Charles Goddard.

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quiet. He brushed their warnings aside and walked unsteadily to the
mummy.

"Let's see its face," suggested Harry carelessly.

"No," said his father. "I have an idea that this old but young lady
would not care to have us look at her. But there is one thing I must
find out. I want to know if she wears a bracelet of linked scarabs on
her right wrist or not."

All of this was rather a bore to Harry, who lived intensely in the
present, had no interest in Egypt, except that Pauline was born and
adopted as an orphan baby there, and asked nothing of the future except
that it allow him to marry this obstinate but fascinating little
creature at the earliest possible moment. The question had been
brought up half an hour before, and he wanted it settled at once.
Harry wished they would decide about the marriage instead of fussing
around with an old mummy.

"My son, I venture to say that you would have been interested in this
young woman had you met her."

"Possibly," the youth admitted with a slight yawn.

"Yes," continued his father, busily searching for the mummy's right
wrist, "she was probably what you would call a peach."

"She may have been a peach in her day," thought Harry, "but today she's
a dried apricot."

The elder Marvin's searching fingers encountered a hard object. It
proved to be a scarab, or sacred Egyptian beetle, carved in black
stone.

"Did you ever dream about that?" asked Harry, chaffing.

"Yes, I have," replied Pauline. Both men looked at her to see if she
were serious.

"I dreamed that I was very sick and going to die, and an old man with a
long, thin beard came in. He gave me a stone beetle like that. Then
it seems to me they put it right on my chest and they said - let's
see, what did they do that for? I think it was to cure me of something
the matter with my heart."

"Polly," said Mr. Marvin, "I never knew you had dreams like this. But
are you sure they said it would cure your heart? Wasn't it for some
other reason?"

Pauline thought a moment, while Harry lit a cigarette and his father
worked his fingers down toward the mummy's right wrist.

"No," said Pauline, "I remember now. It wasn't to cure it at all. It
was to make it keep quiet."

"Ho, ho!" laughed Harry. "I never knew of any one making it flutter
much. I guess that was no dream."

Harry's father silenced him with an impatient gesture and turned to
Pauline, who was watching the wind make cat's paws on the polished
surface of the Hudson River.

"Go on, girl, go on. This is remarkable. I have read of this custom
in the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead'! Why did they want to keep your
heart quiet?"

"They said," continued Pauline, dreamily, "that after I died my spirit
was to be called before somebody - a God, I guess - who would judge
whether I was good enough for Heaven or not. That stone beetle was
placed on my heart to make it keep silent and not tell anything wicked
I might have done in life. Aren't dreams crazy things? Say, Harry,
there goes a hydroplane."

The two young people hung out the open window. The old man was
absorbed, too. He had at last worked his fingers along the entire
length of the mummy's right wrist. It was dry and hard as any mummy he
had ever seen, but it bore neither bracelet nor any ornament whatever.

"Well," he said, reluctantly, "it was all a dream, interesting but not
important. Like Polly's dream, it was just the echo of something I
have read or seen."

"Oh, pshaw! What are dreams, anyway?" muttered Harry, with
impatience.

"Dreams," said Pauline, authoritatively, "dreams are the bubbles which
rise to the surface of the mind when it cools down in sleep."

"Now," observed Harry, quietly, "when you and father are through
talking about mummies and dreams I wish you would consider something
that I am interested in. I'd like to know how soon you are going to
marry me?"

"Where did you get that definition of dreams, Polly?" asked the old
man.

"From my story," said Pauline, proudly.

Both men at once remembered that she had gone to find the magazine and
show them her first story. They eagerly demanded to see it.

Pauline picked up the Cosmopolitan from the floor. She had dropped it
in her agitation at finding her foster father had fainted. Sure enough,
there it was:

FIRE ON AN OCEAN LINER

By Pauline Marvin.

It was not the biggest feature by any means, but it was quite a little
story, and there were several large stirring illustrations. Both men
begged her to read it to them, but she modestly declined.

Mr. Marvin adjusted his spectacles and read it through from start to
finish, frequently looking up to compliment the authoress on some point
that pleased him. Harry looked over his father's shoulder, and there
could be no doubt they were both held and even thrilled by the story.

