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The Black Bag
by Louis Joseph Vance
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Then, of the two the first to recover countenance, he doffed his cap and bowed.

"Good evening, Mrs. Hallam," he said with a rueful smile.



XV

REFUGEES

Now, if Kirkwood's emotion was poignant, Mrs. Hallam's astonishment paralleled, and her relief transcended it. In order to understand this it must be remembered that while Mr. Kirkwood was aware of the lady's presence in Antwerp, on her part she had known nothing of him since he had so ungallantly fled her company in Sheerness. She seemed to anticipate that either Calendar or one of his fellows would be discovered at the door,—to have surmised it without any excessive degree of pleasure.

Only briefly she hesitated, while her surprise swayed her; then with a hardening of the eyes and a curt little nod, "I'm sorry," she said with decision, "but I am busy and can't see you now, Mr. Kirkwood"; and attempted to shut the door in his face.

Deftly Kirkwood forestalled her intention by inserting both a foot and a corner of the newly purchased hand-bag between the door and the jamb. He had dared too greatly to be thus dismissed. "Pardon me," he countered, unabashed, "but I wish to speak with Miss Calendar."

"Dorothy," returned the lady with spirit, "is engaged...."

She compressed her lips, knitted her brows, and with disconcerting suddenness thrust one knee against the obstructing hand-bag; Kirkwood, happily, anticipated the movement just in time to reinforce the bag with his own knee; it remained in place, the door standing open.

The woman flushed angrily; their glances crossed, her eyes flashing with indignation; but Kirkwood's held them with a level and unyielding stare.

"I intend," he told her quietly, "to see Miss Calendar. It's useless your trying to hinder me. We may as well understand each other, Madam, and I'll tell you now that if you wish to avoid a scene—"

"Dorothy!" the woman called over her shoulder; "ring for the porter."

"By all means," assented Kirkwood agreeably. "I'll send him for a gendarme."

"You insolent puppy!"

"Madam, your wit disarms me—"

"What is the matter, Mrs. Hallam?" interrupted a voice from the other side of the door. "Who is it?"

"Miss Calendar!" cried Kirkwood hastily, raising his voice.

"Mr. Kirkwood!" the reply came on the instant. She knew his voice! "Please, Mrs. Hallam, I will see Mr. Kirkwood."

"You have no time to waste with him, Dorothy," said the woman coldly. "I must insist—"

"But you don't seem to understand; it is Mr. Kirkwood!" argued the girl,—as if he were ample excuse for any imprudence!

Kirkwood's scant store of patience was by this time rapidly becoming exhausted. "I should advise you not to interfere any further, Mrs. Hallam," he told her in a tone low, but charged with meaning.

How much did he know? She eyed him an instant longer, in sullen suspicion, then swung open the door, yielding with what grace she could. "Won't you come in, Mr. Kirkwood?" she inquired with acidulated courtesy.

"If you press me," he returned winningly, "how can I refuse? You are too good!"

His impertinence disconcerted even himself; he wondered that she did not slap him as he passed her, entering the room; and felt that he deserved it, despite her attitude. But such thoughts could not long trouble one whose eyes were enchanted by the sight of Dorothy, confronting him in the middle of the dingy room, her hands, bristling dangerously with hat pins, busy with the adjustment of a small gray toque atop the wonder that was her hair. So vivacious and charming she seemed, so spirited and bright her welcoming smile, so foreign was she altogether to the picture of her, worn and distraught, that he had mentally conjured up, that he stopped in an extreme of disconcertion; and dropped the hand-bag, smiling sheepishly enough under her ready laugh—mirth irresistibly incited by the plainly-read play of expression on his mobile countenance.

"You must forgive the unconventionally, Mr. Kirkwood," she apologized, needlessly enough, but to cover his embarrassment. "I am on the point of going out with Mrs. Hallam—and of course you are the last person on earth I expected to meet here!"

"It's good to see you, Miss Calendar," he said simply, remarking with much satisfaction that her trim walking costume bore witness to her statement that she was prepared for the street.

The girl glanced into a mirror, patted the small, bewitching hat an infinitesimal fraction of an inch to one side, and turned to him again, her hands free. One of them, small but cordial, rested in his grasp for an instant all too brief, the while he gazed earnestly into her face, noting with concern what the first glance had not shown him,—the almost imperceptible shadows beneath her eyes and cheek-bones, pathetic records of the hours the girl had spent, since last he had seen her, in company with his own grim familiar, Care.

Not a little of care and distress of mind had seasoned her portion in those two weary days. He saw and knew it; and his throat tightened inexplicably, again, as it had out there in the corridor. Possibly the change in her had passed unchallenged by any eyes other than his, but even in the little time that he had spent in her society, the image of her had become fixed so indelibly on his memory, that he could not now be deceived. She was changed—a little, but changed; she had suffered, and was suffering and, forced by suffering, her nascent womanhood was stirring in the bud. The child that he had met in London, in Antwerp he found grown to woman's stature and slowly coming to comprehension of the nature of the change in herself,—the wonder of it glowing softly in her eyes....

The clear understanding of mankind that is an appanage of woman's estate, was now added to the intuitions of a girl's untroubled heart. She could not be blind to the mute adoration of his gaze; nor could she resent it. Beneath it she colored and lowered her lashes.

"I was about to go out," she repeated in confusion. "I—it's pleasant to see you, too."

"Thank you," he stammered ineptly; "I—I—"

"If Mr. Kirkwood will excuse us, Dorothy," Mrs. Hallam's sharp tones struck in discordantly, "we shall be glad to see him when we return to London."

"I am infinitely complimented, Mrs. Hallam," Kirkwood assured her; and of the girl quickly: "You're going back home?" he asked.

She nodded, with a faint, puzzled smile that included the woman. "After a little—not immediately. Mrs. Hallam is so kind—"

"Pardon me," he interrupted; "but tell me one thing, please: have you any one in England to whom you can go without invitation and be welcomed and cared for—any friends or relations?"

"Dorothy will be with me," Mrs. Hallam answered for her, with cold defiance.

Deliberately insolent, Kirkwood turned his back to the woman. "Miss Calendar, will you answer my question for yourself?" he asked the girl pointedly.

"Why—yes; several friends; none in London, but—"

"Dorothy—"

"One moment, Mrs. Hallam," Kirkwood flung crisply over his shoulder. "I'm going to ask you something rather odd, Miss Calendar," he continued, seeking the girl's eyes. "I hope—"

"Dorothy, I—"

"If you please, Mrs. Hallam," suggested the girl, with just the right shade of independence. "I wish to listen to Mr. Kirkwood. He has been very kind to me and has every right...." She turned to him again, leaving the woman breathless and speechless with anger.

"You told me once," Kirkwood continued quickly, and, he felt, brazenly, "that you considered me kind, thoughtful and considerate. You know me no better to-day than you did then, but I want to beg you to trust me a little. Can you trust yourself to my protection until we reach your friends in England?"

"Why, I—" the girl faltered, taken by surprise.

"Mr. Kirkwood!" cried Mrs. Hallam angrily, finding her voice.

Kirkwood turned to meet her onslaught with a mien grave, determined, unflinching. "Please do not interfere, Madam," he said quietly.

"You are impertinent, sir! Dorothy, I forbid you to listen to this person!"

The girl flushed, lifting her chin a trifle. "Forbid?" she repeated wonderingly.

Kirkwood was quick to take advantage of her resentment. "Mrs. Hallam is not fitted to advise you," he insisted, "nor can she control your actions. It must already have occurred to you that you're rather out of place in the present circumstances. The men who have brought you hither, I believe you already see through, to some extent. Forgive my speaking plainly ... But that is why you have accepted Mrs. Hallam's offer of protection. Will you take my word for it, when I tell you she has not your right interests at heart, but the reverse? I happen to know, Miss Calendar, and I—"

"How dare you, sir?"

Flaming with rage, Mrs. Hallam put herself bodily between them, confronting Kirkwood in white-lipped desperation, her small, gloved hands clenched and quivering at her sides, her green eyes dangerous.

But Kirkwood could silence her; and he did. "Do you wish me to speak frankly, Madam? Do you wish me to tell what I know—and all I know—," with rising emphasis,—"of your social status and your relations with Calendar and Mulready? I promise you that if you wish it, or force me to it...."

But he had need to say nothing further; the woman's eyes wavered before his and a little sob of terror forced itself between her shut teeth. Kirkwood smiled grimly, with a face of brass, impenetrable, inflexible. And suddenly she turned from him with indifferent bravado.

"As Mr. Kirkwood says, Dorothy," she said in her high, metallic voice, "I have no authority over you. But if you're silly enough to consider for a moment this fellow's insulting suggestion, if you're fool enough to go with him, unchaperoned through Europe and imperil your—"

"Mrs. Hallam!" Kirkwood cut her short with a menacing tone.

"Why, then, I wash my hands of you," concluded the woman defiantly. "Make your choice, my child," she added with a meaning laugh and moved away, humming a snatch from a French chanson which brought the hot blood to Kirkwood's face.

But the girl did not understand; and he was glad of that. "You may judge between us," he appealed to her directly, once more. "I can only offer you my word of honor as an American gentleman that you shall be landed in England, safe and sound, by the first available steamer—"

"There's no need to say more, Mr. Kirkwood," Dorothy informed him quietly. "I have already decided. I think I begin to understand some things clearly, now.... If you're ready, we will go."

From the window, where she stood, holding the curtains back and staring out, Mrs. Hallam turned with a curling lip.



"'The honor of an American gentleman,'" she quoted with a stinging sneer; "I'm sure I wish you comfort of it, child!"

