The Gates of Chance
111 Pages
English
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The Gates of Chance

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111 Pages
English

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Published 08 December 2010
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Language English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Gates of Chance, by Van Tassel Sutphen This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net Title: The Gates of Chance Author: Van Tassel Sutphen Posting Date: May 13, 2009 [EBook #3758] Release Date: February, 2003 First Posted: August 21, 2001 Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE GATES OF CHANCE *** Produced by Charles Franks, Robert Rowe, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team. HTML version by Al Haines. The Gates of Chance by Van Tassel Sutphen Contents I THE GENTLEMAN'S VISITING-CARD II THE RED DUCHESS III HOUSE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BLOCK IV V VI VII VIII IX X XI XII THE PRIVATE LETTER-BOX THE NINETY-AND-NINE KISSES THE QUEEN OF SPADES THE OPAL BUTTON THE TIP-TOP TIP THE BRASS BAGGAGE-CHECK THE UPSET APPLE-CART THE PHILADELPHIA QUIZZING-GLASS THE ADJUSTER OF AVERAGES I The Gentleman's Visiting-Card The card that had been thrust into my hand had pencilled upon it, "Call at 4020 Madison Avenue at a quarter before eight this evening." Below, in copper-plate, was engraved the name, Mr. Esper Indiman. It was one of those abnormally springlike days that New York sometimes experiences at the latter end of March, days when negligee shirts and last summer's straw hats make a sporadic appearance, and bucolic weather prophets write letters to the afternoon papers abusing the sun-spots. Really, it was hot, and I was anxious to get out of the dust and glare; it would be cool at the club, and I intended dining there. The time was half-past six, the height of the homeward rush hours, and, as usual, there was a jam of vehicles and pedestrians at the Fourth Avenue and Twenty-third Street crossing. The subway contractors were still at work here, and the available street space was choked with their stagings and temporary footwalks. The inevitable consequent was congestion; here were two of the principal thoroughfares of the city crossing each other at right angles, and with hardly enough room, at the point of intersection, for the traffic of one. The confusion grew worse as the policemen and signalmen stationed at the crossing occasionally lost their heads; every now and then a new block would form, and several minutes would elapse before it could be broken. In all directions long lines of yellow electric cars stood stalled, the impatient passengers looking ahead to discover the cause of the trouble. A familiar enough experience to the modern New-Yorker, yet it never fails to exasperate him afresh. The impasse looked hopeless when I reached the scene. A truck loaded with bales of burlap was on the point of breaking down at the crossing, and it was a question of how to get it out of the way in the shortest possible time consistent with the avoidance of the threatened catastrophe. Meanwhile, the jam of cars and trucks kept piling up until there was hardly space for a newsboy to worm his way from one curb to another, and the crowd on the street corners began to grow restive. They do these things so much better in London. Now, I detest being in the mob, and I was about to back my way out of the crowd and seek another route, even if a roundabout one. But just then the blockade was partially raised, an opening presented itself immediately in front of me, and I was forced forward willy-nilly. Arrived at the other side of the street, I drew out of the press as quickly as possible, and it was then that I discovered Mr. Indiman's carte de visite tightly quickly as possible, and it was then that I discovered Mr. Indiman's carte de visite tightly clutched in my left hand. Impossible to conjecture how it had come there, and my own part in the transaction had been purely involuntary; the muscles of the palm had closed unconsciously upon the object presented to it, just as does a baby's. "Mr. Esper Indiman —and who the deuce may he be?" The club dining-room was full, but Jeckley hailed me and offered me a seat at his table. I loathe Jeckley, and so I explained politely that I was waiting for a friend, and should not dine until later. "Well, then, have a cocktail while I am finishing my coffee," persisted the beast, and I was obliged to comply. "I had to feed rather earlier than usual," explained Jeckley. "Yes," I said, not caring in the least about Mr. Jeckley's hours for meals. "You see I'm doing the opening at the Globe to-night, and I must get my Wall Street copy to the office before the theatre. And what do you think of that by way of an extra assignment?" He took a card from his pocket-book and tossed it over. It was another one of Mr. Esper Indiman's calling-cards, and scrawled in pencil, "Call at 4020 Madison Avenue at eight o'clock this evening." Jeckley was lighting his cigar, and so did not observe my start of surprise. Have I said that Jeckley was a newspaper man? One of the new school of journalism, a creature who would stick at nothing in the manufacture of a sensation. The Scare-Head is his god, and he holds nothing else sacred in heaven and earth. He would sacrifice —but perhaps I'm unjust to Jeckley; maybe it's only his bounce and flourish that I detest. Furthermore, I'm a little afraid of him; I don't want to be written up. "Esper Indiman," I read aloud. "Don't know him." "Ever heard the name?" asked Jeckley. I temporized. "It's unfamiliar, certainly." Jeckley looked gloomy. "Nobody seems to know him," he said. "And the name isn't to be found in the directory, telephone-book, or social register." Wonderful fellows, these newspaper men; I never should have thought of going for Mr. Indiman like that. "But why and wherefore?" I asked, cautiously. "A mystery, my son. The card was shoved into my hand not half an hour ago." "Where?" "At Twenty-third and Fourth. There were a lot of people around, and I haven't the most distant notion of the guilty party." "What does it mean?" Jeckley shook his head. "What will you do about it?" "I will make the call, of course." "Of course!" "There maybe a story there—who knows. Besides, it's directly on my way to the Globe, and the curtain is not until eight-thirty. Tell you what, old man; come along with me and see the