“Show him into my study,” she whispered to the girl.
She returned to her visitor, who was sitting with her face buried in her hands.
“Mr. Crewe has just motored down,” she said. “I will save your husband if I can.”
She was conscious that the revelation that her father had been killed by Mr. Holymead was a less shock than the revelation that her father had dishonoured the great friendship of his life by seducing his friend’s wife. Her father had been dead three months, and her grief had run its course. The shock caused by the discovery that he had been murdered had passed away, and she had begun to accept his violent death as part of her own experience of life. But the discovery that he had betrayed his best friend, in a way that a pure-minded woman regards as the most dishonourable way possible, was a fresh revelation to her of human infamy.
The knowledge that her father had been a man of immoral habits was not new to her. His predilection for fast women had long ago made it impossible for her to live in the same house with him for more than a week at a time. But that he had trampled in the mire the lifelong friendship of an honourable man for the sake of an ignoble passion revealed an unexpected depth of shame. That Mr. Holymead had killed him seemed almost a natural result of the situation. It was not that she felt that a just retribution had overtaken her father, but rather that she was glad his shameful conduct had come to an end. As she thought of her dead father—dead these three months—she gave a sigh of relief. The wretched guilty woman, who had shared with him the shame of his ignoble intrigue, had said that if her father could make his wishes known he would plead for the life of the friend he had dishonoured. But it was not her father’s plea for the life of his friend that would have impressed her so much as a plea to bury the whole unsavoury scandal from the light. She had promised to save Mr. Holymead if she could, but that promise had sprung less from the spirit of mercy than from the desire to save her father’s name from a scandal, which would hold him up to public obloquy.
She greeted Crewe with friendly warmth in spite of the feeling of oppression caused by the consciousness of the situation in front of her. He did not sit down again after greeting her, but stood with one hand resting on an inlaid chess table, with wonderful carved red and white Japanese chessmen ranged on each side, which he had been examining when she entered the room.
“I came down to make my report to you because I think my work is finished,” he said.
“You have found out who killed my father?” she asked quietly.
Crewe had sufficient personal pride to feel a little hurt when he saw the calm way in which she accepted the result of his investigations, instead of congratulating him on his success in a difficult task.