Through the occasionally opened doors of the restaurants came the sounds of music and laughter, but Dave felt no desire to enter.
He was several blocks on his homeward way, and was passing the corner of a side street quieter than the others, when he heard a woman’s stifled cry of alarm.
Halting, bringing his heels together with a click, and throwing his shoulders back, Darrin stopped on the corner and looked down the street.
Five or six doors away, close to a building, stood a young woman of not more than twenty-two. Though she was strikingly pretty, Dave did not note that fact in the first glance. He saw, however, that she was well dressed in the latest spring garments, and that her pose was one of retreat from the man who stood before her.
That the man had the external appearance of the gentleman was the \ first fact Darrin observed.
Then he heard the young woman’s indignant utterance:
“That is a taunt not often thrown at me,” the young man laughed, carelessly.
“Only a coward would attempt to win a woman’s love by threats,” replied the girl, more calmly, though bitterness rang in her tone. “As for you, I wish to assure you that I am quite through with you!”
“Oh, no, you’re not!” rejoined the annoyer, with the air of one who knows himself to be victor. “In fact, you will do very much as I wish, or your brother—–”
“You coward!” spoke the girl, scornfully again.
“If your brother suffers, your pride will be in the dust,” insisted the annoyer, “and, remember, I, alone, can save your brother from disgrace.”
“I am not even going to ask you to do it,” retorted the young woman. “And now our interview is over. I am going to leave you, and I shall not see you again. I-----”
“Going to leave me, are you?” leered her tormentor. He stepped forward, holding out his hand, as though to seize the young woman’s wrist, but she alertly eluded him.
“If you try again to touch me, or if you attempt to follow me,” warned the young woman, “I shall appeal for assistance.”
So absorbed were the disputants in their quarrel that neither had noticed Darrin, standing on the corner.
The tormentor’s face flushed, then went white, “Make your appeal,” he dared, “and see what happens!”
Again he attempted to take the girl by the wrist.
“Can I be of service, madam?” inquired Darrin, as he strode toward them.
Like a flash, the annoyer wheeled upon Darrin, his eyes flashing dangerously.
“Young man,” he warned, threateningly, “the best thing you can possibly do will be to make yourself scarce as quickly as possible. As for this young woman-----”
The tormentor moved a step nearer to the young woman, whose face had turned very pale.
Dave slipped quietly between them.
“As this young woman does not wish to talk with you,” Darrin suggested, “you may address all your remarks to me.”