“Has his niece accompanied him always?” I asked.
“Never before,” Mr. Helmsley answered,—“at least, not to my recollection.”
“You do not know what part of South America he comes from?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” Mr. Helmsley declared. “His letters are always forwarded to an agent.”
“So practically you can tell me nothing,” I said, rising.
“Nothing at all, I fear,” Mr. Helmsley answered. “I shall make it a point of calling upon the young lady within an hour or so, to inquire again about her uncle.”
“The young lady has gone out,” I remarked. “I have just sent my own name up.”
Mr. Helmsley raised his eyebrows. He, too, was surprised.
“Then she has probably heard something,” he remarked.
“Perhaps,” I answered. “By the bye, I understand that Louis is back.”
“He came by the night train,” Mr. Helmsley answered. “I scarcely expected him so soon. You will probably see him in the cafe at luncheon-time.”
I took my leave of the manager and returned to my own side of the hotel.
“If Miss Delora should come in,” I said to the hall-porter on my way to the lift, “please let me know. I shall be in my room, writing letters.”
“Miss Delora came in just after you crossed the courtyard, sir,” the man answered. “She is in her room now.”
“Alone?” I asked.
“I believe that she came in with a gentleman, sir. Shall I ring up and ask for her?”
I hesitated for a moment. I was recalling to myself her statement that she had no friends in London whatsoever.
“Yes!” I answered. “Send up my name, and say that I should like to see her.”
The man went to the telephone, and emerged from the box a moment later.
“Miss Delora would be much obliged,” he said, “if you would kindly go to her room in a quarter of an hour.”
I nodded, and turned away for the lift. The cigarette between my lips was suddenly tasteless. I was experiencing a new sensation, and distinctly an unpleasant one. With it was coupled an intense curiosity to know the identity of the man who was even now with Felicia!
LOUIS, MAITRE D’HOTEL
I measured out that quarter of an hour into minutes, and almost into seconds. Then I knocked at the door of the sitting-room, and was bidden enter by Felicia Delora herself. She was alone, but she was dressed for the street, and was apparently just leaving the hotel again. Her clothes were of fashionable make, and cut with the most delightful simplicity. Her toilette was that of the ideal Frenchwoman who goes out for a morning’s shopping, and may possibly lunch in the Bois. She was still very pale, however, and the dark lines under her eyes seemed to speak of a sleepless night. I fancied that she welcomed me a little shyly. She dropped her veil almost at once, and she did not ask me to sit down.