“Where to, ma’am?” asked the driver.
“Where to?” she repeated vacantly. With an effort of will she concentrated her thoughts on the task in front of her, and hastily added, “To Victoria, as quick as you can. No—wait—driver, first take me to the nearest bookstall.”
The taxi-cab took her to a bookstall in the Strand, where she got out and purchased a railway guide. As the taxi-cab proceeded towards Victoria she hastily turned the pages to the trains for Dellmere. She had never been to Dellmere, but she had heard from Miss Fewbanks that her father’s place was reached from a station called Horleydene, on the main line to Wennesden, and that though there were many through trains, comparatively few stopped at Horleydene. But she was unused to time-tables, and found it difficult to grasp the information she required. There was such a bewildering diversity of letters at the head of the lists of trains for that line, and so many reference notes on different pages to be looked up before it was possible to ascertain with any degree of certainty what trains stopped at Horleydene on week-days, that, in her shaken frame of mind, with the necessity for hurry haunting her, she became confused, and failed to comprehend the perplexing figures. She signalled to the driver to stop, and handed him the book.
“I cannot understand this time-table,” she said, in an agitated way. “Would you find out for me, please, when the next train leaves Victoria for Horleydene?”
The driver consulted the time-table with a businesslike air.
“The next train leaves at 12.40,” he informed her. “After that there isn’t another one stopping there till 4.5.”
Mrs. Holymead consulted her watch anxiously.
“It’s almost half-past twelve now. Can you catch the 12.40?” she asked.
The driver looked dubious.
“I’ll try, ma’am, but it’ll take some doing. It depends whether I get a clear run at Trafalgar Square.”
“Try, try!” she cried. “Catch it, and I will double your fare.”
She caught the train with a few seconds to spare. She had a first-class compartment to herself, and as the train rushed out of London, and the grimy environs of the metropolis gradually gave place to green fields, she endeavoured to compose her mind and collect her thoughts for her coming interview with the daughter of the murdered man. But her mind was in such a distraught condition that she could think of no plan but to sacrifice herself in order to save her husband. With cold hands pressed against her hot forehead, she muttered again and again, as if offering up an invocation that gained force by repetition:
“I must save him. I will tell her everything.”
The train ran into Horleydene shortly after two, and Mrs. Holymead was the only passenger who alighted at the lonely little wayside station which stood in a small wood in a solitude as profound as though it had been in the American prairie, instead of the heart of an English county. The only sign of life was a dilapidated vehicle with an elderly man in charge, which stood outside the station yard all day waiting for chance visitors.