“This is a devilish wild night. I’ll drop the curtain.”
Seating himself then, by a brightly-shining lamp-the Queen City gas works had been destroyed by the shelling guns-he clasped his arms across his breast, and looked steadily up toward the ticking clock upon the mantel. Thus absorbed in reverie, he sat for an hour; and was only disturbed then by a loud rapping at the front door.
“By Jerusalem! who can be out this wild night?”
The rapping sounded again, louder than before.
“Mingo!” he exclaimed involuntarily. “Ah! the dog is free now, and only answers my summons at his will. Good boy, though.”
The rapping was repeated.
“I must go myself. Who can be so importunate, on this dark, wretched night? No robber would be so bold!” and grasping the lamp, he glided softly toward the front door. He turned the bolt cautiously, and opening the door a little, peered out.
“Come, Mordecai, open the door,” said a friendly voice without. “Do you suspect thieves this foul night? No wonder.”
Mr. Mordecai opened the door wider and saw Rabbi Abrams, and a man so disguised that he could not tell whether it was any one he knew.
“What do you want, my friend?” he said kindly.
“Want you to go with us, Mordecai,” replied the rabbi, drawing closer his cloak, which the wind was trying to tear away.
“Go where?” asked Mr. Mordecai in consternation. “Only the devils themselves could stand, such a night as this.”
“Come, be quiet, my friend. I am summoned by this unknown friend, to go with him to see a certain person who must see me, must see you, too. That’s all I know. Come along.”
“Don’t wait, my friend, time is precious,” said the muffled voice of the unknown man.
Mr. Mordecai frowned and shrugged his shoulders dubiously.
“Fear no evil, my friend, but come with me,” continued the stranger in a reassuring tone.
“The storm will not destroy us, Mordecai; I have tried its fury so far,” said the rabbi. “Come on.”
Reluctantly Mr. Mordecai obeyed, and hastily preparing himself for the weather, turned out into the darkness and the storm, with the rabbi and the guide.
Onward they went, struggling against the wild wind and rain, and few words were uttered by either as they proceeded on their unknown way. At length the guide stopped suddenly, at the corner of a lonely, obscure street, and said:
“There, gentlemen; in that low tenement opposite, where a light gleams from the window, you will find the person who desires to see you. Hasten to him. I shall be back before you leave. Ascend the stairway and turn to the left. Open the door yourself; there will be no one inside to admit you.” Having uttered these words, the guide disappeared in the darkness, and Mr. Mordecai and the rabbi were left alone.
“What can this mean, Rabbi Abrams?” said Mr. Mordecai in a low voice, greatly excited; “suppose it should prove some plot to decoy us into trouble? I shall not go a step farther; we may be robbed or even murdered in that miserable place. You know this is Dogg’s Alley, and it never was a very respectable locality. What say you?”