X. On the Brink
 

Rhoda Gray moved quietly, inch by inch, along the side of the wall to gain a point of vantage more nearly opposite the lighted doorway. And then she stopped again. She could see quite clearly now - that is, there was nothing now to obstruct her view; but the light was miserable and poor, and the single gas-jet that wheezed and flickered did little more than disperse the shadows from its immediate neighborhood in that inner room. But she could see enough - she could see the bent and ill-clad figure of Nicky Viner, as she remembered him, an old, gray-bearded man, wringing his hands in groveling misery, while the mumbling voice, now whining and pleading, now servile, now plucking up courage to indulge in abuse, kept on without even, it seemed, a pause for breath. And she could see the Adventurer, quite unmoved, quite debonair, a curiously patient smile on his face, standing there, much nearer to her, his right hand in the side pocket of his coat, a somewhat significant habit of his, his left hand holding a sheaf of folded, legal-looking documents.

And then she heard the Adventurer speak.

"What a flow of words!" said the Adventurer, in a bored voice. "You will forgive me, my dear Mr. Viner, if I appear to be facetious, which I am not - but money talks."

"You are a thief, a robber!" The old gray-bearded figure rocked on its feet and kept wringing its hands. "Get out of here! Get out! Do you hear? Get out! You come to steal from a poor old man, and -"

"Must we go all over that again?" interrupted the Adventurer wearily. "I have not come to steal anything; I have simply come to sell you these papers, which I am quite sure, once you control yourself and give the matter a little calm consideration, you are really most anxious to buy - at any price.

"It's a lie!" the other croaked hoarsely. "Those papers are a lie! I am innocent. And I haven't got any money. None! I haven't any. I am poor - an old man - and poor."

Rhoda Gray felt the blood flush hotly to her cheeks. Somehow she could feel no sympathy for that cringing figure in there; but she felt a hot resentment toward that dapper, immaculately dressed and self-possessed young man, who stood there, silently now, tapping the papers with provoking coolness against the edge of the plain deal table in front of him. And somehow the resentment seemed to take a most peculiar phase. She resented the fact that she should feel resentment, no matter what the man did or said. It was as though, instead of anger, impersonal anger, at this low, miserable act of his, she felt ashamed of him. Her hand clenched fiercely as she crouched there against the wall. It wasn't true! She felt nothing of the sort! Why should she be ashamed of him? What was he to her? He was frankly a thief, wasn't he? And he was at his pitiful calling now - down to the lowest dregs of it. What else did she expect? Because he had the appearance of a gentleman, was it that her sense of gratitude for what she owed him had made her, deep down in her soul, actually cherish the belief that he really was one - made her hope it, and nourish that hope into belief? Tighter her hand clenched. Her lips parted, and her breath came in short, hard inhalations. Was it true? Was it all only an added misery, where it had seemed there could be none to add to her life in these last few days? Was it true that there was no price she would not have paid to have found him in any role but this abased one that he was playing now?

The Adventurer broke the silence.

"Quite so, my dear Mr. Viner!" he agreed smoothly. "It would appear, then, from what you say that I have been mistaken - even stupidly so, I am afraid. And in that case, I can only apologize for my intrusion, and, as you so delicately put it, get out." He slipped the papers, with a philosophic shrug of his shoulders, into his inside coat pocket, and took a backward step toward the door. "I bid you good-night, then, Mr. Viner. The papers, as you state, are doubtless of no value to you, so you can, of course, have no objection to my handing them over to the police, who -"

"No, no! Wait! Wait!" the other whispered wildly. "Wait!"

"Ah!" murmured the Adventurer.

"I - I'll" - the bent old figure was clawing at his beard - "I'll -"

"Buy them?" suggested the Adventurer pleasantly.

"Yes, I'll - I'll buy them. I - I've got a little money, only a little, all I've been able to save in years, a - a hundred dollars.

"How much did you say?" inquired the Adventurer coldly.

"Two hundred." The voice was a maudlin whine.

The Adventurer took another backward step toward the door.

"Three hundred!"

Another step.

"Five - a thousand!"

The Adventurer laughed suddenly.

"That's better!" he said. "Where you keep a thousand, you keep the rest. Where is the thousand, Mr. Viner?"

The bent figure hesitated a moment; and then, with what sounded like a despairing cry, pointed to the table.

"It's there," he whimpered. "God's curses on you, for the thief you are."

