A sudden shot from the park rang out; the coin fell from the girl’s hand; other shots followed. She ran out upon the balcony, a stifled cry on her lips; she stared off, but only the darkness met her gaze.
* * * * *
CURRENTS AND COUNTER CURRENTS
Not far from one of the entrances to Regent’s Park or the hum of Camden Town’s main artery of traffic, lay a little winding street which, because of its curving lines, had long been known as Spiral Row. Although many would not deign in passing to glance twice down this modest thoroughfare, it presented, nevertheless, a romantic air of charm and mystery. The houses nestled timidly behind time-worn walls; it was always very quiet within this limited precinct, and one wondered sometimes, by day, if the various secluded abodes were really inhabited, and by whom? An actress, said vague rumor; a few scribblers, a pair of painters, a military man or two. Here Madam Grundy never ventured, but Calliope and the tuneful nine were understood to be occasional callers. One who once lived in the Row has likened it to a tiny Utopia where each and every one minded his own business and where the comings and goings of one’s neighbor were matters of indifference.
Into this delectable byway there turned, late in the night of the second day after that memorable evening at Strathorn House, a man who, looking quickly around him, paused before the closed gate of one of the dwellings. The street, ever a quiet one, appeared at that advanced hour absolutely deserted, and, after a moment’s hesitation, the man pulled the bell; for some time he waited; but no response came. He looked in; through the shrubbery he could dimly make out the house, set well back, and in a half uncertain way he stood staring at it, when from the end of the street, he heard a vehicle coming rapidly toward him.
More firmly the man jerked at the handle of the bell; this time his efforts were successful; a glimmer as from a candle appeared at the front door, and a few minutes later a dark form came slowly down the graveled walk. As it approached the vehicle also drew nearer; the man regarded the latter sidewise; now it was opposite him, and he turned his back quickly to the flare of its lamps. But in a moment it had whirled by, with a note of laughter from its occupants, light pleasure seekers; at the same time a key turned in a lock and the gate swung open.
“Good evening, Dennis,” said the caller. The faint gleam of the candle revealed the drowsy and unmistakably Celtic face of him he addressed, a man past middle age, who regarded the new-comer with a look of recognition. “I’m afraid I’ve interrupted your slumbers. This is rather a late hour at which to arrive.”
“No matter, sir. Sure and I sat up expecting you, Mr. Steele, until after midnight, and had only just turned in when—”