“Eh bien!” said M. Max; then, turning to Denise Ryland and Dr. Cumberly, and shrugging his shoulders: “you see, frightful as your suspense must be, to make any foolish arrests to-night, to move in this matter at all to-night—would be a case of more haste and less speed"...
“But,” groaned Cumberly, “is Helen to lie in that foul, unspeakable den until the small hours of to-morrow morning? Good God! they may"...
“There is one little point,” interrupted M. Max with upraised hand, “which makes it impossible that we should move to-night—quite apart from the advisability of such a movement. We do not know exactly where this place is situated. What can we do?”
He shrugged his shoulders, and, with raised eyebrows, stared at Dr. Cumberly.
“It is fairly evident,” replied the other slowly, and with a repetition of the weary upraising of his hand to his head, “it is fairly evident that the garage used by the man Gianapolis must be very near to—most probably adjoining—the entrance to this place of which you speak.”
“Quite true,” agreed the Frenchman. “But these are clever, these people of Mr. King. They are Chinese, remember, and the Chinese—ah, I know it!—are the most mysterious and most cunning people in the world. The entrance to the cave of black and gold will not be as wide as a cathedral door. A thousand men might search this garage, which, as Detective Sowerby” (he clapped the latter on the shoulder) “informed me this afternoon, is situated in Wharf-End Lane—all day and all night, and become none the wiser. To-morrow evening”—he lowered his voice—“I myself, shall be not outside, but inside that secret place; I shall be the concierge for one night—Eh bien, that concierge will admit the policeman!”
A groan issued from Dr. Cumberly’s lips; and M. Max, with ready sympathy, crossed the room and placed his hands upon the physician’s shoulders, looking steadfastly into his eyes.
“I understand, Dr. Cumberly,” he said, and his voice was caressing as a woman’s. “Pardieu! I understand. To wait is agony; but you, who are a physician, know that to wait sometimes is necessary. Have courage, my friend, have courage!”
Luke Soames, buttoning up his black coat, stood in the darkness, listening.
His constitutional distaste for leaping blindfolded had been over-ridden by circumstance. He felt himself to be a puppet of Fate, and he drifted with the tide because he lacked the strength to swim against it. That will-o’-the-wisp sense of security which had cheered him when first he had realized how much he owed to the protective wings of Mr. King had been rudely extinguished upon the very day of its birth; he had learnt that Mr. King was a sinister protector; and almost hourly he lived again through the events of that night when, all unwittingly, he had become a witness of strange happenings in the catacombs.