“Miss Thorne, perhaps?”
“Yes, sir, that’s the name—Miss Thorne. I was in the ladies’ dressing-room when she was brought in, sir, and I remember some one called her name.”
Mr. Grimm took the girl, still a-quiver with excitement, and led her along the hall to where Gray stood.
“Take this girl in charge, Gray,” he directed. “Lock her up, if necessary. Don’t permit her to say one word to anybody—anybody you understand, except the chief.”
Mr. Grimm left them there. He passed along the hall, glancing in each room as he went, until he came to a short flight of stairs leading toward the kitchen. He went on down silently. The lights were burning, but the place was still, deserted. All the servants who belonged there were evidently, for the moment, transferred to other posts. He passed on through the kitchen and out the back door into the street.
A little distance away, leaning against a lamp-post, a man was standing. He might have been waiting for a car. Mr. Grimm approached him.
“Beg pardon,” he said, “did you see a woman come out of the back door, there?”
“Yes, just a moment or so ago,” replied the stranger. “She got into an automobile at the corner. I imagine this is hers,” and he extended a handkerchief, a dainty, perfumed trifle of lace. “I picked it up immediately after she passed.”
Mr. Grimm took the handkerchief and examined it under the light. For a time he was thoughtful, with lowered eyes, which, finally raised, met those of the stranger with a scrutinizing stare.
“Why,” asked Mr. Grimm slowly and distinctly, “why did you slam the door in the girl’s face?”
“Why did I—what?” came the answering question.
“Why did you slam the door in the girl’s face?” Mr. Grimm repeated slowly.
The stranger stared in utter amazement—an amazement so frank, so unacted, so genuine, that Mr. Grimm was satisfied.
“Did you see a man come out the door?” Mr. Grimm pursued.
“No. Say, young fellow, I guess you’ve had a little too much to drink, haven’t you?”
But by that time Mr. Grimm was turning the corner.
A VISIT TO THE COUNT
The bland serenity of Mr. Campbell’s face was disturbed by thin, spidery lines of perplexity, and the guileless blue eyes were vacant as he stared at the top of his desk. Mr. Grimm was talking.
“From the moment Miss Thorne turned the corner I lost all trace of her,” he said. “Either she had an automobile in waiting, or else she was lucky enough to find one immediately she came out. She did not return to the embassy ball last night—that much is certain.” He paused reflectively. “She is a guest of Senorita Inez Rodriguez at the Venezuelan legation,” he added.
“Yes, I know,” his chief nodded.