The little man accepted the card with no discernible sign of jubilation over Shaynon’s discomfiture.
“Thank you,” he said mildly; but waited close by her side.
For a moment Shaynon’s face reminded him of one of the masks of crimson lacquer and black that grinned from the walls of Mrs. Inche’s “den.” But his accents, when he spoke, were even, if menacing in their tonelessness.
“Then, Marian, I’m to understand it’s—goodnight?”
“I think,” said the girl with a level look of disdain, “it might be far better if you were to understand that it’s good-bye.”
“You,” he said with slight difficulty—“you mean that, Marian?”
“Finally!” she asseverated.
He shrugged again; and his eyes, wavering, of a sudden met P. Sybarite’s and stabbed them with a glance of ruthless and unbridled hatred, so envenomed that the little man was transiently conscious of a misgiving.
“Here,” he told himself in doubt, “is one who, given his way, would have me murdered within twenty-four hours!”
And he thought of Red November, and wondered what had been the fate of that personage at the hands of the valiant young patrolman. Almost undoubtedly the gunman had escaped arrest....
Shaynon had turned and was striding away toward the Fifth Avenue entrance, when Marian roused P. Sybarite with a word.
“Finis,” she said, enchanting him with the frank intimacy of her smile.
He made, with a serious visage, the gesture of crossed fingers that exorcises an evil spirit.
“Absit omen!” he muttered, with a dour glance over shoulder at the retreating figure of his mortal enemy.
“Why,” she laughed incredulously, “you’re not afraid?”
Forcing a wry grin, he mocked a shudder.
“Some irreverent body walked over the grave of me.”
“I’m Irish,” P. Sybarite explained sufficiently.
They came to the carriage entrance, where the crush of waiting people had somewhat thinned—not greatly.
Leaving Marian in the angle of the doorway, P. Sybarite pressed out to the booth of the carriage-call apparatus, gave the operator the numbered and perforated cardboard together with a coin, saw the man place it on the machine and shoot home a lever that hissed and spat blue fire; then turned back.
“What was the number?” she asked as he approached. “Did you notice? I did—but then thought of something else; and now I’ve forgotten.”
“Two hundred and thirty,” replied P. Sybarite absently.
Between the two there fell a little pause of constrained silence ended by Marian.
“I want to see you again, very soon, Mr. Sybarite.”
The eyes of the little man were as grateful as a dog’s.
“If I may call—?” he ventured diffidently.