Charles Goddard.

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THE PERILS OF PAULINE

By Charles Goddard





CHAPTER I

THE BREATH OF DEAD CENTURIES

In one of the stateliest mansions on the lower Hudson, near New York,
old Stanford Marvin, president of the Marvin Motors Company, dozed over
his papers, while Owen, his confidential secretary, eyed him across the
mahogany flat-topped desk. A soft purring sound floated in the open
window and half-roused the aged manufacturer. It came from one of his
own cars - six cylinders chanting in unison a litany of power to the
great modern god of gasoline.

These things had been in his mind since the motor industry started. He
had lived with them, wrestled with them during his meals and taken them
to his dreams at night. Now they formed a rhythm, and he heard them in
his brain just before the fainting spells, which had come so frequently
of late. He glanced at the secretary and noted Owen's gaze with
something of a start.

"What are you thinking about, Raymond?" he queried, with his customary
directness.

"Your health, sir," replied Owen, who, like all intelligent rascals,
never lied when the truth would do equally well. As a matter of fact,
Owen had wondered whether his employer would last a year or a month.
He much preferred a month, for there was reason to believe that the
Marvin will would contain a handsome bequest to "my faithful
secretary."

"Oh, bosh!" said the old man. "You and Dr. Stevens would make a mummy
of me before I'm dead."

"That reminds me, sir," said Owen, smoothly, "that the International
Express Company has delivered a large crate addressed to you from
Cairo, Egypt. I presume it is the mummy you bought on your last trip.
Where shall I place it?"

Mr. Marvin's eye coursed around the walls of the handsome library,
which had been his office since the doctor had forbidden him to visit
his automobile works and steel-stamping mills.

"Take out that bust of Pallas Athene," he ordered, "and stand the mummy
up in its place."

Owen nodded, poised his pencil and prompted:

"You were just dictating about the new piston rings."

Mr. Marvin drew his hand across his eyes and looked out the window.
Within the range of his vision was one of the most charming sights in
the world - a handsome youth and a pretty girl, arrayed in white
flannels, playing tennis.

"Never mind the letters. Tell Harry and Pauline I wish to see them."

Alone, the old man opened a drawer and took a dose of medicine, then he
unfolded Dr. Stevens's letter and read its final paragraph, which
prescribed a change of climate, together with complete and permanent
rest or "I will not answer for the consequences."

There was little doubt that no primer mover in a great industry was
better able to leave its helm than Standford Marvin. His lieutenants
were able, efficient and contented. The factories would go of their
own momentum for a year or two at least, then his son, Harry, just out
of college, should be able, perhaps, to help. His lieutenants had
proved Marvin's unerring instinct in judging character. Not one single
case came to the old employer's mind of a man who had failed to turn
out exactly as he expected. Yet the most trusted man of all, Raymond
Owen, the secretary, was disloyal and dishonest.

This one exception was easily enough explained. When Owen came to
Marvin's attention, fifteen years before, he was a fine, honest,
faithful man. It was born and bred in him to be straight. During the
first five' or six years in the Marvin household the older man took
pains to keep watch on this quiet, tactful youth until he knew all his
ways and even his habits of thought. There was no doubt that Owen was
as upright and clean as the old man himself.

At the age of forty the devil entered into Owen. It came in the form
of insomnia. Loss of sleep will make any man irritable and
unreasonable, but hardly dishonest. With the sleeplessness, however,
came the temptation to take drugs. Owen shifted from one narcotic to
another, finally, settling down upon morphine. Five years of the
opiate had made him its slave. Every physician knows that morphine
fiends become dishonest.

The secretary had speculated with his modest savings and lost them. He
had borrowed and lost again, and now, for some time, had been betting
on horse races. This last had made him acquainted with a certain
Montgomery Hicks, who lived well without visible source of income.
Through Hicks, Owen had betrayed one of his employer's guarded
secrets. Hicks, armed with this secret, promptly changed from a
friendly creditor to a blackmailer.

Owen, on his way to summon Pauline and Harry, descended to the
basement, where the butler, gardener, and a colored man were uncrating
the Egyptian mummy. He told them to stand it in place of the bust of
Pallas Athene in the library, and then went out, crossing the splendid
lawns, and graveled roads to the tennis court. There was no design in
Owen's mind against the two players, but of late the instinct of both
the hunter and the hunted were showing in him, and it prompted him to
approach quietly and under cover. So he passed along the edge of a
hedge and stood a moment within earshot.

