Article Index

SECRET OF THE PEARLS
__

Chapter XXIX

At Tom Gordon's Chambers.


It struck upon me with a sense of incongruity, on leaving the house of M.
Lepel, to find that it was not yet night.

It was like a blow in the face to go out into the street and find that the
yellow sunset lingered in the West. I could not think, I could plan nothing
for
the future.

I walked on aimlessly for a time, with the gay rattle of Paris all about me,
and then, suddenly remembering that I must catch the night boat, I hailed a
fiacre.

It was not until after midnight, when the bright flashing light of Calais
glittered far behind me across a dark gulf of swelling waters, that I began
to
formulate my thoughts.

But as the fresh night winds cooled the fever in my veins, the realization
came to me that some way of saving Consuelo must be found. Guilty as I
believed
her, I was anxious to shield her as of old.

Yet how to do so was the question.

Something, at least, of her past career had been made known by my uncle in a
letter. He had read there, and Marland had read later, that she had suffered
a
term of imprisonment for a crime.

Therefore, it was certain that her secret had not been as safely buried in
that lonely grave by the moatside as she had trusted.

If she could only escape at once, and be sent far away!

It might be managed, even though I had to break my promise to the detective.
But the thought of Tom Gordon's late mysterious visit to M. Lepel, and his
order for replicas of the two masks, disturbed me greatly.

He was mad with jealously, I knew. He was a man of  brilliant talent,
audacious, and as unscrupulous in gaining his own ends as he was bold.

It was impossible to guess what he might intend to do with the two masks,
whose silent lips revealed Consuelo's secret; but I was strongly impressed
with
the idea that he meant to threaten her.

It would be cruel, unmanly, to do this; but I thought that Tom Gordon, in a
rage of baffled love might be capable of being both.

There seemed little hope that I should be able to influence him; and yet
knowing the rugged nobility which lay latent in his nature, I did think that
by
frankly confiding in him, I might be able to accomplish something.

It was too early when I arrived in London to go to his chambers in the
Temple, and the hour of  nine was booming out from the tongue of the clock
when the
cab turned in under the arch.

Gordon lived in Pump-court, and his chambers were up two flights of stairs.
His private rooms were there, as well as his offices, which were on the floor

below.

As I went into the hall, a bent old man, who had been studying the names of
the occupants of the building stood aside to let me pass. I had scarcely a
glimpse of the face under the wide rimmed, old fashioned hat, but I saw that
a
furtive glance was cast at me from behind a pair of convex glasses which had
the
effect of distorting the pupils to an enormous size.

I passed the door on which Gordon's name was painted, and went up to that on
which a visiting card was fastened.

I rapped and waited.

There was a sound within, but my knock was not answered. Footsteps moved
across the floor, and I heard a whisper. Then silence fell, and after a
decorous
interval, I applied my knuckles to the pane! Once again.

A door shut somewhere within, and steps approached, walking on an uncarpeted
floor. A key turned in the lock, and in an instant more Tom Gordon himself
stood before me.