The Midnight Queen (Chapter 2, page 2 of 14)

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Chapter 2

Sir Norman laughed, and stroked his moustache complacently.

"All a matter of taste, my dear fellow: and these women are noted for
their perfection in that line. I begin to admire La Masque more and
more, and I think you had better give up the chase, and let me take your
place. I don't believe you have the ghost of a chance, Ormiston."

"I don't believe it myself," said Ormiston, with a desperate face "but
until the plague carries me off I cannot give her up; and the sooner
that happens, the better. Ha! what is this?"

It was a piercing shriek--no unusual sound; and as he spoke, the door of
an adjoining house was flung open, a woman rushed wildly out, fled down
an adjoining street, and disappeared.

Sir Norman and his companion looked at each other, and then at the

"What's all this about?" demanded Ormiston.

"That's a question I can't take it upon myself to answer," said Sir
Norman; "and the only way to solve the mystery, is to go in and see."

"It may be the plague," said Ormiston, hesitating. "Yet the house is not
marked. There is a watchman. I will ask him."

The man with the halberd in his hand was walking up and down before an
adjoining house, bearing the ominous red cross and piteous inscription:
"Lord have mercy on us!"

"I don't know, sir," was his answer to Ormiston. "If any one there has
the plague, they must have taken it lately; for I heard this morning
there was to be a wedding there to-night."

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