Title Thumbnail

Gordon Craig: Soldier of Fortune

213 pages
Library of Alexandria
It was then that the power of thought returned to me. However glibly those two conspirators might gild over the affair it nevertheless was a criminal matter to which I had blindly committed myself. Neale's parting words of warning alone made that clearly evident. They understood the risk of discovery, and now I also comprehended it with equal clearness. Fraud and forgery were contemplated, had been coolly planned, and it occurred to me that I was the one selected for sacrifice in case of discovery. Vail and Neale were probably safe enough, as it would be easy for them to deny any participation, but they had me bound fast. However, I had no thought of withdrawal from the contract, for, while I saw the danger involved, and realized the illegality, yet I failed utterly to perceive any real evil. I did not doubt the truth of all that had been told me, and was willing to assume the risk. I fingered the crisp bills in my pocket, and the words "ten thousand dollars" kept repeating themselves over and over. Of course I would do it; I should be a fool not to. It would be "easy money," and my earning it could harm no one. Not a glimmer of light appeared from within the house I had just left, and I drew my cap down over my eyes, and stared about, listening. The hour could not be far from midnight, the night dark, the air heavy with mist. Glancing out between the houses I caught a glimpse of asphalt pavement glistening with moisture, and the distant electric light above the street intersection appeared blurred and yellow. Here, in the heart of the residential district, the last belated cab had already drifted by, leaving the silence profound, the loneliness complete. Two blocks away a trolley-car swept past, an odd, violet light playing along the wire, grotesque shadows showing briefly amid the enveloping folds of vapor. The discordant clang of the gong died away into the far distance. Crouching there in the shade of the wall I felt like a criminal. Then, angry at myself, I advanced slowly forward, yet keeping well under cover. The light fell slanting across the stone steps in front, and revealed a narrow opening through the brick coping beyond. I must pass that way in reaching the street, but hesitated to go forward boldly. I could see only a few feet in any direction, as the fog was thickening, driving along the soaked pavement in dense gray clouds, already beginning to blot from view the houses opposite. Another trolley-car, dismally clanging its gong, paused a moment at some near-by corner, and then passed noisily on. The way seemed clear, the street utterly deserted, and, nerving myself to the effort, I crept cautiously forward, until I crouched behind the brick coping. There was not a disturbing sound, and I straightened up, essaying the first quick step forth into the full gleam of the light. Like some confronting ghost, scarcely more real than a phantom of imagination, I came face to face with a woman.