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The Red Mouse   By:

The Red Mouse by William Hamilton Osborne

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The Red Mouse

A Mystery Romance

By WILLIAM HAMILTON OSBORNE

ILLUSTRATED BY THE KINNEYS

A. L. BURT COMPANY Publishers New York

COPYRIGHT, 1909 BY DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

Published, January, 1909

To L. G. S. O.

[Illustration: "'DID YOU PUT HIM IN THAT FRAME?'"]

I

For years the best years of her life, for that matter, as she often reflected in lonely moments Miriam Challoner had been trying to prove to her own satisfaction that her husband was no worse than the majority of young men married to rich women, but she could never find the arguments whereby she might arrive at the desired conclusion. It is not to be wondered at, then, that eventually there came a day when the information was brought to her that even in the gay and ultra fashionable world in which they moved people spoke of him as "that mad Challoner," and were saying that he was going a pace that was rapidly carrying him far beyond the horizon of anything like respectability going to the dogs, in truth, as fast as her money could take him there.

Now Miriam Challoner was not one of those women who deceive themselves, if not their friends, when they say that if ever they hear of their husbands doing such and such a thing they know perfectly well what they will do. It is true that, like them, she did nothing; nevertheless, she could not be persuaded to discuss with any one the humiliating position in which her husband had placed her.

In a way, this attitude of hers was unfortunate, for it was more or less responsible for the note of melancholy cadence which crept into her mind. And so it was that before very long she was dimly conscious of an emotion quite unlike anything that she had hitherto experienced: all the bitterness in her heart had given way to a sickening sensation that she, as well as as he, had been tried in the matrimonial furnace and found wanting. Somehow, she had fallen grievously in her own estimation!

And society's estimation? Illusions in that direction were hardly possible; there, too, doubtless she would incur the loss of a certain amount of consideration. And even the non possession of a highly imaginative temperament did not prevent her from fancying the expressive shrugs, and "Oh, of course his wife is to blame," which, for the sake of an inference that is obvious, would be voiced by more than one impeccable dame of her acquaintance as often as not superbly gullible souls, whose eloquence increases in direct proportion to the world's lack of belief in the fidelity of their liege lords.

Nor were comments of that kind the worst that she might expect! For, as a penalty for belonging to a set which, to a greater degree, perhaps, than any other, recognises the possibility of an up to date couple having a mutually implied understanding that neither shall object to the discreet and more or less temporary faithlessness of the other she knew that it would be well nigh miraculous if some kindly disposed persons did not go still further for an explanation of his conduct, and point to her and her husband as a conspicuous example of such a precious pair. But though her whole being rebelled at the mere thought that there could be people who would regard her in such a light, she could not bring herself to take decisive action of any kind. There was nothing that could be said, she told herself, nothing that could be done since a most conscientious and pitiless self analysis had failed to reveal any wifely shortcoming except to have faith that there were some of her sex not many, it is true, but still a few friends who would continue to believe her incapable of doing any of the things that so many others did, for whom there was far less excuse than there would be for her.

But whatever were the opinions of the women, there was no disposition on the part of the men to hold her in any way responsible for his behaviour... Continue reading book >>




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