Mr. Marvin clapped his hands and stated in a loud voice that he was
proud of her. Harry expressed his appreciation by a bear-like hug and
a kiss, all of which she accepted with blushes and protests.

"And - er - did they actually pay you something for this?" asked the
old gentleman.

"Oh, yes," Pauline assured him. "They sent me a check at once. It
paid for that frock you told me was too extravagant."

"A hundred dollars?" ventured Harry from the depths of his ignorance of
things feminine.

Both Pauline and his father cast pitying glances at him.

"Look here, young man," said the elder Marvin, "whoever led you to
believe that you could buy dresses for a girl like Polly at a hundred
dollars? If you contemplate matrimony on any such deluded basis as
that you had better back out now before it's too late. Isn't that so,
Polly?"

"Why, father," protested the youth, "what do I care what her dresses
cost? Polly knows everything I have or ever make is hers, and I can't
think of a more satisfactory way of spending it than on her."

"That's fine, Harry," laughed the father, "you have just the ideal
frame of mind and the proper sentiments for a modern husband. You will
find, too, that women are very reasonable. If a man gives his wife all
he makes, plus the vote, and lets her do just as she pleases - she'll
usually let him live in the same house with her, and even get up early
enough to see him at breakfast once in a while."

"I agree to everything," declared Harry, with the reckless abandon of
youth in love. "But I want to know how soon Polly is going to marry
me."

Pauline, who had said nothing in answer to the preliminary skirmishes,
now recognized the main attack and opened up in reply.

"I told you I would marry Harry some time, but not for a year or two.
You admitted that a writer ought to see life in order to write well.
So there you are. I must have a year or two of adventure. There are a
thousand things I want to do and see before I settle down as Mrs. Harry
Marvin. Suppose we say two years."

Harry staggered back as if from a blow. Two years! How preposterous!
He couldn't live that long without Pauline. In vain he hurled his
protests and objections. She stood, sweet, unruffled, sympathetic, but
as firm as the Rocky Mountains. The old man listened to the debate for
some time without comment. Then he pressed a button on his desk.

In answer came Raymond Owen, the secretary. He had shown the good
taste to retire from the library as soon as the conversation became
personal. From the vantage point of a room across the hall he had been
quietly listening, and decided it a rather unfruitful piece of
eavesdropping. He appeared the faithful, deferent employee in every
line as he entered.

"Come here, Raymond," directed the old man, as sharply as a commanding
officer, "and you, Harry, and you, Pauline."

They obeyed and quickly lined up before his chair with rather surprised
faces, for Mr. Marvin only called them Pauline and Harry when he was
very serious.

"Raymond, this is the situation: My son loves Pauline and wants to
marry her at once. I have no objection; in fact, I would like to see
them united at once, but Pauline demurs. She loves Harry, but feels
she ought to have two years to see life before settling down. Two
years is too much."

"I should say so," growled Harry.

"But, as my old grandfather, who has been gone these forty years now,
used to say: 'When a woman will, she will, and when she won't, she
won't - and there's an end on't.' I don't blame her for wanting to
have her own way. It's the only plan I've found to get along in this
world, but you can't have all your own way. You have to compromise.
So Polly is going to have one year - that's enough.

"During that year, Raymond, I'm going to put her in your care. You are
older and more prudent than either Polly or Harry and will see that she
comes to no harm. Take her anywhere she wants to go - around the
world if she likes, to do anything within reason. Do you agree?"

Mr. Marvin looked at Owen, who accepted the duty as calmly as if it
were an order to post a letter. Polly also consented after a moment's
hesitation. Harry alone protested and argued. It was a hopeless case
and he yielded to overwhelming odds.

This matter settled, Mr. Marvin's mind returned to the mummy and his
curious delusion that it had come to life. While Owen perused
Pauline's story and that willful young woman herself tried to cheer up
her disconsolate lover, the old man returned to the mummy. He had
searched for the bracelet on the right wrist, but, after all, perhaps
the Egyptian might have slipped it onto her left wrist in her hurry to
get back.

"There it is," he shouted suddenly; "there it is - the bracelet. She
wore it on her wrist and he told her to give it to Polly."

Mr. Marvin held in his hand a bracelet of scarabs linked together. It
looked to him to the very one the reincarnated mummy had worn. Harry
and Pauline in wonder came to him, and it was well they did. The
excitement and exertion had again overstrained his failing energies.
He tottered, and they were just in time to save him from a fall.

