“You know her?” the clerk asked a little eagerly.
The inspector was engaged, apparently, in studying the pattern of the carpet.
“Not exactly,” he answered. “No, I have no absolute knowledge of Miss Penelope Morse. By the bye, that was rather an interesting address that she gave.”
“Devenham House,” the hotel clerk remarked. “Do you know who lives there?”
The inspector nodded.
“The Duke of Devenham,” he answered. “A very interesting young lady, I should think, that. I wonder what she and Mr. Hamilton Fynes would have talked about if they had lunched here today.”
The hotel clerk looked dubious. He did not grasp the significance of the question.
CHAPTER V. AN AFFAIR OF STATE
Miss Penelope Morse was perfectly well aware that the taxicab in which she left the Carlton Hotel was closely followed by two others. Through the tube which she found by her side, she altered her first instructions to the driver, and told him to proceed as fast as possible to Harrod’s Stores. Then, raising the flap at the rear of the cab, she watched the progress of the chase. Along Pall Mall the taxi in which she was seated gained considerably, but in the Park and along the Bird Cage Walk both the other taxies, risking the police regulations, drew almost alongside. Once past Hyde Park Corner, however, her cab again drew ahead, and when she was deposited in front of Harrod’s Stores, her pursuers were out of sight. She paid the driver quickly, a little over double his fare.
“If any one asks you questions,” she said, “say that you had instructions to wait here for me. Go on to the rank for a quarter of an hour. Then you can drive away.”
“You won’t be coming back, then, miss?” the man asked.
“I shall not,” she answered, “but I want those men who are following me to think that I am. They may as well lose a little time for their rudeness.”
The chauffeur touched his hat and obeyed his instructions. Miss Penelope Morse plunged into the mazes of the Stores with the air of one to whom the place is familiar. She did not pause, however, at any of the counters. In something less than two minutes she had left it again by a back entrance, stepped into another taxicab which was just setting down a passenger, and was well on her way back towards Pall Mall. Her ruse appeared to have been perfectly successful. At any rate, she saw nothing more of the occupants of the two taxicabs.
She stopped in front of one of the big clubs and, scribbling a line on her card, gave it to the door keeper.
“Will you find out if this gentleman is in?” she said. “If he is, will you kindly ask him to step out and speak to me?”
She returned to the cab and waited. In less than five minutes a tall, broad-shouldered young man, clean-shaven, and moving like an athlete, came briskly down the steps. He carried a soft hat in his hand, and directly he spoke his transatlantic origin was apparent.