Rhoda Gray found her eyes fixed in sudden, strained fascination on the table - as, she imagined, the Adventurer's were too. It was bare of any covering, nor were there any articles on its surface, nor, as far as she could see, was there any drawer. And now the Adventurer, his right hand still in his coat pocket, and bulging there where she knew quite well it grasped his revolver, stepped abruptly to the table, facing the other with the table between them.

The bent old figure still hesitated, and then, with the despairing cry again, grasped at the top of the table, and jerked it toward him. The surface seemed to slide sideways a little way, a matter of two or three inches, and then stick there; but the Adventurer, in an instant, had thrust the fingers of his left hand into the crevice. He drew out a number of loose banknotes, and thrust his fingers in again for a further supply.

"Open it wider!" he commanded curtly.

"I - I'm trying to," the other mumbled, and bent down to peer under the table. "It's stuck. The catch is underneath, and -"

It seemed to Rhoda Gray, gazing into that dimly lighted room, as though she were suddenly held spellbound as in some horrible and amazing trance. Like a hideous jack-in-the-box the gray head popped above the level of the table again, and quick as a flash, a revolver was thrust into the Adventurer's face; and the Adventurer, caught at a disadvantage,, since his hand in his coat pocket was below the intervening table top, stood there as though instantaneously transformed into some motionless, inanimate thing, his fingers still gripping at another sheaf of banknotes that he had been in the act of scooping out from the narrow aperture.

And then again Rhoda Gray stared, and stared now as though bereft of her senses; and upon her crept, cold and deadly, a fear and a terror that seemed to engulf her very soul itself. That head that looked like a jack-in-the-box was gone; the gray beard seemed suddenly to be shorn away, and the gray hair too, and to fall and flutter to the table, and the bent shoulders were not bent any more, and it wasn't Nicky Viner at all - only a clever, a wonderfully clever, impersonation that had been helped out by the poor and meager light. And terror gripped at her again, for it wasn't Nicky Viner. Those narrowed eyes, that leering, gloating face, those working lips were Danglar's.

And, as from some far distance, dulled because her consciousness was dulled, she heard Danglar speak.

"Perhaps you'll take your hand out of that right-hand coat pocket of yours now!" sneered Danglar. "And take it out - empty!"

The Adventurer's face, as nearly as Rhoda Gray could see, had not moved a muscle. He obeyed now, coolly, with a shrug of his shoulders.

Danglar appeared to experience no further trouble with the surface of the table now. He suddenly jerked it almost off, displaying what Rhoda Gray now knew to be the remainder of the large package of banknotes he had taken from the garret earlier in the evening.

"Help yourself to the rest!" he invited caustically. "There isn't fifty thousand there, but you are quite welcome to all there is - in return for those papers.

The Adventurer was apparently obsessed with an inspection of his finger nails; he began to polish those of one hand with the palm of the other.

"Quite so, Danglar!" he said coolly. "I admit it - I am ashamed of myself. I hate to think that I could be caught by you; but I suppose I can find some self-extenuating circumstances. You seem o have risen to an amazingly higher order of intelligence. In fact, for you, Danglar, it is not at all bad!" He went on polishing his nails. "Would you mind taking that thing out of my face? Even you ought to be able to handle it effectively a few inches farther away."

Under the studied insult Danglar's face had grown a mottled red.

"Damn you!" he snarled. "I'll take it away when I get good and ready; and by that time I'll have you talking out of the other side of your mouth! See? Do you know what you're up against, you slick dude?"

"I have a fairly good imagination," replied the Adventurer smoothly.

"You have, eh?" mimicked Danglar wickedly. "Well, you don't need to imagine anything! I'll give you the straight goods so's there won't be any chance of a mistake. And never mind about the higher order of intelligence! It was high enough, and a little to spare, to make you walk into the trap! I hoped I'd get you both, you and your she-pal, the White Moll; that you'd come here together - but I'm not kicking. It's a pretty good start to get you!"

"Is it necessary to make a speech?" complained the Adventurer monotonously. "I can't help listening, of course."

