“Why do you look so frightened?” he demanded, in a voice now hoarse and painful.
Anna was as pale as death as she replied: “I am afraid she has discovered—”
“Discovered?” said her father, a grim light breaking on his confused faculties. Ah, this was terrible, but must be faced! Ah, God! His little Anna! She had taken it—had stolen it—from Mrs. Vanderlyn! But he would stand by her. Nothing should induce him to abandon her, no matter what mad thing she had been tempted into doing. Doubtless it had been his poverty (and was his poverty not direct result of his incompetence?) which had led her into doing the dread thing which he began to understand that she had done.
Now, surely, was not the time for him to offer her reproaches. Now was the time, when he, the best friend she had, could ever have, must comfort her and shelter her. Later, if there were reproaches to be offered, would be time enough to offer them.
“Hush!” he said cautiously. “How you tremble! Anna—my little Anna! She shall not see you like this. Go, liebling. I will first speak to her. And ... whatever it may be ... fear not. Fear not.”
M’riar had come in, and, fascinated by the scene, began to dimly see its awful import, also. Her training in the slums of London where a knock like that upon the door meant but one thing—the law—made the situation clear to her, at once, and, bewildered as she was by the amazing fact that it was Anna—her Frow-line—who was involved, she did not lose her head.
“This w’y,” she whispered, hoarsely. “This w’y, Frow-line! This w’y!”
She hurried Anna out into the kitchen and the flute-player could hear the key turn in the lock behind them. Sure that, for the moment, his dear child was safe, he now went to the door, with measured, steady tread, and opened it.
“Come, Madame, come,” he said to Mrs. Vanderlyn, who, flushed and angry, waited with small patience at the threshold.
The old flute-player caught the glint of polished buttons and a polished shield upon the breast of a man’s coat beyond her, and he recognized the face above them as that of his old shipboard enemy, Moresco, now policeman on this beat.
The superbly dressed visitor, wrapped in silk brocades and woven feathers, seemed strangely out of place there in the doorway of the dingy tenement apartment. That she felt herself so, also, was apparent, for there was, upon her face, a look of high contempt and keen distaste. She swept into the little room with all the majesty of a proud queen, forced, by some untoward circumstance, to call at the low hovel of a very, very humble, and, probably, unworthy subject.
“Ah, Herr Kreutzer.”