Perks bowed to the inevitable. He cursed himself slightly under his breath for his folly in not removing everything, but he felt safe in the hands of his visitors. They would not be likely to ask any questions as to whence the plunder came. By the time that Venables had written and stamped his letter, Lord Ravenspur came forward with a small metal disc in his hand.Without waiting for a reply the Countess turned away, and went back into the house again. In the drawing-room Vera was seated, talking earnestly to Lord Ravenspur. There was an awkward pause as the Countess Flavio entered the room. Then Vera rose with a crimson face, and came in the direction of her mother."You are wasting your time there, lady," he said civilly enough. "The people are not at home. I think they are coming back at the end of the week, because my instructions to keep a special eye on the house don't go beyond Saturday.""I could open your eyes about a few of them in that neighbourhood," he said. "I haven't been loafing about Fitzjohn Square all these months for nothing. If I were a blackmailer, which I am not, I could live on the fat of the land. That is too dangerous a game to play, and I prefer to get along as I am." 幸运飞艇技巧微信群 Vera smiled as she thought of the terror which the great hound would naturally inspire. No doubt he had managed to get away from Park Lane and had tracked them to Lady Ringmar's house."Did you know my father?" Vera cried. "It appears that Berti has seen Mrs. Delahay since the inquest. He was rather interested in the affair, and he contrived to get a sight of Mrs. Delahay. And now comes the most extraordinary feature of the story. Berti is absolutely certain that Mrs. Delahay is no other than Carlotta, Countess Flavio.""Only this very morning, sir," Perks admitted cheerfully. "To tell you the truth, that little thing what you gave me a sovereign for was amongst the lot. And now I have said it. I am a fool to tell you this, but you gave me your word, sir----""Then there is nothing more you can tell me?" Mrs. Delahay asked.The audience swayed again, for there was something exceedingly impressive in the speaker's words. All eyes were turned upon Mrs. Delahay, who seemed at length to gain some understanding of what was going on. There was no sign of guilt or confusion on her face. It was as calm and stony as ever."Here is a clue with a vengeance," he exclaimed. "This is Vera's handkerchief. Depend upon it, this is a signal to us that the dog must have been with her at the time she went, and she must certainly have gone voluntarily, or the dog would have made short work of the person with whom Vera departed. She took this way of letting us know she had gone, and most assuredly she must have gone by the back gate. What a lucky thing it was that the dog came here tonight. Let us put him on the scent at once." "Ghastly," Ravenspur exclaimed. "It was a great shock when Mrs. Delahay came round to me this morning. And the strange part of the whole business is that I was in this very house myself, quite alone, till half-past one. Perhaps I had better explain the circumstances to you, as the knowledge might prove useful. . . . And now you know all about it. Mind you, I saw nothing; I did not hear a sound. Indeed, I am quite convinced that there was no one on the premises when I left.""I have always told the truth," Stevens stammered.It turned out to be exactly as Lord Ravenspur had prophesied. When Perks came up, and turned his lantern on the scene, the outline of a man's body came into view. The unfortunate individual was lying on his back, the great hound was standing over him, his crest erect, his formidable row of teeth glistening in the light. At one word from lord Ravenspur the dog crouched down, and the stranger, trembling with fright in every limb, was dragged to his feet. Something like a chuckle burst from Perks' lips. 幸运飞艇技巧微信群 The girl paused abruptly, conscious that she was saying too much. For some time past she had been hugging what appeared to be a shameful secret to her breast. Her face paled with remorse now when she thought how she had misjudged these two people. But the embarrassment was not all Vera's, for Ravenspur was looking unhappy and uncomfortable. Only the Countess appeared to retain her cold self-possession. For some time no one spoke."Why should you assume ignorance in that way? You know perfectly well what I mean. To my certain knowledge you have made three attempts on the life of Lord Ravenspur, and even that does not seem to be sufficient. Last night you managed to lure Miss Vera Rayne away from London, and she is in this house at the present moment. That she is detained here against her will I feel certain."CHAPTER IV. A