“Now you know, Jim,” said he, “why we must get aboard the Patna to-night. My wife is really too ill to travel; in fact, I shall have to carry her down to the cab, and such a proceeding in daylight would attract an enormous crowd in this neighbourhood!”
“Give me the letters and the papers,” I answered. “I will start now.”
His wife disengaged her hand and extended it to me.
“Thank you,” she said, in a queer little silver-bell voice; “you are good. I shall always love you.”
THE SECRET OF MA LORENZO
It must have been about eleven o’clock that night when Paul Harley rang me up. Since we had parted in the early morning I had had no word from him, and I was all anxiety to tell him of the quaint little romance which unknown to us had had its setting in the room above.
In accordance with my promise I had seen the chief officer of the Patna; and from the start of surprise which he gave on opening “Captain Dan’s” letter, I judged that Mr. Marryat and the man who for so long had sunk to the lowest rung of the ladder had been close friends in those “old days.” At any rate, he had proceeded to make the necessary arrangements without a moment’s delay, and the couple were to go on board the Patna at nine o’clock.
It was with a sense of having done at least one good deed that I finally quitted our Limehouse base and returned to my rooms. Now, at eleven o’clock at night:
“Can you come round to Chancery Lane at once?” said Harley. “I want you to run down to Pennyfields with me.”
“Some development in the Kwen Lung business?”
“Hardly a development, but I’m not satisfied, Knox. I hate to be beaten.”
Twenty minutes later I was sitting in Harley’s study, watching him restlessly promenading up and down before the fire.
“The police searched Kwen Lung’s place from foundation to tiles,” he said. “I was there myself. Old Kwen Lung conveniently kept out of the way—still playing fan-tan, no doubt! But Ma Lorenzo was in evidence. She blandly declared that Kwen Lung never had a daughter! And in the absence of our friend the fireman, who sailed in the Seahawk, and whose evidence, by the way, is legally valueless—what could we do? They could find nobody in the neighbourhood prepared to state that Kwen Lung had a daughter or that Kwen Lung had no daughter. There are all sorts of fables about the old fox, but the facts about him are harder to get at.”
“But,” I explained, “the bloodstains on the joss!”
“Ma Lorenzo stumbled and fell there on the previous night, striking her skull against the foot of the figure.”
“What nonsense!” I cried. “We should have seen the wound last night.”
“We might have done,” said Harley musingly; “I don’t know when she inflicted it on herself; but I did see it this morning.”