MoboReader> Literature > The Slave of Silence

   Chapter 19 No.19

The Slave of Silence By Fred M. White Characters: 11547

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:04


Something had been accomplished, at any rate. It was good to know that Berrington was safe and as satisfied with his surroundings as it was possible to be under the circumstances. Though he was a prisoner, he seemed to have been able to obtain important information which he had managed to convey to the outside world without alarming his captors.

"It's not so bad altogether," Field said. "Though I am by no means pleased with the gallant Colonel, who has only himself to blame for the position in which he finds himself. You can all go back to the station, and I shall not want the telegraph gentleman, whose services have been so valuable. Of course, you will say nothing of what you have seen, sir."

The little telegraph clerk gave the desired assurance and went his way. But Field did not turn his steps in the direction of London all at once. For a long time he stood looking thoughtfully at the house in Audley Place. He was just about to turn away finally when the light began to flash and flicker again. It went on a little time and finally ceased.

"Now, has he forgotten something?" Field asked himself. "I wonder if it is possible--"

Field crept quietly towards the house, across the lawn, and made his way to the back by which he had entered the place on a previous occasion. As he expected, the glass removed by him had not been replaced, so that he was free to enter if he pleased. It was a very risky proceeding under the circumstances, but Field decided to try it. He would be much better satisfied to gain speech with Berrington, though the latter's escape might have alarmed the criminals and sent them to cover again.

Field was inside the house again before he had made up his mind what to do. The place was very quiet, and it was evident that the servants had not returned. Perhaps there was nobody there besides Berrington, who was a prisoner in one of the upper rooms. That being the case it was by no means impossible to gain speech with him. Very carefully Field crept along the passages, listening with all his ears.

He had not gone far before he heard a sound as of somebody moving. That somebody was coming in his direction was certain. Field began to blame himself for his folly. If he fell into a trap now, everything would be ruined. He turned down a side passage, without the remotest idea where he was going, and came at length to a lighted room, at the end of which was a conservatory full of flowers. The conservatory was open to the room, so that the whole place was a veritable bower of blooms. On one side was a large bank of azaleas, behind which Field proceeded to hide himself. He had hardly done this when there was a kind of creaking sound, the door was pushed open, and Carl Sartoris entered in his chair. With great difficulty the cripple proceeded to crawl into a big arm-chair, after which he took from his pocket a wig and a pair of spectacles. He seemed to be expecting somebody. He gave a little cough, and immediately somebody in the hall began to talk.

"Mr. Sartoris is in the conservatory room, miss," a voice said, and Field had no difficulty in recognising the voice of the doctor, Bentwood. "Will you come this way, please?"

Field congratulated himself upon the line that he had taken. From behind the bank of flowers he could see pretty well himself, without being discovered. A pretty girl, with wonderfully beautiful fair hair and dark vivacious eyes, came into the room. She was not in the least timid; there was an air of eager expectation about her.

"This is very good of you," she said. "I understand that you sent for me. If you are not in a proper state of health to talk to me I can call again, Mr. Sartoris."

Just for the moment Sartoris made no reply. It seemed to Field that he was not altogether free from physical pain. He shaded his spectacled eyes with a trembling hand, as if the light proved a little too strong for him.

"It is not in the least inconvenient," he said. "I sent for you at this somewhat late hour because I may have to leave England to-morrow. If I do so it will be for some considerable time."

In his mind, Field differed. He had other views for the speaker. He was puzzled, too, at all these quick changes, and because there were so many threads in the plot.

"I can give you an hour," the girl said. "I must be in London by ten o'clock."

"Very well, I dare say we can manage it by that time. As I told you in my letter, I am a very old friend of your father. We were in one or two ventures together, and some of them turned out to be very successful indeed. Did he ever mention my name?"

"I cannot call it to mind," the girl said. "And yet it is not a common name."

"It is not in the least common," Sartoris smiled. "Perhaps your father did not speak of me because we were not quite friends towards the last. At one time I was to be your guardian if anything happened to your father. But we need not go into that, because it is not material to the case at all." The girl nodded brightly, and her eyes expressed admiration of the beauty of the surroundings.

"I believe my guardian was Sir Charles Darryll," she said.

"So I understand," Sartoris proceeded in the same grave way. "It was a most extraordinary selection for a man with a keen business head like your father."

"But you are greatly mistaken," the girl exclaimed. "My father was a perfect child in business matters. Even I was capable of advising him for his good. I should say that there never lived a man who was so easily befooled as my father."

"Is that so?" Sartoris blurted out. "I'm-I mean, of course, yes, as to mere money, but he was clever enough in some ways. Still, the fact remains that he made Sir Charles Darryll your guardian. Did you ever trouble

him at all?"

"I never so much as saw him, at least in a business sense."

