“What the man can possibly want with me,” she said, “Heaven only knows. You will smoke a cigarette, my friend, till I return. I shall not be long.”
He stood up to let her pass, untroubled—not sorry for a moment’s solitude. It was not until she had gone that a thought flashed into his mind, which stopped his heart from beating and brought a deadly faintness upon him.
EMILY DE REUSS TELLS A LIE
A tall, thin man with grave eyes and pale cheeks rose to meet Emily de Reuss when she entered the sitting-room into which he had been shown. She regarded him with faint curiosity. She concluded that he had called upon her with reference to one of her servants. She had a large household, and it was possible that some of the members of it had fallen under police supervision. She only regretted that he had not chosen some other evening.
“The Countess de Reuss, I believe?”
She assented. A nod was quite sufficient.
“I have been instructed to call and ask you a few questions with reference to your journey from Accreton on February 10th last,” he continued. “I am sorry to trouble you, but from information which we have received, it seemed possible that you might be able to help us.”
She stood quite still, not a muscle in her colourless face twitched or moved in any way. She showed little of her surprise, none of her intense and breathless interest. The man looked at her in admiration. She was politely interested—also acquiescent.
“I remember my journey from Accreton perfectly well,” she said. “But I cannot see that anything in connection with it can possibly be of interest to Scotland Yard. Perhaps you will be a little more explicit.”
The man bowed.
“You had a travelling companion, we are given to understand. A young man who entered your carriage at the last moment,” he added.
“I had a travelling companion, it is true,” she admitted slowly. “It is also true that he entered my carriage at the last moment. But how that can possibly concern you, I cannot imagine.”
“We should like to know his name,” the man said.
Emily de Reuss shook her head slowly.
“I really am afraid,” she replied, “that I cannot tell you that.”
“He was a stranger, then—you did not know him before?” the man asked quickly.
“On the contrary,” she answered, shaking her head, “he was an old friend.”
The man’s face fell. Obviously he was disappointed. She toyed with a bracelet for a moment and then yawned.
“If he was an old friend,” Mr. Grey said, “why will you not give me his name?”
“If you will show me a sufficient reason why I should,” she answered, “I will not hesitate. But you force me to ask you directly, what possible concern can it be of yours?”
“Your ladyship may remember,” he said, “that there was a shocking accident upon the train?”