As the man stepped forward, Lady Barbara sprang away from his touch. “You do not mean you are going to let this man take me—Mr. Mangan, you must not, you shall not! You would not commit that outrage. Do you mean—?”
Pickert made a gesture of disgust, his fingers outspread. “Keep all that for the captain. It won’t cut any ice here, and you’d better not talk. Now come along, and don’t make any fuss. If it’s a mistake, you can clear it up at the station-house. I ain’t going to touch you. You keep ahead until you get to the street-door. I’ll be right behind, and meet you on the sidewalk.”
Lady Barbara drew herself up proudly. “I won’t allow it!” she cried; “what I told you—”
Pickert swaggered closer. “Drop that, will you? I got my orders. You heard ’em, didn’t you? Will you go easy, or shall I have to—” and he half dragged a pair of handcuffs from his side pocket. “Now, you do just as I tell you; it’ll all come right, and there won’t nobody know what’s goin’ on. You get to hollerin’ and mussin’ up things and there’ll be trouble, see? Open that door now, and walk out just as if everything was reg’lar.”
The routine of Felix’s daily life had been broken this morning by the receipt of a letter. The postman had handed it to him as he crossed the street from Kitty’s to Kling’s, the tramp who was sweeping the sidewalk having pointed him out.
“That’s him,” cried the tramp. “That’s Mr. O’Day. Catch him before he gets inside his place, or you’ll lose him. Here, I’ll take it.”
“You’ll take nothin’. Get out of my way.”
“For me?” asked Felix, coloring slightly as the postman accosted him.
“Yes, if you’re Mr. O’Day.”
“I’m afraid I am. Thank you. If you have any others, bring them here to Mr. Kling’s, where I can always be found during the day.”
He glanced at the seal and the address, but kept it in his hands until he reached Kling’s counter, where he settled into a chair, and with the greatest care slit the envelope with his knife. A year had passed since he had received a letter, nor had he expected any.
He read it through to the end, turning the pages again, rereading certain passages, his face giving no hint of the contents, folded the sheets, put them back in the envelope, and slid the whole into his inside pocket. After a little he rose, stood for a moment watching Fudge, who, now that Masie had gone to school, had taken up his customary place in the window, his nose pressed against the pane. Then, as if some sudden resolve had seized him, he walked quickly to the rear of the store in search of his employer.
Otto was poring over his books, his bald head glistening under the rays of the gas-jet, which he had lighted to assist him in his work, the morning being dark.