Pauline was about to "serve," but paused to look down at the loosened
laces of her small white shoe. She heard Harry's racquet drop and saw
him hurdle the net. In another instant he was at her feet tying the
tiny bow.

"You needn't have done that, Harry," she said.

"Oh, no!" Harry affirmed, as he vainly tried to make his bow as trim
as its mate. "I suppose not. I don't suppose I need to, think, about
you all the time either, or follow you around till that new cocker
spaniel of yours thinks I'm part of your shadow. Perhaps I don't need
to love you."

"Harry, get up! Someone will see you and think you're proposing to
me."

"Think? They ought to know I'm proposing. But, Pauline, talking about
'need,' there isn't any need of your being so pretty. Your eyes are
bigger and bluer than they really need to be. You could see just as
well if you didn't have such long, curly lashes, and there isn't any
real necessity for the way they group together in that starry effect,
like Nell Brinkley's girls. Is there any need of fifteen different
beautiful shades of light where the sun strikes your hair just back of
your ear?"

"Harry, stop this! The score is forty-fifteen."

"Yes, all these things are entirely unnecessary. I'm going to have old
Mother Nature indicted by the Grand jury for willful, wasteful, wanton
extravagance unless - unless - " Harry paused.

"Now, Harry, don't use up your whole vocabulary - promise what?"

"Promise to marry me at once."

"No, Harry, I can't do that - that is, right away. I must have time."

"Why time? Pauline, don't you love me?"

"Yes, I think I do love you, Harry, and you know there is nobody else
in the world."

"Then what do you want time for?"

"Why, to see life and to know what life really is."

"All right. Marry me, and I'll show you life. I'll lead you any kind
of a life you want."

"No, that won't do. As an old, settled-down, married woman I couldn't
really do what I want. I must see life in its great moments. I must
have thrills, adventures, see people, do daring things, watch battles.
It might be best for me even to see someone killed, if that were
possible. As I was telling Harley St. John last night - "

"Harley St. John? Well, if I catch that fop taking you motoring again
you'll get your wish and see a real nice aristocratic murder. He ought
to be put out of his misery, anyway; but where did you get all these
sudden notions about wild and strenuous life?"

Pauline did not answer. They both heard a discreet cough, and Owen
rounded the corner of the hedge. He delivered his message, and the
three walked slowly toward the house.

Advancing to meet them came a dashy checked suit. Above it was a large
Panama hat with a gaudy ribbon. A red necktie was also visible, even
at a considerable distance. Between the hat and the necktie a face
several degrees darker in color than the tie came into view as the
distance lessened. It was Mr. Montgomery Hicks, whose first name was
usually pronounced "Mugumry" and thence degenerated into "Mug." Mug's
inflamed and scowling face and bulging eyes usually conveyed the
general impression that he was about to burst into profanity - a
conjecture which frequently proved correct. In this case he merely
remarked in a sort of "newsboy" voice:

"Mr. Raymond Owen, I believe?"

The secretary's sallow face flushed a little as he stepped aside and
let Harry and Pauline pass out of earshot.

"See here, Mug," complained Owen, "I haven't a cent for you. You will
get me discharged if you come around here like this."

"Well, I'll get you fired right now," growled Mug, "if you don't come
across with the money." And he started toward the front steps. Owen
led him out of sight of the house and finally got rid of him. For a
blackmailer knows he can strike but once, and, having struck, he loses
all power over his victim. So Hicks withheld the blow, collected a
paltry thirty dollars, and consented to wait a little while for Marvin
to die.

Harry and Pauline passed on into the house. He had the straight
backbone and well poised head of the West Pointer, but without the
unnatural stiffness of the soldier's carriage; the shoulders of the
"halfback," and the lean hips of a runner were his, and he had earned
them in four years on his varsity football and track teams. The girl
beside him, half a head shorter, tripped along with the easy action of
a thoroughbred. Both bore the name of Marvin, yet there was no
relationship.

Harry's mother, long dead, had adopted this girl on Mr. Marvin's first
trip to Egypt. Pauline was the daughter of an English father and a
native mother.

