He walked down with her to the door, and would have called a hansom, but she answered that she preferred to walk.
“I have an automobile here if you will use it,” he said, “and I will engage not to ask the man where he drove you.”
“I am not afraid of that,” she answered, “but I would rather walk, if you please. I have only a very little way to go.”
He took both her hands in his firmly.
“Virginia, dear,” he said, smiling down at her, “good night, and remember that I am coming to see you to-morrow, and that I am going to bring that special license. You are going to marry me whether you want to or not, and very soon too.”
Virginia hurried away, breathless.
Virginia drew a little breath of relief. After all it had been very easy. She had simply walked into the flats, entered the lift, ascended to the fifth floor, opened the door of No. 57, and walked in. She had had a moment of fear lest there should be a servant in the rooms, but it was a fear which proved groundless. She had found herself in a tiny hall, with closed doors in front and on the right of her, and an open one on the left leading into a small, plainly furnished but comfortable sitting-room. This she entered, and closed the door behind her. At last she was in Norris Vine’s sanctum.
She drew a little breath, half of relief, half of excitement, and then repenting at the closed door, quietly opened it, and left it about a foot ajar. She looked round the room with a swift comprehensive glance. There was only one place where it seemed possible that papers of importance might be hidden, a small desk with pigeon-holes, before the window. She sat down in front of it, and methodically, one by one, she examined every paper she found, bills, receipts, prospectuses, charitable appeals, circulars, memoranda of literary matter. She found many of these, but nothing in the least like the paper for which she was in search.
With a little sigh she closed the desk, and, turning away from it, seated herself in the easy-chair in front of the fireplace. Almost as she did so she received a shock which sent the blood tingling through her body. The outer door had opened very softly. She had the idea that some one was standing outside hesitating whether to enter. Thoughts flashed quickly through her mind. This was not Norris Vine, or he would have entered his own room without hesitation. She affected to be absorbed in the magazine which she had picked up, but it was almost certain, from the fact that the door was gently pushed open another inch or two, that some one was looking through the chink. She read on unmoved, although she even fancied that she could hear the stifled breathing of some one peering into the room. Then she heard the door of the room outside, his bedroom without a doubt, softly opened. The intruder, whoever he might be, had evidently stolen in there.