Monsieur Decresson touched Louis on the shoulder and motioned him to enter the automobile which was waiting. With many bows and solemn salutes the great car swung off and left me there alone. I watched it until it disappeared, and then, turning in the opposite direction, started to walk toward the Ritz. Curiously enough it never occurred to me to doubt for a moment the assurance which had been given me. I had no longer the slightest fear of arrest.
On the way I passed the Cafe de Paris. Then I suddenly remembered that strange little note from the girl with the turquoises. I never stopped to consider whether or not I was doing a wise thing. I opened the swing doors and passed into the restaurant. It was almost empty, except for a few people who had sat late over their luncheon. I called Leon to me.
“Leon,” I said, “you remember me? I am Captain Rotherby.”
He held up his hand.
“It is enough, monsieur,” he declared. “If monsieur would be so good.”
He drew me a little on one side.
“Mademoiselle still waits,” he said in an undertone. “If monsieur will ascend.”
“Upstairs?” I asked.
Leon bowed and smiled.
“Mademoiselle is in one of the smaller rooms,” he said. “Will monsieur follow me?”
“Why, certainly,” I answered.
A DOUBLE ASSIGNATION
I followed Leon upstairs to the region of smaller apartments. At the door of one of these he knocked, and a feminine voice at once bade us enter.
Mademoiselle was sitting upon a lounge, smoking a cigarette. On the table before her stood an empty coffee-cup and an empty liqueur-glass. She looked at me with a little grimace.
“At last!” she exclaimed.
“It is the gentleman whom mademoiselle was expecting?” Leon asked discreetly.
“Certainly,” she answered. “You may go, Leon.”
We were alone. She gave me her fingers, which I raised to my lips.
“Mademoiselle,” I said, “I owe you a thousand apologies. I can assure you, however, that I have come at the earliest possible moment.”
She motioned me to sit down upon the lounge by her side.
“Monsieur had a more interesting engagement, perhaps?” she murmured.
“Impossible!” I answered.
Now I had come here with no idea whatever of making love to this young lady. My chief interest in her was because she, too, was an habitue of this mysterious cafe; and because, from the first, I felt that she had some other than the obvious reason for sending me that little note. Nevertheless, it was for me to conceal these things, and I did not hesitate to take her hand in mine as we sat side by side. She did not draw it away, and she did not encourage me.
“Monsieur,” she said, “do not, I beg of you, be rash. It was foolish of me, perhaps, to meet you here. We can talk for a few minutes, and afterwards, perhaps, we may meet again, but I am frightened all the time.”