Read CHAPTER XI of The Primadonna, free online book, by F. Marion Crawford, on ReadCentral.com.

Mr. Van Torp was walking slowly down the Elm Walk in the park at Oxley Paddox.  The ancient trees were not in full leaf yet, but there were myriads of tiny green feather points all over the rough brown branches and the smoother twigs, and their soft colour tinted the luminous spring air.  High overhead all sorts and conditions of little birds were chirping and trilling and chattering together and by turns, and on the ground the sparrows were excessively busy and talkative, while the squirrels made wild dashes across the open, and stopped suddenly to sit bolt upright and look about them, and then dashed on again.

Little Ida walked beside the millionaire in silence, trustfully holding one of his hands, and as she watched the sparrows she tried to make out what sort of sound they could be making when they hopped forward and opened their bills so wide that she could distinctly see their little tongues.  Mr. Van Torp’s other hand held a newspaper, and he was reading the article about himself which Margaret had shown to Lady Maud.  He did not take that particular paper, but a marked copy had been sent to him, and in due course had been ironed and laid on the breakfast-table with those that came regularly.  The article was marked in red pencil.

He read it slowly with a perfectly blank expression, as if it concerned some one he did not know.  Once only, when he came upon the allusion to the little girl, his eyes left the page and glanced quietly down at the large red felt hat with its knot of ribbands that moved along beside him, and hid all the child’s face except the delicate chin and the corner of the pathetic little mouth.  She did not know that he looked down at her, for she was intent on the sparrows, and he went back to the article and read to the end.

Then, in order to fold the paper, he gently let go of Ida’s hand, and she looked up into his face.  He did not speak, but his lips moved a little as he doubled the sheet to put it into his pocket; and instantly the child’s expression changed, and she looked hurt and frightened, and stretched up her hand quickly to cover his mouth, as if to hide the words his lips were silently forming.

‘Please, please!’ she said, in her slightly monotonous voice.  ’You promised me you wouldn’t any more!’

‘Quite right, my dear,’ answered Mr. Van Torp, smiling, ’and I apologise.  You must make me pay a forfeit every time I do it.  What shall the forfeit be?  Chocolates?’

She watched his lips, and understood as well as if she had heard.

‘No,’ she answered demurely.  ’You mustn’t laugh.  When I’ve done anything wicked and am sorry, I say the little prayer Miss More taught me.  Perhaps you’d better learn it too.’

‘If you said it for me,’ suggested Mr. Van Torp gravely, ’it would be more likely to work.’

’Oh no!  That wouldn’t do at all!  You must say it for yourself.  I’ll teach it to you if you like.  Shall I?’

‘What must I say?’ asked the financier.

’Well, it’s made up for me, you see, and besides, I’ve shortened it a wee bit.  What I say is:  “Dear God, please forgive me this time, and make me never want to do it again.  Amen.”  Can you remember that, do you think?’

‘I think I could,’ said Mr. Van Torp.  ’Please forgive me and make me never do it again.’

‘Never want to do it again,’ corrected little Ida with emphasis.  ’You must try not even to want to say dreadful things.  And then you must say “Amen.”  That’s important.’

‘Amen,’ repeated the millionaire.

At this juncture the discordant toot of an approaching motor-car was heard above the singing of the birds.  Mr. Van Torp turned his head quickly in the direction of the sound, and at the same time instinctively led the little girl towards one side of the road.  She apparently understood, for she asked no questions.  There was a turn in the drive a couple of hundred yards away, where the Elm Walk ended, and an instant later an enormous white motor-car whizzed into sight, rushed furiously towards the two, and was brought to a standstill in an uncommonly short time, close beside them.  An active man, in the usual driver’s disguise of the modern motorist, jumped down, and at the same instant pushed his goggles up over the visor of his cap and loosened the collar of his wide coat, displaying the face of Constantino Logotheti.

‘Oh, it’s you, is it?’ Mr. Van Torp asked the wholly superfluous question in a displeased tone.  ’How did you get in?  I’ve given particular orders to let in no automobiles.’

‘I always get in everywhere,’ answered Logotheti coolly.  ’May I see you alone for a few minutes?’

‘If it’s business, you’d better see Mr. Bamberger,’ said Van Torp.  ’I came here for a rest.  Mr. Bamberger has come over for a few days.  You’ll find him at his chambers in Hare Court.’

‘No,’ returned Logotheti, ’it’s a private matter.  I shall not keep you long.’

‘Then run us up to the house in your new go-cart.’

Mr. Van Torp lifted little Ida into the motor as if she had been a rather fragile china doll instead of a girl nine years old and quite able to get up alone, and before she could sit down he was beside her.  Logotheti jumped up beside the chauffeur and the machine ran up the drive at breakneck speed.  Two minutes later they all got out more than a mile farther on, at the door of the big old house.  Ida ran away to find Miss More; the two men entered together, and went into the study.

The room had been built in the time of Edward Sixth, had been decorated afresh under Charles the Second, the furniture was of the time of Queen Anne, and the carpet was a modern Turkish one, woven in colours as fresh as paint to fit the room, and as thick as a down quilt:  it was the sort of carpet which has come into existence with the modern hotel.

‘Well?’ Mr. Van Torp uttered the monosyllable as he sat down in his own chair and pointed to a much less comfortable one, which Logotheti took.

‘There’s an article about you,’ said the latter, producing a paper.

‘I’ve read it,’ answered Mr. Van Torp in a tone of stony indifference.

‘I thought that was likely.  Do you take the paper?’

‘No.  Do you?’

‘No, it was sent to me,’ Logotheti answered.  ’Did you happen to glance at the address on the wrapper of the one that came to you?’

‘My valet opens all the papers and irons them.’

Mr. Van Torp looked very bored as he said this, and he stared stonily at the pink and green waistcoat which his visitor’s unfastened coat exposed to view.  Hundreds of little gold beads were sewn upon it at the intersections of the pattern.  It was a marvellous creation.

‘I had seen the handwriting on the one addressed to me before,’ Logotheti said.

‘Oh, you had, had you?’

Mr. Van Torp asked the question in a dull tone without the slightest apparent interest in the answer.

‘Yes,’ Logotheti replied, not paying any attention to his host’s indifference.  ’I received an anonymous letter last winter, and the writing of the address was the same.’

‘It was, was it?’

The millionaire’s tone did not change in the least, and he continued to admire the waistcoat.  His manner might have disconcerted a person of less assurance than the Greek, but in the matter of nerves the two financiers were well matched.

‘Yes,’ Logotheti answered, ’and the anonymous letter was about you, and contained some of the stories that are printed in this article.’

‘Oh, it did, did it?’

’Yes.  There was an account of your interview with the Primadonna at a hotel in New York.  I remember that particularly well.’

‘Oh, you do, do you?’

’Yes.  The identity of the handwriting and the similarity of the wording make it look as if the article and the letter had been written by the same person.’

‘Well, suppose they were ­I don’t see anything funny about that.’

Thereupon Mr. Van Torp turned at last from the contemplation of the waistcoat and looked out of the bay-window at the distant trees, as if he were excessively weary of Logotheti’s talk.

‘It occurred to me,’ said the latter, ’that you might like to stop any further allusions to Miss Donne, and that if you happened to recognize the handwriting you might be able to do so effectually.’

‘There’s nothing against Madame Cordova in the article,’ answered Mr. Van Torp, and his aggressive blue eyes turned sharply to his visitor’s almond-shaped brown ones.  ‘You can’t say there’s a word against her.’

‘There may be in the next one,’ suggested Logotheti, meeting the look without emotion.  ’When people send anonymous letters about broadcast to injure men like you and me, they are not likely to stick at such a matter as a woman’s reputation.’

‘Well ­maybe not.’  Mr. Van Torp turned his sharp eyes elsewhere.  ’You seem to take quite an interest in Madame Cordova, Mr. Logotheti,’ he observed, in an indifferent tone.

