Page:Post - Uncle Abner (Appleton, 1918).djvu/103

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Uncle Abner

porch, facing the river. This door now stood open. The ancient rusted lock plate, with its screws, was hanging to the frame. There were no marks of violence on the door. The sailor was gone. His pillow and the bedclothes were soaked with blood. All his clothes, including the red headcloth, were lying neatly folded on the arm of a chair.

The sailor's chest stood open and empty. There was a little sprinkling of blood drops from the bed to the door and into the weeds outside, but no blood anywhere else in the room. And from there, directly in a line to the river, the weeds and grass had been trampled. The ground was hard and dry, and no one could say how many persons had gone that way from the house. The dog lay just inside the door of the room, with his throat cut. It was the slash of a knife with the edge of a razor, for the dog's head was nearly severed from the neck.

It was noiseless, swift work—incredibly noiseless and swift. Dabney had not wakened, for the fowling piece stood unmoved at the head of the bed. When the door swung open somebody had caught the dog's muzzle and slipped the knife across his throat … and then the rest.

"It must have happened that way," Randolph said.

At any rate, the unwelcome sailor was gone. He had arrived in an abundance of mystery and he had departed in it, though where he went was clear enough. The great river, swinging round the high

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