The Second Latchkey

C.N. Williamson and A.M. Williamson

The Second Latchkey, by Charles Norris

The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Second Latchkey, by Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson, Illustrated by Rudolph Tandler
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

Title: The Second Latchkey
Author: Charles Norris Williamson and Alice Muriel Williamson

Release Date: May 29, 2006 [eBook #18470]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Suzanne Shell, Mary Meehan, and the Project Gutenberg Online Distributed Proofreading Team (

Note: Project Gutenberg also has an HTML version of this file which includes the original illustration. See 18470-h.htm or ( or (

Frontispiece by Rudolph Tandler

Garden City New York
Doubleday, Page & Company

I. A White Rose
II. Smiths and Smiths
III. Why She Came
IV. The Great Moment
V. The Second Latchkey
VI. The Beginning--or the End?
VII. The Countess de Santiago
VIII. The Blue Diamond Ring
IX. The Thing Knight Wanted
X. Beginning of the Series
XI. Annesley Remembers
XII. The Crystal
XIII. The Series Goes On
XIV. The Test
XV. Nelson Smith at Home
XVI. Why Ruthven Smith Went
XVII. Ruthven Smith's Eyeglasses
XVIII. The Star Sapphire
XIX. The Secret
XX. The Plan
XXI. The Devil's Rosary
XXII. Destiny and the Waldos
XXIII. The Thin Wall
XXIV. The Anniversary
XXV. The Allegory
XXVI. The Three Words

Even when Annesley Grayle turned out of the Strand toward the Savoy she was uncertain whether she would have courage to walk into the hotel. With each step the thing, the dreadful thing, that she had come to do, loomed blacker. It was monstrous, impossible, like opening the door of the lions' cage at the Zoo and stepping inside.
There was time still to change her mind. She had only to turn now ... jump into an omnibus ... jump out again at the familiar corner, and everything would be as it had been. Life for the next five, ten, maybe twenty years, would be what the last five had been.
At the thought of the Savoy and the adventure waiting there, the girl's skin had tingled and grown hot, as if a wind laden with grains of heated sand had blown over her. But at the thought of turning back, of going "home"--oh, misused word!--a leaden coldness shut her spirit into a tomb.
She had walked fast, after descending at Bedford Street from a fierce motor-bus with a party of comfortable people, bound for the Adelphi Theatre. Never before had she been in a motor-omnibus, and she was not sure whether the great hurtling thing would deign to stop, except at trysting-places of its own; so it had seemed wise to bundle out rather than risk a snub from the conductor, who looked like pictures of the Duke of Wellington.
But in the lighted Strand she had been stared at as well as jostled: a girl alone at eight o'clock on a winter evening, bare-headed, conspicuously tall if conspicuous in no other way; dressed for dinner or the theatre in a pale gray, sequined gown under a mauve chiffon cloak meant for warm nights of summer.
Of course, as Mrs. Ellsworth (giver of dress and wrap) often pointed out, "beggars mustn't be choosers"; and Annesley Grayle was worse off than a beggar, because beggars needn't keep up appearances. She should have thanked Heaven for good clothes, and so she did in chastened moods; but it was a costume to make a girl hurry through the Strand, and just for an instant she had been glad to turn from the white glare into comparative dimness.
That was because offensive eyes had made her forget the almost immediate future in the quite immediate present. But the hotel, with light-hearted taxis tearing up to it, brought remembrance with a shock. She envied everyone else who was bound for the Savoy, even old women, and fat gentlemen with large noses. They were going there because they wanted to go, for their pleasure. Nobody in the world could be in such an appalling situation as she was.
It was then that Annesley's feet began to drag, and she slowed her steps to gain more time to think. Could she--could she do the thing?
For days her soul had been rushing toward this moment with thousand-horsepower speed, like a lonely comet tearing through space. But then it had been distant, the terrible goal. She had not had to gasp among her heart-throbs: "Now! It is now!"
Creep as she might, three minutes' brought her from the turning out of the Strand close to the welcoming entrance where revolving doors of glass received radiant visions dazzling as moonlight on snow.
"No, I can't!" the girl told herself, desperately. She wheeled more quickly than the whirling door, hoping that no one would think her mad.
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 111
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.