“I understand,” said the lieutenant, as one who knows more than he tells.
“Thank you,” said Bray. “I shall leave you to attend to the matter, as far as your family is concerned. You will take charge of the body. As for the rest of you, I forbid you to mention this matter outside.”
And now Bray stood looking, with a puzzled air, at me.
“You are an American?” he said, and I judged he did not care for Americans.
“I am,” I told him.
“Know any one at your consulate?” he demanded.
Thank heaven, I did! There is an under-secretary there named Watson—I went to college with him. I mentioned him to Bray.
“Very good,” said the inspector. “You are free to go. But you must understand that you are an important witness in this case, and if you attempt to leave London you will be locked up.”
So I came back to my rooms, horribly entangled in a mystery that is little to my liking. I have been sitting here in my study for some time, going over it again and again. There have been many footsteps on the stairs, many voices in the hall.
Waiting here for the dawn, I have come to be very sorry for the cold handsome captain. After all, he was a man; his very tread on the floor above, which it shall never hear again, told me that.
What does it all mean? Who was the man in the hall, the man who had argued so loudly, who had struck so surely with that queer Indian knife? Where is the knife now?
And, above all, what do the white asters signify? And the scarab scarf-pin? And that absurd Homburg hat?
Lady of the Carlton, you wanted mystery. When I wrote that first letter to you, little did I dream that I should soon have it to give you in overwhelming measure.
And—believe me when I say it—through all this your face has been constantly before me—your face as I saw it that bright morning in the hotel breakfast room. You have forgiven me, I know, for the manner in which I addressed you. I had seen your eyes and the temptation was great—very great.
It is dawn in the garden now and London is beginning to stir. So this time it is—good morning, my lady.
It is hardly necessary to intimate that this letter came as something of a shock to the young woman who received it. For the rest of that day the many sights of London held little interest for her—so little, indeed, that her perspiring father began to see visions of his beloved Texas; and once hopefully suggested an early return home. The coolness with which this idea was received plainly showed him that he was on the wrong track; so he sighed and sought solace at the bar.
That night the two from Texas attended His Majesty’s Theater, where Bernard Shaw’s latest play was being performed; and the witty Irishman would have been annoyed to see the scant attention one lovely young American in the audience gave his lines. The American in question retired at midnight, with eager thoughts turned toward the morning.