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A Strange Perfume

A Strange Perfume image
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Lounging carelessly in an arm-obair, his oyes íixed on a lady besido him, with an open letter in her hand, was a tal], faiivhaired young man. " What have you there there, mother ?" he said, throwing his arm around her in a caressing way. " That smilo niakes you positively young, I declare." Losing his father in India, wheD a ohild, a small legaoy from his god-roother had, with the most severe economy, given George Roberts a liberal education while his mother had her small pension alone to depend upon. Long years had passed, her father was dead, and her only brother, who inherited the estáte, had ever refused any overtures toward a reconciliation. Not even in her wildest day-dream had Mrs. Roberts hoped to behold her childhood's home again. No wonder, then, that her check flushed and her eye brightened over the letter in her hand, for it cóntained an invitation for herself and son to spend the Christmas week at Looksley grange. Though expressed in cold and iormal terms it was courteous, and the buried yoara of the past were not alluiled to. The young man took the letter, which sho gave him without comment, and, glancing through it to the signature, - "Paul Edvvard llollowes," looked up at his mother. " Your únele, my son," she said. A flush of indignant feeling passed over the pleasant face. . . Was tuis cold and huughty uricle, who had so long ignored their existence, to summon thfim to his presenoe by a wave of his hand 'i By hard study and persevorancc George had won a place at the bar, but he was content to labor trusting to timo. But it was with an inward struggle, as he looked at the eager expectation on his mother's face, and thought of her lonely lif'e, that he controlled his resentment. " You would like to go, dear mother?" he sajd pleasantly. " Tos, niy boy ; it soonjs as if I could die happier if I saw thu old place once inore." " Then we shill go," he said. " I will makn uiy arrangemeuts for a holiday, and we shall leave town on Wednesday," and with a kiss hu left her. The master of Looksley Grange, a tall, errect, old man, of most imposing presence, with snowy hair and whiskers, and brilliant, pierciug, deep-set black eyes, shaded by shaggy eyebrows, - like fierce fires overhung with jagged snow crags, - greeted his sister and her son with stately courtesy, although no light of love beatued from his eye to the gentle woman who had been his e.hildhood's playfellow. One sharp glxnco he shot at his nephew as he made some coiuinent on the journoy, and thsn bade a servant usher thera to their apartments. When the dinner-bell sounded Georgo conducted his mother - looking so fair and creatie in her soft grey silk, still with the delicate flusli on hor check - into the st;ite drawin g-room, whore they weie duly presented to the rector of Locksley and his cúrate. Still they waited, and in a few minutes a young girl entered the room, of Buch unusual beauty that Georgo Roberts stopped short in the middle of a sentence addressed to the cúrate and never completed it. She might have been about Ï7, with a slight form, graceful as a deer, hair a palo gold, which deepened into shadows of a tawny heen under the niellow wax lights, and soft brown eyes, shaded by curling golden lashes. A dark silk drpss, without ornament, displayed and heightened the delicately tinted skin and perfect figure. She approached the group timidly, and George, glancing at bis únele, saw, to his astonishment, a scowl sweep over his faco as his eyes restcd on the lovely vision. " Miss Kedar," he said, carelcssly, presenting the youncr girl to his sister, with a wave of his jeweled hand, " a penniless orphan whom I keep out of charity, as her inother was au old friend of mino. Sho has ruado a lovo match," he added with a sneer. " You can take her in to dinner," ho said to his nephew, witU another wave of the whito hand, as he turned to his sister with formal politeness. , ■ . George feit hia indignation stir as he paw tho deep flueh rise on the young girl's face, and then fado to a inarble paleness. But she did not raise hor eyes to see tho syrupathy expressed in his. The dinner passed pleasantly. The rector was a fluent and graceful conversationalist, and the host excited young Roberts to bring forth his knowledge of men and things in his own manly, earnest way, by the display of his own versatilo powers to draw him out. The young man, . had almost forgotten tho silent beauty at his side, until a glance from her soft brown eyes, lighted with appreoiative feoling, met his, and revived the sympathy atid wonder he had feit at his uncle's cruel nonchalance in alluding to her