In less than half an hour we were off. It was only when the great car swung from the avenue into the country lane that Jacky, who was driving, turned toward me.
“By the bye,” he asked, “what the devil are we going to Newcastle for?”
“We are going to look at those new battleships, Jacky,” I answered.
He stared at me.
“Are you in earnest?”
“Partly,” I answered. “Let’s say we are going for the ride. It’s worth it.”
Dalton drew a long breath. We were rushing now through the silent night, with a delicious wind, strong and cool, blowing in our faces.
“By Jove, it is!” he assented.
AN INTERESTING DAY
It was a little after seven o’clock the next morning when we turned into the courtyard of the County Hotel in Newcastle. Immediately in front of us was the car in which we had seen Delora on the previous afternoon. The chauffeur was at work upon it, and although he looked up at our entrance, he paid no particular attention to us.
I blew through the whistle to Ferris.
“Back out of the yard at once,” I said, “and go to another hotel.”
Dalton looked at me in surprise.
“Forgive my ordering your chauffeur about,” I said, as we glided backwards into the street. “That’s the car we’ve come up after, and I don’t want the people who travelled in it to know that we are on their heels.”
Dalton whistled softly.
“So we are on a chase, are we?” he asked. “You might tell me about it, Austen.”
“I can’t,” I answered. “It’s altogether too indefinite. I shouldn’t tell you anything which would sound like common sense except this,—that I am exceedingly curious, for several reasons, to know what those two men who came up in that car have to do in Newcastle.”
“Who are they?” Dalton asked.
“One is a rich Brazilian named Delora, and the other the Chinese ambassador,” I answered.
The names seemed to convey nothing to my companion, who merely nodded. We had now arrived at the other hotel, and the prospects of breakfast were already claiming our attention. We sat down in the coffee-room and attacked our bacon and eggs and coffee with zest.
“How long do you want to stay here?” Dalton asked.
“I am not quite sure,” I answered. “Look here, Jacky,” I continued, “supposing I wanted to stay all day and to go back to-night, so that we got home to breakfast to-morrow morning, would that be too long for you?”
“That would do me splendidly,” Dalton declared. “I have never been in this part of the world, and I should like to look round. We must be back for to-morrow morning, you know, because all those fellows are coming to shoot from Horington’s.”
“We will make that the latest,” I said.