The Abandoned Room

Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Mary Meehan and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team

THE ABANDONED ROOM

A Mystery Story

BY WADSWORTH CAMP

Author of “The House of Fear,” “War’s Dark Frame,” etc.

1917

CONTENTS

CHAPTER

I. KATHERINE HEARS THE SLY STEP OF DEATH AT THE CEDARS
II. THE CASE AGAINST BOBBY
III. HOWELLS DELIVERS HIMSELF TO THE ABANDONED ROOM
IV. A STRANGE LIGHT APPEARS AT THE DESERTED HOUSE
V. THE CRYING THROUGH THE WOODS
VI. THE ONE WHO CREPT IN THE PRIVATE STAIRCASE
VII. THE AMAZING MEETING IN THE SHADOWS OF THE OLD COURTYARD
VII. WHAT HAPPENED AT THE GRAVE
IX. BOBBY’S VIGIL IN THE ABANDONED ROOM
X. THE CEDARS IS LEFT TO ITS SHADOWS

THE ABANDONED ROOM

CHAPTER I

KATHERINE HEARS THE SLY STEP OF DEATH AT THE CEDARS

The night of his grandfather’s mysterious death at the Cedars, Bobby
Blackburn was, at least until midnight, in New York. He was held there by
the unhealthy habits and companionships which recently had angered his
grandfather to the point of threatening a disciplinary change in his
will. As a consequence he drifted into that strange adventure which later
was to surround him with dark shadows and overwhelming doubts.

Before following Bobby through his black experience, however, it is
better to know what happened at the Cedars where his cousin, Katherine
Perrine was, except for the servants, alone with old Silas Blackburn who
seemed apprehensive of some sly approach of disaster.

At twenty Katherine was too young, too light-hearted for this care of her
uncle in which she had persisted as an antidote for Bobby’s shortcomings.
She was never in harmony with the mouldy house or its surroundings,
bleak, deserted, unfriendly to content.

Bobby and she had frequently urged the old man to give it up, to move, as
it were, into the light. He had always answered angrily that his
ancestors had lived there since before the Revolution, and that what had
been good enough for them was good enough for him. So that night
Katherine had to hear alone the sly stalking of death in the house. She
told it all to Bobby the next day—what happened, her emotions, the
impression made on her by the people who came when it was too late to
save Silas Blackburn.

She said, then, that the old man had behaved oddly for several days, as
if he were afraid. That night he ate practically no dinner. He couldn’t
keep still. He wandered from room to room, his tired eyes apparently
seeking. Several times she spoke to him.

“What is the matter, Uncle? What worries you?”

He grumbled unintelligibly or failed to answer at all.

She went into the library and tried to read, but the late fall wind
swirled mournfully about the house and beat down the chimney, causing the
fire to cast disturbing shadows across the walls. Her loneliness, and her
nervousness, grew sharper. The restless, shuffling footsteps stimulated
her imagination. Perhaps a mental breakdown was responsible for this
alteration. She was tempted to ring for Jenkins, the butler, to share
her vigil; or for one of the two women servants, now far at the back of
the house.

“And Bobby,” she said to herself, “or somebody will have to come out here
to-morrow to help.”

But Silas Blackburn shuffled in just then, and she was a trifle ashamed
as she studied him standing with his back to the fire, glaring around the
room, fumbling with hands that shook in his pocket for his pipe and some
loose tobacco. It was unjust to be afraid of him. There was no question.
The man himself was afraid—terribly afraid.

His fingers trembled so much that he had difficulty lighting his pipe.
His heavy brows, gray like his beard, contracted in a frown. His voice
quavered unexpectedly. He spoke of his grandson:

“Bobby! Damned waster! God knows what he’ll do next.”

“He’s young, Uncle Silas, and too popular.”

He brushed aside her customary defence. As he continued speaking she
noticed that always his voice shook as his fingers shook, as his stooped
shoulders jerked spasmodically.

“I ordered Mr. Robert here to-night. Not a word from him. I’d made up my
mind anyway. My lawyer’s coming in the morning. My money goes to the
Bedford Foundation—all except a little annuity for you, Katy. It’s hard
on you, but I’ve got no faith left in my flesh and blood.”

His voice choked with a sentiment a little repulsive in view of his
ruthless nature, his unbending egotism.

“It’s sad, Katy, to grow old with nobody caring for you except to covet
your money.”

She arose and went close to him. He drew back, startled.

“You’re not fair, Uncle.”

With an unexpected movement, nearly savage, he pushed her aside and
started for the door.

“Uncle!” she cried. “Tell me! You must tell me! What makes you afraid?”

He turned at the door. He didn’t answer. She laughed feverishly.

“It—it’s not Bobby you’re afraid of?”

“You and Bobby,” he grumbled, “are thicker than thieves.”

She shook her head.

“Bobby and I,” she said wistfully, “aren’t very good friends, largely

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