She listened eagerly. Was it my fancy, or was she indeed a little paler? Her eyes seemed to gleam with a strange softness in the twilight. Her head drooped a a little as she resumed her former thoughtful attitude.
“Thank you,” she said, simply. “I believe that you are right.”
I caught up a bundle of papers from my desk and stole softly from the room. Ray was close at hand, and I called to him.
“She is in there waiting for you,” I said. “I have some transcribed matter, which I am taking up to the safe.”
Ray nodded abruptly, and I heard the door of my cottage open and close behind him.
MOSTYN RAY’S LOVE STORY
In a dark corner of the library, sitting motionless before a small writing-desk, I found the Duke. The table was littered all over with papers, a ledger or two and various documents. I had met Mr. Hulshaw, the agent to the estates, in the drive, so I judged that the two had had business together.
The Duke had not greeted me on my entrance, and he seemed to be asleep in his chair. But at the sound of the electric bell, which announced the opening of the safe, he turned sharply round.
“Is that you, Ducaine?”
“Yes, your Grace,” I answered.
“What are you doing there?”
“I have brought up the first batch of copy, sir,” I answered.
“You have sealed it properly?”
“With Lord Chelsford’s seal, sir,” I told him.
He turned round in his chair sharply.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“Lord Chelsford gave me an old signet ring before he left, sir,” I said, “with a very peculiar design. I wear it attached by a chain to an iron bracelet round my arm.”
“Let me see it,” the Duke ordered.
I took off my coat, and baring my arm, showed him the ring hanging by a few inches of strong chain from the bracelet. He examined the design curiously.
“How do you detach it?” he asked.
“I cannot detach it, sir,” I answered. “The bracelet has a Bramah lock, and Lord Chelsford has the key. He used to wear it many years ago when he was Queen’s messenger.”
The Duke examined the ring long and searchingly. Then he looked from it into my face.
“You mean to say that you cannot take that off?”
“A locksmith might, sir. I certainly could not.”
The Duke shrugged his shoulders.
“Chelsford’s methods seem to me to savour a little of opera bouffe,” he remarked drily. “For my own part I believe that these marvellous documents would be perfectly safe in the unlocked drawer of my desk. I do not believe any of these stories which come from Paris about copies of our work being in existence. I do not wish you to be careless, of course, but don’t overdo your precautions. This place is scarcely so much a nest of conspirators as faddists like Chelsford and Ray would have us believe.”