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CHAPTER XXIV THE DOCTOR INTERVENES
The world is as little interested in the harvest another reaps of his success as in the dinner he ate yesterday.

Benny's flight for the great prize had been a pleasant interlude at Andana, an excitement which might be permitted to postpone for a day the necessary operations of skating, ski-ing and curling. But when the flight had been accomplished, the little colony returned with what zest it could to its pleasures. These, unhappily, were pursued but sadly on the day following the great event. A cold bitter wind blew up the valley from Visp, and the snow fell incessantly during the morning and again at night, as has been told.

Benny was not sorry that things should turn out so. He dreaded a new invasion of the chalet, and had very much to do before he could leave the country. It was true, as Harry Clavering had said, that splendid offers had been made to him by his own people, but there were other offers both from France and from Switzerland, and he spent a good deal of his morning trying to plan out a campaign which should satisfy all concerned. A little later on Dr. Orange came in as though by accident, and when Brother Jack had gone upstairs to begin the packing, the doctor broached a private affair in which he presupposed a mutual interest.

"By the way," he said, "you know that Lady Delayne has left here?"

Benny, who was in the act of lighting his pipe, threw the match into the fireplace and looked at the doctor sharply.

"Gone to London, hasn't she?"

The doctor thought not.

"No," he said, "they tell me it is to Italy. Her husband is there, you know."

Benny made no attempt to evade it.

"Yes," he said, "I do know he's there. The question is, how did you find out, Doctor?"

"Oh, doctors hear everything. To begin with, I recognised Luton Delayne outside the Palace Hotel just as you did. He must have come to us after the affair at Grindelwald. Directly his wife arrived here I thought her face very familiar. I remember meeting them at a dinner party in Onslow Square—it must be three or four years ago. She's a woman you could not forget. We all think that."

Benny did not say that he thought it. A shrewd judge of men, he believed that a spirit of friendship had sent the doctor to the chalet, and he was grateful to him.

"Why, yes," he enjoined. "I guess the whole place would be about unanimous if that lady were in the case. But you haven't answered my question, Doctor; you haven't told me how you knew she was going into Italy. I'm curious, for I knew nothing about it. In fact, I didn't quite expect her to go at all."

The doctor took a cigarette from his case and lighted it carefully. His eyes had a curious trick of looking first to the right of him and then to the left, as though seeking inspiration from the carpet, and he twisted his shadow of a moustache quite fiercely while he pondered a reply.

"Well," he said, "I think that our objects are quite the same. Suppose I say that it was the gendarme here, the man they call Philip Gaillarde; would you be astonished at that?"

"I should be astonished at nothing in Luton Delayne's case. When did you get the news?"

"Oh, in the café this morning. There is a girl there named Susette; the young man is interested, it appears, and she is one of my patients. I have been attending her some days for a little hysteria—nothing serious, but quite alarming to the love-sick swain. Somehow she learned that he is going away, and is in a great state about it. She thinks he is in danger."

"Of what?"

"Of never returning to Andana—which is to say that she knows—"

He looked at his friend shrewdly, and seemed to be waiting for the fuller confession to come from him. Benny debated it an instant, his teeth gnawing the stem of his pipe. Then he spoke.

"You mean to say that Philip Gaillarde has gone into Italy to arrest Sir Luton?"

"That is exactly how I would put it."

"And that he knows the whole story?"

"I don't think there's any doubt about it. He has been told that Luton Delayne was the man, and he has obtained permission to go to Locarno and to help the police there. It is his own idea—though the local police should be very well able to help themselves. The question for us is one of social jurisprudence. Is it good for the other English, for the people who come here every year, to have this scandal to their discredit? I would go further, and ask, is it at any time wise to push such a case against such a family as the Delaynes? Speaking for myself, I don't think it is. Luton Delayne is a modern type; I suppose in New York they would understand him very well; but here we are educated slowly. The Swiss police are a little more ignorant than ourselves. I have had a chat with Ardlot, the French secretary at the hotel, and he tells me that they will be merciless if they succeed in arresting the man. We know what that means; perhaps we are interested enough to ask how others might take it."

Benny pulled heavily at his pipe. When he removed it from his lips it was to say:

"Wouldn't the singular number be better, Doctor? Shouldn't we say 'one other'?"

