Aynesworth glanced at the slip of paper, and nodded.
“All out-of-date now,” he remarked. “I’ll be back to lunch.”
A DELICATE MISSION
Aynesworth was back in less than an hour. He carried under his arm a brown paper parcel, the strings of which he commenced at once to untie. Wingrave, who had been engrossed in the contents of his deed box, watched him with immovable face.
“The tailor will be here at two-thirty,” he announced, “and the other fellows will follow on at half an hour’s interval. The manicurist and the barber are coming at six o’clock.”
“What have you there?” he asked, pointing to the parcel.
“Cigars and cigarettes, and jolly good ones, too,” Aynesworth answered, opening a flat tin box, and smelling the contents appreciatively. “Try one of these! The finest Turkish tobacco grown!”
“I don’t smoke,” Wingrave answered.
“Oh! You’ve got out of it, but you must pick it up again,” Aynesworth declared. “Best thing out for the nerves—sort of humanizes one, you know!”
“Humanizes one, does it?” Wingrave remarked softly. “Well, I’ll try!”
He took a cigarette from the box, curtly inviting Aynesworth to do the same.
“What about lunch?” the latter asked. “Would you care to come round with me to the Cannibal Club? Rather a Bohemian set, but there are always some good fellows there.”
“I am much obliged,” Wingrave answered. “If you will ask me again in a few days’ time, I shall be very pleased. I do not wish to leave the hotel just at present.”
“Do you want me?” Aynesworth asked.
“Not until five o’clock,” Wingrave answered. “I should be glad if you would leave me now, and return at that hour. In the meantime, I have a commission for you.”
“Good!” Aynesworth declared. “What is it?”
“You will go,” Wingrave directed, “to No. 13, Cadogan Street, and you will enquire for Lady Ruth Barrington. If she should be out, ascertain the time of her return, and wait for her.”
“If she is out of town?”
“She is in London,” Wingrave answered. “I have seen her from the window this morning. You will give her a message. Say that you come from me, and that I desire to see her tomorrow. The time and place she can fix, but I should prefer not to go to her house.”
Aynesworth stooped down to relight his cigarette. He felt that Wingrave was watching him, and he wished to keep his face hidden.
“I am unknown to Lady Ruth,” he remarked. “Supposing she should refuse to see me?”
Wingrave looked at him coldly.
“I have told you what I wish done,” he said. “The task does not seem to be a difficult one. Please see to it that I have an answer by five o’clock-----”
Aynesworth lunched with a few of his particular friends at the club. They heard of his new adventure with somewhat doubtful approbation.