Harold MacGrath con The Million Dollar Mystery (Illustrated) (English Edition)
There are few things darker than a country road at night, particularly if one does not know the lay of the land. It is not difficult to traverse a known path; no matter how dark it is, one is able to find the way by the aid of a mental photograph taken in the daytime. But supposing you have never been over the road in the daytime, that you know nothing whatever of its topography, where it dips or rises, where it narrows or forks. You find yourself in the same unhappy state of mind as a blind man suddenly thrust into a strange house.
One black night, along a certain country road in the heart of New Jersey, in the days when the only good roads were city thoroughfares and country highways were routes to limbo, a carriage went forward cautiously. From time to time it careened like a blunt-nosed barge in a beam sea. The wheels and springs voiced their anguish continually; for it was a good carriage, unaccustomed to such ruts and hummocks.
"Faster, faster!" came a muffled voice from the interior.
"Sir, I dare not drive any faster," replied the coachman. "I can't see the horses' heads, sir, let alone the road. I've blown out the lamps, but I can't see the road any better for that."
"Let the horses have their heads; they'll find the way. It can't be much farther. You'll see lights."
The coachman swore in his teeth. All right. This man who was in such a hurry would probably send them all into the ditch. Save for the few stars above, he might have been driving Beelzebub's coach in the bottomless pit. Black velvet, everywhere black velvet. A wind was blowing, and yet the blackness was so thick that it gave the coachman the sensation of mild suffocation.
By and by, through the trees, he saw a flicker of light. It might or might not be the destination. He cracked his whip recklessly and the carriage lurched on two wheels. The man in the carriage balanced himself carefully, so that the bundle in his arms should not be unduly disturbed. His arms ached. He stuck his head out of the window.
"That's the place," he said. "And when you drive up make as little noise as you can."
"Yes, sir," called down the driver.
When the carriage drew up at its journey's end the man inside jumped out and hastened toward the gates. He scrutinized the sign on one of the posts. This was the place: