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Title: Who?
Author: Kent, Elizabeth, 1875-1947
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Author of "The House Opposite," etc.

G. P. Putnam's Sons
New York and London
The Knickerbocker Press

Copyright, 1912
By G. P. Putnam's Sons

The Knickerbocker Press, New York

[Illustration: "Here, quick, I hear footsteps on the stairs!"

From the drawing by John Cassel, (Chapter XX)]



























It was six o'clock on a raw October morning, and the cross Channel boat
had just deposited its cargo of pale and dishevelled passengers at
Newhaven. Cyril Crichton, having seen his servant place his bags in a
first-class compartment, gazed gloomily at the scene before him.

It was the first time in three years that he had set foot on his native
shore and the occasion seemed invested with a certain solemnity.

"What a mess I have made of my life! Yet God knows I meant well!" He
muttered in his heart. "If I hadn't been such a good-natured ass, I
should never have got into all this trouble. But I won't be made a fool
of any longer. I will consult Campbell as to what--" He paused. It
suddenly occurred to him that he had forgotten to let the latter know of
his impending arrival. "I will send him a wire," he decided.

The telegraph-office was farther off than he expected, and to Crichton's
disgust, he found it shut. He had forgotten that in well-regulated
England, even matters of life and death have to wait till the offices
open at eight A.M.

He was still staring at the closed window, when he was startled by the
guard's whistle, and the slamming of the carriage doors. Turning
quickly, he ran back, trying to find his compartment, but it was too
late; the train was already moving. Flinging off a porter's detaining
hand, he jumped on to the foot-board and wrenched open the nearest door.
The impetus flung him headlong into the lap of a lady,--the sole
occupant of the carriage. To his horror and amazement, instead of
listening to his apologies, she uttered a piercing shriek and fell
forward into his arms. For a moment Crichton was too dazed to move.
There he knelt, tightly clasping her limp form and wondering fearfully
what would happen next. At last he managed to pull himself together, and
staggering to his feet, laid her gently on the seat near the window.
Strangely enough, he had had no idea, so far, as to the appearance, or
even the age, of the lady with whom fate had thrown him into such
intimate contact: consequently he now looked at her with considerable
curiosity. Her slight, graceful figure proclaimed her youth, but her
face was completely concealed by a thick, black veil, which prevented
him from so much as guessing the outline of her features. As she
continued to show no sign of returning consciousness, Crichton looked
helplessly around for some means of reviving her. More air was what she
needed; so with much trepidation he decided to unfasten her veil. His
fingers fumbled clumsily over their unaccustomed task, but finally the
last knot was disentangled, the last pin extracted. The unknown proved
to be even younger than he expected, and to possess beauty of the kind
which admits of no discussion. At present, however, it was sadly marred
by a red welt, probably the result of a fall, Crichton decided, which
disfigured her left cheek. A minute before he had been cursing his luck,
which invariably landed him in strange adventures, but at the sight of
her beauty, our hero suddenly ceased to find the situation annoying. His
interest, however, increased his alarm. What if she were dead or dying?
Heart attacks were not uncommon. Bending over her, he laid his hand on
her heart, and as he did so, the long lashes lifted, and a pair of
sapphire blue eyes looked straight into his. Before he had time to move,
she threw out both hands and cried: "Oh, let me go!"

"Don't be alarmed. Notwithstanding my unceremonious entrance, I assure
you, I am a perfectly respectable member of society. My name is

The girl staggered to her feet. "Crichton?" she gasped.

He looked at her in surprise.

"Yes, Crichton. Do you know any member of my family by any chance? My
cousin, Lord Wilmersley, has a place near here."

"No," she faltered, "I--I am quite a stranger in this part of the

He was sure she was lying, but what could be her object in doing so? And
why had his name caused her such alarm? What unpleasant connection could
she possibly have with it? The only male members of his family who bore
it, were, a curate, serving his probation in the East End of London, and
a boy at Eton.

"That is a pity," he said. "I hoped we might find some mutual friends
who would vouch for my inoffensiveness. I can't tell you how sorry I am
to have given you such a fright. It was unpardonably stupid of me. The
fact is, I am rather absent-minded, and I should have been left behind
if I had not tumbled in on you as I did. Please forgive me."

"On the contrary, it is I who should apologise to you for having made
such a fuss about nothing. You must have thought me quite mad." She
laughed nervously.

"Madam," he replied, with mock solemnity, "I assure you I never for a
moment doubted your sanity, and I am an expert in such matters."

"Are you really?" She shrank farther from him.

"Really what?" he inquired, considerably puzzled.

"A--a brain specialist? That is what they are called, isn't it?"

He laughed heartily.

"No, indeed. But you said----"

"Of course! How stupid of me!"

"Why should you know that I am a soldier?"

She blushed vividly. "You don't look like a civilian."

"At all events I hope I don't look like the keeper of an insane asylum."

"No, indeed. But you said----"

"Oh, as to being an expert. Was that it? I must plead guilty to having
attempted a feeble joke, though as a matter of fact, it so happened that
I do know something about lunatics."

"Aren't you dreadfully afraid of them?"

"On general principles, of course, I am afraid of nothing, but I fancy a
full-grown lunatic, with a carving knife and a hankering for my blood,
would have a different tale to tell."

"Oh, don't speak of them!" She covered her eyes with her hands.

"I beg your pardon."

"Why should you beg my pardon?" she asked looking at him suspiciously.

"I really don't know," he acknowledged.

"I know that I am behaving like a hysterical schoolgirl. What must you
think of me! But,--but I am just recovering from an illness and am still
very nervous, and the mere mention of lunatics always upsets me. I have
the greatest horror of them."

"Poor child, she must have been through some terrible experience with
one," thought Crichton.

"I trust you may never meet any," he said aloud.

"I don't intend to." She spoke with unexpected vehemence.

"Well, there is not much chance of your doing so. Certified lunatics
find it pretty difficult to mingle in general society."

"I know--oh, I know--" Her voice sounded almost regretful.

What an extraordinary girl! Could it be--was it possible that she
herself--but no, her behaviour was certainly strange and she seemed
hysterical, but mad--no, and yet that would explain everything.

"I am sure it was the horrid crossing which upset you--as much as
anything else," he said.

"I didn't cross, I--" She stopped abruptly, and bit her lip.

It was quite obvious that for some reason or other, she had not wished
him to know that she had got in at Newhaven. He knew that politeness
demanded he should not pursue a subject which was evidently distasteful
to her. But his curiosity overcame his scruples.

"Really? It is rather unusual to take this train unless one is coming
from the continent."

"Yes. One has to start so frightfully early. I had to get up a little
before five." That meant she must live in Newhaven, and not far from the
station at that--but was it true? She had about her that indescribable
something which only those possess whose social position has never been
questioned. No, Newhaven did not seem the background for her. But then,
had she not herself told him that she did not live there? She might have
gone there on an errand of charity or--After all, what business was it
of his? Why should he attempt to pry into her life? It was abominable.

She settled herself in a corner of the carriage, and he fancied that she
wished to avoid further conversation. Serve him jolly well right, he

During the rest of the journey his behaviour was almost ostentatiously
discreet. If she feared that he was likely to take advantage of the
situation, he was determined to show her that he had no intention of
doing so. To avoid staring at her he kept his eyes fixed on the rapidly
changing landscape; but they might have been suddenly transported to
China without his observing the difference. In fact, he had not realised
that they were nearing their destination, till he saw his companion
readjust her veil. A few minutes later the train stopped at Hearne Hill.

Crichton put his head out of the window.

"There is something up," he said, a moment later turning to her. "There
must be a criminal on board. There are a lot of policemen about, and
they seem to be searching the train."

"Oh, what shall I do!" she cried, starting to her feet.

"What is the matter?"

"They will shut me up. Oh, save me--save me!"

For a moment he was too startled to speak.

Was it possible? This girl a criminal--a thief? He couldn't believe it.

"But what have you done?"

"Nothing, nothing I assure you. Oh, believe me, it is all a mistake."

He looked at her again. Innocent or guilty, he would stand by her.

"They will be here directly," he said. "Have you enough self-control to
remain perfectly calm and to back up any story I tell?"


"Sit down then, and appear to be talking to me."

"Tickets, please." The guard was at the door, and behind him stood a
police inspector.

Crichton having given up his ticket, turned to the girl and said: "You
have your ticket, Amy."

She handed it over.

"From Newhaven, I see." The inspector stepped forward:

"I must ask the lady to lift 'er veil, please."

"What do you mean, my man? Are you drunk?

"Steady, sir. Do you know this lady?"

"This lady happens to be my wife, so you will kindly explain your
extraordinary behaviour."

The inspector looked a little nonplussed.

"Sorry to hinconvenience you, sir, but we 'ave orders to search this
train for a young lady who got in at Newhaven. Now this is the only lady
on board whose ticket was not taken in Paris. So you see we have got to
make sure that this is not the person we want."

"But, man alive, I tell you this lady is my wife."

"So you say, sir, but you can't prove it, can you, now? You're
registered through from Paris, and this lady gets in at Newhaven. How do
you explain that?"

"Of course, one doesn't travel about with one's marriage
certificate--but as it happens, I can prove that this lady is my wife.
Here is my passport; kindly examine it. Mrs. Crichton returned to
England several months ago, and went down to Newhaven last night so as
to be able to meet me this morning. As to lifting her veil, of course
she has no objection to doing so. I thought it idle curiosity on your
part, but as it is a question of duty, that alters the case completely."

"Thank you, sir." The inspector opened the passport and read aloud.
"Cyril Crichton--Lieutenant in the--Rifles, age 27 years, height 6 ft.,
1 inch, weight 12 stone. Hair--fair; complexion--fair, inclined to be
ruddy. Eyes--blue. Nose--straight, rather short. Mouth--large.
Distinguishing marks: cleft in chin." And as he read each item, he
paused to compare the written description with the original.

"Well, that's all right," he said. "And now for the lady's. Will you
kindly lift your veil, m'm?"

To Crichton's surprise, the girl did so quite calmly, and her face,
although deadly pale, was perfectly composed.

The inspector read: "Amy Crichton, wife of Cyril Crichton, age--26
years--H'm that seems a bit old for the lady."

The girl blushed vividly, but to Crichton's infinite relief she smiled
gaily, and with a slight bow to the inspector said: "You flatter me."

Crichton breathed more freely. Her manner had done more to relieve the
situation than anything he had said. The inspector continued in quite a
different tone.

"'Height--5 ft., 4 inches.' You look a bit shorter than that."

"Measure me, if you doubt it." She challenged him.

"Oh, well, I am sure it is all right. 'Weight--9 stone, 4 lbs.'" He
paused again, but this time made no comment, although Crichton felt sure
that his companion weighed at least ten pounds less than the amount
mentioned. "Hair--black. Complexion--fair. Eyes--blue. Nose--straight.
Mouth--small. Oval chin. Distinguishing marks--none. All right, m'm!
Sorry to 'ave disturbed you, but you understand we 'ave got to be very
careful. We'd never 'ear the last of it if we let the party we're after
slip through our fingers."

"What is the woman you are looking for accused of?" asked Crichton.

"Murder," replied the inspector, as he closed the door.




Crichton looked at the girl. Her eyes were closed and she lay back
breathing heavily. He did not know if she had even heard the accusation.
Luckily the train was already moving. In a few minutes, however, they
would be in London and then what should he do with her? Now that he had
declared her to be his wife, it would arouse the suspicion of the police
if he parted from her at the station. Besides, he could not desert the
poor child in her terrible predicament. For she was innocent, he was
sure of that. But here he was wasting precious time worrying about the
future, when he ought to be doing something to revive her. It was simply
imperative that she should be able to leave the train without exciting
remark, as, once outside the station, the immediate danger would be
over. His ministrations, however, were quite ineffectual, and, to his
dismay, the train came to a standstill before she showed a sign of
returning consciousness.

A porter opened the door.

"Bring a glass of water; the lady has fainted," he ordered. The porter
returned in a few minutes followed by the police inspector. Crichton's
heart sank. He fancied the latter eyed them with reawakened suspicion.
As he knelt by the girl's side, her head on his shoulder, his arms
around her, he suddenly became aware that a number of people had
collected near the door and were watching the scene with unconcealed
interest And among them stood Peter, his valet, staring at him with
open-mouthed amazement.

Damn! He had completely forgotten him. If he didn't look out, the fellow
would be sure to give the situation away.

"Peter," he called.

Peter elbowed his way through the crowd.

"Your mistress has fainted. Get my flask." Crichton spoke slowly and
distinctly and looked Peter commandingly in the eye. Would he
understand? Would he hold his tongue? Crichton watched him breathlessly.
For a moment Peter blinked at him uncomprehendingly. Then the surprise
slowly faded from his face, leaving it as stolid as usual.

"Very well, sir," was all he said as he went off automatically to do his
master's bidding. An order has a wonderfully steadying effect on a
well-trained servant.

The brandy having been brought, Crichton tried to force a few drops of
it between the girl's clenched teeth. After a few minutes, however, he
had to abandon the attempt.

The situation was desperate.

The inspector stepped forward.

"Don't you think, sir, you ought to send for a doctor? The lady looks
bad and she can't stay here, you know. The train has to be backed out in
a few minutes. We'll carry her to the waiting-room if you wish, or come
to think of it, hadn't you better call an ambulance? Then you could take
the lady home and the doctor who comes with them things would know what
to do for her."

Crichton almost gasped with relief.

"An ambulance! The very thing. Get one immediately!"

The last passenger was just leaving the station when the ambulance
clattered up.

The doctor, although hardly more than a boy, seemed to know his
business, and after examining the girl and asking a few questions, he
proceeded to administer various remedies, which he took out of a bag he

"I am afraid this case is too serious for me," he said at last.

"What is the trouble?"

"Of course, I can't speak with any certainty, but from what you tell me,
I think the lady is in for an attack of brain fever."

Crichton felt _his_ brain reel.

"What shall I do?"

"We will take her home and in the meantime telephone to whatever doctor
you wish to have called, so that he can see the patient as soon as

"I have no house in town. I was going into lodgings but I can't take an
invalid there."

"Of course not! What do you say to taking her at once to a nursing

"Yes, that would be best. Which one would you recommend? I am ignorant
of such matters."

"Well--Dr. Stuart-Smith has one not far from here. You know him by
reputation, don't you?"

"Certainly. All right, take her there."

"I had better telephone and prepare them for our arrival. What is the
lady's name, please?"

The inspector's eyes were upon him; Peter was at his elbow. Well--there
was no help for it.

"Mrs. Cyril Crichton," he said.

The doctor returned in a few minutes.

"It is all right. They have got a room and Doctor Smith will be there
almost as soon as we are."

Having lifted her into the ambulance, the doctor turned to Cyril and
said: "I suppose you prefer to accompany Mrs. Crichton. You can get in,
in front."

Crichton meekly obeyed.

"Take my things to the lodgings and wait for me there, and by the way,
be sure to telephone at once to Mr. Campbell and tell him I must see him
immediately," he called to Peter as they drove off.

They had apparently got rid of the police--that was something at all
events. His own position, however, caused him the gravest concern. It
was not only compromising but supremely ridiculous. He must extricate
himself from it at once. His only chance, he decided, lay in confiding
the truth to Dr. Smith. Great physicians have necessarily an enormous
knowledge of life and therefore he would be better able than any other
man to understand the situation and advise him as to what should be
done. At all events the etiquette of his calling would prevent a doctor
from divulging a professional secret, even in the case of his failing to
sympathise with his, Cyril's, knight-errantry. Crichton heaved a sigh of
satisfaction. His troubles, he foresaw, would soon be over.

The ambulance stopped. The girl was carried into the house and taken
possession of by an efficient-looking nurse, and Cyril was requested to
wait in the reception-room while she was being put to bed. Dr. Smith, he
was told, would communicate with him as soon as he had examined the

Crichton paced the room in feverish impatience. His doubts revived. What
if the doctor should refuse to keep her? Again and again he rehearsed
what he intended to say to him, but the oftener he did so, the more
incredible did his story appear. It also occurred to him that a
physician might not feel himself bound to secrecy when it was a question
of concealing facts other than those relating to a patient's physical
condition. What if the doctor should consider it his duty to inform the
police of her whereabouts?

At last the door opened. Dr. Smith proved to be a short, grey-haired man
with piercing, black eyes under beetling, black brows, large nose, and a
long upper lip. Cyril's heart sank. The doctor did not look as if he
would be likely to sympathise with his adventure.

"Mr. Crichton, I believe." The little man spoke quite fiercely and
regarded our friend with evident disfavour.

Crichton was for a moment nonplussed. What had he done to be addressed
in such a fashion?

"I hope you can give me good news of the patient?" he said, disregarding
the other's manner.

"No," snapped out the doctor. "Mrs. Crichton is very seriously, not to
say dangerously, ill."

What an extraordinary way of announcing a wife's illness to a supposed
husband! Was every one mad to-day?

"I am awfully sorry--" began Crichton.

"Oh, you are, are you?" interrupted the doctor, and this time there
could be no doubt he was intentionally insulting. "Will you then be kind
enough to explain how your wife happens to be in the condition she is?"

"What condition?" faltered Cyril.

"Tut, man, don't pretend to be ignorant. Remember I am a doctor and can
testify to the facts; yes, facts," he almost shouted.

Poor Crichton sat down abruptly. He really felt he could bear no more.

"For God's sake, doctor, tell me what is the matter with her. I swear I
haven't the faintest idea."

His distress was so evidently genuine that the doctor relaxed a little
and looked at him searchingly for a moment.

"Your wife has been recently flogged!"

"Flogged! How awful! But I can't believe it."


"Certainly not. You must be mistaken. The bruises may be the result of a

"They are not," snapped the doctor.

"Flogged! here in England, in the twentieth century! But who could have
done such a thing?"

"That is for you to explain, and I must warn you that unless your
explanation is unexpectedly satisfactory, I shall at once notify the

Police! Crichton wiped beads of perspiration from his forehead.

"But, doctor, I know no more about it than you do."

"So you think that it will be sufficient for you to deny all knowledge
as to how, where, and by whom a woman who is your wife--yes, sir--your
wife, has been maltreated? Man, do you take me for a fool?"

What should he do? Was this the moment to tell him the truth? No, it
would be useless. The doctor, believing him to be a brute, was not in a
frame of mind to attach credence to his story. The truth was too
improbable, a convincing lie could alone save the situation.

"My wife and I have not been living together lately," he stammered.

"Indeed!" The piercing eyes seemed to grow more piercing, the long upper
lip to become longer.

"Yes," Crichton hesitated--it is so difficult to invent a plausible
story on the spur of the moment. "In fact, I met her quite unexpectedly
in Newhaven."

"In Newhaven?"

"Yes. I have just arrived from France," continued Crichton more
fluently. An idea was shaping itself in his mind. "I was most astonished
to meet my wife in England as I had been looking for her in Paris for
the last week."

"I don't understand."

"My wife is unfortunately mentally unbalanced. For the last few months
she has been confined in an asylum." Crichton spoke with increasing

"Where was this asylum?"

"In France."

"Yes, but where? France is a big place."

"It is called Charleroi and is about thirty miles from Paris in the
direction of Fontainebleau."

"Who is the director of this institution?"

"Dr. Leon Monet."

"And you suggest that it was there that she was ill-treated. Let me tell

Cyril interrupted him.

"I suggest no such thing. My wife escaped from Charleroi over a week
ago. We know she went to Paris, but there we lost all trace of her.
Imagine my astonishment at finding her on the train this morning. How
she got there, I can't think. She seemed very much agitated, but I
attributed that to my presence. I have lately had a most unfortunate
effect upon her. I did ask her how she got the bruise on her cheek, but
she wouldn't tell me. I had no idea she was suffering. If I had been
guilty of the condition she is in, is it likely that I should have
brought her to a man of your reputation and character? I think that
alone proves my innocence."

The doctor stared at him fixedly for a few moments as if weighing the
credibility of his explanation.

"You say that the physician under whose care your wife has been is
called Monet?"

"Yes, Leon Monet."

The doctor left the room abruptly. When he returned, his bearing had
completely changed.

"I have just verified your statement in a French medical directory and I
must apologise to you for having jumped at conclusions in the way I did.
Pray, forgive me----"

Crichton bowed rather distantly. He didn't feel over-kindly to the man
who had forced him into such a quagmire of lies.

"Now as to--" Cyril hesitated a moment; he detested calling the girl by
his name. "Now--as to--to--the patient. Have you any idea when she is
likely to recover consciousness?"

"Not the faintest. Of course, what you tell me of her mental condition
increases the seriousness of the case. With hysterical cases anything
and everything is possible."

"But you do not fear the--worst."

"Certainly not. She is young. She will receive the best of care. I see
no reason why she should not recover. Now if you would like to remain
near her----"

There seemed a conspiracy to keep him forever at the girl's side, but
this time he meant to break away even if he had to fight for it.

"I shall, of course, remain near her," Cyril interrupted hastily. "I
have taken lodgings in Half Moon Street and shall stay there till she
has completely recovered. As she has lately shown the most violent
dislike of me, I think I had better not attempt to see her for the
present. Don't you agree with me?"

"Certainly. I should not permit it under the circumstances."

"I shall call daily to find out how she is, and if there is any change
in her condition, you will, of course, notify me at once." Crichton took
out a card and scribbled his address on it. "This will always find me.
And now I have a rather delicate request to make. Would you mind not
letting any one know the identity of your patient? You see I have every
hope that she will eventually recover her reason and therefore I wish
her malady to be kept a secret. I have told my friends that my wife is
in the south of France undergoing a species of rest cure."

"I think you are very wise. I shall not mention her name to any one."

"But the nurses?"

"It is a rule of all nursing homes that a patient's name is never to be
mentioned to an outsider. But if you wish to take extra precautions, you
might give her another name while she is here and they need never know
that it is not her own."

"Thank you. That is just what I should wish."

"What do you think Mrs. Crichton had better be called?"

Cyril thought a moment.

"Mrs. Peter Thompkins, and I will become Mr. Thompkins. Please address
all communications to me under that name; otherwise the truth is sure to
leak out."

"But how will you arrange to get your mail?"

"Peter Thompkins is my valet, so that is quite simple."

"Very well. Good-bye, Mr. Thompkins. I trust I shall soon have a better
report to give you of Mrs. Thompkins."

A moment later Cyril was in a taxi speeding towards Mayfair, a free
man--for the moment.



While Crichton was dressing he glanced from time to time at his valet.
Peter had evidently been deeply shocked by the incident at the railway
station, for the blunt profile, so persistently presented to him, was
austerely remote as well as subtly disapproving. Cyril was fond of the
old man, who had been his father's servant and had known him almost from
his infancy. He felt that he owed him some explanation, particularly as
he had without consulting him made use of his name.

But what should he say to him? Never before had he so fully realised the
joy, the comfort, the dignity of truth. It was not a virtue he decided;
it was a privilege. If he ever got out of the hole he was in, he meant
to wallow in it for the future. That happy time seemed, however, still
far distant.

Believing the girl to be innocent, he wanted as few people as possible
to know the nature of the cloud which hung over her. Peter's loyalty, he
knew, he could count on, that had been often and fully proved; but his
discretion was another matter. Peter was no actor. If he had anything to
conceal, even his silence became so portentous of mystery that it could
not fail to arouse the curiosity of the most unsuspicious. No, he must
think of some simple story which would satisfy Peter as to the propriety
of his conduct and yet which, if it leaked out, would not be to the
girl's discredit.

"You must have been surprised to hear me give my name to the young lady
you saw at the station," he began tentatively.

"Yes, sir." Peter's expression relaxed.

"Her story is a very sad one." So much at any rate must be true, thought
poor Cyril with some satisfaction.

"Yes, sir." Peter was waiting breathlessly for the sequel.

"I don't feel at liberty to repeat what she told me. You understand
that, don't you?"

"Certainly, sir," agreed Peter, but his face fell.

"So all I can tell you is that she was escaping from a brute who
horribly ill-treated her. Of course I offered to help her."

"Of course," echoed Peter.

"Unfortunately she was taken ill before she had told me her name or who
the friends were with whom she was seeking refuge. What was I to do? If
the police heard that a young girl had been found unconscious on the
train, the fact would have been advertised far and wide so as to enable
them to establish her identity, in which case the person from whom she
was hiding would have taken possession of her, which he has a legal
right to do--so she gave me to understand." Crichton paused quite out of
breath. He was doing beautifully. Peter was swallowing his tale
unquestionably--and really, you know, for an inexperienced liar that was
a reasonably probable story. "So you see," he continued, "it was
necessary for her to have a name and mine was the only one which would
not provoke further inquiry."

"Begging your pardon, sir, but I should 'ave thought that Smith or Jones
would 'ave done just as well."

"Certainly not. The authorities would have wanted further particulars
and would at once have detected the fraud. No one will ever know that I
lent an unfortunate woman for a few hours the protection of my name, and
there is no one who has the right to object to my having done so--except
the young lady herself."

"Yes, sir, quite so."

"On the other hand, on account of the position I am in at present, it is
most important that I should do nothing which could by any possibility
be misconstrued."

"Yes, sir, certainly, sir."

"And so I told the doctor that the young lady had better not be called
by my name while she is at the home and so--and so--well--in fact--I
gave her yours. I hope you don't mind?"

"My name?" gasped Peter in a horrified voice.

"Yes, you see you haven't got a wife, have you?"

"Certainly not, sir!"

"So there couldn't be any possible complications in your case."

"One never can tell, sir--a name's a name and females are sometimes not

"Don't be an ass! Why, you ought to feel proud to be able to be of use
to a charming lady. Where's your chivalry, Peter?"

"I don't know, sir, but I do 'ope she's respectable," he answered

"Of course she is. Don't you know a lady when you see one?"

Peter shook his head tragically.

"I'm sorry you feel like that about it," said Crichton. "It never
occurred to me you would mind, and I haven't yet told you all. I not
only gave the young lady your name but took it myself."

"Took my name!"

"Yes. At the nursing home I am known as Mr. Peter Thompkins. Pray that I
don't disgrace you, Peter."

"Oh, sir, a false name! If you get found out, they'll never believe you
are hinnocent when you've done a thing like that. Of course, a gentleman
like you hought to know his own business best, but it do seem to me most
awful risky."

"Well, it's a risk that had to be taken. It was a choice of evils, I
grant you. Hah! I sniff breakfast; the bacon and eggs of my country
await me. I am famishing, and I say, Peter, do try to take a more
cheerful view of this business."

"I'll try, sir."

Crichton was still at breakfast when a short, red-haired young man
fairly burst into the room.

"Guy Campbell!" exclaimed Cyril joyfully.

"Hullo, old chap, glad to see you," cried the newcomer, pounding Cyril
affectionately on the back. "How goes it? I say, your telephone message
gave me quite a turn. What's up? Have you got into a scrape? You look as
calm as possible."

"If I look calm, my looks belie me. I assure you I never felt less calm
in my life."

"What on earth is the matter?"

"You won't have some breakfast?"

"Breakfast at half-past eleven! No thank you."

"Well, then, take a cigarette, pull up that chair to the fire, and
listen--and don't play the fool; this is serious."

"Fire away."

"I want your legal advice, Guy, though I suppose you'll tell me I need a
solicitor, not a barrister. I wish to get a divorce."

"A divorce? Why, Cyril, I am awfully sorry. I had heard that your
marriage hadn't turned out any too well, but I had no idea it was as bad
as that. You have proof, I suppose."


"Tell me the particulars. I never have heard anything against your
wife's character."

"You mean that you have never heard that she was unfaithful to me. Bah,
it makes me sick the way people talk, as if infidelity were the only
vice that damned a woman's character. Guy, her character was rotten
through and through. Her infidelity was simply a minor, though
culminating, expression of it."

"But how did you come to marry such a person?"

"You know she was the Chalmerses' governess?"


"I had been spending a few weeks with them. Jack, the oldest son, was a
friend of mine and she was the daughter of a brother officer of old
Chalmers's who had died in India, and consequently her position in the
household was different from that of an ordinary governess. I soon got
quite friendly with Amy and her two charges, and we used to rag about
together a good deal. I liked her, but upon my honour I hadn't a thought
of making love to her. Then one day there was an awful row. They accused
her of carrying on a clandestine love affair with Freddy, the second
son, and with drinking on the sly. They had found empty bottles hidden
in her bedroom. She posed as injured innocence--the victim of a vile
plot to get her out of the house--had no money, no friends, no hope of
another situation. I was young; she was pretty. I was dreadfully sorry
for her and so--well, I married her. As the regiment had just been
ordered to South Africa, we went there immediately. We had not been
married a year, however, when I discovered that she was a confirmed
drunkard. I think only the fear of losing her position had kept her
within certain bounds. That necessity removed, she seemed unable to put
any restraint on herself. I doubt if she even tried to do so."

"Poor Cyril!"

"Later on I found out that she was taking drugs as well as stimulants.
She would drink herself into a frenzy and then stupefy herself with
opiates. But it is not only weakness I am accusing her of. She was
inherently deceitful and cruel--ah, what is the use of talking about it!
I have been through Hell."

"You haven't been living together lately, have you?"

"Well, you see, she was disgracing not only herself but the regiment,
and so it became a question of either leaving the army or getting her to
live somewhere else. So I brought her back to Europe, took a small villa
near Pau, and engaged an efficient nurse-companion to look after her. I
spent my leave with her, but that was all. Last spring, however, she got
so bad that her companion cabled for me. For a few weeks she was
desperately ill, and when she partially recovered, the doctor persuaded
me to send her to a sanitarium for treatment. Charleroi was recommended
to me. It was chiefly celebrated as a lunatic asylum, but it has an
annex where dipsomaniacs and drug fiends are cared for. At first, the
doctor's reports were very discouraging, but lately her improvement is
said to have been quite astonishing, so much so that it was decided that
I should take her away for a little trip. I was on my way to Charleroi,
when the news reached me that Amy had escaped. We soon discovered that
she had fled with a M. de Brissac, who had been discharged as cured the
day before my wife's disappearance. We traced them to within a few miles
of Paris, but there lost track of them. I have, however, engaged a
detective to furnish me with further particulars. I fancy the Frenchman
is keeping out of the way for fear I shall kill him. Bah! Why, I pity
him, that is all! He'll soon find out what that woman is like. He has
given me freedom! Oh, you can't realise what that means to me. I only
wish my father were alive to know that I have this chance of beginning
life over again."

"I was so sorry to hear of his death. He was always so kind to us boys
when we stayed at Lingwood. I wrote you when I heard the sad news, but
you never answered any of my letters."

"I know, old chap, but you must forgive me. I have been too
miserable--too ashamed. I only wanted to creep away and to be

"Your father died in Paris, didn't he?"

"Yes, luckily I was with him. It was just after I had taken Amy to
Charleroi. He was a broken-hearted man. He never got over the mess I had
made of my life and Wilmersley's marriage was the last straw. He brooded
over it continually."

"Why had your father been so sure that Lord Wilmersley would never
marry? He was an old bachelor, but not so very old after all. He can't
be more than fifty now."

"Well, you see, Wilmersley has a bee in his bonnet. His mother was a
Spanish ballet dancer whom my uncle married when he was a mere boy. She
was a dreadful old creature. I remember her distinctly, a great, fat
woman with a big, white face and enormous, glassy, black eyes. I was
awfully afraid of her. She died when Wilmersley was about twenty and my
uncle followed her a few months later. His funeral was hardly over when
my cousin left Geralton and nothing definite was heard of him for almost
twenty-five years. He was supposed to be travelling in the far East, and
from time to time some pretty queer rumours drifted back about him.
Whether they were true or not, I have never known. One day he returned
to Geralton as unexpectedly as he had left it. He sent for me at once.
He has immense family pride--the ballet dancer, I fancy, rankles--and
having decided for some reason or other not to marry, he wished his heir
to cut a dash. He offered me an allowance of £4000 a year, told me to
marry as soon as possible, and sent me home."

"Well, that was pretty decent of him. You don't seem very grateful."

"I can't bear him. He's a most repulsive-looking chap, a thorough
Spaniard, with no trace of his father's blood that I can see. And as I
married soon afterwards and my marriage was not to his liking, he
stopped my allowance and swore I should never succeed him if he could
help it. So you see I haven't much reason to be grateful to him."

"Beastly shame! He married Miss Mannering, Lady Upton's granddaughter,
didn't he?"


"She is a little queer, I believe."

"Really? I didn't know that. I have never seen her, but I hear she is
very pretty. Well, I'm sorry for her, brought up by that old curmudgeon
of a grandmother and married out of the schoolroom to Wilmersley. She
has never had much of a chance, has she?"

"There are no children as yet?"


"So that now that your father is dead, you are the immediate heir."

The door was flung open and Peter rushed into the room brandishing a

"Oh, sir, it's come at last! I always felt it would!" He stuttered with

"What on earth is the matter with you?"

"I beg pardon, sir, but I am that hovercome! I heard them crying
'hextras,' so I went out and gets one--just casual-like. Little did I
think what would be in it--and there it was."

"There was what?" Both men spoke at once, leaning eagerly forward.

"That Lord Wilmersley is dead; and so, my lord, I wish you much joy and
a long life."

"This is very sudden," gasped Crichton. "I hadn't heard he was ill. What
did he die of?"

"'E was murdered, my lord."



"When, how, who did it?" cried Cyril incoherently. "Give me the paper."

"Murder of Lord Wilmersley--disappearance of Lady Wilmersley," he read.
"Disappearance of Lady Wilmersley," he repeated, as the paper fell from
his limp hand.

"Here, get your master some whiskey; the shock has been too much for
him," said Camp bell. "Mysterious disappearance of Lady Wilmersley,"
murmured Crichton, staring blankly in front of him.

"Here, drink this, old man; you'll be all right in a moment," said
Campbell, pressing a glass into his hand.

Cyril emptied it automatically.

"The deuce take it!" he cried, covering his face with his hands.

"Shall I read you the particulars?" Campbell asked, taking the paper.
Cyril nodded assent.

"'The body of Lord Wilmersley was found at seven o'clock this morning
floating in the swimming bath at Geralton. It was at first thought that
death had been caused by drowning, but on examination, a bullet wound
was discovered over the heart. Search for the pistol with which the
crime was committed has so far proved fruitless. The corpse was dressed
in a long, Eastern garment frequently worn by the deceased. Lady
Wilmersley's bedroom, which adjoins the swimming bath, was empty. The
bed had not been slept in. A hurried search of the castle and grounds
was at once made, but no trace of her ladyship has been discovered. It
is feared that she also has been murdered and her body thrown into the
lake, which is only a short distance from the castle. None of her
wearing apparel is missing, even the dress and slippers she wore on the
previous evening were found in a corner of her room. Robbery was
probably the motive of the crime, as a small safe, which stands next to
Lady Wilmersley's bed and contained her jewels, has been rifled. Whoever
did this must, however, have known the combination, as the lock has not
been tampered with. This adds to the mystery of the case. Lady
Wilmersley is said to be mentally unbalanced. Arthur Edward Crichton,
9th Baron Wilmersley, was born--' here follows a history of your family,
Cyril, you don't want to hear that. Well, what do you think of it?"
asked Campbell.

"It's too horrible! I can't think," said Crichton.

"I don't believe Lady Wilmersley was murdered," said Campbell. "Why
should a murderer have troubled to remove one body and not the other?
Mark my words, it was his wife who killed Wilmersley and opened the

"I don't believe it! I won't believe it!" cried Cyril. "Besides, how
could she have got away without a dress or hat? Remember they make a
point of the fact that none of her clothes are missing."

"In the first place, you can't believe everything you read in a
newspaper; but even granting the correctness of that statement, what was
there to prevent her having borrowed a dress from one of her maids? She
must have had one, you know."

"No--no! It can't be, I tell you; I--" Cyril stopped abruptly.

"What's the matter with you? You look as guilty as though you had killed
him yourself. I can't for the life of me see why you take the thing so
terribly to heart. You didn't like your cousin and from what you
yourself tell me, I fancy he is no great loss to any one, and you don't
know his wife--widow, I mean."

"It is such a shock," stammered Cyril.

"Of course it's a shock, but you ought to think of your new duties. You
will have to go to Geralton at once?"

"Yes, I suppose it will be expected of me," Cyril assented gloomily.
"Peter, pack my things and find out when the next train leaves."

"Very well, my lord."

"And Guy, you will come with me, won't you? I really can't face this
business alone. Besides, your legal knowledge may come in useful."

"I am awfully sorry, but I really can't come to-day. I've got to be in
court this afternoon; but I'll come as soon as I can, if you really want


"Of course I want to be of use if I can, but a detective is really what
you need."

