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The Paradise Mystery by J. S. (Joseph Smith) Fletcher
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The Paradise Mystery
by J. S. Fletcher





CHAPTER I

ONLY THE GUARDIAN

American tourists, sure appreciators of all that is ancient
and picturesque in England, invariably come to a halt, holding
their breath in a sudden catch of wonder, as they pass through
the half-ruinous gateway which admits to the Close of
Wrychester. Nowhere else in England is there a fairer
prospect of old-world peace. There before their eyes, set in
the centre of a great green sward, fringed by tall elms and
giant beeches, rises the vast fabric of the thirteenth-century
Cathedral, its high spire piercing the skies in which rooks
are for ever circling and calling. The time-worn stone, at a
little distance delicate as lacework, is transformed at
different hours of the day into shifting shades of colour,
varying from grey to purple: the massiveness of the great nave
and transepts contrasts impressively with the gradual tapering
of the spire, rising so high above turret and clerestory that
it at last becomes a mere line against the ether. In morning,
as in afternoon, or in evening, here is a perpetual atmosphere
of rest; and not around the great church alone, but in the
quaint and ancient houses which fence in the Close. Little