The White Moll HTML version
Twenty-Four hours had passed. Twenty four hours! Was it no more than that since -
Rhoda Gray, in the guise of Gypsy Nan, as she sat on the edge of the disreputable,
poverty-stricken cot, grew suddenly tense, holding her breath as she listened. The sound
reached the attic so faintly that it might be but the product solely of the imagination. No -
it came again! And it even defined itself now - a stealthy footstep on the lower stairs.
A small, leather-bound notebook, in which she had been engrossed, was tucked instantly
away under the soiled blanket, and she glanced sharply around the garret. A new candle,
which she had bought in the single excursion she had ventured to make from the house
during the day, was stuck in the neck of the gin bottle, and burned now on the chair
beside her. She had not bought a new lamp - it gave too much light! The old one, the
pieces of it, lay over there, brushed into a heap in the corner on the floor.
The footstep became more audible. Her lips tightened a little. The hour was late. It must
be already after eleven o'clock. Her eyes grew perturbed. Perhaps it was only one of the
unknown tenants of the floor below going to his or her room; but, on the other hand, no
one had come near the garret since last night, when that strange and, yes, sinister trick of
fate had thrust upon her the personality of Gypsy Nan, and it was hoping for too much to
expect such seclusion to obtain much longer. There were too many who must be
interested, vitally interested, in Gypsy Nan! There was Rough Rorke, of headquarters; he
had given no sign, but that did not mean he had lost interest in Gypsy Nan. There was the
death of the real Gypsy Nan, which was pregnant with possibilities; and though the
newspapers, that she, Rhoda Gray, had bought and scanned with such tragic eagerness,
had said nothing about the death of one Charlotte Green in the hospital, much less had
given any hint that the identity Gypsy Nan had risked so much to hide had been
discovered, it did not mean that the police, with their own ends in view, might not be
fully informed, and were but keeping their own counsel while they baited a trap.
Also, and even more to be feared, there were those of this criminal organization to which
Gypsy Nan had belonged, and to which she, Rhoda Gray, through a sort of hideous
proxy, now belonged herself! Sooner or later, they must show their hands, and the test of
her identity would come. And here her danger was the greater because she did not know
who any of them were, unless the man who had stepped in between Rough Rorke and
herself last night was one of them - which was a question that had harassed her all day.
The man had been no more drunk than she had been, and he had obviously only played
the part to get her out of the clutches of Rough Rorke; but, against this, he had seen her
simply as herself then, the White Moll, and what could the criminal associates of Gypsy
Nan have cared as to what became of the White Moll?
A newspaper, to procure which had been the prime motive that had lured her out of her
retreat that afternoon, caught her eye now, and she shivered a little as, from where it lay
on the floor, the headlines seemed to leer up at her, and mock, and menace her. "The
White Moll....The Saint of the East Side Exposed....Vicious Hypocrisy....Lowly Charity
for Years Cloaks a Consummate Thief..." They had not spared her!