I had arranged to leave the next day, and a storage company was to call in the morning for my few sticks of furniture. I had half planned to take boat for Jamaica. I wanted to think and plan.
I had nobody dependent on me, and was resolved to invest my little fortune in such a way that I might have a modest competence, so that the dreadful spectre of poverty might never leer at me again.
The Eskimo dog was growing uneasy. It would run from me, looking round and uttering a succession of short barks, then run back and tug at my overcoat again. I began to become interested in its manoeuvres.
Evidently it wished me to accompany it, and I wondered who its master was and how it came to be there.
I stooped and looked at the collar. There was no name on it, except the maker’s, scratched and illegible. I rose and followed the beast, which showed its eager delight by running ahead of me, turning round at times to bark, and then continuing on its way with a precision which showed me that it was certain of its destination.
As I crossed Madison Square the light on the Metropolitan Tower flashed the first quarter. Broadway was in full glare. The lure of electric signs winked at me from every corner. The restaurants were disgorging their patrons, and beautifully dressed women in fine furs, accompanied by escorts in evening dress, stood on the pavements. Taxicabs whirled through the slush.
I began to feel a renewal in me of the old, old thrill the city had inspired when I entered it a younger and a more hopeful man.
The dog turned down a street in the Twenties, ran on a few yards, bounded up a flight of stone steps, and began scratching at the door of a house that was apparently empty.
I say apparently, because the shades were down at every window and the interior was unlit, so far as could be seen from the street; but I knew that at that hour it must contain from fifty to a hundred people.
This place I knew by reputation. It was Jim Daly’s notorious but decently conducted gambling establishment, which was running full blast at a time when every other institution of this character had found it convenient to shut down.
So the creature’s master was inside Daly’s, and it wished me to get him out. This was evidence of unusual discernment in his best friend, but it was hardly my prerogative to exercise moral supervision over this adventurous explorer of a chillier country even than his northern wastes. I looked in some disappointment at the closed doors and turned away.
I meant to go home, and I had proceeded about three paces when the lock clicked. I stopped. The front door opened cautiously, and the gray head of Jim’s negro butler appeared. Behind it was the famous grille of cast-steel, capable, according to rumour, of defying the axes of any number of raiding reformers.
Then emerged one of the most beautiful women that I had ever seen.