After dinner, Hugh, still greatly perturbed at the mysterious telephone call, played billiards with Louise. About a quarter to eleven, however, Mrs. Bond was called to the telephone and, closing the door, listened to an urgent message.
It was from Benton, who spoke from London—a few quick, cryptic, but reassuring words—and when the woman left the room three minutes later all her anxiety as to the police had apparently passed.
She joined the young couple and watched their game. Louise handled her cue well, and very nearly beat her opponent. Afterwards, when Louise went out, Mrs. Bond closed the door swiftly, and said:
“I’ve been thinking over that little matter, Mr. Henfrey. I really don’t think there is much cause for alarm. Charles will be back to-morrow, and we can consult him.”
Hugh shrugged his shoulders. He was much puzzled.
“The fact is, Mrs. Bond, I’m tired of being hunted like this!” he said. “This eternal fear of arrest has got upon my nerves to such an extent that I feel if they want to bring me for trial—well, they can. I’m innocent—therefore, how can they prove me guilty?”
“Oh! you mustn’t let it obsess you,” the woman urged. “Mr. Benton has told me all about the unfortunate affair, and I greatly sympathize with you. Of course, to court the publicity of a trial would be fatal. What would your poor father think, I wonder, if he were still alive?”
“He’s dead,” said the young man in a low, hoarse voice; “but Mademoiselle Ferad knows the secret of his death.”
“He died suddenly—did he not?”
“Yes. He was murdered, Mrs. Bond. I’m certain of it. My father was murdered!”
“Murdered?” she echoed. “What did the doctors say?”
“They arrived at no definite conclusion,” was Hugh’s response. “He left home and went up to London on some secret and mysterious errand. Later, he was found lying upon the pavement in a dying condition. He never recovered consciousness, but sank a few hours afterwards. His death is one of the many unsolved mysteries of London.”
“The police believe that you went to the Villa Amette and murdered Mademoiselle out of revenge.”
“Let them prove it!” said the young fellow defiantly. “Let them prove it!”
“Prove what?” asked Louise, as she suddenly reopened the door, greatly to the woman’s consternation.
“Oh! Only somebody—that Spicer woman over at Godalming—has been saying some wicked and nasty things about Mr. Henfrey,” replied Mrs. Bond. “Personally, I should be annoyed. Really those gossiping people are simply intolerable.”
“What have they been saying, Hugh?” asked the girl.
“Oh, it’s really nothing,” laughed Henfrey. “I apologize. I was put out a moment ago, but I now see the absurdity of it. Forgive me, Louise.”
The girl looked from Mrs. Bond to her guest in amazement.
“What is there to forgive?” she asked.