The Grey Cloak (Chapter 1, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 1

A man enveloped in a handsome grey cloak groped through a dark alley
which led into the fashionable district of the Rue de B├ęthisy. From
time to time he paused, with a hand to his ear, as if listening.
Satisfied that the alley was deserted save for his own presence, he
would proceed, hugging the walls. The cobbles were icy, and scarce a
moment passed in which he did not have to struggle to maintain his
balance. The door of a low tavern opened suddenly, sending a golden
shaft of light across the glistening pavement and casting a brilliant
patch on the opposite wall. With the light came sounds of laughter and
quarreling and ringing glasses. The man laid his hand on his sword,
swore softly, and stepped back out of the blinding glare. The flash of
light revealed a mask which left visible only the lower half of his
face. Men wearing masks were frequently subjected to embarrassing
questions; and this man was determined that no one should question him
to-night. He waited, hiding in the shadow.

Half a dozen guardsmen and musketeers reeled out. The host reviled
them for a pack of rogues. They cursed him, laughing, and went on, to
be swallowed up in the darkness beyond. The tavern door closed, and
once more the alley was hued with melting greys and purples. The man
in the cloak examined the strings of his mask, tilted his hat still
farther down over his eyes, and tested the looseness of his sword.

"The drunken fools!" he muttered, continuing. "Well for them they came
not this way."

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