WOMAN'S FACE. "Did no servant testify in her favour?" Lance asked."The game isn't worth playing," he muttered. "Fancy, twenty quid for a job like that, and the chance of hanging into the bargain. I wish I had never gone there, John. I wish I had never met you that night, when you told me all about the house in Fitzjohn Square. I wake up in the night in a bath of cold sweat when I think of it. Fancy going into what you take to be an empty house, and finding a dead body staring up in your face from the floor! Yes, I took his watch and chain all right, but I don't know where I got the pluck from. Took the risk of being strung up for it, bli'me! And me ready to get married, and the date fixed and all! Lord, if I could only see my way to get clear of it all! Twenty quid against a man's life! You go and try it yourself, and see what it's like, my ancient pal. When I recollect as it was you as told me of the broken catch on the studio window, I could bash your face in, I could. I can't forget it. I have tried drink, but that is no use. You can stave it off for an hour or two, and then it comes back worse than ever. And all for the sake of twenty quid!""That was quite the proper thing to do," he said. "I suppose you don't know what time the key was fetched again from the office?""Oh, yes, you do," Venables went on. "You will say presently that you have never seen me before. You are a treacherous rascal, and evidently you are not in the least to be relied upon. I told you that it would pay you to join me, and I suppose your idea is to get money from both parties. This is no time to waste on incriminations. This man is a spy of Valdo's, Lord Ravenspur. Evidently he is here to watch our movements. We can't trust him. We can't let him out of our sight. The question is, what are we going to do with him?" A thoughtful expression came over Inspector Dallas' face. "Everything has been done to make you comfortable," he said. "It was my own idea to remove your immediate belongings from Waterloo Station and bring them on here. I assure you that it was no difficult job. And now I wish you goodnight, with a thousand pardons for the way in which I have been compelled to treat you. Tomorrow morning----""We are going away for a little time," he explained. "The fact of the matter is, your guardian has not been at all well lately. But you must have noticed that for yourself. He has had a great deal to try him, too, and he is afraid of a breakdown. We are going to Weymouth direct from Lord Ringmar's House, and not a soul is to know anything about it. You see, if we stay and make elaborate preparations, it will take quite a week to make a start. It is far better to let people know afterwards that Lord Ravenspur has been ordered away peremptorily, and that he is to have perfect rest for the next month or so. Only I can't sufficiently impress upon you the necessity of keeping this thing absolutely secret.""Oh, no, no," Vera cried; "you must not speak like that. I cannot listen to you. I know that Lord Ravenspur has set his heart upon this marriage, and it would be the basest ingratitude on my part if I----but what am I talking about?""Oh, that I cannot tell you. You see, I went to bed about two o'clock and I was up again at seven. When I took Mrs. Delahay up her cup of early tea she was in bed then." 幸运飞艇技巧微信群 Ravenspur broke off abruptly as if fearful of saying too much. His whole attitude had changed; his features quivered with an almost uncontrollable emotion. Then he turned on his heel, and strode down the corridor in the direction of the studio. Walter could hear the latch of the door click as it closed behind him. . . .The neat, clean-shaven secretary came forward."What are you talking about?" the coroner interrupted. "Do you mean to say that Mr. Delahay was talking to himself?" The speaker repeated the last three words over and over again as if she were trying to realise the dread significance of her own message. Ravenspur stood there with his hand to his head, shocked and grieved almost beyond the power of speech.There was only one thing for it, and that was to break down the door. Flinging himself full against the woodwork, Walter literally forced his way in. Then he stood just for a moment looking into the gloom and darkness, trying to see where the figure of the unhappy man lay.It was practically daylight now, so that the greatest caution was absolutely necessary. It was possible to obtain cover behind a group of thorn bushes and take observations of the house. But even that did not lack risk, all the more so because of the presence of the dog. The great hound had served his purpose, and it was essential that he should be got rid of, for the present at any rate.