The Wistaria Scarf - J.U. Giesy, Junius B Smith - ebook

The Wistaria Scarf ebook

J.U. Giesy, Junius B. Smith



Sheldon, who was sentenced many times to imprisonment, has long been free. There were no rumors about him. However, his daughter is married and is going to the honeymoon, which paid for her father. The detective gets a phone call saying Sheldon has taken up the old business. And the detective goes to Sheldon’s daughter, whom he was in love with. The pursuit of Sheldon will never stop. However, maybe this time he is still not guilty?

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I THINK I once described Alice Sheldon as a “brilliant brunette.” That was when she was a girl living in Goldfield at the time I was out there on the trail of a man who forged her father’s name to a check. She was at that time engaged to a young fellow named Archibald Parton, who lived in my home town, and circumstances made me see quite a little of the girl.

She was a beauty of the type, and Archie was fairly wild about her. He proved it by marrying her a short time after I had returned to my paper from Goldfield. The first thing I heard about it, was that they were going for a belated honeymoon on the Continent.

Although they had been married for some six months, they had waited to take the trip in order that Colonel MacDonohue Sheldon, the girl’s father, might wind up his affairs and accompany them as a sort of rough and blustering fairy godfather. As “Colonel Mac” said, the honeymoon was on “dad.”

I was cooling my heels one day in late March by elevating them on my typewriter-table in the local room, when I was called to the phone. Though it had a familiar ring, I didn’t recognize the voice, until the man at the other end informed me that he was at the Kenton and for once wasn’t wishing he were in Goldfield. Then I woke up and asked him what it was all about.

“We want you to come up if you can,” said the colonel. “Archie and Alice and I are takin’ our honeymoon an’ we want to say howdy to one of the men that made it possible. You come on up here, Glace, an’ see the kids. They were married sort of quiet like last October, just after I got back home, an’ they’ve been waitin’ so’s I could come along. We’re goin’ to do Europe ‘fore we get back. I’m stakin’ the kids to a good blowout, you bet.”

“I’ll be right up,” I told him, and reached for my hat.

“Where you goin’?” said Smithson, my city editor, as I turned away.

“I’m going to interview three of the principals in the Sheldon forgery case,” I responded. He scowled.

“If you get dragged into any more trans-continental trips,” he threatened, “I won’t stand for it; you understand?”

“Since I am going to see a bride and groom taking papa on their honeymoon, I don’t believe I’m in much danger,” I assured him, and left the office of the Record for the hotel.

Alice Sheldon-Parton met me as one welcomes an old friend. The girl had ripened since her marriage. She seemed to have taken on an even greater, more womanly beauty, and her figure had rounded out into fuller and more gracious lines.

They insisted upon my sitting down and Colonel Mac was at the phone ordering refreshments before I had fairly done shaking Mrs. Parton’s hand.

“Make ‘em a man’s size now, for the sake of kindness,” I heard him exhorting, and I smiled at him as he turned toward where I sat.

“Well, here we are!” said Sheldon. “When we decided to start East, Allie here wouldn’t have it any way but we must stop here and see you and look up Dick and his wife, Archie’s sister, and the meat of the whole nut I suspect is that more’n all else she wanted to see if she couldn’t meet that funny Dual chap that put it all over her dad.”

It was the first time I had seen Sheldon since the night Dual and he had had the strange meeting in Dual’s apartments, and it did me good to see that he was a good loser and bore no resentment against the man who had beaten him in fair fight. It takes a considerable degree of thoroughbrededness to take a defeat like that, and I was glad to find the old Westerner in that class.

“I will see what can be done,” I promised. “Dual is a queer sort of person and receives but few people, usually only at his own behest.”

“Who asked him to receive us?” said Sheldon. “He can come down here, can’t he, Glace? I sure owe that fellow a lot more’n I can ever pay, and so do Alice and Archie here.”

This time I shook my head.

“He wouldn’t come, colonel,” I was forced to say. “But I shall try to arrange for Mrs. Parton to meet him while she is here.”

“Tell him,” said Alice Parton, “that I wish to express my heartfelt thanks for all he did for me and mine. He can hardly refuse me that privilege, I think.”

I agreed, promised to dine with them that evening, and left the hotel. Then I made up my mind that I might as well see Dual right away.

I took a car up to the Urania, where he lived and carried on his peculiar investigations of nature’s higher forces, as he described the strange powers which he invoked at times to produce results beyond the ken of the average man. Few persons, as I had said, had the entrée of Dual’s place. I was so fortunate as to be one of them.

It all started by my going to interview him and getting both myself and him mixed up in a murder case. Since then I had been glad of his aid in another case, in which, but for Dual, an innocent man probably would have gone to jail. The man was Sheldon’s own brother, and be it said with regret, the colonel’s own act was largely responsible for his brother’s predicament. Everything ended, happily, thanks to Dual.

Dual was an odd genius and dwelt in a tower on the roof of the Urania, one of our largest office structures. He had fitted up the roof as a regular garden and constructed a magnificent approach from the building’s upper floor. Being one of the elect, I might approach him at any time of the day or night, and I did so now.

I found him lying on a couch covered by an immense lion skin and wheeled full into the rays of the afternoon sun. He was utterly divested of clothing, save for a towel about the loins, and was lying relaxed as I came in.

It was the first time I had seen the man’s body, and I marveled at its superb lines. He was the athlete without any of the overdevelopment which one so often finds in the strong man. But this man might have been a beautiful, olive-tinted Apollo as he lay at ease on the tawny hide of the dead king of beasts.

He rolled lazily on one side and greeted me with a smile as I dropped into a chair.

