“I suppose that is so,” Foster agreed. “Hulton soon got into the way of sending for Lawrence when he wanted any lumber that had to be carefully sawn. In fact, he treats him as a kind of consulting specialist, and I imagine likes him personally.”
He was silent for the next minute or two. Featherstone’s remark had shown him more clearly than he had hitherto realized how high Lawrence stood in the manufacturer’s esteem. No other outsider was treated with such confidence. Then he told Featherstone about his journey, and the latter said:
“I have heard nothing from Daly, but soon after you left, a gentleman from Edinburgh came here to inquire about you.”
“Ah!” said Foster, rather sharply. “I suppose he was sent by the police and imagine I met him at my hotel. His name was Gordon; I thought it curious that he gave me his card.”
“That was the name. He asked if I knew you and I said I did.”
“Then it looks as if he meant to test my statements. Did he seem surprised to learn I was staying here?”
“It was hard to tell what the fellow thought; but somehow I felt that he expected to find your story true. He, however, gave me no information. What do you suppose he wants?”
“I can’t imagine; the thing’s puzzling. What makes it stranger is that I thought the interest Gordon took in me was, so to speak, benevolent.”
“But why should it be benevolent, if he had any ground for suspecting you?” Featherstone asked.
Foster glanced at him keenly. There was a change in his host’s manner, which had grown less cordial, but he admitted that Featherstone’s confidence was being subjected to some strain. It would certainly be disturbing to find the police inquiring about him. Lawrence had not written, and Foster saw that there was much in his statements that sounded rather lame.
“I don’t understand the matter at all; but it might be better if I left quietly in the morning,” he said. “If I don’t put Daly on my trail again, he may come back.”
“Very well,” said Featherstone, getting up. “But what did you do with Lawrence’s bag?”
“I left it at a Peebles hotel. I thought if Daly found it was there, it would give him a place to watch.”
Featherstone gloomily made a sign of agreement. “I wish Lawrence would write to us. We are getting anxious about him and a letter would put our minds at rest.”
FOSTER SEES A LIGHT
After leaving the Garth, Foster went to Carlisle, where he bought small articles at different shops and had them sent to his hotel, addressed to Featherstone. He also asked if any letters for his partner had come, and then, having done all he could think of to give his pursuers a hint, waited to see what would happen. He imagined that since Daly seemed to be well provided with money he would not undertake the search alone, and there were private inquiry agents who would help him. The services of these gentlemen would not be cheap, and Foster wondered if the fellow knew that there was not very much to be extorted from Featherstone. This, however, was Daly’s business, and seeing no result from his experiment, he resolved to leave Carlisle.