“You will share your knowledge?” Mr. Sabin asked quietly.
The detective shook his head.
“You shall know,” he said, “before the last moment. But I want to warn you that when you do now it—it will be a shock to you.”
Mr. Sabin stood perfectly still for several moments. This little man believed what he was saying. He was certainly deceived. Yet none the less Mr. Sabin was thoughtful.
“You do not feel inclined,” he said slowly, “to give me your entire confidence.”
“Not at present, sir,” the man answered. “You would certainly intervene, and my case would be spoilt.”
Mr. Sabin glanced at the clock.
“If you care to call on me to-morrow,” he said, “I could perhaps show you something which might change your opinion.”
The detective bowed.
“I am always open, sir,” he said, “to conviction. I will come about twelve o’clock.”
Mr. Sabin went back to the palm lounge. Lucille and Reginald Brott were sitting together at a small table, talking earnestly to one another. The Prince and Lady Carey had joined another party who were all talking together near the entrance. The latter, directly she saw them coming, detached herself from them and came to him.
“Your coffee is almost cold,” she said, “but the Prince has found some brandy of wonderful age, somewhere in the last century, I believe.”
Mr. Sabin glanced towards Lucille. She appeared engrossed in her conversation, and had not noticed his approach. Lady Carey shrugged.
“You have only a few minutes,” she said, “before that dreadful person comes and frowns us all out. I have kept you a chair.”
Mr. Sabin sat down. Lady Carey interposed herself between him and the small table at which Lucille was sitting.
“Have they discovered anything?” she asked.
“Nothing!” Mr. Sabin answered.
She played with her fan for a moment. Then she looked him steadily in the face.
He glanced towards her.
“Why are you so obstinate?” she exclaimed in a low, passionate whisper. “I want to be your friend, and I could be very useful to you. Yet you keep me always at arm’s length. You are making a mistake. Indeed you are. I suppose you do not trust me. Yet reflect Have I ever told you anything that was not true? Have I ever tried to deceive you? I don’t pretend to be a paragon of the virtues. I live my life to please myself. I admit it. Why not? It is simply applying the same sort of philosophy to my life as you have applied to yours. My enemies can find plenty to say about me—but never that I have been false to a friend. Why do you keep me always at arm’s length, as though I were one of those who wished you evil?”
“Lady Carey,” Mr. Sabin said, “I will not affect to misunderstand you, and I am flattered that you should consider my good will of any importance. But you are the friend of the Prince of Saxe Leinitzer. You are one of those even now who are working actively against me. I am not blaming you, but we are on opposite sides.”