House of Thieves

House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure Read Free Book Online

Book: House of Thieves by Charles Belfoure Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charles Belfoure
protests the local authorities could not deal with. Considered much smarter than the regular police, the Pinkertons used brute force and bullets to get results.
    â€œI hope they do. They know how to handle anarchists,” Granny said with a smile.
    â€œThen there’s this talk of home rule for Ireland,” Caroline said. “Every day, the front page of the Tribune has an article about the debates in Parliament.”
    â€œIf the Irish we get as servants are any indication, it’s madness to think they can rule themselves,” Granny said. “They’re no better than children.”
    â€œMy Irish servants have gotten along rather well,” said Helen, smiling. She knew what her mother would say next.
    â€œYou let your help walk all over you, Helen. It’s a disgrace.”
    â€œI just happen to remember that they’re human beings, Mother.”
    â€œWhen his mistress enters the room, a servant is supposed to turn away and avert his eyes,” Granny said indignantly. “Yours speak to you without being spoken to first!”
    â€œI’m glad to have the respect and loyalty of my servants,” Helen said, reminded again how lucky she was that her mother still lived in her own massive brownstone on East Twenty-Fifth Street.
    Caroline gracefully changed the subject. “Ellen Thackeray was a guest at President Cleveland’s wedding reception last month. She said his bride, Frances Folsom, looked absolutely radiant in white lace.”
    â€œThat man’s old enough to be her father,” Granny said.
    There was a noise in the hall. John coming down the stairs , Helen thought. She rose and intercepted him in the entry hall before he made it to the front door.
    â€œJohn, I thought you were ill. You said you weren’t going to the office today.”
    She’d known something was wrong from the instant she’d laid eyes on her husband that morning. It was as though all the blood had drained from his face. Normally a robust man, he seemed listless and lethargic, unable to focus on her words.
    â€œHelen, I must go out,” John said.
    But she blocked his path. “You look terrible, John. Go back to bed. I’ll have Colleen bring you some tea.”
    â€œGoddamn it, I don’t need any tea. I have an appointment, and I can’t be late,” Cross shouted.
    His harsh tone made her jump out of his way. She watched in alarm as her husband grabbed his hat and stormed out the door. What could possibly be wrong?

7
    â€œMr. Cross, I want you to know that I’m not angry at you for what you did. But I will be less lenient if something like that should happen again.”
    Kent reminded Cross of a schoolmaster sitting in his wood-paneled office, reprimanding a recalcitrant student. Cross himself sat stiffly, balanced on the edge of the settee, watching Kent pour tea. Aunt Caroline would have envied the quality of the silver. In a multitiered stand on the tea table were a variety of pastries, but Cross had lost all appetite since the delivery of the ice that morning.
    The Dakota was like a huge European château, a riot of steep gables, turrets, finials, and dormers clad in olive-colored stone and salmon-colored brick. Its sheer enormity was amplified by its position on the Upper West Side, surrounded by vacant lots and shacks. It gave the impression of a mountain that had risen out of nowhere. From Central Park, it reminded one of a fortress in the middle of an enchanted forest, like in a fairy tale.
    Despite its far-flung location, it had quickly become a highly fashionable place to live. Kent’s apartment was magnificent. He and Cross sat in a beautiful library lined with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. A vista of Central Park stretched across the tall windows behind them.
    â€œHow many lumps do you take?”
    â€œTwo, no milk.”
    Kent handed him his cup and settled back in his green overstuffed velvet armchair. He sipped his tea with

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