“That is quite true,” she said. “I have been looking for you for some days. In fact, I came to London to look for you.”
“That,” he remarked drily, “sounds somewhat mysterious, considering that I have not yet had the pleasure of your acquaintance.”
“There is nothing mysterious about it,” she answered. “You are a receiver of stolen goods. Some papers were stolen from my uncle’s study by Stella, my cousin, and given to you. They were stolen through my carelessness. Unless I can recover them I am ruined.”
“Go on,” Morris Vine said. “You have not finished yet.”
“No!” she answered, “I have not. I followed you to England to get those papers back, either by theft, or by appealing to your sense of honour, or by any means which presented themselves. I found by accident that I was not the only American in London who was over here in search of you. This afternoon I overheard part of a plot in a cafe in Regent Street between two men, strangers to me, but who had both apparently made up their minds that this particular paper was worth a little more than your life. From them I heard your address. Your valet must be in their pay, for they knew exactly your movements for the night. I heard them plan to come here, and I knew what the end of that would be. I determined to anticipate them. It was not out of any feeling for you, but simply because if the paper got into their hands my cause was lost. So I came on here to warn you, but I had scarcely entered your room before I was aware that some one who had come with very different intentions was already here. We waited—I in the sitting-room, he in that bedroom—waited for you. I pretended to be unconscious of his existence. He seemed to be content to ignore mine. While I was wondering how I should warn you, the telephone bell rang. I answered it, and it was you who spoke. Then I had the idea of carrying on some imaginary conversation with you, which would induce the man who was listening to go away. I did it and he went away. It must have sounded terrible nonsense to you, of course, but it was the only way I could think of to get him out of the place. He left convinced that you were not coming here to-night.”
“Do you know who he was, this man?” Vine asked.
“I do not,” she answered, “but I can guess who his employers are.”
“And so can I,” Vine said grimly. “It seems to me that you are a very plucky young lady, Miss Longworth.”
“Not at all,” she answered. “What I have done, I have done for the sake of reward.”
“Will you name it?” he asked.
“I want that paper to take back to my uncle,” she said. “Stella stole it from me brutally, and unless I can get it back again, my uncle is going to send me back to the little farmhouse where I came from, and is going to leave off helping my people. I want that paper back, Mr. Vine, and you must give it to me.”