“Penelope!” he exclaimed. “Why, what on earth—”
“My dear Dicky,” she interrupted, laughing at his expression, “you need not look so displeased with me. Of course, I know that I ought not to have come and sent a message into your club. I will admit at once that it was very forward of me. Perhaps when I have told you why I did so, you won’t look so shocked.”
“I’m glad to see you, anyway,” he declared. “There’s no bad news, I hope?”
“Nothing that concerns us particularly,” she answered. “I simply want to have a little talk with you. Come in here with me, please, at once. We can ride for a short distance anywhere.”
“But I am just in the middle of a rubber of bridge,” he objected.
“It can’t be helped,” she declared. “To tell you the truth, the matter I want to talk to you about is of more importance than any game of cards. Don’t be foolish, Dicky. You have your hat in your hand. Step in here by my side at once.”
He looked a little bewildered, but he obeyed her, as most people did when she was in earnest. She gave the driver an address somewhere in the city. As soon as they were off, she turned towards him.
“Dicky,” she said, “do you read the newspapers?”
“Well, I can’t say that I do regularly,” he answered. “I read the New York Herald, but these London journals are a bit difficult, aren’t they? One has to dig the news out,—sort of treasure-hunt all the time.”
“You have read this murder case, at any rate,” she asked, “about the man who was killed in a special train between Liverpool and London?”
“Of course,” he answered, with a sudden awakening of interest. “What about it?”
“A good deal,” she answered slowly. “In the first place, the man who was murdered—Mr. Hamilton Fynes—comes from the village where I was brought up in Massachusetts, and I know more about him, I dare say, than any one else in this country. What I know isn’t very much, perhaps, but it’s interesting. I was to have lunched with him at the Carlton today; in fact, I went there expecting to do so, for I am like you—I scarcely ever look inside these English newspapers. Well, I went to the Carlton and waited and he did not come. At last I went into the office and asked whether he had arrived. Directly I mentioned his name, it was as though I had thrown a bomb shell into the place. The clerk called me on one side, took me into a private office, and showed me a newspaper. As soon as I had read the account, I was interviewed by an inspector from Scotland Yard. Ever since then I have been followed about by reporters.”
The young man whistled softly.
“Say, Penelope!” he exclaimed. “Who was this fellow, anyhow, and what were you doing lunching with him?”
“That doesn’t matter,” she answered. “You don’t tell me all your secrets, Mr. Dicky Vanderpole, and it isn’t necessary for me to tell you all mine, even if we are both foreigners in a strange country. The poor fellow isn’t going to lunch with any one else in this world. I suppose you are thinking what an indiscreet person I am, as usual?”