dependent position. When tho ladies retired, and tho political questions of the day came up, the young lawyer so startled the ojdor lüen vnth his brilliant eloqueuoe, with his fresh racy opimons ao powerfully put that they feit theruselves in the presenoo of a mastcr spirit which would soar far upwarcl when its wings were ttcdged. Long did Georgo Roberts sit by ]iis flickering firo before ho rotii'od to rost, wouduriug what might bo the tic bétwoeíl hÍ3 ithcle ánd tíiat lovely girl - what the cause of the singular hatred evinced toward her in so many trifliug ways. His unole's morning gieeting was cordial and kindly, seeming to have lost that disagreeable air of patronage which had so grated on Uis manhdod the day bufore. After broakfast he aoCötnpanied him on a ride over tho estáte to view its improveincnts, and as they went the old man skillfully drew out the particular of hia nephow's lifej his vièwS and feelings, his plaüs and ÜWpes. In tho afternoon George accoiupanied his uncle into á littlfi ofTíce adjoimng tho Jibrary, and saw tho tenants come in with their yearly rents, where the bags of gold and silver were deposited in an iron chest. Tn this were secured the most valuable papers and the fainily jewels. Tho littlo room was strongly proteoted wtth bars and bolts, as it contained other articles of value. Tho next day a grand dinner and ball was to be given, to which all :he gentry of the country was bidden, and tho lower hall was also to be enlivened with a dance for the tenants and servants. Considerable was the excitement therefore, on this sudden opening of the doors, and inany a young belle prepared to enter its grey and time-honored. walls,, with a ty awakened by the tales of a inotlier or aunt. Virginia Kedar, eimply drewsd in a robe of white musliu, with a wreath ot' scarlet berries in her silken hair was the beauty of tho whole assemblage, and many were the whispers as to her birth and parentage. George Iioberts had beeomo more and more fasoiuated with her and this evening completed bis euthrallment. For the first time in nis lito he was in love. Yet he oould not but uotice how bis uncle ecowled at him wiien he dageed with her, and his mind was filled with a doion perplexities conceniing her. He lay wide awake until he heard tho great clock strike three, his mind was too full of the blissful dreams which come out once in a life-time, to wish for slum ber. Happy visious flitted bef ore his eyes, in which he and Miss Kedar played a prominent part. Suddeuly lio heard a faiut grating noise in the silence of the night, although he could not teil froin what direction it came, and, listeniug attentively as it continued, he softly opened his door. It sounded louder, and he perceived that it came from the library. The chest and its valuablo contents fiashed before his mind, and without pausing a moment, he stole down the stairs. The noise had ceased betore he reacnea the foot ot' the stair-case, but lie hastened into the library as silently as possible. The door into the office was ajar, and a faint light perceptible. As George lookthrough the crack, he saw a dark iigure bending over the cbest, examining iapers. A slight exclamation escapcd the robber es he took up a packet of letters, tied with a broadblue ribbon, and thrust it into his breast. Then he rose trom his kneeling posture, put a bag of gold in each pocket, and as the light froni the dark ltinturn in his h-tnd fiashed for a moment in his face, George saw a deep red scar on his cheek, where the black mask had slipped to one side. The young man sprang toward the robber calculating on the suddenness of the attack to be able to knock him down, but tripping on tho tinseen footstep he feil headlong into the room, whilo tho robber vaulted through the window aa lightly as a cat. When George picked himself up there was no sign of the thief, and while he hesitated a moment whetlier to give chase or not his unele, aroused by the noise of his fall. enterad the room. He shivered when George described the robber, and still more when the young man picked up a glove on the floor - a small gray glote- dohcately yct singulaily perfumed. Grasping it in his hand the old man groaned bitterly ; and paced the fioor irresolutely for a time, while his nephew watched him in amazement. Preseutly he turried to the window and refastened it, shaking his head as ho examined the bolts and saw them all uubroken. The thicf had evidently had assistance from the inside of the mansión. "Don't say anything about it üoorge," he said in anxious tonos, " I know the man ; no common thief," and another groan escaped his üps. " Now go to bed. I'll teil you more to-morrow." With his mind full of this now mystery, the young man feil asleep. When he had breakfasted a