Lilian Rosenberg was most sympathetic.
“You should have been a poet,” she said. “There is something about you that is quite Byronic.”
And Kelson, who had never even heard of Byron, was immensely flattered.
“Will you come to the jeweller’s with me,” he said, “and choose whatever you like best. Those fingers of yours are made for rings—rings of all sorts!” and he gave them a gentle pressure.
She let him escort her to Bond Street, and followed him gaily into Raymond’s; but when it came to accepting a ring from him, she laughingly refused, and chose, instead, the most expensive diamond bracelets and pendants in the shop. Some of these she wore—the rest—unknown to him of course—she sold; sending the proceeds, anonymously, to Shiel Davenport—who was starving.
When Kelson went on the stage, that evening, his thoughts were so far away—planning for his honeymoon—that he entered the cage of a newly imported lion without having made the necessary signs, and would most certainly have been mangled out of recognition, had not one of the supers, perceiving how matters lay, rushed to his assistance, and kept the lion at bay with a pole, till further help could be procured. It had been a narrow squeak, and to Kelson the bare idea of continuing his performance was appalling. His nerves were, as he himself put it, anyhow, and he preferred retiring for the rest of the evening.
But Hamar would not hear of it.
“This is the second bungle we have had,” he said, “and the reputation of the firm is seriously at stake. You must go on again and retrieve it.”
And Kelson, trembling all over, was obliged to reappear.
After it was all over, and he had bowed himself out into the wings, Hamar led him aside.
“Don’t look so damned pleased with yourself,” he said, “I don’t half like the look of things. This is the third time the Unknown has tried to trap us—the fourth time it may be successful! Take care!”
THE STAGE OF HAUNTINGS
Much to the relief of the trio, the end of stage three was at length reached—and, thanks to Hamar, reached without further mishap. To keep Curtis and Kelson up to the mark, Hamar had worked indefatigably. He had never relaxed his efforts in the strict watch he kept over them, and he had unceasingly impressed upon them, the vital importance of obeying, to the very letter, the instructions they had received from the Unknown.
The part he had thus taken upon himself, the difficulties he had to encounter in this unceasing vigilance, had produced a new Hamar—a Hamar that was a personality; a personality so utterly unlike the old Hamar—the meek and servile clerk—as to make one wonder if there could possibly be two Hamars—outwardly and physically the same—inwardly and psychologically diametrically opposed. A year ago, Curtis and Kelson would have ridiculed the idea of being afraid of Hamar—such an idea would have struck them as simply absurd; but they were afraid of him now, they dreaded his anger more than anything, more even than the prospect of infringing their compact with the Unknown.