Hearts and Masks (Chapter 4, page 1 of 8)


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Chapter 4

In other words, we had departed the scene of festivities none too soon.
I could readily understand why the door had been locked: it was not to
keep us in the cellars; rather it was to prevent any one from leaving
the ball-room by that route. Evidently our absence had not been
noticed, nor had any seen our precipitate flight. I sighed gratefully.

For several minutes we stood silent and motionless on the landing. At
length I boldly struck a match. The first thing that greeted my
blinded gaze was the welcome vision of a little shelf lined with
steward's candles. One of these I lighted, and two others I stuffed
into the pocket of my Capuchin's gown. Then we tiptoed softly down the
stairs, the girl tugging fearfully at my sleeve.

There was an earthy smell. It was damp and cold. Miles and miles away
(so it seemed) the pale moonshine filtered through a cobwebbed window,
It was ghostly; but so far as I was concerned, I was honestly enjoying
myself, strange as this statement may seem. Here was I, setting forth
upon an adventure with the handsomest, wittiest girl I had ever laid
eyes upon. If I extricated her neatly, she would always be in my debt;
and the thought of this was mighty pleasant to contemplate.

"Do you know the way out?"

I confessed that, so far as I knew, we were in one of the fabled
labyrinths of mythology.

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