"You can make up your mind for yourself when I'm through - whether it's necessary or not!" retorted Danglar viciously. "I've got a little proposition to put up to you, and maybe it'll help you to add two and two together if I let you see all the cards. Understand? You've had your run of luck lately, quite a bit of it, haven't you, you and the White Moll? Well, it's my turn now! You've been queering our game to the limit, curse you!" Danglar thrust his working face a little farther over the table, and nearer to the Adventurer. "Well, what was the answer? Where did you get the dope you made your plays with? It was a cinch, wasn't it, that there was a leak somewhere in our own crowd?" He laughed out suddenly. "You poor fool! Did you think you could pull that sort of stuff forever? Did you? Well, then, how do you like the 'leak' to-night? You get the idea, don't you? Everybody, every last soul that is in with us, got the details of what they thought was a straight play to-night - and it leaked to you, as I knew it would; and you walked into the trap, as I knew you would, because the bait was good and juicy, and looked the easiest thing to annex that ever happened. Fifty thousand dollars! Fifty thousand - nothing! All you had to do was to get a few papers that it wouldn't bother any crook to get, even a near - crook like you, and then come here and screw the money out of a helpless old man, who was supposed to have been discovered to be a miser. Easy, wasn't it? Only Nicky Viner wasn't a miser! We chose Nicky because of what happened two years ago. It made things look pretty near right, didn't it? Looked straight, that part about Perlmer, too, didn't it? That was the come-on. Perlmer never saw those papers you've got there in your pocket. I doped them out, and we planted them nice and handy where you could get them without much trouble in the drawer of Perlmer's desk, and -"

"It's a long story," interrupted the Adventurer, with quiet insolence.

"It's got a short ending," said Danglar, with an ugly leer. "We could have bumped you off when you went for those papers, but if you went that far you'd come farther, and that wasn't the place to do it, and we couldn't cover ourselves there the way we could here. This is the place. We brought that trick table here a while ago, as soon as we had got rid of Nicky Viner. That was the only bit of stage setting we had to do to make the story ring true right up to the curtain, in case it was necessary. It wouldn't have been necessary if you and the White Moll had both come together, for then you would neither of you have got any further than that other room. It would have ended there. But we weren't taking any chances. I'll pay you the compliment of admitting that we weren't counting on getting you off your guard any too easily if, as it happened, you came alone, for, being alone, or if either of you were alone, there was that little proposition that had to be settled, instead of just knocking you on the head out there in the dark in that other room; and so, as I say, we weren't overlooking any bets on account of the little trouble it took to plant that table and the money. We tried to think of everything!" Danglar paused for a moment to mock the Adventurer with narrowed eyes. "That's the story; here's the end. I hoped I'd get you both together, you and the White Moll. I didn't. But I've got you. I didn't get you both - and that's what gives you a chance for your life, because she's worth more to us than you are. If you'd been together, you would have gone out-together. As it is, I'll see that you don't do any more harm anyway, but you get one chance. Where is she? If you answer that, you will, of course, answer a minor question and locate that 'leak', for me, that I was speaking about a moment ago. But we'll take the main thing first. And you can take your choice between a bullet and a straight answer. Where is the White Moll?"

Rhoda Gray's hand felt Out along the wall for support. Was this a dream, some ghastly, soul-terrifying nightmare! Danglar! Those working lips! That callous viciousness, that leer in the degenerate face. It seemed to bring a weakness to her limbs, and seek to rob her of the strength to stand. She could not even hope against hope; she knew that Danglar was in deadly earnest. Danglar would not have the slightest compunction, let alone hesitation, in carrying out his threat. Terrified now, her eyes sought the Adventurer. Didn't the Adventurer know Danglar as she knew him, didn't he realize that there was deadly earnestness behind Danglar's words? Was the man mad, that he stood there utterly unmoved, as though he had no consideration on earth other than those carefully manicured finger nails of his!

And then Danglar spoke again.

"Do you notice anything special about this gun I'm holding on you?" he demanded, in low menace.

The Adventurer did not even look up.

"Oh, yes," he said indifferently. "I fancy you got it out of a dime novel, didn't you? One of those silencer things."

"Yes," said Danglar grimly; "one of those silencer things. Where is she?"

The Adventurer made no answer.

The color in Danglar's face deepened.