It was another of his fainting spells, and they lowered him gently into
his chair. But the old man was not unconscious yet. Feebly he
repeated to Pauline, "Wear this bracelet - wear it always - promise."

Pauline promised, and slipped it on her wrist without more than
glancing at it. The old man's eyes closed, and it was clear that this
faint was more serious than his others. Harry, about to telephone for
Dr. Stevens again, was greatly relieved to see the physician stride
into the room. There was hardly need of the stethoscope to tell him
the end was near.

Even before the old man was undressed and in bed, Dr. Stevens had
prepared and administered a hypodermic. The patient's eyelids
fluttered and Dr. Stevens listened to the faintly moving lips.

"The will," called the doctor, "what about the will?"

He glanced at every one, but nobody knew.

A shadow of anxiety passed over the features of the dying millionaire.
Dr. Stevens could see that something of serious importance was on the
old man's mind - something of importance about his vast property.

Once more he listened and then hastily drawing out his prescription pad
and fountain pen he wrote a few sentences at the dying man's dictation,
while the patient rallied and opened his eyes. The physician held the
blank before his patient, who read it through and nodded. Dr. Stevens
then placed the pen in the trembling fingers and guided his signature.
A moment more and the physician had signed it as a witness and the
butler had done the same.

The old manufacturer died as he had lived.

The will written on Dr. Stevens's prescription pad was given to Owen.
He went to his room and examined it. It read:

"Bodley Stevens, M.D. Rx: I bequeath half my estate to my son, Harry,
the remainder to my adopted daughter, Pauline, to be held in trust,
until her marriage, by my secretary, Raymond Owen."

Then followed the signature of the deceased and that of the two
witnesses. In vain Owen looked for the handsome bequest to "the
faithful secretary." This was a bitter disappointment, and he
considered for a moment the advisability of destroying the will. This
would make valid one of the earlier wills in which he knew he had not
been forgotten.

The folly of such a course became evident after a few moments thought.
Dr. Stevens, the butler, and several others knew the contents of the
document. It was so simple that its meaning could hardly be confused
or forgotten, and every one knew it was in his keeping. It occurred to
Owen that quite likely such a hasty death-bed will written by a doctor
unskilled in law might not be accepted by the courts.

Early the next morning Owen suspended his work of answering telegrams
of condolence long enough to make a hurried trip to lower Manhattan,
where the late Stanford Marvin's lawyers had offices.

In vain the great lawyer cudgeled his brains for some flaw. The will
ought to be wrong, but it wasn't. The meaning was so clear that even a
court couldn't misunderstand it, and the fortune was left to his
natural beneficiaries. The lawyer heaved a sigh and said plaintively:

"Too bad, too bad. Why didn't they call me?"

"Then this will is not valid?" asked Owen.

"Oh, no, it will hold; but what a pity that such a great man's last
will and testament should be such an - well, so - well, this
instrument is not worthy of conveying such a great estate."

He contemptuously slipped the simple document into an envelope and
placed it in his safe. Owen picked up his hat, but hesitated at the
door. A question was forming in his mind and with it a hope.

"Mr. Wilmerding," he asked finally, "in case Miss Marvin does not marry
who would have charge of the estate?"

"I should say," replied the lawyer, "in reply to your question that the
estate would be held in trust by you."

Returning to the house and entering the library Owen was confronted by
the unwelcome spectacle of Montgomery Hicks, generally known as Mug.
Hicks, with his gaudy attire, and ugly face, was always an affront to
the eye, but to Owen he was a terror, for he held the power of
blackmail over the secretary. Owen shrank at the sight of his enemy,
but immediately took courage. Though Marvin's death had left the
secretary no legacy it had also robbed the blackmailer of his power.

Hicks advanced with what he intended to be a winning smile and extended
a hot, fat hand.

"I see the old man has croaked and I was just dropping in to talk
business," Hicks's newsboy voice growled out.

"Hicks," said Owen, keeping his hand in his pocket, "if you came here
to get your money out of the legacy old man Marvin was to leave me.
Well, you won't get it and you never will get it. Marvin didn't leave
me a cent, so there is nothing for you to get. He did leave me a job
in his will, a job that will last for a year, and neither you nor any
one else can force me out of that job. You can't blackmail me any
more."

