“Very good, your Excellency.”
Sabatini turned to Arnold.
“Come,” he said simply, “my automobile is waiting. Will you direct the man?”
They started off citywards. Sabatini, for a time, sat like a man in a dream, and Arnold, respecting his companion’s mood, kept silent. There seemed to be something unreal about their progress. To Arnold, with this man by his side, the amazing story which he had gathered from those ill-written pages, with their abrupt words and brutal cynicism, still ringing in his brain, their errand seemed like some phantasmal thing. The familiar streets bore a different aspect; the faces of the people whom they passed struck him always with a curious note of unreality. Ruth was Sabatini’s daughter! His brain refused to grasp so amazing a fact. Yet curiously enough, as he leaned back among the cushions, the likeness was there. The turn of the lips, the high forehead, the flawless delicacy of her oval face, in the light of this new knowledge were all startlingly reminiscent of the man who sat by his side now in a grim, unbroken silence. The wonder of it all remained unabated, but his sense of apprehension grew.
Presently Sabatini began to talk, rousing himself as though with an effort, and asking questions concerning Ruth, about her accident, her tastes. He heard of the days of her poverty with a little shiver. Arnold touched lightly upon these, realizing how much his companion was suffering. Their progress grew slower and slower as they passed into the heart of this strange land, down the narrow yet busy thoroughfare which seemed to be the main artery of the neighborhood. Strange names were above the shop-windows, strange articles were displayed behind them. Stalls were set out in the streets. Men and women, driven by the sulphurous heat to seek air, leaned half-dressed from the windows, or sat even upon the pavement in front of their houses. More than once they were obliged to come to a standstill owing to the throngs of loiterers. As they neared the last corner, Arnold leaned out and his heart sank. In front he could see the crowd kept back by a line of police.
“We are too late!” he exclaimed. “They have found him! They must be making the arrest even now!”
CLOSE TO TRAGEDY
The two men stood up in the automobile. Sabatini’s face had darkened. He leaned over and said something to the chauffeur. They drove on through the press of people, who gave way sullenly. A police inspector came to the side of the car.
“This way is blocked for the present, sir,” he said to Sabatini. “If you want to get past, you had better take one of the turnings to the left.”
“My destination is just here,” Sabatini replied. “Tell me, what is the cause of this disturbance?”
“Some of our men have gone to make an arrest in the street there, sir,” the inspector replied, “and we are having some trouble.”