“Very,” said I, with dry lips.
“I should have thought I was dreaming,” went on Miss Emmeline, “save that there lingered in the air, for some time, a faint and very delicate—”
“Perfume,” I finished.
Miss Emmeline started, and seized my hand.
“Then you have experienced it, too?”
“I have detected the perfume,” I admitted, “but I have never seen anything. Dear Miss Emmeline, would it be too much to ask you to keep this to yourself, for a while at least? People are so easily frightened; and wild stories spread and grow.”
Miss Emmeline nodded. “Of course I’ll keep it quiet,” she promised kindly. “I shall, however, write down the occurrence for the Society for Psychical Research, without giving actual names and place.” To this I raised no objection. But it was with a troubled mind that I left Miss Emmeline.
I was destined to hear one more confidence that night, unwittingly this time. I had gone down-stairs to place, ready to Mary Magdalen’s hand in the morning, the materials for the breakfast. This entails work, but it insures successful handling of household economics. Having weighed and measured what was necessary, and seen that the inquisitive Black family occupied their proper quarters on the lower veranda, I went back up-stairs. The Author’s door was slightly ajar, and I could hear him walking up and down, as he does when he dictates; for he is a restless man.
“Johnson,” The Author was saying as I passed, my slippered feet making no sound, “Johnson, that Sophy woman intrigues me. Hanged if she doesn’t, Johnson!”
“I like Miss Smith, myself. She reminds me very much of my mother,” said Johnson’s cordial voice in reply.
“But I don’t like the way things look here, at all, Johnson!” fumed The Author. “What’s his game, anyhow? What’s he after? What’s he here for? Does she know, or suspect? Or doesn’t she, Johnson?” The Author asked, earnestly. “Look here: somebody’s got to protect that Sophy woman against Nicholas Jelnik!”
THE JINNEE INTERVENES
Just before he went back North, Luis Morenas good-naturedly agreed to exhibit his new sketches for the delectation of such folk as we cared to ask to view them—this to please Alicia, whom he called Flower o’ the Peach.
Now an exhibit of Morenas sketches would have been an art event in the Biggest City itself. But think of it in Hyndsville, where few worth-while things ever happened; and imagine the polite wire-pulling for invitations that ensued!
It wasn’t my fault that I couldn’t ask the whole town to come to my house to see those brilliant sketches. I would have done so with all my heart, but there was a section of Hyndsville I couldn’t reach. It was locked up behind bars of pride and prejudice of its own building; and losing by it, of course, since one can’t be exclusive without at the same time being excluded. To shut other folks out you have first got to shut yourself in.