Fire-Tongue HTML version

8. A Wreath Of Hyacinths
Deep in reflection and oblivious of the busy London life around him, Paul Harley
walked slowly along the Strand. Outwardly he was still the keen-eyed investigator
who could pry more deeply into a mystery than any other in England; but to-day
his mood was introspective. He was in a brown study.
The one figure which had power to recall him to the actual world suddenly
intruded itself upon his field of vision. From dreams which he recognized in the
moment of awakening to have been of Phil Abingdon, he was suddenly aroused
to the fact that Phil Abingdon herself was present. Perhaps, half subconsciously,
he had been looking for her.
Veiled and dressed in black, he saw her slim figure moving through the throng.
He conceived the idea that there was something furtive in her movements. She
seemed to be hurrying along as if desirous of avoiding recognition. Every now
and again she glanced back, evidently in search of a cab, and a dormant
suspicion which had lain in Harley's mind now became animate. Phil Abingdon
was coming from the direction of the Savoy Hotel. Was it possible that she had
been to visit Ormuz Khan?
Harley crossed the Strand and paused just in front of the hurrying, black-clad
figure. "Miss Abingdon," he said, "a sort of instinct told me that I should meet you
She stopped suddenly, and through the black veil which she wore he saw her
eyes grow larger--or such was the effect as she opened them widely. Perhaps he
misread their message. To him Phil Abingdon's expression was that of detected
guilt. More than ever he was convinced of the truth of his suspicions. "Perhaps
you were looking for a cab?" he suggested.
Overcoming her surprise, or whatever emotion had claimed her at the moment of
this unexpected meeting, Phil Abingdon took Harley's outstretched hand and held
it for a moment before replying. "I had almost despaired of finding one," she said,
"and I am late already."