"I simply can't believe it, Hugh." In the lengthening shadows Phyllis moved a little nearer to her husband, who, quite regardless of the publicity of their position, slipped an arm round her waist.
"Can't believe what, darling?" he demanded lazily.
"Why, that all that awful nightmare is over. Lakington dead, and the other two in prison, and us married."
"They're not actually in jug yet, old thing," said Hugh. "And somehow …" he broke off and stared thoughtfully at a man sauntering past them. To all appearances he was a casual visitor taking his evening walk along the front of the well-known seaside resort so largely addicted to honeymoon couples. And yet … was he? Hugh laughed softly; he'd got suspicion on the brain.
"Don't you think they'll be sent to prison?" cried the girl.
"They may be sent right enough, but whether they arrive or not is a different matter. I don't somehow see Carl picking oakum. It's not his form."
For a while they were silent, occupied with matters quite foreign to such trifles as Peterson and his daughter.
"Are you glad I answered your advertisement?" inquired Phyllis at length.
"The question is too frivolous to deserve an answer," remarked her husband severely.
"But you aren't sorry it's over?" she demanded.
"It isn't over, kid; it's just begun." He smiled at her tenderly. "Your life and mine... isn't it just wonderful?"
And once again the man sauntered past them. But this time he dropped a piece of paper on the path, just at Hugh's feet, and the soldier, with a quick movement which he hardly stopped to analyse, covered it with his shoe. The girl hadn't seen the action; but then, as girls will do after such remarks, she was thinking of other things. Idly Hugh watched the saunterer disappear in the more crowded part of the esplanade, and for a moment there came on to his face a look which, happily for his wife's peace of mind, she failed to notice.
"No," he said, à propos of nothing, "I don't see the gentleman picking oakum. Let's go and eat, and after dinner I'll run you up to the top of the headland…."
With a happy sigh she rose. It was just wonderful! and together they strolled back to their hotel. In his pocket was the piece of paper; and who could be sending him messages in such a manner save one man—a man now awaiting his trial?
In the hall he stayed behind to inquire for letters, and a man nodded to him.
"Heard the news?" he inquired.
"No," said Hugh. "What's happened?"
"That man Peterson and the girl have got away. No trace of 'em." Then he looked at Drummond curiously. "By the way, you had something to do with that show, didn't you?"
"A little," smiled Hugh. "Just a little."
"Police bound to catch 'em again," continued the other. "Can't hide yourself these days."
And once again Hugh smiled, as he drew from his pocket the piece of paper:
"Only au revoir, my friend; only au revoir"
He glanced at the words written in Peterson's neat writing, and the smile broadened. Assuredly life was still good; assuredly…
"Are you ready for dinner, darling?" Quickly he swung round, and looked at the sweet face of his wife.
"Sure thing, kid," he grinned. "Dead sure; I've had the best appetiser the old pot-house can produce."
"Well, you're very greedy. Where's mine?"
"Effects of bachelordom, old thing. For the moment I forgot you. I'll have another. Waiter—two Martinis."
And into an ash-tray near by he dropped a piece of paper torn into a hundred tiny fragments.
"Was that a love-letter?" she demanded with assumed jealousy.
"Not exactly, sweetheart," he laughed back. "Not exactly." And over the glasses their eyes met. "Here's to hoping, kid; here's to hoping."
Printed in Great Britain by Hazell, Watson & Viney, Ld.,
London and Aylesbury.