"At the end of the year what becomes of you?" asked Hicks.

"Then I get a position somewhere else; but that is none of your
business."

"You don't want a position, Owen. A position calls for work. You
don't like hard work any more then I do. You can't stand work much
longer, either. Look at your eyes and your skin, how many grains do
you take a day, anyway?"

"I haven't touched a grain of morphine in six months," lied Owen. "But
get out of my way - you can't get anything out of me and you can't
blackmail me. If you come to this house again I'll have you thrown
out."

"Just a minute," said Hicks, as pleasantly as he could, straining his
coarse features into the unaccustomed position of a smile. "I didn't
come to get money out of you. I know all about the will. What I came
for was to help you and give you a tip. You and I can make a lot of
easy money together. You've got the opportunity and I've got the
brains. Now, to show you I'm your friend, look at this!"

Hicks handed him a paper which Owen read with surprise. It was a
receipt in full for all Owen owed. Owen put it in his pocket.

"That's right, keep it. You and I are going to be so rich before long
that a matter of a thousand or two wouldn't be worth talking about
between friends."

Owen had been under the thumb of this man, had feared and hated him and
hoped for the day when he might sneer in his face and defy him. This
was the time, and yet he felt Hicks had something to offer. He was in
temporary charge of millions. There should be, there must be, some way
to make this control permanent or else to delve into these millions
while they were in his care. As Hicks hinted, this was an opportunity
and he needed not brains, but rather experience and advice. Owen had
been a rascal on a short time, why not take a partner like this man
Hicks? He would prevent mistakes, and mistakes are all a criminal need
fear.

Owen fingered uneasily the paper Hicks had put in his hand. He drew it
out of his pocket - yes, it was a receipt in full for all that Owen
owed the scoundrel. What could be Hicks's scheme? Owen turned a
puzzled and worried gaze upon his companion.

Hicks observed him closely, read the misgivings in Owen's mind and,
drawing close, whispered something in the latter's ear.

But Owen's drug-saturated nerves trembled at the thought. He pushed
Hicks aside and walked rapidly out of the room, calling over his
shoulder:

"I won't have anything to do with you. I don't want you to come near
me or speak to me again. I'm done with you."

"When you want me you know where to find me," was Hicks's parting
answer.





CHAPTER III

PAULINE TAXES THE FIRST TRICK

"All right, I'll do it," growled Harry Marvin, with the air of a martyr
going to the stake. "I'll do it for your sake, Polly."

"Well, you'd better begin to get ready," said Pauline blithely.

"I'll climb into a frock coat and endure an hour or two of this
afternoon tea chatter," promised Harry, "but first you must talk sense
with me for a few minutes."

"Oh, Harry," spoke Pauline, softly, "I know what 'talking sense'
means. You want to argue about my year of adventure. Now, lets not
argue. Let's just be happy. You know I love you and I know you love
me, and that ought to be enough. This year will be gone before you
know it. I'm going to begin it right away just to please you. The
sooner it starts the sooner it will be over."

"Begin it?" said Harry. "Why, a month of it is gone now. But it's all
nonsense. Polly, if you love me you are going to give up this crazy
idea."

A maid, bringing the card of Miss Lucille Hamlin, interrupted Harry.
She was the first of the afternoon tea party. Polly hurried Harry off
to dress, and, of course, he had no further chance to "talk sense"
until the door had closed on the last guest. Then he pounced upon
her. But Pauline, sweetly stubborn, cheerfully unyielding, insisted on
carrying out her father's promise to the letter.

Raymond Owen, the secretary of the late Mr. Marvin, had thought it
important to overhear this argument, and finally to walk into the
library where the debate was going on. If the adventures were to start
he had an idea for a beginning. The words of Hicks, the blackmailer,
had been in his mind for some thirty days and were beginning to bear
fruit. He had soon reached the point of hoping, almost praying,
something would happen to Pauline that he might be left in control of
her, estate. During the last few days Owen had progressed, from merely
hoping to readiness to help his wish to come true.

Harry instantly appealed to the secretary to dissuade Pauline. There
was no doubt that Owen had some influence over the girl. In years gone
by, before Owen had taken to the drug, Pauline had sought him out in
many a time of perplexity and learned to rely on his tactful,
well-considered advice.

