So that was why her coup had fallen flat? thought Kitty.
“I’ll tell you this much,” said Thomas. (Kitty heard him tap his pipe against the veranda railing.) “Play fair or, by the lord, I’ll smash you! I’m going to stick to my end of the bargain, and see that you walk straight with yours.”
“I see what’s worrying you. Clear your mind. I would not marry the richest, handsomest woman in all the world, Thomas. There’s a dead heart inside of me.”
“There’s another thing. I’d get rid of that valet.”
“He’s too bally soft on his feet to my liking. I don’t like him.”
“Neither do I, Thomas!” murmured Kitty, forgetting all about her hunger. Not a word about her sapphires, though. Did she see but the surface of things? Was there something deeper?
She stole back up-stairs. As she reached the upper landing, some one brushed past her, swiftly, noiselessly. With the rush of air which followed the prowler’s wake came a peculiar sickish odor. She waited for a while. But there was no sound in all the great house.
“The Carew cottage was entered last night,” said Killigrew, “and twenty thousand in diamonds are gone. Getting uncomfortably close. You and your mother, Kitty, had better let me take your jewels into town to-day.”
“We have nothing out here but trinkets.”
“Trinkets! Do you call that fire-opal a trinket? Better let me take it into town, anyway. I’m Irish enough to be superstitious about opals.”
“Oh, well; if the thought of having it around makes you nervous, I’ll give it to you. The Crawfords and Mr. Forbes are coming down this afternoon. You must be home again before dinner. Here’s the opal.” She took it from around her neck.
“Crawfords? Fine!” Killigrew slipped the gem into his wallet. “I’ll bring them back on the yacht if you’ll take the trouble to phone them to meet me at the club pier.”
“I’ll do so at once. Good-by! Mind the street-crossing,” she added, mimicking her mother’s voice.
“I’ll be careful,” he laughed, stepping into the launch which immediately swung away toward the beautiful yacht, dazzling white in the early morning sunshine.
Kitty waved her handkerchief, turned and walked slowly back to the villa. Who had passed her in the upper hall? And on what errand? Neither Thomas nor Lord Monckton, for she had left them on the veranda. Perhaps she was worrying unnecessarily. It might have been one of her guests, going down to the library for a book to read.
She met Lord Monckton coming out.
“Fine morning!” he greeted. He made a gesture, palm upward.
A slight shiver touched the nape of Kitty’s neck. She had never noticed before how frightfully scarred his thumbs and finger-tips were. He saw the glance.