“Then what are you doing in this motor launch?”
“Marking the time. Waiting.”
“A woman—a wife, my friend. The one thing needful is a woman—with much money. My face will win her fortune—you understand. That is why I came to England. Italy has no rich heiresses for the present. But I have made a false step here. I must go among the elite, where there is large money. When gold speaks, all tongues are silent.”
“You don’t deceive yourself?”
“No—I know what I have to market. Women are very attracted by the beauty of my face, signor.”
“It is the type—classical and ancient—that they adore. Why not? Only a fool pretends that he is less than he is. Such a gifted man as I, with the blood of a proud and a noble race in his veins—everything to be desired—romance—and the gift to love as only an Italian loves—such a man must find a very splendid, rich girl. It is only a question of patience. But such a treasure will not be found with this old sea wolf. He is not of long descent. I did not know. I should have seen him and his little mean hole first before coming to him. I advertise again and get into a higher atmosphere.”
Brendon found his thoughts wholly occupied with Jenny Pendean. Was it within the bounds of possibility that she, as time passed to dim her sufferings and sense of loss, might look twice at this extraordinary being? He wondered, but thought it improbable. Moreover the last of the Dorias evidently aimed at greater position and greater wealth than Michael Pendean’s widow had to offer. Mark found himself despising the extraordinary creature, who violated so frankly and cheerfully every English standard of reserve and modesty. Yet the other’s self-possession and sense of his own value in the market impressed him.
He was glad to give Doria five shillings and leave him at the landing-stage. But none the less Giuseppe haunted his imagination. One might dislike his arrogance, or rejoice in his physical beauty, but to escape his vitality and the electric force of him was impossible.
Brendon soon reached the police station and hastened to communicate with Plymouth, Paignton, and Princetown. To the last place he sent a special direction and told Inspector Halfyard to visit Mrs. Gerry at Station Cottages and make a careful examination of the room which Robert Redmayne had there occupied.
ROBERT REDMAYNE IS SEEN
A sense of unreality impressed itself upon Mark Brendon after this stage in his inquiry. A time was coming when the false atmosphere in which he moved would be blown away by a stronger mind and a greater genius than his own; but already he found himself dimly conscious that some fundamental error had launched him along the wrong road—that he was groping in a blind alley and had missed the only path leading toward reality.