“That is very interesting, I am sure. I am quite grateful.”
“Then I am going to ask you a favour. Release my hands and feet. You need not be afraid; I give my pledge to make no attempt at escape while we are together. Will you do this?”
WEST MAKES HIS CHOICE
The girl neither answered, nor hesitated, but crossed the room swiftly, her hands seeking the lashings about his wrists. Her movement thrilled him, and his blood leaped at the soft touch of her fingers.
“Really, I did not realize you were tied into the chair,” she exclaimed indignantly. “Hobart is a fool to do such a thing. Why, what has caused him to become so frightened? Tell me, Captain West, how all this occurred?”
“You know nothing?”
“Only what has been said since I entered the room. Mike simply told me they had a man here who Hobart thought was a detective, and he wanted me to come in a moment. I came, and found you. Now, please, what does it all mean?”
She slipped back to her seat again, her eyes on his face, as he arose and stretched his limbs to restore circulation. To his quick glance her face expressed only sympathy, and innocent interest. Any doubt he may have felt as to the sincerity of the girl vanished instantly; whatever of crime was concealed here, she had no suspicion. He could tell her the whole story without fear.
“I’ll try and explain, Miss Natalie,” he began rather lamely, “although perhaps, you may not wholly understand the motives which have prompted me. This, of course, is really no business of mine, and the only thing that has involved me is the deep interest I have felt in you.”
“In me! why that is rather interesting. It was to serve me you came here?”
“At least I thought so. Shall I make it more definite? No doubt you are aware that you are an unusually pretty woman. Well, at least, I think so for one, and our first meeting, with its subsequent adventures, was romantic enough to shake me out of a commonplace existence. In fact, I became quite deeply interested in you.”
“Why really, Captain,” she interrupted, slightly puzzled. “I perhaps do not fully comprehend to what you refer. Do you mean there was something between us? Some special intimacy?”
“Oh, no; not that; probably no dream of what was occurring in your mind. Yet the circumstances of our meeting were peculiar; they rendered a very brief acquaintance into what promised to become a real friendship.”
“How do you mean?”
“Surely you cannot have forgotten so soon,” he exclaimed in surprise at her attitude, seating himself once more and facing her determinedly. “I came to you in response to a strange advertisement; you trusted me so completely as to introduce me to your friends as your fiance, and later confided to me the special trouble you were in. I pledged you my assistance, and it was surely very natural that, under these circumstances, I as a young man, should have become rather deeply interested—”