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At last, after what seemed a long time, his guard turned

source:Follow the wavesedit:familytime:2023-12-06 03:24:05

For the moment, Desmond decided, he must put both Strangwise and Bellward out of his calculations. The only direction in which he could start his inquiries after Barbara Mackwayte pointed towards Campden Hill and Mrs. Malplaquet.

At last, after what seemed a long time, his guard turned

The delightful weather suggested to his mind the idea of walking out to Campden Hill to pursue his investigations on the spot. So he made his way across the Park into Kensington Gardens heading for the pleasant glades of Notting Hill. In the Bayswater Road he turned into a postoffice and consulted the London Directory. He very quickly convinced himself that among the hundreds of thousands of names compiled by Mr. Kelly's indefatigable industry Mrs. Malplaquet's was not to be found. Neither did the street directory show her as the tenant of any of the houses on Campden Hill.

At last, after what seemed a long time, his guard turned

I don't know that there is a more pleasant residential quarter of London than the quiet streets and gardens that straggle over this airy height. The very steepness of the slopes leading up from the Kensington High Street on the ono side and from Holland Park Avenue on the other effectually preserves the atmosphere of old-world languor which envelops this retired spot. The hill, with its approaches so steep as to suggest to the imaginative the pathway winding up some rock-bound fastness of the Highlands, successfully defies organ-grinders and motor-buses and other aspirants to the membership in the great society for the propagation of street noises. As you near the summit, the quiet becomes more pronounced until you might fancy yourself a thousand leagues, instead of as many yards, removed from the busy commerce of Kensington or the rather strident activity of Notting Hill.

At last, after what seemed a long time, his guard turned

So various in size and condition are the houses that it is as though they had broken away from the heterogeneous rabble of bricks and mortar that makes up the Royal Borough of Kensington, and run up in a crowd to the summit of the hill to look down contemptuously upon their less fortunate brethren in the plain. On Campden Hill there are houses to suit all purses and all tastes from the vulgar mansion with its private garden to the little one-story stable that Art (which flourishes in these parts) and ten shillings worth of paint has converted into a cottage.

For half an hour Desmond wandered in a desultory fashion along the quiet roads of natty houses with brightly painted doors and shining brass knockers. He had no definite objective; but he hoped rather vaguely to pick up some clue that might lead him to Mrs. Malplaquet's. He walked slowly along surveying the houses and scrutinizing the faces of the passers-by who were few and far between, yet without coming any nearer the end of his search.

It was now growing dusk. Enthroned on the summit of the hill the water-tower stood out hard and clear against the evening sky. Desmond, who hid lost his bearings somewhat in the course of his wanderings, came to a full stop irresolutely, where two streets crossed, thinking that he would retrace his footsteps to the main-road on the chance of picking up a taxi to take him back to town. He chose one of the streets at random; but it proved to be a crescent and brought him back practically to the spot he had started from. Thereupon, he took the other and followed it up, ignoring various side-turnings which he feared might be pitfalls like the last: But the second road was as bad as the first. It was a cul de sac and brought Desmond face to face with a blank wall.

He turned and looked about him for somebody of whom to ask the way. But the street was entirely deserted. He seemed to be on the very summit of the hill; for all the roads were a-tilt. Though the evening was falling fast, no light appeared in any of the houses and the street lamps were yet unlit. Save for the distant bourdon of the traffic which rose to his ears like the beating of the surf, the breeze rustling the bushes in the gardens was the only sound.

Desmond started to walk back slowly the way he had come. Presently, his eyes caught the gleam of a light from above a front door. When he drew level with it, he saw that a gas-jet was burning in the fanlight over the entrance to a neat little two-story house which stood by itself in a diminutive garden. As by this time he was thoroughly sick of wandering aimlessly about, he went up to the neat little house and rang the bell.

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