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HOME > Classical Novels > Aunt Jane's Nieces29 > CHAPTER XXVI. A BUNCH OF KEYS.
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 Uncle John did not sleep well. Perhaps he had a guilty conscience. Anyway, he tossed about a good deal on the sofa-bed in the living-room, and wore himself out to such an extent that when Patsy got up at eight o'clock her uncle had fallen into his first sound sleep.  
She never disturbed him until she had made the fire and cooked the coffee and boiled the three white eggs. By this time the Major was dressed and shaved, and he aroused Uncle John and bade him hurry into the closet and make his toilet, "so that Patsy could put the house to rights."
Uncle John obeyed eagerly, and was ready as soon as the Major had brought the smoking rolls from the bakery. Ah, but it was a merry breakfast; and a delicious one into the bargain. Uncle John seemed hungry, and looked at the empty egg-shells regretfully.
"Next time, Patsy," he said, "you must buy six eggs."
"Look at his recklessness!" cried Patsy, laughing. "You're just as bad as the Major, every bit. If you men hadn't me for a guardian1 you'd be in the poorhouse in a month."
"But we have you, my dear," said Uncle John, smiling into her dancing eyes; "so we won't complain at one egg instead of two."
Just then someone pounded on the door, and the girl ran to open it. There was a messenger boy outside, looking smart and neat in his blue-and-gold uniform, and he touched his cap politely to the girl.
"Miss Patricia Doyle?"
"That's me."
"A parcel for you. Sign here, please."
Patsy signed, bothering her head the while to know what the little package contained and who could have sent it. Then the boy was gone, and she came back slowly to the breakfast table, with the thing in her hand.
"What is it, Patsy?" asked the Major, curiously2.
"I'm dying to know, myself," said the girl.
Uncle John finished his coffee, looking unconcerned.
"A good way is to open it," remarked the Major.
It was a very neat package, wrapped in fine paper and sealed with red wax. Patsy turned it over once or twice, and then broke the wax and untied3 the cord.
A bunch of keys fell out first—seven of them, strung on a purple ribbon—and then a flat, impressive looking letter was discovered.
The Major stared open-mouthed. Uncle John leaned back in his chair and watched the girl's face.
"There's a mistake," said Patsy, quite bewildered. Then she read her name upon the wrapper, quite plainly written, and shook her head. "It's for me, all right. But what does it mean?"
"Why not read the letter?" suggested the Major.
So she opened the big envelope and unfolded the stiff paper and read as follows:
"Miss Patricia Doyle, Becker's Flats, Duggan Street, New York. Dear Miss Doyle: An esteemed4 client of our house, who desires to remain unknown, has placed at your disposal the furnished apartments 'D,' at 3708 Willing Square, for the period of three years, or as long thereafter as you may care to retain them. Our client begs you to consider everything the apartments contain as your own, and to use it freely as it may please you. All rentals5 and rates are paid in advance, and you are expected to take possession at once. Moreover, our firm is commanded to serve you in any and every way you may require, and it will be our greatest pleasure to be of use to you. The keys to the apartments are enclosed herewith.
"Most respectfully,
"Isham, Marvin & Co."
Having read this to the end, in a weak voice and with many pauses,
Miss Patricia Doyle sat down in her chair with strange abruptness6 and
stared blankly at her father. The Major stared back. So did Uncle
John, when her eyes roved toward his face.
Patricia turned the keys over, and jingled7 them. Then she referred to the letter again.
"Apartments D, at 3708 Willing Square. Where's that?"
The Major shook his head. So did Uncle John.
"Might look in a directory" suggested the latter, uncertainly.
"Of course," added the Major.
"But what does it all mean?" demanded Patsy, with sudden fierceness. "Is it a joke? Isham, Marvin & Co., the great bankers! What do I know of them, or they of me?"
"That isn't the point," observed the Major, reflectively. "Who's their unknown and mysterious client? That's the question."
"To be sure," said Uncle John. "They're only the agents. You must have a fairy godmother, Patsy."
She laughed at the idea, and shook her head.
"They don't exist in these days, Uncle John. But the whole thing must be a joke, and nothing more."
"We'll discover that," asserted the Major, shrewdly scrutinizing8 the letter, which he had taken from Patsy's hands. "It surely looks genuine enough, on the face of it. I've seen the bank letter-head before, and this is no forgery9, you can take my word. Get your things on, Patsy. Instead of walking in the park we'll hunt up Willing Square, and we'll take the keys with us."
"A very good idea," said Uncle John. "I'd like to go with you, if I may."
"Of course you may," answered the girl. "You're one of the family now,
Uncle John, and you must help us to unravel10 the mystery."
The Major took off his carpet slippers11 and pulled on his boots, while Patricia was getting ready for the walk. Uncle John wandered around the room aimlessly for a time, and then took off his black tie and put on the white one.
Patsy noticed this, when she came out of her closet, and laughed merrily.
"You mustn't be getting excited, Uncle John, until we see how this wonderful adventure turns out." she said. "But I really must wash and iron that necktie for you, if you're going to wear it on Sundays."
"Not a bad idea," said the Major. "But come, are we all ready?"
They walked down the rickety steps very gravely and sedately12, Patsy jingling13 the keys as they went, and made their way to the corner drug store, where the Major searched in the directory for Willing Square.
To his surprise it proved to be only a few blocks away.
"But it's in the dead swell14 neighborhood," he explained, "where I have no occasion to visit. We can walk it in five minutes."
Patsy hesitated.
"Really, it's no use going, Dad," she protested. "It isn't in reason that I'd have a place presented me in a dead swell neighborhood. Now, is it?"
"We'll have to go, just the same," said Uncle John. "I couldn't sleep a wink15 tonight if we didn't find out what this all means."
"True enough," agreed the Major. "Come along, Patsy; it's this way."
Willing Square was not very big, but it was beautiful with flowers and well tended and 3708 proved to be a handsome building with a white marble front, situated16 directly on a corner. The Major examined it critically from the sidewalk, and decided17 it contained six suites18 of apartments, three on each side.
"D must be the second floor to the right." he said, "and that's a fine location, sure enough."
A porter appeared at the front door, which stood open, and examined the group upon the sidewalk with evident curiosity.
Patsy walked up to him, and ignoring the big gold figures over the entrance she enquired19:
"Is this 3708 Willing Square?"
"Yes, Miss," answered the porter; "are you Miss Doyle?"
"I am," she answered, surprised.
"One flight up, Miss, and turn to the right," he continued, promptly20; and then he winked21 over the girl's head at Uncle John, who frowned so terribly that the man drew aside and disappeared abruptly22. The Major and Patsy were staring at one another, however, and did not see this by-play.
"Let's go up," said the Major, in a husky voice, and proceeded to mount the stairs.
Patsy followed close behind, and then came Uncle John. One flight up they paused at a door marked "D", upon the panel of which was a rack bearing a card printed with the word "Doyle."
"Well, well!"
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