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CURWOOD, James Oliver

The River’s end

Keith regarded the chest with swiftly growing speculation. It was not a thing one would ordinarily possess. It was an object which, on the face of it, was intended to be inviolate except to its master key, a holder of treasure, a guardian of mystery and of precious secrets. In the little cabin up on the Barren Conniston had said rather indifferently, "You may find something among my things down there that will help you out." The words flashed back to Keith. Had the Englishman, in that casual and uncommunicative way of his, referred to the contents of this chest? Was it not possible that it held for him a solution to the mystery that was facing him in the presence of Mary Josephine? A sense of conviction began to possess him. He examined the lock more closely and found that with proper tools it could be broken.

He finished dressing and completed his toilet by brushing his beard. On account of Mary Josephine he found himself regarding this hirsute tragedy with a growing feeling of disgust, in spite of the fact that it gave him an appearance rather distinguished and military. He wanted it off. Its chief crime was that it made him look older. Besides, it was inclined to be reddish. And it must tickle and prick like the deuce when—