“You mentioned the fact, did you not,” the lady who called herself Miss Pinsent observed, “that it was raining heavily at the time? Perhaps they stayed under the bridge to shelter.”
“That’s something I never thought of,” Mr. Greene admitted, “perhaps for the reason that they both of them seemed quite indifferent to the rain. The young man in the dark clothes hadn’t even an umbrella. I must admit that I allowed my thoughts to travel in another direction. Professional instinct, you see. It was a fairly broad canal, and the water was nearly up to the towing-path. I’d lay a wager it was twelve or fifteen feet deep. Supposing those two men had met on that narrow path and quarrelled! Supposing—”
Mr. Raymond Greene stopped short. He gazed in amazement at Elizabeth Dalstan, who had suddenly clutched his hand. There was something in her face which puzzled as well as startled him. She had been looking at her opposite neighbour but she turned back towards the narrator of this thrilling story as the monosyllable broke from her lips.
“Please stop,” she begged. “You are too dramatic, Mr. Greene. You really frighten me.”
“Frighten you?” he repeated. “My dear Miss Dalstan!”
“I suppose it is very absurd of me,” she went on, smiling appealingly at him, “but your words were altogether too graphic. I can’t bear to think of what might have taken place underneath that tunnel! You must remember that I saw it, too. Don’t go on. Don’t talk about it any more. I am going upstairs for my cigarette. Are you coming to get my chair for me, Mr. Greene, or must I rely upon the deck steward?”
Mr. Raymond Greene was a very gallant man, and he did not hesitate for a moment. He sprang to his feet and escorted the young lady from the saloon. He glanced back, as he left the table, to nod his adieux to the little company whom he had taken under his charge. Philip Romilly was gazing steadfastly out of the porthole.
“Kind of delicate young fellow, that,” he remarked. “Nice face, too. Can’t help thinking that I’ve met or seen some one like him lately.”
Philip Romilly found himself alone at last with the things which he had craved—darkness, solitude, the rushing of the salt wind, the sense of open spaces. On the other, the sheltered side of the steamer, long lines of passengers were stretched in wicker chairs, smoking and drinking their coffee, but where he was no one came save an occasional promenader. Yet even here was a disappointment. He had come for peace, for a brief escape from the thrall of memories which during the last few hours had become charged with undreamed-of horrors—and there was to be no peace. In the shadowy darkness which rested upon the white-churned sea flying past him, he saw again, with horrible distinctness, the face, the figure of the man who for those few brief minutes