“Letting my body breathe,” he explained easily. “One trouble with our modern methods of clothing ourselves, Glace, is that the pores don’t get half a chance to functionate. Furthermore, we constrict our arterial and venous trunks with bands and garters and wonder why poor circulation overtakes us after a time. Even a school-boy knows that water won’t run through a plugged hose; but we older children expect the heart to pump the blood through clogged and compressed channels and remain strong.”

I rolled a cigarette and nodded. “Keep right on,” I said. Dual laughed.

“I like to lie in the sun and blink my eyes and let its rays warm me through and through. One can feel the kinetic energy almost absorb through the skin. In that respect I am like the brute on whose skin I am lying. Who knows, maybe I was a lion once myself, and it is an inherited trait, this dreaming in the sun.”

I looked at his splendid limbs.

“I’ll warrant you were a very magnificent beast,” I drawled, humoring his mood. For some time he lay silent; then: “How would you like to go to Persia?” he asked, apropos of nothing at all.

“Getting homesick?” I inquired.

“Eh?” said Dual, narrowing his eyes.

“Or are there lions in Persia?” I inquired.

Dual rolled completely over and swung to a sitting position.

“Glace,” said he, “for once you have surprised me. I suppose John Curzon told you I was half Persian, my friend.”

As usual he was right. Curzon was a friend of his and had, in fact, given me the information. I nodded my head.

“Because,” said Dual, “he is the only person in this country who is aware of the fact, excepting yourself. However, it was not homesickness which made me ask you the question I did. While lying here, before you came in, I had what some people who do not understand would call an intuition; what is really a karmic vibration. I believe that I am soon going to find it necessary to go to Persia. In other words, friend Gordon, I had what you would call a ‘hunch.’ If my hunch is correct, do you want to go along?”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Perfectly,” said Semi Dual. “Now, what brings you here?”

I preferred Mrs. Parton’s (née Sheldon) request and waited for what Dual might say. After a moment he smiled.

“You are dining with them this evening,” he remarked after a few minutes’ silence. “Suppose after dinner you bring them on up here.”

I expressed my surprise. Dual continued to smile.

“I have a reason for my action,” he told me. “Besides, you must admit that the young woman’s request is a natural one under the circumstances.”

I grinned. “If I went on the principle that you would do the natural thing, I’d make a great showing, wouldn’t I?” I said.

Dual laughed out loud. He seemed very human, very likable, very happy and buoyant to-day.

“I’d really enjoy meeting her,” he said. “These young American women interest me every day. They are such splendid examples of what evolution will do; with their high heads, their brave eyes, their strong, elastic swing of limb. I glory in their exhibition of what the race of man may become, with education and freedom to expand mentally and physically to its best. They are the fit mates for fit men; none of your languorous voluptuaries, good only to drag men down and clog their souls and bodies with the anesthetic of their narcotic perfumes. They have the perfume of health and clean living. Such women are the gift of God.”

“Bravo!” I cried as he finished and faced me with shining eyes. “And all the time I have half suspected that you were a woman-hater, Dual.”

“You?” said Semi, almost as I imagine Caesar cried out to Brutus, and I was sorry that I had said what I had.

The glow faded from Dual’s face. “Gordon,” he said sadly, “when a man knows much, he only increases his capacity for suffering. The higher one climbs, the greater the fall, should he be cast down. I hate women? Does a true man hate any of the Creator’s children? Why, I hate nothing of which I can think. There is beauty even in the lowly earthworm, if one will but look, and it was made by the same law as was man.”

He began to pace the room in nervous strides.

“Hate woman! No! I love her–the whole wondrous complement of man. I have none of her, because–and, Gordon, I have told this to none save you yourself–because I am seeking for one I lost and will some day find again. That is why I am–a lion without a mate.”

He flung himself into a chair and after a moment he smiled his old smile, only, perhaps, there was an added touch of sadness in it now.

“Bring your friends up after the dinner,” he said, changing his tone abruptly. “I shall be very glad to meet the little woman from Goldfield, and accept the thanks she really means.”

“Semi,” I said, rising and looking at him where he sat, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wound or rub old sores. Don’t be angry at the blunder I made.”

“The offer for Persia is still open,” said my friend.

I put out my hand. He took it.

“You’re a wonderful man,” I began.

“Don’t,” Dual interrupted sharply. “Wonderful, never; I try at least to be a–man.”


I TOOK Dual’s invitation with me when I kept my engagement with the Sheldons at the Kenton that evening. Alice Parton clapped her hands in undisguised delight.

“Good!” she cried. “I am so glad. Papa has told me a lot about Mr. Dual and how he cleared up all that dreadful case without any publicity or anything at all. After Dick married Myrtle he came out West to see us and he, too, had nothing but good to say of the man. I am sure, Mr. Glace, that you must value the friendship of that wonderful man a great deal. How does he get his results?”

“He gets them in ways I myself only dimly understand,” I replied. “Some day I hope that he will consider it possible to explain his methods more fully to me. As for his friendship, I value it above that of all other men.”

“Papa says his apartments are the most remarkable things he has ever seen. Is that right?”

“They are certainly unusual enough for an occidental city,” I answered, smiling. “The first time I saw them I half fancied I was having a dream of the Orient, and felt like rubbing my eyes to make sure I was really awake.” Then I went on and described Dual’s quarters as best I could.

“I’ll never forget the night I went there,” said young Parton. “Say, Glace, what did he do to me?”

I laughed. “I rather fancy he used a little hypnotic suggestion that time, Archie,” I said.

“I half suspected that,” said Parton. “He’s the very devil of a fellow, Alice; a sort of combination of an East Indian fakir and a Sherlock Holmes.”

His wife smiled and shook her head.

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