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THE APPOINTED HOUR.
By Alvah Jordo.n Garth
Just in lime, Bryce Talbot gathered
up a falling feminine form in his
arms, was grazed by a-speeding, auto
mobile, and stumbled against' the po
liceman guarding the crossingfrom
one of those "islands of safetyCplant
ed at the street intersection. 'i
"A pretty narrow escape, that;" re
' narked the officer. "Good' for 'you,
Stared Desperately .at Nothing.
young man," Tie added "enthusiasti
cally.1 . He slapped Talbot on the shoulder
in an appreciative way, but the latter
was not responsive. Talbot, assisted
the darlfeatured, large-eyed' girl he
had saved to recover-her fallen hand
bag, raised his hat as she 'thanked
him gratefully, and" went on his
way, grim, pale and wretched."
'"It has come," he kept .saying to
himself in a strained, .dreamy under
tone "the appointed hour ! Why did
I ever make the contract?" Why. have
I Sallied in fancied security all these
He had a history,, this man. Ten
years before he had wasted a. fortune
in reckless extravagance. Then the
last resort of ennui, the capricious
playing cards. Then reform,.' hard'
work, some fair savings and-r-B'ertlia
Clare. He was to marry her in a weet
That .morning a letter "had come, .a
missive that' chilled' him to the mar
row, hat made ot wedded bliss a
mockery and faced him an accusing,
avenging wraith from the jvasted
' When he reached his lonely rooms
he sat down at a stand,, with its shad
ed .lamp, and stared desperately at
nothingness. Mechanically his hand
groped in a drawer; almost uncon
sciously he drew forth a pack of
cards. He had not touched them be
fore for years. Now., at the vivid
thought that they were the cause, of,
his present situation, he began aim
lessly fingering .them. over. .
Discarding the thirteenth card his
unlucky, number rcame. the. acepf
spades, the point down. He smiled
grimly.. Again the shuffle and. the deal
in the "gambler's' luck" test-r-the ace
of spades once more, point down.
"Toujours lamort!" he said sol
emnly -'"always the. death.' So'be
He glanced at, his watch, arose,
went out into the street and. then
started for a populous but" poor sec
tion of the city. ' Finally he reached
a thoroughfare given 'over to cheap
ciothing. stores and, pawn shops. He
walked more slowly as he' began to
read the numbers on the buUdihg's.
At last nis 'destination r number. 463.
He chilled as -he added the. num
"Toujours" la mort!" he murniured
"the appointed hour, f .will'face it."
Behind the counter" in tHe squalid
shop sat a stern-faced, 'venerable.
-man. He gianceoup as the .caller
"I am Bryce Talbot-said the lat
ter, simply. V