"We must make haste, Miss Calendar," said Kirkwood, ignoring the implication. "Have you a traveling-bag?"

She silently indicated a small valise, closed and strapped, on a table by the bed, and immediately passed out into the hall. Kirkwood took the case containing the gladstone bag in one hand, the girl's valise in the other, and followed.

As he turned the head of the stairs he looked back. Mrs. Hallam was still at the window, her back turned. From her very passiveness he received an impression of something ominous and forbidding; if she had lost a trick or two of the game she played, she still held cards, was not at the end of her resources. She stuck in his imagination for many an hour as a force to be reckoned with.

For the present he understood that she was waiting to apprise Calendar and Mulready of their flight. With the more haste, then, he followed Dorothy down the three flights, through the tiny office, where Madam sat sound asleep at her over-burdened desk, and out.

Opposite the door they were fortunate enough to find a fiacre drawn up in waiting at the curb. Kirkwood opened the door for the girl to enter.

"Gare du Sud," he directed the driver. "Drive your fastest—double fare for quick time!"

The driver awoke with a start from profound reverie, looked Kirkwood over, and bowed with gesticulative palms.

"M'sieu', I am desolated, but engaged!" he protested.

"Precisely." Kirkwood deposited the two bags on the forward seat of the conveyance, and stood back to convince the man. "Precisely," said he, undismayed. "The lady who engaged you is remaining for a time; I will settle her bill."

"Very well, M'sieu'!" The driver disclaimed responsibility and accepted the favor of the gods with a speaking shrug. "M'sieu' said the Gare du Sud? En voiture!"

Kirkwood jumped in and shut the door; the vehicle drew slowly away from the curb, then with gratifying speed hammered up-stream on the embankment. Bending forward, elbows on knees, Kirkwood watched the sidewalks narrowly, partly to cover the girl's constraint, due to Mrs. Hallam's attitude, partly on the lookout for Calendar and his confederates. In a few moments they passed a public clock.

"We've missed the Flushing boat," he announced. "I'm making a try for the Hoek van Holland line. We may possibly make it. I know that it leaves by the Sud Quai, and that's all I do know," he concluded with an apologetic laugh.

"And if we miss that?" asked the girl, breaking silence for the first time since they had left the hotel.

"We'll take the first train out of Antwerp."

"Where to?"

"Wherever the first train goes, Miss Calendar.... The main point is to get away to-night. That we must do, no matter where we land, or how we get there. To-morrow we can plan with more certainty."

"Yes..." Her assent was more a sigh than a word.

The cab, dashing down the Rue Leopold de Wael, swung into the Place du Sud, before the station. Kirkwood, acutely watchful, suddenly thrust head and shoulders out of his window (fortunately it was the one away from the depot), and called up to the driver.

"Don't stop! Gare Centrale now—and treble fare!"

"Oui, M'sieu'! Allons!"

The whip cracked and the horse swerved sharply round the corner into the Avenue du Sud. The young man, with a hushed exclamation, turned in his seat, lifting the flap over the little peephole in the back of the carriage.

He had not been mistaken. Calendar was standing in front of the station; and it was plain to be seen, from his pose, that the madly careering fiacre interested him more than slightly. Irresolute, perturbed, the man took a step or two after it, changed his mind, and returned to his post of observation.

Kirkwood dropped the flap and turned back to find the girl's wide eyes searching his face. He said nothing.

"What was that?" she asked after a patient moment.

"Your father, Miss Calendar," he returned uncomfortably.

There fell a short pause; then: "Why—will you tell me—is it necessary to run away from my father, Mr. Kirkwood?" she demanded, with a moving little break in her voice.

Kirkwood hesitated. It were unfeeling to tell her why; yet it was essential that she should know, however painful the knowledge might prove to her.

And she was insistent; he might not dodge the issue. "Why?" she repeated as he paused.

"I wish you wouldn't press me for an answer just now, Miss Calendar."

"Don't you think I had better know?"

Instinctively he inclined his head in assent.

"Then why—?"

Kirkwood bent forward and patted the flank of the satchel that held the gladstone bag.

"What does that mean, Mr. Kirkwood?"

"That I have the jewels," he told her tersely, looking straight ahead.

At his shoulder he heard a low gasp of amazement and incredulity commingled.

"But—! How did you get them? My father deposited them in bank this morning?"

"He must have taken them out again.... I got them on board the Alethea, where your father was conferring with Mulready and Captain Stryker."

"The Alethea!"

"Yes."

"You took them from those men?—you!... But didn't my father—?"

"I had to persuade him," said Kirkwood simply.

"But there were three of them against you!"

"Mulready wasn't—ah—feeling very well, and Stryker's a coward. They gave me no trouble. I locked them in Stryker's room, lifted the bag of jewels, and came away.... I ought to tell you that they were discussing the advisability of sailing away without you—leaving you here, friendless and without means. That's why I considered it my duty to take a hand.... I don't like to tell you this so brutally, but you ought to know, and I can't see how to tone it down," he concluded awkwardly.

"I understand...."

But for some moments she did not speak. He avoided looking at her.

The fiacre, rolling at top speed but smoothly on the broad avenues that encircle the ancient city, turned into the Avenue de Keyser, bringing into sight the Gare Centrale.

"You don't—k-know—" began the girl without warning, in a voice gusty with sobs.

"Steady on!" said Kirkwood gently. "I do know, but don't let's talk about it now. We'll be at the station in a minute, and I'll get out and see what's to be done about a train, if neither Mulready or Stryker are about. You stay in the carriage.... No!" He changed his mind suddenly. "I'll not risk losing you again. It's a risk we'll have to run in company."

"Please!" she agreed brokenly.

The fiacre slowed up and stopped.

"Are you all right, Miss Calendar?" Kirkwood asked.

The girl sat up, lifting her head proudly. "I am quite ready," she said, steadying her voice.

Kirkwood reconnoitered through the window, while the driver was descending.

"Gare Centrale, M'sieu'," he said, opening the door.

"No one in sight," Kirkwood told the girl. "Come, please."

He got out and gave her his hand, then paid the driver, picked up the two bags, and hurried with Dorothy into the station, to find in waiting a string of cars into which people were moving at leisurely rate. His inquiries at the ticket-window developed the fact that it was the 22:26 for Brussels, the last train leaving the Gare Centrale that night, and due to start in ten minutes.

The information settled their plans for once and all; Kirkwood promptly secured through tickets, also purchasing "Reserve" supplementary tickets which entitled them to the use of those modern corridor coaches which take the place of first-class compartments on the Belgian state railways.

"It's a pleasure," said Kirkwood lightly, as he followed the girl into one of these, "to find one's self in a common-sense sort of a train again. 'Feels like home." He put their luggage in one of the racks and sat down beside her, chattering with simulated cheerfulness in a vain endeavor to lighten her evident depression of spirit. "I always feel like a traveling anachronism in one of your English trains," he said. "You can't appreciate—"

The girl smiled bravely.... "And after Brussels?" she inquired.

"First train for the coast," he said promptly. "Dover, Ostend, Boulogne,—whichever proves handiest, no matter which, so long as it gets us on English soil without undue delay."

She said "Yes" abstractedly, resting an elbow on the window-sill and her chin in her palm, to stare with serious, sweet brown eyes out into the arc-smitten night that hung beneath the echoing roof.

Kirkwood fidgeted in despite of the constraint he placed himself under, to be still and not disturb her needlessly. Impatience and apprehension of misfortune obsessed his mental processes in equal degree. The ten minutes seemed interminable that elapsed ere the grinding couplings advertised the imminence of their start.

The guards began to bawl, the doors to slam, belated travelers to dash madly for the coaches. The train gave a preliminary lurch ere settling down to its league-long inland dash.

Kirkwood, in a fever of hope and an ague of fear, saw a man sprint furiously across the platform and throw himself on the forward steps of their coach, on the very instant of the start.

Presently he entered by the forward door and walked slowly through, narrowly inspecting the various passengers. As he approached the seats occupied by Kirkwood and Dorothy Calendar, his eyes encountered the young man's, and he leered evilly. Kirkwood met the look with one that was like a kick, and the fellow passed with some haste into the car behind.

"Who was that?" demanded the girl, without moving her head.

"How did you know?" he asked, astonished. "You didn't look—"

"I saw your knuckles whiten beneath the skin.... Who was it?"

"Hobbs," he acknowledged bitterly; "the mate of the Alethea."

"I know.... And you think—?"

"Yes. He must have been ashore when I was on board the brigantine; he certainly wasn't in the cabin. Evidently they hunted him up, or ran across him, and pressed him into service.... You see, they're watching every outlet.... But we'll win through, never fear!"



XVI

TRAVELS WITH A CHAPERON

The train, escaping the outskirts of the city, remarked the event with an exultant shriek, then settled down, droning steadily, to night-devouring flight. In the corridor-car the few passengers disposed themselves to drowse away the coming hour—the short hour's ride that, in these piping days of frantic traveling, separates Antwerp from the capital city of Belgium.

A guard, slamming gustily in through the front door, reeled unsteadily down the aisle. Kirkwood, rousing from a profound reverie, detained him with a gesture and began to interrogate him in French. When he departed presently it transpired that the girl was unaquainted with that tongue.

"I didn't understand, you know," she told him with a slow, shy smile.

"I was merely questioning him about the trains from Brussels to-night. We daren't stop, you see; we must go on,—keep Hobbs on the jump and lose him, if possible. There's where our advantage lies—in having only Hobbs to deal with. He's not particularly intellectual; and we've two heads to his one, besides. If we can prevent him from guessing our destination and wiring back to Antwerp, we may win away. You understand?"

