“Bates,” he said, “I promised Miss Beale, the lady who came here this morning, that my sister, Mrs. Paxton, would visit her this evening, say about six. Miss Beale is staying at Smith’s Hotel, Jermyn Street. Go to Mrs. Paxton, and see her, waiting at her house if she happens to be out. Tell everything you know about Mrs. Lester’s death, and ask her to take care of Miss Beale this evening. She will understand. I’ll wire her at Smith’s Hotel before the dinner hour, if possible. If anybody calls here, I leave it to your discretion and your wife’s whether or not they should be informed of my movements. Mr. Forbes or the police, of course, must be told everything. Miss Forbes is probably in the 1:25 p. m. train for Eastbourne, and I am going with her. Do you understand?”
“I’ll wire or ’phone you later.”
Grabbing a straw hat and a bundle of telegraph forms, Theydon vanished, not even waiting to slam the outer door. Bates, who had seen service, knew that men in time of stress and danger acted just like the detective and his own employer.
“By Jingo!” he muttered, beginning to assemble the empty coffee-cups on a tray. “Things is wakin’ up here, an’ no mistake!”
Theydon was fortunate in finding a taxicab depositing a fare at a neighboring block. Just before he reached the vehicle a gentleman hurried out of the building and forestalled him. Theydon dashed up, and caught the other man by the arm.
“My need is urgent,” he said. “Let, me have this cab.”
The stranger smiled good-humoredly. He was an American and had not the least objection to being hustled by a Britisher; indeed he rather appreciated this exhibition of haste as a novel experience.
“I’m on a hair-trigger myself,” he said, pleasantly. “I want to make Victoria pretty quick. Can I give you a lift?”
“In with you!” cried Theydon. “Now, cabby, half a sovereign if you get us to Victoria, Brighton line, in 15 minutes. I’ll pay all fines.”
Then they were off, and the Trans-Atlantic cousins were banged against one another as the cab whirled round in a sharp semicircle.
“Say!” cried the American, “this reminds one of home. I’ve been here a week, an’ had a kind of notion that London air was half fog, half dope. But you’re awake all right. Bet you a five spot you’re after a girl!”
“I pay,” said Theydon, his eyes glistening. “And such a girl! Her portrait on the paper wrap of a 50-cent novel would sell it in millions!”
“Gee whiz! Is it like that? Go right ahead, Augustus! Never mind me. Take this old bus all the way to Paris. I’ll find the fares and hold your hat. But kindly shift that gun into your opposite pocket. You’ve dug it into my thigh quite often enough. If you want to get first drop on the other fellow, shove it up your sleeve!”