No one was within sight or sound, so she put her arms about his neck and lifted her lips to his.
“Jack, you have made me so happy,” she whispered. “I will forget that false, wicked letter. I love you, love you, dear. And I will be your wife whenever you wish—”
Her voice broke, and he kissed a tear from her burning cheek.
“My Madge!” he said, softly. “Do you care so much for me?”
Half an hour later they parted at the Hanover Gate. As he turned his steps homeward, the cowardly anonymous letter lay heavily on his mind. Who could have written it, and what did it contain? He more than suspected that it referred to his youthful marriage with Diane Merode.
When he reached the studio he found on his desk a letter bearing a French stamp. He opened it curiously.
“Just as I suspected!” Jack exclaimed. “I knew I couldn’t be mistaken. I have spotted the thief. The queer chap who bought my water-color sketches is the same who carried off the Rembrandt. How cleverly he worked his little game! But there my information stops, and I doubt if the police could make much out of it.”
The letter, which he had crumpled excitedly in his hand after reading it, was written in French; freely translated it ran as follows:
“No. 15, BOULEVARD DE COURCELLES, PARIS.
“My Dear Jack—I was rejoiced to hear from you, after so long a silence, and it gave me sincere pleasure to look into the matter of which you spoke. But I fear that my answers must be in the negative. It is certain that no such individual as M. Felix Marchand lives in or near the Pare Monceaux, where I have numerous acquaintances; nor do I find the name in the directory of Paris. Moreover, he is unknown to the dealer, Cambon, on the Quai Voltaire, of whom I made inquiries. So the matter rests. I am pleased to learn of your prosperity. When shall I see you once more in Lutetia?
“With amiable sentiments I inscribe myself,
“Your old friend,
“I’ll take the earliest opportunity of seeing Lamb and Drummond,” Jack resolved. “The affair will interest them, and it may lead to something. But I shan’t bother about it—I didn’t value the picture very highly, and the thief almost deserves to keep it for his cleverness.”
During the next three days, however, Jack was too busy to carry out his plan—at least in the mornings. Not for any consideration would he have sacrificed his afternoons, for then he met Madge in Regent’s Park, and spent an hour or more with her, reckless of extortionate cab fares from Ravenscourt Park to the neighborhood of Portland Terrace. On the second night, dining in town, he met Victor Nevill, and had a long chat with him, the two going to a music-hall afterward. Jack was discreetly silent about his love affair, nor did he or Nevill refer to the little incident near Richmond Hill.