"A detective?" gasped Cyril.

"Well, why not? Don't look as if I had suggested your hiring a camel!"

"Yes, of course not--I mean a detective is--would be--in fact--very
useful," stammered Cyril. Why couldn't Guy mind his own business?

"Why not get one and take him down with you?" persisted Campbell.

"Oh, no!" Cyril hurriedly objected, "I don't think I had better do that.
They may have one already. Shouldn't like to begin by hurting local
feeling and--and all that, you know."


"At any rate, I'm not going to engage any one till I've looked into the
matter myself," said Cyril. "If I find I need a man, I'll wire."

Campbell, grumbling about unnecessary delay, let the matter drop.

Two hours later Cyril was speeding towards Newhaven.

Huddled in a corner of the railway carriage, he gave himself up to the
gloomiest reflections. Was ever any one pursued by such persistent
ill-luck? It seemed too hard that just as he began to see an end to his
matrimonial troubles, he should have tumbled headlong into this terrible
predicament. From the moment he heard of Lady Wilmersley's disappearance
he had never had the shadow of a doubt but that it was she he had
rescued that morning from the police. What was he going to do, now that
he knew her identity? He must decide on a course of action at once. Wash
his hands of her? No-o. He felt he couldn't do that--at least, not yet.
But unless he immediately and voluntarily confessed the truth, who would
believe him if it ever came to light? If it were discovered that he, the
heir, had helped his cousin's murderess to escape--had posed as her
husband, would any one, would any jury believe that chance alone had
thrown them together? He might prove an alibi, but that would only save
his life--not his honour. He would always be suspected of having
instigated, if not actually committed, the murder.

If, however, by some miracle the truth did not leak out, what then? It
would mean that from this day forward he would live in constant fear of
detection. The very fact of her secret existence must necessarily poison
his whole life. Lies, lies, lies would be his future portion. Was he
willing to assume such a burden? Was it his duty to take upon himself
the charge of a woman who was after all but a homicidal maniac? But was
she a maniac? Again and again he went over each incident of their
meeting, weighed her every word and action, and again he found it
impossible to believe that her mind was unbalanced. Yet if she was not
insane, what excuse could he find to explain her crime? Provocation?
Yes, she had had that. She had been beaten, flogged. But even so, to
kill! He had once been present when a murderer was sentenced: "To hang
by the neck until you are dead," the words rang in his ears. That small
white neck--no--never. Suddenly he realised that his path was
irrevocably chosen. As long as she needed him, he would protect her to
the uttermost of his ability. Even if his efforts proved futile, even if
he ruined his life without saving hers, he felt he would never regret
his decision.


It seemed centuries since he had left it that morning. Hiring a fly, he
drove out to Geralton, a distance of nine miles. There the door was
opened by the same butler who had admitted him five years previously.
"It's Mr. Cyril!" he cried, falling back a step. "Why, sir, they all
told us as 'ow you were in South Africa. But I bid you welcome, sir."

"Thank you. I am glad to see you again."

"Thank you, sir,--my lord, I mean, and please forgive your being
received like this--but every one is so upset, there's no doing nothing
with nobody. If you will step in 'ere, I'll call Mrs. Eversley, the

"Is Mrs. Eversley still here? I remember her perfectly. She used to
stuff me with doughnuts when I came here as a boy. Tell her I will see
her presently."

"Very good, my lord."

"Now I want to hear all the particulars of the tragedy. The newspaper
account was very meagre."

"Quite so, my lord," assented the butler.

"Lady Wilmersley has not been found?" asked Cyril.

"No, my lord. We've searched for her ladyship 'igh and low. Not a trace
of her. And now every one says as 'ow she did it. But I'll never believe
it--never. A gentle little lady, she was, and so easily frightened! Why,
if my lord so much as looked at her sometimes, she'd fall a trembling,
and 'e always so kind and devoted to 'er. 'E just doted on 'er, 'e did.
I never saw nothing like it."

"If you don't believe her ladyship guilty, is there any one else you do

"No, my lord, I can't say as I do." He spoke regretfully. "It was a
burglar, I believe. I think the detective----"

"What detective?" interrupted Cyril.

"His name is Judson; 'e comes from London and they say as 'e can find a
murderer just by looking at the chair 'e sat in."

"Who sent for him? The police?"

"No, it was Mr. Twombley of Crofton. He said we owed it to 'er ladyship
to hemploy the best talent."

"Where is the detective now?"

"'E's in the long drawing-room with Mr. Twombley."

"Has the inquest been held?"

"No, the corpse won't be sat on till to-morrow morning."

"Show me the way to the drawing-room. I don't quite remember it."

The butler preceded him across the hall and throwing open a door
announced in a loud voice:

"Lord Wilmersley."

The effect was electrical. Four men who had been deep in conversation
turned and stared open-mouthed at Cyril, and one of them, a short fat
man in clerical dress, dropped his teacup in his agitation.

"Who?" bellowed a tall, florid old gentleman.

The butler, secretly delighted at having produced such a sensation,
closed the door discreetly after him.

"I don't wonder you are surprised to see me. You thought I was with my

"So you're the little shaver I knew as a boy? Well, you've grown a bit
since then. Hah, hah." Then, recollecting the solemnity of the occasion,
he subdued his voice. "I'm Twombley, friend of your father's, you know,
and this is Mr. James, your vicar, and this is Mr. Tinker, the coroner,
and this is Judson, celebrated detective, you know. I sent for him. Hope
you approve? Terrible business, what?"

"It has been a great shock to me, and I am very glad to have Judson's
assistance," replied Cyril, casting a searching and apprehensive glance
at the detective.

He was a small, clean-shaven man with short, grey hair, grey eyebrows,
grey complexion, dressed in a grey tweed suit. His features were
peculiarly indefinite. His half-closed eyes, lying in the shadow of the
overhanging brows, were fringed with light eyelashes and gave no accent
to his expressionless face.

At all events, thought Cyril, he doesn't look very alarming, but then,
you never can tell.

"I must condole with you on the unexpected loss of a relative, who was
in every way an honour to his name and his position," said the vicar,
holding out a podgy hand.

Cyril was so taken aback at this unexpected tribute to his cousin's
memory that he was only able to murmur a discreet "Thank you."

"The late Lord Wilmersley," said the coroner, "was a most
public-spirited man and is a loss to the county."

"Quite so, quite so," assented Mr. Twombley. "Gave a good bit to the
hunt, though he never hunted. Pretty decent of him, you know. You hunt,
of course?"

"I haven't done much of it lately, but I shall certainly do so in

"Your cousin," interrupted the vicar, "was a man of deep religious
convictions. His long stay in heathen lands had only strengthened his
devotion to the true faith. His pew was never empty and he subscribed
liberally to many charities."

By Jove, thought poor Cyril, his cousin had evidently been a paragon. It
seemed incredible.

"I see it will be difficult to fill his place," he said aloud. "But I
will do my best."

Twombley clapped him heartily on the back. "Oh, you'll do all right, my
boy, and then, you know, you'll open the castle. The place has been like
a prison since Wilmersley's marriage."

"No one regretted that as much as Lord Wilmersley," said the vicar. "He
often spoke to me about it. But he had the choice between placing Lady
Wilmersley in an institution or turning the castle into an asylum. He
chose the latter alternative, although it was a great sacrifice. I have
rarely known so agreeable a man or one so suited to shine in any
company. It was unpardonable of Lady Upton to have allowed him to marry
without warning him of her granddaughter's condition. But he never had a
word of blame for her."

"It was certainly a pity he did not have Lady Wilmersley put under
proper restraint. If he had only done so, he would be alive now," said
the coroner.

"So you believe that she murdered his lordship?"

"Undoubtedly. Who else could have done it? Who else had a motive for
doing it. My theory is that her ladyship wanted to escape, that his
lordship tried to prevent her, and so she shot him. Don't you agree with
me, Mr. Judson?"

"It is impossible for me to express an opinion at present. I have not
had time to collect enough data," replied the detective pompously.

"He puts on such a lot of side, I believe he's an ass," thought Cyril,
heaving a sigh of relief. "But what about the missing jewels?" he said
aloud. "Their disappearance certainly provides a motive for the crime?"

"Yes, but only Lord and Lady Wilmersley knew the combination of the

"Who says so?"

"All the servants are agreed as to that. Besides, a burglar would hardly
have overlooked the drawers of Lord Wilmersley's desk, which contained
about £300 in notes."

"The thief may not have got as far as the library. Lady Wilmersley
occupied the blue room, I suppose."

"Not at all. At the time of his marriage Lord Wilmersley ordered a suite
of rooms on the ground floor prepared for his bride's reception,"
replied the vicar.

"And this swimming-bath? Where is that? There was none when I was here
as a child."

"No, it was built for Lady Wilmersley and adjoins her private
apartments," said the vicar.

"But all these rooms are on the ground floor. It must be an easy matter
to enter them. Consequently----"

"Easy!" interrupted Twombley; "not a bit of it! But come and see for

Crossing the hall they paused at a door. "Now this door and that one
next to it, which is the door of Lady Wilmersley's bedroom," said the
coroner, "are the only ones in this wing which communicate with the rest
of the castle, and both were usually kept locked, not only at night, but
during the daytime. You will please notice, my lord," continued the
coroner, as they entered the library, "that both doors are fitted with
an ingenious device, by means of which they can be bolted and unbolted
from several seats in this room and from the divans in the
swimming-bath. Only in the early morning were the housemaids admitted to
these rooms; after that no one but Mustapha, Lord Wilmersley's Turkish
valet, ever crossed the threshold, unless with his lordship's express

Twombley hurried him through the library.

"You can look this room over later; I want you first to see the

Cyril found himself in an immense and lofty hall, constructed entirely
of white marble and lighted by innumerable jewelled lamps, whose
multi-coloured lights were reflected in the transparent waters of a
pool, from the middle of which rose and splashed a fountain. Divans
covered with soft cushions and several small tables laden with pipes,
_houkahs_, cigarettes, etc., were placed at intervals around the sides
of the bath. On one of the tables, Cyril noticed that two coffee-cups
were still standing and by the side of a divan lay a long Turkish pipe.
The floor was strewn with rare skins. A profusion of tropical plants
imparted a heavy perfume to the air, which was warm and moist. Cyril
blinked his eyes; he felt as if he had suddenly been transported to the
palace of Aladdin.

"Rum place, what?" said Twombley, looking about him with evident
disfavour. "To be shut in here for three years would be enough to drive
any one crazy, I say."

"You will notice," said the coroner, "that the only entrance to the bath
is through the library or her ladyship's bedroom. No one could have let
himself down through the skylight, as it is protected by iron bars."

"I see."

"It was here and in the library that Lord Wilmersley spent his time, and
it was here in the right-hand corner of the bath that his body was
discovered this morning by one of the housemaids. The spot, as you see,
is exactly opposite her ladyship's door and that door was found open,
just as it stands at present. Now the housemaids swear that they always
found it closed and it is their belief that his lordship used to lock
her ladyship in her rooms before retiring to his own quarters for the
night. At all events they were never allowed to see her ladyship or
enter her apartments unless his lordship or her ladyship's maid was also

"At about what time is Lord Wilmersley supposed to have been killed?"
asked Cyril after a slight pause.

"Judging from the condition of the body, the doctor thinks that the
murder was committed between eleven and twelve P.M.," replied the
coroner; "and whoever fired the shot must have stood five or six feet
from Lord Wilmersley; in all probability, therefore, in the doorway of
the bedroom. This is the room. Nothing has been touched, and you see
that neither here nor in the swimming-bath are there signs of a

"The door leading into the hall was found locked?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Then how did the house-man enter?"

"By means of a pass-key."

"Where does that other door lead to?" asked Cyril, pointing to a door to
his left.

"Into the sitting-room," replied the coroner, throwing it open. "It was
here, I am told, that Lady Wilmersley usually spent the morning."

It was a large, pleasant room panelled in white. A few faded pastels of
by-gone beauties ornamented the walls. A gilt cage in which slumbered a
canary hung in one of the windows. Cyril looked eagerly about him for
some traces of its late occupant's personality; but except for a piece
of unfinished needlework, lying on a small table near the fireplace,
there was nothing to betray the owner's taste or occupations.

"And there is no way out of this room except through the bedroom?"


"No secret door?"

"No, my lord. Mr. Judson thought of that and has tapped the walls."

"But the windows?"

"These windows as well as those in the bedroom are fitted with heavy
iron bars. Look," he said.

"Who was the last person known to have seen Lord Wilmersley alive?"

"Mustapha. He carried coffee into the swimming-bath at a quarter past
nine, as was his daily custom."

"And he noticed nothing unusual?"

"Nothing. And he swears that in passing out through the library he heard
the bolt click behind him."

"What sort of a person is Mustapha?"

"Lord Wilmersley brought him back with him when he returned from the
East. He had the greatest confidence in him," said the vicar.

"Do you know what his fellow-servants think of him," inquired Cyril,
addressing the coroner.

"He kept very much to himself. I fancy he is not a favourite, but no one
has actually said anything against him."

"Insular prejudice!" cried the vicar. "How few of us are able to
overcome our inborn British suspicion of the foreigner!"

"Now will you examine the library?" asked the coroner. "See, here is his
lordship's desk. There are the drawers in which the £300 were found, and
yet any one could have picked that lock."

"Where does that door lead to?"

"Into Lord Wilmersley's bedroom, the window of which is also provided
with iron bars."

"And that room has no exit but this?"

"None, my lord. If the murderer came from outside, he must have got in
through one of these windows, which are the only ones in this wing which
have no protection, and this one was found ajar--but it may have been
used only as an exit, not as an entrance."

Cyril looked out. Even a woman would have no difficulty in jumping to
the ground.

"But it couldn't have been a burglar," said the vicar, "for what object
could a thief have for destroying a portrait?"

"Destroying what portrait?" inquired Cyril.

"Oh, didn't you know that her ladyship's portrait was found cut into
shreds?" said the coroner.

"And a pair of Lady Wilmersley's scissors lay on the floor in front of
it," added the vicar.

"Let me see it," cried Cyril.

Going to a corner of the room the vicar pulled aside a velvet curtain
behind which hung the wreck of a picture. The canvas was slashed from
top to bottom. No trace of the face was left; only a small piece of fair
hair was still distinguishable.

Cyril grasped Twombley's arm. Fair! And his mysterious _protégée_ was

"What--what was the colour of Lady Wilmersley's hair?" He almost
stuttered with excitement.

"A very pale yellow," replied the coroner.

"Why do you ask?" inquired the detective.

For the convenience of my readers I give a diagram of Lord and Lady
Wilmersley's apartments.

    X. Spot where Lord Wilmersley's body was found.
    1. Doors locked and barred.
    2. Windows all barred.
    3. Window without bars found open.
    4. Library table.
    5. Lady Wilmersley's portrait.
    6. Doors leading to swimming-pool.
    7. Doors leading from hall.
    8. Divans.]



"A very pale yellow!" Cyril was dumb-founded.

Every fact, every inference had seemed to prove beyond the shadow of a
doubt that his _protégée_ and Lady Wilmersley were one and the same
person. Was it possible that she could have worn a wig? No, for he
remembered that in lifting her veil, he had inadvertently pulled her
hair a little and had admired the way it grew on her temples.

"Why does the colour of her ladyship's hair interest you, my lord?"
again inquired the detective.

Cyril blushed with confusion as he realised that all three men were
watching him with evident astonishment. What a fool he was not to have
been able to conceal his surprise! What answer could he give them?
However, as it was not his cousin's murderess he was hiding, he felt he
had nothing to fear from the detective, so ignoring him he turned to Mr.
Twombley and said with a forced laugh:

"I must be losing my mind, for I distinctly remember hearing a friend of
mine rave about Lady Wilmersley's dark beauty." Rather a fishy
explanation, thought poor Cyril; but really his powers of invention were
exhausted. Would it satisfy them?

He glanced sharply at the detective. The latter was no longer looking at
him, but was contemplating his watch-chain with absorbed attention.

"Hah, hah! Rather a joke, what?" laughed Twombley. "Never had seen her,
I suppose; no one ever did, you know, except out driving."

"It was either a silly joke or my memory is in a bad shape," said Cyril.
"Luckily it is a matter of no consequence. What is of vital importance,
however," he continued, turning to the detective, "is that her ladyship
should be secured immediately. No one is safe while she is still at

"It is unfortunate," replied the detective, "that no photograph of her
ladyship can be found, but we have telegraphed her description all over
the country."

"What is her description, by the way?"

"Here it is, my lord," said Judson, handing Cyril a printed sheet.

"Height, 5 feet 3; weight, about 9 stone 2; hair, very fair, inclined to
be wavy; nose, straight; mouth, small; eyes, blue; face, oval," read
Cyril. "Well, I suppose that will have to do, but of course that
description would fit half the women in England."

"That's the trouble, my lord."

"Mr. Twombley, when you said just now that no one knew her, did you mean
that literally?"

"Nobody in the county did; I'm sure of that."

"And you, Mr. James? Is it possible that even you never saw her?"

"I have never spoken to her."

"Then so far as you know, the only person outside the castle she could
communicate with was the doctor. What sort of a man is he?"

"What doctor are you speaking of?" inquired the vicar.

"Why, the doctor who had charge of her case, of course," replied Cyril

"I never heard of her having a doctor."

"Do you mean to say that Wilmersley kept her in confinement without
orders from a physician?"

"No, I suppose not. Of course not. There must have been some one,"
faltered the vicar a trifle abashed.

"You never, however, inquired by what authority he kept his wife shut

"I never insulted Lord Wilmersley by questioning the wisdom of his
conduct or the integrity of his motives, and I repeat that there was
undoubtedly some physician in attendance on Lady Wilmersley, only I do
not happen to know who he is."

"Well, I must clear this matter up at once. Please ring the bell,

A minute later the butler appeared.

"Who was her ladyship's physician?" demanded Cyril.

"My lady never 'ad one; leastways not till yesterday."


"Yes, my lord, yesterday afternoon two gentlemen drove up in a fly and
one of them says 'is name is Dr. Brown and that 'e was expected, and 'is
lordship said as how I was to show them in here, and so I did."

"You think they came to see her ladyship?"

"Yes, my lord, and at dinner her ladyship seemed very much upset. She
didn't eat a morsel, though 'is lordship urged 'er ever so."

"But why should a doctor's visit upset her ladyship?"

The butler pursed his lips and looked mysterious. "I can't say, my

"Nonsense, you've some idea in your head. Out with it!"

"Well, my lord, me and Charles, we thought as she was afraid they were
going to lock 'er up."

Cyril started slightly.

"Ah! If they had done so long ago!" exclaimed the vicar, clasping his

"But, sir, her ladyship wasn't crazy! They all say so, but it isn't
true. Me and Charles 'ave watched 'er at table day in and day out and
we're willing to swear that she isn't any more crazy than--than me!
Please excuse the liberty, but I never thought 'er ladyship was treated
right, I never did."

"Why, you told me yourself that his lordship was devoted to her."

"So 'e was, my lord, so 'e was." The man shuffled uneasily.

"If her ladyship is not insane, why do you think his lordship kept her a
prisoner here?"

"Well, my lord, some people 'ave thought that it was jealousy as made
him do it."

"That," exclaimed the vicar, "is a vile calumny, which I have done my
best to refute."

"So jealousy was the motive generally ascribed to my cousin's treatment
of his wife?"

"Not generally, far from it; but I regret to say that there are people
who professed to believe it."

"Did her ladyship have a nurse?" asked Cyril, addressing the butler.

"No, my lord, only a maid."

"Mrs. Valdriguez is a very respectable person, my lord."

"Mrs. What?" demanded Cyril.

"Mrs. Valdriguez."

"What a queer name."

"Perhaps, my lord, I don't pronounce it just right. Mrs. Valdriguez is


"Yes, my lord, she was here first in the time of Lord Wilmersley's
mother, and 'is lordship brought 'er back again when he returned from
'is 'oneymoon. Lady Wilmersley never left these rooms without 'aving
either 'is lordship, Mustapha, or Valdriguez with 'er."

"Very good, Douglas, you can go now."

"A pretty state of things!" cried Cyril when the door closed behind the
butler. "Here in civilised England a poor young creature is kept in
confinement with a Spanish woman and a Turk to watch over her, and no
one thinks of demanding an investigation! It's monstrous!"

"My boy, you're right. Never liked the man myself--confess it now--but I
didn't know anything against him. Pretty difficult to interfere, what?
Never occurred to me to do so."

"I am deeply pained by your attitude to your unfortunate cousin, who
paid with his life for his devotion to an afflicted woman. I feel it my
duty to say that your suspicions are unworthy of you. I must go now; I
have some parochial duties to attend to." And with scant ceremony the
vicar stalked out of the room.

"It's getting late, I see. Must be off too. Can't be late for
dinner--wife, you know. Why don't you come with me--gloomy
here--delighted to put you up. Do come," urged Twombley.

"Thanks awfully, not to-night. I'm dead beat. It's awfully good of you
to suggest it, though."

"Not at all; sorry you won't come. See you at the inquest," said
Twombley as he took his departure followed by the coroner.

Cyril remained where they left him. He was too weary to move. Before him
on the desk lay his cousin's blotter. Its white surface still bore the
impress of the latter's thick, sprawling handwriting. That chair not so
many hours ago had held his unwieldy form. The murdered man's presence
seemed to permeate the room. Cyril shuddered involuntarily. The heavy,
perfume-laden air stifled him. What was that? He could hear nothing but
the tumultuous beating of his own heart. Yet he was sure, warned by some
mysterious instinct, that he was not alone. Behind him stood--something.
He longed to move, but terror riveted him to the spot. A vision of his
cousin's baleful eyes rose before him with horrible vividness. He could
feel their vindictive glare scorching him. Was he going mad? Was he a
coward? No, he must face the--thing--come what might. Throwing back his
head defiantly, he wheeled around--the detective was at his elbow! Cyril
gave a gasp of relief and wiped the tell-tale perspiration from his
forehead. He had completely forgotten the fellow. What a shocking state
his nerves were in!

"Can you spare me a few minutes, my lord?" Whenever the detective spoke,
Cyril had the curious impression as of a voice issuing from a fog. So
grey, so effaced, so absolutely characterless was the man's exterior!
His voice, on the other hand, was excessively individual. There lurked
in it a suggestion of assertiveness, of aggressiveness even. Cyril was
conscious of a sudden dread of this strong, insistent personality, lying
as it were at ambush within that envelope of a body, that envelope which
he felt he could never penetrate, which gave no indication whether it
concealed a friend or enemy, a saint or villain.

"I shall not detain you long," Judson added, as Cyril did not answer

"Come into the drawing-room," said Cyril, leading the way there.

Thank God, he could breathe freely once more, thought Cyril, as he flung
himself into the comfortable depths of a chintz-covered sofa. How
delightfully wholesome and commonplace was this room! The air, a trifle
chill, notwithstanding the coal fire burning on the hearth, was like
balm to his fevered senses. His very soul felt cleansed and refreshed.
He no longer understood the terror which had so lately possessed him. He
looked at Judson. How could he ever have dignified this remarkably
unremarkable little man with his pompous manner into a mysterious and
possibly hostile force. The thing was absurd.

"Sit down, Judson," said Cyril carelessly.

"My lord, am I not right in supposing that I am unknown to you? By
reputation, I mean."

"Quite," Cyril candidly acknowledged.

"Ah! I thought so. Let me tell you then, my lord, that I am the
receptacle of the secrets of most, if not all, of the aristocracy."

"Indeed!" said Cyril. I'll take good care, he thought, that mine don't
swell the number.

"That being the case, it is clear that my reputation for discretion is
unassailable. You see the force of that argument, my lord?"

"Certainly," replied Cyril wearily.

"Anything, therefore, which I may discover during the course of this
investigation, you may rest assured will be kept absolutely secret." He
paused a moment. "You can, therefore, confide in me without fear,"
continued the detective.

Cyril was surprised and a little startled. What did the man know?

"What makes you think I have anything to confide?" he asked.

"It is quite obvious, my lord, that you are holding something
back--something which would explain your attitude towards Lady

"I don't follow you," replied Cyril, on his guard.

"You have given every one to understand that you have never seen her
ladyship. You take up a stranger's cause very warmly, my lord."

"I trust I shall always espouse the cause of every persecuted woman."

"But how are you sure that she was persecuted? Every one praises his
lordship's devotion to her. He gave her everything she could wish for
except liberty. If she was insane, his conduct deserves great praise."

"But I am sure she is not."

"But you yourself urged me to secure her as soon as possible because you
were afraid she might do further harm," Judson reminded him.

"That was before I heard Douglas's testimony. He has seen her daily for
three years and swears she is sane."

"And the opinion of an ignorant servant is sufficient to make you
condemn his lordship without further proof?"

Cyril moved uneasily.

"If Lady Wilmersley is perfectly sane, it seems to me incredible that
she did not manage to escape years ago. A note dropped out of her
carriage would have brought the whole countryside to her rescue. Why,
she had only to appeal to this very same butler, who is convinced of her
sanity, and Lord Wilmersley could not have prevented her from leaving
the castle. Public opinion would have protected her."

"That is true," acknowledged Cyril, "but her spirit may have been

"What was there to break it? We hear only of his lordship's almost
excessive devotion. No, my lord, I can't help thinking that you are
judging both Lord and Lady Wilmersley by facts of which I am ignorant."

Cyril did not know what to answer. He had at first championed Lady
Wilmersley because he had believed her to be his _protégée_, but now
that it had been proved that she was not, why was he still convinced
that she had in some way been a victim of her husband's cruelty? He had
to acknowledge that beyond a vague distrust of his cousin he had not
only no adequate reason, but no reason at all, for his suspicions.

"You are mistaken," he said at last; "I am withholding nothing that
could in any way assist you to unravel this mystery. I confess I neither
liked nor trusted my cousin. I had no special reason. It was simply a
case of Dr. Fell. I know no more than you do of his treatment of her
ladyship. But doesn't the choice of a Turk and a Spaniard as attendants
on Lady Wilmersley seem to you open to criticism?"

"Not necessarily, my lord. We trust most those we know best. Lord
Wilmersley had spent the greater part of his life with Turks and
Spaniards. It therefore seems to me quite natural that when it came to
selecting guardians for her ladyship, he should have chosen a man and a
woman he had presumably known for some years, whose worth he had proved,
whose fidelity he could rely on."

"That sounds plausible," agreed Cyril; "still I can't help thinking it
very peculiar, to say the least, that Lady Wilmersley was not under a
doctor's care."

"Her ladyship may have been too unbalanced to mingle with people, and
yet not in a condition to require medical attention. Such cases are not

"True, and yet I have a feeling that Douglas was right, when he assured
us that her ladyship is not insane. You discredit his testimony on the
ground that he is an ignorant man. But if a man of sound common-sense
has the opportunity of observing a woman daily during three years, it
seems to me that his opinion cannot be lightly ignored. You never knew
my cousin. Well, I did, and as I said before, he was a man who inspired
me with the profoundest distrust, although I cannot cite one fact to
justify my aversion. I cannot believe that he ever sacrificed himself
for any one and am much more inclined to credit Douglas's suggestion
that it was jealousy which led him to keep her ladyship in such strict
seclusion. But why waste our time in idle conjectures when it is so easy
to find out the truth? Those two doctors who saw her yesterday must be
found. If they are men of good reputation, of course I shall accept
their report as final."

"Very good, my lord, I will at once have an advertisement inserted in
all the papers asking them to communicate with us. If that does not
fetch them, I shall employ other means of tracing them."

"Has Lady Upton, her ladyship's grandmother, been heard from?"

"She wired this morning asking for further particulars. Mr. Twombley
answered her, I believe."

A slight pause ensued during which Judson watched Cyril as if expecting
him to speak.

"And you have still nothing to say to me, my lord?" The detective spoke
with evident disappointment.

"No, what else should I have to say?" replied Cyril with some surprise.

"That is, of course, for you to judge, my lord." His meaning was
unmistakable. Cyril flushed angrily. Was it possible that the man dared
to doubt his word? Dared to disbelieve his positive assertion that he
knew nothing whatsoever about the murder? The damnable--suddenly he
remembered! Remembered the lies he had been so glibly telling all day.
Why should any one believe him in future? His ignominy was probably
already stamped on his face.

"I have nothing more to say," replied Cyril in a strangely meek voice.

"That being the case, I'd better be off," said Judson, rising slowly
from his chair.

"Where are you going now?"

"I can't quite tell, my lord. It is my intention to vanish, so to


"Yes, my lord. I work best in the dark; but you will hear from me as
soon as I have something definite to report."

"I hope you will be successful," said Cyril.

"Thank you; I've never failed so far in anything I have undertaken. I
must, however, warn you, my lord, that investigations sometimes lead to
conclusions which no one could have foreseen when they were started. I
always make a point of reminding my employers of this possibility."

What the devil was the man driving at, thought Cyril; did he suspect him
by any chance? That would be really too absurd! The man was an ass.

"I shall never quarrel with you for discovering the truth," said Cyril,
drawing himself up to his full height and glaring fiercely down at the
little grey man. Then, turning abruptly on his heel he stalked
indignantly out of the room, slamming the door behind him.



"My lord."

Cyril shook himself reluctantly awake.

"Sorry to disturb you, but this 'as just come," said Peter, holding out
a tray on which lay an opened telegram. His expression was so tragic
that Cyril started up and seized the message.

It was addressed to Peter Thompkins, Geralton Castle, Newhaven, and
read: "Change for the better. Your presence necessary." Signed,

"Why, that is good news!" cried Cyril greatly relieved. "What are you
pulling such a long face for?"

"You call it good news that you haven't got rid of that young woman
yet?" exclaimed Peter. "This Stuart-Smith, whoever he may be, who is
wiring you to come to 'er, thinks she's your wife, doesn't he? That was
bad enough when you were just Mr. Crichton, but now it's just hawful. A
Lady Wilmersley can't be hid as a Mrs. Crichton could, begging your
pardon. Oh, it'll all come out, so it will, and you'll be 'ad up for
bigamy, like as not!" Peter almost groaned.

"Nonsense! As soon as the young lady recovers, she will join her friends
and no one will be any the wiser."

Peter shook his head incredulously.

"Well, my lord, let's 'ope so! But what answer am I to send to this
telegram? You can't leave the castle now."

"It would certainly be inconvenient," agreed his master.

"If you did, you'd be followed, my lord."

"What do you mean? The police can't be such fools as all that."

"'Tisn't the police, my lord. It's those men from the newspapers. The
castle is full of them; they're nosing about heverywhere; there's not
one of us as hasn't been pestered with the fellows. It's what you are
like, what are you doing, what 'ave you done, and a lot more foolish
questions hever since we set foot here yesterday afternoon. And 'we'll
pay you well,' they say. Of course, I've not opened my mouth to them,
but they're that persistent, they'll follow you to the end of the earth
if you should leave the castle unexpectedly."

This was a complication that had not occurred to Cyril, and yet he felt
he ought to have foreseen it. What was to be done? He couldn't abandon
the girl. Suddenly Stuart-Smith's stern face and uncompromising upper
lip rose vividly before him. Even if he wished to do so, the doctor
would never allow him to ignore his supposed wife. If he did not answer
his summons in person, Smith would certainly put the worst
interpretation on his absence. He would argue that only a brute would
neglect a wife who was lying seriously ill and the fact that the girl
had been flogged could also be remembered against him. Dr. Smith was
capable of taking drastic measures to force him into performing what he
considered the latter's obvious duty.

Cyril did not know what to do. He had only a choice of evils. If he
went, he would surely be followed and the girl's existence and
hiding-place discovered. That would be fatal not only to him but to her,
for she had feared detection above all things--why, he could not even
surmise--he no longer even cared; but he had promised to protect her and
meant to do so.

On the other hand, if he did not go, he ran the risk of the doctor's
publishing the girl's whereabouts. Still, it was by no means certain he
would do so, and if he wrote Smith a diplomatic letter, he might succeed
in persuading him that it was best for the girl if he stayed away a day
longer. Yes, that was the thing to do. Hastily throwing on a
dressing-gown, he sat down at the desk. It was a difficult letter to
write and he destroyed many sheets before he was finally satisfied. This
was the result of his efforts:


     "I am infinitely relieved that your patient is better. As you
     addressed your wire here, I gather that you know of the tragic
     occurrence, which has kept me from her side. It is impossible
     for me to leave before the funeral without explaining my
     mission, and this I am very loath to do, as I am more than ever
     anxious to keep her malady a secret. Dr. Monet has always
     believed in the possibility of a cure, and as long as there is
     a chance of that, I am sure you will agree with me that I ought
     to make every sacrifice to protect her from gossip. If she did
     recover and her illness became known, it would greatly handicap
     her in her new life. Having to stay away from her would be even
     more distressing to me than it is if I could flatter myself
     that my presence would have a good effect upon her. I am sure,
     however, that such would not be the case.

     "I shall return to London late to-morrow afternoon and will
     telephone you immediately on my arrival.

     "I am sending this by a trustworthy servant, who will bring me
     your answer. I am most anxious to hear what you think of your
     patient's condition, mentally as well as physically. I am sure
     she could not be in better hands."

Then Cyril hesitated. What should he sign himself? Thompkins? No, he
wished to inspire confidence; his own name would be better. So with a
firm hand he wrote "Wilmersley."

It was the first time he had used his new signature and he heartily
wished it had not been appended to such a document.

"Now, Peter," he said, "you must take the next train to London and carry
this to Dr. Stuart-Smith. If he is not at the nursing home, telephone to
his house and find out where he is. The letter must be delivered as soon
as possible and you are to wait for a reply. If the doctor asks you any
questions, answer as briefly as possible. In order to avoid comment you
had better let it be known that you are going up to town to do some
shopping for me. Buy something--anything. I want you also to call at the
lodgings and tell them we shall return to-morrow. If you are followed,
which I can't believe you will be, this will allay suspicion. Take a
taxi and get back as soon as possible. Don't drive directly to the Home.
You may mention to the doctor that I am extremely anxious about Mrs.

"Very good, my lord."

"Throw the sheets I have scribbled on into the fire and the blotting
paper as well," ordered Cyril.

He felt rather proud of having thought of this detail, but with
detectives and pressmen prowling around he must run no risks. It was
with a very perturbed mind that Cyril finally went down to breakfast.

"Mrs. Eversley would like to speak to you, my lord, as soon as
convenient," said Douglas as his master rose from the table. Cyril
fancied he detected a gleam of suppressed excitement in the butler's

"I'll see her at once," Cyril answered.

A stout, respectable-looking woman hesitated in the doorway.

"Come in, Mrs. Eversley," cried Cyril. "I'm glad to see you again. I've
never forgotten you or your doughnuts."

The troubled face broke into a pleased smile as the woman dropped a

"It's very kind of you to remember them, my lord, very kind indeed, and
glad I am to see you again." The smile vanished. "This is a terrible
business, my lord."

"Terrible," assented Cyril.

"His poor lordship! Mrs. Valdriguez has said for months and months that
something like this was sure to happen some day."

"Do you mean to say that she prophesied that her ladyship would kill his
lordship?" exclaimed Cyril.

"Yes, my lord, indeed she did! It made me feel that queer when it really

"I should think so. It's most extraordinary."

"But begging your pardon, my lord, there is something special as made me
ask to speak to you--something I thought you ought to know immediately."

"What is it?" Cyril had felt that some new trouble was brewing.

"One of the servants has disappeared, my lord."

"Disappeared? How? When?"

"Perhaps I'm making too much of it, but this murder has that upset me
that I'm afraid of my own shadow and I says to myself, says I: 'Don't
wait; go and tell his lordship at once and he'll know whether it is
important or not.'"

"You did perfectly right. But who has disappeared?"

"Priscilla Prentice and perhaps she hasn't disappeared at all. This is
how it is: The day before yesterday----"

"The day of the murder?" asked Cyril.

"Yes, my lord. Prentice came to me and asked if she could go to Newhaven
to see a cousin she has there. The cousin is ill--leastways so she told
me--and she wanted as a great favour to be allowed to spend the night
with her, and she promised to come back by the carrier early next
morning. It seemed all right, so I gave her permission and off she goes.
Then yesterday this dreadful thing happened and Prentice went clean out
of my head. I never thought of her again till breakfast this morning
when Mr. Douglas says to me: 'Why, wherever is Miss Prentice?' You could
'ave knocked me down with a feather, I was that taken aback! So I says,
'Whatever can 'ave happened to her?'"

"When she heard of the murder, she may have taken fright. She may be
waiting to return to the castle till the inquest and funeral are over,"
suggested Cyril.