"Ah," Sartoris cried. There was a deep ring in his voice. "Is that really a fact? You don't know then that certain papers and documents belonging to your father passed to Sir Charles? Your father told you nothing of this?"

"Not a word, except in a joking way. He spoke of securities and mortgages and the like that were to be my fortune when he died. He told me to ask Sir Charles about them."

"Did you take the trouble to do so?"

The girl thought a moment before she replied.

"Once," she said. "Once I did say something to Sir Charles. He told me that every paper in his possession had been deposited with his lawyers."

Once more Sartoris shaded his eyes with his hand. Field could see his fingers shaking. In a hard voice Sartoris asked if the girl meant the family solicitor.

"No, I don't," she said without the slightest hesitation. "As a matter of fact the family solicitor would have nothing to do with Sir Charles-he found him too expensive. It was some little man in one of the Inns, Gray's Inn or Clement's Inn, who kept his creditors at bay. But more than that I am afraid I cannot tell you."

Sartoris muttered something that might have been the strangling of an oath. Field began to understand. Papers, and probably valuable papers, belonging to Sir Charles were necessary; and the gang of thieves was at a loss what to do without them.

"I dare say I can find out," Sartoris said. "If I do, I fancy you will benefit considerably. More than that I dare not venture for the present, my dear young lady, because so frequently these things turn out very differently. If you could think of the name of that solicitor--"

"Perhaps I might," the girl said. "I have a good memory, especially for trifles. If I do recollect the name I will write you here. Do you know you remind me of a man I knew in India. He was much younger than you, of course, and different in many ways. And yet every time I look at you and hear your voice I think of him."

"As a matter of fact I never was in India at all," Sartoris said hastily. There was a nasty ring in his voice that caused the girl to look up, whereon Sartoris laughed, seeing that he had made a mistake. "Excuse me, but this neuralgia of mine is very troublesome to-night. And I am afraid that I am detaining you."

The girl muttered something soothing and sympathetic; at the same time she rose and crossed to the bell. But Sartoris merely reached out a hand and asked her to help him into his chair. He sank back into the wheeled contrivance at length with a sigh that might have been pain.

"I'll go as far as the door with you," he said. "No, I can move myself along. And I hope that you will come here again; I'll let you know when it is quite convenient. Don't forget that I may be the indirect means of bringing you a fortune. I am a very old gentleman, my dear; won't you give me a kiss? Are you very much offended?"

The girl laughed and blushed as she bent down and touched Sartoris's cheek with her lips. A moment later they were gone, and Field had emerged from his hiding-place. He had discovered all that he required, for the present, and he decided not to take any further risks. The confused pieces of the puzzle were beginning to fit together in his mind, but they were by no means complete yet. Without further adventure the inspector crept back to the pantry and found himself at length in the road. He looked at the upstairs window whence the flickering signals had come, but it was all dark and still now, though it was not as yet late.

"So far, so good," Field muttered to himself. "It strikes me that that young lady is likely to be of service to me. I'll find out who she is and whence she comes. And now to go off to the Comedy and see if I can get in touch with the little actress who must play her part in more dramas than one. I wonder if I had better see her at the theatre or follow her to her rooms. I'll be guided by circumstances."

It was not more than half-past ten when Field reached the theatre. It was a popular house for the moment, where the management was running a kind of triple bill, consisting of one-act musical comedies, each of which contained the particular star artist. Two of the shows were already over, and the curtain was about to rise on the third, when Field reached the stage door. The inquiry for Miss Adela Vane was met by a surly request to know what was wanted. If the inquirer thought that he was going into the theatre he was jolly well mistaken.

"So you just be off, or I'll call the police," the crusty doorkeeper said. "One way or another, I'm pestered out of my life by you chaps. Oh, you can leave a message or a bouquet or something of that kind, but it's long odds it's shoved into the dusthole."

Field smiled as he produced his card and handed it over. The effect of the little square of shining pasteboard was marked and instantaneous. The man behind the bar was at once cringing and ready to do anything.

"I'm sure I beg your pardon, sir," he said, "but we are pestered out of our lives from morning till night. I dare say I can get you a few words with Miss Vane, who does not come on the stage till the third piece. And from the bottom of my heart, I hope that there is nothing wrong, for a nicer young lady than Miss Vane--"

"There is nothing wrong at all," Field hastened to say. "On the whole I've changed my mind. Don't say a word to Miss Vane about me, it may alarm her. Give me a programme; I'll just slip into the house and see Miss Vane from the stalls. Thank you."

Field made his way round to the front of the house, and presenting his card at the box office, desired to have a seat for half an hour or so.

Free to Download MoboReader
(← Keyboard shortcut) Previous Contents (Keyboard shortcut →)
 Novels To Read Online Free

Scan the QR code to download MoboReader app.

Back to Top

shares