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   Chapter 5 THE ABDUCTION

Winsome Winnie and other New Nonsense Novels By Stephen Leacock Characters: 4465

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


The hour was twenty minutes to ten on the evening described in our last chapter.

Winnifred Clair was seated, still fully dressed, at the window of the bedroom, looking out over the great city.

A light tap came at the door.

"If it's a fried egg," called Winnifred softly, "I do not need it. I ate yesterday."

"No," said the voice of the Landlady. "You are wanted below."

"I!" exclaimed Winnifred, "below!"

"You," said the Landlady, "below. A party of gentlemen have called for you."

"Gentlemen," exclaimed Winnifred, putting her hand to her brow in perplexity, "for me! at this late hour! Here! This evening! In this house?"

"Yes," repeated the Landlady, "six gentlemen. They arrived in a closed coach. They are all closely masked and heavily armed. They beg you will descend at once."

"Just Heaven!" cried the Unhappy Girl. "Is it possible that they mean to abduct me?"

"They do," said the Landlady. "They said so!"

"Alas!" cried Winnifred, "I am powerless. Tell them"-she hesitated-"tell them I will be down immediately. Let them not come up. Keep them below on any pretext. Show them an album. Let them look at the goldfish. Anything, but not here! I shall be ready in a moment."

Feverishly she made herself ready. As hastily as possible she removed all traces of tears from her face. She threw about her shoulders an opera cloak, and with a light Venetian scarf half concealed the beauty of her hair and features. "Abducted!" she murmured, "and by six of them! I think she said six. Oh, the horror of it!" A touch of powder to her cheeks and a slight blackening of her eyebrows, and the courageous girl was ready.

Lord Wynchgate and his companions-for they it was, that is to say, they were it-sat below in the sitting-room looking at the albums. "Woman," said Lord Wynchgate to the Landlady, with an oath, "let her hurry up. We have seen enough of these. We can wait no longer."

"I am here," cried a clear voice upon the threshold, and Winnifred stood before them. "My lords, for I divine who you are and wherefore you have come, take me, do your worst with me, but spare, oh, spare this humble companion of my sorrow."

"Right-oh!" said Lord Dogwood, with a brutal laugh.

"Enough,

" exclaimed Wynchgate, and seizing Winnifred by the waist, he dragged her forth out of the house and out upon the street.

But something in the brutal violence of his behaviour seemed to kindle for the moment a spark of manly feeling, if such there were, in the breasts of his companions.

"Wynchgate," cried young Lord Dogwood, "my mind misgives me. I doubt if this is a gentlemanly thing to do. I'll have no further hand in it."

A chorus of approval from his companions endorsed his utterance. For a moment they hesitated.

"Nay," cried Winnifred, turning to confront the masked faces that stood about her, "go forward with your fell design. I am here. I am helpless. Let no prayers stay your hand. Go to it."

"Have done with this!" cried Wynchgate, with a brutal oath. "Shove her in the coach."

But at the very moment the sound of hurrying footsteps was heard, and a clear, ringing, manly, well-toned, vibrating voice cried, "Hold! Stop! Desist! Have a care, titled villain, or I will strike you to the earth."

A tall aristocratic form bounded out of the darkness.

"Gentlemen," cried Wynchgate, releasing his hold upon the frightened girl, "we are betrayed. Save yourselves. To the coach."

In another instant the six noblemen had leaped into the coach and disappeared down the street.

Winnifred, still half inanimate with fright, turned to her rescuer, and saw before her the form and lineaments of the Unknown Stranger, who had thus twice stood between her and disaster. Half fainting, she fell swooning into his arms.

"Dear lady," he exclaimed, "rouse yourself. You are safe. Let me restore you to your home!"

"That voice!" cried Winnifred, resuming consciousness. "It is my benefactor."

She would have swooned again, but the Unknown lifted her bodily up the steps of her home and leant her against the door.

"Farewell," he said, in a voice resonant with gloom.

"Oh, sir!" cried the unhappy girl, "let one who owes so much to one who has saved her in her hour of need at least know his name."

But the stranger, with a mournful gesture of farewell, had disappeared as rapidly as he had come.

But, as to why he had disappeared, we must ask our reader's patience for another chapter.

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