"Then she ought at least to have sent word. Besides she should have got
back before she could have heard of the murder."

"You had better send to the cousin's and find out if she is there. She
may have been taken ill and had nobody to send a message by."

"We none of us know whereabouts this cousin lives, my lord."

"Newhaven is not a large place. It can't be difficult to find her."

"But we don't know her name, my lord."

"That certainly complicates matters. How long has this girl been at the

"Six months, my lord."

"Who did you get her from?"

"I advertised for her, my lord. Mrs. Valdriguez's eyes are not what they
were and so she 'ad to have somebody to do the mending. I must say
foreigners sew beautifully, so it was some time before I could get any
one whose work suited Mrs. Valdriguez."

"What references did the girl give?"

"It was this way, my lord. She's very young, and this is her first
place. But she was excellently recommended by Mr. Vaughan, vicar of
Plumtree, who wrote that she was a most respectable girl and that he
could vouch for her character. Those are his very words, my lord."

"That certainly sounded satisfactory."

"I'm glad you think so, my lord. So she came. Such a nice young woman
she seemed, so 'ard-working and conscientious; one who kept 'erself to
'erself; never a word with the men--never, though she is so pretty."

"Oh, she is pretty, is she?" A faint but horrible suspicion flashed
through Cyril's mind.

"Yes, my lord, as pretty as a picture."

"What does she look like?"

"She is tall and slight with dark hair and blue eyes," Mrs. Eversley
answered. She was evidently taken aback at her master's interest in a
servant's appearance and a certain reserve crept into her voice.

"Could she--would it be possible to mistake her for a lady?" stammered

Mrs. Eversley started.

"Well, my lord, it's strange you should ask that, for Douglas, he always
has said, 'Mark my words, Miss Prentice isn't what she seems,' and I
must say she is very superior, very."

It wasn't, it couldn't be possible, thought Cyril; and yet----

"Did she see much of her ladyship?" he asked.

"Lately, Mrs. Valdriguez, seeing as what she was such a quiet girl, has
allowed her to put the things she has mended back into her ladyship's
room, and I know her ladyship has spoken to her, but how often she has
done so I couldn't really say. Prentice didn't talk much."

"Did she seem much interested in her ladyship?"

"At first very much so. If we were talking about her ladyship, she would
always stay and listen. Once, when one of the housemaids 'ad said
something about her being crazy, I think, Prentice got quite excited,
and when Mrs. Valdriguez had left the room, she said to me, 'I don't
believe there is anything the matter with her ladyship; I think it just
cruel the way she is kept locked up!' Begging your pardon, my lord,
those were her very words. She made me promise not to repeat what she
had said--least of all to Mrs. Valdriguez, and I never have, not till
this minute."

"Did she ever suggest that she would like to help her ladyship to

"Why, my lord!" exclaimed Mrs. Eversley, staring at her master in
astonishment. "That's just what she did do, just once--oh, you don't
think she did it! And yet that's what they're all saying----"

"Is anything missing from her room?" he asked.

"I can't say, my lord; her trunk is locked and she took a small bag with
her. But there are things in the drawers and a skirt and a pair of shoes
in the wardrobe."

"From the appearance of the room, therefore, you should judge that she
intended to return?"

"Ye-es, my lord--and yet I must say, I was surprised to see so few
things about, and the skirt and shoes were very shabby."

"I suppose that by this time every one knows the girl is missing?" Cyril

"The upper servants do, and the detective was after me to tell him all
about her, but I wouldn't say a word till I had asked what your
lordship's wishes are."

"I thought Judson had left the castle?"

"So he has, my lord; this is the man from Scotland Yard. Griggs is his
name. He was 'ere before Judson, but he had left the castle before you

Impossible even to attempt, to keep her disappearance a secret, thought
Cyril. After all, perhaps she was not his _protégée_. He was always
jumping at erroneous conclusions, and a description is so misleading. On
the other hand, the combination of black hair and blue eyes was a most
unusual one. Besides, it was already sufficiently remarkable that two
young and beautiful women had fled from Newhaven on the same day (beauty
being alas such a rarity!), but that three should have done so was
well-nigh incredible. But could even the most superior of upper servants
possess that air of breeding which was one of the girl's most noticeable
attributes. It was, of course, within the bounds of possibility that
this maid was well-born and simply forced by poverty into a menial
position. One thing was certain--if his _protégée_ was Priscilla
Prentice, then this girl, in spite of her humble occupation, was a lady,
and consequently more than ever in need of his protection and respect.

Well, assuming that it was Prentice he had rescued, what part had she
played in the tragedy? Why had she feared arrest? She must have been
present at the murder, but even in that case, why did she not realise
that Lady Wilmersley's unbalanced condition would prevent suspicion from
falling on any one else? The police had never even thought of her! And
where had she hidden her mistress? It was all most mysterious.

Cyril sat weighing the _pros and cons_ of one theory after another,
completely oblivious of his housekeeper's presence.

Douglas, entering, discreetly interrupted his cogitations:

"The inquest is about to begin, my lord."



On entering the hall Cyril found that a seat on the right hand of the
coroner had been reserved for him, but he chose a secluded corner from
which he could watch the proceedings unobserved.

On the left of Mr. Tinker sat a tall, imposing-looking man, who, on
inquiry, proved to be Inspector Griggs.

The first part of the inquest developed nothing new. It was only when
Mustapha stepped forward that Cyril's interest revived and he forgot the
problem of his _protégée's_ identity.

The Turk, with the exception of a red fez, was dressed as a European,
but his swarthy skin, large, beak-like nose, and deep, sombre eyes, in
which brooded the mystery of the East, proclaimed his nationality.

Cyril tried in vain to form some estimate of the man's character, to
probe the depths of those fathomless eyes, but ignorant as he was of the
Oriental, he found it impossible to differentiate between Mustapha's
racial and individual characteristics. That he was full of infinite
possibilities was evident--even his calmness was suggestive of potential
passion. A man to be watched, decided Cyril.

Mustapha gave his testimony in a low, clear voice, and although he spoke
with a strong foreign accent, his English was purer than that of his
fellow servants.

That he had nothing to do with the murder seemed from the first
conclusively proved. Several of the servants had seen him enter his
room, which adjoined that of the butler, at about half-past nine--that
is to say, an hour and a half before Lord Wilmersley's death could, in
the doctor's opinion, have taken place--and Douglas on cross--reiterated
his conviction that Mustapha could not have left his room without his
having heard him do so, as he, Douglas, was a very light sleeper.

In answer to questions from the coroner, Mustapha told how he had
entered the late Lord Wilmersley's service some fifteen years
previously, at which time his master owned a house on the outskirts of
Constantinople. As he dressed as a Mussulman and consorted entirely with
the natives, Mustapha did not know that he was a foreigner till his
master informed him of the fact just before leaving Turkey.

When questioned as to Lady Wilmersley, he was rather non-committal. No,
he had never believed her to be dangerous.--Had she seemed happy? No,
she cried often.--Did his lordship ever ill-treat her? Not that he knew
of. His lordship was very patient with her tears.--Did he know how she
could have obtained a pistol? Yes, there was one concealed on his
master's desk. He had discovered that it was missing.--How could a
pistol lie concealed _on_ a desk? It was hidden inside an ancient steel
gauntlet, ostensibly used as a paperweight. Mustapha had found it one
day quite accidentally.--Did he tell his lordship of his discovery? No.
His master was always afraid of being spied upon.--Why? He did not
know.--Did Mustapha know of any enemy of his lordship who was likely to
have sought such a revenge? No. His master's enemies were not in
England.--Then his lordship had enemies? As all men have, so had
he.--But he had no special enemy? An enemy is an enemy, but his master's
enemies were not near.--How could he be so sure of that? He would have
had word.--How? From whom? From his, Mustapha's friends.--Did his
lordship fear his enemies would follow him to England? At first,
perhaps, but not lately.--If his lordship's enemies had found him, would
they have been likely to kill him? Who can tell? The heart of man is
very evil.--But he knew no one who could have done this thing? No
one.--Did he believe his mistress had done it? Mustapha hesitated for
the first time. "They say so," he finally answered.

"But you, what do you think?" insisted the coroner.

"The ways of women are dark."

"Do you believe her ladyship killed your master--Yes or No?" repeated
the coroner impatiently.

"It is not for me to say," replied Mustapha with unruffled dignity.

The coroner, feeling himself rebuked, dismissed the man with a hurried
"That will do."

Mrs. Valdriguez was next called.

She was a tall, thin woman between fifty and sixty. Her black hair,
freely sprinkled with silver, was drawn into a tight knot at the back of
her small head. Her pale, haggard face, with its finely-chiselled nose,
thin-lipped mouth, and slightly-retreating chin, was almost beautified
by her large, sunken eyes, which still glowed with extraordinary
brilliancy. Her black dress was austere in its simplicity and she wore
no ornament except a small gold cross suspended on her bosom.

The woman was obviously nervous. She held her hands tightly clasped in
front of her, and her lips twitched from time to time. She spoke so low
that Cyril had to lean forward to catch her answers, but her English was
perfectly fluent. It was chiefly her accent and intonation which
betrayed her foreign birth.

"You lived here in the time of the late Lady Wilmersley, did you not?"
began the coroner.

"Yes, sir."

"In what capacity?"

"As lady's maid, sir."

"When did you leave here, and why?"

"I left when her ladyship died."

"Did you return to Spain?"

"Yes, sir."

"How did you happen to enter the present Lady Wilmersley's service?"

"Lord Wilmersley sent for me when he was on his wedding journey."

"Had you seen him after you left Geralton?"

"From time to time."

"Do you know whether his lordship had any enemies?"

"Not of late years."

"Then you did know some. Who were they?"

"Those that he had are either dead or have forgiven," Valdriguez
answered, and as she did so, she fingered the cross on her breast.

"So that you can think of no one likely to have resorted to such a
terrible revenge?"

"No one, sir."

"On the night of the murder you did not assist her ladyship to undress,
so I understand?"

"I never did. From the time her ladyship left her room to go to dinner I
never saw her again till the following morning."

"And you noticed nothing unusual that evening?"

"I can't say that. Her ladyship was very much excited. She cried and
begged me to help her to escape."

A murmur of excitement ran through the hall.

"What did you say to her?"

"I told her that she was his lordship's lawful wife; that she had vowed
before God to honour and obey him in all things."

"Had she ever made an attempt to escape?"

"No, sir."

"Did she ever give you any reason for wishing to do so?"

"She told me that his lordship threatened to shut her up in a lunatic
asylum, but I assured her he would never do so. He loved her too much."

"You consider that he was very devoted to her?"

The woman closed her eyes for a second.

"He loved her as I have never before known a man love a woman," she
answered, with suppressed vehemence.

"Why then did he send for the doctors to commit her to an institution?"

"I do not know."

At this point of the interrogation Cyril scribbled a few words, which he
gave to one of the footmen to carry to the coroner. When the latter had
read them, he asked:

"Did you consider her ladyship a dangerous lunatic?"

"No, sir."

"Why, then, did you prophesy that she would kill your master?"

The woman trembled slightly and her hand again sought the cross.

"I--I believed Lord Wilmersley's time had come, but I knew not how he
would die. I did not know that she would be the instrument--only I
feared it."

"Why did you think his lordship's days were numbered?"

"Sir, if I were to tell you my reasons, you would say that they were not
reasons. You would call them superstitions and me a foolish old woman. I
believe what I believe, and you, what you have been taught. God shall
judge. Suffice it, sir, that my reasons for believing that his lordship
would die soon are not such as would appeal to your common-sense."

"H'm, well--I confess that signs and omens are not much in my line, but
I must really insist upon your giving some explanation as to why you
feared that your mistress would murder Lord Wilmersley."

The woman's lips twitched convulsively and her eyes glowed with sombre

"Because--if you will know it--he loved her more than was natural--he
loved her more than his God; and the Lord God is a jealous God."

"And this is really your only reason for your extraordinary

"For me it is enough," she replied.

"Well, well--very curious indeed!" said the coroner, regarding the woman

He paused for a moment.

"How did you pass the evening of the murder?" he asked.

"In my room. I had a headache and went early to bed."

"I suppose somebody saw you after you left Lady Wilmersley's room who
can support your statement?"

"I do not know. I do not remember seeing any one," answered Valdriguez,
throwing her head back and looking a little defiantly at Mr. Tinker.

"Ah, really? That is a pity," said the coroner. "However, there is no
reason to doubt your word--as yet," he added.

Mrs. Eversley was next called. The coroner questioned her exhaustively
as to the missing Priscilla Prentice. He seemed especially anxious to
know whether the girl had owned a bicycle. She had not.--Did she know
how to ride one? Yes, Mrs. Eversley had seen her try one belonging to
the under-housemaid.--Did many of the servants own bicycles? Yes.--Had
one of them been taken? She did not know.

On further inquiry, however, it was found that all the machines were
accounted for.

It had not occurred to Cyril to speculate as to how, if Prentice had
really aided her mistress to escape, she had been able to cover the nine
miles which separated the castle from Newhaven. Eighteen miles in one
evening on foot! Not perhaps an impossible feat, but very nearly so,
especially as on her way back she would have been handicapped by Lady
Wilmersley, a delicate woman, quite unaccustomed--at all events during
the last three years--to any form of exercise.

It was evident, however, that this difficulty had not escaped the
coroner, for all the servants and more especially the gardeners
and under-gardeners were asked if they had seen in any of the
less-frequented paths traces of a carriage or bicycle. But no one had
seen or heard anything suspicious.

The head gardener and his wife, who lived at the Lodge, swore that the
tall, iron gates had been locked at half-past nine, and that they had
heard no vehicle pass on the highroad during the night.

At this point in the proceedings whispering was audible in the back of
the hall. The coroner paused to see what was the matter. A moment later
Douglas stepped up to him and said something in a low voice. The coroner

"Mrs. Willis," he called.

A middle-aged woman, very red in the face, came reluctantly forward.

"Well, Mrs. Willis, I hear you have something to tell me?"

"Indeed no, sir," exclaimed the woman, picking nervously at her gloves.
"It is nothing at all. Only when I 'eard you asking about carriages in
the night, I says to Mrs. Jones--well, one passed, I know that.
Leastways, it didn't exactly pass; it stayed."

"The carriage stayed; where?"

"It wasn't a carriage."

"It wasn't a carriage and it stayed? Can't you explain yourself more
clearly, Mrs. Willis? This isn't a conundrum, is it?"

"It was a car, a motor-car," stammered the woman.

"A car! And it stopped? Where?"

"I couldn't say exactly, but not far from our cottage."

"And where is your cottage?"

"On the 'ighroad near the long lane."

"I see." The coroner was obviously excited. "Your husband is one of the
gardeners here, isn't he?"

"Yes, sir."

"So there is doubtless a path connecting your cottage with the castle

"Yes, sir."

"About how far from your cottage was the car?"

"I didn't see it, sir; I just 'eard it; but it wasn't far, that I know,"
reiterated the woman.

"Did you hear any one pass through your garden?"

"No, sir."

"Could they have done so without your hearing them?"

"They might."

"Was the car going to or coming from Newhaven?"

"It was coming from Newhaven."

"Then it must have stopped at the foot of the long lane."

"Yes, sir; that's just about where I thought it was."

"Is there a path connecting Long Lane with the highroad?"

"Yes, a narrow one."

"What time was it when you heard the car? Now try and be very accurate."

"I wouldn't like to swear, sir, but I think it was between eleven and

"Did your husband hear it also?"

"No, sir, 'e was fast asleep, but I wasn't feeling very well, so I had
got up thinking I'd make myself a cup of tea, and just then I 'eard a
car come whizzing along, and then there was a bang. Oh, says I, they've
burst their wheel, that's what they've done, me knowing about cars. I
know it takes a bit of mending, a wheel does, so I wasn't surprised when
I 'eard no more of them for a time--and I 'ad just about forgotten all
about them, so I had, when I 'ears them move off."

"And they did not pass your cottage?"

"No, sir, I'm sure of that."

"Did you hear anything else?"

"Well, sir"--the woman fidgeted uneasily, "I thought--but I shouldn't
like to swear to it--not on the Bible--but I fancied I 'eard a cry."

"What sort of a cry? Was it a man or a woman's?"

"I really couldn't say--and perhaps what I 'eard was not a cry at

"Well, well--this is most important. A motor-car that is driven at
half-past eleven at night to the foot of a lane which leads nowhere but
to the castle grounds, and then returns in the direction it came
from--very extraordinary--very. We must look into this," exclaimed the

And with this the inquest was adjourned.



     Dr. Stuart-Smith to Mr. Peter Thompkins, Geralton Castle,


     "Lady Wilmersley showed signs of returning consciousness at
     half-past five yesterday afternoon. I was at once sent for, but
     when I arrived she had fallen asleep. She woke again at nine
     o'clock and this time asked where she was. She spoke
     indistinctly and did not seem to comprehend what the nurse said
     to her. When I reached the patient, I found her sitting up in
     bed. Her pulse was irregular; her temperature, subnormal. I am
     glad to be able to assure you that Lady Wilmersley is at
     present perfectly rational. She is, however, suffering from
     hysterical amnesia complicated by aphasia, but I trust this is
     only a temporary affection. At first she hesitated over the
     simplest words, but before I left she could talk with tolerable

     "I asked Lady Wilmersley whether she wished to see you. She has
     not only forgotten that she has a husband but has no very clear
     idea as to what a husband is. In fact, she appears to have
     preserved no precise impression of anything. She did not even
     remember her own name. When I told it to her, she said it
     sounded familiar, only that she did not associate it with
     herself. Of you personally she has no recollection, although I
     described you as accurately as I could. However, as your name
     is the only thing she even dimly recalls, I hope that when you
     see her, you will be able to help her bridge the gulf which
     separates her from the past.

     "She seemed distressed at her condition, so I told her that she
     had been ill and that it was not uncommon for convalescents to
     suffer temporarily from loss of memory. When I left her, she
     was perfectly calm.

     "She slept well last night, and this morning she has no
     difficulty in expressing herself, but I do not allow her to
     talk much as she is still weak.

     "I quite understand the delicacy of your position and
     sympathise with you most deeply. Although I am anxious to try
     what effect your presence will have on Lady Wilmersley, the
     experiment can be safely postponed till to-morrow afternoon.

     "I trust the inquest will clear up the mystery which surrounds
     the late Lord Wilmersley's death.

    "Believe me,
    "Sincerely yours,

Cyril stared at the letter aghast. If the girl herself had forgotten her
identity, how could he hope to find out the truth? He did not even dare
to instigate a secret inquiry--certainly not till the Geralton mystery
had been cleared up. And she believed herself to be his wife! It was too

Cyril passed a sleepless night and the next morning found him still
undecided as to what course to pursue. It was, therefore, a pale face
and a preoccupied mien that he presented to the inspection of the
county, which had assembled in force to attend his cousin's funeral.
Never in the memory of man had such an exciting event taken place and
the great hall in which the catafalque had been erected was thronged
with men of all ages and conditions.

In the state drawing-room Cyril stood and received the condolences and
faced the curiosity of the county magnates.

The ordeal was almost over, when the door was again thrown open and the
butler announced, "Lady Upton."

Leaning heavily on a gold-headed cane Lady Upton advanced majestically
into the room.

A sudden hush succeeded her entrance; every eye was riveted upon her.
She seemed, however, superbly indifferent to the curiosity she aroused,
and one felt, somehow, that she was not only indifferent but

She was a tall woman, taller, although she stooped a little, than most
of the men present. Notwithstanding her great age, she gave the
impression of extraordinary vigour. Her face was long and narrow, with a
stern, hawk-like nose, a straight, uncompromising mouth, and a
protruding chin. Her scanty, white hair was drawn tightly back from her
high forehead; a deep furrow separated her bushy, grey eyebrows and gave
an added fierceness to her small, steel-coloured eyes. An antiquated
bonnet perched perilously on the back of her head; her dress was quite
obviously shabby; and yet no one could for a moment have mistaken her
for anything but a truly great lady.

Disregarding Cyril's outstretched hand, she deliberately raised her
lorgnette and looked at him for a moment in silence.

"Well! You are a Crichton at any rate," she said at last. Having given
vent to this ambiguous remark, she waved her glasses, as if to sweep
away the rest of the company, and continued: "I wish to speak to you

Her voice was deep and harsh and she made no effort to lower it.

"So this was Anita Wilmersley's grandmother. What an old tartar!"
thought Cyril.

"It is almost time for the funeral to start," he said aloud and he tried
to convey by his manner that he, at any rate, had no intention of
allowing her to ride rough-shod over him.

"I know," she snapped, "so hurry, please. These gentlemen will excuse

"Certainly." "Of course." "We will wait in the hall." Cyril heard them
murmur and, such was the force of the old lady's personality, that
youths and grey beards jostled each other in their anxiety to get out of
the room as quickly as possible.

"Get me a chair," commanded Lady Upton. "No, not that one. I want to sit
down, not lie down."

With her stick she indicated a high, straight-backed chair, which had
been relegated to a corner.

Having seated herself, she took a pair of spectacles out of her reticule
and proceeded to wipe them in a most leisurely manner.

Cyril fidgeted impatiently.

Finally, her task completed to her own satisfaction, she adjusted her
glasses and crossed her hands over the top of her cane.

"No news of my granddaughter, I suppose," she demanded.

"None, I am sorry to say."

"Anita is a fool, but I am certain--absolutely certain, mind you--that
she did not kill that precious husband of hers, though I don't doubt he
richly deserved it."

"I am surprised that you of all people should speak of my cousin in that
tone," said Cyril and he looked at her meaningly.

"Of course, you believe what every one believes, that I forced Ann into
that marriage. Stuff and nonsense! I merely pointed out to her that she
could not do better than take him. She had not a penny to her name and
after my death would have been left totally unprovided for. I have only
my dower, as you know."

"But, how could you have allowed a girl whose mind was affected to

"Fiddlesticks! You don't believe that nonsense, do you? Newspaper
twaddle, that is all that amounts to."

"I beg your pardon, Arthur himself gave out that her condition was such
that she was unable to see any one."

"Impossible! He wrote to me quite frequently and never hinted at such a

"Nevertheless I assure you that is the case."

"Then he is a greater blackguard than I took him to be----"

"But did you not know that he kept her practically a prisoner here?"

"Certainly not!"

"And she never complained to you of his treatment of her?"

"I once got a hysterical letter from her begging me to let her come back
to me, but as the only reason she gave for wishing to leave her husband
was that he was personally distasteful to her, I wrote back that as she
had made her bed, she must lie on it."

"And even after that appeal you never made an attempt to see Anita and
find out for yourself how Arthur was treating her?"

"I am not accustomed to being cross-questioned, Lord Wilmersley. I am
accountable to no one but my God for what I have done or failed to do. I
never liked Anita. She takes after her father, whom my daughter married
without my consent. When she was left an orphan, I took charge of her
and did my duty by her; but I never pretended that I was not glad when
she married and, as she did so of her own free-will, I cannot see that
her future life was any concern of mine."

Cyril could hardly restrain his indignation. This proud, hard, selfish
old woman had evidently never ceased to visit her resentment of her
daughter's marriage on the child of that marriage. He could easily
picture the loveless and miserable existence poor Anita must have led.
Was it surprising that she should have taken the first chance that was
offered her of escaping from her grandmother's thraldom? She had
probably been too ignorant to realise what sort of a man Arthur
Wilmersley really was and too innocent to know what she was pledging
herself to.

"I have come here to-day," continued Lady Upton, "because I considered
it seemly that my granddaughter's only relative should put in an
appearance at the funeral and also because I wanted you to tell me
exactly what grounds the police have for suspecting Anita."

Cyril related as succinctly as possible everything which had so far come
to light. He, however, carefully omitted to mention his meeting with the
girl on the train. As the latter could not be Anita Wilmersley, he felt
that he was not called upon to inform Lady Upton of this episode.

"Well!" exclaimed Lady Upton, when he had finished. "All I can say is,
that Anita is quite incapable of firing a pistol at any one, even if it
were thrust into her hand. You may not believe me, but that is because
you don't know her. I do. She hasn't the spirit of a mouse. Unless
Arthur had frightened her out of her wits, she would never have screwed
up courage to leave him, and it would be just like her to crawl away in
the night instead of walking out of the front door like a sensible
person. Bah! I have no patience with such a spineless creature! You men,
however, consider it an engaging feminine attribute for a woman to have
neither character nor sense!" Lady Upton snorted contemptuously and
glared at Cyril as if she held him personally responsible for the bad
taste of his sex.

As he made no answer to her tirade, she continued after a moment more

"It seems to me highly improbable that Anita has been murdered; so I
want you to engage a decent private detective who will work only for us.
We must find her before the police do so. I take it for granted that you
will help me in this matter and that you are anxious--although,
naturally, not as anxious as I am--to prevent your cousin's widow from
being arrested."

"A woman who has been treated by her husband as Arthur seems to have
treated Anita, is entitled to every consideration that her husband's
family can offer her," replied Cyril. "I am already employing a
detective and if he finds Anita I will communicate with you at once."

"Good! Now remember that my granddaughter is perfectly sane; on the
other hand, I think it advisable to keep this fact a secret for the
present. Circumstantial evidence is so strongly against her that we may
have to resort to the plea of insanity to save her neck. That girl has
been a thorn in my flesh since the day she was born; but she shall not
be hanged, if I can help it," said Lady Upton, shutting her mouth with
an audible click.



As soon as the funeral was over, Cyril left Geralton. On arriving in
London he recognised several reporters at the station. Fearing that they
might follow him, he ordered his taxi to drive to the Carlton. There he
got out and walking quickly through the hotel, he made his exit by a
rear door. Having assured himself that he was not being observed, he
hailed another taxi and drove to the nursing home.

"Well, Mr. Thompkins," exclaimed the doctor, with ponderous
facetiousness. "I am glad to be able to tell you that Mrs. Thompkins is
much better."

"And her memory?" faltered Cyril.

"It's improving. She does not yet remember people or incidents, but she
is beginning to recall certain places. For instance, I asked her
yesterday if she had been to Paris. It suggested nothing to her, but
this morning she told me with great pride that Paris was a city and that
it had a wide street with an arch at one end. So you see she is
progressing; only we must not hurry her."

Cyril murmured a vague assent.

"Of course," continued the doctor, "you must be very careful when you
see Lady Wilmersley to restrain your emotions, and on no account to
remind her of the immediate past. I hope and believe she will never
remember it. On the other hand, I wish you to talk about those of her
friends and relations for whom she has shown a predilection. Her memory
must be gently stimulated, but on no account excited. Quiet, quiet is
essential to her recovery."

"But doctor--I must--it's frightfully important that my wife (he found
himself calling her so quite glibly) should be told of a certain fact at
once. If I wait even a day, it will be too late," urged Cyril.

"And you have reason to suppose that this communication will agitate
Lady Wilmersley?"

"I--I fear so."

"Then I can certainly not permit it. You don't seem to realise the
delicate condition of her brain. Why, it might be fatal," insisted the

Cyril felt as if Nemesis were indeed overtaking him.

"Come, we will go to her," said the doctor, moving towards the door.
"She is naturally a little nervous about seeing you, so we must not keep
her waiting."

But Cyril hung back. If he could not undeceive the poor girl, how could
he enter her presence. To pose as the husband of a woman so as to enable
her to escape arrest was excusable, but to impose himself on the
credulity of an afflicted girl was absolutely revolting. If he treated
her with even the most decorous show of affection, he would be taking a
dastardly advantage of the situation. Yet if he behaved with too much
reserve, she would conclude that her husband was a heartless brute. Her
husband! The one person she had to cling to in the isolation to which
she had awakened. It was horrible! Oh, why had he ever placed her in
such an impossible position? Arrest would have been preferable. He was
sure that she could easily have proved her innocence of whatever it was
of which she was accused, and in a few days at the latest would have
gone free without a stain on her character, while now, unless by some
miracle this episode remained concealed, she was irredeemably
compromised. He was a married man; she, for aught he knew to the
contrary, might also be bound, or at all events have a fiancé or lover
waiting to claim her. How would he view the situation? How would he
receive the explanation? Cyril shuddered involuntarily. Every minute the
chances that her secret could be kept decreased. If she did not return
to her friends while it was still possible to explain or account for the
time of her absence, he feared she would never be able to return at all.
Yes, it would take a miracle to save her now!

"Well, Lord Wilmersley?"

Cyril started. The doctor's tone was peremptory and his piercing eyes
were fixed searchingly upon him. What excuse could he give for refusing
to meet his supposed wife? He could think of none.

"I must remind you, doctor," he faltered at last, "that my wife has
lately detested me. I--I really don't think I had better see her--I--I
am so afraid my presence will send her off her head again."

The doctor's upper lip grew rigid and his eyes contracted angrily.

"I have already assured you that she is perfectly sane. It is essential
to her recovery that she should see somebody connected with her past
life. I cannot understand your reluctance to meet Lady Wilmersley."

"I--I am only thinking of the patient," Cyril murmured feebly.

"The patient is my affair," snapped the doctor.

What could he do? For an instant he was again tempted to tell
Stuart-Smith the truth. He looked anxiously at the man. No, it was
impossible. There was no loophole for escape. And after all, he
reflected, if he had an opportunity of watching the girl, she might
quite unconsciously by some act, word, or even by some subtle essence of
her personality furnish him with a clue to her past. Every occupation
leaves indelible marks, although it sometimes takes keen eyes to discern
them. If the girl had been a seamstress, Cyril believed that he would be
able by observing her closely to assure himself of the fact.

"Very well," he said aloud. "If you are willing to assume the
responsibility, I will go to my wife at once. But I insist on your being
present at our meeting."

"Certainly, if you wish it, but it is not at all necessary, I assure
you," replied the doctor.

A moment later Cyril, blushing like a schoolgirl, found himself in a
large, white-washed room. Before him on a narrow, iron bedstead lay his
mysterious _protégée_. Cyril caught his breath. He had forgotten how
beautiful she was. Her red lips were slightly parted and the colour
ebbed and flowed in her transparent cheeks. Ignoring the doctor, her
eager glance sought Cyril and for a minute the two young people gazed at
each other in silence. How young, how innocent she looked! How could any
one doubt the candour of those star like eyes, thought Cyril.

"Well, Mrs. Crichton," exclaimed Stuart-Smith, "I have brought you the
husband you have been so undutiful as to forget. 'Love, honour, and
obey, and above all remember,' I suggest as an amendment to the marriage

"Nurse has been reading me the marriage service," said the girl, with a
quaint mixture of pride and diffidence. "I know all about it now; I
don't think I'll forget again."

"Of course not! And now that you have seen your husband, do you find
that you remember him at all?"

"Yes, a little. I know that I have seen you before," she answered,
addressing Cyril.

"I gather from your manner that you don't exactly dislike him, do you?"
asked the doctor with an attempt at levity. "Your husband is so modest
that he is afraid to remain in your presence till you have reassured him
on this point."

"I love him very much," was her astounding answer.

Cyril's heart gave a bound. Did she realise what she had said? She
certainly showed no trace of embarrassment, and although her eyes clung
persistently to his, their expression of childlike simplicity was
absolutely disarming.

"Very good, very good, quite as it should be," exclaimed the doctor,
evidently a little abashed by the frankness of the girl's reply. "That
being the case, I will leave you two together to talk over old times,
although they can't be very remote. I am sure, however, that when I see
you again, you will be as full of reminiscences as an octogenarian,"
chuckled the doctor as he left the room.

Cyril and the girl were alone.

An arm-chair had been placed near the bed, obviously for his reception,
and after a moment's hesitation he took it. The girl did not speak, but
continued to look at him unflinchingly. Cyril fancied she regarded him
with something of the unquestioning reverence a small child might have
for a beloved parent. His eyes sank before hers. Never had he felt so
unworthy, so positively guilty. He racked his brains for something to
say, but the doctor's restrictions seemed to bar every topic which
suggested itself to him. If he only knew who she was! He glanced at her
furtively. In the dim light of the shaded lamp he had not noticed that
what he had supposed was her hair, was in reality a piece of black lace
bound turbanwise about her head.

"What are you wearing that bandage for?" he inquired eagerly. "Was your
head hurt--my dear?" he added diffidently.

"No--I--I hope you won't be angry--nurse said you would--but I couldn't
help it. I really had to cut it off."

"Cut what off?"

"My hair." She hung her head as a naughty child might have done.

"You cut off your hair? But why?" His voice sounded suddenly harsh.
Strange that her first act had been to destroy one of the few things by
which she could be identified. Was she as innocent as she seemed? Had
she fooled them all, even the doctor? This amnesia, or whatever it was
called, was it real, was it assumed? He wondered.

"Oh, husband, I know it was wrong; but when I woke up and couldn't
remember anything, I was so frightened, and then nurse brought me a
looking-glass and the face I saw was so strange! Oh, it was so lonely
without even myself! And then nurse said it was my hair. She said it
sometimes happened when people have had a great shock or been very ill
and so--I made her cut it off. She didn't want to--it wasn't her
fault--I made her do it."

"But what had happened to your hair?"

"It had turned quite white, most of it." The girl shuddered. "Oh, it was
horrid! I am sure you would not have liked it."

Cyril, looking into her limpid eyes, felt his sudden suspicions unworthy
of him.

"You must grow a nice new crop of black curls, if you want to appease
me," he answered.

"Oh, do you like black hair?" Her disappointment was obvious.

"Yes, don't you? Your hair was black before your illness."

"I know it was--but I hate it! At all events, as long as I must wear a
wig, I should like to have a nice yellow one; nurse tells me I can get
them quite easily."

"Dear me! But I don't think a wig nice at all."

"Don't you?" Her mouth drooped at the corners. She seemed on the verge
of tears.

What an extraordinary child! he thought. But she mustn't cry--anything
rather than that.

"My dear, if you want a wig, you shall have one immediately. Tell your
nurse to send to the nearest hairdresser for an assortment from which
you can make your choice."

"Oh, thank you, thank you," she cried, clapping her hands. Her hands!
Cyril had forgotten them for the moment, and it was through them that he
had hoped to establish her identity. He looked at them searchingly. No
ring encircled the wedding finger, nor did it show the depression which
the constant wearing of one invariably leaves. The girl was evidently
unmarried. Those long, slender, well-kept hands certainly did not look
as if they could belong to a servant, but he reflected that a
seamstress' work was not of a nature to spoil them. Only the forefinger
of her left hand would probably bear traces of needle pricks. He leaned
eagerly forward.

"What are you looking at?" she asked.

"At your hands, my dear," he tried to speak lightly.

"What is the matter with them?" She held them out for his inspection.
Yes, it was as he had expected--her forefinger was rough. She was
Priscilla Prentice. Everything had fore-warned him of this conclusion,
yet in his heart of hearts he had not believed it possible till this

"Don't you like my hands?" she asked, as she regarded them with anxious
scrutiny, evidently trying to discover why they failed to find favour in
the sight of her lord.

"They are--" He checked himself; he had almost added--the prettiest
hands in the world; but he mustn't say such things to her, not under the
circumstances. "They are very pretty, only you have sewn so much that
you have quite spoiled one little finger."

"Sewn?" She seemed struck with the idea. "Sew? I should like to sew. I
know I can."

Further proof of her identity, if he needed it.

"Well, you must get nurse to find you something on which to exercise
your talents--only you must be careful not to prick yourself so much in

"I will try, husband," she answered meekly, as she gazed solemnly at the
offending finger.

There was a pause.

"Do tell me something about my past life," said she. "I have been lying
here wondering and wondering."

"What do you want to know?"

"Everything. In the first place, are my parents living? Oh, I hope so!"

Here was a poser. Cyril had no idea whether her parents were alive or
not, but even if they were, it would be impossible to communicate with
them for the present, so he had better set her mind at rest by denying
their existence.

"No, my dear, you are an orphan, and you have neither brothers nor
sisters," he added hastily. It was just as well to put a final stop to
questions as to her family.

"Nobody of my own--nobody?"

"Nobody," he reiterated, but he felt like a brute.

"Have I any children?" was her next question.

Cyril started perceptibly.

"No, no, certainly not," he was so embarrassed that he spoke quite

"Oh, are you glad?" She stared at him in amazement and to his disgust
Cyril felt himself turning crimson.

"Now I'm sorry," she continued with a soft sigh. "I wish I had a baby. I
remember about babies."

"I--I like them, too," he hastened to assure her. Really this was worse
than he had expected.

"How long have we been married?" she demanded.

"I have been married four years," he truthfully answered, hoping that
that statement would satisfy her.

"Fancy! We have been living together for four years! Isn't it awful that
I can only remember you the very weeist little bit! But I will love,
honour, and obey you--now that I know--I will indeed."

