A TERRIBLE NIGHT
Louis disappeared from the room for the moment. I heard the outer door softly opened and closed. Then he came back into the sitting-room, followed by the man who had stood by our side at Charing Cross Station. The latter looked around the room quickly, and seemed disappointed to find it empty.
“I understood that Mr. Delora was here,” he said.
“Mr. Delora is in his bedroom,” Louis answered. “He is here, and perfectly willing to see you. But it is against the doctor’s orders, and my instructions were that I was to warn you not to excite him. You must speak slowly, and you may have to repeat anything which you wish him to understand.”
“Who are you?” the newcomer asked.
“I am Mr. Delora’s servant,” Louis answered.
The newcomer looked a little puzzled.
“Surely I have seen you before somewhere!” he exclaimed.
“It is very possible,” Louis answered. “I am also a waiter in the cafe below, but I come from South America, and Mr. Delora, when he is over, is always kind to me. I spend most of my time, now that he is ill, up here looking after him.”
The newcomer shook his head thoughtfully.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“Louis,” was the quiet answer.
“Then, my friend Louis,” the newcomer said, “understand me plainly. I am not here to be bamboozled, or to give you an opportunity for exercising any ability you may possess in the art of lying. I am here to see Delora, and if he is here, see him I will and must! If he is not here, well, it will come later. There is no roof nor any walls in London which will enclose that man and keep him from me!”
“Mr. Delora has no desire to hide himself from any one,” Louis answered calmly.
“That is a statement which I may be permitted to doubt!” the visitor answered. “Is that the door of his sleeping chamber? If so, I am going in!”
He pointed to the door, through the transept of which I was looking into the sitting-room. Louis moved on one side.
“That is Mr. Delora’s room,” he said softly. “Perhaps you had better let me be sure that he is awake.”
“You need not trouble,” the other answered. “If he is asleep I shall wake him. If he is awake he will know very well that there is no escaping me.”
He turned away from Louis. His hand was already outstretched toward the handle of my door. Then I saw Louis snatch the Malacca cane from its place and swing it behind his body. He was already poised for the blow—a blow which would have killed any man breathing—when I sprang to the ground and flung open the door.
“Look out!” I cried.
The newcomer sprang on one side. Louis, disturbed by my cry, lost his nerve, and the blow fell upon a small side table, smashing it through, and sending splinters flying into the air. Both men looked at me in the blankest of amazement. I came out into the sitting-room.