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Example in this ebookCHAPTER I.THE HOUSE OF MYSTERYDreamy Hollow may be reached three ways—by automobile, aeroplane or boat through Great South Bay. But to go there without invitation would have spoiled the welcome, for, at the time of which weMoreExample in this ebookCHAPTER I.THE HOUSE OF MYSTERYDreamy Hollow may be reached three ways—by automobile, aeroplane or boat through Great South Bay. But to go there without invitation would have spoiled the welcome, for, at the time of which we write, the master of this magnificent acreage was a man of square jaw, protruding forehead, and very punctilious. He also possessed two deep blue eyes that set far back under brows of extra overhang—eyes that reflected the soul when tranquil, but in heat of passion, turned to lead.A forest of trees and kindred foliage protected his gleaming villa from the prying gaze of curious tourists. Only from the water side could it be seen at all. When it was learned that the great concrete walls topped by heavy iron pickets [Pg 2]admitted of no entrance except by invitation, the sight-seeing tourist scorned the gatekeepers apology and scurried away along the gasoline trail.For quite a long period much mystery existed as to the ownership of the magnificent estate, but this much was known: that for five straight years the great house stood empty. No one was seen to come or go, save the watchman at the ornate iron gates opening upon the motor parkway, and his fellow guardsmen in charge of the estate far in behind the trees and bushes,—out of sight. It was built by a trust company, and whoever might be the owner, he came by sea at rare intervals and sailed away at night. Only a chosen few had visited him there, but they came as he came, and departed with him as he went away. Thus the wondrous white home with its wealth of trees and shrubs came to be known to the families of neighboring estates as Spooky Hollow.Drury Villard, after amassing a most prodigious fortune, suddenly appeared before his directors one bright June morning, and announced his retirement forthwith, whereat there was great[Pg 3] consternation. For a time the silence following his announcement became so tense that, as President, he felt it necessary to say something more definite. Gathered about him were men who had carried his message all over the world and had sold it for cash. Never had they known a human specimen of such overwhelming energy of body and mind. Although strong in themselves, individually, and as a group, they knew they were merely spokes in the wheel of a giant intellect. They had carried his banner into every port, and that banner had spelled prosperity for every agency that held it aloft. But the Master Mind would quit! Now he would lay aside his life work and desert the greatest organization of its kind in the world! It amounted to just that—desertion—to those who had grown up with the business—their all was involved.The stern faces of the strong men about him finally brought President Villard to his feet and caused him to walk nervously to and fro across the room. Every eye was upon him, and he knew in advance each mans thoughts, so intimate had his relations been with them. It was his [Pg 4]intention to be frank. He meant to tell them everything about his future plans, but he who had always dominated now halted, ill at ease. For once in his life he exhibited a diffidence of speech in the presence of his directors. They would most likely think his reasons silly—perhaps they would think him crazy! Above all else he wanted, as he well deserved, their lasting good will. Under no circumstances would he forfeit that- but there were certain men in the organization who might feel that he was in the act of jeopardizing their future welfare. Each was a special partner and entitled to the truth, therefore he determined to put his case squarely up to them as a group, regardless of their attitude toward himself.