"I am sure you will always do what is right," said Cyril with a sudden
tightening of his throat. She looked so young, so innocent, so serious.
Oh, if only----

"Bah, don't waste too much love on me. I'm an unworthy beggar," he said

"You are an unworthy husband? Oh!" She opened her eyes wide and stared
at him in consternation. "But it doesn't say anything in the prayer-book
about not loving unworthy husbands. I don't believe it makes any
difference to the vow before God. Besides you don't look unworthy--are
you sure you are?" she pleaded.

Cyril's eyes fell before her agonised gaze.

"I'll try to be worthy of you," he stammered.

"Worthy of me?" she cried with a gay, little laugh. "I'm too silly and
stupid now to be anything but a burden--I quite realise that--but the
doctor thinks I will get better and in the meantime I will try to please
you and do my duty."

Poor baby, thought Cyril, the marriage vows she imagined she had taken
seemed to weigh dreadfully on her conscience. Oh, if he could only
undeceive her!

A discreet knock sounded at the door.

The nurse made her appearance.

"The doctor thinks Mrs. Thompkins has talked enough for the present,"
she said.

Cyril rose with a curious mixture of relief and reluctance.

"Well, this must be good-bye for to-day," he said, taking her small hand
in his.

She lifted up her face--simply as a child might have done. Slowly he
leaned nearer to her, his heart was pounding furiously; the blood rushed
to his temples.

Suddenly he started back! He must not--he dare not----!

For a moment he crushed her fingers to his lips; then turning abruptly,
he strode towards the door.

"You'll come to-morrow, won't you?" she cried.

"Yes, to-morrow," he answered.


"As early as I can."

"Good-bye, husband. I will be so lonely without you," she called after
him, but he resolutely closed the door.

At the foot of the stairs a nurse was waiting for him.

"The doctor would like to speak to you for a moment," she said as she
led the way to the consulting-room.

"Well, how did you find Lady Wilmersley's memory; were you able to help
her in any way to recall the past," inquired the doctor.

Cyril was too preoccupied to notice that the other's manner was several
degrees colder than it had been on his arrival.

"I fear not." Cyril felt guiltily conscious that he was prevaricating.

"You astonish me. I confess I am disappointed. Yes, very much so. But it
will come back to her--I am sure it will."

"I say, doctor, how long do you think my wife will have to remain here?"

"No longer than she wishes to. She could be moved to-morrow, if
necessary, but I advise waiting till the day after."

"You are sure it won't hurt her?" insisted Cyril anxiously.

"Quite. In fact, the sooner Lady Wilmersley resumes her normal life the

"How soon will I be able to talk freely to her?" Cyril asked.

"That depends largely on how she progresses, but not before a month at
the earliest. By the way, Lord Wilmersley, I want you to take charge of
Lady Wilmersley's bag. The contents were too valuable to be left about;
so after taking out her toilet articles, the nurse brought it to me."

"Ah! and--and what was in the bag?" asked Cyril fearfully.

"Lady Wilmersley's jewels, of course."

Jewels! This was terrible. If they were those belonging to his cousin,
their description had been published in every paper in the kingdom. It
was a miracle that Smith had not recognised them.

"Of course," Cyril managed to stammer.

The doctor went to a safe and taking out a cheap, black bag handed it to

"I should like you, please, to see if they are all there," he said.

"That isn't the least necessary," Cyril hastened to assure him.

"You would greatly oblige me by doing so."

"I'm quite sure they are all right; besides if any are missing, they
were probably stolen in Paris," said Cyril.

"But I insist." Stuart-Smith was nothing if not persistent. His keen
eyes had noted Cyril's agitation and his reluctance to open the bag made
the doctor all the more determined to force him to do so.

But Cyril was too quick for him. Seizing the bag, he made for the door.

"I'll come back to-morrow," he cried over his shoulder, as he hurried
unceremoniously out of the room and out of the house.

A disreputable-looking man stood at the door of his waiting taxi and
obsequiously opened it. Shouting his address to the driver, Cyril flung
himself into the car and waved the beggar impatiently away.

No sooner were they in motion than Cyril hastened to open the bag. A
brown paper parcel lay at the bottom of it. He undid the string with
trembling fingers. Yes, it was as he feared--a part, if not all, of the
Wilmersley jewels lay before him.

"Give me a penny, for the love of Gawd," begged a hoarse voice at his
elbow. The beggar was still clinging to the step and his villainous face
was within a foot of the jewels.

Cyril felt himself grow cold with apprehension. The fellow knew who he
was, and followed him. He was a detective!

"A gen'lman like you could well spare a poor man a penny," the fellow
whined, but there was a note of menace in his voice. Cyril tried to get
a good look at him, but the light was too dim for him to distinguish his
features clearly.

Hastily covering the jewels, Cyril thrust a coin into the grimy hand.

"Go!" he commanded, "go, or I'll call the police."

The man sank out of sight.

"My poor little girl, my poor little girl," murmured Cyril
disconsolately, as he glanced once more at the incriminating jewels.



"You must be mad, Cyril! No sane man could have got into such a mess!"
cried Guy Campbell, excitedly pounding his fat knee with his podgy hand.

Cyril had been so disturbed by the finding of the Wilmersley jewels that
he had at last decided that he must confide his troubles to some one. He
realised that the time had come when he needed not only advice but
assistance. He was now so convinced that he was being watched that he
had fled to his club for safety. There, at all events, he felt
comparatively safe from prying eyes, and it was there in a secluded
corner that he poured his tale of woe into his friend's astonished ears.

"You must be mad," the latter repeated.

"If that is all you can find to say, I am sorry I told you," exclaimed
Cyril irritably.

"It's a jolly good thing you did! Why, you are no more fit to take care
of yourself than a new-born baby." Guy's chubby face expressed such
genuine concern that Cyril relaxed a little.

"Perhaps I've been a bit of an ass, but really I don't see what else I
could have done."

"No, don't suppose you do," said Guy, regarding Cyril with pitying

"Oh, don't rub it in! The question now is not what I ought to have done,
but what am I to do now?"

"What do you intend to do?"

"I haven't the slightest idea. I want your advice."

"Oh, no, you don't! Why, you wouldn't even listen to a sensible

"What do you call a sensible suggestion?" Cyril cautiously inquired.

"To get the girl out of the nursing home and lose her. And it ought to
be done P. D. Q., as the Americans say."

"I shall certainly do nothing of the sort."

"Exactly," cried Campbell triumphantly. "I know you, Lord Quixote; you
have some crazy plan in your head. Out with it."

"I haven't a plan, I tell you. Now as I am being followed----"

"I can't believe you are," interrupted Guy.

"I feel sure that that beggar I told you about was a detective."


"He was evidently waiting for me and I couldn't shake him off till he
had had a good look at the jewels."

"It is much more likely that he was waiting for a penny than for you,
and beggars are usually persistent. I see no possible reason why the
police should be shadowing you. It is your guilty conscience that makes
you so suspicious."

"You may be right; I certainly hope you are, but till I am sure of it, I
don't dare to run the risk of being seen with Miss Prentice. As she is
in no condition to go about alone, I have been worrying a good deal as
to how to get her out of the Home; so I thought--it occurred to
me--that--you are the person to do it."

"Thanks, awfully! So you leave me the pleasant task of running off with
a servant-girl who is 'wanted' by the police! You are really too

"Miss Prentice is a lady," Cyril angrily asserted.

"H'm," Campbell ejaculated skeptically. "That she is a beauty I do not
doubt, and she has certainly played her cards very skilfully."

"Don't you dare to speak of her like that," cried Cyril, clenching his
fists and half starting to his feet.

"By Jove, old man! You're smitten with her," exclaimed Campbell, staring
aghast at his friend.

Cyril flushed darkly under his tan.

"Certainly not, but I have the greatest respect for this unfortunate
young woman, and don't you forget it again."

Campbell smiled incredulously.

"Oh, very well! Believe what you like, but I didn't think you were the
sort of man who never credits a fellow with disinterested motives, if he
behaves half-way decently to a woman."

"Steady now, Cyril. Don't let's quarrel. You mustn't take offence so
easily. I have never seen the young lady, remember. And you know I will
help you even against my better judgment."

"You're a good chap, Guy."

"Thanks! Now let us first of all consider Miss Prentice's case
dispassionately. I want to be sure of my facts; then I may be able to
form some conjecture as to why Wilmersley was murdered and how the
jewels came into Miss Prentice's possession. You tell me that it has
been proved that she really left Geralton on the afternoon before the

"Yes; the carrier swears he drove her into Newhaven and put her down
near the station. Further than that they have luckily not been able to
trace her."

"Now your idea is that Miss Prentice, having in some way managed to
secure a car, returned to Geralton that evening and got into the castle
through the library window?"

"No, I doubt if she entered the castle. I can think of no reason why she
should have done so," said Cyril.

"In that case, how do you account for her injuries? Who could have
flogged her except your charming cousin?"

"I hadn't thought of that!" exclaimed Cyril.

"Granting that she is Priscilla Prentice, the only hypothesis I can
think of which explains her predicament is this: Having planned to
rescue her mistress, she was only waiting for a favourable opportunity
to present itself. The doctor's visit determined her to act at once. I
agree with you that to re-enter Geralton was not her original intention,
but while waiting under the library window for Lady Wilmersley to join
her, she hears Wilmersley ill-treating his wife, so she climbs in and
rushes to the latter's assistance."

"Yes, yes," assented Cyril with shining eyes.

"But she is overpowered by Wilmersley," continued Campbell, warming to
his theme, "who, insane with rage, flogs her unmercifully. Then Lady
Wilmersley, fearing the girl will be killed, seizes the pistol, which is
lying on the desk, and fires at her husband----"

"I am convinced that that is just what happened," cried Cyril.

"Don't be too sure of it; still, it seems to me that that theory hangs
together pretty well," Campbell complacently agreed. "Of course, neither
woman contemplated murder. Wilmersley's death completely unnerved them.
If the gardener's wife heard a cry coming from the car, it is possible
that one or the other had an attack of hysterics. Now about the
jewels--I believe Miss Prentice took charge of them, either because Lady
Wilmersley was unfit to assume such a responsibility or because they
agreed that she could the more easily dispose of them. I think that Miss
Prentice's hurried trip to town was undertaken not in order to avoid
arrest, but primarily to raise money, of which they must have had great
need, and possibly also to rejoin her mistress, who, now that we know
that she made her escape in a car, is probably hiding somewhere either
in London itself or in its vicinity."

"Guy, you are a wonder. You have thought of everything," cried Cyril

"Of course, I may be quite wrong. These are only suppositions,
remember," Campbell modestly reminded him. "By the way, what have you
done with the jewels? I can't believe that you are in any danger of
arrest, but if there is the remotest chance of such a thing, it wouldn't
look very well if they were found in your possession."

"I had thought of that. I was even afraid that my rooms might be
searched in my absence, so I took them with me."

"They are here?"

"Yes, in my pocket. I have hidden the bag and to-night I mean to burn

"Your pocket is not a very safe repository."

"Exactly. That is why I want you to take charge of them," said Cyril.

"Oh, very well," sighed Campbell, with mock resignation. "In for a
penny, in for a pound. I shall probably end by being arrested as a
receiver of stolen property! But now we must consider what we had better
do with Miss Prentice."

"I think I shall hire a cottage in the country for her."

"If you did that, the police would find her immediately. The only safe
hiding-place is a crowd."

"You think so?" Cyril looked doubtful.

"I am sure of it. Now let me see: Where is she least likely to attract
attention? It must be a place where you could manage to see her without
being compromised, and, if possible, without being observed. I have it!
A hotel. The Hotel George is the very place. In a huge caravansary like
that all sorts and conditions of people jostle each other without
exciting comment. Besides, the police are less likely to look among the
guests of such an expensive hotel for a poor maid servant or in such a
public resort for a fugitive from justice."

"You are right!" cried Cyril enthusiastically.

"But in her present condition," continued Campbell, "I don't see how she
could remain there alone."

"Certainly not. She must have some woman with her."

"Exactly. But what trustworthy woman could you get to undertake such a
task? Perhaps one of the nurses----"

"No," Cyril hastily interrupted him. "When she leaves the nursing home,
all trace of her must be lost. At any moment the police may discover
that a woman whom I have represented to be my wife has been a patient
there. That will naturally arouse their suspicions and they will do
their utmost to discover who it is that I am protecting with my name.
No, a nurse would never do. For one thing, she would feel called upon to
report to the doctor."

"You might bribe her not to do so," suggested Guy.

"I shouldn't dare to trust to an absolutely unknown quantity. Oh, if I
only knew a respectable woman on whom I could rely! I would pay her a
small fortune for her services."

"I know somebody who might do," said Campbell. "Her name is Miss Trevor
and she used to be my sister's governess. She is too old to teach now
and I fancy has a hard time to make both ends meet. The only trouble is
that she is so conscientious that she would rather starve than be mixed
up in anything she did not consider perfectly honourable and above
board. If I told her that she was to chaperon a young lady whom the
police were looking for, she would be so indignant that I doubt if she
would ever speak to me again."

"Why tell her?" insinuated Cyril.

"It doesn't seem decent to inveigle her by false representations into
taking a position which she would never dream of accepting if she knew
the truth."

"I will pay her £200 a year as long as she lives, if she will look after
Miss Prentice till this trouble is over. Even if the worst happens and
the girl is discovered, she can truthfully plead ignorance of the
latter's identity," urged Cyril.

"True, and two hundred a year is good pay even for unpleasant notoriety.
Yes, on the whole I think I am justified in accepting the offer for her.
But now we must consider what fairy tale we are going to concoct for her

"Oh, I don't know," sighed Cyril wearily.

"Imagination giving out, or conscience awakening--which is it?" asked

"Don't chaff!"

"Sorry, old man; but joking aside, we must really decide what we are to
tell Miss Trevor. You can no longer pose as Miss Prentice's husband----"

"Why not?" interrupted Cyril sharply.

"What possible excuse have you for doing so, now that she is to leave
the doctor's care?"

"I am sure it would have a very bad effect on Miss Prentice's health, if
I were to tell her that she is not my wife."

"H'm, h'm!" Campbell regarded his friend quizzically.

"Remember, she is completely cut off from the past," urged Cyril; "she
has neither friend nor relation to cling to. I am the one person in the
world she believes she has a claim on. I can't undeceive her. Besides,
the doctor's orders are that she shall not be in any way agitated."

"Well, that settles that question. Now what explanation will you give
Miss Trevor for not living with your wife?"

"I shall say that her state of health renders it inadvisable for the

"What shall she be called?" asked Campbell.

"I think we had better stick to Thompkins. She is accustomed to that.
Only we will spell it Tomkyns and change the Christian name to John."

"But won't she confide what she believes to be her real name to Miss
Trevor?" asked Guy anxiously.

"I think not--not if I tell her I don't wish her to do so. She has a
great idea of wifely obedience, I assure you."

"Well," laughed Guy, "that is a virtue which so few real wives possess
that it seems a pity it should be wasted on a temporary one. And now,
Cyril, we must decide on the best way and the best time for transferring
Miss Prentice to the hotel."

"Unless something unexpected occurs to change our plans, I think she had
better be moved the day after to-morrow. I advise your starting as early
as possible before the world is well awake. But I leave all details to
you. You are quite capable of managing the situation. Only be sure you
are not followed, that is all I ask."

"I don't expect we shall be, but if we are, I think I can promise to
outwit them," Campbell assured him.

"I shall never forget what you are doing for me, Guy."

"You had better not. I expect you to erect a monument commemorating my
virtues and my folly. Now I must be off. Where are those stolen goods of
which I am to become the custodian?"

"Here they are. I have done them up in several parcels, so that they are
not too bulky to carry. As I don't want the police to know how intimate
we are, it is better that we should not be seen together in public for
the present."

"I think you are over-cautious. But perhaps," agreed Campbell, "we might
as well meet here till all danger is over."

A few minutes later Cyril also left the club. His talk with Campbell had
been a great relief to him. As he walked briskly along, he felt
calm--almost cheerful.

"Isn't this Lord Wilmersley?" inquired a deep voice at his elbow.

Turning quickly Cyril recognised Inspector Griggs.

For a moment Cyril was too startled to speak. Then, pulling himself
together, he exclaimed with an attempt at heartiness:

"Why, Inspector! I thought you were in Newhaven. What has brought you to

"I only left Newhaven this afternoon, but I think my work there is
finished--for the present at least."

"Really? Have you already solved the mystery?"

"No indeed, but the clue now leads away from Geralton."

"Clue? What clue?" Cyril found it difficult to control the tremor in his

"If you'll excuse me, my lord, I had better keep my suppositions to
myself till I am able to verify them."

The man suspected him! But why? What had he discovered? Cyril felt he
could not let him go before he had ascertained exactly what he had to
fear. It was so awful, this fighting in the dark.

"If you have half an hour to spare, come to my rooms. They are only a
few doors away." Cyril was convinced that the Inspector knew where he
was staying and had been lying in wait for him. He thought it best to
pretend that he felt above suspicion.

"Thank you, my lord."

A few minutes later they were sitting before a blazing fire, the
Inspector puffing luxuriously at a cigar and sipping from time to time a
glass of whiskey and soda which Peter had reluctantly placed at his
elbow. Peter, as he himself would have put it, "did not hold with the
police," and thought his master was sadly demeaning himself by
fraternising with a member of that calling.

"I quite understand your reluctance to talk about a case," said Cyril,
reverting at once to the subject he had in mind; "but as this one so
nearly concerns my family and consequently myself, I think I have a
right to your confidence. I am most anxious to know what you have
discovered. This mystery is weighing on me. I assure you, you can rely
on my discretion."

"Well, my lord, it's a bit unprofessional, but seeing it's you, I don't
mind if I do. It's the newspaper men, I am afraid of."

"I shall not mention what you tell me to any one except possibly to one
friend," Cyril hastily assured him.

"Thank you, my lord. You see I may be all wrong, so I don't want to say
too much till I can prove my case."

"I understand that," said Cyril; "and this clue that you are
following--what is it?" he inquired with breathless impatience.

"The car, my lord," answered the Inspector, settling himself deeper in
his chair, while his eyes began to gleam with suppressed excitement.

"You have found the car in which her ladyship made her escape?"

"I don't know about that yet, but I have found the car that stood at the
foot of the long lane on the night of the murder."


"Oh, that's not so very wonderful," protested the Inspector with an
attempt at modesty, but he was evidently bursting with pride in his

"How did you do it? What had you to go on?" asked Cyril with genuine

"I began my search by trying to find out what cars had been seen in the
neighbourhood of Geralton on the night of the murder--by neighbourhood I
mean a radius of twenty-five miles. I found, as I expected, that
half-past eleven not being a favourite hour for motoring, comparatively
few had been seen or heard. Most of these turned out to be the property
of gentlemen who had no difficulty in proving that they had been used
only for perfectly legitimate purposes. There remained, however, two
cars of which I failed to get a satisfactory account. One belongs to a
Mr. Benedict, a young man who owns a place about ten miles from
Geralton, and who seems to have spent the evening motoring wildly over
the country. He pretends he had no particular object, and as he is a bit
queer, it may be true. The other car is the property of the landlord of
the Red Lion Inn, a very respectable hotel in Newhaven. I then sent two
of my men to examine these cars and report if either of them has a new
tire, for the gardener's wife swore that the car she heard had burst
one. Mr. Benedict's tires all showed signs of wear, but the Red Lion car
has a brand new one!"

"Bravo! That is a fine piece of work."

"Oh, that is nothing," replied the Inspector, vainly trying to suppress
a self-satisfied smile.

"Did you find any further evidence against this hotel-keeper? What
connection had he with the castle?" inquired Cyril.

"He knew Lord Wilmersley slightly, but says he has never even seen her
Ladyship. And I am inclined to believe him."

"In that case what part does he play in the affair?"

"None, I fancy. You see he keeps the car for the convenience of his
guests and on the day in question it had been hired by two young
Frenchmen, who were out in it from two o'clock till midnight."

"Frenchmen! But how could they have had anything to do with the

"That remains to be seen. So far all I have been able to find out about
these two men is that they landed in Newhaven ten days before the
murder. They professed to be brothers and called themselves Joseph and
Paul Durand. They seemed to be amply provided with money and wanted the
best the hotel had to offer. Joseph Durand appeared a decent sort of
fellow, but the younger one drank. The waiters fancy that the elder man
used to remonstrate with him occasionally, but the youngster paid very
little attention to him."

"You say they _professed_ to be brothers. Why do you doubt their

"For one reason, the elder one did not understand a word of English,
while the young one spoke it quite easily, although with a strong
accent. That is, he spoke it with a strong accent when he was sober, but
when under the influence of liquor this accent disappeared."

"And what has become of the pair?"

"They left Newhaven the morning after the murder. Their departure was
very hurried, and the landlord is sure that the day before they had no
intention of leaving."

"Where did they go to?"

"They took the boat to Dieppe. The porter saw them off."

"Have you been able to trace them farther?"

"Not yet, my lord, but I have sent one of my men to try and follow them
up, and I have notified the continental police to be on the look-out for
them. It's a pity that they have three days' start of us."

"But as you have an accurate description of both, I should imagine that
they will soon be found."

"It's through the young 'un they'll be caught, if they are caught."

"Why, is he deformed in any way?"

"No, my lord, but they tell me he is abnormally small for a man of his
age, for he must be twenty-two or three at the very least. The landlord
believes that he is a jockey who had got into bad habits, and that the
elder man is his trainer or backer. Of course, he may be right, but the
waiters pooh-pooh the idea. They insist that the boy is a gentleman-born
and servants are pretty good judges of such things, though you mightn't
think it, my lord."

"I can quite believe it," assented Cyril. "But then there are many
gentlemen jockeys."

"So there are. I only wish I had seen the little fellow, for they all
agree that there was something about him which would make it impossible
for any one who had once met him ever to forget him again."

"That certainly is a most unusual quality."

"So it is, my lord. They also tell me that if his eyes had not been so
bloodshot, and if he had not looked so drawn and haggard, he'd have been
an extraordinarily good-looking chap."


"Yes. It seems that he has large blue eyes, a fine little nose, not a
bit red as you would expect, and as pretty a mouth as ever you'd see.
His hair is auburn and he wears it rather long, which I don't think he'd
do if he were a jockey. Besides, his skin is as fine as a baby's, though
its colour is a grey-white with only a spot of red in the middle of each

"He must be a queer-looking beggar!"

"That's just it. That's why I think we shall soon spot him."

"What did the elder Durand look like?"

"The ordinary type of Frenchman. He is about twenty-eight years old,
medium height, and inclined to be stout. He has dark hair, a little thin
at the temples, dark moustache, and dark eyes. His features are

"On the night of the murder you say they returned to the hotel at about

"Somewhere around then."

"Was their behaviour in any way noticeable?"

"The porter was so sleepy that he can't remember much about it. He had
an impression that they came in arm in arm and went quietly upstairs."

"They were alone?"


"But what do you think they had done with Lady Wilmersley?"

"But, my lord, you didn't expect that they would bring her to the hotel,
did you? If they were her friends, their first care would be for her
safety. If they were not--well, we will have to look for another victim,
that is all."

"You think that there is that possibility?" inquired Cyril eagerly.

"I do, my lord." The Inspector rose ponderously to his feet. "I mustn't
keep you any longer." He hesitated a moment, eyeing Cyril doubtfully.
There was evidently still something he wished to say.

Cyril had also risen to his feet and stood leaning against the
mantelpiece, idly wondering at the man's embarrassment.

"I trust her Ladyship has quite recovered?" the Inspector finally
blurted out.



Cyril felt the muscles of his face stiffen. He had for days been
dreading some such question, yet now that it had finally come, it had
found him completely unprepared. He must parry it if he could. He must
fight for her till the last ditch.

But how devilishly clever of Griggs to have deferred his attack until he
was able to catch his adversary off his guard! Cyril looked keenly but,
he hoped, calmly at the Inspector. Their eyes met, but without the clash
which Cyril had expected. The man's expression, although searching, was
not hostile; in fact, there was something almost apologetic about his
whole attitude. Griggs was not sure of his ground, that much was
obvious. He knew something, he probably suspected more, but there was
still a chance that he might be led away from the trail.

Cyril's mind worked with feverish rapidity. He realised that it was
imperative that his manner should appear perfectly natural. But how
would an innocent man behave? He must first decide what his position,
viewed from Griggs's standpoint, really was. He must have a definite
conception of his part before he attempted to act it.

The Inspector evidently knew that a young woman, who bore Cyril's name,
had been taken ill on the Newhaven train. He was no doubt also aware
that she was now under the care of Dr. Stuart-Smith. But if the
Inspector really believed the girl to be his wife, these facts were in
no way incriminating. Yet the man smelt a rat! He must, therefore, know
more of the truth. No, for if he had discovered that the girl was not
Lady Wilmersley, Cyril was sure that Griggs would not have broached the
subject so tentatively. What then had aroused the man's suspicions? Ah,
he had it! He had told every one who inquired about his wife that she
was still on the continent. Peter, also, obeying his orders, had
repeated the same story in the servants' hall. And, of course, Griggs
knew that they were both lying. No wonder he was suspicious!

"She is much better, thank you. But how did you hear of her illness? I
have not mentioned it to any one." Cyril flattered himself that his
voice had exactly the right note of slightly displeased surprise. He
watched the Inspector breathlessly. Had he said the right thing? Yes,
for Griggs's expression relaxed and he answered with a smile that was
almost deprecating:

"I, of course, saw the report of the man who searched the train, and I
was naturally surprised to find that the only lady who had taken her
ticket in Newhaven was Mrs. Cyril Crichton. In a case like this we have
to verify everything, so when I discovered that the gentleman who was
with her, was undoubtedly your Lordship, it puzzled me a good deal why
both you and your valet should be so anxious to keep her Ladyship's
presence in England a secret."

"Yes, yes, it must have astonished you, and I confess I am very sorry
you found me out," said Cyril. He had his cue now. The old lie must be
told once more. "Her Ladyship is suffering from a--a nervous affection."
He hesitated purposely. "In fact--she has just left an insane asylum,"
he finally blurted out.

"You mean that the present Lady Wilmersley--not the Dowager--?" The
Inspector was too surprised to finish his sentence.

"Yes, it's queer, isn't it, that both should be afflicted in the same
way," agreed Cyril, calmly lighting a cigarette.

"Most remarkable," ejaculated Griggs, staring fixedly at Cyril.

"As the doctors believe that her Ladyship will completely recover, I
didn't want any one to know that she had ever been unbalanced. But I
might have known that it was bound to leak out."

"We are no gossips, my lord; I shall not mention what you have told me
to any one."

"Thanks. But if the whole police department----?"

"They have got too much to do, to bother about what doesn't concern
them. I don't believe a dozen of them noticed that in searching the
train for one Lady Wilmersley, they had inadvertently stumbled on
another, and as the latter had nothing to do with their case, they
probably dismissed the whole thing from their minds. I know them!"

"But you--" suggested Cyril.

"Well, you see, it's different with me. It's the business of my men to
bring me isolated facts, but I have to take a larger view of
the--the--the--ah--possibilities. I have got to think of
everything--suspect every one."

"Even me?" asked Cyril quickly.

"Your Lordship would have no difficulty in proving an alibi."

"So you took the trouble to find that out?"

"Of course, my lord."

"But why? I should really like to know what could have led you to
suspect me?"

"I didn't suspect you, my lord. I only thought of you. You see, Lady
Wilmersley must have had an accomplice and you must acknowledge that it
was a strange coincidence that your Lordship should have happened to
pass through Newhaven at that particular moment, especially as the
Newhaven route is not very popular with people of your means."

"Quite so. As a matter of fact, I had no intention of taking it, but I
missed the Calais train."

"I see," Griggs nodded his head as if the explanation fully satisfied
him. "Would you mind, my lord," he continued after a brief pause, "if,
now that we are on the subject, I asked you a few questions? There are
several points which are bothering me. Of course, don't answer, if you
had rather not."

"You mean if my answers are likely to incriminate me. Well, I don't
think they will, so fire ahead," drawled Cyril, trying to express by his
manner a slight weariness of the topic.

"Thank you, my lord." Griggs looked a trifle abashed, but he persisted.
"I have been wondering how it was that you met her Ladyship in Newhaven,
if you had no previous intention of taking that route?"

Cyril was ready with his answer.

"It was quite accidental. The fact is, her Ladyship escaped from an
asylum near Fontainebleau over a fortnight ago. I scoured France for her
but finally gave up the search, and leaving the French detectives to
follow up any clue that might turn up, I decided almost on the spur of
the moment to run over to England. I was never more astonished than when
I found her on the train."

"Why had she gone to Newhaven?" asked Griggs.

"I have no idea."

"Nor how long she stayed there?"

"No. She was rather excited and I asked no questions."

"Had she ever before visited Newhaven to your knowledge?"


"Then she did not know the late Lord Wilmersley?"


"Was there any reason for this?" inquired the detective, looking keenly
at Cyril.

"I was never very friendly with my cousin, and we sailed for South
Africa immediately after our marriage. Neither of us has been home since

"I must find out where she spent the night of the murder," murmured the
Inspector. He seemed to have forgotten Cyril's presence.

"If you think her Ladyship had anything to do with the tragedy, I assure
you, you are on the wrong track," cried Cyril, forgetting for a moment
his pose of polite aloofness. "She has never been at all violent. It is
chiefly her memory that is affected. Until the last few days what she
did one minute, she forgot the next."

"You think, therefore, that she would not be able to tell me how she
spent her time in Newhaven?"

"I am sure of it."

"That is most unfortunate! By the way, how has she taken the news of
Lord Wilmersley's murder?"

"She has not been told of it. She does not even know that he is dead."


"I see I must explain her case more fully, so that you may be able to
understand my position. Her Ladyship's mind became affected about six
months ago, owing to causes into which I need not enter now. Since her
arrival in England her improvement has been very rapid. Her memory is
growing stronger, but it is essential that it should not be taxed for
the present. The doctor assures me that if she is kept perfectly quiet
for a month or so, she will recover completely. That is why I want her
to remain in absolute seclusion. An incautious word might send her off
her balance. She must be protected from people, and I will protect her,
I warn you of that. Six weeks from now, if all goes well, you can
cross-question her, if you still think it necessary, but at present I
not only forbid it, but I will do all in my power to prevent it. Of
course," continued Cyril more calmly, "I have neither the power nor the
desire to hamper you in the exercise of your profession; so if you doubt
my statements just ask Dr. Stuart-Smith whether he thinks her Ladyship
has ever been in a condition when she might have committed murder. He
will laugh at you, I am sure."

"I don't doubt it, my lord; all the same--" Griggs hesitated.

"All the same you would like to know what her Ladyship did on the night
of the murder. Well, find out, if you can. I assure you that although
our motives differ, my curiosity equals yours."

"Thank you, my lord. I shall certainly do my best to solve the riddle,"
said the Inspector as he bowed himself out.

Cyril sank wearily into a chair. The interview had been a great strain,
and yet he felt that in a way it had been a relief also. He flattered
himself that he had played his cards rather adroitly. For now that he
had found out exactly how much the police knew, he might possibly
circumvent them. Of course, it was merely a question of days, perhaps
even of hours, before Griggs would discover that the girl was not his
wife; for the Inspector was nothing if not thorough and if he once began
searching Newhaven for evidence of her stay there, Cyril was sure that
it would not take him long to establish her identity. Oh! If he only had
Griggs fighting on his side, instead of the little pompous fool of a
Judson! By the way, what could have become of Judson? It was now two
full days since he had left Geralton. He certainly ought to have
reported himself long before this. Well, it made no difference one way
or the other. He was a negligible quantity. Cyril had no time to think
of him now. His immediate concern was to find a way by which Priscilla
could be surreptitiously removed from the nursing home, before the
police had time to collect sufficient evidence to warrant her arrest.
But how was it to be done? Cyril sat for half an hour staring at the
smouldering fire before he was able to hit on a plan that seemed to him
at all feasible.

Going to the writing-table, he rapidly covered three sheets and thrust
them into an envelope.

"Peter," he called.

"Yes, sir," answered a sleepy voice.

"You are to take this letter at half-past seven o'clock to-morrow
morning to Mr. Campbell's rooms and give it into his own hands. If he is
still asleep, wake him up. Do you understand?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Very well. You can go to bed now----"

It was lucky, thought Cyril, that he had taken Guy into his confidence.
He was a good chap, Guy was! How he must hate the whole business! For,
notwithstanding his careless manner, he was _au fond_ a conventional
soul. It was really comical to think of that impeccable person as a
receiver of stolen property. What would he do with the jewels, Cyril
wondered. Ah, that reminded him of the bag. He must get rid of it at
once. Poking the fire into a blaze, he cautiously locked the two doors
which connected his rooms with the rest of the house. Then, having
assured himself that the blinds were carefully drawn and that no one was
secreted about the premises, he knelt down before the empty fireplace in
his bedroom and felt up the chimney.

The bag was no longer there!



In the grey dawn of the following morning Cyril was already up and
dressed. The first thing he did was to detach two of the labels affixed
to his box and place them carefully in his pocketbook. That
accomplished, he had to wait with what patience he could muster until
Peter returned with Campbell's reply. Cyril perused it eagerly. It was
evidently satisfactory, for he heaved a sigh of relief as he sat down to
breakfast. His eyes, however, never left the clock and it had hardly
finished striking nine before our hero was out of the house. No
suspicious person was in sight, but Cyril, was determined to take no
chances. He therefore walked quickly ahead, then turned so abruptly that
he would necessarily have surprised any one who was following him. This
he did many times till he reached Piccadilly Circus, where, with a last
look behind him, he bolted into a shop. There he asked for a small
travelling box suitable for a lady. Having chosen one, he took his
labels out of his pocket.

"Have these pasted on the box," he ordered.

The man's face expressed such amazement that Cyril hastened to remark
that the box was intended for a bride who did not wish to be identified
as such by the newness of her baggage. A comprehending and sympathetic
smile proved that the explanation was satisfactory. A few minutes later
Cyril drove off with his new acquisition. The next purchase was a
handsomely-fitted lady's dressing-bag, which he took to Trufitt's and
filled with such toilet accessories as a much-befrizzled young person
designated as indispensable to a lady's comfort. On leaving there he
stopped for a moment at his bank.

Cyril now metaphorically girded his loins and summoning up all his
courage, plunged into a shop in Bond Street, where he remembered his
mother used to get what she vaguely termed "her things." Among the maze
of frou-frous he stood in helpless bewilderment, till an obsequious
floor-walker came to his rescue. Cyril explained that he had a box
outside which he wanted to fill then and there with a complete outfit
for a young lady. To his relief the man showed no surprise at so unusual
a request and he was soon ensconced in the blessed seclusion of a
fitting room. There the box was hurriedly packed with a varied
assortment of apparel, which he devoutly prayed would meet with
Priscilla's approval. It was not half-past eleven. The doctor must have
left the nursing home by this time, thought Cyril.

Not wishing to attract attention by driving up to the door, he told the
chauffeur to stop when they were still at some distance away from it.
There he got out and looked anxiously about him. To his relief he
recognised Campbell's crimson pate hovering in the distance. So far,
thought Cyril triumphantly, there had been no hitch in his
carefully-laid plans.

"You are to wait here," he said, turning to the driver, "for a lady and
a red-haired gentleman. Now understand, no one but a red-haired man is
to enter this car. Here is a pound, and if you don't make a mess of
things, the other gentleman will give you two more."

"All right, sir; thank you, sir," exclaimed the astonished chauffeur,
greedily pocketing the gold piece.

Cyril was certain that he had not been followed, and there was no sign
that the nursing home was being watched, but that did not reassure him.
Those curtained windows opposite might conceal a hundred prying eyes.

When he was ushered into Miss Prentice's room, he was surprised to find
her already up and dressed. She held a mirror in one hand and with the
other was arranging a yellow wig, which encircled her face like an
aureole. Cyril could hardly restrain a cry of admiration. He had thought
her lovely before, but now her beauty was absolutely startling.

On catching sight of him she dropped the mirror and ran to him with
outstretched hands.

"Oh! I am so glad you have come. How do you like my hair?" she exclaimed
all in one breath.

Cyril heroically disengaged himself from her soft, clinging clasp and
not daring to allow his eyes to linger on her upturned face, he surveyed
the article in question judicially.

"For a wig it's not bad. I can't say, however, that I like anything
artificial," he asserted mendaciously.

"You prefer my own hair!" she cried, and the corners of her mouth began
to droop in a way he had already begun to dread. "Oh! what shall I do?
Nurse tells me it will take ages and ages for it to grow again."