’I knew her before she went on the stage, and I think I may call myself a friend of hers.  At all events, I wish to spare her any annoyance from the papers if I can, and if you have any regard for her you will help me, I’m sure.’

‘I have the highest regard for Madame Cordova,’ said Mr. Van Torp, and there was a perceptible change in his tone; ’but after this, I guess the best way I can show it is to keep out of her track.  That’s about all there is to do.  You don’t suppose I’m going to bring an action against that paper, do you?’

‘Hardly!’ Logotheti smiled.

‘Well, then, what do you expect me to do, Mr. Logotheti?’

Again the eyes of the two men met.

‘I’ll tell you,’ answered the Greek.  ’The story about your visit to Miss Donne in New York is perfectly true.’

‘You’re pretty frank,’ observed the American.

’Yes, I am.  Very good.  The man who wrote the letter and the article knows you, and that probably means that you have known him, though you may never have taken any notice of him.  He hates you, for some reason, and means to injure you if he can.  Just take the trouble to find out who he is and suppress him, will you?  If you don’t, he will throw more mud at honest women.  He is probably some underling whose feelings you have hurt, or who has lost money by you, or both.’

‘There’s something in that,’ answered Mr. Van Torp, showing a little more interest.  ’Do you happen to have any of his writing about you?  I’ll look at it.’

Logotheti took a letter and a torn piece of brown paper from his pocket and handed both to his companion.

‘Read the letter, if you like,’ he said.  ’The handwriting seems to be the same as that on the wrapper.’

Mr. Van Torp first compared the address, and then proceeded to read the anonymous letter.  Logotheti watched his face quietly, but it did not change in the least.  When he had finished, he folded the sheet, replaced it in the envelope, and returned it with the bit of paper.

‘Much obliged,’ he said, and he looked out of the window again and was silent.

Logotheti leaned back in his chair as he put the papers into his pocket again, and presently, as Mr. Van Torp did not seem inclined to say anything more, he rose to go.  The American did not move, and still looked out of the window.

‘You originally belonged to the East, Mr. Logotheti, didn’t you?’ he asked suddenly.

‘Yes.  I’m a Greek and a Turkish subject.’

‘Do you happen to know the Patriarch of Constantinople?’

Logotheti stared in surprise, taken off his guard for once.

‘Very well indeed,’ he answered after an instant.  ‘He is my uncle.’

‘Why, now, that’s quite interesting!’ observed Mr. Van Torp, rising deliberately and thrusting his hands into his pockets.

Logotheti, who knew nothing about the details of Lady Maud’s pending divorce, could not imagine what the American was driving at, and waited for more.  Mr. Van Torp began to walk up and down, with his rather clumsy gait, digging his heels into vivid depths of the new Smyrna carpet at every step.

‘I wasn’t going to tell you,’ he said at last, ’but I may just as well.  Most of the accusations in that letter are lies.  I didn’t blow up the subway.  I know it was done on purpose, of course, but I had nothing to do with it, and any man who says I had, takes me for a fool, which you’ll probably allow I’m not.  You’re a man of business, Mr. Logotheti.  There had been a fall in Nickel, and for weeks before the explosion I’d been making a considerable personal sacrifice to steady things.  Now you know as well as I do that all big accidents are bad for the market when it’s shaky.  Do you suppose I’d have deliberately produced one just then?  Besides, I’m not a criminal.  I didn’t blow up the subway any more than I blew up the Maine to bring on the Cuban war!  The man’s a fool.’

‘I quite agree with you,’ said the Greek, listening with interest.