Mrs. Marvin first saw her as a blue-eyed baby, too young to understand
that its parents had just been drowned in the Nile. As brother and
sister they grew up together until college separated the two. After
four years Pauline's dainty prettiness struck Harry with a distinct
shock, the delightful sort of shock known as love at first sight. It
was really Harry's first sight of her as a woman. Every sense and
instinct in him shouted, "Get that girl," and nothing in him answered
"No."

Mr. Marvin looked unusually pale as those two very vital young persons
stepped into the library. He read their thoughts and said quietly.

"Harry, I've been placed in the hands of a receiver."

"Receiver?" echoed Harry, with amazement, for he knew that Marvin
enterprises were financed magnificently.

"Yes, Dr. Stevens is the receiver. He says I have exhausted my entire
stock of nervous capital, that my account at the bank of physical
endurance is overdrawn, nature has called her loans, and you might say
that I am a nervous bankrupt."

"So All you need is rest," cried Pauline, "and you will be as strong as
ever."

"Well, before I rest I want to assure myself about you children.
Harry, you love Pauline, don't you?"

"You bet I do, father."

"Pauline, you love Harry, don't you?"

"Yes," answered Pauline slowly.

"And you will marry right away?"

"This very minute, if she would have me," said Harry.

"And you, Pauline?" queried the old man.

"Yes, father," for she loved him and felt toward him as if she were
indeed his daughter. "Perhaps some time I'll marry Harry, but not for
a year or two. I couldn't marry him now, it wouldn't be right."

"Wouldn't be right?? Well, I'd like to know why not."

Pauline was silent a moment. She hated to oppose this fine old man,
but her will was as firm as his, and well he knew it. Harry spoke for
her:

"Oh, she wants to see life before she settles down - wild life, sin
and iniquity, battle, murder and sudden death and all that sort of
stuff. I don't know what has gotten into women these days, anyway."

Then Polly, prettily, daintily, as she did all things, and with
charming little blushes and hesitations, confessed her secret. In
short, it was her ambition to be a writer, a writer of something worth
while - a great writer. To be a great writer one must know life, and
to know life one must see it - see the world. She ended by asking the
two men if this were not so.

They looked at each other and coughed with evident relief it the
comparative harmlessness of her whim.

"Yes, Polly," said old man Marvin, "a great writer ought to see life in
order to know what he is writing about. But what makes you suspect
that you have the ability to be even an ordinary writer?"

Marvin sire winked at Marvin son and Marvin son winked back, for no man
is too old or too young to enjoy teasing a pretty and serious girl.

Pauline saw the wink, and her foot ceased tracing a pattern in the
carpet and stamped on it instead.

"I'll show you what reason I have to think I can write. My first story
has just been published in the biggest magazine in the country. I have
had a copy of it lying around here for days with my story in it, and
nobody has even looked at it."

Out she flashed, and Harry after her, almost upsetting the butler and
gardener, who appeared in the library doorway. These two worthies
advanced upon the statue of Pallas without noticing the master of the
house sitting behind his big desk. The butler did notice that a large
hound from the stable had followed the gardener into the room.

"That's what one gets for letting outdoor servants into the house,"
muttered the butler, as he hustled the big dog to the front door and
ejected him.

"Is he addressing himself to me or to the pup, I wonder?" asked the
gardener, a fat, good-natured Irishman, as he placed himself in front
of the statue.

He read the name "Pallas," forced his rusty derby hat down over his
ears in imitation of the statue's helmet, and mimicked the pose.

Together they staggered out with their burden. A moment later they
returned, carrying, with the help of two other men, the mummy in its
big case. Owen also entered, and Marvin, with the joy of an
Egyptologist, grasped a magnifying glass and examined the case.


The old man's bobby had been Egypt, his liberal checks had assisted in
many an excavation, and his knowledge of her relics was remarkable.
Inserting a steel paper cutter in a crack he deftly pried open the
upper half of the mummy's front. Beneath lay the mass of wrappings in
which thousands of years ago the priests of the Nile had swathed some
lady of wealth and rank. It was a woman, Marvin was sure, from the
inscriptions on her tomb, and he believed her to be a princess.

The secretary excused himself and went to his room, where his precious
morphine pills were hidden. The old man, left alone, deftly opened the
many layers of cloth which bound the ancient form. A faint scent that
was almost like a presence came forth from the unwrapped folds. Long
lost balms they were, ancient spices, forgotten antiseptics of a great
race that blossomed and Fell - thousands of years before its time.