"There, there, my dear, it's all right. You look lovely--" he paused

"Oh, do I?" she cried, beaming with delight. "I am so glad you think

"It doesn't matter what I think."

"But it does," she insisted.

Cyril turned resolutely away. This sort of thing must stop, he

"I would like to ask you one thing." She hesitated a moment. "Are we
very poor?"

"No, why?"

"Then I could afford to have some pretty clothes?"


"Oh, I'm so glad! I can't bear the ones I have on. I can't think why I
ever bought anything so ugly. I shall throw them away as soon as I can
get others. By the way, where is my box? Nurse tells me that I arrived
here with nothing but a small hand-bag."

"It has gone astray," he stammered. "It will turn up soon, no doubt, but
in the meantime I have bought a few clothes for your immediate use."

"Oh, have you? Where are they?" she cried, clapping her hands.

Now was the crucial moment. He must introduce the subject of her
departure tactfully.

"They are outside in a cab."

She ran to the window.

"But I see no cab."

"It is waiting a little farther down the street."

She looked bewildered.

"Farther down--why?"

"You trust me, don't you?" he said, looking earnestly at her.

"Yes, of course."

"Then, believe me, it is necessary for you to leave this place
immediately. I--you--are being pursued by some one who--who wishes to
separate us."

"Oh, no, not that!" she cried. "But how can any one separate us, when
God has joined us together?"

"It's a long story and I have no time to explain it now. All I ask is
that you will trust me blindly for the present, and do exactly what I
tell you to."

"I will," she murmured submissively.

"Thank you. Will you please call your nurse?"

She touched a bell.

The same middle-aged woman appeared of whom he had caught a glimpse on
his former visit.

"Good-morning, nurse. Your patient seems pretty fit to-day."

"Mrs. Thompkins is recovering very rapidly."

"Can I speak to the doctor?" asked Cyril.

"I am sorry, but he has just left."

"Too bad!" Cyril knitted his brows as if the doctor's absence was an
unexpected disappointment. "Mrs. Thompkins must leave here at once and I
wanted to explain her precipitate departure to him."

"You might telephone," suggested the nurse.

"Yes, or better still, I shall call at his office. But his absence
places me in a most awkward predicament."

Cyril paced the room several times as if in deep thought, then halted
before the nurse.

"Well, there is no help for it. As the doctor is not here, I must
confide in you. Thompkins is not our real name. The doctor knows what
that is and it was on his advice that we discarded it for the time
being. I can't tell you our reason for this concealment nor why my wife
must not only leave this house as soon as possible, but must do so
unobserved. Will you help us?"

"I--I don't know, sir," answered the nurse dubiously, staring at Cyril
in amazement.

"If you will dress my wife in a nurse's uniform and see that she gets
out of here without being recognised, I will give you £100. Here is the

The nurse gave a gasp and backed away from the notes, which Cyril held
temptingly toward her.

"Oh, I couldn't, sir, really I couldn't. The doctor would never forgive
me. Besides it seems so queer."

"I promise you on my word of honour that the doctor need never know that
you helped us."

But the woman only shook her head.

"What makes you hesitate?" continued Cyril. "Do you think I am trying to
bribe you to do something dishonourable? Ah, that is it, is it?" He gave
a short laugh. "Look at my wife, does she look like a criminal, I ask

"She certainly doesn't," answered the nurse, glancing eagerly from one
to the other and then longingly down at the money in Cyril's hand.

"Well, then, why not trust your instinct in the matter? My wife and I
have been placed, through no fault of our own, in a very disagreeable
position. You will know the whole story some day, but for the present my
lips are sealed. International complications might arise if the truth
leaked out prematurely." Cyril felt that the last was a neat touch, for
the woman's face cleared and she repeated in an awe-struck voice:
"International complications!"

"Germany! I can say no more," added Cyril in a stage whisper.

"Ah! The wretches!" cried the nurse. "One never knows what they will be
at next. Of course I will help you. I ought to have known at once that
it was sure to be all right. Any one can see that you are a gentleman--a
soldier, I dare say?"

"Never mind who or what I am. It is better that you should be able
truthfully to plead your complete ignorance. Now as to the uniform; have
you one to spare?"

"Yes, indeed. I will go and get it immediately."

"All this mystery frightens me," exclaimed Priscilla as soon as they
were alone.

"You must be brave. Now listen attentively to what I am saying. On
leaving here----"

"Oh, aren't you going with me?" she asked.

"No, we must not be seen together, but I will join you later."

"You will not leave me alone again?"

"Not for long."


"I promise."

"Very well, now tell me what I am to do."

"On leaving this house you are to turn to your right and walk down the
street till you see a taxi with a box on it. A friend of mine, Guy
Campbell, will be inside. You can easily recognise him; he has red hair.
Campbell will drive you to a hotel where a lady is waiting for you and
where you are to stay till I can join you. If there should be any hitch
in these arrangements, go to this address and send a telegram to me at
the club. I have written all this down," he said, handing her a folded

The nurse returned with her arms full of clothes.

"Have you a thick veil?" asked Cyril.

"There is a long one attached to the bonnet, but we never pull it over
our faces, and I am afraid if Mrs. Thompkins did so, it would attract

"Yet something must be done to conceal her face."

The nurse thought for a moment.

"Leave that to me, sir. I used to help in private theatricals once upon
a time."

"That is splendid! I will go downstairs now and wait till you have got
Mrs. Thompkins ready."

"Give me a quarter of an hour and you will be astonished at the result."
She seemed to have thrown her whole heart into the business.

When Cyril returned, he found Priscilla really transformed. Her yellow
curls had been plastered down on either side of her forehead. A pair of
tinted spectacles dimmed the brilliancy of her eyes and her dark,
finely-arched eyebrows had been rendered almost imperceptible by a
skilful application of grease and powder. With a burnt match the nurse
had drawn a few faint lines in the girlish face, so that she looked at
least ten years older, and all this artifice was made to appear natural
by means of a dingy, black net veil. A nurse's costume completed the

"You have done winders, nurse. I can't thank you enough," he exclaimed.

"Don't I look a fright?" cried Priscilla a little ruefully.

"No, you don't. That is just where the art comes in. You are not
noticeable one way or the other. It is admirable. And now you had better
be going."

The nurse peered into the hall.

"There is no one about just now. I will take Mrs. Thompkins to the front
door. If we are seen, it will be supposed that she is some friend of
mine who has been calling on me. I will watch till I see her safely in
the car," the nurse assured him.


"By the way, as I have to pretend not to know of my patient's departure,
I had better not return till you have left."

"All right. Good-bye, nurse. I shall stay here a quarter of an hour so
as to give you a good start. Good-bye, my dear."

The next fifteen minutes seemed to Cyril the longest he had ever spent.
He did not even dare to follow Priscilla's progress from the window.
Watch in hand he waited till the time was up and then made his way
cautiously out of the house without, as luck would have it, encountering
any one.

The taxi was no longer in sight! With a light heart Cyril walked briskly
to the doctor's office.

"Well, Lord Wilmersley, what brings you here?" asked the doctor, when
Cyril was finally ushered into the august presence.

"I have called to tell you that my wife has left the nursing home,"
Cyril blurted out.

"Impossible!" cried the doctor. "She was quite calm this morning. The
nurse would----"

"The nurse had nothing to do with it," interrupted Cyril hastily. "It
was I who took her away."

"You? But why this haste? I thought you had decided to wait till

"For family reasons, which I need not go into now, I thought it best
that she should be removed at once."

"And may I know where she is?" inquired the doctor, looking searchingly
at Cyril.

"I intend to take her to Geralton--in--in a few days."

"Indeed!" The doctor's upper lip lengthened perceptibly.

"So you do not wish me to know where you have hidden her."

"Hidden her?" Cyril raised his eyebrows deprecatingly. "That is a
strange expression to use. It seems to me that a man has certainly the
right to withhold his wife's address from a comparative stranger without
being accused of hiding her. You should really choose your words more
carefully, my dear sir."

The doctor glared at Cyril for a moment, then rising abruptly he paced
the room several times.

"It's no use," he said at last, stopping in front of Cyril. "You can't
persuade me that there is not some mystery connected with Lady
Wilmersley. And I warn you that I have determined to find out the

Cyril's heart gave an uncomfortable jump, but he managed to keep his
face impassive.

"A mystery? What an amusing idea! A man of your imagination is really
wasted in the medical profession. You should write, my dear doctor, you
really should. But, granting for the sake of argument that I have
something to conceal, what right have you to try to force my confidence?
My wife's movements are surely no concern of yours."

"One has not only the right, but it becomes one's obvious duty to
interfere, when one has reason to believe that by doing so one may
prevent the ill-treatment of a helpless woman."

"Do you really think I ill-treat my wife?"

"I think it is possible. And till I am sure that my fears are unfounded,
I will not consent to Lady Wilmersley's remaining in your sole care."

"Do you mind telling me what basis you have for such a monstrous
suspicion?" asked Cyril very quietly.

"Certainly. You bring me a young lady who has been flogged. You tell me
that she is your wife, yet you profess to know nothing of her injuries
and give an explanation which, although not impossible, is at all events
highly improbable. This lady, who is not only beautiful but charming,
you neglect in the most astonishing manner. No, I am not forgetting that
you had other pressing duties to attend to, but even so, if you had
cared for your wife, you could not have remained away from her as you
did. It was nothing less than heartless to leave a poor young woman, in
the state she was in, alone among strangers. Your letter only partially
satisfied me. Your arguments would have seemed to me perfectly
unconvincing, if I had not been so anxious to believe the best. As it
was, although I tried to ignore it, a root of suspicion still lingered
in my mind. Then, when you finally do turn up, instead of hurrying to
your wife's bedside you try in every way to avoid meeting her till at
last I have to insist upon your doing so. I tell you, that if she had
not shown such marked affection for you, I should have had no doubt of
your guilt."

"Nonsense! Do I look like a wife-beater?"

"No, but the only murderess I ever knew looked like one of Raphael's

"Thanks for the implication." Cyril bowed sarcastically.

"The more I observed Mrs. Thompkins," continued the doctor, "the more I
became convinced that a severe shock was responsible for her amnesia,
and that she had never been insane nor was she at all likely to become

"Even physicians are occasionally mistaken in their diagnosis, I have
been told."

"You are right; that is why I have given you the benefit of the doubt,"
replied the doctor calmly. "This morning, however, I made a discovery,
which practically proves that my suspicions were not unfounded."

"And pray what is this great discovery of yours?" drawled Cyril.

"I had been worrying about this case all night, when it suddenly
occurred to me to consult the peerage. I wanted to find out who Lady
Wilmersley's people were, so that I might communicate with them if I
considered it necessary. The first thing I found was that your wife was
born in 18--, so that now she is in her twenty-eighth year. My patient
is certainly not more than twenty. How do you account for this
discrepancy in their ages?"

Cyril forced himself to smile superciliously.

"And is my wife's youthful appearance your only reason for doubting her

The doctor seemed a little staggered by Cyril's nonchalant manner.

"It is my chief reason, but as I have just taken the trouble to explain,
not my only one."

"Oh, really! And if she is not my wife, whom do you suspect her of

"I have no idea."

"You astonish me." In trying to conceal his agitation Cyril
unfortunately assumed an air of frigid detachment, which only served to
exasperate the doctor still further.

"Your manner is insulting, my lord."

"Your suspicions are so flattering!" drawled Cyril.

The doctor glared at Cyril for a moment but seemed at a loss for a
crushing reply.

"You must acknowledge that appearances are against you," he said at
last, making a valiant effort to control his temper. "If you are a man
of honour, you ought to appreciate that my position is a very difficult
one and to be as ready to forgive me, if I have erred through excessive
zeal, as I shall be to apologise to you. Now let me ask you one more
question. Why were you so anxious that I should not see the jewels?"

"Oh, had you not seen them? I thought, of course, that you had. I
apologise for not having satisfied your curiosity."

There was a short pause during which the doctor looked long and
searchingly at Cyril.

"I can't help it. I feel that there is something fishy about this
business. You can't convince me to the contrary."

"I was not aware that I was trying to do so."

The doctor almost danced with rage.

"Lord Wilmersley--for I suppose you are Lord Wilmersley?"

"Unless I am his valet, Peter Thompkins."

"I know nothing about you," cried the doctor, "and you have succeeded to
your title under very peculiar circumstances, my lord."

"So you suspect me not only of flogging my wife but of murdering my
cousin!" laughed Cyril. "My dear doctor, don't you realise that if there
were the slightest grounds for your suspicions, the police would have
put me under surveillance long ago. Why, I can easily prove that I was
in Paris at the time of the murder."

"Oh, you are clever! I don't doubt that you have an impeccable alibi.
But if I informed the police that you were passing off as your wife a
girl several years younger than Lady Wilmersley, a girl, moreover, who,
you acknowledged, joined you at Newhaven the very morning after the
murder--if I told them that this young lady had in her possession a
remarkable number of jewels, which she carried in a cheap, black
bag--what do you think they would say to that, my lord?"

Cyril felt cold chills creeping down his back and the palms of his hands
grew moist. Not a flicker of an eyelash, however, betrayed his inward
tumult. "They would no doubt pay as high a tribute to your imagination
as I do," he answered.

Then, abandoning his careless pose, he sat up in his chair.

"You have been insulting me for the last half-hour, and I have borne it
very patiently, partly because your absurd suspicions amused me, and
partly because I realised that, although you are a fool, you are an
honest fool."

"Sir!" The doctor turned purple in the face.

"You can hardly resent being called a fool by a man you have been
accusing of murder and wife-beating. But I don't want you to go to the
police with this cock-and-bull story----"

"Ah! I thought not," sneered the doctor.

"Because," continued Cyril, ignoring the interruption, "I want to
protect my wife from unpleasant notoriety, and also, although you don't
deserve it, to keep you from becoming a public laughing stock. So far
you have done all the talking; now you are to listen to me. Sit down.
You make me nervous strutting about like that. Sit down, I tell you.
There, that's better. Now let us see what all this rigmarole really
amounts to. You began by asking for my wife's address, and when I did
not immediately gratify what I considered your impertinent curiosity,
you launch forth into vague threats of exposure. As far as I can make
out from your disjointed harangue, your excuse for prying into my
affairs is that by doing so you are protecting a helpless woman from
further ill-treatment. Very well. Granting that you really suppose me to
be a brute, your behaviour might be perfectly justified if--if you
believed that your patient is my wife. But you tell me that you do not.
You think that she is either my mistress or my accomplice, or both. Now,
if she is a criminal and an immoral woman, you must admit that she has
shown extraordinary cleverness, inasmuch as she succeeded not only in
eluding the police but in deceiving you. For the impression she made on
you was a very favourable one, was it not? She seemed to you unusually
innocent as well as absolutely frank, didn't she?"

"Yes," acknowledged the doctor.

"Now, if she was able to dupe so trained an observer as yourself, she
must be a remarkable woman, and cannot be the helpless creature you
picture her, and consequently would be in no danger of being forced to
submit to abuse from any one."

"True," murmured the doctor.

"But I think I can prove to you that you were not mistaken in your first
estimate of her character. This illness of hers--was it real or could it
have been feigned?"

"It was real. There is no doubt about that."

"You saw her when she was only semi-conscious, when she was physically
incapable of acting a part--did she during that time, either by word or
look, betray moral perversity?"

"She did not." The doctor's anger had abated and he was listening to
Cyril intently.

"How, then, can you doubt her? And if she is what she seems, she is
certainly neither my mistress nor a thief; and if she is not the one nor
the other, she must be my wife, and if you go to the police with your
absurd suspicions, you will only succeed in making yourself ridiculous."

There was a pause during which the two men eyed each other keenly.

"You make a great point of the fact that my wife had in her possession a
number of valuable ornaments," continued Cyril. "But why should she not?
My wife insisted on having all her jewelry with her at Charleroi, and
when she escaped from there, they were among the few things she took
with her. The excitement of meeting her so unexpectedly and her sudden
illness made me forget all about them, otherwise I would have taken them
out of the bag, which, as you may have noticed, was not even locked. But
the very fact that I did forget all about them and allowed them to pass
through the hands of nurses and servants, that alone ought to convince
you that I did not come by them dishonestly. You had them for days in
your possession; yet you accuse me of having prevented you from
examining them. That is really ridiculous! Your whole case against me is
built on the wildest conjectures, from which you proceed to draw
perfectly untenable inferences. My wife looks young for her age, I grant
you; but even you would not venture to swear positively that she is not
twenty-eight. You fancied that I neglected her; consequently I am a
brute. She is sane now; so you believe that she has never been
otherwise. You imagined that I did not wish you to examine the contents
of my wife's bag, therefore the Wilmersley jewels must have been in it."

"What you say sounds plausible enough," acknowledged the doctor, "and it
seems impossible to associate you with anything cruel, mean, or even
underhand, and yet--and yet--I have an unaccountable feeling that you
are not telling me the truth. When I try to analyse my impressions, I
find that I distrust not you but your story. You have, however,
convinced me that I have no logical basis for my suspicions. That being
the case, I shall do nothing for the present. But, if at the end of a
fortnight I do not hear that Lady Wilmersley has arrived in England, and
has taken her place in the world, then I shall believe that my instinct
has not been at fault, and shall do my best to find out what has become
of her, even at the risk of creating a scandal or of being laughed at
for my pains. But I don't care, I shall feel that I have done my duty.
In the meantime I shall write to Dr. Monet. Now I have given you a fair
warning, which you can act on as you see fit."

What an unerring scent the man had for falsehood, thought Cyril with
unwilling admiration. It was really wonderful the way he disregarded
probabilities and turned a deaf ear to reason. He was a big man, Cyril
grudgingly admitted.

"I suppose you will not believe me if I tell you that I have no personal
animosity toward you, Lord Wilmersley?"

"I know that. And some day we'll laugh over this episode together,"
replied Cyril, with a heartiness which surprised himself.

"Now that is nice of you," cried the doctor. "My temper is rather hasty,
I am sorry to say, and though I don't remember all I said just now, I am
sure, I was unnecessarily disagreeable."

"Well, I called you a fool," grinned Cyril.

"So you did, so you did, and may I live to acknowledge that I richly
deserve the appellation."

And so their interview terminated with unexpected friendliness.



In his note to Guy, Cyril had asked the latter to join him at his club
as soon as he had left Priscilla at the hotel, and so when the time
passed and his friend neither came nor telephoned, Cyril's anxiety knew
no bounds.

What could have happened? thought Cyril. Had Priscilla been arrested? In
that case, however, Guy would surely have communicated with him at once,
for the police could have had no excuse for detaining the latter.

Several acquaintances he had not seen for years greeted him cordially,
but he met their advances so half-heartedly that they soon left him to
himself, firmly convinced that the title had turned his head. Only one,
an old friend of his father's, refused to be shaken off and sat prosing
away quite oblivious of his listener's preoccupation till the words
"your wife" arrested Cyril's wandering attention.

"Yes," the Colonel was saying, "too bad that you should have this added
worry just now. Taken ill on the train, too--most awkward."

Cyril was so startled that he could only repeat idiotically: "My wife?"

"Am I wrong?" exclaimed the Colonel, evidently at a loss to understand
Cyril's perturbation. "Your wife is in town, isn't she, and ill?"

What should he answer? He dared not risk a denial.

"Who told you that she was ill?" he asked.

"It was in the morning papers. Didn't you see it?"

"In the papers!"

Cyril realised at once that he ought to have foreseen that this was
bound to have occurred. Too many people knew the story for it not to
have leaked out eventually.

"I have not had time to read them to-day," replied Cyril as soon as he
was able to collect his wits a little. "What did they say?"

"Only that your wife had been prostrated by the shock of Wilmersley's
murder, and had to be removed from the train to a nursing home."

"It's a bore that it got into the papers. My wife is only suffering from
a slight indisposition and will be all right in a day or two," Cyril
hastened to assure him.

"Glad to hear it. I must meet her. Where is she staying at present?"

"She--she is still at the nursing home--but she is leaving there
to-morrow." Then fearing that more questions were impending, Cyril
seized the Colonel's hand and shaking it vehemently exclaimed: "I must
write some letters. So glad to have had this chat with you," and without
giving the Colonel time to answer, he fled from the room.

Cyril looked at his watch. Ten minutes to three! Guy must have met with
an accident. Suddenly an alarming possibility occurred to him,--what if
the police had traced the jewels to Campbell? The bag, which had
disappeared, must have been taken by them. Griggs, when he inquired so
innocently about "Lady Wilmersley," had been fully cognisant of the
girl's identity. What was to be done now? He could not remain passive
and await developments. He must--was that--could that be Campbell
sauntering so leisurely toward him? Indeed it was!

"What has happened?" asked Cyril in a hoarse whisper, dragging his
friend into a secluded corner. "Tell me at once."

"Nothing, my dear boy. I am afraid I kept you waiting longer than I
intended to. I hope you have not been anxious?" Guy seemed, however,
quite unconcerned.

"Anxious!" exclaimed Cyril indignantly. "Well, rather! How could you
have kept me in such suspense? Why didn't you come to me at once on
leaving Miss Prentice?"

"But I did. I have just left her."

"And she is really all right? The governess, Miss What's her name, is
with her?"

"Certainly. But I didn't want to leave Mrs. Thompkins alone with a
stranger in a strange place, so I stayed and lunched with them."

Cyril almost choked with rage. _He_ had had no lunch at all. He had been
too upset to think of such a thing and all the time they--oh! It was too
abominable! Campbell was a selfish little brute. He would never forgive
him, thought Cyril, scowling down at the complacent offender. For he was
complacent, that was the worst of it. From the top of his sleek, red
head to the tips of his immaculate boots, he radiated a triumphant
self-satisfaction. What was the matter with the man? wondered Cyril. He
seemed indefinably changed. There was a jauntiness about him--a light in
his eyes which Cyril did not remember to have noticed before. And what
was the meaning of those two violets drooping so sentimentally in his
buttonhole? Cyril stared at the flowers as if hypnotised.

"So you liked Miss Prentice?" he managed to say, controlling himself
with an effort.

"Rather! But I say, Cyril, it's all rot about her being that Prentice

"Ah, you think so?"

"I don't think--I know. Why, she speaks French like a native."

"How did you find that out?" asked Cyril, forgetting his indignation in
his surprise at this new development.

"We had a duffer of a waiter who understood very little English, so Mrs.
Thompkins spoke to him in French, and such French! It sounded like the
real thing."

Cyril was dumfounded. How could a girl brought up in a small inland
village, which she had left only six months before, have learnt French?
And then he remembered that the doctor had told him that she had
retained a dim recollection of Paris. Why had the significance of that
fact not struck him before?

"But if she is not Priscilla Prentice, who on earth can she be? She
can't be Anita Wilmersley!" he exclaimed.

"Of course not. She--she--" Guy paused at a loss for a suggestion.

"And yet, if she is not the sempstress, she must be Anita!"


"Because of the jewels in her bag."

"I don't believe they are the Wilmersley jewels----"

"There is no doubt as to that. I have the list somewhere and you can
easily verify it."

"Then the bag is not hers. It may have been left in the seat by some one

"She opened it in my presence."

"But you proved to me last night that she could not be Lady Wilmersley,"
insisted Guy.

"So I did. Anita has masses of bright, yellow hair. This girl's hair is

"Well, then----"

"There seems no possible explanation to the enigma," acknowledged Cyril.

"Perhaps she wore a wig."

"She did not. When she fainted I loosened her veil and a strand of her
hair caught in my fingers. It was her own, I can swear to that."

"She may have dyed it."

"I never thought of that," exclaimed Cyril. "No, I don't think she could
have had time to dye it. It takes hours, I believe. At nine, when she
was last seen, she had made no attempt to alter her appearance. Now
Wilmersley was----"

"Hold on," cried Guy. "You told me, did you not, that she had cut off
her hair because it had turned white?"

"Yes," assented Cyril.

"Very well, then, that disposes of the possibility of its having been

"So it does. And yet, she carried the Wilmersley jewels, that is a fact
we must not forget."

"Then she must be a hitherto unsuspected factor in the case."

"Possibly, and yet---"

"Yet what?"

"I confess I have no other solution to offer. Oh, by the way, what is
the number of her room?"

Guy stiffened perceptibly.

"I don't think I remember it."

"How annoying! I particularly asked you to make a note of it!"

"Oh, did you?" Guy's face was averted and he toyed nervously with his

"Of course I did. You must realise--in fact we discussed it
together--that I must be able to see her."

"As there is nothing that you can do for her, why should you compromise
her still further?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you ought not to take further advantage of her peculiar
affliction so as to play the part of a devoted husband."

"This is outrageous--" began Cyril, but Campbell cut him short.

"While you fancied that she was in need of your assistance, I grant that
there was some excuse for your conduct, but to continue the farce any
longer would be positively dishonourable."

Cyril was so surprised at Campbell's belligerent tone that for a moment
it rendered him speechless. From a boy Guy had always been his humble
admirer. What could have wrought this sudden change in him? wondered
Cyril. Again his eyes lingered on the violets. It was not possible! And
yet Cyril had often suspected that under Guy's obvious shrewdness there
lurked a vein of romanticism. And as Cyril surveyed his friend, his
wrath slowly cooled. For the first time it occurred to him that
Campbell's almost comic exterior must be a real grief to a man of his
temperament. His own appearance had always seemed to Cyril such a
negligible quantity that he shrank from formulating even in his own mind
the reason why he felt that it would be absurd to fear Guy as a rival. A
man who is not to be feared is a man to be pitied, and it was this
unacknowledged pity, together with a sudden suspicion of the possible
tragedy of his friend's life, which allayed Cyril's indignation and made
him finally reply gently:

"I think you are mistaken. I am sure she still needs me."

"She does not. Miss Trevor and I are quite able to look after her."

"I don't doubt your goodwill, my dear Guy, but what about her feelings?"

"Feelings! I like that! Do you fancy that her feelings are concerned? Do
you imagine that she will be inconsolable at your absence?"

"You appear to forget that she believes me to be her husband. Her
pride--her vanity will be hurt if I appear to neglect her." Cyril still
spoke very quietly.

"Then I will tell her the truth at once," exclaimed Campbell.

"And risk the recurrence of her illness? Remember the doctor insisted
that she must on no account be agitated."

"Why should it agitate her to be told that you are not her husband? I
should think it would be a jolly sight more agitating to believe one's
self bound to a perfect stranger. It is a wonder it has not driven the
poor child crazy."

"Luckily she took the sad news very calmly," Cyril could not refrain
from remarking. Really, Guy was intolerable and he longed with a
primitive longing to punch his head. But he had to control himself. Guy
was capable of being nasty, if not handled carefully. So he hastily

"How can you undeceive her on one point without explaining the whole
situation to her?"

"I--" began Guy, "I--" He paused.

"Exactly. Even you have no solution to offer. Even you have to
acknowledge that the relief of knowing that she is not my wife might be
offset by learning not only that we are quite in the dark as to who she
is, but that at any moment she may be arrested on a charge of murder."

"I don't know what to do!" murmured Guy helplessly.

"Do nothing for the present."

"Nothing!" exclaimed Guy. "Nothing! And leave you to insinuate yourself
into her--affections! She must be told the truth some day, but by that
time she may have grown to--to--love you." Guy gulped painfully over the
word. "You are a married man. That fact evidently seems 'too trifling'
to be considered, but I fancy she will not regard it as casually as you

"This is absurd," began Cyril, but Guy intercepted him.

"You feel free to do as you please because you expect to get a divorce,
but you have not got it yet, remember, and in the meantime your wife may
bring a countersuit, naming Miss--Mrs. Thompkins as corespondent."

This suggestion staggered Cyril for a moment.

"And in that case," continued Campbell, "she would probably think that
she ought to marry you. After having been dragged through the filth of a
divorce court, she would imagine herself too besmirched to give herself
to any other man. And your wealth, your title, and your precious self
may not seem to her as desirable as you suppose. She is the sort of girl
who would think them a poor exchange for the loss of her reputation and
her liberty of choice. When she discovers how you have compromised her
by your asinine stupidity, I don't fancy that she will take a lenient
view of your conduct."

"You seem to forget that if I had not shielded her with my name, she
would undoubtedly have been arrested on the train."

"Oh, I don't doubt you meant well."

"Thanks," murmured Cyril sarcastically.

"All I say is that you must not see her again till this mystery is
cleared up. I didn't forget about the number of her apartment, but I
wasn't going to help you to sneak in to her at all hours. Now, if you
want to see her, you will have to go boldly up to the hotel and have
yourself properly announced. And I don't think you will care about

"I promised to see her. I shall not break my word."

"I don't care a fig for your promises. You shan't see her as long as she
believes you to be her husband."

Luckily the room was empty, for both men had risen to their feet.

"I shall see her," repeated Cyril.

"If you do, I warn you that I shall tell her the truth and risk the
consequences. She shall not, if I can help it, be placed in a position
where she will be forced to marry a man who has, after all, lived his
life. She ought--" Guy paused abruptly.

"She ought, in other words, to be given the choice between my battered
heart and your virgin affections. Is that it?"

"I mean----"

"Oh, you have made your meaning quite clear, I assure you!" interrupted
Cyril. "But what you have been saying is sheer nonsense. You have been
calling me to account for things that have not happened, and blaming me
for what I have not done. She is not being dragged through the divorce
court, and I see no reason to suppose that she ever will be. I am not
trying to force her to marry me, and can promise that I shall never do
so. Far from taking advantage of the situation, I assure you my conduct
has been most circumspect. Don't cross a bridge till you get to it, and
don't accuse a man of being a cad just because--" Cyril paused abruptly
and looked at Guy, and as he did so, his expression slowly relaxed till
he finally smiled indulgently--"just because a certain lady is very
charming," he added.

But Guy was not to be pacified. He would neither retract nor modify his
ultimatum. He knew, of course, that Cyril would not dare to write the
girl; for if the letter miscarried or was found by the police, it might
be fatal to both.

But while they were still heatedly debating the question, a way suddenly
occurred to Cyril by which he could communicate with her with absolute
safety. So he waited placidly for Guy to take himself off, which he
eventually did, visibly elated at having, as he thought, effectually put
a stop to further intercourse between the two. He had hardly left the
club, however, before Cyril was talking to Priscilla over the telephone!
He explained to her as best he could that he had been called out of town
for a few days, and begged her on no account to leave her apartments
till he returned. He also tried to impress on her that she had better
talk about him as little as possible and above all things not to mention
either to Campbell or Miss Trevor that she had heard from him and
expected to see him before long.

It cost Cyril a tremendous effort to restrict himself to necessary
instructions and polite inquiries, especially as she kept begging him to
come back to her as soon as possible. Finally he could bear the strain
no longer, and in the middle of a sentence he resolutely hung up the



When Cyril arrived in Newhaven that evening, he was unpleasantly
surprised to find, as he got out of the train, that Judson had been
travelling in the adjoining compartment. Had the man been following him,
or was it simply chance that had brought them together, he wondered. Oh!
If he could only get rid of the fellow!

"You have come to see me, I suppose," he remarked ungraciously.

"Yes, my lord."

"Very well, then, get into the car."

Cyril was in no mood to talk, so the first part of the way was
accomplished in silence, but at last, thinking that he might as well
hear what the man had to say, he turned to him and asked:

"Have you found out anything of any importance?"

"I fancy so, my lord."

"Really! Well, what is it?"

"If you will excuse me, my lord, I should suggest that we wait till we
get to the castle," replied Judson, casting a meaning look at the
chauffeur's back.

"Just as you please." His contempt for Judson was so great that Cyril
was not very curious to hear his revelations.

"Now," said Cyril, as he flung himself into a low chair before the
library fire, "what have you to tell me?"

Before answering Judson peered cautiously around; then, drawing forward
a straight-backed chair, he seated himself close to Cyril and folded his
hands in his lap.

"In dealing with my clients," he began, "I make it a rule instead of
simply stating the results of my work to show them how I arrive at my
conclusions. Having submitted to them all the facts I have collected,
they are able to judge for themselves as to the value of the evidence on
which my deductions are based. And so, my lord, I should like to go over
the whole case with you from the very beginning."

Cyril gave a grunt which Judson evidently construed into an assent, for
he continued even more glibly:

"The first point I considered was, whether her Ladyship had premeditated
her escape. But in order to determine this, we must first decide whom
she could have got to help her to accomplish such a purpose. The most
careful inquiry has failed to reveal any one who would have been both
willing and able to do so, except the sempstress, and as both mistress
and maid disappeared almost simultaneously, one's first impulse is to
take it for granted that Prentice was her Ladyship's accomplice. This is
what every one, Scotland Yard included, believes."

"And you do not?"

"Before either accepting or rejecting this theory, I decided to visit
this girl's home. I did not feel clear in my mind about her. All the
servants were impressed by her manner and personality, the butler
especially so, and he more than hinted that there must be some mystery
attached to her. One of the things that stimulated their curiosity was
that she kept up a daily correspondence with some one in Plumtree. On
reaching the village I called at once on the vicar. He is an elderly
man, much respected and beloved by his parishioners. I found him in a
state of great excitement, having just read in the paper of Prentice's
disappearance. I had no difficulty in inducing him to tell me the main
facts of her history; the rest I picked up from the village gossips. The
girl is a foundling. And till she came to Geralton she was an inmate of
the vicar's household. He told me that he would have adopted her, but
knowing that he had not sufficient means to provide for her future, he
wisely refrained from educating her above her station. Nevertheless, I
gathered that the privilege of his frequent companionship had refined
her speech and manners, and I am told that she now could pass muster in
any drawing-room."

"Did she ever learn French?" interrupted Cyril, eagerly.

"Not that I know of, and I do not believe the vicar would have taught
her an accomplishment so useless to one in her position."

"Did she ever go to France?"

"Never. But, why do you ask?"

"No matter--I--but go on with your story."

"Owing partly to the mystery which surrounded her birth and gave rise to
all sorts of rumours, and partly to her own personality, the gentry of
the neighbourhood made quite a pet of her. As a child she was asked
occasionally to play with the Squire's crippled daughter and later she
used to go to the Hall three times a week to read aloud to her. So,
notwithstanding the vicar's good intentions, she grew up to be neither
'fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring.' Now all went well till about
a year ago, when the Squire's eldest son returned home and fell in love
with her. His people naturally opposed the match and, as he is entirely
dependent upon them, there seemed no possibility of his marrying her.
The girl appeared broken-hearted, and when she came to the castle, every
one, the vicar included, thought the affair at an end. I am sure,
however, that such was not the case, for as no one at the vicarage wrote
to her daily, the letters she received must have come from her young
man. Furthermore, she told the servants that she had a cousin in
Newhaven, but as she has not a relative in the world, this is obviously
a falsehood. Who, then, is this mysterious person she visited? It seems
to me almost certain that it was her lover."

"Possibly," agreed Cyril. "But I don't quite see what you are trying to
prove by all this. If Prentice did not help her Ladyship to escape, who

"I have not said that Prentice is not a factor in the case, only I
believe her part to have been a very subordinate one. Of one thing,
however, I am sure, and that is that she did not return to Geralton on
the night of the murder."

"How can you be sure of that?" demanded Cyril.

"Because she asked for permission early in the morning to spend the
night in Newhaven and had already left the castle before the doctors'
visit terminated. Now, although I think it probable that her Ladyship
may for a long time have entertained the idea of leaving Geralton, yet I
believe that it was the doctors' visit that gave the necessary impetus
to convert her idle longing into definite action. Therefore I conclude
that Prentice could have had no knowledge of her mistress's sudden

"But how can you know that the whole thing had not been carefully

"Because her Ladyship showed such agitation and distress at hearing the
doctors' verdict. If her plans for leaving the castle had been
completed, she would have accepted the situation more calmly."

"Has nothing been heard of these doctors?"

"Nothing. We have been able to trace them only as far as London. They
could not have been reputable physicians or they would have answered our
advertisements, and so I am inclined to believe that you were right and
that it was his Lordship who spread the rumours of her Ladyship's

"I am sure of it," said Cyril.

"Very good. Assuming, therefore, that Lady Wilmersley is sane, we will
proceed to draw logical inferences from her actions." Judson paused a
moment before continuing: "Now I am convinced that the only connection
Prentice had with the affair was to procure some clothes for her
mistress, and these had probably been sometime in the latter's

"H'm!" ejaculated Cyril sceptically. "I think it would have been pretty
difficult to have concealed anything from that maid of hers."

"Difficult, I grant you, but not impossible, my lord."

"But if Prentice had no knowledge of the tragedy, why did she not return
to the castle? What has become of her? Why have the police been unable
to find her?"