’Then there’s another thing.  That about poor Mrs. Moon, who’s gone out of her mind.  It’s nonsense to say I was the reason of Bamberger’s divorcing his wife.  In the first place, there are the records of the divorce, and my name was never mentioned.  I was her friend, that’s all, and Bamberger resented it ­he’s a resentful sort of man anyway.  He thought she’d marry me as soon as he got the divorce.  Well, she didn’t.  She married old Alvah Moon, who was the only man she ever cared for.  The Lord knows how it was, but that wicked old scarecrow made all the women love him, to his dying day.  I had a high regard for Mrs. Bamberger, and I suppose she was right to marry him if she liked him.  Well, she married him in too much of a hurry, and the child that was born abroad was Bamberger’s and not his, and when he found it out he sent the girl East and would never see her again, and didn’t leave her a cent when he died.  That’s the truth about that, Mr. Logotheti.  I tell you because you’ve got that letter in your pocket, and I’d rather have your good word than your bad word in business any day.’

‘Thank you,’ answered Logotheti.  ’I’m glad to know the facts in the case, though I never could see what a man’s private life can have to do with his reputation in the money market!’

’Well, it has, in some countries.  Different kinds of cats have different kinds of ways.  There’s one thing more, but it’s not in the letter, it’s in the article.  That’s about Countess Leven, and it’s the worst lie of the lot, for there’s not a better woman than she is from here to China.  I’m not at liberty to tell you anything of the matter she’s interested in and on which she consults me.  But her father is my next neighbour here, and I seem to be welcome at his house; he’s a pretty sensible man, and that makes for her, it seems to me.  As for that husband of hers, we’ve a good name in America for men like him.  We’d call him a skunk over there.  I suppose the English word is polecat, but it doesn’t say as much.  I don’t think there’s anything else I want to tell you.’

‘You spoke of my uncle, the Patriarch,’ observed Logotheti.

‘Did I?  Yes.  Well, what sort of a gentleman is he, anyway?’

The question seemed rather vague to the Greek.

‘How do you mean?’ he inquired, buttoning his coat over the wonderful waistcoat.

’Is he a friendly kind of a person, I mean?  Obliging, if you take him the right way?  That’s what I mean.  Or does he get on his ear right away?’

‘I should say,’ answered Logotheti, without a smile, ’that he gets on his ear right away ­if that means the opposite of being friendly and obliging.  But I may be prejudiced, for he does not approve of me.’

‘Why not, Mr. Logotheti?’

‘My uncle says I’m a pagan, and worship idols.’

‘Maybe he means the Golden Calf,’ suggested Mr. Van Torp gravely.

Logotheti laughed.

‘The other deity in business is the Brazen Serpent, I believe,’ he retorted.

‘The two would look pretty well out there on my lawn,’ answered Mr. Van Torp, his hard face relaxing a little.

’To return to the point.  Can I be of any use to you with the Patriarch?  We are not on bad terms, though he does think me a heathen.  Is there anything I can do?’

‘Thank you, not at present.  Much obliged.  I only wanted to know.’

Logotheti’s curiosity was destined to remain unsatisfied.  He refused Mr. Van Torp’s not very pressing invitation to stay to luncheon, given at the very moment when he was getting into his motor, and a few seconds later he was tearing down the avenue.

Mr. Van Torp stood on the steps till he was out of sight and then came down himself and strolled slowly away towards the trees again, his hands behind him and his eyes constantly bent upon the road, three paces ahead.

He was not always quite truthful.  Scruples were not continually uppermost in his mind.  For instance, what he had told Lady Maud about his engagement to poor Miss Bamberger did not quite agree with what he had said to Margaret on the steamer.

In certain markets in New York, three kinds of eggs are offered for sale, namely, Eggs, Fresh Eggs, and Strictly Fresh Eggs.  I have seen the advertisement.  Similarly in Mr. Van Torp’s opinion there were three sorts of stories, to wit, Stories, True Stories, and Strictly True Stories.  Clearly, each account of his engagement must have belonged to one of these classes, as well as the general statement he had made to Logotheti about the charges brought against him in the anonymous letter.  The reason why he had made that statement was plain enough; he meant it to be repeated to Margaret because he really wished her to think well of him.  Moreover, he had recognised the handwriting at once as that of Mr. Feist, Isidore Bamberger’s former secretary, who knew a good many things and might turn out a dangerous enemy.

