“Yes. The only other way out that I have been able to find is for me to see Miss Fewbanks and ask her to withdraw the case from Crewe. I would not tell her everything—I would not bring you into it at all. But I could tell her that I had had an urgent matter to discuss with her father; that he came from Scotland to discuss it with me, and that after I left him he was murdered. I would tell her that it was quite impossible for me to disclose what the business was about, but that Crewe, having learnt that I had seen her father that night, was extremely suspicious. I would ask her to accept my word of honour that I had no knowledge of who killed her father, and to relieve me of the annoyance of the attentions of this man Crewe. I think she would agree to that proposal. That is the other way out, and from something which has happened this morning I am inclined to think that it is the better and quicker course to pursue.”
She was thinking so deeply that she did not reply. At length she became conscious of a long silence.
“It is very good of you to ask my opinion—to consult with me at all. It is you that have everything at stake. I would like to do my best, but I think if you gave me time—Is there any great urgency? Two days at most is all I want.”
“I cannot give you two days,” he replied, with a sombre smile. “You must decide to-day—at once—otherwise it will be too late.”
She looked at him with parted lips and alarm in her eyes.
“What do you mean?” she breathed. “What have you hidden? Is the danger immediate?”
“I think so. For some days past my movements have been dogged by a boy in Crewe’s employ. Nearly a week ago I decided, after the worry and anxiety of this—this unhappy affair, to go away for a short trip. I thought a sea-voyage to America and back might do me good and fit me for my work again.” He sighed unconsciously, and went on: “Crewe has become acquainted with my intended departure and has placed his own interpretation on it. He assumes that I am seeking safety in flight—that I have no intention of coming back to England. The result has been that the boy Crewe had set to watch my movements has been replaced by two men from Scotland Yard—one watching these chambers from the front, and the other from the rear.” He walked across to the window and glanced quickly through the curtain. “Yes, they are still here.”
She sprang from her seat and followed him to the window.
“Where are they?” she gasped. “Show them to me.”
“There. Do not move the curtain or they will suspect we are watching them. Look a little to the left, by the lamp-post. The other you can catch a glimpse of if you look between those two trees.”
“What does it mean? Why are they waiting?” she burst out. Her face had gone very pale, and her big dark eyes glared affrightedly from the window to her husband.
“Hush! I beg you not to lose your self-control; it is essential neither of us should lose our heads,” he said, warningly.