This Thorndyke scrutinised eagerly, and having pronounced it satisfactory, informed Mrs. Hornby that the object of her visit was attained, and thanked her for the trouble she had taken.
“I am very glad we came,” said Miss Gibson to me, as a little later we walked slowly up Mitre Court in the wake of Mrs. Hornby and Thorndyke; “and I am glad to have seen these wonderful instruments, too. It has made me realise that something is being done and that Dr. Thorndyke really has some object in view. It has really encouraged me immensely.”
“And very properly so,” I replied. “I, too, although I really know nothing of what my colleague is doing, feel very strongly that he would not take all this trouble and give up so much valuable time if he had not some very definite purpose and some substantial reasons for taking a hopeful view.”
“Thank you for saying that,” she rejoined warmly; “and you will let me have a crumb of comfort when you can, won’t you?” She looked in my face so wistfully as she made this appeal that I was quite moved; and, indeed, I am not sure that my state of mind at that moment did not fully justify my colleague’s reticence towards me.
However, I, fortunately, had nothing to tell, and so, when we emerged into Fleet Street to find Mrs. Hornby already ensconced in a hansom, I could only promise, as I grasped the hand that she offered to me, to see her again at the earliest opportunity—a promise which my inner consciousness assured me would be strictly fulfilled.
“You seem to be on quite confidential terms with our fair friend,” Thorndyke remarked, as we strolled back towards his chambers. “You are an insinuating dog, Jervis.”
“She is very frank and easy to get on with,” I replied.
“Yes. A good girl and a clever girl, and comely to look upon withal. I suppose it would be superfluous for me to suggest that you mind your eye?”
“I shouldn’t, in any case, try to cut out a man who is under a cloud,” I replied sulkily.
“Of course you wouldn’t; hence the need of attention to the ophthalmic member. Have you ascertained what Miss Gibson’s actual relation is to Reuben Hornby?”
“No,” I answered.
“It might be worth while to find out,” said Thorndyke; and then he relapsed into silence.
COMMITTED FOR TRIAL
Thorndyke’s hint as to the possible danger foreshadowed by my growing intimacy with Juliet Gibson had come upon me as a complete surprise, and had, indeed, been resented by me as somewhat of an impertinence. Nevertheless, it gave me considerable food for meditation, and I presently began to suspect that the watchful eyes of my observant friend might have detected something in my manner towards Miss Gibson suggestive of sentiments that had been unsuspected by myself.