She was tired. The dinner had been followed by a small dance, and she had greatly enjoyed it. For once, George Sherrard, her mother’s friend, had not accompanied them. As a matter of fact, Lady Strathbayne disliked the man, hence he had not been invited.
Suddenly Lady Ranscomb exclaimed:
“I heard about Hugh Henfrey this evening.”
“From whom?” asked her daughter, instantly aroused.
“From that man who took me in to dinner. I think his name was Bowden.”
“Oh! That stout, red-faced man. I don’t know him.”
“Neither do I. He was, however, very pleasant, and seems to have travelled a lot,” replied her mother. “He told me that your precious friend, Henfrey, is back, and is staying down in Surrey as guest of some woman named Bond.”
Dorise sat staggered. Then her lover’s secret was out! If his whereabouts were known in Society, then the police would quickly get upon his track! She felt she must warn him instantly of his peril.
“How did he know, I wonder?” she asked anxiously.
“Oh! I suppose he’s heard. He seemed to know all about the fellow. It appears that at last he’s become engaged.”
“Engaged? Hugh engaged?”
“Yes, to a girl named Louise Lambert. She’s the adopted daughter of a man named Benton, who was, by the way, a great friend of old Mr. Henfrey.”
Hugh engaged to Louise Lambert! Dorise sat bewildered.
“I—I don’t believe it!” she blurted forth at last.
“Ah, my dear. You mean you don’t want to believe it—because you are in love with him!” said her mother as the car rushed homeward. “Now put all this silly girlish nonsense aside. The fellow is under a cloud, and no good. I tell you frankly I will never have him as my son-in-law. How he has escaped the police is a marvel; but if the man Bowden knows where he is, Scotland Yard will, no doubt, soon hear.”
The girl remained silent. Could it be possible that, after all, Hugh had asked Louise Lambert to be his wife? She had known of her, and had met her with Hugh, but he had always assured her that they were merely friends. Yet it appeared that he was now living in concealment under the same roof as she!
Lady Ranscomb, clever woman of the world as she was, watched her daughter’s face in the fleeting lights as they sped homeward, and saw what a crushing blow the announcement had dealt her.
“I don’t believe it,” the girl cried.
She had received word in secret—presumably from the White Cavalier—to meet Hugh at the Bush Hotel at Farnham on the following afternoon, but this secret news held her in doubt and despair.
Lady Ranscomb dropped the subject, and began to speak of other things—of a visit to the flying-ground at Hendon on the following day, and of an invitation they had received to spend the following week with a friend at Cowes.
On arrival home Dorise went at once to her room, where her maid awaited her.