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The Ivory Snuff Box   By: (1873-1943)

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THE IVORY SNUFF BOX

BY ARNOLD FREDERICKS

GROSSET & DUNLAP PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

Copyright, 1912, by W. J. WATT & COMPANY

Published October.

THE IVORY SNUFF BOX

CHAPTER I

The last thing that sounded in Richard Duvall's ears as he left the office of Monsieur Lefevre, Prefect of Police of Paris, were the latter's words, spoken in a voice of mingled confidence and alarm, "The fortunes of a nation may depend upon your faithfulness. Go, and God be with you." He entered the automobile which was drawn up alongside the curb, and accompanied by Vernet, one of the Prefect's assistants, was soon threading the torrent of traffic which pours through the Rue de Rivoli .

The thoughts which lay uppermost in the detective's mind were of Grace, his wife; Grace Ellicott, who had become Grace Duvall but little more than an hour before. By this time he had expected to be on his way to Cherbourg, en route to New York, with Grace by his side. They had looked forward so happily to their honeymoon, on shipboard, and now he found himself headed for London on this mysterious expedition, and Grace waiting for him in vain at the pension . The thought was maddening. He swore softly to himself as he looked out at the crowded street.

Monsieur Lefevre had no right to ask so great a sacrifice of him, he grumbled. What if he had distinguished himself, made himself the Prefect's most valued assistant, during the past six or eight months? The matters which had brought him from New York to Paris had all been definitely concluded Grace and he were married his plans had all been made, to return to America, and home. Now at the last moment, it was frightfully exasperating to have Monsieur Lefevre insist that matters of so grave a nature had occurred, that the honor of his very country was at stake, and to call upon him, Duvall, as the one man who could set matters right. Of course, it was very flattering, but he wanted, not flattery, but Grace, and all the happiness which lay before them. What, after all, was this matter, this affair so vague and mysterious, into which he had so unexpectedly been thrown? He drew out the instructions which the Prefect had hurriedly thrust into his hands, and looked at them with eager curiosity.

They covered but one side of a small sheet of paper. "Visit immediately number 87, Rue de Richelieu ," they said. "It is a small curio shop. Monsieur Dufrenne, the proprietor, expects you, and will join you at once. Proceed without delay to London and report to Monsieur de Grissac, the French Ambassador. He has lost an ivory snuff box, which you must recover as quickly as possible. You will find money enclosed herewith. Monsieur Dufrenne you can trust in all things. God be with you. Lefevre."

It was the first time that Duvall had read the instructions. He had not had an opportunity to do so before. As he concluded his examination of them, his face hardened, his brow contracted in a frown, and he crushed the piece of paper in his hand. Was this some absurd joke that Monsieur Lefevre was playing upon him? The idea of separating him from Grace upon their wedding day, to send him on an expedition, the object of which was to recover a lost snuff box! It seemed preposterous. In his anger he muttered an exclamation which attracted the attention of Vernet. He was, in fact, on the point of stopping the automobile, and going at once to the pension where Grace was waiting for him, her trunks packed for their wedding journey. The impassive face of the Frenchman beside him relaxed a trifle, as he saw Duvall's agitation. "What is it, Monsieur Duvall?" he inquired.

"Do you know anything about this matter that makes it necessary for me to go to London?" demanded Duvall.

"Nothing, monsieur, except that your train leaves " he consulted his watch "in twenty minutes."

Duvall drew out a cigar and lit it, with a gesture of annoyance. "The matter does not appear very important," he grumbled... Continue reading book >>




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