"I'll make things even a little plainer to you," he said with brutal coolness. "There are two men in our organization from whom it is absolutely impossible that that leak could have come. Those two men followed you from Perlmer's office to this place. They are in the next room now waiting for me to get through with you, and ready for anything if they are needed. But they won't be needed. That's not the way it works out. This gun won't make much noise, and it isn't likely to arouse the inmates of this dive, but even if it does, it doesn't matter very much - we aren't going out by the front door. The two of them, the minute they hear the shot, slip in here, and lock the door - you see it's got a good, husky bolt on it - and then we beat it by the fire escape that runs past that window there. Get the idea? And don't kid yourself into thinking that I am taking any risk with the consequences on account of the coroner having got busy because a man was found here dead on the floor. Nicky Viner stands for that. It isn't the first time he's been suspected of murder. See? Nicky was easy. He'd crawl on his hands and knees from the Battery to Harlem any time if you held a little money in front of his nose. He's been fooled up to the eyes with a faked-up message that he's to deliver secretly to some faked-up crooks out West. He's just about starting away on the train now. And that's where the police nab him - running away from the murder he's pulled in his room here to-night. Looks kind of bad for Nicky Viner - eh? We should worry! It cost a hundred dollars and his ticket. Cheap, wasn't it? I guess you're worth that much to us."

A dull horror seized upon Rhoda Gray. It seemed to clog and confuse her mind. She fought it frantically, striving to think, and to think clearly. Every detail seemed to have been planned with Satanic foresight and ingenuity, and yet - and yet - Yes, in one little thing, Danglar had made a mistake. That was why she was here now; that was why those men in that next room had not been out in the hall on guard, or even out in the street on watch for her. Danglar had naturally gone upon the supposition that the Adventurer and herself worked hand in glove; whereas they were as much in the dark concerning each other's movements as Danglar himself was. Therefore Danglar, and logically enough from his viewpoint, had jumped to the conclusion that, since they had not come together, only one of them, the Adventurer, was acting in the affair to-night, and - Danglar's voice was rasping in her ears.

"I'm not going to stay here all night!" he snarled. "You've got one chance. I've told you what it is. You're lucky to have it. We'd sooner have you out of the way for keeps. I'd rather drop you in your tracks than let you live. Where is the White Moll?"

The Adventurer was side face to the doorway again, and Rhoda Gray saw him smile contemptuously at Danglar now.

"Really," he said blandly, "I haven't the slightest idea in the world."

Danglar laughed ironically.

"You lie!" he flung out hoarsely. "Do you think you can get away with that? Well, think again! Sooner or later, it will be all the same whether you talk or not. We caught you to-night in a trap; we'll catch her in another. Our hand doesn't show here. She'll think that Nicky Viner was a little too much for you, that's all. Come on, now - quick! Are you fool enough to misunderstand? The 'don't know' stuff won't get you by!"

"The misunderstanding seems to be on your side." There was a cold, irritating deliberation in the Adventurer's voice. "I repeat that I do not know where the young lady you refer to could be found; but I did not make that statement with any idea that you would believe it. To a cur, I suppose it is necessary to add that, even if I did know, I should take pleasure in seeing you damned before I told you."

Danglar's face was like a devil's. His revolver held a steady bead on the Adventurer's head.

"I'll give you a last chance." He spoke through closed teeth. "I'll fire when I count three. One!"

A horrible fascination held Rhoda Gray. If she cried out, it was more likely than not to cause Danglar to fire on the instant. It would not save the Adventurer in any case. It would be but the signal, too, for those two men in the next room to rush in here.

"Two!"

It seemed as though, not in the hope that it would do any good, but because she was going mad with horror, that she would scream out until the place rang and rang again with her outcries. Even her soul was in frantic panic. Quick! Quick! She must act! She must! But how? Was there only one way? She was conscious that she had drawn her revolver as though by instinct. Danglar's life, or the Adventurer's! But she shrank from taking life. Her lips were breathing a prayer. They had called her a crack shot back there in South America, when she had hunted and ridden with her father. It was easy enough to hit Danglar, but that might mean Danglar's life; it was not so easy to hit Danglar's arm, or Danglar's hand, or the revolver Danglar held, and if she risked that and missed, she...

"Thr -"

There was the roar of a report that went racketing through the silence like a cannon shot, and the short, vicious tongue-flame from Rhoda Gray's revolver muzzle stabbed through the black. There was a scream of mingled surprise and fury, and the revolver in Danglar's hand clattered to the floor. She saw the Adventurer spring, quick as a panther, at the other, and saw him whip blow after blow with terrific force full into Danglar's face; she heard a rush of feet coming from the corridor behind her; and she flung herself forward into the inner room, and, panting, snatched at the door and slammed it shut, and groping for the bolt, found it, and shot it home in its grooves.

