“If it’s no trouble,” Jack replied, eagerly.
“None whatever. I must go back to the office, anyway.”
Jack was impatient to start, and he no longer felt hungry. He ordered a light supper, however, and ate it hurriedly. He finished at the same time as Hunston, and they left the “Cheese” and plunged into the outer fog and crowds. A short walk brought them to the Universe building, which was just closing its doors to the public. Hunston turned up the gas in his office.
“Here you are,” he said, taking a letter from a pigeon-hole over the desk.
Jack looked at it sharply, and disappointment banished hope. He scowled savagely, and an half-audible oath slipped from his lips. He had recognized Diane’s peculiar penmanship. She was in London, contrary to promise, and had dared to write to him.
“Sit down,” said Hunston. “Have a cigar?”
“No; I’m off,” Jack answered dully, as he thrust the letter into his pocket unopened.
Hunston regarded him anxiously.
“Ill see you to-morrow?” he asked. “You know it’s rather important, and I’ll want one of the double pages by next Wednesday.”
“I’ll turn up,” Jack promised, in an absent tone.
With that he hastened away, and as he trod the Strand his brain was in a confused whirl, and he was oblivious of the frothing life about him. He groped across Waterloo Bridge in the fog, and looked wistfully toward the black river. He did not care to read the letter yet. It was enough for the present to know that his wife had broken her word and returned to London, doubtless with the intention of demanding more money. He vowed that she should not have a penny. Fierce anger and resentment rose in his heart as he remembered, with anguish as keen as it had ever been, the blow Diane had dealt him.
“I will show her no mercy,” he resolved.
In the privacy of his room, when he had locked the door and lighted the gas, he took out the letter. His face was dark and scowling as he tore it open, and read the few lines that it contained:
“DEAR JACK:—You will fly into a passion when you find that I am in London, but you won’t blame me when you learn the reasons that have brought me back. I knew that you had returned from India, and I want to see you. Not having your address, I am sending the letter to the Universe office, and I hope it will be delivered to you promptly. Will you come to 324 Beak street, at half-past eight to-morrow night? The street door will be open. Go to the top of the stairs, and knock at the first door on the left. Do not fear that I shall ask for money, or make other demands. I have much to tell you, of the greatest importance to your future happiness. If you do not come you will regret it all your life. I will expect you. DIANE.”
With a bitter laugh Jack flung the letter on a table. It was not written in French, for Diane was herself of English birth, though of her history before she came to Paris her husband was ignorant; she had never spoken to him of her earlier years, nor had he questioned her about them.