Mr. Carr and his clerk had returned together. The former, after a few moments, came in to Lord Hartledon.
“A nice fellow you are, Carr! Sending me word to be here at eleven o’clock, and then walking off for two mortal hours!”
“I sent you word to wait for me at your own home!”
“Well, that’s good!” returned Val. “It said, ‘Be here at eleven,’ as plainly as writing could say it.”
“And there was a postscript over the leaf telling you, on second thought, not to be here, but to wait at home for me,” said Mr. Carr. “I remembered a matter of business that would take me up your way this morning, and thought I’d go on to you. It’s just your careless fashion, Hartledon, reading only half your letters! You should have turned it over.”
“Who was to think there was anything on the other side? Folk don’t turn their letters over from curiosity when they are concluded on the first page.”
“I never had a letter in my life but I turned it over to make sure,” observed the more careful barrister. “I have had my walk for nothing.”
“And I have been cooling my heels here! And you took the newspaper with you!”
“No, I did not. Churton sent in from his rooms to borrow it.”
“Well, let the misunderstanding go, and forgive me for being cross. Do you know, Carr, I think I am growing ill-tempered from trouble. What news have you for me?”
“I’ll tell you by-and-by. Do you know who that is in the other room?”
“Not I. He seemed to stare me inside-out in a quiet way as I let him in.”
“Ay. It’s Green, the detective. At times a question occurs to me whether that’s his real name, or one assumed in his profession. He has come to report at last. Had you better remain?”
Mr. Carr looked dubious.
“You can make some excuse for my presence.”
“It’s not that. I’m thinking if you let slip a word—”
“Is it likely?”
“Inadvertently, I mean.”
“There’s no fear. You have not mentioned my name to him?”
“I retort in your own words—Is it likely? He does not know why he is being employed or what I want with the man I wish traced. At present he is working, as far as that goes, in the dark. I might have put him on a false scent, just as cleverly and unsuspiciously as I dare say he could put me; but I’ve not done it. What’s the matter with you to-day, Hartledon? You look ill.”
“I only look what I am, then,” was the answer. “But I’m no worse than usual. I’d rather be transported—I’d rather be hanged, for that matter—than lead the life of misery I am leading. At times I feel inclined to give in, but then comes the thought of Maude.”
SOMEBODY ELSE AT WORK.
They were shut in together: the detective officer, Mr. Carr, and Lord Hartledon. “You may speak freely before this gentleman,” observed Mr. Carr, as if in apology for a third being present. “He knows the parties, and is almost as much interested in the affair as I am.”