The Burglar and the Blizzard A Christmas Story

Language: English
Published: 1 month ago
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Geoffrey Holland stood up and for the second time surveyed the restaurant in search of other members of his party, two fingers in the pocket of his waistcoat, as if they had just relinquished his watch. He was tall enough to be conspicuous and well bred enough to be indifferent to the fact, good looking, in a bronzed, blond clean-shaven way, and branded in the popular imagination as a young and active millionaire.

At a neighbouring table a man lent forward and whispered to the other men and women with him:

"Do you know who that is?—that is young Holland."

"What, that boy! He doesn't look as if he were out of school."

"No," said one of the women, elaborating the comment, "he does not look old enough to order a dinner, let alone managing mines."

"Oh, I guess he can order a dinner all right," said the first man. "He is older than he looks. He must be twenty-six."

"What do you suppose he does with all that money?"

The first thing he did with it, at the moment, was to purchase an evening paper, for just then he snapped his fingers at a boy, who promptly ran to get him one.

"Well, one thing he does," answered the man who had first given information, "he has an apartment in this building, up stairs, and I bet that costs him a pretty penny."

In the meantime Holland had opened his paper, scanned the head lines, and was about to turn to the stock quotations when a paragraph of interest caught his eye. So marked was the gesture with which he raised it to his eyes that his admirers at the next table noticed it, and speculated on the subject of the paragraph.

It was headed: "Millionaires' Summer Homes Looted," and said further:

"Hillsborough, December 21st. The fourth in a series of daring robberies which have been taking place in this neighbourhood during the past month occurred last night when the residence of C.B. Vaughan of New York was entered and valuable wines and bric-a-brac removed. The robbery was not discovered until this morning when a shutter was observed unfastened on the second story. On entering the watchman found the house had been carefully gone over, and although only a few objects seem to be missing, these are of the greatest value. The thief apparently had plenty of time, and probably occupied the whole night in his search. This is the more remarkable because the watchman asserts that he spent at least an hour on the piazza during the night. How the thief effected an entrance by the second story is not clear. During the past five weeks the houses of L.G. Innes, T. Wilson and Abraham Marheim have been entered in a manner almost precisely similar. There was a report yesterday that some of the Marheim silver had been discovered with a dealer in Boston, but that he could not identify the person from whom he bought them further than that she was a young lady to whom they might very well have belonged. The fact that it was a young lady who disposed of them to him suggests that the goods must have changed hands several times. The Marheim family is abroad, and the servants...."

Here a waiter touched his elbow.

"Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan have come, sir," he said.

"Send up to my apartment and tell Mrs. May we are sitting down to dinner," returned Holland promptly, and advanced to meet the prosperous looking couple approaching.

"I'm afraid we are late," said the lady, "but can you blame us? Have you heard? We have been telegraphing to Hillsborough all the afternoon to find out what has gone."

"You are not late....