“I expect you to believe nothing, Mr. Tyritt,” he said drily. “Sorry I troubled you.”
“Not at all,” Mr. Tyritt protested, the slight irritation passing from his manner. “Such a visit as yours is an agreeable break in my routine work. I feel as though I might be a character in a great modern romance. The names of your amateur criminals are still tingling in my memory.”
Norgate turned back from the door.
“Remember them, if you can, Mr. Tyritt,” he advised, “You may have cause to, some day.”
Norgate sat, the following afternoon, upon the leather-stuffed fender of a fashionable mixed bridge club in the neighbourhood of Berkeley Square, exchanging greetings with such of the members as were disposed to find time for social amenities. A smartly-dressed woman of dark complexion and slightly foreign appearance, who had just cut out of a rubber, came over and seated herself by his side. She took a cigarette from her case and accepted a match from Norgate.
“So you are really back again!” she murmured. “It scarcely seems possible.”
“I am just beginning to realise it myself,” he replied. “You haven’t altered, Bertha.”
“My dear man,” she protested, “you did not expect me to age in a month, did you? It can scarcely be more than that since you left for Berlin. Are you not back again sooner than you expected?”
“Very much sooner,” he admitted. “I came in for some unexpected leave, which I haven’t the slightest intention of spending abroad, so here I am.”
“Not, apparently, in love with Berlin,” the lady, whose name was Mrs. Paston Benedek, remarked.
Norgate’s air of complete candour was very well assumed.
“I shall never be a success as a diplomatist,” he confessed. “When I dislike a place or a person, every one knows it. I hated Berlin. I hate the thought of going back again.”
The woman by his side smiled enigmatically.
“Perhaps,” she murmured, “you may get an exchange.”
“Perhaps,” Norgate assented. “Meanwhile, even a month away from London seems to have brought a fresh set of people here. Who is the tall, thin young man with the sunburnt face? He seems familiar, somehow, but I can’t place him.”
“He is a sailor,” she told him. “Captain Baring his name is.”
“Friend of yours?”
She looked at him sidewise.
“Why do you ask?”
“Jealousy,” Norgate sighed, “makes one observant. You were lunching with him in the Carlton Grill. You came in with him to the club this afternoon.”
“Sherlock Holmes!” she murmured. “There are other men in the club with whom I lunch—even dine.”
Norgate glanced across the room. Baring was playing bridge at a table close at hand, but his attention seemed to be abstracted. He looked often towards where Mrs. Benedek sat. There was a restlessness about his manner scarcely in keeping with the rest of his appearance.