CHAPTER I ONE FLEETING VISION
It all happened in less than two minutes, and yet in that brief space of time his entire outlook upon life was changed. He saw her across the street standing upon the edge of the sidewalk facing the throng of teams and motors that were surging by. She had evidently attempted to cross, but had hurriedly retreated owing to the tremendous crush of traffic. The gleam of the large electric light nearby brought into clear relief a face of more than ordinary charm and beauty. But that which appealed so strongly to the young man was the mingled expression of surprise, fear and defiance depicted upon her countenance. It strangely affected him, and he was on the point of springing forward to offer his assistance when she suddenly disappeared, swallowed up in the great tide of humanity.
For a few minutes the young man stood perfectly still, gazing intently upon the spot where the girl had been standing, hoping to see her reappear. He could not account for the feeling that had swept upon him at the sight of that face. It was but one of the thousands he daily beheld, yet it alone stirred him to his inmost depths. A few minutes before he had been walking along the street without any definite aim in life, listless and almost cynical. But now a desire possessed him to be up and doing, to follow after the fair vision which had so unexpectedly appeared. Who could she be, and where was she going? Should he ever see her again, and if he did would he have the slightest chance of meeting and talking with her?
These thoughts occupied his mind as he continued on his way. He walked erect now, with shoulders thrown back, and with a more buoyant step than he had taken in many a day. His blood tingled and his eyes glowed with a new-found light. He felt much of the old thrill that had animated him at the beginning of the Great War, and had sent him overseas to take his part in the titanic struggle. An overmastering urge had then swept upon him, compelling him to abandon all on behalf of the mighty cause. It was his nature, and the leopard could no more change its spots than could Tom Reynolds overcome the influence of a gripping desire. Ever since childhood thought and action had always been welded in the strong clear heat of an overwhelming purpose. It had caused him considerable trouble, but at the same time it had carried him through many a difficult undertaking that had daunted other men. It was only the afterwards that affected him, the depression, when the objective had been attained. So for months after the war ended his life had seemed of no avail, and he found it impossible to settle comfortably back into the grooves of civilian life in a bustling, thriving city. Everything seemed tame and insignificant after what he had experienced overseas. Time instead of lessening had only increased this feeling, until Reynolds believed that he could no longer endure the prosaic life of the city. Such was the state of his mind when he beheld the face across the street, which in some mysterious manner gave him a sudden impulse and a new outlook upon the world....