“Jacob, what brings you back so soon?” The Duchess ran into the room, a trim little figure in her morning dress of blue-and-white cloth, with her small spitz leaping beside her.
“I came to tell you that I got your telegram yesterday, and that in the evening, by an extraordinary and fortunate chance, I met Miss Le Breton in Paris—”
“You met Julie in Paris?” echoed the Duchess, in astonishment.
“She had come to spend a couple of days with some friends there before going on to Bruges. I gave her the news of Lord Lackington’s illness, and she at once turned back. She was much fatigued and distressed, and the night was stormy. I put her into the sleeping-car, and came back myself to see if I could be any assistance to her. And at Calais I was of some use. The crossing was very rough.”
“Julie was in Paris?” repeated the Duchess, as though she had heard nothing else of what he had been saying.
Her eyes, so blue and large in her small, irregular face, sought those of her cousin and endeavored to read them.
“It seems to have been a rapid change of plan. And it was a great stroke of luck my meeting her.”
“But how—and where?”
“Oh, there is no time for going into that,” said Delafield, impatiently. “But I knew you would like to know that she was here—after your message yesterday. We arrived a little after six this morning. About nine I went for news to St. James’s Square. There is a slight rally.”
“Did you see Lord Uredale? Did you say anything about Julie?” asked the Duchess, eagerly.
“I merely asked at the door, and took the bulletin to Miss Le Breton. Will you see Uredale and arrange it? I gather you saw him yesterday.”
“By all means,” said the Duchess, musing. “Oh, it was so curious yesterday. Lord Lackington had just told them. You should have seen those two men.”
The Duchess nodded.
“They don’t like it. They were as stiff as pokers. But they will do absolutely the right thing. They see at once that she must be provided for. And when he asked for her they told me to telegraph, if I could find out where she was. Well, of all the extraordinary chances.”
She looked at him again, oddly, a spot of red on either small cheek. Delafield took no notice. He was pacing up and down, apparently in thought.
“Suppose you take her there?” he said, pausing abruptly before her.
“To St. James’s Square? What did you tell her?”
“That he was a trifle better, and that you would come to her.”
“Yes, it would be hard for her to go alone,” said the Duchess, reflectively. She looked at her watch. “Only a little after eleven. Ring, please, Jacob.”
The carriage was ordered. Meanwhile the little lady inquired eagerly after her Julie. Had she been exhausted by the double journey? Was she alone in Paris, or was Madame Bornier with her?