The last guest had departed, the strains of music had died away. The lights were out, and the flowers were wilting on the walls. Leona Lalage had discarded her dress for a fascinating wrap, and was seated in her boudoir making a cigarette and trying to read something from the expression of Lawrence's face."I wish I had known," she murmured. "Oh, I wish I had known."
"You remember the case of my wife?" Charlton asked suddenly. "Ah, I see you do. Well, I am going to tell you my story. You are a man of sentiment and feeling, or your novels greatly belie you. And a doctor always respects confidence. When my wife died there was an inquiry extending over many days. The great question was: Had she poisoned herself, did she take poison by misadventure, or did I kill her? Nine people out of every ten believed I was guilty. I let them believe it at the risk of my neck, and why?""My uncle has always said so," Hetty replied.The woman reached up a long white hand, and taking the bulb of the swinging electric light in her grasp desperately, crushed it to pieces. Then there was swift darkness again and the rush of flying feet.
"I always heard that there was only a foot or two of water in there," the Countess said. "It was never used in my time--people don't care to drink well water in London. Still, it is a slice of luck, as you say."He was breakfasting rather later, but quite modestly, in his chambers when Lawrence called on him the next morning. There were a good many points in common between the two men despite their different dispositions.
"Surely your ladyship knows Dr. Bruce!" Hetty said with a vivid splash of colour on either cheek "A little time ago I understood that Dr. Bruce----"Balmayne knelt down there with one of the lamps in his hand. His face was not good to look upon. Leona Lalage watched him eagerly.
The discovery turned her sick and faint. That any one should deliberately try and take an innocent life like this filled her with loathing.
"I should like to know what you make of them," said Lawrence."Indeed it is, sir. A good deal better looking than the other poor fellow, but directly I set eyes upon him I couldn't fail to see the likeness. And when he took off his gloves, and showed the big orange spots, I felt certain.""Indeed it is, sir. A good deal better looking than the other poor fellow, but directly I set eyes upon him I couldn't fail to see the likeness. And when he took off his gloves, and showed the big orange spots, I felt certain."
Maitrank plunged his hands into his pockets.
A policeman stepped out of the gloom and tried to pull up the car. It flashed by him at the rate of 70 miles an hour.The lawyer bowed his strange client out. He had only to obey instructions. He went back to his desk pondering on the sensation that society was going to get shortly. Maitrank went straight away to Lawrence.
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These she handed up to Ren茅, who returned to the dining-room with them. His mood had changed for the moment, but Leona was by no means out of danger yet. He might have been trying her all the time, he might be gloating over his vengeance. If she could only get rid of him, only scare him away."You know too much," she said quietly. "If that fool Giuseppe had done his duty you would have gone down to your drunkard's grave in ignorance. But you are not going on the Continent tomorrow or the next day. Fool, fool, have you not lived long enough to know that all that glitters is not gold! For the moment I am living on my reputation and the splendour of this house. Not one penny have I paid for it. People hold documents and title deeds of mine that are forgeries. I have a grand coup that may come off, and again it may fail. For the moment I am penniless."
The heavy curtains parted and the figure of a man emerged. He was short, yet powerfully made, with a curious twist from the hip as if he were deformed in some way. Ragged hair fringed his chin and lips. His long nose was crooked on one side; his equally long hands were covered with great orange freckles. An object of mistrust and suspicion everywhere.详情
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