“We don’t know that the Evershams have received a ‘letter.’ It might be another fraudulent telegram that was sent them from Alexandria.”
“That is a bit too thick. You’re a Holmes for suspicion!” Falconer laughed. “I believe if Miss Beecher herself walked into this dining room you would question if she were not a deceiving effigy!”
“I might question that anyway.” Billy’s tone was dry. “And I daresay I am a fool. But that dancer’s story is pretty straight if she didn’t know the names, and it fits in disasterously well with my limousine story.”
“You’re not the first man to be staggered by a coincidence,” Falconer told him. “And that woman’s yarn was convincing enough, though all the time I was dubious, you remember. But now that the Evershams have heard,” and the young Englishman’s deep note of relief showed how tormenting had been his uncertainty, “why now we have no further right to put Miss Beecher’s name into the affair. There is evidently some other girl concerned who may or may not be as guileless as she represented to the Baroff girl, and I shall lay that story before the ambassador and leave her rescue to authentic ways.”
He laughed a little shamefacedly at the unauthentic ways of last night, and added, looking off across the room, “My sister and Lady Claire are going to Luxor to-night, and I expect to accompany them. If you should have any word about Miss Beecher’s return here I should be glad if you would let me know.”
“If she is safe in Alexandria she’d never think of writing me,” said Billy bluntly. “Our acquaintance is distinctly one-sided.”
“I quite understand. She was your countrywoman in a strange land and all that.”
“And all that,” Billy echoed. “What time is your train?”
“Then if I don’t see you before that here’s good luck and good-by.”
Billy rose and shook hands and the two young men parted after a few more words.
“You have an idee-fixe—beware of it!” was Falconer’s caution, serious beneath its air of banter, and on the other hand Billy perceived in the cautioner a latent uneasiness considered so irrational that he was doing his sensible best to disown it.
So Falconer took himself off about the preparations for departure and Billy B. Hill was left to face his problem alone. Black worry plucked at him. He did not know what under the sun he could do next. Already that day he had done what he could. He had been out early and run down the one-eyed factotum loitering about the corner and under cover of a transaction over a scarab he had made a number of plans.
He wanted the Captain followed every instant of the day. There were enough active little Arabs greedy for piastres to do that well and send back constant word to him. There was coming that day, he felt, an interview between him and that Captain. Then he wanted the one-eyed man to insinuate himself into the palace. He must find out things. He could use his connection with the eunuch who was uncle of his brother’s wife.