And she stood there, weak for the moment, and drew her hand across her eyes - and behind her they pounded on the door, and there came a burst of oaths; and in front of her the Adventurer was smiling gravely as he covered Danglar with Danglar's own revolver; and Danglar, as though dazed and half stunned from the blows he had received, rocked unsteadily upon his feet. And then her eyes widened a little. The pounding on the door, the shouts, the noise, was beginning to arouse what inmates there were in the tenement, and there wasn't an instant to lose - but the Adventurer now was calmly gathering up, to the last one, and pocketing them, the banknotes with which Danglar had baited his trap. And as he crammed the money into his pockets, he spoke to her, with a curious softness, a great, strange gentleness in his voice:

"I owe you my life, Miss Gray. That was a wonderful shot. You knocked the revolver from his hand without even grazing his fingers. A very wonderful shot, and - will you let me say it? - you are a very wonderful woman."

"Oh, quick!" she whispered wildly. "I am afraid this door will not hold."

"There is the window, and the fire escape, so our friend here was good enough to inform me," said the Adventurer, as he composedly pocketed the last dollar. "Will you open the window, Miss Gray, if you please? I am afraid I hit Mr. Danglar a little ungently, and as he is still somewhat groggy, I fancy he will need a little assistance. I imagine" - he caught Danglar suddenly by the collar of his coat as Rhoda Gray ran to the window and flung it up, and rushed the man unceremoniously across the room -" I imagine it would be a mistake to leave him behind. He might open the door, or even be unpleasant enough to throw something down on us from above; also he should serve us very well as a hostage. Will you go first, please, Miss Gray?"

She climbed quickly over the sill to the iron platform. Danglar was dragged through by the Adventurer, mumbling, and evidently still in a half-dazed condition. Windows were opening here and there. From back inside the room, the blows rained more heavily upon the door - and now there came the rip and rend of wood, as though a panel had crashed in.

"Hurry, please, Miss Gray!" prompted the Adventurer.

It was dark, almost too dark to see her footing. She felt her way down. It was only one story above the ground, and it did not take long; but it seemed hours since she had fired that shot, though she knew the time had been measured by scarcely more than a minute. And now, on the lower platform, waiting for that queer, double, twisting shadow of the two men to join her, she heard the Adventurers s voice ring out sharply:

"This is your chance, Danglar! I didn't waste the time to bring you along because it afforded me any amusement. They've found their heads at last, and gone to the next window, instead of wasting time on that door. They can't reach the fire escape there, but if they fire a single shot - you go out! You'd better tell them so - and tell them quick!"

And then Danglar's voice shrieked out in sudden, for God's sake, don't fire!"

They were all on the lower platform together now. The Adventurer was pressing the muzzle of his revolver into the small of Danglar's back, and was still supporting the man by the collar of his coat.

"I think," said the Adventurer abruptly, "that we can now dispense with Mr. Danglar's services, and I am sure a little cool night air out here on the fire escape will do him good. Miss Gray - would you mind? - there's a pair of handcuffs in my left-hand coat pocket."

Handcuffs! She could have laughed out idiotically. Handcuffs! They seemed the most incongruous things in the world for the Adventurer to have, and - She felt mechanically in his pocket, and handed them to him.

There was a click as a cuff was snapped over Danglar's wrist, another as the other cuff was snapped shut around the iron hand-railing of the fire escape. The act seemed to arouse Danglar, both mentally and physically. He tore and wrenched at the steel links now, and burst suddenly, raving, into oaths.

"Hold your tongue, Danglar!" ordered the Adventurer in cold menace; and as the other, cowed, obeyed, the Adventurer swung himself over the platform and dropped to the ground. "Come, Miss Gray. Drop! I'll catch you!" he called in a low voice. "One step takes us around the corner of the tenement into the lane, and Mr. Danglar won't let them fire at us before we can make that - when we could still fire at him!"

She obeyed him, swinging at arm's-length. She felt his hands fold about her in a firm grasp as she let go her hold, and she caught her breath suddenly, she did not know why, and felt the hot blood sweep her face - and then she was standing on the ground.

"Now!" he whispered. "Together!"

They sped around the corner of the tenement. A yell from Danglar followed them. An echoing yell from above answered - and then a fusillade of abortive shots, and the sound as of boot heels clattering on the iron rungs of the fire escape; and then, more faintly, for they were putting distance behind them as fast as they could run, an excited outburst of profanity and exclamations.

"They won't follow!" panted the Adventurer. "Those shots of theirs outdoors will have alarmed the police, and they'll try and get Danglar free first. It's lucky your shot inside wasn't heard by the patrolman on the beat. I was afraid of that. But we're safe now - from Danglar's crowd, at least."

