THE WORLD. THE FLESH, AND THE DEYIL.
" I look down to his feet, but that's a fable."
Theee were low brooding clouds and a feeling of thunder in the air
as Gerard Hillersdon's cab rattled along the King's Eoad, past squalid
slums and shabby gentilities, towards quiet rural Parson's Green.
Only a few years ago Parson's Green had still some pretension to
rusticity. Where now the speculating builders' streets and terraces
stretch right and left in hollow squares and close battalions, there
were fine old Georgian and pre-Georgian mansions, and stately
sweeps of lawn and shrubbery, and avenues of old-world growth,
shutting out the hum and hubbub of the great city.
To one of those respectable old mansions, that one which was
second only to Peterborough House in the extent and dignity of
its surroundings, Gerard Hillersdon was driving under the heavy
sky of a July afternoon, the lowering close of a sunless and oppres¬
sive day. Never, not even in mid-winter, had the smoke-curtain
hung lower over London than it hung to-day, and if the idea of fog
seemed impossible in July there at least prevailed thai mysterious
condition of the atmosphere, commonly known as " blight," a thick
yellow haze, unpierced by a single sun-ray.
To Gerard Hillersdon, ordinarily the most sensitive of men, the
atmosphere on this particular afternoon made no difference. He
had got beyond that point in which atmosphere can raise a man's
spirits or depress them. He had made up his mind upon the great
question of life or death; and this kind of day seemed as good to