desultory, however, and spiritless, like everything else about the place that night, greeted us as Mrs. Ashley opened the door leading directly into the large front hall.
Immediately a scene meant to be festive, but which was, in fact, desolate, burst upon us. The lights, the flowers and the brilliant appearance of such ladies as flitted into sight from the almost empty parlors, were all suggestive of the cheer suitable to a great occasion; but in spite of this, the effect was altogether melancholy, for the hundreds who should have graced this scene, and for whom this illumination had been made and these festoons hung, had been turned away from the gates, and the few who felt they must remain, because their hostess showed no disposition to let them go, wore any but holiday faces, for all their forced smiles and pitiful attempts at nonchalance and gaiety.
I scrutinized these faces carefully. I detected nothing in them but annoyance at a situation which certainly was anything but pleasant.
Turning to Mrs. Ashley, I requested her to be kind enough to point out her son, adding that I should be glad to have a moment's conversation with him, also with Mr. Deane.
"Mr. Deane is in one of those small rooms over there. He is quite upset. Not even Mrs. Burton can comfort him. My son— Oh, there is Harrison!"
A tall, fine-looking young man was crossing the hall. Mrs. Ashley called him to her, and in another moment we were standing together in one of the empty parlors.
I gave him my name and told him my business. Then I said:
"Your mother has allotted me an hour in which to find the valuable jewel which has just been lost on these premises." Here I smiled. "She evidently has great confidence in my ability. I must see that I do not disappoint her."
All this time I was examining his face. It was a handsome one, as I have said, but it had also a very candid expression; the eyes looked straight into mine, and, while showing anxiety, betrayed no deeper emotion than the occasion naturally called for.
"Have you any suggestions to offer? I understand that you were on the ground almost as soon as Mr. Deane discovered his loss."
His eyes changed a trifle but did not swerve. Of course he had been informed by his mother of the suspicious action of the young lady who had been a member of that gentleman's party