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Hearts and Masks   By: (1871-1932)

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Author of The Puppet Crown, The Grey Cloak, The Man on the Box

With Illustrations by Harrison Fisher

[Frontispiece: Five people dressed for costume ball, four sitting, one standing.]

New York Grosset & Dunlap Publishers Copyright 1905 The Bobbs Merrill Company


List of Illustrations

Five people dressed for costume ball, four sitting, one standing . . . (Frontispiece)

The handsomest girl I had set eyes upon in a month of moons.

"This is what I want. How much?" I inquired.

Turning, I beheld an exquisite Columbine.

I led her over to a secluded nook. We sat down.

And there we sat, calmly munching the apples.

"Madame, will you do me the honor to raise your mask?"

We watched the girl as she bathed and bandaged the wounded arm.

With a contented sigh she rested her blue slippered feet on the brass fender.



It all depends upon the manner of your entrance to the Castle of Adventure. One does not have to scale its beetling parapets or assault its scarps and frowning bastions; neither is one obliged to force with clamor and blaring trumpets and glittering gorgets the drawbridge and portcullis. Rather the pathway lies through one of those many little doors, obscure, yet easily accessible, latchless and boltless, to which the average person gives no particular attention, and yet which invariably lead to the very heart of this Castle Delectable. The whimsical chatelaine of this enchanted keep is a shy goddess. Circumspection has no part in her affairs, nor caution, nor practicality; nor does her eye linger upon the dullard and the blunderer. Imagination solves the secret riddle, and wit is the guide that leads the seeker through the winding, bewildering labyrinths.

And there is something in being idle, too!

If I had not gone idly into Mouquin's cellar for dinner that night, I should have missed the most engaging adventure that ever fell to my lot. It is second nature for me to be guided by impulse rather than by reason; reason is always so square toed and impulse is always so alluring. You will find that nearly all the great captains were and are creatures of impulse; nothing brilliant is ever achieved by calculation. All this is not to say that I am a great captain; it is offered only to inform you that I am often impulsive.

A Times , four days old; and if I hadn't fallen upon it to pass the twenty odd minutes between my order and the service of it, I shouldn't have made the acquaintance of the police in that pretty little suburb over in New Jersey; nor should I have met the enchanting Blue Domino; nor would fate have written Kismet. The clairvoyant never has any fun in this cycle; he has no surprises.

I had been away from New York for several weeks, and had returned only that afternoon. Thus, the spirit of unrest acquired by travel was still upon me. It was nearing holiday week, and those congenial friends I might have called upon, to while away the evening, were either busily occupied with shopping or were out of town; and I determined not to go to the club and be bored by some indifferent billiard player. I would dine quietly, listen to some light music, and then go to the theater. I was searching the theatrical amusements, when the society column indifferently attacked my eye. I do not know why it is, but I have a wholesome contempt for the so called society columns of the daily newspaper in New York. Mayhap, it is because I do not belong.

I read this paragraph with a shrug, and that one with a smirk. I was in no manner surprised at the announcement that Miss High Culture was going to wed the Duke of Impecune; I had always been certain this girl would do some such fool thing. That Mrs. Hyphen Bonds was giving a farewell dinner at the Waldorf, prior to her departure to Europe, interested my curiosity not in the least degree. It would be all the same to me if she never came back. None of the wishy washy tittle tattle interested me, in fact... Continue reading book >>

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