Allerdyke’s next impressions were of a swift drive across London to a quiet retreat in Paddington, where, in a red-brick building set amidst trees, official-faced men conducted him and his two companions into a sort of annex, one side of which was covered with sheet glass. On the other side of that glass he became aware of a still figure, shrouded and arranged in formal lines, of a white face, set amidst dark hair ... then as in a dream he heard Celia Lennard’s frightened whisper—
“That’s she—that’s Lisette! Oh, for God’s sake, take me out!”
THE RUSSIAN BANK-NOTES
The three searchers into what was rapidly becoming a most complicated mystery drove back to New Scotland Yard in a silence which lasted until they were set down at the door of the department whereat they had interviewed the high official. Celia Lennard was thoroughly upset; the sight of the dead woman had disturbed her even more than she let her companions see; she remained dumb and rigid, staring straight before her as if she still gazed on the white face set in its frame of dark hair. Allerdyke, too, stared at the crowds in the streets as if they were abstract visions—his keen brain felt dazed and mystified by this accumulation of strange events. And Fullaway, active and mercurial though he was, made no attempt at conversation—he sat with knitted forehead, trying to think, to account, to surmise, only conscious that he was up against a bigger mystery than life had ever shown him up to then.
The detective who had accompanied them to the mortuary conducted the three straight back to his chief’s office—the chief, noticing the effect of the visit on Celia, hastened to give her a chair at the side of his desk, and looked at her with a lessening of his official manner. He signed to the other two to sit down, and motioned the detective to remain. Then he turned to Celia.
“You recognized the woman?” he said softly. “Just so. I thought you would, and I was sorry to ask you to perform such an unpleasant task but it was absolutely necessary. Now,” he continued, taking up his bundle of papers again, “I want you to describe the man who met you and your maid on your arrival at Hull the other night. Of course you saw him?”
“Certainly I saw him,” replied Celia. “And I should know him again anywhere—the scoundrel!”
The high official smiled and glanced at Fullaway.
“You are thinking, Miss Lennard, that the man you then saw is the man who accompanied your maid to the hotel in which she was found dead,” he said. “Well, that may be so—but it mayn’t. That is why I want you to give us an accurate description of the man you saw. You described the maid very well indeed. Now describe the man.”