“Go right on,” Mr. Skinner said. “What is it?”
“On Friday last,” Mr. Sabin said, “at four o’clock, the Duchess of Souspennier, whose picture I will presently show you, left the Holland House Hotel for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Depot, presumably for her home at Lenox, to which place her baggage had already been checked. On the way she ordered the cabman to set her down at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, which he did at a few minutes past four. The Duchess has not returned home or been directly heard from since. I wish to ascertain her movements since she arrived at the Waldorf.”
“Sounds dead easy,” Mr. Skinner remarked reassuringly. “Got the picture?”
Mr. Sabin touched the spring of a small gold locket which he drew from an inside waistcoat pocket, and disclosed a beautifully painted miniature. Mr. Skinner’s thick lips were pursed into a whistle. He was on the point of making a remark when he chanced to glance into Mr. Sabin’s face. The remark remained unspoken.
He drew a sheet of note-paper towards him and made a few notes upon it.
“The Duchess many friends in New York?”
“At present none. The few people whom she knows here are at Newport or in Europe just now.”
“Any idea whom she went to the Waldorf to see? More we know the better.”
Mr. Sabin handed him the letter which had been picked up in the cab. Mr. Skinner read it through, and spat once more upon the floor.
“What the h—–’s this funny coloured pencil mean?”
“I do not know,” Mr. Sabin answered. “You will see that the two anonymous communications which I have received since arriving in New York yesterday are written in the same manner.”
Mr. Sabin handed him the other two letters, which Mr. Skinner carefully perused.
“I guess you’d better tell me who you are,” he suggested.
“I am the husband of the Duchess of Souspennier,” Mr. Sabin answered.
“The Duchess send any word home at all?” Mr. Skinner asked.
Mr. Sabin produced a worn telegraph form. It was handed in at Fifth Avenue, New York, at six o’clock on Friday. It contained the single word ‘Good-bye.’
“H’m,” Mr. Skinner remarked. “We’ll find all you want to know by to-morrow sure.”
“What do you make of the two letters which I received?” Mr. Sabin asked.
“Bunkum!” Mr. Skinner replied confidently.
Mr. Sabin nodded his head.
“You have no secret societies over here, I suppose?” he said.
Mr. Skinner laughed loudly and derisively.
“I guess not,” he answered. “They keep that sort of rubbish on the other side of the pond.”
Mr. Sabin was thoughtful for a moment. “You expect to find, then,” he remarked, “some other cause for my wife’s disappearance?”
“There don’t seem much room for doubt concerning that, sir,” Mr. Skinner said; “but I never speculate. I will bring you the facts to-night between eight and eleven. Now as to the business side of it.”