“Molly!” he cried, “Molly!”
The small, weary-eyed servant came out of the kitchen on a savoury wind of onions.
“Hasn’t missus come home with you, sir?” she said.
The conjurer thrust his hand against the wall to steady himself, and the pattern of the wall-paper seemed to burn his finger-tips.
“Not here!” he gasped at the frightened girl. “Then where is she? Where is she?”
“I don’t know, sir,” she began stuttering; but the conjurer turned quickly and ran out of the house. Of course, his wife must be at the theatre. It was absurd ever to have supposed that she could leave the theatre in her stage dress unnoticed; and now she was probably worrying because he had not waited for her. How foolish he had been.
It was a quarter of an hour before he found a cab, and the theatre was dark and empty when he got back to it. He knocked at the stage door, and the night watchman opened it.
“My wife?” he cried. “There’s no one here now, sir,” the man answered respectfully, for he knew that a new star had risen that night.
The conjurer leant against the doorpost faintly.
“Take me up to the dressing-rooms,” he said. “I want to see whether she has been, there while I was away.”
The watchman led the way along the dark passages. “I shouldn’t worry if I were you, sir,” he said. “She can’t have gone far.” He did not know anything about it, but he wanted to be sympathetic.
“God knows,” the conjurer muttered, “I can’t understand this at all.”
In the dressing-room Molly’s clothes still lay neatly folded as she had left them when they went on the stage that night, and when he saw them his last hope left the conjurer, and a strange thought came into his mind.
“I should like to go down on the stage,” he said, “and see if there is anything to tell me of her.”
The night watchman looked at the conjurer as if he thought he was mad, but he followed him down to the stage in silence. When he was there the conjurer leaned forward suddenly, and his face was filled with a wistful eagerness.
“Molly!” he called, “Molly!”
But the empty theatre gave him nothing but echoes in reply.
The boy came into the town at six o’clock in the morning, but the baker at the corner of the first street was up, as is the way of bakers, and when he saw the boy passing, he hailed him with a jolly shout.
“Hullo, boy! What are you after?”
“I’m going about my business,” the boy said pertly.
“And what might that be, young fellow?”
“I might be a good tinker, and worship god Pan, or I might grind scissors as sharp as the noses of bakers. But, as a matter of fact, I’m a piper, not a rat-catcher, you understand, but just a simple singer of sad songs, and a mad singer of merry ones.”