Turning into a narrow way, not far from the embankment, he stopped before the door of a solid-looking brick building, let himself in, and made his way up-stairs. On the third floor he applied another and smaller key to another lock and, from a hall, entered a large apartment, noteworthy for its handsome array of books that reached from floor to ceiling wherever there was shelf space. Most of these volumes were soberly bound in conventional legal garb but others in elegant, more gracious array, congregated, a little cosmopolitan community, in a section by themselves.
Passing through this apartment, John Steele stepped into that adjoining, the sitting-and dining-room. The small table had already been set; the sun’s dying rays that shot through the window revealed snowy linen, brightly gleaming silver and a number of papers and letters. They showed, also, a large cage with a small bird that chirped as the man came in; John Steele looked at it a moment, walked to a mirror and looked at himself. Long the deep eyes studied the firm resolute face; they seemed endeavoring to gaze beyond it; but the present visage, like a shadow, waved before him. The man’s expression became inscrutable; stepping to the window, he gazed out on the Thames. A purplish glimmer lent enchantment to the noble stream; it may be as he looked upon it, his thoughts flowed with the river, past dilapidated structures, between whispering reeds on green banks, to the sea!
A discreet rapping at the door, followed by the appearance of a round-faced little man, with a tray, interrupted further contemplation or reverie on John Steele’s part. Seating himself at the table, he responded negatively to the servant’s inquiry if “anythink” else would be required, and when the man had withdrawn, mechanically turned to his letters and to his simple evening repast. He ate with no great evidence of appetite, soon brushed the missives, half-read, aside, and pushed back his chair.
Lighting a pipe he picked up one of the papers, and for some moments his attention seemed fairly divided between a casual inspection of the light arabesques that ascended in clouds from his lips and the heavy-looking columns of the morning sheet. Suddenly, however, the latter dissipated his further concern in his pipe; he put it down and spread out the big paper in both hands. Amid voluminous wastes of type an item, in the court and society column, had caught his eye:
“Sir Charles and Lady Wray, who are intending henceforth to reside in England, have returned to the stately Wray mansion in Piccadilly, where they will be for the season. Our well-known Governor and his Lady are accompanied by their niece, the beautiful and accomplished Miss Jocelyn Wray, only child of Sir Charles’ younger brother, the late Honorable Mr. Richard Wray, whose estate included enormous holdings in Australia as well as several thousand acres in Devonshire. This charming young colonial