Unformatted text preview: most vicious and contrived and strong gestures. I had left at home in New Orleans my beloved secretary and young quadroon lover Victor Gregoire, who was running my office for me in my absence as no one else could have ever done, I supposed. When I reached Venice, I expected the usual communications from Victor to be waiting for me-some letters, contracts to be notarized, signed, that sort of thing. But mainly I anticipated his written assur- ance that all was well in New Orleans. What greeted me was this: as I sat at my desk, above the canal, in a great vast drearily painted room in the Italian style, hung with velvet and very damp, with a cold marble floor, in walked Victor. Or so it seemed. For I knew in an instant this was not my Victor but someone who made himself look identical to him. He stood before me, smiling almost coyly-the young man I knew with pale golden skin, blue eyes, black hair, and a tall powerful body dressed to perfection. And then vanished. Of course it had been the monster pretending to be Victor; mak...
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