"I smell the dead centuries," whispered Marvin to himself, "I can
almost feel their weight. The world was young when this woman
breathed. Perhaps she was pretty and foolish like my Polly - yes, and
maybe as stubborn, too. Manetho says they had a good deal to say in
those days. Ah, now we shall see her face."

He had uncovered a bit of the mummy's forehead when out of the bandages
fell a tiny vial. Marvin quickly picked it up. The vial was carved
from some sort of green crystal in the shape of a two-headed Egyptian
bird god. Without effort the stopper came out and Marvin held the
small bottle to his nostrils, only to drop it at the mummy's feet. It
exhaled the odor of the mummy which the reek of the centuries
intensified a thousand times.

It was too much for the old man. He had overtaxed his feeble vitality
and felt his senses leaving him. With the entire force of his will he
was able to get to a chair, into which he sank. The odor of the vial
was still in his nostrils. His eyes were fixed and stared straight
ahead, but he could see, in a faint, unnatural yellow light that bathed
the room.

From the vial, lying at the mummy's feet a vapor appeared to rise. It
floated toward the swathed figure, enveloped it and seemed to be
absorbed by it.

"Perhaps this is death," thought Marvin, "for I cannot move or speak."

But something else moved. There was a flutter among the bandages of
the mummy. The commotion increased. Something was moving inside. The
bandages were becoming loosened. They fell away from the face, and
then was Marvin amazed indeed. Instead of the tight, brown
parchment-like skin one always finds in these ancient relics appeared a
smooth, olive-tinted complexion. It was the face of a young and
beautiful woman. The features were serene as if in death, but there
was no sunken nose or mummy's hollow eyes.

A strand of black hair fell down, and the movement beneath the bandages
increased. Out of the folds came an arm, a woman's arm, slender, yet
rounded, an arm with light bones and fine sinews, clearly an arm and
hand that had never known work. Marvin was well aware that a mummy's
arm is invariably a black skeleton claw.

At this point the old man made a mental note that he was not dead, for
he could feel his own breathing. The arm rapidly and gracefully
loosened and removed wrappings from the neck and breast. On the wrist
gashed a bracelet made of linked scarabs. The arm now cast away the
last covering of the bosom, neck and shoulders.

She freed her left hand, lifted out the bottom half of the case and
slid the wrappings from her limbs. Barefooted and bare-ankled, clothed
only in a shimmering white gown that scarcely covered bare knees, and a
white head-dress with a green serpent head in front, she stepped
somewhat stiffly into the room. Slowly she made several movements of
limbs and body like the first steps of a dance. She rose on her toes,
looked down at herself and swayed her lithe hips. It occurred to
Marvin that all this was by way of a graceful little stretch after a
few thousand years of sleep.

Marvin now observed that she was Pauline's height, and age, as well as
general size and form. Slightly shorter she might have been, but then
she lacked Pauline's high heels. The general resemblance was striking
except in the color of the eyes and hair. Pauline's tresses were a
light golden yellow, while this girl's hair was black as the hollow of
the sphinx. Pauline's eyes were blue, but she who stood before him
gazed through eyes too dark to guess their color.

The Egyptian had found a little mirror. She patted her hair, adjusted
the head-dress, but Marvin waited in vain for the powder puff. From
the mirror the girl's eyes wandered to a painting hanging above the
desk. It was an excellent likeness of Pauline. The resemblance
between the two was obvious, not only to Marvin but evidently to the
black-haired girl. She turned to the old man and addressed him in a
strange language. Not one word did he recognize, yet the syllables
were so clearly and carefully pronounced that he felt he was listening
to an educated woman. Some of the tones were like Pauline's, some were
not, but all were soft, sweet, modulated.

The meaning was clear enough. She wished Marvin to see the
resemblance, and she frowned slightly because the rigid, staring figure
did not respond. Why should she be impatient, this woman of the
Pharaohs who had lain stiff and unresponsive while Babylon and Greece
and Rome and Spain had risen and fallen?

