I glanced across at the girl. She was watching her uncle with distressed face.
“If you will allow me,” I said, “it will give me very great pleasure to look after you. I am going to the Milan myself, and I, too, have luggage to be examined.”
“It is very kind of you,” she said hesitatingly. “Don’t you think, though,” she added, turning to her uncle, “that I had better go with you? We could send a servant for the luggage afterwards.”
“No, no!” he objected impatiently. “I shall call at the chemist’s. I shall get something that will put me right quickly.”
“It is settled, then,” I declared.
Apparently Delora thought so. The train had scarcely come to a standstill, but already he had descended. Avoiding the platform, he crossed straight on to the roadway, and was lost amidst the tangle of cabs. I turned to the girl, affecting not to notice his extraordinary haste.
“We will have our small things put into an omnibus,” I said. “There will be plenty of time afterwards to come back and look for our registered luggage.”
“You are very kind,” she murmured absently.
Her eyes were still watching the spot where her companion had disappeared.
I was fortunate enough to find a disengaged omnibus, and filled it with our rugs and smaller belongings. Then we made our way slowly back to the little space prepared for the reception of the heavier baggage, and around which a barrier had already been erected. There was a slight nervousness in my companion’s manner which made conversation difficult. I, too, could not help feeling that the situation was a difficult one for her.
“I am afraid,” I remarked, “that you are worried about your uncle. Is his health really bad, or is this just a temporary attack? I thought he looked well enough in the train on the other side.”
“He suffers sometimes,” she answered, “but I do not think it is anything really serious.”
“He will be all right by the time we get to the hotel,” I declared.
“Very likely,” she answered. “For myself, I think that I always feel a little nervous when I arrive at a strange place. I have never been here before, you know, and I could not help wondering, for a moment, what would become of me if my uncle were really taken ill. Everyone says that London is so big and cold and heartless.”
“You would have nothing to fear,” I assured her. “You forget, too, that your uncle has friends here.”
We leaned over the barrier and watched the luggage being handed out of the vans and thrown on to the low wooden platforms. By my side a dark young man, with sallow features and pince nez, was apparently passing his time in the same manner. My companion, who was restless all the time, glanced at him frequently, or I should scarcely have noticed his existence. In dress and appearance he resembled very much the ordinary valet in private service, except for his eye-glasses, and that his face lacked the smooth pastiness of the class. For some reason or other my companion seemed to take a dislike to him.