“What did he want, Gabrielle?” she gasped. “What did he say? Has he come about—that?”
Gabrielle nodded her head.
“Gabrielle!” Mrs. Holymead’s voice rose almost to a cry. “Oh, what are we to do? Did he come to arrest—”
“No, no! He was not so bad. He did not come to do dreadful things, but just to have a little talk.’’
“A little talk? What about?”
“He wanted to see you, and ask you one or two little questions. I put him off. He was like wax in my hands. Pouf! He has gone, so why trouble?”
“But he will come again! He is sure to come again!”
“No doubt. He says he will come again—in a week—when you return.”
Mrs. Holymead wrung her hands helplessly.
“What are we to do then?” she wailed.
“We will look the tragedy in the face when it comes. Ma foi! What have you been doing to yourself? For nothing is it worth to look like that.” With deft and loving fingers Gabrielle began to arrange Mrs. Holymead’s hair. “We will have everything right before this little police agent returns. We will show him he is the complete fool for suspecting you know about the murder.”
“But what can you do, Gabrielle?” asked Mrs. Holymead.
She looked at Gabrielle with her large brown eyes, as though she were utterly dependent on the other’s stronger will for support and assistance. Mademoiselle Chiron stopped in her arrangement of Mrs. Holymead’s hair and, bending over, kissed her affectionately.
“Ma petite,” she said, “do not worry. I have thought of a plan—oh, a most excellent plan—which I will myself execute to-morrow, and then shall all your troubles be finished, and you will be happy again.”
“A lady to see you, sir.”
“What sort of a lady, Joe?”
“Furren, I should say, sir, by the way she speaks. I arskt her if she had an appointment, and she said no, but she said she wanted to see you on very urgent and particular business. I told her most people says that wot comes to see you, but she says hers was reely important. Arskt me to tell you, sir, that it was about the Riversbrook case.”
“The Riversbrook case? I’ll see her, Joe. Has not Stork returned yet?”
“Tell him to go to his dinner when he comes back. Show the lady in, Joe.”
Crewe regarded his caller keenly as Joe ushered her in, placed a chair for her, and went out, closing the door noiselessly behind him. She was a tall, well-dressed, graceful woman, fairly young, with dark hair and eyes. She looked quickly at the detective as she entered, and Crewe was struck by the shrewd penetration of her glance.
“You are Monsieur Crewe, the great detective—is it not so?” she asked, as she sat down. The glance she now gave the detective at closer range from her large dark eyes was innocent and ingenuous, with a touch of admiration. The contrast between it and her former look was not lost on Crewe, and he realised that his visitor was no ordinary woman.