“We’ll do it, Mr. Harleston,” the manager acquiesced instantly. “Come down to the office and we’ll go over the guest diagram, while I have every unoccupied room looked into. In fact, sir, we’ll do anything short of burglaring our guests.”
“I’ll be right down,” Harleston said; “after I’ve bathed my face and straightened up a bit.”
The contusion on his cheek was not particularly noticeable; it might be worse in the morning; his collar was a trifle crushed and his hair was awry; on the whole, he had come out of the fight very well.
He took up his stick and gloves, put on his hat so as to shade, as far as possible, the cheek-bone, and went down to the private office.
There was, of course, the chance that Mrs. Clephane had lured him into the trap, and had herself written the decoy note; but he did not believe her guilty. Even though Crenshaw had adroitly implicated her, he was not influenced. Indeed, he was convinced of just the reverse:—that she was honest and sincere and inexperienced, and that she had told him the true story of the letter and its loss. At least he was acting on that theory, and was prepared to see it through. Maybe he was a fool to believe those brown eyes and that soft voice and those charming ways; if so, he preferred to be a fool for a little while, to, if not, being a fool to her forever. He had, in his time, encountered many women with beautiful faces and compelling eyes and alluring voices and charming ways, but with none had they been so blended as in Mrs. Clephane.
He did not know a thing as to her history—he did not even know whether she was married, a widow, or a divorcee. Whatever she was, he was willing to accept her as genuine—until she was proven otherwise.
All of which would indicate that she had made something of an impression on Harleston—who was neither by nature nor by experience impressible and, in the diplomatic game, had about as much sentiment as a granite crag. In fact, with Harleston every woman who appeared in the diplomatic game lay under instant and heavy suspicion.
Mrs. Clephane was the first exception.
On the slender chance of finding Mrs. Clephane, Harleston made another tour of the rooms and corridor on the first floor.