The White Moll HTML version

The Code Message
It was strange! Most strange! Three days had passed, and to Gypsy Nan's lodging no one
had come. The small crack under the partition that had been impressed into service as a
letter-box had remained empty. There had been no messages - nothing - only a sinister,
brooding isolation. Since the night Rhoda Gray had left Danglar, balked, almost a
madman in his fury, in the little room over Shluker's junk shop, Danglar had not been
seen - nor the Adventurer - nor even Rough Rorke. Her only visitant since then had been
an ugly premonition of impending peril, which came and stalked like a hideous ghost
about the bare and miserable garret, and which woke her at night with its whispering
voice - which was the voice of intuition.
Rhoda Gray drew her shawl closer around her shoulders and shivered, as now, from
shuffling down the block in the guise of Gypsy Nan, she halted before the street door of
what fate, for the moment, had thrust upon her as a home; and shivered again, as, with
abhorrence, she pushed the door open and stepped forward into the black, unlighted
hallway. Soul, mind and body were in revolt to-night. Even faith, the simple faith in God
that she had known since childhood, was wavering. There seemed nothing but horror
around her, a mental horror, a physical horror; and the sole means of even momentary
relief and surcease from it had been a pitiful prowling around the streets, where even the
fresh air seemed to be denied to her, for it was tainted with the smells of squalor that
ruled, rampant, in that neighborhood.
And to-night, stronger than ever, intuition and premonition of approaching danger lay
heavy upon her, and oppressed her with a sense of nearness. She was not a coward; but
she was afraid. Danglar would leave no stone unturned to get the White Moll. He had
said so. She remembered the threat he had made - it had lived in her woman's soul ever
since that night. Better anything than to fall into Danglar's hands! She caught her breath a
little, and shivered again as she groped her way up the dark stairs. But, then, she never
would fall into Danglar's power. There was always an alternative. Yes, it was quite as bad
as that - death at her own hands was preferable. Balked, outwitted, the plans of the
criminal coterie, of which Danglar appeared to be the head, rendered again and again
abortive, and believing it all due to the White Moll, all of Danglar's shrewd, unscrupulous
cunning would be centered on the task of running her down; and if, added to this, he
discovered that she was masquerading as Gypsy Nan, one of their own inner circle, it
mean that - She closed her lips in a hard, tight line. She did not want to think of it. She
had fought all day, and the days before, against thinking about it, but premonition had
crept upon her stronger and stronger, until to-night, now, it seemed as though her mind
could dwell on nothing else.
On the landing, she paused suddenly and listened. The street door had opened and closed,
and now a footstep sounded on the stairs behind her. She went on again along the hall,
feeling her way; and reaching the short, ladder-like steps to the garret, she began to
mount them. Who was it there behind her? One of the unknown lodgers on the lower
floor, or -? She could not see, of course. It was pitch black. But she could hear. And as
she knelt now on the narrow landing, and felt with her fingers along the floor for the