"I believe that she joined her lover and that they are together on the
continent, for in Plumtree I was told that the young man had recently
gone to Paris. As I am sure that she knows nothing of any importance, I
thought it useless to waste time and money trying to discover their
exact locality. That the police have not succeeded in finding her, I
ascribe to the fact that they are looking for a young woman who left
Newhaven after and not before the murder."

"You think she left before?"

"Yes, and I have two reasons for this supposition. First, I can discover
no place where he or she, either separately or together, could have
spent the night. Secondly, if they had left Newhaven the following
morning or in fact at any time after the murder, they would certainly
have been apprehended, as all the boats and trains were most carefully

"But no one knew of her disappearance till twenty-four hours later, and
during that interval she could easily have got away unobserved."

"No, my lord, there you are mistaken. From the moment that the police
were notified that a crime had been committed, every one, especially
every woman, who left Newhaven was most attentively scrutinised."

"You are certain that Prentice could not have left Newhaven unnoticed,
yet her Ladyship managed to do so! How do you account for that?"

The detective paused a moment and looked fixedly at Cyril.

"Her Ladyship had a very powerful protector, my lord," he finally said.

"A protector! Who?"

Again the detective did not reply immediately.

"It's no use beating about the bush, my lord, I know everything."

"Well then, out with it," cried Cyril impatiently. "What are you
hesitating for? Have you found her Ladyship or have you not?"

"I have, my lord."

"You have! Then why on earth didn't you tell me at once? Where is she?"
cried Cyril.

There was a pause during which the detective regarded Cyril through
narrowed lids.

"She is at present at the nursing home of Dr. Stuart-Smith," he said at

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Cyril, sinking back into his chair and negligently
lighting another cigarette. "I thought you had discovered something. You
mean my wife, Lady Wilmersley----"

"Pardon me for interrupting you, my lord. I don't make mistakes like
that. I repeat, the Dowager Lady Wilmersley is under the care of Dr.

The man's tone was so assured that Cyril was staggered for a moment.

"It isn't true," he asserted angrily.

"Is it possible that you really do not know who the lady is that you
rescued that day from the police?" exclaimed the detective, startled out
of his habitual impassivity.

"I confess that I do not. But of one thing I am sure, and that is that
she is not the person you suppose."

"Well, my lord, I must say that you have surprised me. Yet I ought to
have guessed it. It was stupid of me, very."

"I tell you that you are on the wrong track. Lady Wilmersley has golden
hair. Well, this lady's hair is black."

"She has dyed it."

"She has not, for it has turned completely white," exclaimed Cyril,

"Did she tell you so?"


"Her Ladyship is cleverer than I supposed," remarked the detective with
a pitying smile.

"I am not such a fool as you seem to think," retorted Cyril. "And I can
assure you that the lady in question is incapable of deception."

"All I can say is, my lord, that I am absolutely sure of her Ladyship's
identity and that you yourself gave me the clue to her whereabouts."


"I of course noticed that when you heard her Ladyship had golden hair,
you were not only extremely surprised but also very much relieved. I at
once asked myself why such an apparently trivial matter should have so
great and so peculiar an effect on you. As you had never seen her
Ladyship, I argued that you must that very day have met some one you had
reason to suppose to be Lady Wilmersley and that this person had dark
hair. By following your movements from the time you landed I found that
the only woman with whom you had come in contact was a young lady who
had joined you in Newhaven, and that she answered to the description of
Lady Wilmersley in every particular, with the sole exception that she
had dark hair! I was, however, told that you had said that she was your
wife and had produced a passport to prove it. Now I had heard from your
valet that her Ladyship was still in France, so you can hardly blame me
for doubting the correctness of your statement. But in order to make
assurance doubly sure, I sent one of my men to the continent. He
reported that her Ladyship had for some months been a patient at
Charleroi, but had recently escaped from there, and that you are still
employing detectives to find her."

"I did not engage you to pry into my affairs," exclaimed Cyril savagely.

"Nor have I exceeded my duty as I conceive it," retorted the detective.
"As your Lordship refused to honour me with your confidence, I had to
find out the facts by other means; and you must surely realise that
without facts it is impossible for me to construct a theory, and till I
can do that my work is practically valueless."

"But my wife has nothing to do with the case."

"Quite so, my lord, but a lady who claimed to be her Ladyship is
intimately concerned with it."

"I repeat that is all nonsense."

"If your Lordship will listen to me, I think I can prove to you that as
far as the lady's identity is concerned, I have made no mistake. But to
do this convincingly, I must reconstruct the tragedy as I conceive that
it happened."

"Go ahead; I don't mind hearing your theory."

"First, I must ask you to take it for granted that I am right in
believing that Prentice was ignorant of her Ladyship's flight."

"I will admit that much," agreed Cyril.

"Thank you, my lord. Now let us try and imagine exactly what was her
Ladyship's position on the night of the murder. Her first care must have
been to devise some means of eluding his Lordship's vigilance. This was
a difficult problem, for Mustapha tells me that his Lordship was not
only a very light sleeper but that he suffered from chronic insomnia.
You may or may not know that his Lordship had long been addicted to the
opium habit and would sometimes for days together lie in a stupor. Large
quantities of the drug were found in his room and that explains how her
Ladyship managed to get hold of the opium with which she doctored his
Lordship's coffee."

"This is, however, mere supposition on your part," objected Cyril.

"Not at all, my lord. I had the sediment of the two cups analysed and
the chemist found that one of them contained a small quantity of opium.
Her Ladyship, being practically ignorant as to the exact nature of the
drug and of the effect it would have on a man who was saturated with it,
gave his Lordship too small a dose. Nevertheless, he became immediately

"Now, how on earth can you know that?"

"Very easily, my lord. If his Lordship had not been rendered at once
unconscious, he would--knowing that an attempt had been made to drug
him--have sounded the alarm and deputed Mustapha to guard her Ladyship,
which was what he always did when he knew that he was not equal to the

"Well, that sounds plausible, at all events," acknowledged Cyril.

"As soon as her Ladyship knew that she was no longer watched," continued
the detective, "she at once set to work to disguise herself. As we know,
she had provided herself with clothes, but I fancy her hair, her most
noticeable feature, must have caused her some anxious moments."

"She may have worn a wig," suggested Cyril, hoping that Judson would
accept this explanation of the difficulty, in which case he would be
able triumphantly to demolish the latter's theory of the girl's
identity, by stating that he could positively swear that her hair was
her own.

"No, my lord. After carefully investigating the matter I have come to
the conclusion that she did not. And my reasons are, first, that no
hairdresser in Newhaven has lately sold a dark wig to any one, and,
secondly, that no parcel arrived, addressed either to her Ladyship or to
Prentice, which could have contained such an article. On the other hand,
as his Lordship had for years dyed his hair and beard, her Ladyship had
only to go into his dressing-room to procure a very simple means of
transforming herself."

"But doesn't it take ages to dye hair?" asked Cyril.

"If it is done properly, yes; but the sort of stain his Lordship used
can be very quickly applied. I do not believe it took her Ladyship more
than half an hour to dye enough of her hair to escape notice, but in all
probability she had no time to do it very thoroughly and that which
escaped may have turned white. I don't know anything about that."

This was a possibility which had not occurred to Cyril; but still he
refused to be convinced.

"Very well, my lord. Let me continue my story: Before her Ladyship had
completed her preparations, his Lordship awoke from his stupor."

"What makes you think that?"

"Because, if his Lordship had not tried to prevent her escape, she would
have had no reason for killing him. Probably they had a struggle, her
hand fell on the pistol, and the deed was done----"

"But what about the ruined picture?"

"Her Ladyship, knowing that there was no other portrait of her in
existence, destroyed it in order to make it difficult for the police to
follow her."

"H'm," grunted Cyril. "You make her Ladyship out a nice, cold-blooded,
calculating sort of person. If you think she at all resembles the young
lady at the nursing home, I can only tell you that you are vastly

"As I have not the honour of knowing the lady in question, I cannot form
any opinion as to that. But let us continue: I wish to confess at once
that I am not at all sure how her Ladyship reached Newhaven. That
waiting automobile complicates matters. On the face of it, it seems as
if it must have some connection with the case. I have also a feeling
that it has, and yet for the life of me I cannot discover the connecting
link. Whatever the younger man was, the elder was undoubtedly a
Frenchman, and I have ascertained that with the exception of an old
French governess, who lived with her Ladyship before her marriage, and
of Mustapha and Valdriguez, Lady Wilmersley knew no foreigner whatever.
Besides, these two men seem to have been motoring about the country
almost at random, and it may have been the merest accident which brought
them to the foot of the long lane just at the time when her Ladyship was
in all probability leaving the castle. Whether they gave her a lift as
far as Newhaven, I do not know. How her Ladyship reached the town
constitutes the only serious--I will not call it break--but hiatus--in
my theory. From half-past six the next morning, however, her movements
can be easily followed. A young lady, dressed as you know, approached
the station with obvious nervousness. Three things attracted the
attention of the officials: first, the discrepancy between the
simplicity, I might almost say the poverty, of her clothes, and the fact
that she purchased a first-class ticket; secondly, that she did not wish
her features to be seen; and thirdly, that she had no luggage except a
small hand-bag. How her Ladyship managed to elude the police, and what
has subsequently occurred to her, I do not need to tell your Lordship."

"You haven't in the least convinced me that the young lady is her
Ladyship, not in the least. You yourself admit that there is a hiatus in
your story; well, that hiatus is to me a gulf which you have failed to
bridge. Because one lady disappears from Geralton and another appears
the next morning in Newhaven, you insist the two are identical. But you
have not offered me one iota of proof that such is the case."

"What more proof do you want? She is the only person who left Newhaven
by train or boat who even vaguely resembled her Ladyship."

"That means nothing. Her Ladyship may not have come to Newhaven at all,
but have been driven to some hiding-place in the Frenchman's car."

"I think that quite impossible, for every house, every cottage, every
stable and barn even, for twenty-five miles around, has been carefully
searched. Besides, this would mean that the murder had been premeditated
and the coming of the motor had been pre-arranged; and lastly, as the
gardener's wife testifies that the car left Geralton certainly no
earlier than eleven-thirty, and as the two men reached the hotel before
twelve, this precludes the possibility that they could have done more
than drive straight back to the Inn, as the motor is by no means a fast

"But, my man, they may have secreted her Ladyship in the town itself and
have taken her with them to France the next morning."

"Impossible. In the first place, they left alone, the porter saw them
off; and secondly, no one except the two Frenchmen purchased a ticket
for the continent either in the Newhaven office or on the boat."

Cyril rose from his seat. Judson's logic was horribly convincing; no
smallest detail had apparently escaped him. As the man piled argument on
argument, he had found himself slowly and grudgingly accepting his

"As you are in my employ, I take it for granted that you will not inform
the police or the press of your--suspicions," he said at last.

"Certainly not, my lord. On the other hand, I must ask you to allow me
to withdraw from the case."

"But why?" exclaimed Cyril.

"Because my duty to you, as my client, prevents me from taking any
further steps in this matter."

"I don't understand you!"

"I gather that you are less anxious to clear up the mystery than to
protect her Ladyship. Am I not right?"

"Yes," acknowledged Cyril.

"You would even wish me to assist you in providing a safe retreat for


"Well, my lord, that is just what I cannot do. It is my duty, as I
conceive it, to hold my tongue, but I should not feel justified in
aiding her Ladyship to escape the consequences of her--her--action. In
order to be faithful to my engagement to you, I am willing to let the
public believe that I have made a failure of the case. I shall not even
allow my imagination to dwell on your future movements, but more than
that I cannot do."

"You take the position that her Ladyship is an ordinary criminal, but
you must realise that that is absurd. Even granting that she is
responsible for her husband's death--of which, by the way, we have no
absolute proof--are you not able to make allowances for a poor woman
goaded to desperation by an opium fiend?"

"I do not constitute myself her Ladyship's judge, but I don't think your
Lordship quite realises all that you are asking of me. Even if I were
willing to waive the question of my professional honour, I should still
decline to undertake a task which, I know, is foredoomed to failure.
For, if _I_ discovered Lady Wilmersley with so little difficulty,
Scotland Yard is bound to do so before long. The trail is too
unmistakable. It is impossible--absolutely impossible, I assure you,
that the secret can be kept."

Cyril moved uneasily.

"I wish I could convince your Lordship of this and induce you to allow
the law to take its course. Her Ladyship ought to come forward at once
and plead justifiable homicide. If she waits till she is arrested, it
will tell heavily against her."

"But she is ill, really ill," insisted Cyril. "Dr. Stuart-Smith tells me
that if she is not kept perfectly quiet for the next few weeks, her
nervous system may never recover from the shock."

"H'm! That certainly complicates the situation; on the other hand, you
must remember that discovery is not only inevitable but imminent, and
that the police will not stop to consider her Ladyship's nervous system.
No, my lord, the only thing for you to do is to break the news to her
yourself and to persuade her to give herself up. If you don't, you will
both live to regret it."

"That may be so," replied Cyril after a minute's hesitation, "but in
this matter I must judge for myself. I still hope that you are wrong and
that either the young woman in question is not Lady Wilmersley or that
it was not her Ladyship who killed my cousin, and I refuse to jeopardise
her life till I am sure that there is no possibility of your having made
a mistake. But don't throw up the case yet. So far you have only sought
for evidence which would strengthen your theory of her Ladyship's guilt,
now I want you to look at the case from a fresh point of view. I want
you to start all over again and to work on the assumption that her
Ladyship did not fire the shot. I cannot accept your conclusion as final
till we have exhausted every other possibility. These Frenchmen, for
instance, have they or have they not a connection with the case? And
then there is Valdriguez. Why have you never suspected her? At the
inquest she acknowledged that no one had seen her leave her Ladyship's
apartments and we have only her word for it that she spent the evening
in her room."

"True. But, if I went on the principle of suspecting every one who
cannot prove themselves innocent, I should soon be lost in a quagmire of
barren conjectures. Of course, I have considered Valdriguez, but I can
find no reason for suspecting her."

"Well, I could give you a dozen reasons."

"Indeed, my lord, and what are they?"

"In the first place, we know that she is a hard, unprincipled woman, or
she would never have consented to aid my cousin in depriving his
unfortunate wife of her liberty. A woman who would do that, is capable
of any villainy. Then, on the witness-stand didn't you feel that she was
holding something back? Oh, I forgot you were not present at the

"I was there, my lord, but I took good care that no one should recognise

"Well, and what impression did she make on you?"

"A fairly favourable one, my lord. I think she spoke the truth and I
fancy that she is almost a religious fanatic."

"You don't mean to say, Judson, that you allowed yourself to be taken in
by her sanctimonious airs and the theatrical way that she kept clutching
at that cross on her breast? A religious fanatic indeed! Why, don't you
see that no woman with a spark of religion in her could have allowed her
mistress to be treated as Lady Wilmersley was?"

"Quite so, my lord, and it is because Valdriguez impressed me as an
honest old creature that I am still doubtful whether her Ladyship is
insane or not, and this uncertainty hampers me very much in my work."

"Lady Upton assured me that her granddaughter's mind had never been
unbalanced and that his Lordship, although he frequently wrote to her,
had never so much as hinted at such a thing; and if you believe the
young lady at the nursing home to be Lady Wilmersley, I give you my word
that she shows no sign of mental derangement."

"Well, that seems pretty final, and yet--and yet--I cannot believe that
Valdriguez is a vicious woman. A man in my profession acquires a curious
instinct in such matters, my lord." The detective paused a moment and
when he began again, he spoke almost as if he were reasoning with
himself. "Now, if my estimate of Valdriguez is correct, and if it is
also a fact that Lady Wilmersley has never been insane, there are
certainly possibilities connected with this affair which I have by no
means exhausted--and so, my lord, I am not only willing but anxious to
continue on the case, if you will agree to allow me to ignore her
Ladyship's existence."

"Certainly. But tell me, Judson, how can you hope to reconcile two such
absolutely contradictory facts?"

"Two such apparently contradictory facts," gently corrected the
detective. "Well, my lord, I propose to find out more of this woman's
antecedents. I have several times tried to get her to talk, but so far
without the least success. She says that she will answer any question
put to her on the witness-stand, but that it is against her principles
to gossip about her late master and mistress. She is equally reticent as
to her past life and when I told her that her silence seemed to me very
suspicious, she demanded--suspicious of what? She went on to say that
she could not see that it was anybody's business, where she lived or
what she had done, and that she had certainly no intention of gratifying
my idle curiosity; and that was the last word I could get out of her.
Although she treated me so cavalierly, I confess to a good deal of
sympathy with her attitude."

"Have you questioned Mrs. Eversley about her?" asked Cyril. "She was
housekeeper here when Valdriguez first came to Geralton and ought to be
able to tell you what sort of person she was in her youth."

"Mrs. Eversley speaks well of her. The only thing she told me which may
have a bearing on the case is, that in the old days his Lordship
appeared to admire Valdriguez very much."

"Ah! I thought so," cried Cyril.

"But we cannot be too sure of this, my lord. For when I tried to find
out what grounds she had for her statement, she had so little proof to
offer that I cannot accept her impression as conclusive evidence. As far
as I can make out, the gossip about them was started by his Lordship
going to the Catholic church in Newhaven."

"By going to the Catholic church!" exclaimed Cyril.

"Exactly. Not a very compromising act on his Lordship's part, one would
think. But as his Lordship was not a Catholic, his doing so naturally
aroused a good deal of comment. At first the neighbourhood feared that
he had been converted by his mother, who had often lamented that she had
not been allowed to bring up her son in her own faith. It was soon
noticed, however, that whenever his Lordship attended a popish service,
his mother's pretty maid was invariably present, and so people began to
put two and two together and before long it was universally assumed that
she was the magnet which had drawn him away from his own church. I asked
Mrs. Eversley if they had been seen together elsewhere, and she
reluctantly admitted that they had. On several occasions they were seen
walking in the Park but always, so Mrs. Eversley assured me, in full
view of the castle. She had felt it her duty to speak to Valdriguez on
the subject, and the latter told her that his Lordship was interested in
her religion and that she was willing to run the risk of having her
conduct misconstrued if she could save his soul from eternal damnation.
She also gave Mrs. Eversley to understand that she had her mistress's
sanction, and as her Ladyship treated Valdriguez more as a companion and
friend than as a maid, Mrs. Eversley thought this quite likely and did
not venture to remonstrate further. So the intimacy, if such it could be
called, continued as before. What the outcome of this state of things
would have been we do not know, for shortly afterwards both Lord and
Lady Wilmersley died and Valdriguez left Geralton. When his Lordship
went away a few weeks later, a good many people suspected that he had
joined her on the continent. Mrs. Eversley, however, does not believe
this. She has the most absolute confidence in Valdriguez's virtue, and I
think her testimony is pretty reliable."

"Bah! Mrs. Eversley is an honest, simple old soul. A clever adventuress
would have little difficulty in hoodwinking her. Mark my words, you have
found the key to the mystery. What more likely than that his
Lordship--whose morals, even as a boy, were none of the best--seduced
Valdriguez and that she returned to Geralton so as to have the
opportunity of avenging her wrongs."

"I can think of nothing more unlikely than that his Lordship should have
selected his cast-off mistress as his wife's attendant," Judson drily

"Not at all. You didn't know him," replied Cyril. "I can quite fancy
that the situation would have appealed to his cynical humour."

"Your opinion of the late Lord Wilmersley is certainly not flattering,
but even if we take for granted that such an arrangement would not have
been impossible to his Lordship, I still refuse to believe that
Valdriguez would have agreed to it; even assuming that his Lordship had
wronged her and that she had nursed a murderous resentment against him
all these years, I cannot see how she could have hoped to further her
object by accepting the humiliating position of his wife's maid. It also
seems to me incredible that a woman whose passions were so violent as to
find expression in murder could have controlled them during a lifetime.
But leaving aside these considerations, I have another reason to urge
against your theory: Would his Lordship have trusted a woman who, he
knew, had a grievance against him, as he certainly trusted Valdriguez?
She had free access to his apartments. What was there to have prevented
her from giving him an overdose of some drug during one of the many
times when he was half-stupefied with opium? Nothing. The risk of
detection would have been infinitesimal. No, my lord, why Valdriguez
returned to Geralton is an enigma, I grant you, but your explanation
does not satisfy me."

"As long as you acknowledge that Valdriguez's presence here needs an
explanation and are willing to work to find that explanation, I don't
care whether you accept my theory or not; all I want to get at is the

"The truth, my lord," said the detective, as he rose to take his leave,
"is often more praised than appreciated."



As Cyril sat toying with his dinner, it was little by little borne in on
him that the butler had something on his mind. How he got this
impression he really did not know, for Douglas performed his duties as
precisely, as unobtrusively as ever. Yet long before the last course had
been reached, Cyril was morally certain that he had not been mistaken.
He waited for the dessert to be placed on the table; then, having
motioned the footmen to leave the room, he half turned to the butler,
who was standing behind his chair.


"Yes, my lord?" The man stepped forward, so as to face his master.

"Is anything the matter?" asked Cyril, scrutinising the other

The abrupt question seemed neither to surprise nor to discompose the
butler; yet he hesitated before finally answering:

"I--I don't quite know, my lord."

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Cyril impatiently. "You must know whether or not
something has happened to upset you."

Douglas fidgeted uneasily.

"Well, my lord--it's this way, my lord--Susan, the upper 'ousemaid, says
as how there has been somebody or--" here his voice sank to a whisper
and he cast an apprehensive glance over his shoulder--"or something in
the library last night!"

Cyril put down the glass of wine he was carrying to his lips untasted.

"She thinks she saw a ghost in the library?"

"No, my lord. She didn't see anything, but this morning she found
finger-marks on the top of his Lordship's desk."

"Pooh! What of that? One of the servants may have gone in there out of

"But what would anybody be doing there in the night, I should like to
know? And Susan says those marks could only 'ave been made last night,
my lord."


"On account of the dust, my lord. It takes time for dust to settle and a
'ousemaid, who knows 'er business, can tell, after she's been in a place
a couple of months, just about 'ow long it's been since any particular
piece of furniture has been dusted. Aye, Susan knows, my lord. No young
'ousemaid can pull the wool over 'er eyes, I can tell you."

"Does every one know of Susan's suspicions?"

"No, my lord. Susan's a sensible woman, and though she was frightened
something terrible, she only told Mrs. Eversley and Mrs. Eversley told
me and we three agreed we'd hold our tongues. Every one's that upset as
it is, that they'd all 'ave 'ighstrikes if they knew that It was

"Don't be a fool, Douglas. No one believes in ghosts nowadays. But even
if there were such things, an intangible spirit couldn't possibly leave
finger-marks behind it."

"But, my lord, if you'll excuse me, my aunt's cousin--" began the
butler, but Cyril cut him short.

"I have no time now to hear about your aunt's cousin, though no doubt it
is a most interesting story. Send Susan to me at once."

"Very good, my lord."

Susan had, however, no further information to impart. She was positive
that the marks must have been made some time during the night.

"And it's my belief they were made by a skeleton hand," she added. "And
as for going into that room again, indeed I just couldn't, not for
nobody, meaning no disrespect to your Lordship; and as for the other
'ousemaids, they'll not go near the place either and haven't been since
the murder."

"Very well, Susan, I shall not ask you to do so. Those rooms shall not
be opened again till this mystery is cleared up. I will go now and lock
them up myself."

"Thank you, my lord."

Striding rapidly across the hall, Cyril opened the door of the library.
This part of the castle had been equipped with electric light and steam
heat, and as he stepped into the darkness, the heavy-scented air almost
made him reel. Having found the switch, he noticed at once that the room
had indefinably changed since he had been in it last. Notwithstanding
the heat, notwithstanding the flood of crimson light, which permeated
even the farthest corners, it had already assumed the chill, gloomy
aspect of an abandoned apartment.

Stooping over the desk, he eagerly inspected the marks which had so
startled the housemaid. Yes, they were still quite visible, although a
delicate film of dust had already begun to soften the precision of their
outline--very strange! They certainly did look like the imprint of
skeleton fingers. He laid his own hand on the desk. His fingers left a
mark at least twice as wide as those of the mysterious visitant.

For a long time he stood with bent head pondering deeply; then, throwing
back his shoulders, as if he had arrived at some decision, he proceeded
to explore the entire suite. Having satisfied himself that no one was
secreted on the premises, he turned off the light, shut the door--but he
did not turn the key.

Some hours later Cyril, in his great four-posted bed, lay watching, with
wide-open eyes, the fantastic shadows thrown by the dancing firelight on
the panelled walls. To woo sleep was evidently not his intention, for
from time to time he lighted a wax vesta and consulted the watch he held
in his hand. At last the hour seemed to satisfy him, for he got out of
bed and made a hasty toilet. Having accomplished this as best he could
in the semi-obscurity, he slipped a pistol into his pocket and left his

Groping his way through the darkness, he descended the stairs and
cautiously traversed the hall. Not a sound did he make. His stockinged
feet moved noiselessly over the heavy carpet. At the door of the library
he paused a moment and listened intently; then, pistol in hand, he threw
open the door. Darkness and silence alone confronted him. Closing the
door behind him, he lighted a match and carefully inspected the desk.
Having assured himself that no fresh marks had appeared on its polished
surface, he blew out the match and ensconced himself as comfortably as
the limited space permitted behind the curtains of one of the windows.
There he waited patiently for what seemed to him an eternity. He had
just begun to fear that his vigil would prove fruitless, when his ear
was gladdened by a slight sound. A moment later the light was switched
on. Hardly daring to breathe, Cyril peered through the curtains.
Valdriguez! Cyril's heart gave a bound of exultation. Had he not guessed
that those marks could only have been made by her small, bony fingers?

Clad like a nun in a loose, black garment, which fell in straight,
austere folds to her feet; a black shawl, thrown over her head, casting
strange shadows on her pale, haggard face, she advanced slowly, almost
majestically, into the room. Cyril had to acknowledge that she looked
more like a medieval saint than a midnight marauder.

Evidently the woman had no fear of detection, for she never even cast
one suspicious glance around her; nor did she appear to feel that there
was any necessity for haste, for she lingered for some time near the
writing-table, gazing at it, as if it had a fascination for her; but,
finally, she turned away with a hopeless sigh and directed her attention
to the bookcase. This she proceeded to examine in the most methodical
manner. Book after book was taken down, shaken, and the binding
carefully scrutinised. Having cleared a shelf, she drew a tape measure
from her pocket and rapped and measured the back and sides of the case

What on earth could she be looking for, wondered Cyril. Not a will,
surely? For his cousin's will, executed at the date of his marriage, had
been found safely deposited with his solicitor. A later will, perhaps?
One in which she hoped that her master had remembered her, as he had
probably promised her that he would? Yes, that must be it.

Well, there was no further need of concealment, he decided, so, parting
the curtains, he stepped into the room.

"What are you doing here?" he demanded.

His own voice startled him, it rang out so loud and harsh in the silence
of the night.

Valdriguez knelt on the floor with her back to him, and it seemed as if
the sudden shock had paralysed her, for she made no effort to move, and
her hand, arrested in the act of replacing a book, remained
outstretched, as if it had been turned to stone.

"It is I, your master. What are you doing here?" he repeated.

He saw her shudder convulsively, then slowly she raised her head, and as
her great, tragic eyes met his, Cyril was conscious of a revulsion of
feeling toward her. Never had he seen anything so hopeless yet so
undaunted as the look she gave him. It reminded him, curiously enough,
of a look he had once seen in the eyes of a lioness, who, with a bullet
through her heart, still fought to protect her young.

Staggering a little as she rose, Valdriguez nevertheless managed to draw
herself up to her full height.

"I am here, my lord, to get what is mine--mine," she repeated almost

Cyril pulled himself together. It was absurd, he reasoned, to allow
himself to be impressed by her strange personality.

"A likely story!" he exclaimed; and the very fact that he was more than
half-inclined to believe her, made him speak more roughly than he would
otherwise have done.

"Think what you like," she cried, shrugging her shoulders
contemptuously. "Have me arrested--have me hung--what do I care? Death
has no terrors for me."

"So you confess that it was you who murdered his Lordship? Ah, I
suspected it! Your sanctimonious airs didn't deceive me," exclaimed
Cyril triumphantly.

"No, I did not murder him," she replied calmly, almost indifferently.

"I think you will have some difficulty convincing the police of that.
You have no alibi to prove that you were not in these rooms at the time
of the murder, and now when I tell them that I found you trying to

"I am no thief," she interrupted him with blazing eyes. "I tell you, I
came here to get what is mine by right."

"Do you really expect me to believe that? Even if what you say were
true, you would not have had to sneak in here in the middle of the
night. You know very well that I should have made no objections to your
claiming your own."

"So you say. But if I had gone to you and told you that a great lord had
robbed me, a poor woman, of something which is dearer to me than life
itself, would you have believed me? If I had said to you, 'I must look
through his Lordship's papers; I must be free to search everywhere,'
would you have given me permission to do so? No, never. You think I fear
you? That it was because I was ashamed of my errand that I came here at
this hour? Bah! All I feared was that I should be prevented from
discovering the truth. The truth?" Valdriguez's voice suddenly dropped
and she seemed to forget Cyril's presence. "It is here, somewhere." She
continued speaking as if to herself and her wild eyes swept feverishly
around the room. "He told me it was here--and yet how can I be sure of
it? He may have lied to me about this as he did about everything else.
How can I tell? Oh, this uncertainty is torture! I cannot bear it any
longer, oh, my God!" she cried, clasping her hands and lifting her
streaming eyes to heaven, "Thou knowest that I have striven all my life
to do Thy will; I have borne the cross that Thou sawest fit to lay upon
me without a murmur, nor have I once begged for mercy at Thy hands; but
now, now, oh, my Father, I beseech thee, give me to know the truth
before I die----"

Cyril watched the woman narrowly. He felt that he must try and maintain
a judicial attitude toward her and not allow himself to be led astray by
his sympathies which, as he knew to his cost, were only too easily
aroused. After all, he reasoned, was it not more than likely that she
was delivering this melodramatic tirade for his benefit? On the other
hand, it was against his principles as well as against his inclinations
to deal harshly with a woman.

"Calm yourself, Valdriguez," he said at last. "If you can convince me
that his Lordship had in his possession something which rightfully
belonged to you, I promise that, if it can be found, it shall be
restored to you. Tell me, what it is that you are looking for?"

"Tell you--never! Are you not of his blood? You promise--so did he--the
smooth-tongued villain! All these years have I lived on promises! Never
will I trust one of his race again."

"You have got to trust me whether you want to or not. Your position
could not be worse than it is, could it? Don't you see that your only
hope lies in being able to persuade me that you are an honest woman?"

For the first time Valdriguez looked at Cyril attentively. He felt as if
her great eyes were probing his very soul.

"Indeed, you do not look cruel or deceitful. And, as you say, I am
powerless without you, so I must take the risk of your being what you
seem. I will tell you the truth. But first, my lord, will you swear not
to betray my secret to any living being?"

"You have my word for it. That is--" he hastily added, "if it has
nothing to do with the murder."

"Nothing, my lord."



Cyril waited for her to continue, but for a long time it seemed doubtful
if she would have the courage to do so.

"I am looking," she said at last, speaking slowly and with a visible
effort, "for a paper which will tell me whether my--son is alive or

"Your son? So you were his Lordship's mistress----"

"Before God I was his wife! I am no wanton, my lord!"

"The old story--" began Cyril, but Valdriguez stopped him with a furious

"Do not dare to say that my child's mother was a loose woman! I will not
permit it. Arthur Wilmersley--may his Maker judge him as he
deserves--wrecked my life, but at least he never doubted my virtue. He
knew that the only way to get me was to marry me."

"So he actually married you?" exclaimed Cyril.

"No--but for a long time I believed that he had. How could a young,
innocent girl have suspected that the man she loved was capable of such
cold-blooded deception? Even now, I cannot blame myself for having
fallen into the trap he baited with such fiendish cunning. Think of
it--he induced me to consent to a secret marriage by promising that if I
made this sacrifice for his sake, he would become a convert to my
religion--my religion! And as we stood together before the altar, I
remember that I thanked God for giving me this opportunity of saving a
soul from destruction. I never dreamed that the church he took me to was
nothing but an old ruin he had fitted up as a chapel for the occasion.
How could I guess that the man who married us was not a priest but a
mountebank, whom he had hired to act the part?"

Valdriguez bowed her head and the tears trickled through her thin

"I know that not many people would believe you but, well--I do." It
seemed to Cyril as if the words sprang to his lips unbidden.

"Then indeed you are a good man," exclaimed Valdriguez, "for it is given
only to honest people to have a sure ear for the truth. Now it will be
easier to tell you the rest. Some weeks after we had gone through this
ceremony, first Lord and then Lady Wilmersley died; on her deathbed I
confided to my lady that I was her son's wife and she gave me her
blessing. My humble birth she forgave--after all it was less humble than
her own--and was content that her son had chosen a girl of her own race
and faith. As soon as the funeral was over, I urged my husband to
announce our marriage, but he would not. He proposed that we should go
for a while to the continent so that on our return it would be taken for
granted that we had been married there, and in this way much unpleasant
talk avoided. So we went to Paris and there we lived together openly as
man and wife, not indeed under his name but under mine. He pretended
that he wanted for once to see the world from the standpoint of the
people; that he desired for a short time to be free from the
restrictions of his rank. I myself dreaded so much entering a class so
far above me that I was glad of the chance of spending a few more months
in obscurity. For some weeks I was happy, then Lord Wilmersley began to
show himself to me as he really was. We had taken a large apartment near
the Luxembourg, and soon it became the meeting-ground for the most
reckless element of the Latin Quarter. Ah, if you but knew what sights I
saw, what things I heard in those days! I feared that my very soul was
being polluted, so I consulted a priest as to what I should do. He told
me it was my duty to remain constantly at my husband's side; with prayer
and patience I might some day succeed in reforming him. So I stayed in
that hell and bore the insults and humiliations he heaped upon me
without a murmur. Now, looking back on the past, I think my meekness and
resignation only exasperated him, for he grew more and more cruel and
seemed to think of nothing but how to torture me into revolt. Whether I
should have been given the strength to endure indefinitely, the life he
led me I do not know, but one evening, when we were as usual
entertaining a disreputable rabble, a young man entered. I recognised
him at once. It was the man who had married us! He was dressed in a
brown velveteen suit; a red sash encircled his waist; and on his arm he
flaunted a painted woman. Imagine my feelings! I stood up and turned to
my husband. I could not speak--and he, the man I had loved, only
laughed--laughed! Never shall I forget the sound of that laughter....

"That night my child was born. That was twenty-eight years ago, but it
seems as if it were but yesterday that I held his small, warm body in my
arms.... Then comes a period of which I remember nothing, and when I
finally recovered my senses, they told me my child was dead.... As soon
as I was able to travel, I returned to my old home in Seville and there
I lived, working and praying--praying for my own soul and for that of my
poor baby, who had died without receiving the sacrament of baptism....
Years passed. I had become resigned to my lot, when one day I received a
letter from Lord Wilmersley. Oh! If I had only destroyed it unopened,
how much anguish would have been spared me! But at first when I read it,
I thought my happiness would have killed me, for Lord Wilmersley wrote
that my boy was not dead and that if I would meet him in Paris, he would
give me further news of him. I hesitated not a moment. At once did I set
out on my journey. On arriving in Paris I went to the hotel he had
indicated and was shown into a private _salon_. There for the first time
in a quarter of a century I saw again the man I had once regarded as my
husband. At first I had difficulty in recognising him, for now his true
character was written in every line of his face and figure. But I hardly
gave a thought either to him or to my wrongs, so great was my impatience
to hear news of my son.... Then that fiend began to play with me as a
cat with a mouse. Yes, my boy lived, had made his way in the world--that
was all he would tell me. My child had been adopted by some well-to-do
people, who had brought him up as their own--no, I needn't expect to
hear another word. Yes, he was a fine, strong lad--he would say no
more.... Can you imagine the scene? Finally, having wrought me up to the
point where I would have done anything to wring the truth from him, he
said to me: 'I have recently married a young wife and I am not such a
fool as to trust my honour in the keeping of a girl who married an old
man like me for his money. Now I have a plan to propose to you. Come and
live with her as her maid and help me to guard her from all eyes, and if
you fulfil your duties faithfully, at the end of three years I promise
that you shall see your son.'

"His revolting proposition made my blood boil. Never, never, I told him,
would I accept such a humiliating situation. He merely shrugged his
shoulders and said that in that case I need never hope to hear what had
become of my son. I raved, threatened, pleaded, but he remained
inflexible, and finally I agreed to do his bidding."