"If you like it so, by all means. But, let me tell you, I am talking quite in the dark; I don't know where Gaillarde speaks the truth; I am quite unaware if Delayne is in Italy, or no. That's why I came to you—"

"Then you believe that I know?"

"I am sure you do."

For a spell the two men sat looking at each other in silence. Benny neither denied nor affirmed the charge. His eyes searched the flickering fire as though for an inspiration. The problem was clear enough; he wondered if the doctor knew how much it meant to him.

"I guess you're a bit of a thought reader, Doctor," he exclaimed of a sudden, taking up the conversation exactly as it was left. "I do know where Luton Delayne is, and that's a fact. Let me be as plain with you. What you came here to do was to warn me. You wish me to know that the police are inquiring after him. Don't you think it's a little late for that? Gaillarde will be half-way to Brigue by this time. He'll be in Milan before we've done our second breakfast. What's the good of all this then, knowing what we do? Isn't it a bit foolish?"

Orange hardly understood him.

"My dear fellow," he protested, "I was not thinking anything of the kind. Will not the telegraph serve our purpose just as well?"

Benny shook his head.

"Look all round it, and then decide," he said quietly. "This lad has heard that Delayne is in Italy. Does he know where he is? If he does not, we may be right enough. If he does, a telegram may be the thing, or it may not. I'll have to calculate the chances. Before I can do that I must see this girl, Susette. Would she be still at the café, do you think? Should I find her there if I went down this afternoon? If so, I'll see her and let you know. There's time enough anyway; we can't run after the morning train to Milan, and I don't suppose either of us is going to try. What I would say before all is that I like the friendship which sent you here, Doctor. I shan't forget that, nor will Lady Delayne, when she hears about it. Did you say, by the way, that she has gone across the frontier? Don't I remember something about that?"

"It is quite true, or will be true. She was at Sierre last night waiting for an opportunity. I should not wonder if she went this morning by the same train as Gaillarde. Ardlot told me how it was; he saw her at the Terminus, and heard what she was doing."

"Then she certainly will have gone through this morning. I am very much obliged to you. Whatever is done, shall be done after a talk with you. It would be about half-past two or three, I suppose?"

They assented, and parted upon it, the doctor returning to the Palace, Benny calling Brother Jack and the abbé down to lunch. When the repast was finished he made some excuse, and taking his rough sweater and snow helmet, he set off for the village of Andana and the café where the girl, Susette, was to be found. It was a little after two o'clock, and the plateau quite deserted. He remembered that the guests at the Palace would hardly have finished their coffee, and hurried on with an anxiety very foreign to his nature.

Where did his duty lie, and to whom? It was true that the gendarme, Philip, had spoken of this visit to Italy on the eve of the flight; but it had been a tentative proposal, and depended upon the permission of his superiors. Then, as now, Benny perceived that if the lad did not know the whereabouts of the shanty, there would be no risk whatever, and Philip might be less dangerous at Milan than at Andana. If, on the other hand, the story of the shanty were known, then that was the end of it. Why, Sir Luton might be arrested that very night. And if he were, Lily Delayne must be a free woman before many weeks had passed. Benny shuddered a little when he remembered this, and walked on the faster. The victor's laurel suited him but ill, and many a poor wretch by the wayside might have pitied him.

She would be a free woman! He repeated the words often, dwelling upon them with an interest which frightened him. Not for the first time did he understand how little victory meant to him, and how bitter were the fruits of success. He must lead a lonely life, whatever the honour of it. He saw himself slaving in study or workshop, a man without a definite goal, one whose interest had no corner-stone. And it were idle to say that there was a woman who could change all this and breathe anew upon a dead inspiration. His ideas were old and built upon an ancient faith. Fate had set a barrier between Lily and himself, and none but Almighty God could remove it.

She would be a free woman! Yes, surely, that could be brought about easily enough. He had but to forbear, to return to his house as he had come, or simpler, just to whisper a word or two to the Chief of Police at Sierre, and there would be no difficulty about the matter. When he thought of this he laughed aloud because he had dared to think of it. In the same mood the best of men have asked themselves what would happen if they committed murder or robbed a bank or began to starve their children.

It was less easy to deal with the subtle question of what could or could not be done. How if it were impossible to stop ............
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