"Perfectly," she said, brightening. "And what do you purpose doing now?"

"I can't tell yet. The guard's gone to get me some information about the night trains on other lines. In the meantime, don't fret about Hobbs; I'll answer for Hobbs."

"I shan't be worried," she said simply, "with you here...."

Whatever answer he would have made he was obliged to postpone because of the return of the guard, with a handful of time-tables; and when, rewarded with a modest gratuity, the man had gone his way, and Kirkwood turned again to the girl, she had withdrawn her attention for the time.

Unconscious of his bold regard, she was dreaming, her thoughts at loose-ends, her eyes studying the incalculable depths of blue-black night that swirled and eddied beyond the window-glass. The most shadowy of smiles touched her lips, the faintest shade of deepened color rested on her cheeks.... She was thinking of—him? As long as he dared, the young man, his heart in his own eyes, watched her greedily, taking a miser's joy of her youthful beauty, striving with all his soul to analyze the enigma of that most inscrutable smile.

It baffled him. He could not say of what she thought; and told himself bitterly that it was not for him, a pauper, to presume a place in her meditations. He must not forget his circumstances, nor let her tolerance render him oblivious to his place, which must be a servant's, not a lover's.

The better to convince himself of this, he plunged desperately into a forlorn attempt to make head or tail of Belgian railway schedule, complicated as these of necessity are by the alternation from normal time notation to the abnormal system sanctioned by the government, and vice-versa, with every train that crosses a boundary line of the state.

So preoccupied did he become in this pursuit that he was subconsciously impressed that the girl had spoken twice, ere he could detach his interest from the exasperatingly inconclusive and incoherent cohorts of ranked figures.

"Can't you find out anything?" Dorothy was asking.

"Precious little," he grumbled. "I'd give my head for a Bradshaw! Only it wouldn't be a fair exchange.... There seems to be an express for Bruges leaving the Gare du Nord, Brussels, at fifty-five minutes after twenty-three o'clock; and if I'm not mistaken, that's the latest train out of Brussels and the earliest we can catch,... if we can catch it. I've never been in Brussels, and Heaven only knows how long it would take us to cab it from the Gare du Midi to the Nord."

In this statement, however, Mr. Kirkwood was fortunately mistaken; not only Heaven, it appeared, had cognizance of the distance between the two stations. While Kirkwood was still debating the question, with pessimistic tendencies, the friendly guard had occasion to pass through the coach; and, being tapped, yielded the desired information with entire tractability.

It would be a cab-ride of perhaps ten minutes. Monsieur, however, would serve himself well if he offered the driver an advance tip as an incentive to speedy driving. Why? Why because (here the guard consulted his watch; and Kirkwood very keenly regretted the loss of his own)—because this train, announced to arrive in Brussels some twenty minutes prior to the departure of that other, was already late. But yes—a matter of some ten minutes. Could that not be made up? Ah, Monsieur, but who should say?

The guard departed, doubtless with private views as to the madness of all English-speaking travelers.

"And there we are!" commented Kirkwood in factitious resignation. "If we're obliged to stop overnight in Brussels, our friends will be on our back before we can get out in the morning, if they have to come by motor-car." He reflected bitterly on the fact that with but a little more money at his disposal, he too could hire a motor-car and cry defiance to their persecutors. "However," he amended, with rising spirits, "so much the better our chance of losing Mr. Hobbs. We must be ready to drop off the instant the train stops."

He began to unfold another time-table, threatening again to lose himself completely; and was thrown into the utmost confusion by the touch of the girl's hand, in appeal placed lightly on his own. And had she been observant, she might have seen a second time his knuckles whiten beneath the skin as he asserted his self-control—though this time not over his temper.

His eyes, dumbly eloquent, turned to meet hers. She was smiling.

"Please!" she iterated, with the least imperative pressure on his hand, pushing the folder aside.

"I beg pardon?" he muttered blankly.

"Is it quite necessary, now, to study those schedules? Haven't you decided to try for the Bruges express?"

"Why yes, but—"

"Then please don't leave me to my thoughts all the time, Mr. Kirkwood." There was a tremor of laughter in her voice, but her eyes were grave and earnest. "I'm very weary of thinking round in a circle—and that," she concluded, with a nervous little laugh, "is all I've had to do for days!"

"I'm afraid I'm very stupid," he humored her. "This is the second time, you know, in the course of a very brief acquaintance, that you have found it necessary to remind me to talk to you."

"Oh-h!" She brightened. "That night, at the Pless? But that was ages ago!"

"It seems so," he admitted.

"So much has happened!"

"Yes," he assented vaguely.

She watched him, a little piqued by his absent-minded mood, for a moment; then, and not without a trace of malice: "Must I tell you again what to talk about?" she asked.

"Forgive me. I was thinking about, if not talking to, you.... I've been wondering just why it was that you left the Alethea at Queensborough, to go on by steamer."

And immediately he was sorry that his tactless query had swung the conversation to bear upon her father, the thought of whom could not but prove painful to her. But it was too late to mend matters; already her evanescent flush of amusement had given place to remembrance.

"It was on my father's account," she told him in a steady voice, but with averted eyes; "he is a very poor sailor, and the promise of a rough passage terrified him. I believe there was a difference of opinion about it, he disputing with Mr. Mulready and Captain Stryker. That was just after we had left the anchorage. They both insisted that it was safer to continue by the Alethea, but he wouldn't listen to them, and in the end had his way. Captain Stryker ran the brigantine into the mouth of the Medway and put us ashore just in time to catch the steamer."

"Were you sorry for the change?"

"I?" She shuddered slightly. "Hardly! I think I hated the ship from the moment I set foot on board her. It was a dreadful place; it was all night-marish, that night, but it seemed most terrible on the Alethea with Captain Stryker and that abominable Mr. Hobbs. I think that my unhappiness had as much to do with my father's insistence on the change, as anything. He ... he was very thoughtful, most of the time."

Kirkwood shut his teeth on what he knew of the blackguard.

"I don't know why," she continued, wholly without affectation, "but I was wretched from the moment you left me in the cab, to wait while you went in to see Mrs. Hallam. And when we left you, at Bermondsey Old Stairs, after what you had said to me, I felt—I hardly know what to say—abandoned, in a way."

"But you were with your father, in his care—"

"I know, but I was getting confused. Until then the excitement had kept me from thinking. But you made me think. I began to wonder, to question ... But what could I do?" She signified her helplessness with a quick and dainty movement of her hands. "He is my father; and I'm not yet of age, you know."

"I thought so," he confessed, troubled. "It's very inconsiderate of you, you must admit."

"I don't understand..."

"Because of the legal complication. I've no doubt your father can 'have the law on me'"—Kirkwood laughed uneasily—"for taking you from his protection."

"Protection!" she echoed warmly. "If you call it that!"

"Kidnapping," he said thoughtfully: "I presume that'd be the charge."

"Oh!" She laughed the notion to scorn. "Besides, they must catch us first, mustn't they?"

"Of course; and"—with a simulation of confidence sadly deceitful—"they shan't, Mr. Hobbs to the contrary notwithstanding."

"You make me share your confidence, against my better judgment."

"I wish your better judgment would counsel you to share your confidence with me," he caught her up. "If you would only tell me what it's all about, as far as you know, I'd be better able to figure out what we ought to do."

Briefly the girl sat silent, staring before her with sweet somber eyes. Then, "In the very beginning," she told him with a conscious laugh,—"this sounds very story-bookish, I know—in the very beginning, George Burgoyne Calendar, an American, married his cousin a dozen times removed, and an Englishwoman, Alice Burgoyne Hallam."

"Hallam!"

"Wait, please." She sat up, bending forward and frowning down upon her interlacing, gloved fingers; she was finding it difficult to say what she must. Kirkwood, watching hungrily the fair drooping head, the flawless profile clear and radiant against the night-blackened window, saw hot signals of shame burning on her cheek and throat and forehead.

"But never mind," he began awkwardly.

"No," she told him with decision. "Please let me go on...." She continued, stumbling, trusting to his sympathy to bridge the gaps in her narrative. "My father ... There was trouble of some sort.... At all events, he disappeared when I was a baby. My mother ... died. I was brought up in the home of my great-uncle, Colonel George Burgoyne, of the Indian Army—retired. My mother had been his favorite niece, they say; I presume that was why he cared for me. I grew up in his home in Cornwall; it was my home, just as he was my father in everything but fact.

"A year ago he died, leaving me everything,—the town house in Frognall Street, his estate in Cornwall: everything was willed to me on condition that I must never live with my father, nor in any way contribute to his support. If I disobeyed, the entire estate without reserve was to go to his nearest of kin.... Colonel Burgoyne was unmarried and had no children."

The girl paused, lifting to Kirkwood's face her eyes, clear, fearless, truthful. "I never was given to understand that there was anybody who might have inherited, other than myself," she declared.

"I see..."

"Last week I received a letter, signed with my father's name, begging me to appoint an interview with him in London. I did so,—guess how gladly! I was alone in the world, and he, my father, whom I had never thought to see.... We met at his hotel, the Pless. He wanted me to come and live with him,—said that he was growing old and lonely and needed a daughter's love and care. He told me that he had made a fortune in America and was amply able to provide for us both. As for my inheritance, he persuaded me that it was by rights the property of Frederick Hallam, Mrs. Hallam's son."

"I have met the young gentleman," interpolated Kirkwood.

