When Hugh got out, the mysterious man, whose face was more forbidding in the light of day, exclaimed:
“Here I must leave you very shortly, signore. But first I have certain instructions to give you, namely, that you remain for the present in a house in the Via della Maddalena to which I shall take you. The man and the woman there you can trust. It will be as well not to walk about in the daytime. Remain here for a fortnight, and then by the best means, without, of course, re-entering France, you must get to Brussels. There you will receive letters at the Poste Restante in the name of Godfrey Brown. That, indeed, is the name you will use here.”
“Well, all this is very strange!” remarked Hugh, utterly bewildered as he glanced at the forbidding-looking chauffeur and the dust-covered car.
“I agree, signore,” the man laughed. “But get in again and I will drive to the Via della Maddalena.”
Five minutes later the car pulled up at the end of a narrow stuffy ancient street of high houses with closed wooden shutters. From house to house across the road household linen was flying in the wind, for the neighbourhood was certainly a poverty-stricken one.
The place did not appeal to Hugh in the least. He, however, recollected that he was about to hide from the police. Italians are early risers, and though it was only just after dawn, Genoa was already agog with life and movement.
Leaving the car, the mysterious chauffeur conduced the young Englishman along the street, where women were calling to each other from the windows of their apartments and exchanging salutations, until they came to an entrance over which there was an old blue majolica Madonna. The house had no outer door, but at the end of the passage was a flight of stone steps leading up to the five storeys above.
At the third flight Hugh’s conductor paused, and finding a piece of cord protruding from a hole in a door, pulled it. A slight tinkle was heard within, and a few moments later the sound of wooden shoes was heard upon the tiles inside.
The door opened, revealing an ugly old woman whose face was sallow and wrinkled, and who wore a red kerchief tied over her white hair.
As soon as she saw the chauffeur she welcomed him, addressing him as Paolo, and invited them in.
“This is the English signore,” explained the man. “He has come to stay with you.”
“The signore is welcome,” replied the old woman as she clattered into the narrow, cheaply furnished little sitting-room, which was in half darkness owing to the persiennes being closed.
Truly, it was an uninviting place, which smelt of garlic and of the paraffin oil with which the tiled floors had been rubbed.
“You will require another certificate of identity, signore,” said the man, who admitted that he had been engaged in smuggling contraband across the Alps. And delving into his pocket he produced an American passport. It was blank, though the embossed stamp of the United States Government was upon it. The places were ready for the photograph and signature. With it the man handed him a large metal disc, saying: