“Poor Mr. Leroux!” she said, speaking very rapidly; “I think it awfully good of him, and sporty, to allow his wife so much liberty.”
“Sporty!” said Miss Ryland, head wagging and nostrils distended in scorn. “Idi-otic... I should call it.”
Helen Cumberly, perfectly composed again, raised her clear eyes to her visitor.
“You seem so... thoroughly sensible, except in regard to... Harry Leroux;—and all women, with a few... exceptions, are fools where the true... character of a man is concerned—that I will take you right into my confidence.”
Her speech lost its quality of syncopation; the whole expression of her face changed; and in the hazel eyes a deep concern might be read.
“My dear,” she stood up, crossed to Helen’s side, and rested her artistic looking hands upon the girl’s shoulder. “Harry Leroux stands upon the brink of a great tragedy—a life’s tragedy!”
Helen was trembling slightly again.
“Oh, I know!” she whispered—“I know—”
There was surprise in Miss Ryland’s voice.
“Yes, I have seen them—watched them—and I know that the police think"...
“Police! What are you talking about—the police?”
Helen looked up with a troubled face.
“The murder!” she began...
Miss Ryland dropped into a chair which, fortunately, stood close behind her, with a face suddenly set in an expression of horror. She began to understand, now, a certain restraint, a certain ominous shadow, which she had perceived, or thought she had perceived, in the atmosphere of this home, and in the manner of its occupants.
“My dear girl,” she began, and the old nervous, jerky manner showed itself again, momentarily,—“remember that... I left Paris by ... the first train, this morning, and have simply been... traveling right up to the present moment."...
“Then you have not heard? You don’t know that a—murder—has been committed?”
“Not any one connected with Mr. Leroux; no, thank God! but it was done in his flat."...
Miss Ryland brushed a whisk of straight hair back from her brow with a rough and ungraceful movement.
“My dear,” she began, taking a French telegraphic form from her pocket, “you see this message? It’s one which reached me at an unearthly hour this morning from Harry Leroux. It was addressed to his wife at my studio; therefore, as her friend, I opened it. Mira Leroux has actually visited me there twice since her marriage—”
“Twice!” Helen rose slowly to her feet, with horrified eyes fixed upon the speaker.
“Twice I said! I have not seen her, and have rarely heard from her, for nearly twelve months, now! Therefore I packed up post-haste and here I am! I came to you, because, from what little I have heard of you, and of your father, I judged you to be the right kind of friends to consult."...