Then, with a strange sudden sense of a presence in the room, he looked round again. There in a far corner of the large room was a couch, and on it lay a figure—Adrian Fellowes, straight and still—and sleeping.
Stafford went over. “Fellowes,” he said, sharply.
There was no reply. He leaned over and touched a shoulder. “Fellowes!” he exclaimed again, but something in the touch made him look closely at the face half turned to the wall. Then he knew.
Adrian Fellowes was dead.
Horror came upon Stafford, but no cry escaped him. He stooped once more and closely looked at the body, but without touching it. There was no sign of violence, no blood, no disfigurement, no distortion, only a look of sleep—a pale, motionless sleep.
But the body was warm yet. He realized that as his hand had touched the shoulder. The man could only have been dead a little while.
Only a little while: and in that little while Jasmine had left the house with agitated footsteps.
“He did not die by his own hand,” Stafford said aloud.
He rang the bell loudly. No one answered. He rang and rang again, and then a lazy porter came.
“More was lost at Mohacksfield”
Eastminster House was ablaze. A large dinner had been fixed for this October evening, and only just before half-past eight Jasmine entered the drawing-room to receive her guests. She had completely forgotten the dinner till very late in the afternoon, when she observed preparations for which she had given instructions the day before. She was about to leave the house upon the mission which had drawn her footsteps in the same direction as those of Ian Stafford, when the butler came to her for information upon some details. These she gave with an instant decision which was part of her equipment, and then, when the butler had gone, she left the house on foot to take a cab at the corner of Piccadilly.
When she returned home, the tables in the dining-room were decorated, the great rooms were already lighted, and the red carpet was being laid down at the door. The footmen looked up with surprise as she came up the steps, and their eyes followed her as she ascended the staircase with marked deliberation.
“Well, that’s style for you,” said the first footman. “Takin’ an airin’ on shanks’ hosses.”
“And a quarter of an hour left to put on the tirara,” sniggered the second footman. “The lot is asked for eight-thirty.”
“Swells, the bunch, windin’ up with the brother of an Emperor—’struth!”
“I’ll bet the Emperor’s brother ain’t above takin’ a tip about shares on the Rand, me boy.”
“I’ll bet none of ’em ain’t. That’s why they come—not forgetting th’ grub and the fizz.”
“What price a title for the Byng Baas one of these days! They like tips down there where the old Markis rumbles through his beard—and a lot of hands to be greased. And grease it costs a lot, political grease does. But what price a title—Sir Rudyard Byng, Bart., wot oh!”