Careless as I endeavored to make my movements, the veiled lady seemed to take suspicion or fright. She quickened her steps. Accident favored me. Even as she fled, she caught her skirt on some object which lay hidden in the shadows and fell almost at full length. This I conceived to be opportunity warranting my approach. I raised my hat and assured her that her flight was needless.
She made no direct reply to me, but as she rose gave utterance to an expression of annoyance. “Mon Dieu!” I heard her say.
I stood for a moment trying to recall where I had heard this same voice! She turned her face in such a way that the light illuminated it. Then indeed surprise smote me.
“Madam Baroness,” said I, laughing, “it is wholly impossible for you to be here, yet you are here! Never again will I say there is no such thing as chance, no such thing as fate, no such thing as a miracle!”
She looked at me one brief moment; then her courage returned.
“Ah, then, my idiot,” she said, “since it is to be our fortune always to meet of dark nights and in impossible ways, give me your arm.”
I laughed. “We may as well make treaty. If you run again, I shall only follow you.”
“Then I am again your prisoner?”
“Madam, I again am yours!”
“At least, you improve!” said she. “Then come.”
“Shall I not call a caleche?—the night is dark.”
“No, no!” hurriedly.
We began a midnight course that took us quite across the old French quarter of Montreal. At last she turned into a small, dark street of modest one-story residences, iron-shuttered, dark and cheerless. Here she paused in front of a narrow iron gate.
“Madam,” I said, “you represent to me one of the problems of my life. Why does your taste run to such quarters as these? This might be that same back street in Washington!”
She chuckled to herself, at length laughed aloud. “But wait! If you entered my abode once,” she said, “why not again? Come.”
Her hand was at the heavy knocker as she spoke. In a moment the door slowly opened, just as it had done that night before in Washington. My companion passed before me swiftly. As she entered I saw standing at the opening the same brown and wrinkled old dame who had served that night before in Washington!
For an instant the light dazzled my eyes, but, determined now to see this adventure through, I stepped within. Then, indeed, I found it difficult to stifle the exclamation of surprise which came to my lips. Believe it or not, as you like, we were again in Washington!