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Chapter 3

  • Mr. Ricardo could no longer complain. It was half-past eight when Calladin_ad first disturbed the formalities of his house in Grosvenor Square. It wa_arely ten now, and during that short time he had been flung from surprise t_urprise, he had looked underground on a morning of fresh summer, and had bee_hrilled by the contrast between the queer, sinister life below and within an_he open call to joy of the green world above. He had passed from incredulit_o belief, from belief to incredulity, and when at last incredulity was firml_stablished, and the story to which he had listened proved the emanation of _rugged and heated brain, lo! the facts buffeted him in the face, and th_tory was shown to be true.
  • "I am alive once more," Mr. Ricardo thought as he turned back with Hanaud, an_n his excitement he cried his thought aloud.
  • "Are you?" said Hanaud. "And what is life without a newspaper? If you will bu_ne from that remarkably raucous boy at the bottom of the street I will kee_n eye upon Calladine's house till you come back."
  • Mr. Ricardo sped down to Charing Cross and brought back a copy of the fourt_dition of the _Star_. He handed it to Hanaud, who stared at it doubtfully, folded as it was.
  • "Shall we see what it says?" Ricardo asked impatiently.
  • "By no means," Hanaud answered, waking from his reverie and tucking briskl_way the paper into the tail pocket of his coat. "We will hear what Miss Joa_arew has to say, with our minds undisturbed by any discoveries. I wa_ondering about something totally different."
  • "Yes?" Mr. Ricardo encouraged him. "What was it?"
  • "I was wondering, since it is only ten o'clock, at what hour the firs_ditions of the evening papers appear."
  • "It is a question," Mr. Ricardo replied sententiously, "which the greates_inds have failed to answer."
  • And they walked along the street to the house. The front door stood ope_uring the day like the front door of any other house which is let off in set_f rooms. Hanaud and Ricardo went up the staircase and rang the bell o_alladine's door. A middle-aged woman opened it.
  • "Mr. Calladine is in?" said Hanaud.
  • "I will ask," replied the woman. "What name shall I say?"
  • "It does not matter. I will go straight in," said Hanaud quietly. "I was her_ith my friend but a minute ago."
  • He went straight forward and into Calladine's parlour. Mr. Ricardo looked ove_is shoulder as he opened the door and saw a girl turn to them suddenly _hite face of terror, and flinch as though already she felt the hand of _onstable upon her shoulder. Calladine, on the other hand, uttered a cry o_elief.
  • "These are my friends," he exclaimed to the girl, "the friends of whom I spok_o you"; and to Hanaud he said: "This is Miss Carew."
  • Hanaud bowed.
  • "You shall tell me your story, mademoiselle," he said very gently, and _ittle colour returned to the girl's cheeks, a little courage revived in her.
  • "But you have heard it," she answered.
  • "Not from you," said Hanaud.
  • So for a second time in that room she told the history of that night. Onl_his time the sunlight was warm upon the world, the comfortable sounds o_ife's routine were borne through the windows, and the girl herself wore th_nconspicuous blue serge of a thousand other girls afoot that morning. Thes_rifles of circumstance took the edge of sheer horror off her narrative, s_hat, to tell the truth, Mr. Ricardo was a trifle disappointed. He wanted _rescendo motive in his music, whereas it had begun at its fortissimo. Hanaud, however, was the perfect listener. He listened without stirring and with mos_ompassionate eyes, so that Joan Carew spoke only to him, and to him, eac_oment that passed, with greater confidence. The life and sparkle of her ha_one altogether. There was nothing in her manner now to suggest th_aywardness, the gay irresponsibility, the radiance, which had attracte_alladine the night before. She was just a very young and very pretty girl, telling in a low and remorseful voice of the tragic dilemma to which she ha_rought herself. Of Celymène all that remained was something exquisite an_ragile in her beauty, in the slimness of her figure, in her daintiness o_and and foot—something almost of the hot-house. But the story she told was, detail for detail, the same which Calladine had already related.
  • "Thank you," said Hanaud when she had done. "Now I must ask you tw_uestions."
  • "I will answer them."
  • Mr. Ricardo sat up. He began to think of a third question which he might pu_imself, something uncommonly subtle and searching, which Hanaud would neve_ave thought of. But Hanaud put his questions, and Ricardo almost jumped ou_f his chair.
  • "You will forgive me. Miss Carew. But have you ever stolen before?"
  • Joan Carew turned upon Hanaud with spirit. Then a change swept over her face.
  • "You have a right to ask," she answered. "Never." She looked into his eyes a_he answered. Hanaud did not move. He sat with a hand upon each knee and le_o his second question.
  • "Early this morning, when you left this room, you told Mr. Calladine that yo_ould wait at the Semiramis until he telephoned to you?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Yet when he telephoned, you had gone out?"
  • "Yes."
  • "Why?"
  • "I will tell you," said Joan Carew. "I could not bear to keep the littl_iamond chain in my room."
  • For a moment even Hanaud was surprised. He had lost sight of tha_omplication. Now he leaned forward anxiously; indeed, with a greater anxiet_han he had yet shown in all this affair.
  • "I was terrified," continued Joan Carew. "I kept thinking: 'They must hav_ound out by now. They will search everywhere.' I didn't reason. I lay in be_xpecting to hear every moment a loud knocking on the door. Besides—the chai_tself being there in my bedroom—her chain—the dead woman's chain—no, _ouldn't endure it. I felt as if I had stolen it. Then my maid brought in m_ea."
  • "You had locked it away?" cried Hanaud.
  • "Yes. My maid did not see it."
  • Joan Carew explained how she had risen, dressed, wrapped the chain in a pad o_otton-wool and enclosed it in an envelope. The envelope had not the stamp o_he hotel upon it. It was a rather large envelope, one of a packet which sh_ad bought in a crowded shop in Oxford Street on her way from Euston to th_emiramis. She had bought the envelopes of that particular size in order tha_hen she sent her letter of introduction to the Director of the Opera a_ovent Garden she might enclose with it a photograph.
  • "And to whom did you send it?" asked Mr. Ricardo.
  • "To Mrs. Blumenstein at the Semiramis. I printed the address carefully. Then _ent out and posted it."
  • "Where?" Hanaud inquired.
  • "In the big letter-box of the Post Office at the corner of Trafalgar Square."
  • Hanaud looked at the girl sharply.
  • "You had your wits about you, I see," he said.
  • "What if the envelope gets lost?" said Ricardo.
  • Hanuad laughed grimly.
  • "If one envelope is delivered at its address in London to-day, it will be tha_ne," he said. "The news of the crime is published, you see," and he swun_ound to Joan.
  • "Did you know that, Miss Carew?"
  • "No," she answered in an awe-stricken voice.
  • "Well, then, it is. Let us see what the special investigator has to say abou_t." And Hanaud, with a deliberation which Mr. Ricardo found quit_xcruciating, spread out the newspaper on the table in front of him.