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The Mysterious Advertisement

by A New York Detective

The nature of my profession brings me in contact with every description of person. I have formed through its agency many pleasant acquaintanceships, to which my memory often reverts with pleasure. Some years ago I became acquainted with a Mr. Norval, a wealthy merchant, who resided in West Fourteenth Street. He was a widower, and the only person living with him were two in number, a niece and an only son.

Mary Norval, his niece, was a beautiful girl, about twenty years of age when I became acquainted with her. She was tall and gracefully formed. Her hair was a dark brown, and her eyes a heavenly blue, shrouded with long eyelashes which gave a dreamy expression to her lovely, oval face. Her complexion was white as the driven snow, and her form was gracefully rounded. Her neck and shoulders might have served for a model for a sculptor, they were so exquisitely chiseled. When she moved it was with that undulating grace so charming in the other sex.

Such was Mary Norval when I first knew her. Had I not been married and possessed of the best wife in the world, she would have been just the woman I would have chosen for a wife, for her natural disposition, the cultivation of her mind, and the amiability of her character fully equaled her physical beauty. She had so won upon her uncle’s heart that he loved her better than he did his own son. This, however, might be accounted for, from the fact that Charles Norval was a most dissipated young man. He had long ago exhausted his father's affection for him by a dissolute life, and was only permitted by sufferance to be an inmate of his house.

One day Mr. George Norval invited me to dine with him. I accepted the invitation, and we passed a very agreeable hour together at the so­cial meal. After dinner, being something of an invalid, my host excused himself for… Read More