of freedom, which an all-wise and beneficent Creator has
"No; my interest was solely with your brother."
"With my brother? With Oswald? What interest can you have in him apart from me? Oswald is -"
Suddenly a thought name - an unimaginable one; one with power to blanch even his hardy cheek and shake a soul unassailable by all small emotions.
"Oswald Brotherson!" he repeated; adding in unintelligible tones to himself - "O. B. The same initials! They are following up these initials. Poor Oswald." Then aloud: "It hardly becomes me, perhaps, to question your motives in this attempt at making my brother's acquaintance. I think I can guess them; but your labour will be wasted. Oswald's interests do not extend beyond this town; they hardly extend to me. We are strangers, almost. You will learn nothing from him on the subject which naturally engrosses you."
Mr. Challoner simply bowed. "I do not feel called upon," said he, "to explain my reasons for wishing to know your brother. I will simply satisfy you upon a point which may well rouse your curiosity. You remember that - that my daughter's last act was the writing of a letter to a little protegee of hers. Miss Scott was that protegee. In seeking her, I came upon him. Do you require me to say more on this subject? Wait till I have seen Mr. Oswald Brotherson and then perhaps I can do so."
Receiving no answer to this, Mr. Challoner turned again to the man who was the object of his deepest suspicions, to find him still in the daze of that unimaginable thought, battling with it, scoffing at it, succumbing to it and all without a word. Mr. Challoner was without clew to this struggle, but the might of it and the mystery of it, drove him in extreme agitation from the room. Though proof was lacking, though proof might never come, nothing could ever alter his belief from this moment on that Doris was right in her estimate of this man's guilt, however unsubstantial her reasoning might appear.
How far he might have been carried by this new conviction; whether he would have left the house without seeing Doris again or exchanging another word with the man whose very presence stifled him, he had no opportunity to show, for before he had taken another step, he encountered the hurrying figure of Doris, who was returning to her guests with an air of marked relief.
"He does not know that you are here," she whispered to Mr. Challoner, as she passed him. Then, as she again confronted Orlando who hastened to dismiss his trouble at her approach, she said quite gaily, "Mr. Brotherson heard your voice, and is glad to know that you're here. He bade me give you this key and say that you would have found things in better shape if he had been in condition to superintend the removal of the boxes to the place he had prepared for you before he became ill. I was the one to do that," she added, controlling her aversion with manifest effort. "When Mr. Brotherson came to himself he asked if I had heard about any large boxes having arrived at the station shipped to his name. I said that several notices of such had come to the house. At which he requested me to see that they were carried at once to the strange looking shed he had had put up for him in the woods. I thought that they were for him, and I saw to the thing myself. Two or three others have come since and been taken to the same place. I think you will find nothing broken or disturbed; Mr. Brotherson's wishes are usually respected."
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