“Then I must try to deserve it,” Foster answered with a bow. “But what about your old servant, John? Have you much confidence in him?”
The girl’s tense face relaxed. “In a sense, John is one of the family, but if you want his help, you must use some tact and not expect Western frankness. He is remarkably discreet.”
Foster opened the door for her, and then went to the gun-room, where he found John, who had driven him from the station when he arrived, pouring out some Rangoon oil. Sitting down carelessly, he lighted a cigarette.
“I understand you were rather fond of my partner, Lawrence Featherstone,” he remarked.
“If I may say so, sir, I was. A very likable young gentleman.”
“I expect you know he got into trouble.”
John looked pained at his bluntness. “I heard something about it, sir. Perhaps Mr. Lawrence was a little wild. It sometimes happens in very good families.”
“Just so,” said Foster. “Would you be surprised to hear he hadn’t got out of that trouble yet?”
“Not surprised exactly; I was afraid of something like it, sir.”
Foster knew this was as much as he would admit, but felt that he could trust the man.
“Very well. My partner’s in some danger, and with Mr. Featherstone’s permission I must try to see him through, but may want your help. I suppose you’re willing?”
“Yes, sir. If it’s for Mr. Lawrence, you can take it that I am.”
“You can drive an automobile pretty well?”
“Not like a professional, sir, but now we don’t keep a chauffeur I often drive to the station.”
“That’s satisfactory. I may want the car to-morrow evening, but nobody else must know about this.”
“Very good, sir,” said John. “When you’re ready you can give me your instructions; they’ll go no further.”
Then he dipped a rag in the oil and began to rub a gun, and Foster went out, feeling satisfied. It was plain that he could rely upon the old fellow, who he thought was unflinchingly loyal to the Featherstones. After all, it was something to have the respect and affection of one’s servant.
THE FALSE TRAIL
When Foster got up next morning he had made his plan, and spent ten minutes explaining it to John. The old fellow understood his orders, and although he listened with formal deference, the faint twinkle in his eyes showed that he approved. After breakfast, Foster asked Featherstone to come out on the terrace and while they walked about indicated the line he thought it best to take.
Featherstone agreed, but expressed some misgivings. “There may be danger in putting Daly on the track, and after all I’m only delaying a crisis that must be faced.”
“The longer it’s delayed, the better; something may happen in the meantime,” Foster replied. “Then, you see, the track is false. When the fellow finds you obstinate, he’ll try to get hold of Lawrence, particularly as he got money from him before; but as he believes Lawrence is in England, he’ll have some trouble. The advantage is that he won’t be able to bother you while all his time and energy’s occupied by following me.”