To the surprise of the young master of the house, Owen made no attempt
to dissuade. Very unobtrusively he pointed out that for many years he
had been accustomed to carry out the wishes of Harry's father, and that
he was bound to fulfill his last wish in the same way.

"Raymond, you're a dear," laughed Pauline; "let's think of something
thrilling to do right off. Have you any idea?"

"No," lied Owen, "I hadn't given the matter any thought. We might look
at a newspaper and see what's happening."

Owen had a paper with him and the three examined it together.

Owen pretended to discover that an aviation meet was about to be held.
His idea, for which Harry promptly hated him, was to induce some
aviator to take Pauline as a passenger. Many of the races called for
carrying a passenger. Harry made a few objections, but the speed with
which they were overruled showed that he had no standing in this
court. So Harry subsided, but he thought very hard.

Several things were becoming evident to Harry.

One was that this year to see life and have adventures was actually
going to take place and no opposition on his part would stop it. It
was also clear that if he hoped to control Pauline's adventures in any
way it would be by the use of his wits, matching them against Pauline
and the secretary.

When Pauline and Owen decided upon the aeroplane ride, Harry contented
himself with remarking that he would have to see about it. Both
chuckled when he said it, Pauline outwardly and Owen inwardly.

Then they had dinner under the round glassy eye of Aunt Cornelia. Aunt
Cornelia was an elderly maiden relative of Harry, who had arrived with
others for the funeral and made the brilliant discovery that since Mr.
Marvin's death the "social situation," as she termed it, at the Marvin
house had become impossible.

It seemed, according to Aunt Cornelia, that a young man and a young
woman of impressionable age living in the same house unchaperoned
constituted an "impossible social situation," Either Pauline or Harry
must move out or someone must be installed as chaperon. Of course, the
chaperon was the least of the three evils and Aunt Cornelia, being the
discoverer of the job, was elected to fill it.

Harry ordered a bottle of wine with his dinner. Though he actually
drank very little, this unusual event created no little consternation.

"Harry, I didn't know you drank?" said Pauline.

"I am just beginning. You see, now that I must take over father's
affairs and mix with men of the world I ought to get a little
experience in things. See life and know what's what."

After dinner Harry casually asked if Pauline thought her adventures
would lead her to Paris. Pauline thought it likely, whereat Harry
remarked that he might see her over there.

"I haven't been to Paris since I was a kid, and I really ought to see
it, don't you think?"

"Yes," agreed Pauline, without enthusiasm, "but wait until we are
married and we'll do Paris together."

"No, Polly, that won't do. I'm sorry, but as you say, you can't see
life after you're married and settled down, so I'll have to do Paris
alone."

"Harry, are you sure you love me?" Pauline whispered.

"Polly, I know it, and everybody else knows it except you. Get Owen,
he's a notary public, and I'll take an oath before him that you have
been the only girl in all the world, are now and ever will be, world
without end, amen."

"And I love you, Harry," said Pauline, lowering her eyes until he saw
only the silky lashes.

"Why, Polly, that's the first time you ever volunteered that
information."

"Yes, Harry, I love you too much to let you go to Paris."

"Paris can't hurt me unless I let it hurt me."

"Harry, you won't be quite the same sort of boy when you come back from
Paris. Will you promise not to go until we are married?"

"Will you promise not to go on this trip of adventure?"

"Why should I?" demanded Pauline.

"Because you won't ever be quite the same sort of girl when you come
back."

After breakfast the next morning when the big touring car rolled up to
the front door to got Pauline and Owen, Harry was hurt that he had not
been consulted. Pauline's belated invitation to go with them to the
aviation field in the automobile was declined. Away went the big car
to the fine stretch of roads, where it made short work of the distance
to the aviation grounds.

Owen made a complete canvass of the "hangars" and soon accounted for
every machine entered in the race for the next day. From all but one
of the aviators he obtained a flat refusal. Not for money or any other
consideration would they take a strange woman as a passenger. The only
exception was a Frenchman, whose hesitation in declining led Owen to
further argument. At the last moment Pauline, impatient at the


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Online LibraryCharles GoddardThe Perils of Pauline → online text (page 2 of 18)