“I don’t know!” he objected. “She’s so extravagant in her praise of Harry that it seems unreal. It sounds insincere. Then, again, when I swear I will find him she shows a delight that you might describe as savage, almost vindictive. As though, if I did find Harry, the first thing she would do would be to stick a knife in him.”
“Maybe,” volunteered the doctor sadly, “she has heard there is a woman in the case. Maybe she is the one she’s thinking of sticking the knife into?”
“Well,” declared the reporter, “if she doesn’t stop looking savage every time I promise to find Harry I won’t find Harry. Why should I act the part of Fate, anyway? How do I know that Harry hasn’t got a wife in London and several in the States? How do we know he didn’t leave his country for his country’s good? That’s what it looks like to me. How can we tell what confronted him the day he went down to the hotel desk to change his rooms and, instead, got into his touring-car and beat the speed limit to Canada. Whom did he meet in the hotel corridor? A woman with a perfectly good marriage certificate, or a detective with a perfectly good warrant? Or did Harry find out that his bride had a devil of a temper of her own, and that for him marriage was a failure? The widow is certainly a very charming young woman, but there may be two sides to this.”
“You are a cynic, sir,” protested the doctor.
“That may be,” growled the reporter, “but I am not a private detective agency, or a matrimonial bureau, and before I hear myself saying, ’Bless you, my children!’ both of these young people will have to show me why they should not be kept asunder.”
On the afternoon of their arrival in London Ford convoyed Mrs. Ashton to an old-established private hotel in Craven Street.
“Here,” he explained, “you will be within a few hundred yards of the place in which your husband is said to spend his time. I will be living in the same hotel. If I find him you will know it in ten minutes.”
The widow gave a little gasp, whether of excitement or of happiness Ford could not determine.
“Whatever happens,” she begged, “will you let me hear from you sometimes? You are the only person I know in London—and—it’s so big it frightens me. I don’t want to be a burden,” she went on eagerly, “but if I can feel you are within call—”
“What you need,” said Ford heartily, “is less of the doctor’s nerve tonic and sleeping draughts, and a little innocent diversion. To-night I am going to take you to the Savoy to supper.”
Mrs. Ashton exclaimed delightedly, and then was filled with misgivings.
“I have nothing to wear,” she protested, “and over here, in the evening, the women dress so well. I have a dinner gown,” she exclaimed, “but it’s black. Would that do?”
Ford assured her nothing could be better. He had a man’s vanity in liking a woman with whom he was seen in public to be pretty and smartly dressed, and he felt sure that in black the blond beauty of Mrs. Ashton would appear to advantage. They arranged to meet at eleven on the promenade leading to the Savoy supper-room, and parted with mutual satisfaction at the prospect.