“Stop, please.” The sternness of Mark’s voice effectually silenced the weeping woman. “What were those men like?”
“Big, so big. One had bushy eyebrows that frown always. He was dark and short, but he was very large of the shoulders.”
Mark turned to Father Murray.
“It is useless to follow in a car, Father. The man she describes is the murderer. I saw the car early this morning; it is a seventy horsepower, and nothing but a racing car could catch it now. The lady is safe, in any event. They will carry her to Washington. When they find she is not the Grand Duchess, they will let her go. Will you come to Washington with me?”
“Her mother was my twin sister, and she herself has been as a daughter to me ever since I first saw her, a babe in arms,” replied Father Murray. “Let us go.”
Madame Neuville rushed toward the great house, but the two men stepped back through the tree and hurriedly returned to Sihasset.
Saunders, having selected the most comfortable chair in the hotel lobby, was dozing placidly when Mark rushed in, and shook the detective vigorously.
“Wake up,” he called. “Will you come with me to Washington? When is there a train connecting with the Congressional Limited? Father Murray wants to catch that.”
Saunders was alert in an instant.
“Sure, I’ll go. Train leaves in fifty minutes; you get the Limited at the Junction—have to wait nearly an hour for the connection, though. What’s up?”
“Hurry! I’ll tell you later. Pack only what you need. Here, you pay the bills.” Mark shoved his purse into Saunders’ hands. “Keep the rooms; we’ll need them when we return. I’m off. Oh, yes! I forgot.” Mark stopped on his way to the stairs. “Telephone the Padre about the train.”
In good time, Father Murray, Mark and Saunders stood at the end of the station platform, grips in hand.
“Now, open up,” said Saunders. “What’s wrong?”
Mark looked inquiringly at the priest. Father Murray briefly gave the detective a resume of what had occurred, including the information which had so stunned Mark Griffin, and now had an even more stunning effect on Saunders, the information regarding the priest’s relationship to Ruth Atheson.
“But, Father, this looks like the impossible. It’s unbelievable that these people could be mistaken about someone they had trailed from Europe. They were so sure about it that they killed that officer.”
“Ruth Atheson is my sister’s daughter, Mr. Saunders,” was the only answer vouchsafed by the priest. He boarded the train, followed by his companions.
Saunders sat in puzzled silence till the junction point was reached. Then the three alighted, and Father Murray turned to the detective.