“Now, Miss Ranscomb,” he added, “I want you to please make me a promise—namely, that you will say nothing to a single soul of what I have said this evening—not even to your friend, Mr. Henfrey. I have very strong reasons for this. Remember, I am acting in the interests of you both, and secrecy is the essence of success.”
“I understand. But you really mystify me. I know you are my friend,” she said, “but why are you doing all this for our benefit?”
“In order that Hugh Henfrey may return to your side, and that hand in hand you may be able to defeat your enemies.”
“My enemies! Who are they?” asked the girl.
“One day, very soon, they must reveal themselves. When they do, and you find yourself in difficulties, you have only to call upon me, and I will further assist you. Advertise in the Times newspaper at any time for an appointment with ‘Silverado.’ Give me seven days, and I will keep it.”
“But do tell me your name!” she urged, as they moved together from the pathway along the road in the direction of Perth. “I beg of you to do so.”
“I have already begged a favour of you, Miss Ranscomb,” he answered in a soft, refined voice. “I ask you not to press your question. Suffice it that I am your sincere friend.”
“But when shall I see Hugh?” she cried, again halting. “I cannot bear this terrible suspense any longer—indeed I can’t! Can I go to him soon?”
“No!” cried a voice from the shadow of a bush close beside them as a dark alert figure sprang forth into the light. “It is needless. I am here, dearest!—at last!”
And next second she found herself clasped in her lover’s strong embrace, while the stranger, utterly taken aback, stood looking on, absolutely mystified.
THE NAMELESS MAN
“Who is this gentleman, Dorise?” asked Hugh, when a moment later the girl and her companion had recovered from their surprise.
“I cannot introduce you,” was her reply. “He refuses to give his name.”
The tall man laughed, and said:
“I have already told you that my name is X.”
Hugh regarded the stranger with distinct suspicion. It was curious that he should discover them together, yet he made but little comment.
“We were just speaking about you, Mr. Henfrey,” the tall man went on. “I believed that you were still in Belgium.”
“How did you know I was there?”
“Oh!—well, information concerning your hiding-place reached me,” was his enigmatical reply. “I am, however, glad you have been able to return to England in safety. I was about to arrange a meeting between you. But I advise you to be most careful.”
“You seem to know a good deal concerning me,” Hugh remarked resentfully, looking at the stern, rather handsome face in the moonlight.