But Logotheti, who knew something of men, and had dealt with some very accomplished experts in fraud from New York and London to Constantinople, had his doubts about the truth of what he had heard, and understood at once why the usually reticent American had talked so much about himself.  Van Torp, he was sure, was in love with the singer; that was his weak side, and in whatever affected her he might behave like a brute or a baby, but would certainly act with something like rudimentary simplicity in either case.  In Logotheti’s opinion Northern and English-speaking men might be as profound as Persians in matters of money, and sometimes were, but where women were concerned they were generally little better than sentimental children, unless they were mere animals.  Not one in a thousand cared for the society of women, or even of one particular woman, for its own sake, for the companionship, and the exchange of ideas about things of which women know how to think.  To the better sort, that is, to the sentimental ones, a woman always seemed what she was not, a goddess, a saint, or a sort of glorified sister; to the rest, she was an instrument of amusement and pleasure, more or less necessary and more or less purchasable.  Perhaps an Englishman or an American, judging Greeks from what he could learn about them in ordinary intercourse, would get about as near the truth as Logotheti did.  In his main conclusion the latter was probably right; Mr. Van Torp’s affections might be of such exuberant nature as would admit of being divided between two or three objects at the same time, or they might not.  But when he spoke of having the ‘highest regard’ for Madame Cordova, without denying the facts about the interview in which he had asked her to marry him and had lost his head because she refused, he was at least admitting that he was in love with her, or had been at that time.

Mr. Van Torp also confessed that he had entertained a ‘high regard’ for the beautiful Mrs. Bamberger, now unhappily insane.  It was noticeable that he had not used the same expression in speaking of Lady Maud.  Nevertheless, as in the Bamberger affair, he appeared as the chief cause of trouble between husband and wife.  Logotheti was considered ‘dangerous’ even in Paris, and his experiences had not been dull; but, so far, he had found his way through life without inadvertently stepping upon any of those concealed traps through which the gay and unwary of both sexes are so often dropped into the divorce court, to the surprise of everybody.  It seemed the more strange to him that Rufus Van Torp, only a few years his senior, should now find himself in that position for the second time.  Yet Van Torp was not a ladies’ man; he was hard-featured, rough of speech, and clumsy of figure, and it was impossible to believe that any woman could think him good-looking or be carried away by his talk.  The case of Mrs. Bamberger could be explained; she might have had beauty, but she could have had little else that would have appealed to such a man as Logotheti.  But there was Lady Maud, an acknowledged beauty in London, thoroughbred, aristocratic, not easily shocked perhaps, but easily disgusted, like most women of her class; and there was no doubt but that her husband had found her under extremely strange circumstances, in the act of receiving from Van Torp a large sum of money for which she altogether declined to account.  Van Torp had not denied that story either, so it was probably true.  Yet Logotheti, whom so many women thought irresistible, had felt instinctively that she was one of those who would smile serenely upon the most skilful and persistent besieger from the security of an impregnable fortress of virtue.  Logotheti did not naturally feel unqualified respect for many women, but since he had known Lady Maud it had never occurred to him that any one could take the smallest liberty with her.  On the other hand, though he was genuinely in love with Margaret and desired nothing so much as to marry her, he had never been in the least afraid of her, and he had deliberately attempted to carry her off against her will; and if she had looked upon his conduct then as anything more serious than a mad prank, she had certainly forgiven it very soon.

The only reason for his flying visit to Derbyshire had been his desire to keep Margaret’s name out of an impending scandal in which he foresaw that Mr. Van Torp and Lady Maud were to be the central figures, and he believed that he had done something to bring about that result, if he had started the millionaire on the right scent.  He judged Van Torp to be a good hater and a man of many resources, who would not now be satisfied till he had the anonymous writer of the letter and the article in his power.  Logotheti had no means of guessing who the culprit was, and did not care to know.

He reached town late in the afternoon, having covered something like three hundred miles since early morning.  About seven o’clock he stopped at Margaret’s door, in the hope of finding her at home and of being asked to dine alone with her, but as he got out of his hansom and sent it away he heard the door shut and he found himself face to face with Paul Griggs.

