The White Moll HTML version
Some Of The Lesser Breed
Danglar's wife! It had been a night of horror; a night without sleep; a night, after the
guttering candle had gone out, when the blackness of the garret possessed added terrors
created by an imagination which ran riot, and which she could not control. She could
have fled from it, screaming in panic-stricken hysteria - but there had been no other place
as safe as that was. Safe! The word seemed to reach the uttermost depths of irony. Safe!
Well, it was true, wasn't it?
She had not wanted to return there; her soul itself had revolted against it; but she had
dared to do nothing else. And all through that night, huddled on the edge of the cot bed,
her fingers clinging tenaciously to her revolver as though afraid for even an instant to
relinquish it from her grasp, listening, listening, always listening for a footstep that might
come up from that dark hall below, the footstep that would climax all the terrors that had
surged upon her, her mind had kept on reiterating, always reiterating those words of the
Adventurer - "Gypsy Nan is Danglar's wife."
And they were still with her, those words. Daylight had come again, and passed again,
and it was evening once more; but those words remained, insensible to change,
immutable in their foreboding. And Rhoda Gray, as Gypsy Nan, shuddered now as she
scuffled along a shabby street deep in the heart of the East Side. She was Danglar's wife -
by proxy. At dawn that morning when the gray had come creeping into the miserable attic
through the small and dirty window panes, she had fallen on her knees and thanked God
she had been spared that footstep. It was strange! She had poured out her soul in
passionate thankfulness then that Danglar had not come - and now she was deliberately
on her way to seek Danglar himself! But the daylight had done more than disperse the
actual, physical darkness of the past night; it had brought, if not a measure of relief, at
least a sense of guidance, and the final decision, perilous though it was, which she meant
now to put into execution.
There was no other way - unless she were willing to admit defeat, to give up everything,
her own good name, her father's name, to run from it all and live henceforth in hiding in
some obscure place far away, branded in the life she would have left behind her as a
despicable criminal and thief. And she could not, would not, do this while her intuition, at
least, inspired her with the faith to believe that there was still a chance of clearing herself.
It was the throw of the dice, perhaps - but there was no other way. Danglar, and those
with him, were at the bottom of the crime of which she was held guilty. She could not go
on as she had been doing, merely in the hope of stumbling upon some clew that would
serve to exonerate her. There was not time enough for that. Danglar's trap set for herself
and the Adventurer last night in old Nicky Viner's room proved that. And the fact that the
woman who had originally masqueraded as Gypsy Nan - as she, Rhoda Gray, was
masquerading now - was Danglar's wife, proved it a thousandfold more. She could no
longer remain passive, arguing with herself that it took all her wits and all her efforts to
maintain herself in the role of Gypsy Nan, which temporarily was all that stood between
her and prison bars. To do so meant the certainty of disaster sooner or later, and if it
meant that, the need for immediate action of an offensive sort was imperative.