Soon she resorted to pantomime, pointed to herself and the picture,
touched her eyes and nose and mouth and then the corresponding painted
features. She felt of her own jet hair, shook her head and looked
questioningly at the light coiffure of Pauline. She turned to the old
man, evidently asking if the painting were true in this respect. Then
she smiled a smile like Pauline's. Perhaps she was asking if Pauline
had changed the color of her hair.

Now she became interested in a book on the corner of the desk. With
little musical exclamations of delight she turned the printed pages and
appreciated that the shelves contained hundreds more of these
treasures. The typewritten letters lying about excited her admiration
and then the pen and ink. She quickly guessed the use of the pen and
ran eagerly to the mummy case. A moment's search brought forth a long
roll of papyrus. Before Marvin's eyes she unrolled a scroll covered
with Egyptian hieroglyphics.

There were footsteps in the hall and the Egyptian looked toward the
door. Owen entered, looked at Marvin searchingly, placed him in a more
comfortable position in the chair, spoke his name and walked out. What
seemed most surprising to the sick, man was his secretary's oversight
of the girl. He passed in front of her, almost brushing her white robe
and yet it was clear that he did not see her.

But the Egyptian had seen him and the sight had excited her. She
seemed desperately anxious to say something to Marvin, something about
Pauline.

The mummy had a secret to reveal!

She tore the bracelet from her right wrist and tried to force it into
Marvin's nerveless grasp. Try as she would, his muscles did not
respond. There were voices in the hallway. Harry and Pauline were
running downstairs. The Princess gave one last imploring glance at the
paralyzed figure, passed her hand gently over his forehead; then she
stepped quickly back to the case.

Harry and Pauline rushed in, followed less hastily by Owen. They
grasped the old man's hands, and Harry, seizing the telephone, called
Dr. Stevens. But to the surprise of everybody Marvin suddenly shook
off the paralysis, spoke, moved and seemed none the worse for his
seizure.





CHAPTER II

THE WILL

Old Mr. Marvin's faculties returned with a snap. There was the library
just as it had been before his peculiar seizure. His son Harry was
summoning on the telephone Dr. Stevens, the heart specialist, and
Pauline, his adopted daughter, was on her knees chafing his hands and
anxiously watching his face, while Owen, the secretary, was pouring out
a dose of his medicine. But the peculiar yellow light had gone. And
what about the mummy? It stood just as he had left it, the lower half
of the case was in place, the upper half was out, revealing the
loosened bandages and just a glimpse of the forehead.

One strand of jet black hair hung down. All was just as it was when
the little vial had fallen out.

"I'm all right, I'm all right," protested Mr. Marvin, somewhat testily,
as he twisted about in his chair to get a good view of the mummy.
"Look out, Harry, don't step on that little bottle."

Harry looked down and picked up the tiny vial which had fallen from the
bandages wrapped about the ancient form.

"Smell of it," his father ordered. Harry sniffed it and remarked that
it smelled musty and passed it to Pauline. The girl carried it to her
nostrils spin and again. She looked perplexed.

"Well, what do you think it is?" asked the old man.

"Why - I can't remember, but I ought to know. I'm sure I do know."

"The devil you do," muttered her faster father.

"What makes you think you ought to know?"

"Why, it is so familiar. I'm certain I've smelled it often before.
Haven't I?"

"Well, if you have, Polly, you are a lot older than I am, older than
anything in this country, as old as the pyramids. That bottle fell out
of the mummy, and I can assure you it has been there some three or four
thousand years. When I smelled of that bottle it had a queer effect on
me. I felt as if I were going to have one of my fainting spells and
was glad to get back to the chair. It's funny about that mummy. I
thought she came out and talked to me."

"Why, father, what a horrible thing!" sympathized Pauline.

"Not horrible at all. She was a beauty and a princess. She was
interested in your picture, Polly, and she looked like you, too,
except, let's see - yes, her hair was black, jet black, like that one
lock you see hanging down."

"Oh," interrupted Pauline, "I wish my hair were black, and I often
dream that it is, and that I am walking around in a pretty, white
pleated dress and my feet are bare."

"And a bracelet on your wrist - your right wrist?" questioned Marvin
eagerly.

"I don't remember," Pauline replied thoughtfully.

"Well, we'll see if you had one and also whether I was dreaming or
not," announced the old man with a half ashamed look as he rose
somewhat unsteadily to his feet. Harry and Pauline tried to keep him


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