MR. RICARDO sat on an iron chair at an iron table outside a bar and drank with his coffee a sweet and heady liqueur. Yet he was exhilarated "Nobody would believe it," he said with a little giggle. But it was Brittany and summer time. "Browsing with Browning in Brittany," ...
MR. RICARDO sat on an iron chair at an iron table outside a bar and drank
with his coffee a sweet and heady liqueur. Yet he was exhilarated "Nobody
would believe it," he said with a little giggle. But it was Brittany and
summer time. "Browsing with Browning in Brittany," he alliterated
wittily, "and so far I have been fortunate enough not to meet James Lee's
wife." Mr. Ricardo was quite alone. He had sent his luggage home from Aix
and with his suit-case, his fine big Rolls-Royce and his chauffeur was
making a roundabout tour through Brittany to Cherbourg; whence by a
transatlantic liner what was to him a preferable entry to England could
be achieved. But the car had lurched and something had broken. For three
days he must stay in this little town with the uncommon name. But his
liner wasn't due at Cherbourg for four days--and it was Brittany and
Moreover, this drowsy little square of Lezardrieux, with the raised
terrace at which he sat, the three sides of shops and houses and the
empty fourth, where a steep cliff of sand and bushes dropped to the pool
of the Lezardrieux river, made a sharp appeal to him. It was operatic.
Below the brow of the hill, he could almost hear the conductor tap with
his baton for attention. That boy in the bright red shirt strolling
across the square might at any moment burst into song. But it would only
have made an anti-climax if he had. For the stout, middle-aged woman who
had waddled out from the bar with a big letter in her hand was now at Mr.
Ricardo's elbow. "You gave my estaminet as your address at Lezardrieux,
"I telegraphed it," Mr. Ricardo agreed. "I had not yet found a lodging in
"Then this letter is for you, perhaps. There is another English
"Captain Mordaunt. Yes. He owns the small yacht in the pool. Perhaps if
you would let me see the letter, I could tell you for which of us it
For the woman, in her desire that so unusual an occurrence as a letter
should not miscarry, was clasping it tightly to her bosom. As she showed
the face of it, Mr. Ricardo recognised the hand which had written it.
"It's for me," he cried with a little whoop of excitement. He snatched the
envelope from her reluctant hand and tore it open. He read:
'My dear friend,
I accuse the reception of your invitation...'
and sat back, reflecting with toleration, "Yes, he would accuse
something--it's his nature to--and I have no doubt that he has signed his
name like a peer of England." He turned, to the back of the letter. There
it was. "Hanaud"--just "Hanaud"--the name of terror.
"Really, really," Mr. Ricardo said to himself and the smile of amusement
passed from his lips.
After all, it was a year since he had invited Chief Inspector Hanaud of
the Paris Sureté to spend a holiday in Grosvenor Square. Hanaud could
have accused the reception of his letter a year ago. But he had not
accused it. He had kept it on the chance that he might want to accuse it
at a later time. And the time had come.
"But I don't know," said Mr. Ricardo indignantly, as he turned to the
lady of the estaminet. "It is Madame Rollard, is it not?"
It certainly was Madame Rollard, as she assured him. But Mr. Ricardo was
not thinking of Madame Rollard. He hit the offending letter with his