His carriage was delayed for a few moments, and just as he was entering it a young woman, plainly dressed in black, came hurrying out and slipped a note into his hand.
“Pardon, monsieur,” she exclaimed, with a smile. “I feared that I was too late.”
Mr. Sabin’s fingers closed over the note, and he stepped blithely into the carriage. But when he tore it open and saw the handwriting he permitted himself a little groan of disappointment. It was not from her. He read the few lines and crushed the sheet of paper in his hand.
“I am having supper at the Carlton with some friends on our way
to C. H. I want to speak to you for a moment. Be in the Palm
Court at 12.15, but do not recognise me until I come to you. If
possible keep out of sight. If you should have left my maid will
bring this on to your hotel.
Mr. Sabin leaned back in his carriage, and a frown of faint perplexity contracted his forehead.
“If I were a younger man,” he murmured to himself, “I might believe that this woman was really in earnest, as well as being Saxe Leinitzer’s jackal. We were friendly enough in Paris that year. She is unscrupulous enough, of course. Always with some odd fancy for the grotesque or unlikely. I wonder—”
He pulled the check-string, and was driven to Camperdown House. A great many people were coming and going. Mr. Sabin found Helene’s maid, and learnt that her mistress was just going to her room, and would be alone for a few minutes. He scribbled a few words on the back of a card, and was at once taken up to her boudoir.
“My dear uncle,” Helene exclaimed, “you have arrived most opportunely. We have just got rid of a few dinner people, and we are going on to Carmarthen House presently. Take that easy-chair, please, and, light a cigarette. Will you have a liqueur? Wolfendon has some old brandy which every one seems to think wonderful.”
“You are very kind, Helene,” Mr. Sabin said. “I cannot refuse anything which you offer in so charming a manner. But I shall not keep you more than a few minutes.”
“We need not leave for an hour,” Helene said, “and I am dressed except for my jewels. Tell me, have you seen Lucille? I am so anxious to know.”
“I have seen Lucille this evening,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“At Dorset House!”
Helene sat down, smiling.
“Do tell me all about it.”
“There is very little to tell,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“She is with you—she returns at least!”
Mr. Sabin shook his head.
“No,” he answered. “She remains at Dorset House.”
Helene was silent. Mr. Sabin smoked pensively a moment or two, and sipped the liqueur which Camperdown’s own servant had just brought him.