“I suppose so,” Virginia answered, a little doubtfully, although in her heart she understood him very well indeed.
“Miss Longworth,” he said, “have you pluck enough to save us all several millions of dollars, and to make your uncle grateful to you for life? In other words, will you help me look for that paper?”
“Without my uncle’s permission?” she asked.
“Without a permission which he would give you in one moment,” Mr. Weiss declared, “if he was in a fit state to look after his own affairs. Come, you shall not have to wait until he recovers. For a part of your reward, at any rate, there is a pearl necklace in Streeter’s, which I saw yesterday marked forty thousand dollars. It shall be yours within half an hour of the time I get that paper, and I guarantee that your uncle will give you another like it when he knows what you have done.”
Virginia shook her head sorrowfully. Her great eyes seemed full of real regret.
“Mr. Weiss,” she said, “I am too dull and stupid to dare to do things on my own account. I can only obey, and I am afraid all these beautiful rewards are not for me. Even if my uncle sends me away when he gets well, I must do exactly as he told me, no more, nor any less, and one of those things,” she added, turning and pressing the electric bell in the wall by her side, “was that no one, no one at all, should enter this room.”
Mr. Weiss stood quite still. He seemed to be thinking, but Virginia could see that his hands were tightly clenched, and the bones of his long sinewy fingers were standing out, straining against the flesh.
“I am disappointed in you, Miss Longworth,” he said. “You have a great opportunity. It need not be only a matter of the necklace—”
She held out her hands.
“You mustn’t!” she begged. “I am too frightened of my uncle.”
Then she turned suddenly and opened the door to the servant, whose approaching footsteps she had heard.
“Will you please show Mr. Weiss out?” she said. “He is in rather a hurry.”
Mr. Weiss went without a word.
A PROFESSIONAL BURGLAR
There were three men in New York that day, who, although they occupied their accustomed table, the best in one of its most exclusive clubs, and although their luncheon was chosen with the usual care, were never really conscious of what they were eating. Weiss was one, John Bardsley another, and Higgins, the railway man, the third. They sat in a corner, from which their conversation could not be overheard; and as often before when their heads had been close together, people looked across at them, always with interest, often with some envy, and wondered.
“I’d like you both to understand,” Weiss said, speaking with unaccustomed emphasis as he leaned across the table, “that I don’t like the look of things. We tackled something pretty big when we tackled Phineas Duge, and if he has the least idea that these Chicago brokers have been operating on our behalf, it’s my belief we shall find ourselves up against it.”