“Go on,” he said mildly. “Don’t mind me. Perhaps I can help Mr. Ducaine to answer it.”
She sank into a chair. Her eyes seemed to implore me to protect her. I heard Ray’s little snort of contempt; but I answered her kindly. I could not help it.
“I am sorry that you came,” I said, “but, of course, I will answer any question you want to ask me. Don’t hurry! You are out of breath. Let me give you some wine.”
My own untasted liqueur was on the table by the side of my empty coffee cup. I made her drink it, and her teeth ceased to chatter. She was rather a pathetic object. One of her little black satin slippers was cut to shreds, and the other was clogged with wet sand. The fear of Ray, too, was in her white face. She caught hold of my hand impulsively.
“The man,” she murmured, “whom you found—what was he like?”
“He was a small dark man.”
She laughed hysterically.
“He,” she exclaimed, “was over six feet, and broad! It was not he. It may have been some one whom he sent, but it was not he. Guy, have you heard from him? Do you know where he is?”
I shook my head. Ray interposed.
“I think,” he said roughly, “that you’ll find him at home when you get there, madam, wherever that may be. If he were in this country it would be within the four walls of a prison.”
She looked across at him.
“You have set them on—the police—then?” she said. “You would hunt him down still? After all these years?”
“Ay!” he answered.—“Tell me where he is hiding in this country, and I will promise you that his days of freedom are over.”
She pointed to me.
“Ay, were he his father a hundred times over.”
She turned to me as though in protest, but my face gave her no encouragement. She rose wearily to her feet.
“I will go,” she muttered. “Guy,” she added, turning to me, “you are honest. You will always be honest. You have nothing to fear, so you do not hesitate to speak if necessary to those whom nevertheless you do not trust. But there are other things in the world to fear besides dishonesty. There is animal brutality, coarse indifference to pain in others. There is the triumph of the beast over the man. There he sits, he who can teach you these things,” she added, pointing to Ray. “Do not choose him for your friend, Guy. You will grow to see life, to judge others, through his eyes-and then God help you.”
Ray laughed, and again to me there seemed to be a note of coarseness in his strident and unconcealed contempt of the woman. She took no notice of him whatever. She opened the door and passed out so quickly that though I tried to intercept her, and called out after her, I was powerless to prevent her going. She had flitted away into the shadows. I could not even hear her retreating footsteps.