"His name was new to me, but my father assured me that he was the next of kin mentioned in Colonel Burgoyne's will, and convinced me that I had no real right to the property.... After all, he was my father; I agreed; I could not bear the thought of wronging anybody. I was to give up everything but my mother's jewels. It seems,—my father said,—I don't—I can't believe it now—"

She choked on a little, dry sob. It was some time before she seemed able to continue.

"I was told that my great-uncle's collection of jewels had been my mother's property. He had in life a passion for collecting jewels, and it had been his whim to carry them with him, wherever he went. When he died in Frognall Street, they were in the safe by the head of his bed. I, in my grief, at first forgot them, and then afterwards carelessly put off removing them.

"To come back to my father: Night before last we were to call on Mrs. Hallam. It was to be our last night in England; we were to sail for the Continent on the private yacht of a friend of my father's, the next morning.... This is what I was told—and believed, you understand.

"That night Mrs. Hallam was dining at another table at the Pless, it seems. I did not then know her. When leaving, she put a note on our table, by my father's elbow. I was astonished beyond words.... He seemed much agitated, told me that he was called away on urgent business, a matter of life and death, and begged me to go alone to Frognall Street, get the jewels and meet him at Mrs. Hallam's later.... I wasn't altogether a fool, for I began dimly to suspect, then, that something was wrong; but I was a fool, for I consented to do as he desired. You understand—you know—?"

"I do, indeed," replied Kirkwood grimly. "I understand a lot of things now that I didn't five minutes ago. Please let me think..."

But the time he took for deliberation was short. He had hoped to find a way to spare her, by sparing Calendar; but momentarily he was becoming more impressed with the futility of dealing with her save in terms of candor, merciful though they might seem harsh.

"I must tell you," he said, "that you have been outrageously misled, swindled and deceived. I have heard from your father's own lips that Mrs. Hallam was to pay him two thousand pounds for keeping you out of England and losing you your inheritance. I'm inclined to question, furthermore, the assertion that these jewels were your mother's. Frederick Hallam was the man who followed you into the Frognall Street house and attacked me on the stairs; Mrs. Hallam admits that he went there to get the jewels. But he didn't want anybody to know it."

"But that doesn't prove—"

"Just a minute." Rapidly and concisely Kirkwood recounted the events wherein he had played a part, subsequent to the adventure of Bermondsey Old Stairs. He was guilty of but one evasion; on one point only did he slur the truth: he conceived it his honorable duty to keep the girl in ignorance of his straitened circumstances; she was not to be distressed by knowledge of his distress, nor could he tolerate the suggestion of seeming to play for her sympathy. It was necessary, then, to invent a motive to excuse his return to 9, Frognall Street. I believe he chose to exaggerate the inquisitiveness of his nature and threw in for good measure a desire to recover a prized trinket of no particular moment, esteemed for its associations, and so forth. But whatever the fabrication, it passed muster; to the girl his motives seemed less important than the discoveries that resulted from them.

"I am afraid," he concluded the summary of the confabulation he had overheard at the skylight of the Alethea's cabin, "you'd best make up your mind that your father—"

"Yes," whispered the girl huskily; and turned her face to the window, a quivering muscle in the firm young throat alone betraying her emotion.

"It's a bad business," he pursued relentlessly: "bad all round. Mulready, in your father's pay, tries to have him arrested, the better to rob him. Mrs. Hallam, to secure your property for that precious pet, Freddie, connives at, if she doesn't instigate, a kidnapping. Your father takes her money to deprive you of yours,—which could profit him nothing so long as you remained in lawful possession of it; and at the same time he conspires to rob, through you, the rightful owners—if they are rightful owners. And if they are, why does Freddie Hallam go like a thief in the night to secure property that's his beyond dispute?... I don't really think you owe your father any further consideration."

He waited patiently. Eventually, "No-o," the girl sobbed assent.

"It's this way: Calendar, counting on your sparing him in the end, is going to hound us. He's doing it now: there's Hobbs in the next car, for proof. Until these jewels are returned, whether to Frognall Street or to young Hallam, we're both in danger, both thieves in the sight of the law. And your father knows that, too. There's no profit to be had by discounting the temper of these people; they're as desperate a gang of swindlers as ever lived. They'll have those jewels if they have to go as far as murder—"

"Mr. Kirkwood!" she deprecated, in horror.

He wagged his head stubbornly, ominously. "I've seen them in the raw. They're hot on our trail now; ten to one, they'll be on our backs before we can get across the Channel. Once in England we will be comparatively safe. Until then ... But I'm a brute—I'm frightening you!"

"You are, dreadfully," she confessed in a tremulous voice.

"Forgive me. If you look at the dark side first, the other seems all the brighter. Please don't worry; we'll pull through with flying colors, or my name's not Philip Kirkwood!"

"I have every faith in you," she informed him, flawlessly sincere. "When I think of all you've done and dared for me, on the mere suspicion that I needed your help—"

"We'd best be getting ready," he interrupted hastily. "Here's Brussels."

It was so. Lights, in little clusters and long, wheeling lines, were leaping out of the darkness and flashing back as the train rumbled through the suburbs of the little Paris of the North. Already the other passengers were bestirring themselves, gathering together wraps and hand luggage, and preparing for the journey's end.

Rising, Kirkwood took down their two satchels from the overhead rack, and waited, in grim abstraction planning and counterplanning against the machinations in whose wiles they two had become so perilously entangled.

Primarily, there was Hobbs to be dealt with; no easy task, for Kirkwood dared not resort to violence nor in any way invite the attention of the authorities; and threats would be an idle waste of breath, in the case of that corrupt and malignant, little cockney, himself as keen as any needle, adept in all the artful resources of the underworld whence he had sprung, and further primed for action by that master rogue, Calendar.

The train was pulling slowly into the station when he reluctantly abandoned his latest unfeasible scheme for shaking off the little Englishman, and concluded that their salvation was only to be worked out through everlasting vigilance, incessant movement, and the favor of the blind goddess, Fortune. There was comfort of a sort in the reflection that the divinity of chance is at least blind; her favors are impartially distributed; the swing of the wheel of the world is not always to the advantage of the wrongdoer and the scamp.

He saw nothing of Hobbs as they alighted and hastened from the station, and hardly had time to waste looking for him, since their train had failed to make up the precious ten minutes. Consequently he dismissed the fellow from his thoughts until—with Brussels lingering in their memories a garish vision of brilliant streets and glowing cafes, glimpsed furtively from their cab windows during its wild dash over the broad mid-city, boulevards—at midnight they settled themselves in a carriage of the Bruges express. They were speeding along through the open country with a noisy clatter; then a minute's investigation sufficed to discover the mate of the Alethea serenely ensconced in the coach behind.

The little man seemed rarely complacent, and impudently greeted Kirkwood's scowling visage, as the latter peered through the window in the coach-door, with a smirk and a waggish wave of his hand. The American by main strength of will-power mastered an impulse to enter and wring his neck, and returned to the girl, more disturbed than he cared to let her know.

There resulted from his review of the case but one plan for outwitting Mr. Hobbs, and that lay in trusting to his confidence that Kirkwood and Dorothy Calendar would proceed as far toward Ostend as the train would take them—namely, to the limit of the run, Bruges.

Thus inspired, Kirkwood took counsel with the girl, and when the train paused at Ghent, they made an unostentatious exit from their coach, finding themselves, when the express had rolled on into the west, upon a station platform in a foreign city at nine minutes past one o'clock in the morning—but at length without their shadow. Mr. Hobbs had gone on to Bruges.

Kirkwood sped his journeyings with an unspoken malediction, and collected himself to cope with a situation which was to prove hardly more happy for them than the espionage they had just eluded. The primal flush of triumph which had saturated the American's humor on this signal success, proved but fictive and transitory when inquiry of the station attendants educed the information that the two earliest trains to be obtained were the 5:09 for Dunkerque and the 5:37 for Ostend. A minimum delay of four hours was to be endured in the face of many contingent features singularly unpleasant to contemplate. The station waiting-room was on the point of closing for the night, and Kirkwood, already alarmed by the rapid ebb of the money he had had of Calendar, dared not subject his finances to the strain of a night's lodging at one of Ghent's hotels. He found himself forced to be cruel to be kind to the girl, and Dorothy's cheerful acquiescence to their sole alternative of tramping the street until daybreak did nothing to alleviate Kirkwood's exasperation.

It was permitted them to occupy a bench outside the station. There the girl, her head pillowed on the treasure bag, napped uneasily, while Kirkwood plodded restlessly to and fro, up and down the platform, communing with the Shade of Care and addling his poor, weary wits with the problem of the future,—not so much his own as the future of the unhappy child for whose welfare he had assumed responsibility. Dark for both of them, in his understanding To-morrow loomed darkest for her.

Not until the gray, formless light of the dawn-dusk was wavering over the land, did he cease his perambulations. Then a gradual stir of life in the city streets, together with the appearance of a station porter or two, opening the waiting-rooms and preparing them against the traffic of the day, warned him that he must rouse his charge. He paused and stood over her, reluctant to disturb her rest, such as it was, his heart torn with compassion for her, his soul embittered by the cruel irony of their estate.

If what he understood were true, a king's ransom was secreted within the cheap, imitation-leather satchel which served her for a pillow. But it availed her nothing for her comfort. If what he believed were true, she was absolute mistress of that treasure of jewels; yet that night she had been forced to sleep on a hard, uncushioned bench, in the open air, and this morning he must waken her to the life of a hunted thing. A week ago she had had at her command every luxury known to the civilized world; to-day she was friendless, but for his inefficient, worthless self, and in a strange land. A week ago,—had he known her then,—he had been free to tell her of his love, to offer her the protection of his name as well as his devotion; to-day he was an all but penniless vagabond, and there could be no dishonor deeper than to let her know the nature of his heart's desire.

