Cooley disregarded the outburst, and said:
“When we settled, you had a pad of express company checks worth six hundred dollars. You signed all of ’em and turned ’em over to Sneyd with three one-hundred-lire bills, which was all the cash you had with you. Then you gave him your note for twelve thousand francs to be paid within three days. You made a great deal of fuss about its being a ’debt of honor.’” He paused. “You hadn’t remembered that, had you?”
Mellin had closed his eyes. He lay quite still and made no answer.
“No, I’ll bet you hadn’t,” said Cooley, correctly deducing the fact. “You’re well off, or you wouldn’t be at this hotel, and, for all I know, you may be fixed so you won’t mind your loss as much as I do mine; but it ought to make you kind of charitable toward my suspicions of Madame de Vaurigard’s friends.”
The six hundred dollars in express company checks and the three hundred-lire bills were all the money the unhappy Mellin had in the world, and until he could return to Cranston and go back to work in the real-estate office again, he had no prospect of any more. He had not even his steamer ticket. In the shock of horror and despair he whispered brokenly:
“I don’t care if they ’re the worst people in the world, they’re better than I am!”
The other’s gloom cleared a little at this. “Well, you have got it!” he exclaimed briskly. “You don’t know how different you’ll feel after a long walk in the open air.” He looked at his watch. “I’ve got to go and see what that newspaper-man, Cornish, wants; it’s ten o’clock. I’ll be back after a while; I want to reason this out with you. I don’t deny but it’s possible I’m wrong; anyway, you think it over while I’m gone. You take a good hard think, will you?”
As he closed the door, Mellin slowly drew the coverlet over his head. It was as if he covered the face of some one who had just died.
VIII. What Cornish Knew
Two hours passed before young Cooley returned. He knocked twice without a reply; then he came in.
The coverlet was still over Mellin’s head.
“Asleep?” asked Cooley.
The coverlet was removed by a shaking hand.
“Murder!” exclaimed Cooley sympathetically, at sight of the other’s face. “A night off certainly does things to you! Better let me get you some—”
“No. I’ll be all right—after while.”
“Then I’ll go right ahead with our little troubles. I’ve decided to leave for Paris by the one-thirty and haven’t got a whole lot of time. Cornish is here with me in the hall: he’s got something to say that’s important for you to hear, and I’m goin’ to bring him right in.” He waved his hand toward the door, which he had left open. “Come along, Cornish. Poor ole Mellin’ll play Du Barry with us and give us a morning leevy while he listens in a bed with a palanquin to it. Now let’s draw up chairs and be sociable.”