The Malefactor HTML version

II.4. Lady Ruth's Last Card
"There are two letters," Aynesworth announced, "which I have not opened. One, I think,
is from the Marchioness of Westhampton, the other from some solicitors at Truro. They
were both marked private."
Wingrave was at breakfast in his flat; Aynesworth had been in an adjoining room sorting
his correspondence. He accepted the two letters, and glanced them through without
remark. But whereas he bestowed scarcely a second's consideration upon the broad sheet
of white paper with the small coronet and the faint perfume of violets, the second letter
apparently caused him some annoyance. He read it through for a second time with a
slight frown upon his forehead.
"You must cancel my engagements for two days, Aynesworth," he said. "I have to go out
of town."
Aynesworth nodded.
"There's nothing very special on," he remarked. "Do you want me to go with you?"
"It is not necessary," Wingrave answered. "I am going," he added, after a moment's
pause, "to Cornwall."
Aynesworth was immediately silent. The one time when Wingrave had spoken to him as
an employer, was in answer to some question of his as to what had eventually become of
the treasures of Tredowen. He had always since scrupulously avoided the subject.
"Be so good as to look out the trains for me," Wingrave continued. "I cannot go until the
afternoon," he added after a momentary pause. "I have an engagement for luncheon.
Perhaps, if you are not too busy, you will see that Morrison packs some things for me."
He moved to the writing table, and wrote a few lines to the Marchioness, regretting that
his absence from town would prevent his dining with her on the following day. Then he
studied the money column in several newspapers for half an hour, and telephoned to his
broker. At eleven o'clock, he rode for an hour in the quietest part of the park, avoiding, so
far as possible, anyone he knew, and galloping whenever he could. It was the only form
of exercise in which he was known to indulge although the knowledge of English games,
which he sometimes displayed, was a little puzzling to some of his acquaintances. On his
return, he made a simple but correct toilet, and at half-past one he met Lady Ruth at
Prince's Restaurant.
Lady Ruth's gown of dove color, with faint touches of blue, was effective, and she knew
it. Nevertheless, she was a little pale, and her manner lacked that note of quiet languor