Was ever lover hedged from a declaration to his mistress by circumstances so hateful, so untoward! He could have raged and railed against his fate like any madman. For he desired her greatly, and she was very lovely in his sight. If her night's rest had been broken and but a mockery, she showed few signs of it; the faint, wan complexion of fatigue seemed only to enhance the beauty of her maidenhood; her lips were as fresh and desirous as the dewy petals of a crimson rose; beneath her eyes soft shadows lurked where her lashes lay tremulous upon her cheeks of satin.... She was to him of all created things the most wonderful, the most desirable.

The temptation of his longing seemed more than he could long withstand. But resist he must, or part for ever with any title to her consideration—or his own. He shut his teeth and knotted his brows in a transport of desire to touch, if only with his finger-tips, the woven wonder of her hair.

And thus she saw him, when, without warning, she awoke.

Bewilderment at first informed the wide brown eyes; then, as their drowsiness vanished, a little laughter, a little tender mirth.

"Good morning, Sir Knight of the Somber Countenance!" she cried, standing up. "Am I so utterly disreputable that you find it necessary to frown on me so darkly?"

He shook his head, smiling.

"I know I'm a fright," she asserted vigorously, shaking out the folds of her pleated skirt. "And as for my hat, it will never be on straight—but then you wouldn't know."

"It seems all right," he replied vacantly.

"Then please to try to look a little happier, since you find me quite presentable."

"I do..."

Without lifting her bended head, she looked up, laughing, not ill-pleased. "You'd say so... really?"

Commonplace enough, this banter, this pitiful endeavor to be oblivious of their common misery; but like the look she gave him, her words rang in his head like potent fumes of wine. He turned away, utterly disconcerted for the time, knowing only that he must overcome his weakness.

Far down the railway tracks there rose a murmuring, that waxed to a rumbling roar. A passing porter answered Kirkwood's inquiry: it was the night boat-train from Ostend. He picked up their bags and drew the girl into the waiting-room, troubled by a sickening foreboding.

Through the window they watched the train roll in and stop.

Among others, alighted, smirking, the unspeakable Hobbs.

He lifted his hat and bowed jauntily to the waiting-room window, making it plain that his keen eyes had discovered them instantly.

Kirkwood's heart sank with the hopelessness of it all. If the railway directorates of Europe conspired against them, what chance had they? If the night boat-train from Ostend had only had the decency to be twenty-five minutes late, instead of arriving promptly on the minute of 4:45 they two might have escaped by the 5:09 for Dunkerque and Calais.

There remained but a single untried ruse in his bag of tricks; mercifully it might suffice.

"Miss Calendar," said Kirkwood from his heart, "just as soon as I get you home, safe and sound, I am going to take a day off, hunt up that little villain, and flay him alive. In the meantime, I forgot to dine last night, and am reminded that we had better forage for breakfast."

Hobbs dogged them at a safe distance while they sallied forth and in a neighboring street discovered an early-bird bakery. Here they were able to purchase rolls steaming from the oven, fresh pats of golden butter wrapped in clean lettuce leaves, and milk in twin bottles; all of which they prosaically carried with them back to the station, lacking leisure as they did to partake of the food before train-time.

Without attempting concealment (Hobbs, he knew, was eavesdropping round the corner of the door) Kirkwood purchased at the ticket-window passages on the Dunkerque train. Mr. Hobbs promptly flattered him by imitation; and so jealous of his luck was Kirkwood by this time grown, through continual disappointment, that he did not even let the girl into his plans until they were aboard the 5:09, in a compartment all to themselves. Then, having with his own eyes seen Mr. Hobbs dodge into the third compartment in the rear of the same carriage, Kirkwood astonished the girl by requesting her to follow him; and together they left by the door opposite that by which they had entered.

The engine was running up and down a scale of staccato snorts, in preparation for the race, and the cars were on the edge of moving, couplings clanking, wheels a-groan, ere Mr. Hobbs condescended to join them between the tracks.

Wearily, disheartened, Kirkwood reopened the door, flung the bags in, and helped the girl back into their despised compartment; the quicker route to England via Ostend was now out of the question. As for himself, he waited for a brace of seconds, eying wickedly the ubiquitous Hobbs, who had popped back into his compartment, but stood ready to pop out again on the least encouragement. In the meantime he was pleased to shake a friendly foot at Mr. Kirkwood, thrusting that member out through the half-open door.

Only the timely departure of the train, compelling him to rejoin Dorothy at once, if at all, prevented the American from adding murder to the already noteworthy catalogue of his high crimes and misdemeanors.

Their simple meal, consumed to the ultimate drop and crumb while the Dunkerque train meandered serenely through a sunny, smiling Flemish countryside, somewhat revived their jaded spirits. After all, they were young, enviably dowered with youth's exuberant elasticity of mood; the world was bright in the dawning, the night had fled leaving naught but an evil memory; best of all things, they were together: tacitly they were agreed that somehow the future would take care of itself and all be well with them.

For a time they laughed and chattered, pretending that the present held no cares or troubles; but soon the girl, nestling her head in a corner of the dingy cushions, was smiling ever more drowsily on Kirkwood; and presently she slept in good earnest, the warm blood ebbing and flowing beneath the exquisite texture of her cheeks, the ghost of an unconscious smile quivering about the sensitive scarlet mouth, the breeze through the open window at her side wantoning at will in the sunlit witchery of her hair. And Kirkwood, worn with sleepless watching, dwelt in longing upon the dear innocent allure of her until the ache in his heart had grown well-nigh insupportable; then instinctively turned his gaze upwards, searching his heart, reading the faith and desire of it, so that at length knowledge and understanding came to him, of his weakness and strength and the clean love that he bore for her, and gladdened he sat dreaming in waking the same clear dreams that modeled her unconscious lips secretly for laughter and the joy of living.

When Dunkerque halted their progress, they were obliged to alight and change cars,—Hobbs a discreetly sinister shadow at the end of the platform.

By schedule they were to arrive in Calais about the middle of the forenoon, with a wait of three hours to be bridged before the departure of the Dover packet. That would be an anxious time; the prospect of it rendered both Dorothy and Kirkwood doubly anxious throughout this final stage of their flight. In three hours anything could happen, or be brought about. Neither could forget that it was quite within the bounds of possibilities for Calendar to be awaiting them in Calais. Presuming that Hobbs had been acute enough to guess their plans and advise his employer by telegraph, the latter could readily have anticipated their arrival, whether by sea in the brigantine, or by land, taking the direct route via Brussels and Lille. If such proved to be the case, it were scarcely sensible to count upon the arch-adventurer contenting himself with a waiting role like Hobbs'.

With such unhappy apprehensions for a stimulant, between them the man and the girl contrived a make-shift counter-stratagem; or it were more accurate to say that Kirkwood proposed it, while Dorothy rejected, disputed, and at length accepted it, albeit with sad misgivings. For it involved a separation that might not prove temporary.

Together they could never escape the surveillance of Mr. Hobbs; parted, he would be obliged to follow one or the other. The task of misleading the Alethea's mate, Kirkwood undertook, delegating to the girl the duty of escaping when he could provide her the opportunity, of keeping under cover until the hour of sailing, and then proceeding to England, with the gladstone bag, alone if Kirkwood was unable, or thought it inadvisable, to join her on the boat.

In furtherance of this design, a majority of the girl's belongings were transferred from her traveling bag to Kirkwood's, the gladstone taking their place; and the young man provided her with voluminous instructions, a revolver which she did not know how to handle and declared she would never use for any consideration, and enough money to pay for her accommodation at the Terminus Hotel, near the pier, and for two passages to London. It was agreed that she should secure the steamer booking, lest Kirkwood be delayed until the last moment.

These arrangements concluded, the pair of blessed idiots sat steeped in melancholy silence, avoiding each other's eyes, until the train drew in at the Gare Centrale, Calais.

In profound silence, too, they left their compartment and passed through the station, into the quiet, sun-drenched streets of the seaport,—Hobbs hovering solicitously in the offing.

Without comment or visible relief of mind they were aware that their fears had been without apparent foundation; they saw no sign of Calendar, Stryker or Mulready. The circumstance, however, counted for nothing; one or all of the adventurers might arrive in Calais at any minute.

Momentarily more miserable as the time of parting drew nearer, dumb with unhappiness, they turned aside from the main thoroughfares of the city, leaving the business section, and gained the sleepier side streets, bordered by the residences of the proletariat, where for blocks none but children were to be seen, and of them but few—quaint, sober little bodies playing almost noiselessly in their dooryards.

At length Kirkwood spoke.

"Let's make it the corner," he said, without looking at the girl. "It's a short block to the next street. You hurry to the Terminus and lock yourself in your room. Have the management book both passages; don't run the risk of going to the pier yourself. I'll make things interesting for Mr. Hobbs, and join you as soon as I can, if I can."

"You must," replied the girl. "I shan't go without you."

"But, Dor—Miss Calendar!" he exclaimed, aghast.

"I don't care—I know I agreed," she declared mutinously. "But I won't—I can't. Remember I shall wait for you."

"But—but perhaps—"

"If you have to stay, it will be because there's danger—won't it? And what would you think of me if I deserted you then, af-after all y-you've done?... Please don't waste time arguing. Whether you come at one to-day, to-morrow, or a week from to-morrow, I shall be waiting.... You may be sure. Good-by."

