The Evil Shepherd
Miss Daisy Hyslop received Francis that afternoon, in the sitting-room of her little suite
at the Milan. Her welcoming smile was plaintive and a little subdued, her manner
undeniably gracious. She was dressed in black, a wonderful background for her really
gorgeous hair, and her deportment indicated a recent loss.
"How nice of you to come and see me," she murmured, with a lingering touch of the
fingers. "Do take that easy-chair, please, and sit down and talk to me. Your roses were
beautiful, but whatever made you send them to me?"
"Impulse," he answered.
She laughed softly.
"Then please yield to such impulses as often as you feel them," she begged. "I adore
flowers. Just now, too," she added, with a little sigh, "anything is welcome which helps to
keep my mind off my own affairs."
"It was very good of you to let me come," he declared. "I can quite understand that you
don't feel like seeing many people just now."
Francis' manner, although deferential and courteous, had nevertheless some quality of
aloofness in it to which she was unused and which she was quick to recognise. The smile,
faded from her face. She seemed suddenly not quite so young.
"Haven't I seen you before somewhere quite lately?" she asked, a little sharply.
"You saw me at Soto's, the night that Victor Bidlake was murdered," he reminded her. "I
stood quite close to you both while you were waiting for your taxi."
The animation evoked by this call from a presumably new admirer, suddenly left her. She
became nervous and constrained. She glanced again at his card.
"Don't tell me," she begged, "that you have come to ask me any questions about that
night! I simply could not bear it. The police have been here twice, and I had nothing to
tell them, absolutely nothing."
"Quite right," he assented soothingly. "Police have such a clumsy way of expecting
valuable information for nothing. I'm always glad to hear of their being disappointed."
She studied her visitor for a moment carefully. Then she turned to the table by her side,
picked up a note and read it through.