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Havoc

Arthur Morrison's Collapse
The Square was a small one, and in a particularly unsavory neighborhood. Laverick, who
had once visited his partner's somewhat extensive suite of rooms in Jermyn Street, rang
the bell doubtfully. The door was opened almost at once, not by a servant but by a young
lady who was obviously expecting him. Before he could open his lips to frame an
inquiry, she had closed the door behind him.
"Will you please come this way?" she said timidly.
Laverick found himself in a small sitting-room, unexpectedly neat, and with the plainness
of its furniture relieved by certain undeniable traces of some cultured presence. The girl
who had followed him stood with her back to the door, a little out of breath. Laverick
contemplated her in surprise. She was under medium height, with small pale face and
wonderful dark eyes. Her brown hair was parted in the middle and arranged low down, so
that at first, taking into account her obvious nervousness, he thought that she was a child.
When she spoke, however, he knew that for some reason she was afraid. Her voice was
soft and low, but it was the voice of a woman.
"It is Mr. Laverick, is it not?" she asked, looking at him eagerly.
"My name is Stephen Laverick," he admitted. "I understood that I should find Mr. Arthur
Morrison here."
"Yes," the girl answered, "he sent for you. The note was from him. He is here."
She made no movement to summon him. She still stood, in fact, with her back to the
door. Laverick was distinctly puzzled. He felt himself unable to place this timid, childlike
woman, with her terrified face and beautiful eyes. He had never heard Morrison speak of
having any relations. His presence in such a locality, indeed, was hard to understand
unless he had met with an accident. Morrison was one of those young men who would
have chosen Hell with a "W" rather than Heaven E. C.
"I am afraid," Laverick said, "that for some reason or other you are afraid of me. I can
assure you that I am quite harmless," he added smiling. "Won't you sit down and tell me
what is the matter? Is Mr. Morrison in any trouble?"
"Yes," she answered, "he is. As for me, I am terrified."
She came a little away from the door. Laverick was a man who inspired trust. His tone,
too, was unusually kind. He had the protective instinct of a big man toward a small
woman.
"Come and tell me all about it," he suggested. "I expected to hear that he had gone
abroad."
 
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