THE STREET OF SEVEN STARS
MARY ROBERTS RINEHART
The old stucco house sat back in a garden, or what must once have
been a garden, when that part of the Austrian city had been a
royal game preserve. Tradition had it that the Empress Maria
Theresa had used the building as a hunting-lodge, and undoubtedly
there was something royal in the proportions of the salon. With
all the candles lighted in the great glass chandelier, and no
sidelights, so that the broken paneling was mercifully obscured
by gloom, it was easy to believe that the great empress herself
had sat in one of the tall old chairs and listened to anecdotes
of questionable character; even, if tradition may be believed,
related not a few herself.
The chandelier was not lighted on this rainy November night.
Outside in the garden the trees creaked and bent before the wind,
and the heavy barred gate, left open by the last comer, a piano
student named Scatchett and dubbed "Scatch"--the gate slammed to
and fro monotonously, giving now and then just enough pause for a
hope that it had latched itself, a hope that was always destroyed
by the next gust.