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Whenever detective story experts sit down to discuss their special likes and dislikes {and you murder-and-mayhem members tend to get violent on the subject), four names must invariably be mentioned first: Edgar Allan Poe, A. Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, and Melville Davisson Post. These are the Big Four and they will forever be remembered as the originators of the earliest and best in detective short stories. Uncle Abner—the unpredictable, fast-thinking, mild-talking creation of Melville Davisson Post—has been called "one of the outstanding characters of detective fiction, ranging with Dupin, Lecoq and Sherlock Holmes." At one time Uncle Abner was so popular with the mystery-reading public that Author Post demanded—and got—as high as $8000 for a short story, an unheard-of writing rate back in the days of the twenties.

And now we've prepared a little surprise for you:

First read this story of Uncle Abner and "The Concealed Path". As soon as you finish it, turn to the one that follows, "The Diamonds", by Frank Atterholt. We think you'll be as delighted as we were by the fortunate coincidence that placed both of these stories into our hands at the same time.



IT WAS NIGHT, AND THE FIRST SNOW of October was in the air when my uncle got down from his horse before the door. The great stone house sat on a bench of the mountains. Behind it lay the forest, and below, the pasture land of the Hills.

After the disastrous failure of Prince Charles Edward Stuart to set up his kingdom in Scotland, more than one great Highland family had fled oversea into Virginia, and for a hundred years had maintained its customs. It was at the house of such a family that my uncle stopped.

There was the evidence of travel hard and long on my uncle and his horse. An old man bade him enter.

"Who is here?" said my uncle.

The servant replied with two foreign words, meaning "The Red Eagle" in the Gaelic tongue.

And he led my uncle through the hall into the dining-room. It was a scene laid back a hundred years in Skye that he came on. A big woman of middle age dined alone, in a long, beamed room, lighted with tallow candles. An ancient servant stood behind her chair.

Two features of the woman were conspicuous—her bowed nose and her coarse red hair.

She got up when she saw my uncle.

"Abner," she cried, "by the Blessed God I am glad to see you! Come in! Come in!"

My uncle entered, and she put him beyond her at the table.

"You ought to eat, Abner," she said; "for by all the tokens, you have traveled."

"A long way," replied my uncle.

"And did the ravens of Elijah send you to me?" said the woman. "For I need you."

"What need?" inquired my uncle, while he attacked the rib of beef and the baked potatoes, for the dinner, although set with some formality, was plain.

"Why, this need, Abner: For a witness whose name will stand against the world."

"A witness!" repeated my uncle.

"Aye, a witness," continued the woman. "The country holds me hard and dour, and given to impose my will. There will be a wedding in my house tonight, and I would have you see it, free of pressure. My niece, Margaret McDonald, has got her senses finally."

My uncle looked down at the cloth.

"Who is the man?" he said.

"Campbell," she answered, "and good man enough for a stupid woman."

For a moment my uncle did not move. His hands, his body, the very muscles in his eyelids, were for that moment inert as plaster. Then he went on with the potato and the rib of beef.

"Campbell is here, then?" he said.

"He came tonight," replied the woman, "and f...

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