"So you, who call yourself a Christian, actually consented to help that
wretch to persecute his unfortunate young wife?" demanded Cyril sternly.

Valdriguez flung her head back defiantly.

"His wife? What was she to me? Besides, had she not taken him for better
or worse? Why should I have helped her to break the bonds her own vows
had imposed on her? He did not ill-treat her, far from it. He deprived
her of her liberty, but what of that? A nun has even less freedom than
she had. What were her sufferings compared to mine? Think of it, day
after day I had to stand aside and watch the man I had once looked upon
as my husband, lavish his love, his thought, his very life indeed, on
that pretty doll. Although I no longer loved him, my flesh quivered at
the sight."

"Nevertheless--" began Cyril.

"My lord, I care not for your judgment nor for that of any man. I came
here to find my son. Would you have had me give up that sacred task
because a pink and white baby wanted to flaunt her beauty before the
world? Ah, no! Lady Wilmersley's fate troubles me not at all; but what
breaks my heart is that, as Arthur died just before the three years were
up, I fear that now I shall never know what has become of my boy.
Sometimes I have feared that he is dead--but no, I will not believe it!
My boy lives! I feel it!" she cried, striking her breast. "And in this
room--perhaps within reach of my hand as I stand here--is the paper
which would tell me where he is. Ah, my lord, I beg, I entreat you to
help me to find it!"

"I will gladly do so, but what reason have you for supposing that there
is such a paper?"

"It is true that I have only Lord Wilmersley's word for it," she
replied, and her voice sounded suddenly hopeless. "Yet not once but many
times he said to me: 'I have a paper in which is written all you wish to
know, but as I do not trust you, I have hidden it, yes, in this very
room have I hidden it.' And now he is dead and I cannot find it! Oh,
what shall I do? What shall I do?"

"Even if we cannot find the paper, there are other means of tracing your
son. We will advertise----"

"Never!" she interrupted him vehemently. "I will never consent to do
anything which might reveal to him the secret of his birth. I would long
ago have taken steps to find him, if I had not realised that I could not
do so without taking a number of people into my confidence, and, if I
did that, the story of my shame would be bound to leak out. Not for
myself did I care, but for him. Think of it, if what Lord Wilmersley
told me was true, he holds an honourable position, believes himself the
son of respectable parents. Would it not be horrible, if he should
suddenly learn that he is the nameless child of a servant girl and a
villain? The fear that he should somehow discover the truth is always
before me. That is why I made you swear to keep my secret."

"Of course, I will do as you wish, but I assure you that you exaggerate
the risk. Still, let us first search this room thoroughly; then, if we
do not find the paper, it will be time enough to decide what we shall do

"Ah, my lord, you are very good to me and may God reward you as you
deserve. Day and night will I pray for you." And to Cyril's dismay,
Valdriguez suddenly bent down and covered his hands with kisses.



Cyril and Valdriguez spent the next morning making a thorough search of
the library, but the paper they were looking for could not be found.
Cyril had from the first been sceptical of success. He could not believe
that her child was still alive and was convinced that Arthur Wilmersley
had fabricated the story simply to retain his hold over the unfortunate
mother. Valdriguez, however, for a long time refused to abandon the
quest. Again and again she ransacked places they had already carefully
examined. When it was finally borne in upon her that there was no
further possibility of finding what she so sought, the light suddenly
went out of her face and she would have fallen if Cyril had not caught
her and placed her in a chair. With arms hanging limply to her sides,
her half-closed eyes fixed vacantly in front of her, she looked as if
death had laid his hand upon her. Thoroughly alarmed, Cyril had the
woman carried to her room and sent for a doctor. When the latter
arrived, he shook his head hopelessly. She had had a stroke; there was
very little he could do for her. In his opinion it was extremely
doubtful if she would ever fully recover her faculties, he said.

Cyril having made every possible arrangement for the comfort of the
afflicted woman, at last allowed his thoughts to revert to his own

He realised that with the elimination of both Valdriguez and Prentice
there was no one but Anita left who could reasonably be suspected of the
murder; for that the two Frenchmen were implicated in the affair, was
too remote a possibility to be seriously considered. No, he must make up
his mind to face the facts: the girl was Anita Wilmersley and she had
killed her husband! What was he going to do, now that he knew the truth?
Judson's advice that Anita should give herself up, he rejected without a
moment's hesitation. Yet, he had to acknowledge that there was little
hope of her being able to escape detection, as long as the police knew
her to be alive.... Suddenly an idea occurred to him. If they could only
be made to believe that she was dead, that and that alone would free her
at once and forever from their surveillance. She would be able to leave
England; to resume her life in some distant country where he.... Cyril
shrank instinctively from pursuing the delicious dream further. He tried
to force himself to consider judicially the scheme that was shaping
itself in his mind; to weigh calmly and dispassionately the chances for
and against its success. If a corpse resembling Anita were found,
dressed in the clothes she wore the day she left Geralton, it would
surely be taken for granted that the body was hers and that she had been
murdered. But how on earth was he to procure such a corpse and, having
procured it, where was he to hide it? The neighbourhood of the castle
had been so thoroughly searched that it would be no easy task to
persuade the police that they had overlooked any spot where a body might
be secreted. Certainly the plan presented almost insurmountable
difficulties, but as it was the only one he could think of, Cyril clung
to it with bull-dog tenacity.

"Impossible? Nonsense! Nothing is impossible! Impossible is but a word
designed to shield the incompetent or frighten the timid," he muttered
loudly in his heart, unconsciously squaring his broad shoulders.

He decided to leave Geralton at once, for the plan must be carried out
immediately or not at all, and it was only in London that he could hope
to procure the necessary assistance.

On arriving in town, however, Cyril had to admit that he had really no
idea what he ought to do next. If he could only get in touch with an
impoverished medical student who would agree to provide a body, the
first and most difficult part of his undertaking would be achieved. But
how and where was he to find this indispensable accomplice? Well, it was
too late to do anything that evening, he decided. He might as well go to
the club and get some dinner and try to dismiss the problem from his
mind for the time being.

The first person he saw on entering the dining-room was Campbell. He was
sitting by himself at a small table; his round, rosy face depicted the
utmost dejection and he thrust his fork through an oyster with much the
same expression a man might have worn who was spearing a personal enemy.

On catching sight of Cyril, he dropped his fork, jumped from his seat,
and made an eager step forward. Then, he suddenly wavered, evidently
uncertain as to the reception Cyril was going to accord him.

"Well, this is a piece of luck!" cried Cyril, stretching out his hand.

Guy, looking decidedly sheepish, clasped it eagerly.

"I might as well tell you at once that I know I made no end of an ass of
myself the other day," he said, averting his eyes from his friend's
face. "It is really pretty decent of you not to have resented my
ridiculous accusations."

"Oh, that's all right," Cyril assured him, "I quite understood your
motive. But I am awfully glad you have changed your attitude towards me,
for to tell you the truth, I am in great need of your assistance."

"Oh, Lor'!" ejaculated Campbell, screwing up his face into an expression
of comic despair.

As soon as there was no danger of their being overheard, Cyril told
Campbell of his interview with Judson. At first Guy could not be
persuaded that the girl was Anita Wilmersley.

"She is not a liar, I am sure of it! If she said that her hair had
turned white, it had turned white, and therefore it is impossible that
she had dyed it," objected Campbell.

"Judson suggested that she dyed only part of her hair and that it was
the rest which turned white."

Having finally convinced Guy that there was no doubt as to the girl's
identity, Cyril proceeded to unfold his plan for rescuing her from the

Guy adjusted his eye-glass and stared at his friend speechless with

"This affair has turned your brain," he finally gasped. "Your plan is
absurd, absolutely absurd, I tell you. Why, even if I could bribe some
one to procure me a corpse, how on earth could you get it to Geralton?"

"In a motor-car."

"And where under Heaven are you to hide it?"

"Get me a corpse and I will arrange the rest," Cyril assured him with
more confidence than he really felt.

"First you saddle me with a lot of stolen jewels and now you want me to
travel around the country with a corpse under my arm! I say, you do
select nice, pleasant jobs for me!" exclaimed Campbell.

"Have you any other plan to suggest?" asked Cyril.

"Can't say I have," acknowledged Guy.

"Are you willing to sit still and see Anita Wilmersley arrested?"

"Certainly not, but your scheme is a mad one--madder than anything I
should have credited even you with having conceived." Campbell paused a
moment as if considering the question in all its aspects. "However, the
fact that it is crazy may save us. The police will not be likely to
suspect two reputable members of society, whose sanity has so far not
been doubted, of attempting to carry through such a wild, impossible
plot. Yes," he mused, "the very impossibility of the thing may make it

"Glad you agree with me," cried Cyril enthusiastically. "Now how soon
can you get a corpse, do you think?"

"Good Lord, man! You talk as if I could order one from Whiteley's. When
can I get you a corpse--indeed? To-morrow--in a week--a month--a
year--never. The last-mentioned date I consider the most likely. I will
do what I can, that is all I can say; but how I am to go to work, upon
my word, I haven't the faintest idea."

"You are an awfully clever chap, Guy."

"None of your blarney. I won't have it! I am the absolute fool, but I am
still sane enough to know it."

"Very well, I'll acknowledge that you are a fool and I only wish there
were more like you," said Cyril, clapping his friend affectionately on
the back.

"By the way," he added, turning away as if in search of a match and
trying to speak as carelessly as possible, "How is Anita?"

For a moment Guy did not answer and Cyril stood fumbling with the
matches fearful of the effect of the question. He was still doubtful how
far his friend had receded from his former position and was much
relieved when Guy finally answered in a very subdued voice:

"She is pretty well--but--" He hesitated.

Cyril turned quickly round. He noticed that Guy's face had lengthened
perceptibly and that he toyed nervously with his eye-glass.

"What is the matter?" he inquired anxiously.

"The fact is," replied Campbell, speaking slowly and carefully avoiding
the other's eye, "I think it is possible that she misses you."

Cyril's heart gave a sudden jump.

"I can hardly believe it," he managed to stutter.

"Of course, Miss Trevor may be mistaken. It was her idea, not mine, that
Ani--Lady Wilmersley I mean--is worrying over your absence. But whatever
the cause, the fact remains that she has changed very much. She is no
longer frank and cordial in her manner either to Miss Trevor or myself.
It seems almost as if she regarded us both with suspicion, though what
she can possibly suspect us of, I can't for the life of me imagine. That
day at lunch she was gay as a child, but now she is never anything but
sad and preoccupied."

"Perhaps she is beginning to remember the past," suggested Cyril.

"How can I tell? Miss Trevor and I have tried everything we could think
of to induce her to confide in us, but she won't. Possibly you might be
more successful--" An involuntary sigh escaped Campbell. "I am sorry now
that I prevented you from seeing her. Mind you, I still think it wiser
not to do so, but I ought to have left you free to use your own
judgment. The number of her sitting-room is 62, on the second floor and,
for some reason or other, she insists on being left there alone every
afternoon from three to four. Now I have told you all I know of the
situation and you must handle it as you think best."



Cyril spent the night in a state of pitiable indecision. Should he or
should he not risk a visit to Anita? If the police were shadowing him,
it would be fatal, but he had somehow lately acquired the conviction
that they were not. On the other hand, if he could only see her, how it
would simplify everything! As she distrusted both Guy and Miss Trevor,
even if his plot succeeded, she would probably refuse to leave England
unless he himself told her that he wished her to do so. Besides, there
were so many details to be discussed, so many arrangements to be talked
over. "Yes," he said to himself as he lay staring into the darkness, "it
is my duty to see her. I shall go to her not because I want to...." A
horrid doubt made him pause. Was he so sure that his decision was not
the outcome of his own desire? How could he trust his judgment in a
matter where his inclinations were so deeply involved? Yet it would be
shocking if he allowed his own feelings to induce him to do something
which might be injurious to Anita. It was a nice question to determine
whether her need of him was sufficient to justify him in risking a
visit? For hours he debated with himself but could arrive at no
conclusion. No sooner did he resolve to stay away from her than the
thought of her unhappiness again made him waver. If he only knew why she
was so unhappy, he told himself that the situation would not be so
unendurable. When he had talked to her over the telephone, she had
seemed cheerful; she had spoken of Guy and Miss Trevor with enthusiasm.
What could have occurred since then to make her distrust them and to
plunge her into such a state of gloom? As he tossed to and fro on his
hot, tumbled bed, his imagination pictured one dire possibility after
another, till at last he made up his mind that he could bear the
uncertainty no longer. He must see her! He would see her!

Having reached this decision, Cyril could hardly refrain from rushing
off to her as soon as it was light. However, he had to curb his
impatience. Three o'clock was the only hour he could be sure of finding
her alone; so he must wait till three o'clock. But how on earth, he
asked himself, was he going to get through the intervening time? He was
in a state of feverish restlessness that was almost agony; he could not
apply himself to anything; he could only wait--wait. Although he knew
that there was no chance of his meeting Anita, he haunted the
neighbourhood of the "George" all the morning. Every few minutes he
consulted his watch and the progress of the hands seemed to him so
incredibly slow that more than once he thought that it must have stopped
altogether. Finally, finally, the hour struck.

Flinging back his shoulders and assuming a carelessness that almost
amounted to a swagger, Cyril entered the hotel. He was so self-conscious
that it was with considerable surprise as well as relief that he noticed
that no one paid the slightest attention to him. Even the porter hardly
glanced at him, being at the moment engaged in speeding a parting guest.

Cyril decided to use the stairs in preference to the lift, as they were
less frequented than the latter, and as it happened, he made his way up
to the second landing without encountering anybody.

There, however, he came face to face with a pretty housemaid, who to his
dismay looked at him attentively. Cyril went cold all over. Had he but
known it, she had been attracted by his tall, soldierly figure and had
merely offered him the tribute of an admiring glance. But this
explanation never occurred to our modest hero and he hurried, quite
absurdly flustered by this trifling incident. He found that No. 62
opened on a small, ill-lighted hall, which was for the moment completely

Now that he actually stood on the threshold of Anita's room, Cyril felt
a curious reluctance to proceed farther. It was unwise.... She might not
want to see him.... But even as these objections flashed through his
mind, he knocked almost involuntarily.

"Come in."

Yet he still hesitated. His heart was beating like a sledge-hammer and
his hands were trembling. Never had he experienced such a curious
sensation before and he wondered vaguely what could be the matter with

"I can't stand here forever," he said in his heart. "I wanted to see
her; well then, why don't I open the door? I am behaving like a fool!"

Still reasoning with himself, he finally entered the room.

A bright fire was burning on the hearth and before it were heaped a
number of cushions and from this lowly seat Anita had apparently hastily
arisen. The length of time he had taken to answer her summons had
evidently alarmed her, for she stood like a creature at bay, her eyes
wide open and frightened. On recognising Cyril a deep blush suffused her
face and even coloured the whiteness of her throat.

"So it was you!" she exclaimed.

Her relief was obvious, yet her manner was distant, almost repellent.
Cyril had confidently anticipated such a different reception that her
unexpected coldness completed his discomfiture. He felt as if the
foundations of his world were giving away beneath his feet. He managed,
however, to murmur something, he knew not what. The pounding of his
heart prevented him from thinking coherently. When his emotion had
subsided sufficiently for him to realise what he was doing, he found
himself sitting stiffly on one side of the fire with Anita sitting
equally stiffly on the other. She was talking--no, rather she was
engaging him in polite conversation. How long she had been doing so he
did not know, but he gathered that it could not have been long, as she
was still on the subject of the weather.

"It has been atrocious in London. I hope you had better luck in the
country. To-day has been especially disagreeable," she was saying.

Cyril abused the weather with a vigour which was rather surprising, in
view of the fact that till she had mentioned it, he had been sublimely
unconscious whether the sun had been shining or not. But finally even
that prolific topic was exhausted and as no other apparently suggested
itself to either, they relapsed into a constrained silence.

Cyril was suffering acutely. He had so longed to see her, and now an
impalpable barrier had somehow arisen between them which separated them
more completely than mere bricks and mortar, than any distance could
have done. True, he could feast his eyes on her cameo-like profile; on
the soft curve of her cheek; on the long, golden-tipped lashes; on the
slender, white throat, which rose like a column from the laces of her
dress. But he dared not look at her too long. Cyril was not
introspective and was only dimly aware of the cause of the turmoil which
was raging in his heart. He did not know that he averted his eyes for
fear that the primitive male within him would break loose from the
fetters of his will and forcibly seize the small creature so temptingly
within his reach.

"If I only knew what I have done to displease her!" he said to himself.

He longed to question her, but she held herself so rigidly aloof that he
had not the courage to do so. It was in vain that he told himself that
her coldness simplified the situation; that it would have been terrible
to have had to repel her advances; but he could find no consolation in
the thought. In speechless misery he sat gazing into the fire.

Suddenly he thrilled with the consciousness that she was looking at him.
He turned towards her and their eyes met.

The glance they exchanged was of the briefest duration, but it sufficed
to lift the weight which had been crushing him. He leaned eagerly

"Have I offended you?" he asked.

The corners of her mouth quivered slightly, but she did not answer.

"If I have," he continued, "I assure you it was quite unintentionally.
Why, I would give my life to save you a moment's pain. Can't you feel
that I am speaking the truth?"

She turned her face towards him, and as he looked at her, Cyril realised
that it was not only her manner which had altered; she herself had
mysteriously altered. At first he could not define wherein the
difference lay, but suddenly it flashed upon him. It was the expression
of her eyes which had changed. Heretofore he had been confident that
they reflected her every emotion; but now they were inscrutable. It was
as if she had drawn a veil over her soul.

"I don't know what you mean," she said. There was more than a hint of
hostility in her voice.

The evasion angered him.

"That is impossible! Why not be frank with me? If my visit is
distasteful to you, you have only to say so and I will go."

As she did not immediately answer, he added:

"Perhaps I had better go." His tone, however, somehow implied more of a
threat than a suggestion; for since they had exchanged that fleeting
glance Cyril had felt unreasonably reassured. Despite her coldness, the
memory of her tender entreaties for his speedy return, buoyed up his
conceit. She could not be as indifferent to him as she seemed, he argued
to himself. However, as the moments passed and she offered no objection
to his leaving her, his newly-aroused confidence evaporated.

"She does not want me!" he muttered to himself. "I must go." But he made
no motion to do so; he could not.

"I can't leave her till I know how I have offended her.... There are so
many arrangements to be made.... I must get in touch with her again,--"
were some of the excuses with which he tried to convince himself that he
had a right to linger.

He tried to read her face, but she had averted her head till he could
see nothing but one small, pink ear, peeping from beneath her curls.

Her silence exasperated him.

"Why don't you speak to me? Why do you treat me like this?" he demanded
almost fiercely.

"It is a little difficult to know how you wish to be treated!" Her
manner was icy, but his relief was so intense that he scarcely noticed

"She is piqued!" he cried exultingly in his heart. "She is piqued, that
is the whole trouble." He felt a man once more, master of the situation.
"She probably expected me to--" He shrank from pursuing the thought any
further as the hot blood surged to his face. He was again conscious of
his helplessness. What could he say to her?

"Oh, if you could only understand!" he exclaimed aloud. "I suppose you
think me cold and unfeeling? I only wish I were!... Oh, this is

She seemed startled by his vehemence, for she looked up at him timidly.

"Can't you trust me?" he continued. "Won't you tell me what has come
between us?"

Two big tears gathered in her eyes.

The sight was too much for Cyril. Right and wrong ceased to exist for
him. He forgot everything; stooping forward he gathered her into his
arms and crushed her small body against his heart.

She thrust him from her with unexpected force and stood before him with
blazing eyes.

"You cannot treat me like a child, who can be neglected one day and
fondled the next! I won't have it! At the nursing home I was too weak
and confused to realise how strangely you were behaving, but now I know.
You dare to complain of my coldness--my coldness indeed! Is my coldness
a match to yours? Why do you suddenly pretend to love me?"

He interrupted her with a vigorous protest.

"If you do, then your conduct is all the more inexplicable. If you do,
then I ask you, what is it, who is it, that stands between us?"

"If I could tell you, don't you suppose I would?" declared Cyril.

"Then there is some one, some person who is keeping us apart!"

"No--oh, not exactly."

"Ah, you see, you can't deny it! There is another woman in your life. I
know it! I felt it!"

"No--no! I love you!" cried Cyril.

He hardly knew what he was saying; the words seemed to have leaped to
his lips.

She regarded him for a second in silence evidently only partially

Cyril felt horribly guilty. He had momentarily forgotten his wife, and
although he tried to convince himself that he had spoken the truth and
that it was not she who was keeping them apart, yet he had to
acknowledge that if he had been free, he would certainly have behaved
very differently towards Anita. So in a sense he had lied to her and as
he realised this, his eyes sank before hers. She did not fail to note
his embarrassment and pressed her point inexorably.

"Swear that there is no other woman who has a claim on you and I will
believe you."

He could not lie to her in cold blood. Yet to tell her the truth was
also out of the question, he said to himself.

While he still hesitated, she continued more vehemently.

"I don't ask you to tell me anything of your past or my past, if you had
rather not do so. One thing, however, I must and will know--who is this
woman and what are her pretensions?"

"I--I cannot tell you," he said at last. "I only wish I could. Some day,
I promise you, you shall know everything, but now it is impossible. But
this much I will say--I love you as I have never loved any one in my
whole life."

She trembled from head to foot and half closed her eyes.

For a moment neither spoke. Cyril felt that this very silence
established a communion between them, more complete, more intense than
any words could have done. But as he gazed at the small, drooping
figure, he felt that his self-control was deserting him completely. He
almost reeled with the violence of his emotion.

"I can't stand it another moment," he said to himself. "I must go
before--" He did not finish the sentence but clenched his hands till the
knuckles showed white through the skin.

He rose to his feet.

"I can't stay!" he exclaimed aloud. "Forgive me, Anita. I can't tell you
what I feel. Good-bye!" He murmured incoherently and seizing her hands,
he pressed them for an instant against his lips, then dropping them
abruptly, he fled from the room.

Cyril in his excitement had not noticed that he had called Anita by her
name nor did he perceive the start she gave when she heard it. After the
door had clicked behind him, she sat as if turned to stone, white to her
very lips.

Slowly, as if with an effort, her lips moved.

"Anita?" she whispered to herself. "Anita?" she repeated over and over
again as if she were trying to learn a difficult lesson.

Suddenly a great light broke over her face.

"I am Anita Wilmersley!" she cried aloud.

But the tension had been too great; with a little gasp she sank fainting
to the floor.



What he did during the next few hours, Cyril never quite knew. He
retained a vague impression of wandering through endless streets and of
being now and then arrested in his heedless course by the angry
imprecations of some wayfarer he had inadvertently jostled or of some
Jehu whose progress he was blocking.

How could he have behaved like such a fool, he kept asking himself. He
had not said a thing to Anita that he had meant to say--not one. Worse
still, he had told her that he loved her! He had even held her in his
arms! Cyril tried not to exult at the thought. He told himself again and
again that he had acted like a cad; nevertheless the memory of that
moment filled him with triumphant rapture. Had he lost all sense of
shame, he wondered. He tried to consider Anita's situation, his own
situation; but he could not. Anita herself absorbed him. He could think
neither of the past nor of the future; he could think of nothing

The daylight waned and still he tramped steadily onward. Finally,
however, his body began to assert itself. His footsteps grew gradually
slower, till at last he realised that he was miles from home and that he
was completely exhausted. Hailing a passing conveyance, he drove to his

He was still so engrossed in his dreams that he felt no surprise at
finding Peter sitting in the front hall, nor did he notice the dejected
droop of the latter's shoulders.

On catching sight of his master, Peter sprang forward.

"Hsh! My lord," he whispered with his finger on his lip; and turning
slightly, he cast an apprehensive glance over his shoulder towards the
top of the stairs.

With an effort Cyril shook off his preoccupation. Following the
direction of his servant's eyes, he saw nothing more alarming than a few
dusty plants which were supposed to adorn the small landing where the
stairs turned. Before he had time to form a conjecture as to the cause
of Peter's agitation, the latter continued breathlessly: "Her Ladyship
'ave arrived, my lord!"

Having made this announcement, he stepped back as if to watch what
effect this information would have on his master. There was no doubt
that Peter's alarm was very genuine, yet one felt that in spite of it he
was enjoying the dramatic possibilities of the situation.

Cyril, however, only blinked at him uncomprehendingly.

"Her Ladyship? What Ladyship?" he asked.

"Lady Wilmersley, my lord, and she brought her baggage. I haven't known
what to do, that I haven't. I knew she ought not to stay here, but I
couldn't turn 'er out, could I?"

Cyril's mind was so full of Anita that he never doubted that it was she
to whom Peter was referring, so without waiting to ask further
questions, he rushed upstairs two steps at a time, and threw open the
door of his sitting-room.

On a low chair in front of the fire his wife sat reading quietly.

Cyril staggered back as if he had been struck. She, however, only turned
her head languidly and closing her book, surveyed him with a mocking

For a moment Cyril saw red. His disappointment added fuel to his

"Amy! How dare you come here?" he cried, striding towards her.

She seemed in nowise affected by his anger; only her expression became,
if possible, a trifle more contemptuous.

"Your manners have sadly deteriorated since we parted," she remarked,
raising her eyebrows superciliously.

"Manners!" he exclaimed and his voice actually shook with rage. "May I
ask how you expected to be received? Is it possible that you imagine
that I am going to take you back?"

Her eyes narrowed, but she still appeared quite unconcerned.

"Do you know, I rather think you will," she drawled.

"Take you back, now that you have tired of your lover or he has become
disgusted with you, which is probably nearer the truth. Do you think I
am mad, or are you?"

He fancied that he saw her wince, but she replied calmly:

"Do not let us indulge in mutual recriminations. They are so futile."

"Mutual recriminations, indeed! I like that! What have you to reproach
me with? Didn't I marry you to save you from disgrace and penury?
Haven't I done everything I could to keep you straight?"

She rose slowly from her seat and he noticed for the first time that she
wore a low-cut gown of some diaphanous material, which revealed and yet
softened the too delicate lines of her sinuous figure. Her black hair
lay in thick waves around her face, completely covering the ears, and
wound in a coil at the back of her neck. He had never seen it arranged
in this fashion and reluctantly he had to admit that it was strangely
becoming to her. A wide band of dull gold, set with uncut gems,
encircled her head and added a barbaric note to her exotic beauty. It
was his last gift to her, he remembered.

Yes, she was still beautiful, he acknowledged, although the life she had
led, had left its marks upon her. She looked older and frailer than when
he had seen her last. But to-night the sunken eyes glowed with
extraordinary brilliancy and a soft colour gave a certain roundness to
her hollow cheeks. As she stood before him, Cyril was conscious, for the
first time in years, of the alluring charm of her personality.

She regarded him for a moment, her full red lips parted in an
inscrutable smile. How well he recalled that smile! He could never
fathom its meaning. In some mysterious way it suggested infinite
possibilities. How he hated it!

"You tried everything, I grant you," she said at last, "except the one
thing which would have proved efficacious."

"And what was that, pray?"

"You never loved me."

Her unexpected accusation made Cyril pause. Yes, it was true, he
acknowledged to himself. Had he not realised it during the last few days
as he had never done before?

"You don't even take the trouble to deny it," she continued. "You
married me out of pity and instead of being ashamed of it, you actually
pride yourself on the purity of your motive."

"Well, at any rate I can't see what there was to be ashamed of," he
replied indignantly.

"Of course you can't! Oh, how you good people exasperate me! You seem to
lack all comprehension of the natural cravings of a normal human being.
Pity? What did I want with pity? I wanted love!"

"It was not my fault that I could not love you."

"No, but knowing that you did not love me, it was dastardly of you to
have married me without telling me the truth. In doing so, you took from
me my objective in life--you destroyed my ideals. Oh, don't look so
sceptical, you fool! Can't you see that I should never have remained a
governess until I was twenty-five, if I had not had ideals? It was
because I had such lofty conceptions of love that I kept myself
scrupulously aloof from men, so that I might come to my mate, when I
found him, with soul, mind, and body unsullied."

She spoke with such passionate sincerity that it was with an effort
Cyril reminded himself that her past had not been as blameless as she
pictured it.

"Your fine ideals did not prevent you from becoming a drunkard--" he
remarked drily.

"When I married, I was not a drunkard," she vehemently protested. "The
existence I led was abhorrent to me, and it is true that occasionally
when I felt I could not stand it another moment, I would go to my room
after dinner and get what comfort I could out of alcohol; but what I
did, I did deliberately and not to satisfy an ungovernable appetite. I
was no more a drunkard than a woman who takes a dose of morphine during
bodily agony is a drug fiend. Of course, my conduct seems inexcusable to
you, for you are quite incapable of understanding the torture my life
was to me."

"Other women have suffered far greater misfortunes and have borne them
with fortitude and dignity."

"Look at me, Cyril; even now am I like other women?" She drew herself up
proudly. "Was it my fault that I was born with beauty that demanded its
due? Was I to blame that my blood leaped wildly through my veins, that
my imagination was always on fire? But I was, and still am,
instinctively and fundamentally a virtuous woman. Oh, you may sneer, but
it is true! Although as a girl I was starving for love, I never accepted
passion as a substitute, and you can't realise how incessantly the
latter was offered me. Wherever I went, I was persecuted by it. At times
I had a horrible fear that desire was all that I was capable of evoking;
and when you came to me in my misery, poverty, and disgrace, I hailed
you as my king--my man! I believed that you were offering me a love so
great that it welcomed the sacrifice of every minor consideration. It
never occurred to me that you would dare to ask me for myself, my life,
my future, unless you were able to give me in exchange something more
than the mere luxuries of existence."

"I also offered you my life----"

"You did not!" she interrupted him. "You offered up your life, not to
me, but to your own miserable conception of chivalry. The greatness of
your sacrifice intoxicated you and consequently it seemed to you
inevitable that I also would spend the rest of my days in humble
contemplation of your sublime character?"

"Such an idea never occurred to me," Cyril angrily objected.

"Oh, you never formulated it in so many words, I know that! You are too
self-conscious to be introspective and are actually proud of the fact
that you never stop to analyse either yourself or your motives. So you
go blundering through life without in the least realising what are the
influences which shape your actions. You fancy that you are not
self-centred because you are too shy, yes, and too vain to probe the
hidden recesses of your heart. You imagine that you are unselfish
because you make daily sacrifices to your own ideal of conduct. But of
that utter forgetfulness of self, of that complete merging and
submerging of your identity in another's, you have never had even the
vaguest conception. When you married me, it never occurred to you that I
had the right to demand both love and comprehension. You, the idealist,
expected me to be satisfied with the material advantages you offered;
but I, the degraded creature you take me to be, had I known the truth,
would never have consented to sell my birthright for a mess of pottage."

"That sounds all very fine, and I confess I may not have been a perfect
husband, but after all, what would you have done, I should like to know,
if I had not married you?"

"Done? I would have worked and hoped, and if work had failed me, I would
have begged and hoped. I would even have starved, before abandoning the
hope that some day I should find the man who was destined for me. When I
at last realised that you did not love me, you cannot imagine my
despair. I consumed myself in futile efforts to please you, but the very
intensity of my love prevented me from exercising those arts and
artifices which might have brought you to my feet. My emotion in your
presence was so great that it sealed my lips and made you find me a dull

"I never thought you dull. You know very well that it was not that which
alienated me from you. When I married you, I may not have been what is
called in love with you, but I was certainly fond of you, and if you had
behaved yourself, I should no doubt in time have become more closely
united to you. You talk of 'consuming' yourself to please me. Nice,
effective word, that! I must add it to my vocabulary. But you chose a
strange means of gaining my affections when you took to disgracing
yourself both privately and publicly."

The passionate resentment which had transfigured her slowly faded from
Amy's face, leaving it drawn and old; her voice, when she spoke, sounded
infinitely weary.

"When I knew for a certainty that a lukewarm affection was all you would
ever feel for me, I lost hope, and in losing hope, I lost my foothold on
life. I wanted to die--I determined to die. Time and time again, I
pressed your pistol to my forehead, but something stronger than my will
always prevented me from pulling the trigger; and finally I sought
forgetfulness in drink, because I had not the courage to find it in
death. At first I tried to hide my condition from you, but there came a
moment when the sight of your bland self-satisfaction became unbearable,
when your absolute unconsciousness of the havoc you had made of my life
maddened me. I wanted you to suffer! Oh, not as I had suffered, you are
not capable of that; but at any rate I could hurt your vanity and deal a
death-blow to your pride! You had disgraced me when you tricked me into
giving myself to a man who did not love me; I determined to disgrace you
by reeling through the public streets. And I was glad, glad!" she cried
with indescribable bitterness. "When I saw you grow pale with anger,
when I saw you tremble with shame, I suppose you fancy that I must, at
times, have suffered from remorse and humiliation? I swear that never
for a moment have I regretted the course I chose. I am ashamed of
nothing except that I lacked the courage to kill myself. Drink? I bless
it! How I welcomed the gradual deadening of my senses, the dulling of my
fevered brain! When I awoke from my long torpor and found myself at
Charleroi, I cursed the doctor who had brought me back to life. Little
by little the old agony returned. The thought of you haunted me day and
night, while a raging thirst racked my body, and from this twofold
torture the constant supervision of the nurses prevented me from
obtaining even a temporary respite. It was hell!"

For a moment Cyril felt a wave of pity sweep over him, but suddenly he

"You forget to mention that--consolation was offered you."

"Consolation! Had I found that, I should not be here! I admit, however,
that when I first noticed that M. de Brissac was attracted by me, I was
mildly pleased. It was a solace to my wounded vanity to find that some
one still found me desirable. But I swear that it never even occurred to
me to give myself to him, till the doctor told me that you were coming
to take me away with you. See you again? Subject myself anew to your
indifference--your contempt? Never! So I took the only means of escaping
from you which offered itself. And I am glad, glad that I flung myself
into the mire, for by defiling love, I killed it. I am at last free from
the obsession which has been the torment of my life. Neither you nor any
other man will again fire my imagination or stir my senses. I am dead,
but I am also free--free!"

As she spoke the last words her expression was so exalted that Cyril was
forced to grant her his grudging admiration. As she stood before him,
she seemed more a spirit than a woman; she seemed the incarnation of
life, of love, of the very fundamentals of existence. She was really an
extraordinary woman; why did he not love her, he asked himself. But even
as this flashed through his mind the memory of his long martyrdom
obtruded itself. He saw her again not as she appeared then, but as the
central figure in a succession of loathsome scenes.

"Your attempt to justify yourself may impose on others, but not on me. I
know you too well! You are rotten to the core. What you term love is
nothing but an abnormal craving, which no healthy-minded man with his
work in life to do could have possibly satisfied. Our code, however, is
too different for me to discuss the matter with you. And so, if you have
quite finished expatiating on my shortcomings, would you kindly tell me
to what I owe the honour of your visit?"

She turned abruptly from him and leaned for a minute against the
mantelpiece; then, sinking into a chair, she took a cigarette from a box
which lay on the table near her and proceeded to light it with apparent
unconcern. Cyril, however, noticed that her hand trembled violently.
After inhaling a few puffs, she threw her head back and looked at him
tauntingly from between her narrowed lids.

"Because, my dear Cyril, I read in yesterday's paper that your wife had
been your companion on your ill-timed journey from Paris. So I thought
it would be rather amusing to run over and find out a few particulars as
to the young person who is masquerading under my name."

She had caught Cyril completely off his guard and he felt for a moment
incapable of parrying her attack.

"I assure you," he stuttered, "it is all a mistake--" He hesitated; he
could think of no explanation which would satisfy her.

"I expected you to tell me that she was as pure as snow!" she exclaimed
with a scornful laugh. "But how you with your puritanic ideas managed to
get yourself into such an imbroglio passes my understanding. Really, I
consider that you owe it to me, to satisfy my curiosity."

"I regret that I am unable to do so."

"So do I! Still, as I shall no doubt solve the riddle in a few days, I
can possess my soul in patience. Meanwhile I shall enjoy watching your
efforts to prevent me from learning the truth."

"Unfortunately for you, that pleasure will be denied you. You are going
to leave this house at once and we shall not meet again till we do so
before judge and jury."

Amy settled herself more comfortably in her chair.

"So you will persist in trying to bluff it out? Foolish Cyril! Don't you
realise that I hold all the cards and that I am quite clever enough to
use them to the best advantage? You see, knowing you as I do, I am
convinced that the motive which led you to sacrifice both truth and
honour is probably as praiseworthy as it is absurd. But having made such
a sacrifice, why are you determined to render it useless? I cannot
believe that you are willing to face the loss not only of your own
reputation but of that of the young person who has accepted your
protection. How do you fancy she would enjoy figuring as corespondent in
a divorce suit?"

