Hearts and Masks (Chapter 8, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 8

"The unexpected always happens," began the pseudo-detective, closing
his hat, drawing off his gloves and stuffing them into a pocket. "As a
friend of mine used to say, it is the unexpected that always surprises
us. We never expected to see these charming masqueraders again, did
we, William?"

"No, sir," said William, grinning affably, "we didn't. The gentleman
was very nice and obliging to me, sir, when I was in the cellars."

"So I understand. Now," continued the late Mr. Haggerty, with the
deadly affability of a Macaire, "I beg of you, Mr. Comstalk, I beg of
you not to move or to become unduly excited. Physicians tell us that
excitement wastes the red corpuscles, that is to say, the life of the
blood."

"Your blood, sir, must be very thin," I returned coolly. But I cursed
him soundly in my mind. William's bulging side-pocket convinced me
that any undue excitement on my part would be exceedingly dangerous.

"William, you can always tell a gentleman," said the chief rogue
admiringly. "A gentleman always recognizes his opportunities, and
never loses his sense of the balance of things."

"And he is usually witty, too, sir," William assented.

The girl sat pale and rigid in her chair.

"What do you want?" I demanded savagely.

"For one thing, I should like to question the propriety of a
gentleman's sitting down to dine with a lady without having washed his
face. The coal-dust does not add to your manly beauty. You haven't a
cake of soap about you, William, have you?"

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