“For once,” Lady Carey said, with a faint smile, “your ’admirable Crichton’ has failed you.”
Lucille opened her eyes. She had been leaning back amongst the railway cushions.
“I think not,” she said. “Only I blame myself that I ever trusted the Prince even so far as to give him that message. For I know very well that if Victor had received it he would have been here.”
Lady Carey took up a great pile of papers and looked them carelessly through.
“I am afraid,” she said, “that I do not agree with you. I do not think that Saxe Leinitzer had any desire except to see you safely away. I believe that he will be quite as disappointed as you are that your husband is not here to aid you. Some one must see you safely on the steamer at Havre. Perhaps he will come himself.”
“I shall wait in Paris,” Lucille said quietly, “for my husband.”
“You may wait,” Lady Carey said, “for a very long time.”
Lucille looked at her steadily. “What do you mean?”
“What a fool you are, Lucille. If to other people it seems almost certain on the face of it that you were responsible for that drop of poison in your husband’s liqueur glass, why should it not seem so to himself?”
Lucille laughed, but there was a look of horror in her dark eyes.
“How absurd. I know Victor better than to believe him capable of such a suspicion. Just as he knows me better than to believe me capable of such an act.”
“Really. But you were in his rooms secretly just before.”
“I went to leave some roses for him,” Lucille answered. “And if you would like to know it, I will tell you this. I left my card tied to them with a message for him.”
Lady Carey yawned.
“A remarkably foolish thing to do,” she said. “That may cause you trouble later on. Great heavens, what is this?”
She held the evening paper open in her hand. Lucille leaned over with blanched face.
“What has happened?” she cried. “Tell me, can’t you!”
“Reginald Brott has been shot in Piccadilly,” Lady Carey said.
“Is he hurt?” Lucille asked.
“He is dead!”
They read the brief announcement together. The deed had been committed by a man whose reputation for sanity had long been questioned, one of Brott’s own constituents. He was in custody, and freely admitted his guilt. The two women looked at one another in horror. Even Lady Carey was affected.
“What a hateful thing,” she said. “I am glad that we had no hand in it.”
“Are you so sure that we hadn’t?” Lucille asked bitterly. “You see what it says. The man killed him because of his political apostasy. We had something to do with that at least.”
Lady Carey was recovering her sang froid.
“Oh, well,” she said, “indirect influences scarcely count, or one might trace the causes of everything which happens back to an absurd extent. If this man was mad he might just as well have shot Brott for anything.”