Then, as his hostess turned to the hot-plate upon the sideboard, lifting the covers to see what her cook had provided, he re-scanned the letter which had been openly addressed to him. It was from Dorise:
“I refuse to be deceived any longer, I have discovered that you are now a fellow-guest with the girl Louise, to whom you introduced me. And yet you arranged to meet me at Farnham, believing that I was not aware of your close friendship with her! I have believed in you up to the present, but the scales have now fallen from my eyes. I thought you loved me too well to deceive me—as you are doing. Hard things are being said about you—but you can rest content that I shall reveal nothing that I happen to know. What I do know, however, has changed my thoughts concerning you. I believed you to be the victim of circumstance. Now I know you have deceived me, and that I, myself, am the victim. I need only add that someone else—whom I know not—knows of your hiding-place, for, by a roundabout way, I heard of it, and hence, I address this letter to you.—DORISE.”
Hugh Henfrey stood staggered. There was no mistaking the meaning of that letter now that he had read it a second time.
Dorise doubted him! And what answer could he give her? Any explanation must, to her, be but a lame excuse.
Hugh ate his breakfast sullenly. To Louise, who put in a late appearance, and helped herself off the hot-plate, he said cheerfully:
“How lazy you are!”
“It’s not laziness, Hugh,” replied the girl. “The maid was so late with my tea—and—well, to tell the truth, I upset a whole new box of powder on my dressing-table and had to clean up the mess.”
“More haste—less speed,” laughed Hugh. “It is always the same in the morning—eh?”
When the girl sat down at the table Hugh had brightened up. Still the load upon his shoulders was a heavy one. He was ever obsessed by the mystery of his father’s death, combined with that extraordinary will by which it was decreed that if he married Louise he would acquire his father’s fortune.
Louise was certainly very good-looking, and quite charming. He admitted that as he gazed across at her fresh figure on the opposite side of the table. He, of course, was in ignorance of the fact that Benton, who had adopted her, was a clever and unscrupulous adventurer, whose accomplice was the handsome woman who was his hostess.
Naturally, he never dreamed that that quiet and respectable house, high on the beautiful Surrey hills, was the abode of a woman for whom the police of Europe were everywhere searching.
His thoughts all through breakfast were of The Sparrow—the great criminal, who was his friend. Hence, after they rose, he strolled into the morning-room with his hostess, and said:
“I’ll have to go to town again this morning. I have an urgent letter. Can Mead take me?”
“Certainly,” was the woman’s reply. “I have to make a call at Worplesdon this afternoon, and Louise is going with me. But Mead can be back before then to take us.”