They had turned the corner, walking slowly, side by side; Hobbs, for the first time caught off his guard, had dropped behind more than half a long block. But now Kirkwood's quick sidelong glance discovered the mate in the act of taking alarm and quickening his pace. None the less the American was at the time barely conscious of anything other than a wholly unexpected furtive pressure of the girl's gloved fingers on his own.

"Good-by," she whispered.

He caught at her hand, protesting. "Dorothy—!"

"Good-by," she repeated breathlessly, with a queer little catch in her voice. "God be with you, Philip, and—and send you safely back to me...."

And she was running away.

Dumfounded with dismay, seeing in a flash how all his plans might be set at naught by this her unforeseen insubordination, he took a step or two after her; but she was fleet of foot, and, remembering Hobbs, he halted.

By this time the mate, too, was running; Kirkwood could hear the heavy pounding of his clumsy feet. Already Dorothy had almost gained the farther corner; as she whisked round it with a flutter of skirts, Kirkwood dodged hastily behind a gate-post. A thought later, Hobbs appeared, head down, chest out, eyes straining for sight of his quarry, pelting along for dear life.

As, rounding the corner, he stretched out in swifter stride, Kirkwood was inspired to put a spoke in his wheel; and a foot thrust suddenly out from behind the gate-post accomplished his purpose with more success than he had dared anticipate. Stumbling, the mate plunged headlong, arms and legs a-sprawl; and the momentum of his pace, though checked, carried him along the sidewalk, face downwards, a full yard ere he could stay himself.

Kirkwood stepped out of the gateway and sheered off as Hobbs picked himself up; something which he did rather slowly, as if in a daze, without comprehension of the cause of his misfortune. And for a moment he stood pulling his wits together and swaying as though on the point of resuming his rudely interrupted chase; when the noise of Kirkwood's heels brought him about face in a twinkling.

"Ow, it's you, eh!" he snarled in a temper as vicious as his countenance; and both of these were much the worse for wear and tear.

"Myself," admitted Kirkwood fairly; and then, in a gleam of humor: "Weren't you looking for me?"

His rage seemed to take the little Cockney and shake him by the throat; he trembled from head to foot, his face shockingly congested, and spat out dust and fragments of lurid blasphemy like an infuriated cat.

Of a sudden, "W'ere's the gel?" he sputtered thickly as his quick shifting eyes for the first time noted Dorothy's absence.

"Miss Calendar has other business—none with you. I've taken the liberty of stopping you because I have a word or two—"

"Ow, you 'ave, 'ave you? Gawd strike me blind, but I've a word for you, too!... 'And over that bag—and look nippy, or I'll myke you pye for w'at you've done to me ... I'll myke you pye!" he iterated hoarsely, edging closer. "'And it over or—"

"You've got another guess—" Kirkwood began, but saved his breath in deference to an imperative demand on him for instant defensive action.

To some extent he had underestimated the brute courage of the fellow, the violent, desperate courage that is distilled of anger in men of his kind. Despising him, deeming him incapable of any overt act of villainy, Kirkwood had been a little less wary than he would have been with Calendar or Mulready. Hobbs had seemed more of the craven type which Stryker graced so conspicuously. But now the American was to be taught discrimination, to learn that if Stryker's nature was like a snake's for low cunning and deviousness, Hobbs' soul was the soul of a viper.

Almost imperceptibly he had advanced upon Kirkwood; almost insensibly his right hand had moved toward his chest; now, with a movement marvelously deft, it had slipped in and out of his breast pocket. And a six-inch blade of tarnished steel was winging toward Kirkwood's throat with the speed of light.

Instinctively he stepped back; as instinctively he guarded with his right forearm, lifting the hand that held the satchel. The knife, catching in his sleeve, scratched the arm beneath painfully, and simultaneously was twisted from the mate's grasp, while in his surprise Kirkwood's grip on the bag-handle relaxed. It was torn forcibly from his fingers just as he received a heavy blow on his chest from the mate's fist. He staggered back.

By the time he had recovered from the shock, Hobbs was a score of feet away, the satchel tucked under his arm, his body bent almost double, running like a jack-rabbit. Ere Kirkwood could get under way, in pursuit, the mate had dodged out of sight round the corner. When the American caught sight of him again, he was far down the block, and bettering his pace with every jump.

He was approaching, also, some six or eight good citizens of Calais, men of the laboring class, at a guess. Their attention attracted by his frantic flight, they stopped to wonder. One or two moved as though to intercept him, and he doubled out into the middle of the street with the quickness of thought; an instant later he shot round another corner and disappeared, the natives streaming after in hot chase, electrified by the inspiring strains of "Stop, thief!"—or its French equivalent.

Kirkwood, cheering them on with the same wild cry, followed to the farther street; and there paused, so winded and weak with laughter that he was fain to catch at a fence picket for support. Standing thus he saw other denizens of Calais spring as if from the ground miraculously to swell the hue and cry; and a dumpling of a gendarme materialized from nowhere at all, to fall in behind the rabble, waving his sword above his head and screaming at the top of his lungs, the while his fat legs twinkled for all the world like thick sausage links marvelously animated.

The mob straggled round yet another corner and was gone; its clamor diminished on the still Spring air; and Kirkwood, recovering, abandoned Mr. Hobbs to the justice of the high gods and the French system of jurisprudence (at least, he hoped the latter would take an interest in the case, if haply Hobbs were laid by the heels), and went his way rejoicing.

As for the scratch on his arm, it was nothing, as he presently demonstrated to his complete satisfaction in the seclusion of a chance-sent fiacre. Kirkwood, commissioning it to drive him to the American Consulate, made his diagnosis en route; wound a handkerchief round the negligible wound, rolled down his sleeve, and forgot it altogether in the joys of picturing to himself Hobbs in the act of opening the satchel in expectation of finding therein the gladstone bag.

At the consulate door he paid off the driver and dismissed him; the fiacre had served his purpose, and he could find his way to the Terminus Hotel at infinitely less expense. He had a considerably harder task before him as he ascended the steps to the consular doorway, knocked and made known the nature of his errand.

No malicious destiny could have timed the hour of his call more appositely; the consul was at home and at the disposal of his fellow-citizens—within bounds.

In the course of thirty minutes or so Kirkwood emerged with dignity from the consulate, his face crimson to the hair, his soul smarting with shame and humiliation; and left an amused official representative of his country's government with the impression of having been entertained to the point of ennui by an exceptionally clumsy but pertinacious liar.

For the better part of the succeeding hour Kirkwood circumnavigated the neighborhood of the steamer pier and the Terminus Hotel, striving to render himself as inconspicuous as he felt insignificant, and keenly on the alert for any sign or news of Hobbs. In this pursuit he was pleasantly disappointed.

At noon precisely, his suspense grown too onerous for his strength of will, throwing caution and their understanding to the winds, he walked boldly into the Terminus, and inquired for Miss Calendar.

The assurance he received that she was in safety under its roof did not deter him from sending up his name and asking her to receive him in the public lounge; he required the testimony of his senses to convince him that no harm had come to her in the long hour and a half that had elapsed since their separation.

Woman-like, she kept him waiting. Alone in the public rooms of the hotel, he suffered excruciating torments. How was he to know that Calendar had not arrived and found his way to her?

When at length she appeared on the threshold of the apartment, bringing with her the traveling bag and looking wonderfully the better for her ninety minutes of complete repose and privacy, the relief he experienced was so intense that he remained transfixed in the middle of the floor, momentarily able neither to speak nor to move.

On her part, so fagged and distraught did he seem, that at sight of his care-worn countenance she hurried to him with outstretched, compassionate hands and a low pitiful cry of concern, forgetful entirely of that which he himself had forgotten—the emotion she had betrayed on parting.

"Oh, nothing wrong," he hastened to reassure her, with a sorry ghost of his familiar grin; "only I have lost Hobbs and the satchel with your things; and there's no sign yet of Mr. Calendar. We can feel pretty comfortable now, and—and I thought it time we had something like a meal."

The narrative of his adventure which he delivered over their dejeuner a la fourchette contained no mention either of his rebuff at the American Consulate or the scratch he had sustained during Hobbs' murderous assault; the one could not concern her, the other would seem but a bid for her sympathy. He counted it a fortunate thing that the mate's knife had been keen enough to penetrate the cloth of his sleeve without tearing it; the slit it had left was barely noticeable. And he purposely diverted the girl with flashes of humorous description, so that they discussed both meal and episode in a mood of wholesome merriment.

It was concluded, all too soon for the taste of either, by the waiter's announcement that the steamer was on the point of sailing.

Outwardly composed, inwardly quaking, they boarded the packet, meeting with no misadventure whatever—if we are to except the circumstance that, when the restaurant bill was settled and the girl had punctiliously surrendered his change with the tickets, Kirkwood found himself in possession of precisely one franc and twenty centimes.

He groaned in spirit to think how differently he might have been fixed, had he not in his infatuated spirit of honesty been so anxious to give Calendar more than ample value for his money!

An inexorable anxiety held them both near the gangway until it was cast off and the boat began to draw away from the pier. Then, and not till then, did an unimpressive, small figure of a man detach itself from the shield of a pile of luggage and advance to the pier-head. No second glance was needed to identify Mr. Hobbs; and until the perspective dwarfed him indistinguishably, he was to be seen, alternately waving Kirkwood ironic farewell and blowing violent kisses to Miss Calendar from the tips of his soiled fingers.

So he had escaped arrest....

