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The Yellow Crayon   By: (1866-1946)

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By E. Phillips Oppenheim


It was late summer time, and the perfume of flowers stole into the darkened room through the half opened window. The sunlight forced its way through a chink in the blind, and stretched across the floor in strange zigzag fashion. From without came the pleasant murmur of bees and many lazier insects floating over the gorgeous flower beds, resting for a while on the clematis which had made the piazza a blaze of purple splendour. And inside, in a high backed chair, there sat a man, his arms folded, his eyes fixed steadily upon vacancy. As he sat then, so had he sat for a whole day and a whole night. The faint sweet chorus of glad living things, which alone broke the deep silence of the house, seemed neither to disturb nor interest him. He sat there like a man turned to stone, his forehead riven by one deep line, his straight firm mouth set close and hard. His servant, the only living being who had approached him, had set food by his side, which now and then he had mechanically taken. Changeless as a sphinx, he had sat there in darkness and in light, whilst sunlight had changed to moonlight, and the songs of the birds had given place to the low murmuring of frogs from a lake below the lawns.

At last it seemed that his unnatural fit had passed away. He stretched out his hand and struck a silver gong which had been left within his reach. Almost immediately a man, pale faced, with full dark eyes and olive complexion, dressed in the sombre garb of an indoor servant, stood at his elbow.


"Your Grace!"

"Bring wine Burgundy."

It was before him, served with almost incredible despatch a small cobwebbed bottle and a glass of quaint shape, on which were beautifully emblazoned a coronet and fleur de lis. He drank slowly and deliberately. When he set the glass down it was empty.


"Your Grace!"

"You will pack my things and your own. We shall leave for New York this evening. Telegraph to the Holland House for rooms."

"For how many days, your Grace?"

"We shall not return here. Pay off all the servants save two of the most trustworthy, who will remain as caretakers."

The man's face was as immovable as his master's.

"And Madame?"

"Madame will not be returning. She will have no further use for her maid. See, however, that her clothes and all her personal belongings remain absolutely undisturbed."

"Has your Grace any further orders?"

"Take pencil and paper. Send this cablegram. Are you ready?"

The man's head moved in respectful assent.

"To Felix, "No 27, Rue de St. Pierre, "Avenue de L'Opera, Paris. "Meet me at Sherry's Restaurant, New York, one month to day, eleven p.m. V. S."

"It shall be sent immediately, your Grace. The train for New York leaves at seven ten. A carriage will be here in one hour and five minutes."

The man moved towards the door. His master looked up.


"Your Grace!"

"The Duc de Souspennier remains here or at the bottom of the lake what matters! It is Mr. Sabin who travels to New York, and for whom you engage rooms at the Holland House. Mr. Sabin is a cosmopolitan of English proclivities."

"Very good, sir!"

"Lock this door. Bring my coat and hat five minutes before the carriage starts. Let the servants be well paid. Let none of them attempt to see me."

The man bowed and disappeared. Left to himself, Mr. Sabin rose from his chair, and pushing open the windows, stood upon the verandah. He leaned heavily upon his stick with both hands, holding it before him. Slowly his eyes traveled over the landscape.

It was a very beautiful home which he was leaving. Before him stretched the gardens Italian in design, brilliant with flowers, with here and there a dark cedar tree drooping low upon the lawn. A yew hedge bordered the rose garden, a fountain was playing in the middle of a lake. A wooden fence encircled the grounds, and beyond was a smooth rolling park, with little belts of pine plantations and a few larger trees here and there... Continue reading book >>

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