Francis was silent for several moments. Lady Cynthia watched him curiously.
“At any rate,” she observed, “in whatever mood she went away this morning, you have evidently succeeded in doing what I have never seen any one else do—breaking through her indifference. I shouldn’t have thought that anything short of an earthquake would have stirred Margaret, these days.”
“These days?” he repeated quickly. “How long have you known her?”
“We were at school together for a short time,” she told him. “It was while her father was in South America. Margaret was a very different person in those days.”
“However was she induced to marry a person like Oliver Hilditch?” Francis speculated.
His companion shrugged her shoulders.
“Who knows?” she answered indifferently. “Are you going to drop me?”
“Wherever you like.”
“Take me on to Grosvenor Square, if you will, then,” she begged, “and deposit me at the ancestral mansion. I am really rather annoyed about Margaret,” she went on, rearranging her veil. “I had begun to have hopes that you might have revived my taste for normal things.”
“If I had had the slightest intimation—” he murmured.
“It would have made no difference,” she interrupted dolefully. “Now I come to think of it, the Margaret whom I used to know—and there must be plenty of her left yet—is just the right type of woman for you.”
They drew up outside the house in Grosvenor Square. Lady Cynthia held out her hand.
“Come and see me one afternoon, will you?” she invited.
“I’d like to very much,” he replied.
She lingered on the steps and waved her hand to him—a graceful, somewhat insolent gesture.
“All the same, I think I shall do my best to make you forget Margaret,” she called out. “Thanks for the lift up. A bientot!”
Francis drove direct from Grosvenor Square to his chambers in the Temple, and found Shopland, his friend from Scotland Yard, awaiting his arrival.
“Any news?” Francis enquired.
“Nothing definite, I am sorry, to say,” was the other’s reluctant admission.
Francis hung up his hat, threw himself into his easy-chair and lit a cigarette.
“The lad’s brother is one of my oldest friends, Shopland,” he said. “He is naturally in a state of great distress.”
The detective scratched his chin thoughtfully.
“I said ‘nothing definite’ just now, sir,” he observed. “As a rule, I never mention suspicions, but with you it is a different matter. I haven’t discovered the slightest trace of Mr. Reginald Wilmore, or the slightest reason for his disappearance. He seems to have been a well-conducted young gentleman, a little extravagant, perhaps, but able to pay his way and with nothing whatever against him. Nothing whatever, that is to say, except one almost insignificant thing.”