Cyril felt as if he were caught in a trap.

"My God," he cried, "you wouldn't do that! I swear to you that she is
absolutely innocent. She was in a terrible situation and to say that she
was my wife seemed the only way to save her. She doesn't even know I am

"Really? And have you never considered that when she finds out the
truth, she may fail to appreciate the delicacy which no doubt prevented
you from mentioning the trifling fact of my existence? It is rather
funny that your attempts to rescue forlorn damsels seem doomed to be
unsuccessful! Or were your motives in this case not quite so impersonal
as I fancied? Has Launcelot at last found his Guinevere? If so, I may
yet be avenged vicariously."

"Your presence is punishment enough, I assure you, for all the sins I
ever committed! But come to the point. What exactly is it that you are
threatening me with?"

"Publicity, that is all. If neither you nor this woman object to its
being known that you travelled together as man and wife, then I am

"But you have just acknowledged that you know that our relation is a
harmless one," cried Cyril.

"I do not know it--but--yes, I believe it. Do you think, however, that
any one else will do so?"

"Surely you would not be such a fiend as to wreck the life of an
innocent young girl?"

"If her life is wrecked, whose fault is it? Not mine, at all events. It
was you who by publicly proclaiming her to be your wife, made it
impossible for her disgrace to remain a secret. Don't you realise that
even if I took no steps in the matter, sooner or later the truth is
bound to be discovered? Now I--and I alone--can save you from the
consequences of your folly. If you will agree not to divorce me, I
promise not only to keep your secret, but to protect the good name of
this woman by every means in my power."

"I should like to know what you expect to gain by trying to force me to
take you back? Is it the title that you covet, or do you long to shine
in society? But remember that in order to do that, you would have
radically to reform your habits."

"I have no intention of reforming and I don't care a fig for
conventional society!"

"You tell me that you no longer love me and that you found existence
with me unsupportable. Why then are you not willing to end it?"

"It is true, I no longer love you, but while I live, no other woman
shall usurp my place."

"Your place! When you broke your marriage vows, you forfeited your right
to a place in my life. But I will make a compact with you. You can have
all the money you can possibly want as long as you neither do nor say
anything to imperil the reputation of the young lady in question."

"All the wealth in the world could not buy my silence!"

"This is too horrible!" cried Cyril almost beside himself. "In order to
shield a poor innocent child, you demand that I sacrifice my freedom, my
future, even my honour? Have you no sense of justice, no pity?"

"None. I have said my last word. It is now for you to decide whether I
am to go or stay. Well--which is it to be?"

Cyril looked into her white, set face; what he read there destroyed his
last, lingering hope.

"Stay," he muttered through his clenched teeth.



Cyril leaned wearily back in his chair. He was in that state of
apathetic calm which sometimes succeeds a violent emotion. Of his wife
he had neither seen or heard anything since they parted the night

"My lord!"

Cyril started, for he had not noticed Peter's entrance and the
suppressed excitement of the latter's manner alarmed him.

"What is the matter now?" he demanded.

"She's 'ere, my lord," replied Peter, dropping his voice till it was
almost a whisper.

Cyril sprang from his seat.

"Who?" he cried. "Speak up, can't you?"

"The--the young lady, my lord, as you took charge of on the train. I was
just passing through the 'all as she came in and so----"

"Here?" exclaimed Cyril. "Why didn't you show her up at once?"

"But, my lord," objected Peter. "If 'er Ladyship should 'ear----"

"Mind your own business, you fool, or----"

But Peter had already scuttled out of the room.

Cyril waited, every nerve strung to the highest tension. Was he again to
be disappointed? Yet if his visitor was really Anita, some new
misfortune must have occurred! It seemed to him ages before the door
again opened and admitted a small, cloaked figure, whose features were
practically concealed by a heavy veil. A glance, however, sufficed to
assure him that it was indeed Anita who stood before him. While Cyril
was struggling to regain his composure, she lifted her veil. The
desperation of her eyes appalled him.

"My God, what is the matter?" cried Cyril, striding forward and seizing
her hands.

She gently disengaged herself.

"Lord Wilmersley--" Cyril jumped as if he had been shot. "Yes," she
continued, "I know who you are. I also know who I am."

"But who told you?" stuttered Cyril.

"You did," she quietly replied.

"I? What do you mean?"

For the first time the ghost of a smile hovered round her lips.

"You called me Anita! You didn't know that, did you?"

"Did I really? What a blundering fool I have been from first to last!"
Cyril exclaimed remorsefully.

"You need not reproach yourself. For some days I had been haunted by
fragmentary visions of the past and before I saw you yesterday, I was
practically certain that you were not my husband. Oh! It was not without
a struggle that I finally made up my mind that you had deceived me. I
told myself again and again that you were not the sort of a man who
would take advantage of an unprotected girl; yet the more I thought
about it, the more convinced I became that my suspicions were correct.
Then I tried to imagine what reason you could have for posing as my
husband, but I could think of none. I was in despair! I didn't know what
to do, whom to turn to; for if I could not trust you, whom could I
trust? When I heard my name, it was as if a dim light suddenly flooded
my brain. I knew who I was. I remembered leaving Geralton, but little by
little I realised with dismay that I was still completely in the dark as
to who you were, why you had come into my life. It seemed to me that if
I could not discover the truth, I should go mad. Then I decided to
appeal to Miss Trevor. She was a woman. She looked kind. She would tell
me! I was somehow convinced that she did not know who I was, but I said
to myself that she would certainly have heard of my disappearance, for I
could not believe that Arthur had allowed me to go out of his life
without moving heaven and earth to find me."

"You did not know----?"

Anita shook her head.

"No; it was Miss Trevor who told me that Arthur was dead--that he had
been murdered." She shuddered convulsively. "You see," she added with
pathetic humility, "there are still so many things I do not remember.
Even now I can hardly believe that I, I of all people, killed my
husband." Great tears coursed slowly down her cheeks.

Cyril ached for pity of her.

"Why take it for granted that you did?" he suggested, partly from a
desire to comfort her, but also because there really lingered a doubt in
his mind.

"Do you suspect any one else?" she cried.

"Not at present, but----"

She threw up her hands with a gesture of despair. "No, of course not. I
must have killed him. But I never meant to--you will believe that, won't
you? Those doctors were right, I must have been insane!"

"I am sure you were not. Arthur only intended to frighten you by sending
for those men."

"But if I was not crazy, why can I remember so little of what took place
on that dreadful night and for some time afterwards?"

"I am told that a severe shock often has that effect," replied Cyril.
"But, oh, how I wish you could answer a few questions! I don't want to
raise your hopes; but there is one thing that has always puzzled me and
till that is explained I for one shall always doubt whether it was you
who killed Arthur."

Again the eager light leaped into her eyes.

"Oh, tell me quickly what--what makes you think that I may not have done

Cyril contemplated her a moment in silence. He longed to pursue the
topic, but was fearful of the effect it might have on her.

"Yet now that she knows the worst, it may be a relief to her to talk
about it," he said to himself. "Yes, I will risk it," he finally

"Do you remember that you put a drug in Arthur's coffee?" he asked out

"Yes, perfectly."

"Then you must have expected to make your escape before he regained


"Then why did you arm yourself with a pistol?"

"I didn't! I had no pistol."

"But if you shot Arthur, you must have had a pistol."

She stared at Cyril in evident bewilderment.

"I could have sworn I had no pistol."

Cyril tried to control his rising excitement. "You knew, however, that
Arthur owned one?"

"Yes, but I never knew where he kept it."

"You are sure you have not forgotten----"

"No, no!" she interrupted him. "My memory is perfectly clear up to the
time when Arthur seized me and threw me on the floor."

"After that you remember nothing?"

"Oh, yes, I have a vague recollection of a long walk through the
dark--of a train--of you--of policemen. But everything is so confused
that I can be sure of nothing."

Cyril paced the room deep in thought.

"It seems to me incredible," he said at last, "that if you did not even
know where to look for a pistol, you should have found it, to say
nothing of having been able to use it, while you were being beaten into
unconsciousness by that brute."

But Anita only shook her head hopelessly.

"It is extraordinary, and yet I must have done so. For it has been
proved, has it not, that Arthur and I were absolutely alone?"

"Certainly not! How can we be sure that some one was not concealed in
the room or did not climb in through the window or--why, there are a
thousand possibilities which can never be proved!"

"Ah!" she exclaimed, her whole body trembling with eagerness. "I now
remember that I had put all my jewels in a bag, and as that has
disappeared, a burglar--" But as she scanned Cyril's face, she paused.

"You had the bag with you at the nursing home. The jewels are safe," he
said very gently.

"Then," she cried, "it is useless trying to deceive ourselves any
longer--I killed Arthur and must face the consequences."

"What do you mean?"

"I have decided to give myself up."

"You shall not! I will not allow it!" he cried.

"But don't you see that I can't spend the rest of my life in hiding?
Think what it would mean to live in daily, hourly dread of exposure?
Why, death would be preferable to that."

"Oh, you would be acquitted. There is no doubt of that. That is not what
I am afraid of. But the idea of you, Anita, in prison. Why, it is out of
the question. A week of it would kill you."

"And if it did, what of it? What has life to offer me now?"

"Give me time. I will find some way of saving you. I will do

"There is nothing you can do," she said, laying her hand gently on his
arm. "You have already risked too much. Oh, I can never thank you enough
for all your goodness to me!"

"Don't--don't--I would gladly give my life for you!"

"I know it, Cousin Cyril," she murmured, with downcast eyes. A wave of
colour swept for a moment over her face.

Cyril shivered. With a mighty effort he strove to regain his composure.
Cousin Cyril! Yes, that was what he was to her--that was all he could
ever be to her.

"I know how noble, how unselfish you are," she continued, lifting her
brimming eyes to his. "But your life is not your own. We must both
remember that."

"Both? Anita, is it possible that you----"

"Hush! I have said too much. Let me go," she cried, for Cyril had seized
her hand and was covering it with kisses.

At this moment the door-handle rattled. Cyril and Anita moved hurriedly
away from each other.

"Inspector Griggs is 'ere, my lord."

Peter's face had resumed its usual stolid expression. He appeared not to
notice that his master and the latter's guest were standing in strained
attitudes at opposite ends of the room.

"I can't see him." Cyril motioned Peter impatiently away.

"Why didn't you see the inspector?" exclaimed Anita. "This is the best
time for me to give myself up."

"No, no! I have a plan----"

He was interrupted by the reappearance of Peter.

"The inspector is very sorry, my lord, but he has to see you at once, 'e

"I can't," began Cyril.

"It is no use putting it off," Anita said firmly. "I insist on your
seeing him. If you don't, I shall go down and speak to him myself."

Cyril did not know what to do. He could not argue with her before Peter.
So turning to the latter, he said:

"You can bring him up in ten minutes--not before. You understand?"

"Yes, my lord."

"Anita," implored Cyril, as soon as they were again alone, "I beg you
not to do this thing. If a plan that I have in mind succeeds, you will
be able to leave the country and begin life again under another name."

She hesitated a moment.

"What is this plan?"

He outlined it briefly.

She listened attentively, but when he had finished she shook her head.

"I will not allow you to attempt it. If your fraud were discovered--and
it would surely be discovered--your life would be ruined."

"No--" he began.

"I tell you I will not hear of it. No, I am determined to end this
horrible suspense. Call the inspector."

"I entreat you at all events to wait a little while longer."

"No, no!"

Cyril was almost frantic. The minutes were slipping past. Was there
nothing he could say to turn her from her purpose?

"My wife is here. If she should hear, if she should know--" he began

He was amazed at the effect of his words.

"Why didn't you tell me that she was here?" exclaimed Anita with
flashing eyes. "Of course, I haven't the slightest intention of
involving her in my affairs. I will go at once."

"But you can't leave the house without Griggs seeing you, and he would
certainly guess who you are. Stay in the next room till he is gone, that
is all I ask of you. Here, quick, I hear footsteps on the stairs."

Cyril had hardly time to fling himself into a chair before the inspector
was announced.



"Good-morning, my lord. Rather early to disturb you, I am afraid."

Cyril noticed that Griggs's manner had undergone a subtle change.
Although perfectly respectful, he seemed to hold himself rigidly aloof.
There was even a certain solemnity about his trivial greeting. Cyril
felt that another blow was impending. Instantly and instinctively he
braced himself to meet it.

"Not at all. What can I do for you?" he replied in his usual quiet

The man hesitated a moment.

"The fact is, my lord, I should like to ask you a few questions, but I
warn you that your answers may be used against you."

"I have nothing to fear. What is it you want to know?"

"Have you missed a bag, my lord?"

"That confounded bag! It has turned up at last," thought Cyril. What on
earth should he say? How much did the fellow guess?

"You had better ask my man. He knows more about my things than I do," he
managed to answer, as he lifted a perfectly expressionless face to
Griggs's inspection.

"Quite so, my lord. But I fancy that as far as this particular bag is
concerned, that is not the case."

"Why not?"

"Because I do not see what reason he could have had for hiding one of
his master's bags up the chimney."

"So the bag was found up the chimney? Will you tell me what motive I am
supposed to have had for wishing to conceal it? Is there anything
remarkable about it? Did it contain anything you thought I might want to
get rid of?"

The inspector eyed him narrowly.

"It's no use, my lord. We know that Priscilla Prentice bought this bag a
fortnight ago in Newhaven. Now, if you are able to explain how it came
into your possession, I would strongly advise your doing so."

Still Cyril did not flinch.

"I have never to my knowledge laid eyes on the girl, and I cannot,
therefore, believe that a bag of hers has been found here."

"We can prove it," replied the inspector. "The maker's name is inside
and the man who sold it to her is willing to swear that it is the
identical bag. One of our men has made friends with your chamber-maid
and she confessed that she had discovered it stuffed up the chimney in
your bedroom. She is a stupid girl and thought you had thrown it away,
so she took it. Only afterwards, it occurred to her that you had a
purpose in placing the bag where she had found it and she was going to
return it when my man prevented her from doing so."

"Very remarkable! It all fits together like clock-work. I congratulate
you, Inspector," said Cyril, trying to speak superciliously. "But you
omitted to mention the most important link in the chain of evidence you
have so cleverly forged against me," he continued. "How am I supposed to
have got hold of this bag? I did not stop in Newhaven and you have had
me so closely watched that you must know that since my arrival in
England I have met no one who could have given it to me."

"No, my lord, we are by no means sure of this. Quite the contrary. It is
true that we have, so to speak, kept an eye on you, but, till yesterday,
we had no reason to suspect that you had any connection with the murder,
so we did not think it necessary to have you closely followed. There
have been hours when we have had no idea where you were."

"You surprise me!"

"It is quite possible," continued the inspector without heeding Cyril's
interruption, "that you have met either Prentice or Lady Wilmersley, the
dowager, I mean."

"Really! And why should they have given this bag to me, of all people?
Surely you must see that they could have found many easier, as well as
safer, ways of disposing of it."

"Quite so, my lord, and that is why I am inclined to believe that it was
not through either of them that the bag came into your possession. I
think it more probable that her Ladyship brought it with her."

"Her Ladyship? What do you mean?" Cyril's voice grew suddenly harsh.

"You told me yourself that her Ladyship met you in Newhaven; that, in
fact, she had spent the night of the murder there."

Cyril clutched the table convulsively.

Amy! They suspected Amy. This was too horrible! Why had it never
occurred to him that his lies might involve an innocent person?

"But this is absurd, you know," he stammered, in a futile effort to gain

"Let us hope so, my lord."

"There has been a terrible mistake, I tell you."

"In that case her Ladyship can no doubt easily explain it."

"Her Ladyship is ill. She cannot be disturbed."

"I am afraid that cannot be avoided. I must see her at once. But if you
wish it, I will not question her till she has been examined by our

Cyril rose and moved automatically towards the door.

The inspector stepped forward.

"Sorry, my lord, but for the present you can see her Ladyship only
before witnesses. May I ring the bell?"

"What is the use of asking my permission? You are master here, so it
seems," exclaimed Cyril. His nerves were at last getting beyond his

"I am only doing my duty and I assure you that I want to cause as little
unpleasantness as possible."

A servant appeared.

The inspector remained discreetly in the background.

"Ask her Ladyship please to come here as soon as she can get ready. If
she is asleep, it will be necessary to wake her."

"Very good, my lord."

The two men sat facing each other in silence.

Cyril was hardly conscious of the other's presence. He must think; he
knew he must think; but his brain seemed paralysed. There must be a way
of clearing his wife without casting suspicion on Anita. Yet he could
think of none. Was it possible that he was now called upon to choose
between the woman he hated and the woman he loved, between honour and
dishonour? No, there must be a middle course. Time would surely solve
the difficulty.

The door opened and Amy came slowly into the room. She looked
desperately ill.

She was wrapped in a red velvet dressing-gown and its warm colour
contrasted painfully with the greyness of her face and lips. On catching
sight of the inspector, she started, but controlling herself with an
obvious effort, she turned to her husband.

"You wish to speak to me?"

"You can see for yourself, Inspector, that her Ladyship is in no
condition to be questioned," remonstrated Cyril, moving quickly to his
wife's side.

"Just as you say, my lord, but in that case her Ladyship had better
finish her dressing. It will be necessary for her to accompany me to

"I will not allow it," cried Cyril, almost beside himself and throwing a
protecting arm around Amy's shoulders.

Her bloodshot eyes rested a moment on her husband, then gently
disengaging herself, she drew herself to her full height and faced the

"What is the matter? You need not try to spare me."

"His Lordship----"

"Do not listen to his Lordship. It is I who demand to be told the

"Amy, I beg you--" interposed Cyril.

"No, no," she cried, shaking off her husband's hand. "Let me know the
worst. Don't you see that you are torturing me?"

"There has been a mistake. It is all my fault," began Cyril.

She silenced him with an imperious gesture.

"I am waiting to hear what the inspector has to say."

Griggs cast a questioning look at Cyril, which the latter answered by a
helpless shrug.

"A bag has been found in his Lordship's chimney, which was lately
purchased in Newhaven. Do you know how it got there? But perhaps before
answering, you may wish to consult your legal adviser."

She cast a quick glance at her husband.

"I will neither acknowledge nor deny anything until I have seen this bag
and know of what I am accused," she answered after a barely perceptible

Griggs opened the door and called:

"Jones, the bag, please."

The inspector handed it to Amy.

She looked at it for a moment. Cyril watched her breathlessly. What
would she say? Had the moment come when he must proclaim the truth?

"Am I supposed to have bought this bag?" she asked.

"No, my lady. It was sold to Prentice, who was sempstress at Geralton
and we believe it is the one in which Lady Wilmersley carried off her

Amy gave a muffled exclamation, but almost instantly she regained her

"If that is so, how do you connect me with it? Because it happens to
have been found here, do you accuse me of having robbed my cousin?"

"No, my lady, but as you spent the night of the murder in Newhaven----"

To Cyril's surprise she shuddered from head to foot.

"No, no!" she cried, stretching out her hands as if to ward off a blow.

"It is useless to deny it. His Lordship himself told me that you had
joined him there."

"I lied! It was not her Ladyship who was with me. Her Ladyship was in
Paris at the time. I swear it on my honour. The bag is--is mine. You can
arrest me. I am guilty." Thank God, thought Cyril, he had at last found
a way of saving both his love and his honour.

"Guilty of what, my lord? Of a murder which was committed while you were
still in France--" asked Griggs, lifting his eyebrows incredulously.

"Yes! I mean I instigated it--I hated my cousin--I needed the money, so
I hired an accomplice. He bungled things. I give myself up. I confess.
What more do you want?" cried Cyril.

"Not so fast, my lord. Of course, if you insist upon it, I shall have to
arrest you, but I don't believe you had anything more to do with the
murder than I had, and I would stake my reputation on your being as
straight a gentleman as I ever met professionally. Wait a bit, my lord,
don't be 'asty." In his excitement Griggs dropped one of his carefully
guarded aitches.

The door opened.

"Mr. Campbell, my lord."

"Guy," exclaimed Cyril. "You have arrived in the nick of time. I have

"Confessed what?" Campbell cast a bewildered look at the inspector.

"His Lordship says that he hired an assassin to murder Lord Wilmersley."

"What rot! You don't believe him, I hope?"

"He _shall_ believe me," cried Cyril. "I alone am responsible for
Wilmersley's death. The person who actually fired the shot was nothing
but my tool. I will never betray him, never!"

"Honour among murderers, I see! Really, Cyril, you are too ridiculous,"
exclaimed Campbell.

Suddenly he caught sight of Amy, cowering in the shadow of the curtain.

"Who is this lady?" he asked.

"My wife! Look after her. Look after everything." Cyril gave Guy a look
in which he tried to convey all that he did not dare to say.

The door again opened.

"Mr. Judson is 'ere, my lord. I told him you were engaged, but he says
he would like to speak to you most particular."

"I don't want to see him," began Cyril.

"Don't be a greater fool than you can help," exclaimed Campbell. "How do
you know that he has not some important news?"

"But--" objected Cyril.

"Good morning, your Lordship. How do you do, Inspector. Mr. Campbell, I
believe. Your servant, your Ladyship. I took the liberty of forcing
myself upon you at this moment, my lord, because I have just learnt
certain facts which----"

"It is too late to report," interposed Cyril hastily. "I have

The detective smiled indulgently.

"Why, my lord, what is the use of pretending that you had anything to do
with the murder? I hurried here to tell you that there is no further
need of your sacrificing yourself. I have found out who----"

"Shut up, I say. I did it. It's none of your business anyhow!" cried
Cyril incoherently.

"Don't listen to his Lordship," said Amy. "We all know, of course, that
he is perfectly innocent. He is trying to shield some one. But who?" She
cast a keen look at Cyril.

"That's just it," Judson agreed. "And it is partly my fault. I convinced
his Lordship that Lord Wilmersley was murdered by his wife. I have come
here to tell him that I was mistaken. It is lucky that I discovered the
truth in time."

"Thank God!" cried Cyril. "I always knew she was innocent." His relief
was so intense that it robbed him of all power of concealment.

Amy's mouth hardened into a straight, inflexible line; her eyes

"I suppose that you have some fact to support your extraordinary
assertion?" demanded Griggs, unable to hide his vexation at finding that
his rival had evidently outwitted him.

"Certainly, but I will say no more till I have his Lordship's
permission. He is my employer, you know."

"What difference does that make?" asked Cyril. "I am more anxious than
any one to discover the truth."

"Permit me to suggest, my lord, that it would be better if I could first
speak to you in private."

"Nonsense," exclaimed Cyril impatiently. "I am tired of this eternal
secrecy. Tell us what you have found out."

The detective's brows contracted slightly.

"Very well, only remember, I warned you."

"That's all right."

"Have you forgotten, my lord, that I told you I always had an idea that
those two Frenchmen who were staying at the Red Lion Inn, were somehow
implicated in the affair?"

"But what possible motive could they have had for murdering my cousin?"
demanded Cyril.

The detective's eyes appeared to wander aimlessly from one of his
auditors to another.

"We are waiting. What about those Frenchmen?"

It was Amy who spoke. She moved slowly forward, and leaning her arm on
the mantelpiece confronted the four men.

"You wish me to continue?" asked Judson.

"Certainly. Why not?"

The detective inclined his head and again turned towards Cyril.

"Having once discovered their identity, my lord, their motive was quite

"Well, who are they? Out with it."

"The elder," began Judson, speaking very slowly, "is Monsieur de
Brissac. The younger--" he paused.

For a moment Cyril was too stunned to speak. He could do nothing but
stare stupidly at the detective. Amy guilty! Amy! It was incredible!

"Stop! Your suspicions are absurd! Do not listen to him, Inspector!" He
hardly knew what he was saying. He only realised confusedly that
something within him was crying to him to save her.

A wonderful light suddenly transfigured Amy's drawn face.

"Cyril, would you really do this for----"

"Hush!" He tried to silence her.

She turned proudly to the inspector.

"I don't care now who knows the truth. I killed Lord Wilmersley."

"Don't listen to her! Don't you see that she is not accountable for what
she is saying?" cried Cyril. He had forgotten everything but that she
was a woman--his wife.

"I killed Lord Wilmersley," Amy repeated, as if he had not spoken, "but
I did not murder him."

"Does your Ladyship expect us to believe that you happened to call at
the castle at half-past ten in the evening, and that during an amicable
conversation you accidentally shot Lord Wilmersley?" demanded Griggs.

"No," replied Amy contemptuously, "of course not! I--" She hesitated.

"If your Ladyship had not ulterior purpose in going to Newhaven, why did
you disguise yourself as a boy and live there under an assumed name? And
who is this Frenchman who posed as your brother?"

Amy threw her head back defiantly. A faint colour swept over her face.

"Monsieur de Brissac was my lover. When we discovered that his Lordship
was employing detectives, we went to Newhaven, because we thought that
it was the last place where they would be likely to look for us. I
disguised myself to throw them off the scent."

"But the description the inspector gave me of the boy did not resemble
you in the least," insisted Cyril.

"It was I nevertheless. I merely cut off my hair and dyed it. See!" She
snatched the black wig from her head, disclosing a short crop of reddish

"You have yet to explain," resumed the inspector sternly, "what took you
to Geralton in the middle of the night. Under the circumstances I should
have thought your Ladyship would hardly have cared to visit his
Lordship's relations."

Ignoring Griggs, Amy turned to her husband.

"My going there was the purest accident," she began in a dull,
monotonous voice, almost as if she were reciting a lesson, but as she
proceeded, her excitement increased till finally she became so absorbed
in her story that she appeared to forget her hearers completely. "I was
horribly restless, so we spent most of our time motoring and often
stayed out very late. One night a tire burst. I noticed that we had
stopped within a short walk of the castle. As I had never seen it except
at a distance, it occurred to me that I would like to have a nearer view
of the place. In my boy's clothes I found it fairly easy to climb the
low wall which separates the gardens from the park. Not a light was to
be seen, so, as there seemed no danger of my being discovered, I
ventured on to the terrace. As I stood there, I heard a faint cry. My
first impulse was to retrace my footsteps as quickly as possible, but
when I realised that it was a woman who was crying for help, I felt that
I must find out what was the matter. Running in the direction from which
the sound came, I turned a corner and found myself confronted by a
lighted window. The shrieks were now positively blood-curdling and there
was no doubt in my mind that some poor creature was being done to death
only a few feet away from me. The window was high above my head, but I
was determined to reach it. After several unsuccessful attempts I
managed to gain a foothold on the uneven surface of the wall and hoist
myself on to the window-sill. Luckily the window was partially open, so
I was able to slip noiselessly into the room and hide behind the
curtain. Peering through the folds, I saw a woman lying on the floor.
Her bodice was torn open, exposing her bare back. Over her stood a man
who was beating her with a piece of cord which was attached to the waist
of a sort of Eastern dressing-gown he wore.

"'So you thought you would leave me, did you?' he cried over and over
again as the lash fell faster and faster. 'Well, you won't! Not till I
send you to hell, which I will some day.'

"At last he paused and wiped the perspiration from his brow. He was very
fat and his exertions were evidently telling on him.

"'Why shouldn't I kill you now? I have my pistol within reach of my
hand. It is here on my desk. Ah, you didn't know that, did you?' He gave
a fiendish laugh.

"The woman shuddered but made no attempt to rise.

"I was slowly recovering from the terror which had at first paralysed
me. I realised I must act at once if I meant to save Lady Wilmersley's
life. The desk was behind him.

"Dropping on my hands and knees, I crept cautiously toward it. 'Kill
you, kill you, that is what I ought to do,' he kept repeating.

"I reached the desk. No pistol was to be seen; yet I knew it was there.
As I fumbled among his papers, my hand touched an ancient steel
gauntlet. Some instinct told me that I had found what I sought. But how
to open it was the question. Some agonising moments passed before I at
last accidentally pressed the spring and a pistol lay in my hand.

"He again raised the cord.

"'Stop!' I cried.

"He swung around and as he caught sight of the pistol levelled at his
head, the purple slowly faded from his face.

"Then seemingly reassured at finding that it was only a boy who
confronted him, he took a step forward.

"'Who the devil are you? Get out of here!' he cried.

"'Stay where you are or I fire.'

"'What nonsense is this?' he blustered, but I noticed that his knees
shook and he made no further effort to move.

"'Climb out of the window. There is a car waiting in the road,' I called
to the girl.

"'She shall not go!' he shrieked. The veins stood out on his temples.

"I held him with my eye and saw his coward soul quiver with fear as I
moved deliberately nearer him.

"'Do as I tell you. Run for your life,' I repeated.

"'But you?' gasped Lady Wilmersley.

"'I have the pistol. I am not afraid. I will follow you,' I assured her.

"I knew rather than saw that she picked up a jacket and bag which lay
near the window. With a soft thud she dropped into the night. That is
the last I saw of her. What became of her I do not know." Amy paused a

"As Lord Wilmersley saw his wife disappear, he gave a cry like a wounded
animal and rushed after her. I fired. He staggered back a few steps,
then turning he ran into the adjoining room. I heard a splash but did
not stop to find out what happened. Almost beside myself with terror, I
fled from the castle. If you have any more questions to ask, you had
better hurry."

She stopped abruptly, trembling from head to foot, and glanced wildly
about her till her eyes rested on her husband. For a long, long moment
she regarded him in silence. She seemed to be gathering herself together
for a supreme effort.

All four men watched her in breathless suspense.

With her eyes still fastened on Cyril she fumbled in the bosom of her
dress, then her hand shot out, and before any one could prevent her, she
jabbed a hypodermic needle deep into her arm.

"What have you done?" cried Cyril, springing forward and wrenching the
needle from her.

A beatific smile spread slowly over her face.

"You are--free," she gasped.

She swayed a little and would have fallen if Cyril had not caught her.

"Quick--a doctor," he cried.

"It is too late," she murmured. "Too late! Forgive me, Cyril.



Under a yew tree, overlooking a wide lawn, bordered on the farther side
by a bank of flowers, three people are sitting clustered around a

One of them is a little old lady, the dearest old lady imaginable. By
her side, in a low basket chair, a girl is half sitting, half reclining.
Her small figure, clad in a simple black frock, gives the impression of
extreme youth, which impression is heightened by the fact that her
curly, yellow hair, reaching barely to the nape of her neck, is caught
together by a black ribbon like a schoolgirl's. But when one looks more
closely into her pale face, one realises somehow that she is a woman and
a woman who has suffered--who still suffers.

On the ground facing the younger woman a red-headed young man in white
flannels is squatting tailor-fashion. He is holding out an empty cup to
be refilled.

"Not another!" exclaims the little old lady in a horrified tone. "Why,
you have had three already!"

"My dear Trevie, let me inform you once and for all that I have
abandoned my figure. Why should I persist in the struggle now that Anita
refuses to smile on me? When one's heart is broken, one had better make
the most of the few pleasures one can still enjoy. So another cup,

Anita took no notice of his sally; her eyes were fixed on the distant
horizon; she seemed absorbed in her own thoughts.

"By the way," remarked Campbell casually as he sipped his tea, "I spent
last Sunday at Geralton." He watched Anita furtively. A faint flutter of
the eyelids was the only indication she gave of having heard him, yet
Guy was convinced that she was waiting breathlessly for him to continue.

"How is Lord Wilmersley?" asked Miss Trevor with kindly indifference.

"Very well indeed. He is doing a lot to the castle. You would hardly
know it--the interior, I mean." Although he had pointedly addressed
Anita, she made no comment. It was only after a long silence that she
finally spoke.

"And how is Valdriguez?" she inquired.

"Much the same. She plays all day long with the dolls Cyril bought for
her. She seems quite happy."

Again they relapsed into silence.

Miss Trevor took up her knitting, which had been lying in her lap, and
was soon busy avoiding the pitfalls a heel presents to the unwary.

"I think I will go for a walk," said Anita, rising slowly from her seat.
There was a hint of exasperation in her voice which escaped neither of
her hearers.

Miss Trevor peered anxiously over her spectacles at the retreating

Campbell's rubicund countenance had grown strangely grave.

"No better?" he asked as soon as Anita was out of earshot.

Miss Trevor shook her head disconsolately.

"Worse, I think. I can't imagine what can be the matter with her. She
seemed at one time to have recovered from her terrible experience. But
now, as you can see for yourself, she is absolutely wretched. She takes
no interest in anything. She hardly eats enough to keep a bird alive. If
she goes on like this much longer, she will fret herself into her grave.
Yet whenever I question her, she assures me that she is all right. I
really don't know what I ought to do."

"Has it never occurred to you that she may be wondering why Wilmersley
has never written to her, nor been to see her?"

"Lord Wilmersley? Why--no. She hardly ever mentions him."

"She never mentions him," corrected Guy. "She inquires after everybody
at Geralton except Cyril. Doesn't that strike you as very suspicious?"

"Oh, you don't mean that----"

He nodded.

"But she hardly knows him! You told me yourself that she had only seen
him three or four times."

"True, but you must remember that they met under very romantic
conditions. And Cyril is the sort of chap who would be likely to appeal
to a girl's imagination."

"Lady Wilmersley in love! I can't believe it!" exclaimed Miss Trevor.

"I wish I didn't," muttered Guy under his breath.

She heard him, however, and laid her small, wrinkled hand tenderly on
his shoulder.

"My poor boy, I guessed your trouble long ago."

"Don't pity me! It doesn't hurt any longer--not much at least. When one
realises a thing is quite hopeless, one somehow ends by adjusting
oneself to the inevitable. What I feel for her now is more worship than
love. I want above all things that she should be happy, and if Cyril can
make her so, I would gladly speed his wooing."

"Do you think he has any thought of her?"

"I am sure he loves her."

"Then why has he given no sign of life all these months?"

"I fancy he is waiting for the year of their mourning to elapse. But I
confess that I am surprised that he has been able to restrain his
impatience as long as this. Every day I have expected--"

"By Jove!" cried Campbell, springing to his feet, "there he is now!"

Miss Trevor turned and saw a tall figure emerge from the house.

Being plunged suddenly into the midst of romance, together with the
unexpected and dramatic arrival of the hero, was too much for the little
lady's composure. Her bag, her knitting, her glasses fell to the ground
unheeded as she rose hurriedly to receive Lord Wilmersley.

"So glad to see you! Let me give you a cup of tea, or would you prefer
some whiskey and soda?" She was so flustered that she hardly knew what
she was saying.

"Thanks, I won't take anything. Hello, Guy! You here? Rather fancied I
might run across you."

Cyril's eyes strayed anxiously hither and thither.

"Looking for Anita, are you?" asked Guy.

"I?" Cyril gave a start of guilty surprise. "Yes, I was wondering where
she was." His tone was excessively casual.

"Humph!" grunted Campbell contemptuously.

"She has gone for a little walk, but as she never leaves the grounds,
she can't be very far off," said Miss Trevor.

"Perhaps--" Cyril hesitated; he was painfully embarrassed.

Guy came to his rescue.

"Come along," he said. "I will show you where you are likely to find

"Thanks! I did rather want to see her--ahem, on business!"

"On business? Oh, you old humbug!" jeered Campbell as he sauntered off.

For a moment Cyril glared at Guy's back indignantly; then mumbling an
apology to Miss Trevor, he hastened after him.

They had gone only a short distance before they espied a small,
black-robed figure coming towards them. Guy stopped short; he glanced at
Cyril, but the latter was no longer conscious of his presence. Without a
word he turned and hurriedly retraced his footsteps.

"Well, Trevie," he said, "I must be going. Can't loaf forever, worse
luck!" His manner was quite ostentatiously cheerful.

Miss Trevor, however, was not deceived by it. "You are a dear,
courageous boy," she murmured.

With a flourish of his hat that seemed to repudiate all sympathy, Guy
turned on his heel and marched gallantly away.

Meanwhile, in another part of the garden, a very different scene was
being enacted.

On catching sight of each other Cyril and Anita had both halted
simultaneously. Cyril's heart pounded so violently that he could hardly
hear himself think.

"I must be calm," he said to himself. "I must be calm! But how beautiful
she is! If I only had a little more time to collect my wits! I know I
shall make an ass of myself!"

As these thoughts went racing through his brain, he had been moving
almost automatically forward. Already he could distinguish the soft
curve of her parted lips and the colour of her dilated eyes.

A sudden panic seized him. He was conscious of a wild desire to fly from
her presence; but it was too late. He was face to face with her.

For a moment neither moved, but under the insistence of his gaze her
eyes slowly sank before his. Then, without a word, as one who merely
claims his own, he flung his arms around her and crushed her to his


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The House Opposite


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