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."
"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?"
"Yet when he telephoned, you had gone out?"
"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.