At first by turns indignant and relieved to realize that thereafter they were to move in scenes in which his hateful shadow would not form an essentially component part, subsequently Kirkwood fell a prey to prophetic terrors. It was not alone fear of retribution that had induced Hobbs to relinquish his persecution—or so Kirkwood became convinced; if the mate's calculation had allowed for them the least fraction of a chance to escape apprehension on the farther shores of the Channel, nor fears nor threats would have prevented him from sailing with the fugitives.... Far from having left danger behind them on the Continent, Kirkwood believed in his secret heart that they were but flying to encounter it beneath the smoky pall of London.



XVII

ROGUES AND VAGABONDS

A westering sun striking down through the drab exhalations of ten-thousand sooty chimney-pots, tinted the atmosphere with the hue of copper. The glance that wandered purposelessly out through the carriage windows, recoiled, repelled by the endless dreary vista of the Surrey Side's unnumbered roofs; or, probing instantaneously the hopeless depths of some grim narrow thoroughfare fleetingly disclosed, as the evening boat-train from Dover swung on toward Charing Cross, its trucks level with the eaves of Southwark's dwellings, was saddened by the thought that in all the world squalor such as this should obtain and flourish unrelieved.

For perhaps the tenth time in the course of the journey Kirkwood withdrew his gaze from the window and turned to the girl, a question ready framed upon his lips.

"Are you quite sure—" he began; and then, alive to the clear and penetrating perception in the brown eyes that smiled into his from under their level brows, he stammered and left the query uncompleted.

Continuing to regard him steadily and smilingly, Dorothy shook her head in playful denial and protest. "Do you know," she commented, "that this is about the fifth repetition of that identical question within the last quarter-hour?"

"How do you know what I meant to say?" he demanded, staring.

"I can see it in your eyes. Besides, you've talked and thought of nothing else since we left the boat. Won't you believe me, please, when I say there's absolutely not a soul in London to whom I could go and ask for shelter? I don't think it's very nice of you to be so openly anxious to get rid of me."

This latter was so essentially undeserved and so artlessly insincere, that he must needs, of course, treat it with all seriousness.

"That isn't fair, Miss Calendar. Really it's not."

"What am I to think? I've told you any number of times that it's only an hour's ride on to Chiltern, where the Pyrfords will be glad to take me in. You may depend upon it,—by eight to-night, at the latest, you'll have me off your hands,—the drag and worry that I've been ever since—"

"Don't!" he pleaded vehemently. "Please!... You know it isn't that. I don't want you off my hands, ever.... That is to say, I—ah—" Here he was smitten with a dumbness, and sat, aghast at the enormity of his blunder, entreating her forgiveness with eyes that, very likely, pleaded his cause more eloquently than he guessed.

"I mean," he floundered on presently, in the fatuous belief that he would this time be able to control both mind and tongue, "what I mean is I'd be glad to go on serving you in any way I might, to the end of time, if you'd give me...."

He left the declaration inconclusive—a stroke of diplomacy that would have graced an infinitely more adept wooer. But he used it all unconsciously. "O Lord!" he groaned in spirit. "Worse and more of it! Why in thunder can't I say the right thing right?"

Egotistically absorbed by the problem thus formulated, he was heedless of her failure to respond, and remained pensively preoccupied until roused by the grinding and jolting of the train, as it slowed to a halt preparatory to crossing the bridge.

Then he sought to read his answer in the eyes of Dorothy. But she was looking away, staring thoughtfully out over the billowing sea of roofs that merged illusively into the haze long ere it reached the horizon; and Kirkwood could see the pulsing of the warm blood in her throat and cheeks; and the glamorous light that leaped and waned in her eyes, as the ruddy evening sunlight warmed them, was something any man might be glad to live for and die for.... And he saw that she had understood, had grasped the thread of meaning that ran through the clumsy fabric of his halting speech and his sudden silences.

She had understood without resentment!

While, incredulous, he wrestled with the wonder of this fond discovery, she grew conscious of his gaze, and turned her head to meet it with one fearless and sweet, if troubled.

"Dear Mr. Kirkwood," she said gently, bending forward as if to read between the lines anxiety had graven on his countenance, "won't you tell me, please, what it can be that so worries you? Is it possible that you still have a fear of my father? But don't you know that he can do nothing now—now that we're safe? We have only to take a cab to Paddington Station, and then—"

"You mustn't underestimate the resource and ability of Mr. Calendar," he told her gloomily; "we've got a chance—no more. It wasn't...." He shut his teeth on his unruly tongue—too late.

Woman-quick she caught him up. "It wasn't that? Then what was it that worried you? If it's something that affects me, is it kind and right of you not to tell me?"

"It—it affects us both," he conceded drearily. "I—I don't—"

The wretched embarrassment of the confession befogged his wits; he felt unable to frame the words. He appealed speechlessly for tolerance, with a face utterly woebegone and eyes piteous.

The train began to move slowly across the Thames to Charing Cross.

Mercilessly the girl persisted. "We've only a minute more. Surely you can trust me...."

In exasperation he interrupted almost rudely. "It's only this: I—I'm strapped."

"Strapped?" She knitted her brows over this fresh specimen of American slang.

"Flat strapped—busted—broke—on my uppers—down and out," he reeled off synonyms without a smile. "I haven't enough money to pay cab-fare across the town—"

"Oh!" she interpolated, enlightened.

"—to say nothing of taking us to Chiltern. I couldn't buy you a glass of water if you were thirsty. There isn't a soul on earth, within hail, who would trust me with a quarter—I mean a shilling—across London Bridge. I'm the original Luckless Wonder and the only genuine Jonah extant."

With a face the hue of fire, he cocked his eyebrows askew and attempted to laugh unconcernedly to hide his bitter shame. "I've led you out of the fryingpan into the fire, and I don't know what to do! Please call me names."

And in a single instant all that he had consistently tried to avoid doing, had been irretrievably done; if, with dawning comprehension, dismay flickered in her eyes—such dismay as such a confession can rouse only in one who, like Dorothy Calendar, has never known the want of a penny—it was swiftly driven out to make place for the truest and most gracious and unselfish solicitude.

"Oh, poor Mr. Kirkwood! And it's all because of me! You've beggared yourself—"

"Not precisely; I was beggared to begin with." He hastened to disclaim the extravagant generosity of which she accused him. "I had only three or four pounds to my name that night we met.... I haven't told you—I—"

"You've told me nothing, nothing whatever about yourself," she said reproachfully.

"I didn't want to bother you with my troubles; I tried not to talk about myself.... You knew I was an American, but I'm worse than that; I'm a Californian—from San Francisco." He tried unsuccessfully to make light of it. "I told you I was the Luckless Wonder; if I'd ever had any luck I would have stored a little money away. As it was, I lived on my income, left my principal in 'Frisco; and when the earthquake came, it wiped me out completely."

"And you were going home that night we made you miss your steamer!"

"It was my own fault, and I'm glad this blessed minute that I did miss it. Nice sort I'd have been, to go off and leave you at the mercy—"

"Please! I want to think, I'm trying to remember how much you've gone through—"

"Precisely what I don't want you to do. Anyway, I did nothing more than any other fellow would've! Please don't give me credit that I don't deserve."

But she was not listening; and a pause fell, while the train crawled warily over the trestle, as if in fear of the foul, muddy flood below.

"And there's no way I can repay you...."

"There's nothing to be repaid," he contended stoutly.

She clasped her hands and let them fall gently in her lap. "I've not a farthing in the world!... I never dreamed.... I'm so sorry, Mr. Kirkwood—terribly, terribly sorry!... But what can we do? I can't consent to be a burden—"

"But you're not! You're the one thing that ..." He swerved sharply, at an abrupt tangent. "There's one thing we can do, of course."

She looked up inquiringly.

"Craven Street is just round the corner."

"Yes?"—wonderingly.

"I mean we must go to Mrs. Hallam's house, first off.... It's too late now,—after five, else we could deposit the jewels in some bank. Since—since they are no longer yours, the only thing, and the proper thing to do is to place them in safety or in the hands of their owner. If you take them directly to young Hallam, your hands will be clear.... And—I never did such a thing in my life, Miss Calendar; but if he's got a spark of gratitude in his make-up, I ought to be able to—er—to borrow a pound or so of him."

"Do you think so?" She shook her head in doubt. "I don't know; I know so little of such things.... You are right; we must take him the jewels, but..." Her voice trailed off into a sigh of profound perturbation.

He dared not meet her look.

Beneath his wandering gaze a County Council steam-boat darted swiftly down-stream from Charing Cross pier, in the shadow of the railway bridge. It seemed curious to reflect that from that very floating pier he had started first upon his quest of the girl beside him, only—he had to count—three nights ago! Three days and three nights! Altogether incredible seemed the transformation they had wrought in the complexion of the world. Yet nothing material was changed.... He lifted his eyes.

Beyond the river rose the Embankment, crawling with traffic, backed by the green of the gardens and the shimmering walls of glass and stone of the great hotels, their windows glowing weirdly golden in the late sunlight. A little down-stream Cleopatra's Needle rose, sadly the worse for London smoke, flanked by its couchant sphinxes, wearing a nimbus of circling, sweeping, swooping, wheeling gulls. Farther down, from the foot of that magnificent pile, Somerset House, Waterloo Bridge sprang over-stream in its graceful arch.... All as of yesterday; yet all changed. Why? Because a woman had entered into his life; because he had learned the lesson of love and had looked into the bright face of Romance....

With a jar the train started and began to move more swiftly.

Kirkwood lifted the traveling bag to his knees.

"Don't forget," he said with some difficulty, "you're to stick by me, whatever happens. You mustn't desert me."

