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was one of the show-places of Merivale Park,
Long Island. In summer it was an enchanting
spot, and the dazzling white marble steps which
led to the sunken gardens justified their right
to give the place its name. Other stone steps
gave on terraces and flower banks, others still
led to the Italian landscape gardens, and a few
rustic steps of a wooden stile transported one
to an old-fashioned garden, whose larkspur and
Canterbury bells were the finest of their sort.
The house seemed an integral part of this
setting. Its wide verandahs, or more often
loggias, were so lavishly furnished with
flowering plants, its windows so boxed with them,
that the whole effect was that of a marvellously
well-planned horticultural exhibition.
But all this was of the summer. In winter—for it
was an all-round-the-year home—only the varied
and extraordinary collection of evergreens
shared with the steps the honor of making
picturesque and beautiful the view from the
And now, in January, one of the all too seldom
enjoyed white snow storms had glorified the
whole estate. Wind-swept drifts half hid, half
disclosed the curving marble balustrades, and
turned the steps to snowy fairyland flights.
And, for it was night, a cold, dear, perfect
winter night, a supercilious moon looked down, a
little haughtily and condescended to illumine
the scene in stunning, if a bit theatric,
Mark of Cain
Judge Hoyt’s strong, keen face took on a
kindlier aspect and his curt “Hello!” was
followed by gentler tones, as he heard the voice
of the girl he loved, over the telephone.
“What is it, Avice?” he said, for her speech
“Uncle Rowly,—he hasn’t come home yet.”
“He hasn’t? Well, I hope he’ll turn up soon. I
want to see him. I was coming up this evening.”
“Come now,” said Avice; “come now, and dine here.
I am so anxious about uncle.”
“Why, Avice, don’t worry. He is all right, of
“No he isn’t. I feel a presentiment something
has happened to him. He never was so late as
this before, unless we knew where he was. Do
come right up, won’t you, Judge?”
“Certainly I will; I’m very glad to. But I’m
sure your fears are groundless. What about Mrs.
Black? Is she alarmed?”
“No, Eleanor laughs at me.”
“Then I think you needn’t disturb yourself.
“Yes, I know what you’re going to say, but she
isn’t a bit fonder of Uncle Rowly than I am.
Avice hung up the receiver with a little snap.
She was willing that Mrs. Black should marry her
uncle, but she did hate to be relegated to
second place in the household. Already the
handsome widow was asserting her supremacy, and
while Avice acknowledged the justice of it, it
hurt her pride a little...
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