“Then I think,” Virginia continued, still speaking loudly, “that you might be a little more careful before you send me on a fool’s errand like this. Here have I been waiting for half an hour for a man who you declared was certain to come here before eleven o’clock. Now you tell me that he is not returning to-night at all, gone into the country, or some rubbish. Why can’t you make sure of your facts? You seem to repeat any stuff that’s told you, and then think that it doesn’t matter so long as you say that you’re sorry. How about my wasted time sitting here, to say nothing of the risk of being taken for a thief!”
“If you don’t tell me who you are at once,” the voice came back, “I shall send a policeman round. Can’t you understand that I want my man Janion? I want him to bring my evening clothes to the club. If you don’t tell me who you are, and what you are doing in my rooms, I shall be round there with a policeman in five minutes.”
“Of course I shan’t stop,” Virginia replied, still in a loud voice. “What on earth is there to stop for if the man isn’t coming back for several days? I shall be away before the police can come. Ring off, please.”
“I don’t know who the devil you are,” the voice came back, “but I jolly soon will. You’ll have to hurry, my friend, if you mean to get away. I am going to ring up the manager’s office.”
Virginia threw down the receiver. She hesitated for a moment before the looking-glass, as though straightening her hat—in reality to give the listener outside time to get back once more into hiding. Then she walked with fast beating heart and steady footsteps towards the door. She opened it boldly. The little hall was empty; the door of the room opposite, which had been closed when she had entered, was ajar now, but there were no signs of any living person. She opened the door leading into the corridor and safety. For the first time she noticed that the key was in the inside. She withdrew it, passed out, closed the door, and stood in safety in the corridor. Thoughts chased one another through her mind. She had only to lock the door on the outside, call for help, and the person who had waited with her for Norris Vine’s return was caught in a trap. Would there be any advantage in it? Would she be able to clear herself?
Reluctantly she decided that it was better to let him go. She rang for the lift, and then turned with fascinated eyes to watch the door leading into Norris Vine’s apartments. The lights were very dim on the landing. There were no servants or any one about. She watched the closed door with fascinated eyes. What if it should open before the lift came! She rang again, kept her finger upon the bell; then with a great sense of relief she heard the creaking of the wire rope, and saw the top of the lift beginning to ascend. It drew level with her, and the page-boy threw open the iron door. Almost at that moment she saw the door of Norris Vine’s apartment softly opened from the inside. She sank down upon the seat.