The Street of Seven Stars HTML version
Harmony found the little hoard under her pillow that night when, having seen Scatch and
the Big Soprano off at the station, she had come back alone to the apartment on the
Siebensternstrasse. The trunks were gone now. Only the concerto score still lay on the
piano, where little Scatchett, mentally on the dock at New York with Henry's arms about
her, had forgotten it. The candles in the great chandelier had died in tears of paraffin that
spattered the floor beneath. One or two of the sockets were still smoking, and the sharp
odor of burning wickends filled the room.
Harmony had come through the garden quickly. She had had an uneasy sense of being
followed, and the garden, with its moaning trees and slamming gate and the great dark
house in the background, was a forbidding place at best. She had rung the bell and had
stood, her back against the door, eyes and ears strained in the darkness. She had fancied
that a figure had stopped outside the gate and stood looking in, but the next moment the
gate had swung to and the Portier was fumbling at the lock behind her.
The Portier had put on his trousers over his night garments, and his mustache bandage
gave him a sinister expression, rather augmented when he smiled at her. The Portier liked
Harmony in spite of the early morning practicing; she looked like a singer at the opera for
whom he cherished a hidden attachment. The singer had never seen him, but it was for
her he wore the mustache bandage. Perhaps some day--hopefully! One must be ready!
The Portier gave Harmony a tiny candle and Harmony held out his tip, the five Hellers of
custom. But the Portier was keen, and Rosa was a niece of his wife and talked more than
she should. He refused the tip with a gesture.
"Bitte, Fraulein!" he said through the bandage. "It is for me a pleasure to admit you. And
perhaps if the Fraulein is cold, a basin of soup."
The Portier was not pleasant to the eye. His nightshirt was open over his hairy chest and
his feet were bare to the stone floor. But to Harmony that lonely night he was beautiful.
She tried to speak and could not but she held out her hand in impulsive gratitude, and the
Portier in his best manner bent over and kissed it. As she reached the curve of the stone
staircase, carrying her tiny candle, the Portier was following her with his eyes. She was
very like the girl of the opera.
The clang of the door below and the rattle of the chain were comforting to Harmony's
ears. From the safety of the darkened salon she peered out into the garden again, but no
skulking figure detached itself from the shadows, and the gate remained, for a marvel,
It was when--having picked up her violin in a very passion of loneliness, only to put it
down when she found that the familiar sounds echoed and reechoed sadly through the
silent rooms--it was when she was ready for bed that she found the money under her