“Gee whiz!” the young man exclaimed. “You’re telling me things, and no mistake! Why this fellow Fynes made a secret service messenger of you!”
“It was all very simple,” she said. “The first Mrs. Harvey, who was alive then, was my greatest friend, and I was in and out of the place all the time. Now, perhaps, you can understand the significance of that marconigram from Hamilton Fynes asking me to lunch with him at the Carlton today.”
Mr. Richard Vanderpole was sitting bolt upright, gazing steadily ahead.
“I wonder,” he said slowly, “what has become of the letter which he was going to give you!”
“One thing is certain,” she declared. “It is in the hands of those whose interests would have been affected by its delivery.”
“How much of this am I to tell the chief?” the young man asked.
“Every word,” Penelope answered. “You see, I am trying to give you a start in your career. What bothers me is an entirely different question.”
“What is it?” he asked.
She laid her hand upon his arm.
“How much of it I shall tell to a certain gentleman who calls himself Inspector Jacks!”
The Lusitania boat specials ran into Euston Station soon after three o’clock in the afternoon. A small company of reporters, and several other men whose profession was not disclosed from their appearance, were on the spot to interview certain of the passengers. A young fellow from the office of the Evening Comet was, perhaps, the most successful, as, from the lengthy description which had been telegraphed to him from Liverpool, he was fortunate enough to accost the only person who had been seen speaking to the murdered man upon the voyage.
“This is Mr. Coulson, I believe?” the young man said with conviction, addressing a somewhat stout, gray-headed American, with white moustache, a Homburg hat, and clothes of distinctly transatlantic cut.
That gentlemen regarded his interlocutor with some surprise but without unfriendliness.
“That happens to be my name, sir,” he replied. “You have the advantage of me, though. You are not from my old friends Spencer & Miles, are you?”
“Spencer & Miles,” the young man repeated thoughtfully.
“Woollen firm in London Wall,” Mr. Coulson added. “I know they wanted to see me directly I arrived, and they did say something about sending to the station.”
The young man shook his head, and assumed at the same time his most engaging manner.
“Why, no, sir!” he admitted. “I have no connection with that firm at all. The fact is I am on the staff of an evening paper. A friend of mine in Liverpool—a mutual friend, I believe I may say,” he explained—“wired me your description. I understand that you were acquainted with Mr. Hamilton Fynes?”