“It’s like a lot of blind men seeking for something they couldn’t see if it was shoved under their very noses, Ambler!” he said cynically. “Is it any good?”
“Maybe,” replied Appleyard. “That Albert Gaffney’s a smart chap—he’ll not lose sight of Rayner once he begins to track him. And I’m certain as certain can be that if Miss Slade’s in a hole it’s Rayner she’ll turn to. Well—we can only wait now. What’re you going to do, Mr. Allerdyke?”
“Let’s have a bit of a relief,” answered, Allerdyke suddenly. “Let’s dine together somewhere and go to a theatre or something until it’s time to keep this appointment. And not a word more of the whole thing till then!”
“You forget that I’ve got to look in at the Pompadour last thing to see if those two are there as usual,” remarked Appleyard. “But that’ll only take a few minutes—I can call there on our way to the rendezvous. All right—no more of it until half-past eleven, then.”
Albert Gaffney was already in a quiet corner of the bar-parlour of the appointed meeting-place when the other three arrived there. Appleyard had already ascertained that neither Rayner nor Miss Slade had returned to the Pompadour; Gaffney, the chauffeur, who had been keeping an eye on the exterior of that establishment, had nothing to tell. And Albert’s face was somewhat dismal, and his eye inclined to something like an aggrieved surliness, as he joined the new-comers and answered their first question.
“It’s not my fault, gentlemen,” he whispered, bending towards the others over the little table at which they were all seated. “But the truth is—I’ve been baulked! At the last moment as you may term it. Just when things were getting really interesting!”
“Have you seen—anything?” asked Appleyard.
“I’ll give you it in proper order, sir,” replied Albert Gaffney. “I’ve seen both of ’em—followed ’em, until this confounded accident happened. This is the story of it. I kept watch there, outside C. House—you know where I mean—till near on to six o’clock. Then he came out. But he didn’t get into his motor, though it was waiting for him. He sent it away. Then he walked to the Temple Station, and I heard him book for Cannon Street. So did I, and followed him. He got out at Cannon Street and went up into the main line station and to the bookstall. There he met her—she was waiting. They talked a bit, walking about; then they went into the hotel. I had an idea that perhaps they were going to dine there, so as I was togged up for any eventualities, I followed ’em in. They did dine there—so did I, keeping an eye on ’em. They sat some time over and after their dinner, as if they were waiting for something or somebody. At last a man—better-class commercial traveller-looking sort of man—came in and went up to them. He sat down and had a glass of wine, and they all three talked—very confidential talk, you could see. At last they all left and went down