“I’m sorry he ever saw her,” said Kane bitterly.
“Well, his seeing her seems to have saved the shop from being smashed up, and you from getting a punched head,” returned the Doctor with a laugh. “He’s no fool—yet it’s a freak of human nature that a simple hayseed like that—a man who’s lived in the backwoods all his life, is likely to be the first to tumble before a pot of French rouge like her.”
Indeed, in a couple of weeks, there was no further doubt of Mr. Reuben Allen’s infatuation. He dropped into the shop frequently on his way to and from the restaurant, where he now regularly took his meals; he spent his evenings in gambling in its private room. Yet Kane was by no means sure that he was losing his money there unfairly, or that he was used as a pigeon by the proprietress and her friends. The bully O’Ryan was turned away; Sparlow grimly suggested that Allen had simply taken his place, but Kane ingeniously retorted that the Doctor was only piqued because Allen had evaded his professional treatment. Certainly the patient had never consented to another examination, although he repeatedly and gravely bought medicines, and was a generous customer. Once or twice Kane thought it his duty to caution Allen against his new friends and enlighten him as to Madame le Blanc’s reputation, but his suggestions were received with a good-humored submission that was either the effect of unbelief or of perfect resignation to the fact, and he desisted. One morning Dr. Sparlow said cheerfully:—
“Would you like to hear the last thing about your friend and the Frenchwoman? The boys can’t account for her singling out a fellow like that for her friend, so they say that the night that she cut herself at the fete and dropped in here for assistance, she found nobody here but Allen—a chance customer! That it was he who cut off her hair and bound up her wounds in that sincere fashion, and she believed he had saved her life.” The Doctor grinned maliciously as he added: “And as that’s the way history is written you see your reputation is safe.”
It may have been a month later that San Francisco was thrown into a paroxysm of horror and indignation over the assassination of a prominent citizen and official in the gambling-rooms of Madame le Blanc, at the hands of a notorious gambler. The gambler had escaped, but in one of those rare spasms of vengeful morality which sometimes overtakes communities who have too long winked at and suffered the existence of evil, the fair proprietress and her whole entourage were arrested and haled before the coroner’s jury at the inquest. The greatest excitement prevailed; it was said that if the jury failed in their duty, the Vigilance Committee had arranged for the destruction of the establishment and the deportation of its inmates. The crowd that had collected around the building was reinforced by Kane and Dr. Sparlow, who had closed their shop in the next block to attend. When Kane had fought his way into