Again Louis was summoned away. I ate my lunch and sipped my wine. Louis was right. It was excellent, yet likely enough to be overlooked by the casual visitor, for it was of exceedingly moderate price.
So Tapilow was not likely to die! So much the better, perhaps! The time might have come in my life when the whole of that tragedy lay further back in the shadows, and when the thought that I had killed a man, however much he had deserved it, might chill me. I understood from Louis’ very reticence that I had nothing now to fear from the law. So far as regards Tapilow himself, I had no fear. It was not likely that he would ever raise his hand against me.
I dismissed the subject from my thoughts. It was just then I remembered that, after all, I had not gathered from Louis a single shred of information on the subject in which I was most interested. I almost smiled when I remembered how admirably he had contrived to elude my curiosity. The only thing which I gathered from his manner was that Mr. Delora’s disappearance was unexpected by him. Never mind, the end was not yet! I ordered coffee and a liqueur, and laid my cigarette case upon the table. I would wait until Louis chose to come to me once more. There were certain things which I intended to ask him point blank.
Louis returned of his own accord before long.
“Monsieur has been well served?” he asked genially.
“Excellently, Louis,” I answered, “so far as the mere question of food goes. You have not, however, managed to satisfy my curiosity.”
“Monsieur?” he asked interrogatively.
“Concerning the Deloras,” I answered.
Louis shrugged his shoulders.
“But what should I know?” he asked. “Mr. Delora, he has come here last year and the year before. He has stayed for a month or so. He understands what he eats. That is all. Mademoiselle comes for the first time. I know her not at all.”
“What do you think of his disappearance, Louis?” I asked.
“What should I think of it, monsieur? I know nothing.”
“Mr. Delora, I am told,” I continued, “is a coffee planter in South America.”
“I, too,” Louis admitted, “have heard so much.”
“How came he to have the entree to the Cafe des Deux Epingles?” I asked.
“I myself,” he remarked, “am but a rare visitor there. How should I tell?”
“Louis,” said I, “why not be honest with me? I am certainly not a person to be afraid of. I am very largely in your hands over the Tapilow affair, and, as you know, I have seen too much of the world to consider trifles. I do not believe that Mr. Delora came to London to sell his crop of coffee. I do not believe that you are ignorant of his affairs. I do not believe that his disappearance is so much a mystery to you as it is to the rest of us—say to me and to mademoiselle his niece.”