Simpkins was alone at the
moment, and he ran over the letters carelessly until he came to one
addressed to Brander in Mrs. Athelstone's writing. The blue card of the
palace car company was in a corner of the envelope.
"Why the deuce is she writing that skunk before she's well out of town?"
he thought, scanning the envelope with jealous eyes. Then he held it up
to the light, but the thick paper told nothing of what was within.
Frowning, he laid the letter down, fingered it, withdrew his itching
hand, hesitated, and finally put it in his pocket.
Simpkins went straight from the office to his hotel, for, though he
told himself that the letter contained some instructions which Mrs.
Athelstone had forgotten to give Brander before leaving, he was anxious
to see just how those instructions were worded. Alone in his little
room, he ripped open the letter and ran over its two pages with
bewilderment growing in his face. He finished by throwing it down on
the table and exclaiming helplessly: "Well, I'll be damned!"
The first sheet, without beginning or ending, contained only a line in
Mrs. Athelstone's handwriting, reading: "I had to leave in such a hurry
that I missed seeing you."
There was not an intelligible word on the second sheet; it was simply a
succession of scrawls and puerile outline pictures, such as a child
might have drawn.