"You know," the girl reproved him.

"I know; but there must be no misunderstanding.... Don't worry; we'll win out yet, I've a plan."

Splendide mendax! He had not the glimmering of a plan.

The engine panting, the train drew in beneath the vast sounding dome of the station, to an accompaniment of dull thunderings; and stopped finally.

Kirkwood got out, not without a qualm of regret at leaving the compartment; therein, at least, they had some title to consideration, by virtue of their tickets; now they were utterly vagabondish, penniless adventurers.

The girl joined him. Slowly, elbow to elbow, the treasure bag between them, they made their way down toward the gates, atoms in a tide-rip of humanity,—two streams of passengers meeting on the narrow strip of platform, the one making for the streets, the other for the suburbs.

Hurried and jostled, the girl clinging tightly to his arm lest they be separated in the crush, they came to the ticket-wicket; beyond the barrier surged a sea of hats—shining "toppers," dignified and upstanding, the outward and visible manifestation of the sturdy, stodgy British spirit of respectability; "bowlers" round and sleek and humble; shapeless caps with cloth visors, manufactured of outrageous plaids; flower-like miracles of millinery from Bond Street; strangely plumed monstrosities from Petticoat Lane and Mile End Road. Beneath any one of these might lurk the maleficent brain, the spying eyes of Calendar or one of his creatures; beneath all of them that he encountered, Kirkwood peered in fearful inquiry.

Yet, when they had passed unhindered the ordeal of the wickets, had run the gantlet of those thousand eyes without lighting in any pair a spark of recognition, he began to bear himself with more assurance, to be sensible to a grateful glow of hope. Perhaps Hobbs' telegram had not reached its destination, for unquestionably the mate would have wired his chief; perhaps some accident had befallen the conspirators; perhaps the police had apprehended them.... No matter how, one hoped against hope that they had been thrown off the trail.

And indeed it seemed as if they must have been misguided in some providential manner. On the other hand, it would be the crassest of indiscretions to linger about the place an instant longer than absolutely necessary.

Outside the building, however, they paused perforce, undergoing the cross-fire of the congregated cabbies. It being the first time that he had ever felt called upon to leave the station afoot, Kirkwood cast about irresolutely, seeking the sidewalk leading to the Strand.

Abruptly he caught the girl by the arm and unceremoniously hurried her toward a waiting hansom.

"Quick!" he begged her. "Jump right in—not an instant to spare.—"

She nodded brightly, lips firm with courage, eyes shining.

"My father?"

"Yes." Kirkwood glanced back over his shoulder. "He hasn't seen us yet. They've just driven up. Stryker's with him. They're getting down." And to himself, "Oh, the devil!" cried the panic-stricken young man.

He drew back to let the girl precede him into the cab; at the same time he kept an eye on Calendar, whose conveyance stood half the length of the station-front away.

The fat adventurer had finished paying off the driver, standing on the deck of the hansom. Stryker was already out, towering above the mass of people, and glaring about him with his hawk-keen vision. Calendar had started to alight, his foot was leaving the step when Stryker's glance singled out their quarry. Instantly he turned and spoke to his confederate. Calendar wheeled like a flash, peering eagerly in the direction indicated by the captain's index finger, then, snapping instructions to his driver, threw himself heavily back on the seat. Stryker, awkward on his land-legs, stumbled and fell in an ill-calculated attempt to hoist himself hastily back into the vehicle.

To the delay thus occasioned alone Kirkwood and Dorothy owed a respite of freedom. Their hansom was already swinging down toward the great gates of the yard, the American standing to make the driver comprehend the necessity for using the utmost speed in reaching the Craven Street address. The man proved both intelligent and obliging; Kirkwood had barely time to drop down beside the girl, ere the cab was swinging out into the Strand, to the peril of the toes belonging to a number of righteously indignant pedestrians.

"Good boy!" commented Kirkwood cheerfully. "That's the greatest comfort of all London, the surprising intellectual strength the average cabby displays when you promise him a tip.... Great Heavens!" he cried, reading the girl's dismayed expression. "A tip! I never thought—!" His face lengthened dismally, his eyebrows working awry. "Now we are in for it!"

Dorothy said nothing.

He turned in the seat, twisting his neck to peep through the small rear window. "I don't see their cab," he announced. "But of course they're after us. However, Craven Street's just round the corner; if we get there first, I don't fancy Freddie Hallam will have a cordial reception for our pursuers. They must've been on watch at Cannon Street, and finding we were not coming in that way—of course they were expecting us because of Hobbs' wire—they took cab for Charing Cross. Lucky for us.... Or is it lucky?" he added doubtfully, to himself.

The hansom whipped round the corner into Craven Street. Kirkwood sprang up, grasping the treasure bag, ready to jump the instant they pulled in toward Mrs. Hallam's dwelling. But as they drew near upon the address he drew back with an exclamation of amazement.

The house was closed, showing a blank face to the street—blinds drawn close down in the windows, area gate padlocked, an estate-agent's board projecting from above the doorway, advertising the property "To be let, furnished."

Kirkwood looked back, craning his neck round the side of the cab. At the moment another hansom was breaking through the rank of humanity on the Strand crossing. He saw one or two figures leap desperately from beneath the horse's hoofs. Then the cab shot out swiftly down the street.

The American stood up again, catching the cabby's eye.

"Drive on!" he cried excitedly. "Don't stop—drive as fast as you dare!"

"W'ere to, sir?"

"See that cab behind? Don't let it catch us—shake it off, lose it somehow, but for the love of Heaven don't let it catch us! I'll make it worth your while. Do you understand?"

"Yes, sir!" The driver looked briefly over his shoulder and lifted his whip. "Don't worry, sir," he cried, entering into the spirit of the game with gratifying zest. "Shan't let 'em over'aul you, sir. Mind your 'ead!"

And as Kirkwood ducked, the whip-lash shot out over the roof with a crack like the report of a pistol. Startled, the horse leaped indignantly forward. Momentarily the cab seemed to leave the ground, then settled down to a pace that carried them round the Avenue Theatre and across Northumberland Avenue into Whitehall Place apparently on a single wheel.

A glance behind showed Kirkwood that already they had gained, the pursuing hansom having lost ground through greater caution in crossing the main-traveled thoroughfare.

"Good little horse!" he applauded.

A moment later he was indorsing without reserve the generalship of their cabby; the quick westward turn that took them into Whitehall, over across from the Horse Guards, likewise placed them in a pocket of traffic; a practically impregnable press of vehicles closed in behind them ere Calendar's conveyance could follow out of the side street.

That the same conditions, but slightly modified, hemmed them in ahead, went for nothing in Kirkwood's estimation.

"Good driver!" he approved heartily. "He's got a head on his shoulders!"

The girl found her voice. "How," she demanded in a breath, face blank with consternation, "how did you dare?"

"Dare?" he echoed exultantly; and in his veins excitement was running like liquid fire. "What wouldn't I dare for you, Dorothy?"

"What have you not?" she amended softly, adding with a shade of timidity: "Philip..."

The long lashes swept up from her cheeks, like clouds revealing stars, unmasking eyes radiant and brave to meet his own; then they fell, even as her lips drooped with disappointment. And she sighed.... For he was not looking. Man-like, hot with the ardor of the chase, he was deaf and blind to all else.

She saw that he had not even heard. Twice within the day she had forgotten herself, had overstepped the rigid bounds of her breeding in using his Christian name. And twice he had been oblivious to that token of their maturing understanding. So she sighed, and sighing, smiled again; resting an elbow on the window-sill and flattening one small gloved hand against the frame for a brace against the jouncing of the hansom. It swept on with unabated speed, up-stream beside the tawny reaches of the river; and for a time there was no speech between them, the while the girl lost consciousness of self and her most imminent peril, surrendering her being to the lingering sweetness of her long, dear thoughts....

"I've got a scheme!" Kirkwood declared so explosively that she caught her breath with the surprise of it. "There's the Pless; they know me there, and my credit's good. When we shake them off, we can have the cabby take us to the hotel. I'll register and borrow from the management enough to pay our way to Chiltern and the tolls for a cable to New York. I've a friend or two over home who wouldn't let me want for a few miserable pounds.... So you see," he explained boyishly, "we're at the end of our troubles already!"

She said something inaudible, holding her face averted. He bent nearer to her, wondering. "I didn't understand," he suggested.

Still looking from him, "I said you were very good to me," she said in a quavering whisper.

"Dorothy!" Without his knowledge or intention before the fact, as instinctively as he made use of her given name, intimately, his strong fingers dropped and closed upon the little hand that lay beside him. "What is the matter, dear?" He leaned still farther forward to peer into her face, till glance met glance in the ending and his racing pulses tightened with sheer delight of the humid happiness in her glistening eyes. "Dorothy, child, don't worry so. No harm shall come to you. It's all working out—all working out right. Only have a little faith in me, and I'll make everything work out right, Dorothy."

Gently she freed her fingers. "I wasn't," she told him in a voice that quivered between laughter and tears, "I wasn't worrying. I was ... You wouldn't understand. Don't be afraid I shall break down or—or anything."

"I shan't," he reassured her; "I know you're not that sort. Besides, you'd have no excuse. We're moving along famously. That cabby knows his business."

In fact that gentleman was minute by minute demonstrating his peculiar fitness for the task he had so cheerfully undertaken. The superior horsemanship of the London hackney cabman needs no exploitation, and he in whose hands rested the fate of the Calendar treasure was peer of his compeers. He was instant to advantage himself of every opening to forward his pliant craft, quick to foresee the fortunes of the way and govern himself accordingly.

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