“Thank you, Charles,” he said, “I’ve had my eye on them. The girl’s a pauper, daughter of that old fool Grimes, the actor. Does a little typewriting—precious little, I should think, from the look of her. The man’s interesting. Don’t talk about them. Understand?”
The maitre d’hotel bowed.
“I understand, Inspector. Not much any one can tell you, sir.”
“Pays his bill in American money, I suppose?” the diner asked.
“I’ll ascertain for you, Mr. Dane,” Charles replied. “I believe he is an Englishman.”
“Name of Merton Ware,” the inspector agreed, nodding, “just arrived from Jamaica. Writes some sort of stuff which the girl with him typewrites. That’s his story. He’s probably as harmless as a baby.”
Charles bowed and moved away. His smile was inscrutable.
New York became a changed city to Philip. Its roar and its turmoil, its babel of tongues speaking to him always in some alien language, were suddenly hushed! He was no longer conscious of the hard unconcern of a million faces, of the crude buildings in the streets, the cutting winds, the curious, depressing sense of being on a desert island, the hermit clutching at the sleeves of imaginary multitudes. A few minutes’ journey in a cable car which seemed to crawl, a few minutes’ swift walking along the broad thoroughfare of Fifth Avenue, where his feet seemed to fall upon the air and the passersby seemed to smile upon him like real human beings, and he was in her room. It was only an hotel sitting room, after all, but eloquent of her, a sitting room filled with great bowls of roses, with comfortable easy-chairs, furniture of rose-coloured satin, white walls, and an English fire upon the grate. Elizabeth was in New York, and the world moved differently.
She came out to him from an inner room almost at once. His eyes swept over her feverishly. He almost held his breath. Then he gave a great sigh of satisfaction. She came with her hands outstretched, a welcoming smile upon her lips. She was just as he had expected to find her. There was nothing in her manner to indicate that they had not parted yesterday.
“Welcome to New York, my dramatist!” she exclaimed. “I am here, you see, to the day, almost to the hour.”
He stood there, holding her hands. His eyes seemed to be devouring her.
“Go on talking to me,” he begged. “Let me hear you speak. You can’t think—you can’t imagine how often in the middle of the night, I have waked up and thought of you, and the cold shivers have come because, after all, I fancied that you must be a dream, that you didn’t really exist, that that voyage had never existed. Go on talking.”
“You foolish person!” she laughed, patting his hands affectionately. “But then, of course, you are a little overwrought. I am very real, I can assure you. I have been in Chicago, playing, but there hasn’t been a night when I haven’t thought of the times when we used to talk together in the darkness, when you let me into your life, and I made up my mind to try and help you. Foolish person! Sit down in that great easy-chair and draw it up to the fire.”