‘Miss Donne is out,’ said the author, as they shook hands.  ’She’s been spending the day with the Creedmores, and when I rang she had just telephoned that she would not be back for dinner!’

‘What a bore!’ exclaimed Logotheti.

The two men walked slowly along the pavement together, and for some time neither spoke.  Logotheti had nothing to do, or believed so because he was disappointed in not finding Margaret in.  The elder man looked preoccupied, and the Greek was the first to speak.

‘I suppose you’ve seen that shameful article about Van Torp,’ he said.

’Yes.  Somebody sent me a marked copy of the paper.  Do you know whether Miss Donne has seen it?’

‘Yes.  She got a marked copy too.  So did I. What do you think of it?’

‘Just what you do, I fancy.  Have you any idea who wrote it?’

’Probably some underling in the Nickel Trust whom Van Torp has offended without knowing it, or who has lost money by him.’

Griggs glanced at his companion’s face, for the hypothesis struck him as being tenable.

‘Unless it is some enemy of Countess Leven’s,’ he suggested.  ’Her husband is really going to divorce her, as the article says.’

‘I suppose she will defend herself,’ said Logotheti.

‘If she has a chance.’

‘What do you mean?’

’Do you happen to know what sort of man the present Patriarch of Constantinople is?’

Logotheti’s jaw dropped, and he slackened his pace.

‘What in the world ­’ he began, but did not finish the sentence.  ‘That’s the second time to-day I’ve been asked about him.’

‘That’s very natural,’ said Griggs calmly.  ’You’re one of the very few men in town who are likely to know him.’

‘Of course I know him,’ answered Logotheti, still mystified.  ’He’s my uncle.’

‘Really?  That’s very lucky!’

‘Look here, Griggs, is this some silly joke?’

’A joke?  Certainly not.  Lady Maud’s husband can only get a divorce through the Patriarch because he married her out of Russia.  You know about that law, don’t you?’

Logotheti understood at last.

‘No,’ he said, ’I never heard of it.  But if that is the case I may be able to do something ­not that I’m considered orthodox at the Patriarchate!  The old gentleman has been told that I’m trying to revive the worship of the Greek gods and have built a temple to Aphrodite Xenia in the Place de la Concorde!’

‘You’re quite capable of it,’ observed Griggs.

’Oh, quite!  Only, I’ve not done it yet.  I’ll see what I can do.  Are you much interested in the matter?’

’Only on general principles, because I believe Lady Maud is perfectly straight, and it is a shame that such a creature as Leven should be allowed to divorce an honest Englishwoman.  By the bye ­speaking of her reminds me of that dinner at the Turkish Embassy ­do you remember a disagreeable-looking man who sat next to me, one Feist, a countryman of mine?’

‘Rather!  I wondered how he came there.’

’He had a letter of introduction from the Turkish Minister in Washington.  He is full of good letters of introduction.’

‘I should think they would need to be good,’ observed Logotheti.  ’With that face of his he would need an introduction to a Port Said gambling-hell before they would let him in.’

’I agree with you.  But he is well provided, as I say, and he goes everywhere.  Some one has put him down at the Mutton Chop.  You never go there, do you?’

‘I’m not asked,’ laughed Logotheti.  ’And as for becoming a member, they say it’s impossible.’

‘It takes ten or fifteen years,’ Griggs answered, ’and then you won’t be elected unless every one likes you.  But you may be put down as a visitor there just as at any other club.  This fellow Feist, for instance ­we had trouble with him last night ­or rather this morning, for it was two o’clock.  He has been dropping in often of late, towards midnight.  At first he was more or less amusing with his stories, for he has a wonderful memory.  You know the sort of funny man who rattles on as if he were wound up for the evening, and afterwards you cannot remember a word he has said.  It’s all very well for a while, but you soon get sick of it.  Besides, this particular specimen drinks like a whale.’

‘He looks as if he did.’

