“If the doctor knew of this,” breathed Denise, “he would never... forgive me. But no woman... no true woman... could refuse to undertake... so palpable... a duty"...
Helen Cumberly, wearing a warm, golfing jersey over her dress, with a woolen cap to match, ran lightly down the stairs and out into the Square, carrying a letter. She walked along to the pillar-box, and having examined the address upon the envelope with great care, by the light of an adjacent lamp, posted the letter, turned—and there, radiant and bowing, stood Mr. Gianapolis!
“Kismet is really most kind to me!” he cried. “My friend, who lives, as I think I mentioned once before, in Peer’s Chambers, evidently radiates good luck. I last had the good fortune to meet you when on my way to see him, and I now meet you again within five minutes of leaving him! My dear Miss Cumberly, I trust you are quite well?”
“Quite,” said Helen, holding out her hand. “I am awfully glad to see you again, Mr. Gianapolis!”
He was distinctly encouraged by her tone. He bent forward confidentially.
“The night is young,” he said; and his smile was radiant. “May I hope that your expedition does not terminate at this post-box?”
Helen glanced at him doubtfully, and then down at her jersey. Gianapolis was unfeignedly delighted with her naivete.
“Surely you don’t want to be seen with me in this extraordinary costume!” she challenged.
“My dear Miss Cumberly, it is simply enchanting! A girl with such a figure as yours never looks better than when she dresses sportily!”
The latent vulgarity of the man was escaping from the bondage in which ordinarily he confined it. A real passion had him in its grip, and the real Gianapolis was speaking. Helen hesitated for one fateful moment; it was going to be even worse than she had anticipated. She glanced up at Palace Mansions.
Across a curtained window moved a shadow, that of a man wearing a long gown and having his hands clasped behind him, whose head showed as an indistinct blur because the hair was wildly disordered. This shadow passed from side to side of the window and was lost from view. It was the shadow of Henry Leroux.
“I am afraid I have a lot of work to do,” said Helen, with a little catch in her voice.
“My dear Miss Cumberly,” cried Gianapolis, eagerly, placing his hand upon her arm, “it is precisely of your work that I wish to speak to you! Your work is familiar to me—I never miss a line of it; and knowing how you delight in the outre and how inimitably you can describe scenes of Bohemian life, I had hoped, since it was my privilege to meet you, that you would accept my services as cicerone to some of the lesser-known resorts of Bohemian London. Your article, ‘Dinner in Soho,’ was a delightful piece of observation, and the third—I think it was the third—of the same series: ‘Curiosities of the Cafe Royal,’ was equally good. But your powers of observation would be given greater play in any one of the three establishments to which I should be honored to escort you.”