message oame from his unclo in the library, and George hastened to obey. A feverish flush burnt on the old man 's check, and his manner was hurried and impatient, very unlike his haughty serenity. Motioning his nephew to a seat, he plunged into the subject on his mind without further reflection. " Those papers taken last night, George, ÍL-om the iron chest , were of incalculable valué to me," the old man said, vchemently. " Eestore them to me, and you command anything I own. lle nounce your profession for a time, devote your lifo to the seareh, if neod be, and 'Locksley Grange shall be your reward. I will make my will this very day," and ho aroso from his chair, regarding the young man with eager gaze. George hesitated, overwhelmed with the idea. Ambition was strong wittun tnm, but life was before him, and the reward great. "But Miss Kedar," ho ruurmured. "You love that girl'r"' 6aid tbo old man, with a sneer, " Oh, fato, fate ! " "Yes, Únele Paul, I do love her," said Goorge, boldly. " Add her hand to your offer, and I will give myself up to do your bidding." A great struggle seemed ragmg within the old man's breast, and he paced the floor rapidly. "Young man, you are honorable, no said, with a pieicing glance at bis nephew ; " promiso me, on your honor, that you will not. seek to marry Virginia Kedar until you find those papers and restore thcm to me, if I aui alive, or, if not, burn them unrcad." " I promise," the yoaug man answered solenmly. "Listen, then," his unolo said, with an air of relief ; " the robber was a woman. All your legal skill and sharpness will be needed to traco her, but the perfume of that glove is the strongest cluo. I will give you a written description to aid you, and you must start at once." When Georgo Roberts left Locksley it was as his uncle's acknowledged heir, and, wliat was of inffnitoly ruoro moment to him, the accepted lover of Virginia dar. With the little gray glove treasured careiuUy, he proceeded to London. sccured an accomplished detective, and pursued his soarch. His mother was to remain at the Grange. First, they endeavored to find a name for the singular scont, but no perfumer in Londou or Paris could explain it. Both cities wero searched, and every possible or impossible cluo was taken up, na the days iengthened into weeks and the weeks into months. When nimmer emptied the oitius, they sought the watoringplaoes- Baden-Badea, Hamburg and so on, but all seemed in vain. One evening, as Qfeorge sat in his bedroom, in one of the strange littlo tierman towns pondering over a letter from hit. mother, which describcd his unclc's f'ailing health and growing initability, anc alrnost cursing his own folly in giving up ovesytliinp; to gvatify an old mau's inaune whini, Hu was rousad from bis desbondeht glóoiü by tile Ctl trance of a fresh little malden with his clean Unen. As sho sorted out her snowy burdetl on tho bod, a subtlo, strango odor saluted bis sense. " (Jood heavens! tho perfumo - the glovu '. " Striving to conceal his excitoïnent, ho approuched the girl as il' to examine her work, and peroeived a sraall parcol lying on one side trom whence the odor carne. He ditl not apeak Ueruiau - how to obtaili any clue from it? With a suddeu movement ho managed to overturn a table covercd with books and papers, and whilö tho girl with good nature assistcd in replacing them, he had duxterously rolled the parcel under the bed. Sho wout away without missing it, and George instantly sumuionud his ally to consult over this unlooked-for good fortune. "When she carne back in a few hours, in search of it, the detective soon ascertained that tho laces belonged to a sick lady narned Madame Bernastine. The clue was rapidly followed up. Pratt formeel an acquaintanco with the lady's maid, who was English, it seeraed, found from her suöicient prooi' of her mistress' indentity with the womaii they sought, and in a few weeks' time, during which time Madame ljornastino failed rapidly, gained access to her private desk, and secured the package of letters, still tied with tho blue ribbon. Next day the maid foluid herself heiress to all her mistress' efïects, for tho adventuress lay dead, and tbere was no one to claim hor goods. George flew back to Locksley Grange to ñnd his unele dying. The old man rouscd from bis apathy when he saw the letters, bade his nephew burn thein bofore his eyes, and with his last remaining strength drew a sealed paper from under his pillow, placed it in his nephew's hand and feil asleep uever to awake. George opened the paper. " That woman was iny lawful wifo - an artful iiend. Virginia Kedar Hollowea is my lawful daughter. I liated her mother and I hate her." Accompanying this was a marriago and birth certifícate. That was all.


Old News
Michigan Argus