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The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart

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Published by: Critteranne on Sep 25, 2010
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Project Gutenberg's The Circular Staircase, by Mary Roberts RinehartThis eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and withalmost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away orre-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License includedwith this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.netTitle: The Circular StaircaseAuthor: Mary Roberts RinehartPosting Date: August 30, 2008 [EBook #434]Release Date: February, 1996Language: English*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASE ***THE CIRCULAR STAIRCASEByMARY ROBERTS RINEHARTCONTENTSI I TAKE A COUNTRY HOUSEII A LINK CUFF-BUTTONIII MR. JOHN BAILEY APPEARSIV WHERE IS HALSEY?V GERTRUDE'S ENGAGEMENTVI IN THE EAST CORRIDORVII A SPRAINED ANKLEVIII THE OTHER HALF OF THE LINEIX JUST LIKE A GIRLX THE TRADERS BANKXI HALSEY MAKES A CAPTUREXII ONE MYSTERY FOR ANOTHERXIII LOUISEXIV AN EGG-NOG AND A TELEGRAMXV LIDDY GIVES THE ALARMXVI IN THE EARLY MORNING
 
XVII A HINT OF SCANDALXVIII A HOLE IN THE WALLXIX CONCERNING THOMASXX DOCTOR WALKER'S WARNINGXXI FOURTEEN ELM STREETXXII A LADDER OUT OF PLACEXXIII WHILE THE STABLES BURNEDXXIV FLINDERSXXV A VISIT FROM LOUISEXXVI HALSEY'S DISAPPEARANCEXXVII WHO IS NINA CARRINGTON?XXVIII A TRAMP AND THE TOOTHACHEXXIX A SCRAP OF PAPERXXX WHEN CHURCHYARDS YAWNXXXI BETWEEN TWO FIREPLACESXXXII ANNE WATSON'S STORYXXXIII AT THE FOOT OF THE STAIRSXXXIV THE ODDS AND ENDSTHE CIRCULAR STAIRCASECHAPTER II TAKE A COUNTRY HOUSEThis is the story of how a middle-aged spinster lost her mind, desertedher domestic gods in the city, took a furnished house for the summerout of town, and found herself involved in one of those mysteriouscrimes that keep our newspapers and detective agencies happy andprosperous. For twenty years I had been perfectly comfortable; fortwenty years I had had the window-boxes filled in the spring, thecarpets lifted, the awnings put up and the furniture covered with brownlinen; for as many summers I had said good-by to my friends, and, afterwatching their perspiring hegira, had settled down to a delicious quietin town, where the mail comes three times a day, and the water supplydoes not depend on a tank on the roof.And then--the madness seized me. When I look back over the months Ispent at Sunnyside, I wonder that I survived at all. As it is, I showthe wear and tear of my harrowing experiences. I have turned verygray--Liddy reminded me of it, only yesterday, by saying that a littlebluing in the rinse-water would make my hair silvery, instead of ayellowish white. I hate to be reminded of unpleasant things and Isnapped her off."No," I said sharply, "I'm not going to use bluing at my time of life,or starch, either."Liddy's nerves are gone, she says, since that awful summer, but she hasenough left, goodness knows! And when she begins to go around with alump in her throat, all I have to do is to threaten to return toSunnyside, and she is frightened into a semblance ofcheerfulness,--from which you may judge that the summer there wasanything but a success.
 
The newspaper accounts have been so garbled and incomplete--one of themmentioned me but once, and then only as the tenant at the time thething happened--that I feel it my due to tell what I know. Mr.Jamieson, the detective, said himself he could never have done withoutme, although he gave me little enough credit, in print.I shall have to go back several years--thirteen, to be exact--to startmy story. At that time my brother died, leaving me his two children.Halsey was eleven then, and Gertrude was seven. All theresponsibilities of maternity were thrust upon me suddenly; to perfectthe profession of motherhood requires precisely as many years as thechild has lived, like the man who started to carry the calf and endedby walking along with the bull on his shoulders. However, I did thebest I could. When Gertrude got past the hair-ribbon age, and Halseyasked for a scarf-pin and put on long trousers--and a wonderful helpthat was to the darning.--I sent them away to good schools. Afterthat, my responsibility was chiefly postal, with three months everysummer in which to replenish their wardrobes, look over their lists ofacquaintances, and generally to take my foster-motherhood out of itsnine months' retirement in camphor.I missed the summers with them when, somewhat later, at boarding-schooland college, the children spent much of their vacations with friends.Gradually I found that my name signed to a check was even more welcomethan when signed to a letter, though I wrote them at stated intervals.But when Halsey had finished his electrical course and Gertrude herboarding-school, and both came home to stay, things were suddenlychanged. The winter Gertrude came out was nothing but a succession ofsitting up late at night to bring her home from things, taking her tothe dressmakers between naps the next day, and discouraging ineligibleyouths with either more money than brains, or more brains than money.Also, I acquired a great many things: to say lingerie forunder-garments, "frocks" and "gowns" instead of dresses, and thatbeardless sophomores are not college boys, but college men. Halseyrequired less personal supervision, and as they both got their mother'sfortune that winter, my responsibility became purely moral. Halseybought a car, of course, and I learned how to tie over my bonnet a graybaize veil, and, after a time, never to stop to look at the dogs onehas run down. People are apt to be so unpleasant about their dogs.The additions to my education made me a properly equipped maiden aunt,and by spring I was quite tractable. So when Halsey suggested campingin the Adirondacks and Gertrude wanted Bar Harbor, we compromised on agood country house with links near, within motor distance of town andtelephone distance of the doctor. That was how we went to Sunnyside.We went out to inspect the property, and it seemed to deserve its name.Its cheerful appearance gave no indication whatever of anything out ofthe ordinary. Only one thing seemed unusual to me: the housekeeper,who had been left in charge, had moved from the house to the gardener'slodge, a few days before. As the lodge was far enough away from thehouse, it seemed to me that either fire or thieves could complete theirwork of destruction undisturbed. The property was an extensive one:the house on the top of a hill, which sloped away in great stretches ofgreen lawn and clipped hedges, to the road; and across the valley,perhaps a couple of miles away, was the Greenwood Club House. Gertrudeand Halsey were infatuated."Why, it's everything you want," Halsey said "View, air, good water andgood roads. As for the house, it's big enough for a hospital, if it

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