“There is no need for haste,” Vine answered. “I have the document with me, and I do not mean to do anything in a hurry. Think it all over, Deane, and tell me when I may come and see you again.”
“Whenever you will,” the ambassador answered, heartily. “You know very well that I am always glad to see you. By the by, do you carry this document about with you?”
Vine shook his head.
“No!” he answered drily. “I have too much regard for my personal safety. The men whose names are there are fairly desperate, and they would not stick at a trifle to get rid of me.”
“You are very wise,” Deane answered. “I should take care even over here. I have heard of strange things happening in London. Oh, that reminds me. A young lady was here only two days ago, asking for your address.”
“Did she leave her name?” Vine asked, with a faint curiosity.
“I think not,” the ambassador answered. “Wolfe saw her, and I asked him the question particularly.”
“I cannot imagine whom she could have been,” Vine said, thoughtfully. “I have not many acquaintances over here.”
“Another man who was asking after you,” Deane remarked, “was Littleson. He was dining here last night.”
“I can imagine,” he said, “his being curious as to my whereabouts. I have taken rooms where I don’t think any one is likely to find me out except by accident.”
“I think,” he said, “we had better go downstairs. The ladies will be wondering what has become of us. My wife is expecting a young woman in this evening whom I think you know—Stella Duge.”
Vine started slightly.
“Yes,” he said, “I have met Miss Duge often in New York.”
A QUESTION OF COURAGE
Stella turned towards him with a slight frown upon her forehead.
“Do you mean, Norris, then, that after all you will not use your power over these men, that you will let them go free?”
“Not if I can help it,” he answered, “but there are many things to be considered. I shall be guided largely by what Deane advises.”
“It is absurd,” she declared. “You have wanted money all your life, money and power. You have both now in your grasp. If you do not use them, I shall think—”
She hesitated. He shrugged his shoulders slightly.
“Go on!” he said.
“I shall think that you are a coward,” she said quietly. “I shall think that you are afraid to use what I risked—well, a great deal—to win for you.”
“It isn’t a question of courage,” he protested.
“It is,” she answered. “You are afraid to do what in your heart you must know is the right thing, because for a year or two, perhaps even a decade of years, it will mean a great upheaval. The end must be good. I am sure of it.”