Julius took the form back and folded it up.
“Queer,” he said thoughtfully. “I thought that lawyer chap had quit!”
“My train got in half an hour ago,” explained Julius, as he led the way out of the station. “I reckoned you’d come by this before I left London, and wired accordingly to Sir James. He’s booked rooms for us, and will be round to dine at eight.”
“What made you think he’d ceased to take any interest in the case?” asked Tommy curiously.
“What he said,” replied Julius dryly. “The old bird’s as close as an oyster! Like all the darned lot of them, he wasn’t going to commit himself till he was sure he could deliver the goods.”
“I wonder,” said Tommy thoughtfully.
Julius turned on him.
“You wonder what?”
“Whether that was his real reason.”
“Sure. You bet your life it was.”
Tommy shook his head unconvinced.
Sir James arrived punctually at eight o’clock, and Julius introduced Tommy. Sir James shook hands with him warmly.
“I am delighted to make your acquaintance, Mr. Beresford. I have heard so much about you from Miss Tuppence”—he smiled involuntarily—“that it really seems as though I already know you quite well.”
“Thank you, sir,” said Tommy with his cheerful grin. He scanned the great lawyer eagerly. Like Tuppence, he felt the magnetism of the other’s personality. He was reminded of Mr. Carter. The two men, totally unlike so far as physical resemblance went, produced a similar effect. Beneath the weary manner of the one and the professional reserve of the other, lay the same quality of mind, keen-edged like a rapier.
In the meantime he was conscious of Sir James’s close scrutiny. When the lawyer dropped his eyes the young man had the feeling that the other had read him through and through like an open book. He could not but wonder what the final judgment was, but there was little chance of learning that. Sir James took in everything, but gave out only what he chose. A proof of that occurred almost at once.
Immediately the first greetings were over Julius broke out into a flood of eager questions. How had Sir James managed to track the girl? Why had he not let them know that he was still working on the case? And so on.
Sir James stroked his chin and smiled. At last he said:
“Just so, just so. Well, she’s found. And that’s the great thing, isn’t it? Eh! Come now, that’s the great thing?”
“Sure it is. But just how did you strike her trail? Miss Tuppence and I thought you’d quit for good and all.”
“Ah!” The lawyer shot a lightning glance at him, then resumed operations on his chin. “You thought that, did you? Did you really? H’m, dear me.”
“But I guess I can take it we were wrong,” pursued Julius.