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The Madness of May   By: (1866-1947)

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First Page:

THE MADNESS OF MAY

by

MEREDITH NICHOLSON

With illustrations by Frederic Dorr Steele

[Illustration: "I didn't know it was your moon," he said. [ Page 60]]

Upon the morn they took their horses with the queen, and rode a maying in woods and meadows, as it pleased them. The Age of Chivalry.

New York Charles Scribner's Sons 1917

Copyright, 1917, by Charles Scribner's Sons

Published March, 1917

TO MRS. CHARLES THOMAS KOUNTZE

ILLUSTRATIONS

PAGE

"I didn't know it was your moon," he said. Frontispiece

"The young person left in haste, that's clear enough," remarked Hood. 30

"I make it a rule never to deny food to any applicant, no matter how unworthy. You may remain." 123

"Throw up your hands, boys; it's no use!" cried Hood in mock despair. 166

THE MADNESS OF MAY

I

Billy Deering let himself into his father's house near Radford Hills, Westchester County, and with a nod to Briggs, who came into the hall to take his hat and coat, began turning over the letters that lay on the table.

"Mr. Hood has arrived, sir," the servant announced. "I put him in the south guest room."

Deering lifted his head with a jerk. "Hood what Hood?"

"Mr. Hood is all I know, sir. He said he was expected you had asked him for the night. If there's a mistake "

Deering reached for his hat and coat, which Briggs still held. His face whitened, and the outstretched hand shook visibly. Briggs eyed him with grave concern, then took a step toward the stairway.

"If you wish, sir "

"Never mind, Briggs," Deering snapped. "It's all right. I'd forgotten I had a guest coming; that's all."

He opened a letter with assumed carelessness and held it before his eyes until the door closed upon Briggs. Then his jaws tightened. He struck his hands together and mounted the steps doggedly, as though prepared for a disagreeable encounter.

All the way out on the train he had feared that this might happen. The long arm of the law was already clutching at his collar, but he had not reckoned with this quick retribution. The presence of the unknown man in the house could be explained on no other hypothesis than the discovery of his theft of two hundred thousand dollars in gilt edged bonds from the banking house of Deering, Gaylord & Co. It only remained for him to kill himself and escape from the shame that would follow exposure. He must do this at once, but first he would see who had been sent to apprehend him. Hood was an unfamiliar name; he had never known a Hood anywhere, he was confident of that.

The house was ominously quiet. Deering paused when he reached his own room, glanced down the hall, then opened the door softly, and fell back with a gasp before the blaze of lights. There, lost in the recesses of a comfortable chair, with his legs thrown across the mahogany table, sat a man he had never seen before.

"Ah, Deering; very glad you've come," murmured the stranger, glancing up unhurriedly from his perusal of a newspaper.

He had evidently been reading for some time, as the floor was littered with papers. At this instant something in the page before him caught his attention and he deftly extracted a quarter of a column of text, pinched it with the scissors' points and dropped it on a pile of similar cuttings on the edge of the table.

"Just a moment!" he remarked in the tone of a man tolerant of interruptions, "and do pardon me for mussing up your room. I liked it better here than in the pink room your man gave me no place there to put your legs! Creature of habit; can't rest without sticking my feet up."

He opened a fresh newspaper and ran his eyes over the first page with the trained glance of an expert exchange reader.

"The Minneapolis papers are usually worthless for my purposes, and yet occasionally they print something I wouldn't miss... Continue reading book >>




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