“Damn the girl!” he said. “Higgins, take that thing away from her.”
But Virginia was standing with her back to the wall, and Higgins, after one look into her face, shook his head.
“Don’t be a fool, Weiss,” he said. “This sort of thing won’t do. You’ve lost your head. Beg Miss Longworth’s pardon and come away. She is quite right. There is no excuse for our behaving like this.”
Weiss hesitated for a moment, looked into Virginia’s face himself, and with a shrug of the shoulders admitted defeat. The two men moved toward the door.
“I am going to call now upon your uncle’s physician,” Weiss said. “I am going to tell him that whatever the risk to your uncle may be, we must have an interview with him.”
“As you please,” Virginia answered. “That has nothing to do with me.”
They left the room and closed the door behind them. Virginia, breathing a little quickly, crossed the room and tried the desk, but it was still fast locked. She looked down at the carpet and found it undisturbed. Then she stood up, and started violently. The inner door leading into the secretaries’ room was open, and her uncle was standing there upon the threshold. He smiled at her benevolently.
“I congratulate you, Virginia,” he said. “You have routed two of the worst scoundrels in New York. Now please help me to get upstairs again without being seen.”
The great automobile swung out of the park into the avenue, and Stella drew a little sigh of regret.
“Mine is the next turning,” she said. “Thank you so much, Mr. Littleson. I have enjoyed every minute of it.”
Littleson smiled, but he did not slacken speed.
“I was very fortunate indeed to meet you,” he said, “but I shall not think of letting you go until you have had some lunch. It is nearly one o’clock.”
Stella settled down again in her seat.
“That is very kind of you,” she said. “I had an idea that you were such a tremendously busy person, that you never stopped work for luncheon or trifles of that sort.”
“A mistake, I can assure you,” he said. “Which do you prefer, Sherry’s or Delmonico’s?”
“Martin’s, if you don’t mind,” she answered. “I like watching a crowd of people.”
They found a quiet table in one of the balconies, and Littleson devoted several minutes to ordering a luncheon which should be worthy of his reputation. Then he leaned across the table and looked steadily at his companion.
“Miss Duge,” he said, “we have known one another for some time, although chance has never been very kind to me in the way of bringing us together. Now I am going to tell you something which I dare say will surprise you. When I saw you in the park this morning, I was on my way to call upon you.”
She raised her eyebrows. She was certainly surprised.