Shiel was seeing Lilian home to her lodgings in Margaret Terrace, a turning off Oakley Street, when a man knocked a woman down right in front of them. He was just the ordinary type of street ruffian—the whitewashed English labourer—and the woman, having without doubt been served by him in the same manner fifty times before, was probably well used to such treatment. But it was more than Shiel, who had spent so much of his life where they treat women differently, could stand, and before Lilian Rosenberg had time to remonstrate, he had rushed up to the prostrate woman, and was holding the man at bay. A scuffle now began, in which the woman, whom Shiel had helped to regain her feet, joined. Both man and woman now attacked Shiel, who, placing himself with his back against the railings, defended himself as best he could.
The hour was late, there were no police about, and it seemed only too probable that the fracas would end in a tragedy. The labourer was a burly fellow, shorter than Shiel, but far broader and heavier, and any one could see at a glance that Shiel stood no chance against him. Lilian Rosenberg, at her wits’ end to know what to do, ran into Oakley Street, and as there was no one in sight, she made for the nearest lighted house and rang the bell furiously. A man came to the door, whom, unheeding his expostulations, she caught by the arm and dragged into the street.
They arrived on the scene of action, just as the ruffian, breaking through Shiel’s guard, struck him a terrific blow on the forehead, which sent him reeling against the railings. The newcomer (upon whom, both man and woman, seeing Shiel incapacitated, instantly turned) would probably have shared the same fate, had not the occupants of several of the neighbouring houses—amongst whom were some half-dozen athletic young men—roused by the noise, come out into the street, and the ruffian and his companion, seeing the odds were against them, decamped.
Shiel had not fully regained consciousness, when Lilian Rosenberg, regardless of propriety, led him into her sitting-room, bathed his forehead, dosed him with brandy, and making up a bed for him on the sofa, bade him rest there, till the morning.
When he took his departure, he had quite recovered, and Lilian Rosenberg had, at last, realized that she loved him.
[Footnote 23: There is no doubt that
Moses inflicted the plagues,
with which he tormented Pharaoh, in this way.]
[Footnote 24: In stage two this might
have been performed by
ethereal projection, but Hamar could not resort to this method as
the power of projection had now passed from him.]
A few days after the incident in Margaret Terrace, Shiel had an inspiration. He was lunching with an old schoolfellow whom, quite by chance, he had met in Lincoln’s Inn, having previously lost sight of him for many years, and the conversation, which had at first been confined to the old days, had gradually drifted to what was ever uppermost in Shiel’s mind—namely, the Modern Sorcery Company, i.e. Hamar, Kelson and Curtis.