He threw open the door he had closed. There, standing in the corridor, was the man Larry had known as Mah Retto—the man he believed was Mr. Potter. The patient was smiling at the reporter.
“There is your father, Grace,” said Larry.
The girl gave one look at the man confronting her. She seemed to sway forward, and became deathly pale——
“That is not my father!” she cried, as she fell in a faint.
IN HIS ENEMIES’ POWER
“Quick! Catch her!” cried the hospital superintendent, springing forward, but it was Larry who put out his arms and kept Grace from falling to the floor.
“Here, nurse,” called one of several physicians who had gathered in the corridor when the news spread that the missing patient had returned. “Look after her, please. Carry her into the receiving room.”
“Who is she?” asked the patient, who had caused such a stir, and to whom no one seemed to be paying any attention in the excitement caused by Grace’s swoon. The man had not caught a good look at the girl.
“She is Grace Potter,” replied Larry, glancing curiously at Mah Retto.
“Grace Potter? Hamden Potter’s daughter?” The man seemed greatly excited.
“Yes. She came here expecting, as I did, to meet her father. I thought you were Mr. Potter. She says you are not.”
“No, I am not,” replied the man.
“Then who are you? Where is her father? You know! I am sure of it!” Larry was upset over the mistake he and the detective had made.
“I did know where Mr. Potter was,” and as he made that answer Retto gave every evidence of being under a great strain. His hands shook with more than the weakness of his illness. He was paler than the white hue caused by his confinement in the hospital.
“Why? Have you lost track of him?”
“I am afraid so. Listen, young man, perhaps you can help me. Let us get to some place where we can talk. I have strange news for you.”
“Then you know me?” and the young reporter looked somewhat surprised.
“I couldn’t very well help it, with the way you have kept after me lately. But we have no time to lose. Something most unexpected has happened. Mr. Potter is in the hands of his enemies!”
“Then he is found?”
“Yes, in a way, but he might better be lost!”
“What do you mean?”
“Come in here and I will tell you.”
Retto led the way to a small room off the main corridor.
“What does this mean?” asked the hospital superintendent.
“I will explain later,” replied Retto. “Just now it is very necessary that I have a talk with this young man.”
The superintendent turned away and Retto closed the door. He sat down in a chair, and Larry could see that he was trembling from weakness.
“I must talk quickly,” he said, “for I am still very ill. I made a desperate effort to go out in order to get in communication with Mr. Potter. I mailed him a letter and then called him up on the telephone——”