Elbert Carstairs, an elderly New Yorker, has been separated from his wife for twelve years, but they have remained friends. Mrs. Carstairs has their child Mary, who absolutely refuses to visit her father in spite of her mother's urging. Carstairs persuades his young friend Lawrence Varney to undertake the kidnapping of the girl under the impression she is a child of twelve. He goes on Carstairs's yacht, to the small Hudson River town where Mary lives, and in spite of his determination to make his visit as unobtrusive as possible, he no sooner lands than he is whirled into a series of adventures, involving him in a strenuous fight with an unscrupulous political ring. Affairs are further complicated by Varney's resemblance to Ferris Stanhope, a novelist, who formerly lived in the town and who had incurred the lasting hatred of the inhabitants by his treatment of a poor girl there.
ugh to have her do it. That was natural enough, Peter. He had his friends and his clubs and his little dinners, and he was no more competent to raise a girl baby than you are, which is certainly going some for a comparison. I suppose the fact was that he was glad to be free of the responsibility. But it's mighty different now.
"You see," said Varney, lighting one cigarette from another and throwing the old one away, "he must be pretty lonely all by himself in that big house of his. On top of that he's getting old and isn't in very good health. Explain it any way you like. The simple fact is that within this last year or so, it's gradually gotten to be a kind of obsession with him, an out-and-out, down-and-out monomania, to know that kid--to have her come and spend part of every year with him. That's natural, too, I should say."
"H'm. Mrs. Carstairs sticks to her like fly-paper, I suppose?"
"Not at all. She admits Uncle Elbert's rights and is entirely willing to let him have Mary--for such is our litt