But still they ran. They crossed an intersecting street, and continued on along the lane; then swerving into the next intersecting street, moderated their pace to a rapid walk - and stopped finally only as Rhoda Gray drew suddenly into the shadows of another alley-way, and held out her hand. They were both safe now, as he had said. And there were so many reasons why, though her resolution faltered a little, she should go the rest of the way alone. She was not sure that she trusted this strange "gentleman," who was a thief with his pockets crammed even now with the money that had lured him almost to his death; but, too, she was not altogether sure that she distrusted him. But all that was secondary. She must, as soon as she could, get back to Gypsy Nan's garret. Like that other night, she dared not take the risk that Danglar, by any chance, might return there - and find her gone after what had just happened. The man would be beside himself with fury, suspicious of everything -and suspicion would be fatal in its consequences for her. And so she must go. And she could not become Gypsy Nan again with the Adventurer looking on!

"We part here," she said a little unsteadily. "Good-night!"

"Oh, I say, Miss Gray!" he protested quickly. "You don't mean that! Why, look here, I haven't had a chance to tell you what I think, or what I feel, about what you've done to-night - for me."

She shook her head.

"There is nothing you need say," she answered quietly. "We are only quits. You have done quite as much for me."

"But, see here, Miss Gray!" he pleaded. "Can't we come to some understanding? We seem to have a jolly lot in common. Is it quite necessary, really necessary, that you should keep me off at arm's-length? Couldn't you let down the bars just a little? Couldn't you tell me, for instance, where I could find you in case of - real necessity?"

She shook her head again.

"No," she said. "It is impossible."

He drew a little closer. A sudden earnestness deepened his voice, made it rasp a little, as though it were not wholly within control.

"And suppose, Miss Gray, that I refuse to leave you, or to let you go, now that I have you here, unless you give me more of your confidence? What then?"

"The other night," she said slowly, "you informed me, among other things, that you were a gentleman. I believed the other things."

He did not answer for a moment - and then he smiled whimsically.

"You score, Miss Gray," he murmured.

"Good night, then!" she said again. "I will go by the alley here; you by the street."

"No! Wait!" he said gravely. "If nothing will change your mind - and I shall not be importunate, for, as we have met three times now through the same peculiar chain of circumstances, I know we shall meet again - I have something to tell you, before you go. As you already know, I went to Gypsy Nan's the night after I first saw you, because I felt you needed help. I went there in the hope that she would know where to find you, and, failing in that, I left a message for you in the hope that, since she had tricked Rorke in your behalf, you would find means of communicating with her again. But all that is entirely changed now. Your participation in that Hayden-Bond affair the other night makes Gypsy Nan's place the last in all New York to which you should go."

Rhoda Gray stared through the semi-darkness, suddenly startled, searching the Adventurer's face.

"What do you mean?" she demanded quickly.

"Just this," he answered. "That where before I hoped you would go there, I have spent nearly all the time since then in haunting the vicinity of Gypsy Nan's house to warn you away in case you should try to reach her."

"I - I don't understand," she said a little uncertainly.

"It is simple enough," he said. "Gypsy Nan is now one of those you have most to fear. Gypsy Nan is merely a disguise. She is no more Gypsy Nan than you are."

Rhoda Gray caught her breath.

"Not Gypsy Nan!" she repeated - and fought to keep her voice in control. "Who is she, then?"

The Adventurer laughed shortly.

"She is quite closely connected with that gentleman we left airing himself on the fire escape," he said grimly. "Gypsy Nan is Danglar's wife."

It was very strange, very curious - the alleyway seemed suddenly to be revolving around and around, and it seemed to bring her a giddiness and a faintness. The Adventurer was standing there before her, but she did not see him any more; she could only see, as from a brink upon which she tottered, a gulf, abysmal in its horror, that yawned before her.

"Thank you - thank you for the warning." Was that her voice speaking so calmly and dispassionately? "I will remember it. But I must go now. Good-night again!"

He said something. She did not know what. She only knew that she was hurrying along the alleyway now, and that he had made no effort to stop her, and that she was grateful to him for that, and that her composure, strained to the breaking point, would have given away if she had remained with him another instant. Danglar's wife! It was dark here in the alley-way, and she did not know where it led to. But did it matter? And she stumbled as she went along. But it was not the physical inability to see that made her stumble - it was a brain-blindness that fogged her soul itself. His wife! Gypsy Nan was Danglar's wife.