“It is war, Louis,” I said. “You should know that. If I have to pay the penalty for taking the law into my hands over the man Tapilow, I am ready to answer at any time. As for you and Delora, and the others of you, whoever they may be, it will be war with you also, if you will. I intend, for the sake of the little girl upstairs, to solve all this mystery, to take her away from it if I can.”
Louis’ eyes had narrowed. The look in his face was almost enough to make one afraid.
“It is a pity,” he said. “Even if you had chosen to remain neutral—”
“I should not do that unless I could see as much of Miss Delora as I chose,” I interrupted.
“If that were arranged,” Louis said slowly,—“mind, I make no promises,—but I say if that were arranged, would it be understood between us that you stopped your search for Mr. Delora, and abandoned all your inquiries?”
“No, Louis,” I answered, “unless I were convinced that Miss Delora herself was implicated in these things. Then you could all go to the devil for anything I cared!”
“Your interest,” Louis murmured, “is in the young lady, then?”
“Absolutely and entirely,” I answered. “Notwithstanding what you have told me, and what I have surmised, the fact that you stood by me in Paris would be sufficient to make me shrug my shoulders and pass on. I am no policeman, and I would leave the work of exposing Delora to those whose business it is. But you see I have an idea of my own, Louis. I believe that Miss Delora is innocent of any knowledge of wrong-doing. That I remain here is for her sake. If I try to discover what is going on, it is also for her sake!”
“Monsieur has sentiment,” Louis remarked, showing his teeth.
“Too much by far, Louis,” I answered. “Never mind, we all have our weak spots. Some day or other somebody may even put their finger upon yours, Louis.”
“Why not, monsieur?” he said.
In my rooms a surprise awaited me. Felicia was there, walking nervously up and down my little sitting-room She stopped short as I entered and came swiftly towards me. In the joy of seeing her so unexpectedly I would have taken her into my arms, but she shrank back.
“Felicia!” I exclaimed. “How did you come here?”
“Madame Muller went down for lunch,” Felicia answered. “I said that I had a headache, and stole up here on the chance of seeing you.”
“They are making a prisoner of you!” I exclaimed.
“It is your fault,” she answered.
I looked at her in surprise. Her face was stained with tears. Her voice shook with nervousness.
“You have been making secret inquiries about my uncle,” she said. “You have been seen talking to those who wish him ill.”
“How do you know this, Felicia?” I asked calmly.