“After Salon, yes. It runs parallel with the road about two miles to the north—the railway between Arles and Aix-en-Provence.”
“So if we get a breakdown, which I hope we shall not, we are not far from a railway?” Hugh remarked, as through the night the heavy car tore along that open desolate road.
As he sat there he thought of Dorise, wondering what had happened—and of Louise. If he had obeyed his father’s wishes and married the latter all the trouble would have been avoided, he thought. Yet he loved Dorise—loved her with his whole soul.
And she doubted him.
Poor fellow! Hustled from pillar to post, and compelled to resort to every ruse in order to avoid arrest for a crime which he did not commit, yet about which he could not establish his innocence, he very often despaired. At that moment he felt somehow—how he could not explain—that he was in a very tight corner. He felt confident after two hours of reflection that he was being driven over these roads that night in order that the police should gain time to execute some legal formality for his arrest.
Why had not the police of Marseilles arrested him? There was some subtle motive for sending him to Cette.
He had not had time to send a telegram to Mr. Peters in London, or to Monsieur Gautier, the name by which The Sparrow told him he was known at his flat in the Rue des Petits Champs, in the centre of Paris. He longed to be able to communicate with his all-powerful friend, but there had been no opportunity.
Suddenly the car began to pass through banks of mist, which are usual at night over the low marshes around the mouths of the Rhone. It was about half-past two in the morning. They had passed through the long dark streets of Salon, and were already five or six miles on the broad straight road which runs across the marshes through St. Martin-de-Crau into Arles.
Of a sudden Hugh declared that he must have a cigarette, and producing his case handed one to the driver and took one himself. Then he lit the man’s, and afterwards his own.
“It is cold here on the marshes, monsieur,” remarked the driver, his cigarette between his lips. “This mist, too, is puzzling. But it is nearly always like this at night. That is why nobody lives about here.”
“Is it quite deserted?”
“Yes, except for a few shepherds, and they live up north at the foot of the hills.”
For some ten minutes or so they kept on, but Hugh had suddenly become very watchful of the driver.
Presently the man exclaimed in French:
“I do not feel very well!”
“What is the matter?” asked Hugh in alarm. “You must not be taken ill here—so far from anywhere!”
But the man was evidently unwell, for he pulled up the car.
“Oh! my head!” he cried, putting both hands to his brow as the cigarette dropped from his lips. “My head! It seems as if it will burst! And—and I can’t see! Everything is going round—round! Where—where am I?”