It was Dale slipping out of the house to keep her appointment with Richard Fleming. She carried a raincoat over her arm and a pair of rubbers in one hand. Her other hand held a candle. By the terrace door she paused, unbolted it, glanced out into the streaming night with a shiver. Then she came into the living-room and sat down to put on her rubbers.
Hardly had she begun to do so when she started up again. A muffled knocking sounded at the terrace door. It was ominous and determined, and in a panic of terror she rose to her feet. If it was the law, come after Jack, what should she do? Or again, suppose it was the Unknown who had threatened them with death? Not coherent thoughts these, but chaotic, bringing panic with them. Almost unconscious of what she was doing, she reached into the drawer beside her, secured the revolver there and leveled it at the door.
A SHOT IN THE DARK
A key clicked in the terrace door—a voice swore muffledly at the rain. Dale lowered her revolver slowly. It was Richard Fleming— come to meet her here, instead of down by the drive.
She had telephoned him on an impulse. But now, as she looked at him in the light of her single candle, she wondered if this rather dissipated, rather foppish young man about town, in his early thirties, could possibly understand and appreciate the motives that had driven her to seek his aid. Still, it was for Jack! She clenched her teeth and resolved to go through with the plan mapped out in her mind. It might be a desperate expedient but she had nowhere else to turn!
Fleming shut the terrace door behind him and moved down from the alcove, trying to shake the rain from his coat.
“Did I frighten you?”
“Oh, Mr. Fleming—yes!” Dale laid her aunt’s revolver down on the table. Fleming perceived her nervousness and made a gesture of apology.
“I’m sorry,” he said, “I rapped but nobody seemed to hear me, so I used my key.”
“You’re wet through—I’m sorry,” said Dale with mechanical politeness.
He smiled. “Oh, no.” He stripped off his cap and raincoat and placed them on a chair, brushing himself off as he did so with finicky little movements of his hands.
“Reggie Beresford brought me over in his car,” he said. “He’s waiting down the drive.”
Dale decided not to waste words in the usual commonplaces of social greeting.
“Mr. Fleming, I’m in dreadful trouble!” she said, facing him squarely, with a courageous appeal in her eyes.
He made a polite movement. “Oh, I say! That’s too bad.”
She plunged on. “You know the Union Bank closed today.”
He laughed lightly.
“Yes, I know it! I didn’t have anything in it—or any other bank for that matter,” he admitted ruefully, “but I hate to see the old thing go to smash.”