’Last night he had been talking a good deal, and most of the men who had been there had gone off.  You know there’s only one room at the Mutton Chop, with a long table, and if a man takes the floor there’s no escape.  I had come in about one o’clock to get something to eat, and Feist poured out a steady stream of stories as usual, though only one or two listened to him.  Suddenly his eyes looked queer, and he stammered, and rolled off his chair, and lay in a heap, either dead drunk or in a fit, I don’t know which.’

‘And I suppose you carried him downstairs,’ said Logotheti, for Griggs was known to be stronger than other men, though no longer young.

‘I did,’ Griggs answered.  ’That’s usually my share of the proceedings.  The last person I carried ­let me see ­I think it must have been that poor girl who died at the Opera in New York.  We had found Feist’s address in the visitors’ book, and we sent him home in a hansom.  I wonder whether he got there!’

‘I should think the member who put him down would be rather annoyed,’ observed Logotheti.

’Yes.  It’s the first time anything of that sort ever happened at the Mutton Chop, and I fancy it will be the last.  I don’t think we shall see Mr. Feist again.’

‘I took a particular dislike to his face,’ Logotheti said.  ’I remember thinking of him when I went home that night, and wondering who he was and what he was about.’

‘At first I took him for a detective,’ said Griggs.  ’But detectives don’t drink.’

‘What made you think he might be one?’

’He has a very clever way of leading the conversation to a point and then asking an unexpected question.’

‘Perhaps he is an amateur,’ suggested Logotheti.  ’He may be a spy.  Is Feist an American name?’

’You will find all sorts of names in America.  They prove nothing in the way of nationality, unless they are English, Dutch, or French, and even then they don’t prove much.  I’m an American myself, and I feel sure that Feist either is one or has spent many years in the country, in which case he is probably naturalised.  As for his being a spy, I don’t think I ever came across one in England.’

’They come here to rest in time of peace, or to escape hanging in other countries in time of war,’ said the Greek.  ’His being at the Turkish Embassy, of all places in the world, is rather in favour of the idea.  Do you happen to remember the name of his hotel?’

‘Are you going to call on him?’ Griggs asked with a smile.

’Perhaps.  He begins to interest me.  Is it indiscreet to ask what sort of questions he put to you?’

’He’s stopping at the Carlton ­if the cabby took him there!  We gave the man half-a-crown for the job, and took his number, so I suppose it was all right.  As for the questions he asked me, that’s another matter.’

Logotheti glanced quickly at his companion’s rather grim face, and was silent for a few moments.  He judged that Mr. Feist’s inquiries must have concerned a woman, since Griggs was so reticent, and it required no great ingenuity to connect that probability with one or both of the ladies who had been at the dinner where Griggs and Feist had first met.

‘I think I shall go and ask for Mr. Feist,’ he said presently.  ’I shall say that I heard he was ill and wanted to know if I could do anything for him.’

‘I’ve no doubt he’ll be much touched by your kindness!’ said Griggs.  ’But please don’t mention the Mutton Chop Club, if you really see him.’

‘Oh no!  Besides, I shall let him do the talking.’

‘Then take care that you don’t let him talk you to death!’

Logotheti smiled as he hailed a passing hansom; he nodded to his companion, told the man to go to the Carlton, and drove away, leaving Griggs to continue his walk alone.

The elderly man of letters had not talked about Mr. Feist with any special intention, and was very far from thinking that what he had said would lead to any important result.  He liked the Greek, because he liked most Orientals, under certain important reservations and at a certain distance, and he had lived amongst them long enough not to be surprised at anything they did.  Logotheti had been disappointed in not finding the Primadonna at home, and he was not inclined to put up with the usual round of an evening in London during the early part of the season as a substitute for what he had lost.  He was the more put out, because, when he had last seen Margaret, three or four days earlier, she had told him that if he came on that evening at about seven o’clock he would probably find her alone.  Having nothing that looked at all amusing to occupy him, he was just in the mood to do anything unusual that presented itself.

Griggs guessed at most of these things, and as he walked along he vaguely pictured to himself the interview that was likely to take place.