Arnold stood for a moment quite still. Then he took up the receiver and obeyed his orders. Groves’ voice was as quiet and respectful as ever. He departed with the message and Arnold rang off. Then he turned to Mr. Weatherley.
“Have you any objection to my ringing up some one else and telling him, too?” he asked.
Mr. Weatherley looked at him.
“You are like all of them,” he remarked. “I suppose you think he’s a sort of demigod. I never knew a young man yet that he couldn’t twist round his little finger. You want to ring up Count Sabatini, I suppose?”
“I should like to,” Arnold admitted.
“Very well, go on,” Mr. Weatherley grumbled. “Let him know. Perhaps it will be as well.”
Arnold took from his pocket the note which Sabatini had written to him, and which contained his telephone number. Then he rang up. The call was answered by his valet.
“In one moment, sir,” he said. “The telephone rings into His Excellency’s bedchamber. He shall speak to you himself.”
A minute or two passed. Then the slow, musical voice of Sabatini intervened.
“Who is that speaking?”
“It is I—Arnold Chetwode,” Arnold answered. “I am speaking from the office in the city. I heard some news a few minutes ago which I thought might interest you.”
“Good!” Sabatini replied, stifling what seemed to be a yawn. “You have awakened me from a long sleep, so let your news be good, my young friend.”
“Mr. Weatherley hears from a solicitor at Bow Street that the police have abandoned the charge against Mr. Starling,” Arnold announced. “He will be set at liberty as soon as the court opens.”
There was a moment’s silence. It was as though the person at the other end had gone away.
“Did you hear?” Arnold asked.
“Yes, I heard,” Sabatini answered. “I am very much obliged to you for ringing me up, my young friend. I quite expected to hear your news during the day. No one would really suppose that a respectable man like Starling would be guilty of such a ridiculous action. However, it is pleasant to know. I thank you. I take my coffee and rolls this morning with more appetite.”
Arnold set down the telephone. Mr. Weatherley, had risen to his feet and walked as far as the window. On his way back to his place, he looked at the little safe which he had made over to his secretary.
“You’ve got my papers there all right, Chetwode?” he asked.
“Certainly, sir,” Arnold answered. “I hope, however, we may never need to use them.”
Mr. Weatherley smiled. He was busy choosing another cigar.
IN THE COUNTRY
They sat on the edge of the wood, and a west wind made music for them overhead among the fir trees. From their feet a clover field sloped steeply to a honeysuckle-wreathed hedge. Beyond that, meadow-land, riven by the curving stream which stretched like a thread of silver to the blue, hazy distance. Arnold laughed softly with the pleasure of it, but the wonder kept Ruth tongue-tied.