“Will you kindly see that Mrs. Heron has this note?”
“Madame Heron left to-day, Monsieur—suddenly, about three o’clock. There was illness in her family.”
Soames compressed his lips. “Oh!” he said; “do you know her address?”
“Non, Monsieur. England, I think.”
Soames put the note back into his pocket and went out. He hailed an open horse-cab which was passing.
“Drive me anywhere!”
The man, who, obviously, did not understand, smiled, and waved his whip. And Soames was borne along in that little yellow-wheeled Victoria all over star-shaped Paris, with here and there a pause, and the question, “C’est par ici, Monsieur?” “No, go on,” till the man gave it up in despair, and the yellow-wheeled chariot continued to roll between the tall, flat-fronted shuttered houses and plane-tree avenues—a little Flying Dutchman of a cab.
‘Like my life,’ thought Soames, ‘without object, on and on!’
IN THE WEB
Soames returned to England the following day, and on the third morning received a visit from Mr. Polteed, who wore a flower and carried a brown billycock hat. Soames motioned him to a seat.
“The news from the war is not so bad, is it?” said Mr. Polteed. “I hope I see you well, sir.”
Mr. Polteed leaned forward, smiled, opened his hand, looked into it, and said softly:
“I think we’ve done your business for you at last.”
“What?” ejaculated Soames.
“Nineteen reports quite suddenly what I think we shall be justified in calling conclusive evidence,” and Mr. Polteed paused.
“On the 10th instant, after witnessing an interview between 17 and a party, earlier in the day, 19 can swear to having seen him coming out of her bedroom in the hotel about ten o’clock in the evening. With a little care in the giving of the evidence that will be enough, especially as 17 has left Paris—no doubt with the party in question. In fact, they both slipped off, and we haven’t got on to them again, yet; but we shall—we shall. She’s worked hard under very difficult circumstances, and I’m glad she’s brought it off at last.” Mr. Polteed took out a cigarette, tapped its end against the table, looked at Soames, and put it back. The expression on his client’s face was not encouraging.