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4. The Closed Door
Rather less than five minutes later a taxicab drew up in old Bond Street, and from it
Quentin Gray leapt out impetuously and ran in at the doorway leading to Kazmah's
stairs. So hurried was his progress that he collided violently with a little man who,
carrying himself with a pronounced stoop, was slinking furtively out.
The little man reeled at the impact and almost fell, but:
"Hang it all!" cried Gray irritably. "Why the devil don't you look where you're going!"
He glared angrily into the face of the other. It was a peculiar and rememberable
face, notable because of a long, sharp, hooked nose and very little, foxy, brown
eyes; a sly face to which a small, fair moustache only added insignificance. It was
crowned by a wide-brimmed bowler hat which the man wore pressed down upon
his ears like a Jew pedlar.
"Why!" cried Gray, "this is the second time tonight you have jostled me!"
He thought he had recognized the man for the same who had been following
himself, Mrs. Irvin and Sir Lucien Pyne along old Bond Street.
A smile, intended to be propitiatory, appeared upon the pale face.
"No, sir, excuse me, sir--"
"Don't deny it!" said Gray angrily. "If I had the time I should give you in charge as a
Calling to the cabman to wait, he ran up the stairs to the second floor landing.
Before the painted door bearing the name of Kazmah he halted, and as the door
did not open, stamped impatiently, but with no better result.
At that, since there was neither bell nor knocker, he raised his fist and banged
No one responded to the summons.
"Hi, there!" he shouted. "Open the door! Pyne! Rita!"
Again he banged--and yet again. Then he paused, listening, his ear pressed to the
He could detect no sound of movement within. Fists clenched, he stood staring at
the closed door, and his fresh color slowly deserted him and left him pale.
"Damn him!" he muttered savagely. "Damn him! he has fooled me!"
Passionate and self-willed, he was shaken by a storm of murderous anger. That
Pyne had planned this trick, with Rita Irvin's consent, he did not doubt, and his
passive dislike of the man became active hatred of the woman he dared not think.
He had for long looked upon Sir Lucien in the light of a rival, and the irregularity of
his own infatuation for another's wife in no degree lessened his resentment.
Again he pressed his ear to the door, and listened intently. Perhaps they were
hiding within. Perhaps this charlatan, Kazmah, was an accomplice in the pay of Sir
Lucien. Perhaps this was a secret place of rendezvous.
To the manifest absurdity of such a conjecture he was blind in his anger. But that
he was helpless, befooled, he recognized; and with a final muttered imprecation he
turned and slowly descended the stair. A lingering hope was dispelled when,
looking right and left along Bond Street, he failed to perceive the missing pair.