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9. A Packet Of Cigarettes
Following their dismissal by Chief Inspector Kerry, Seton and Gray walked around
to the latter's chambers in Piccadilly. They proceeded in silence, Gray too angry for
speech, and Seton busy with reflections. As the man admitted them:
"Has anyone 'phoned, Willis?" asked Gray.
"No one, sir."
They entered a large room which combined the characteristics of a library with
those of a military gymnasium. Gray went to a side table and mixed drinks. Placing
a glass before Seton, he emptied his own at a draught.
"If you'll excuse me for a moment," he said, "I should like to ring up and see if by
any possible chance there's news of Rita."
He walked out to the telephone, and Seton heard him making a call. Then:
"Hullo! Is that you, Hinkes?" he asked. . . . "Yes, speaking. Is Mrs. Irvin at home?"
A few moments of silence followed, and:
"Thanks! Good-bye," said Gray.
He rejoined his friend.
"Nothing," he reported, and made a gesture of angry resignation. "Evidently Hinkes
is still unaware of what has happened. Irvin hasn't returned yet. Seton, this
business is driving me mad."
He refilled his glass, and having looked in his cigarette-case, began to ransack a
small cupboard.
"Damn it all!" he exclaimed. "I haven't got a cigarette in the place!"
"I don't smoke them myself," said Seton, "but I can offer you a cheroot."
"Thanks. They are a trifle too strong. Hullo! here are some."
From the back of a shelf he produced a small, plain brown packet, and took out of
it a cigarette at which he stared oddly. Seton, smoking one of the inevitable
cheroots, watched him, tapping his teeth with the rim of his eyeglass.
"Poor old Pyne!" muttered Gray, and, looking up, met the inquiring glance. "Pyne
left these here only the other day," he explained awkwardly. "I don't know where he
got them, but they are something very special. I suppose I might as well."
He lighted one, and, uttering a weary sigh, threw himself into a deep leather-
covered arm-chair. Almost immediately he was up again. The telephone bell had
rung. His eyes alight with hope, he ran out, leaving the door open so that his
conversation was again audible to the visitor.
"Yes, yes, speaking. What?" His tone changed "Oh, it's you, Margaret. What? . . .
Certainly, delighted. No, there's nobody here but old Seton Pasha. What? You've
heard the fellows talk about him who were out East. . . . Yes, that's the chap. . . .
Come right along."
"You don't propose to lionise me, I hope, Gray?" said Seton, as Gray returned to
his seat.
The other laughed.
"I forgot you could hear me," he admitted. "It's my cousin, Margaret Halley. You'll
like her. She's a tip-top girl, but eccentric. Goes in for pilling."