The White Moll HTML version

In The Council Chamber
The man with the withered hand had passed through into the other room. She heard them
talking together, as she followed. She forced herself to walk with as nearly a leisurely
defiant air as she could. The last time she had been with Danglar - as Gypsy Nan - she
had, in self-protection, forbidding intimacy, played up what he called her "grouch" at his
neglect of her.
She paused in the doorway. Halfway across the room, at the table, Danglar's gaunt,
swarthy face showed under the rays of a shaded oil lamp. Behind her spectacles, she met
his small, black ferret eyes steadily.
"Hello, Bertha!" he called out cheerily. "How's the old girl to-night?" He rose from his
seat to come toward her. "And how's the cold?"
Rhoda Gray scowled at him.
"Worse!" she said curtly-and hoarsely. "And a lot you care! I could have died in that hole,
for all you knew! She pushed him irritably away, as he came near her. "Yes, that's what I
said! And you needn't start any cooing game now! Get down to cases!" She jerked her
hand toward the twisted figure that had slouched into a chair beside the table. "He says
you've got it doped out to pull something that will let me out of this Gypsy Nan stunt.
Another bubble, I suppose!" She shrugged her shoulders, glanced around her, and,
locating a chair - not too near the table - seated herself indifferently. "I'm getting sick of
bubbles!" she announced insolently. "What's this one?"
He stood there for a moment biting at his lips, hesitant between anger and tolerant
amusement; and then, the latter evidently gaining the ascendency, he too shrugged his
shoulders, and with a laugh returned to his chair.
"You're a rare one, Bertha!" he said coolly. "I thought you'd be wild with delight. I guess
you're sick, all right - because usually you're pretty sensible. I've tried to tell you that it
wasn't my fault I couldn't go near you, and that I had to keep away from -"
"What's the use of going over all that again?" she interrupted tartly. "I guess I -"
"Oh, all right!" said Danglar hurriedly. "Don't start a row! After to-night I've an idea
you'll be sweet enough to your husband, and I'm willing to wait. Matty maybe hasn't told
you the whole of it."
Matty! So that was the deformed creature's name. She glanced at him. He was grinning
broadly. A family squabble seemed to afford him amusement. Her eyes shifted and made
a circuit of the room. It was poverty-stricken in appearance, bare-floored, with the
scantiest and cheapest of furnishings, its one window tightly shuttered.
"Maybe not," she said carelessly.