and with the calm drawing forth of a folded bit of paper which I held out
toward him, I added: "By the way, here is something of yours"
His hand rose instinctively to take it; then dropped.
"I don't know what you mean," he remarked. "You have nothing of mine."