For a detective whose talents, had not been recognized at
headquarters, I possessed an ambition which, fortunately for my
standing with the lieutenant of the precinct, had not yet been
expressed in words. Though I had small reason for expecting great
things of myself, I had always cherished the hope that if a big
case came my way I should be found able to do something with it
something more, that is, than I had seen accomplished by the
police of the District of Columbia since I had had the honor of
being one of their number. Therefore, when I found myself plunged,
almost without my own volition, into the Jeffrey Moore affair, I
believed that the opportunity had come whereby I might distinguish
It had complications, this Jeffrey-Moore affair; greater ones than
the public ever knew, keen as the interest in it ran both in and
out of Washington. This is why I propose to tell the story of this
great tragedy from my own standpoint, even if in so doing I risk
the charge of attempting to exploit my own connection with this
celebrated case. In its course I encountered as many disappointments
as triumphs, and brought out of the affair a heart as sore as it was
satisfied; for I am a lover of women and--
But I am keeping you from the story itself.
I was at the station-house the night Uncle David came in. He was
always called Uncle David, even by the urchins who followed him in
the street; so I am showing him no disrespect, gentleman though he
is, by giving him a title which as completely characterized him in
those days, as did his moody ways, his quaint attire and the
persistence with which he kept at his side his great mastiff, Rudge.
I had long since heard of the old gentleman as one of the most
interesting residents of the precinct. I had even seen him more
than once on the avenue, but I had never before been brought face
to face with him, and consequently had much too superficial a
knowledge of his countenance to determine offhand whether the
uneasy light in his small gray eyes was natural to them, or simply
the result of present excitement. But when he began to talk I
detected an unmistakable tremor in his tones, and decided that he
was in a state of suppressed agitation; though he appeared to have
nothing more alarming to impart than the fact that he had seen a
light burning in some house presumably empty.
It was all so trivial that I gave him but scant attention till he
let a name fall which caused me to prick up my ears and even to
put in a word. "The Moore house," he had said.
"The Moore house?" I repeated in amazement. "Are you speaking of
the Moore house?"
A thousand recollections came with the name.
"What other?" he grumbled, directing toward me a look as keen as it
was impatient. "Do you think that I would bother myself long about
a house I had no interest in, or drag Rudge from his warm rug to
save some ungrateful neighbor from a possible burglary? No, it is
my house which some rogue has chosen to enter. That is," he suavely
corrected, as he saw surprise in every eye, "the house which the law
will give me, if anything ever happens to that chit of a girl whom
my brother left behind him."