“In a few minutes, dear, I must be off,” he announced. “You won’t mind being left, will you?”
Her lips trembled.
“Why should I?” she murmured. “Of course you must go to work.”
He went behind his little screen, where he plunged his head into a basin of cold water. When he reappeared, a few minutes later, he was ready to start.
“I expect those fellows will have cleared out from your rooms by now,” he said, throwing open the door. “Hullo, what’s this?”
A trunk and hatbox had been dragged out onto the landing. A policeman was sitting on a chair in front of the closed door, reading a newspaper.
“We have collected the young lady’s belongings, so far as possible, sir,” he remarked. “If there is anything else belonging to her, she may be able to get it later on.”
“Do you mean to say that she can’t go back to her own rooms?” Arnold demanded.
“I am sorry, sir,” the man replied, “but I am here to see that no one enters them under any pretext.”
Arnold looked at him blankly.
“But what is the young lady to do?” he protested. “She has no other home.”
The policeman remained unmoved.
“Sorry, sir,” he said, “but her friends will have to find her one for the time being. She certainly can’t come in here.”
Arnold felt a sudden weight upon his arm. Ruth had been standing by his side and had heard everything. He led her gently back. She was trembling violently.
“Don’t worry about me, Arnold,” she begged. “You go away. By the time you come back, I—I shall have found a home somewhere.”
He passed his arm around her. A wild flash in her eyes had suddenly revealed her thought.
“Unless you promise me,” he said firmly, “that I shall find you on that couch when I return this evening, I shall not leave this room.”
“The business of Samuel Weatherley & Company,” he interrupted, glancing at the clock, “will be entirely disorganized unless you promise.”
“I promise,” she murmured faintly.
MR. WEATHERLEY’S DISAPPEARANCE
Arnold arrived at Tooley Street only a few minutes after his usual time. He made his way at once into the private office and commenced his work. At ten o’clock Mr. Jarvis came in. The pile of letters upon Mr. Weatherley’s desk was as yet untouched.
“Any idea where the governor is?” the cashier asked. “He’s nearly half an hour late.”
Arnold glanced at the clock.
“Mr. Weatherley is spending the week-end down the river,” he said. “I dare say the trains up are a little awkward.”
Mr. Jarvis looked at him curiously.
“How do you happen to know that?”
“I was there yesterday for a short time,” Arnold told him.
Mr. Jarvis whistled softly.