“But will he write to me?” she asked in despair. “Surely he will not keep me in suspense?”
“He will not if he can avoid it. But as soon as the French police realize that he has got away a watch will be kept upon his correspondence.” Then, lowering his voice, he urged her to move away, as he thought that an idling masker was trying to overhear their conversation.
“You see,” he went on a few moments later, “it might be dangerous if he were to write to you.”
Dorise was thinking of what her mother would say when the truth reached her ears. Hugh was a fugitive!
“Of what crime is he suspected?” asked the girl.
“I—well, I don’t exactly know,” was the stranger’s faltering response. “I was told by a friend of his that it was a serious one, and that he might find it extremely difficult to prove himself innocent. The circumstantial evidence against him is very strong.”
“Do you know where he is now?”
“Not in the least. All I know is that he is safely across the frontier into Italy,” was the reply of the tall white cavalier.
“I wish I could see your face,” declared Dorise frankly.
“And I might express a similar desire, Miss Ranscomb. But for the present it is best as it is. I have sought you here to tell you the truth in secret, and to urge you to remain calm and patient.”
“Is that a message from Hugh?”
“No—not exactly. It is a message from one who is his friend.”
“You are very mysterious,” she declared. “If you do not know where he is at the moment, perhaps you know where we can find him later.”
“Yes. He is making his way to Brussels. A letter addressed to Mr. Godfrey Brown, Poste Restante, Brussels, will eventually find him. Recollect the name,” he added. “Disguise your handwriting on the envelope, and when you post it see that you are not observed. Recollect that his safety lies in your hands.”
“Trust me,” she said. “But do let me know your name,” she implored.
“Any old name is good enough for me,” he replied. “Call me Mr. X.”
“Don’t mystify me further, please.”
“Well, call me Smith, Jones, Robinson—whatever you like.”
“Then you refuse to satisfy my curiosity—eh?”
“I regret that I am compelled to do so—for certain reasons.”
“Are you a detective?” Dorise suddenly inquired.
The stranger laughed.
“If I were a police officer I should scarcely act as an intermediary between Mr. Henfrey and yourself, Miss Ranscomb.”
“But you say he is innocent. Are you certain of that? May I set my mind at rest that he never committed this crime of which the police suspect him?” she asked eagerly.
“Yes. I repeat that he is entirely innocent,” was the earnest response. “But I would advise you to affect ignorance. The police may question you. If they do, you know nothing, remember—absolutely nothing. If you write to Mr. Henfrey, take every precaution that nobody sees you post the letter. Give him a secret address in London, or anywhere in England, so that he can write to you there.”