“I shall get some lunch and then call on Miss Gibson to let her know the real position.”
“Yes, that will be kind, I think; baldly stated, the news may seem rather alarming. I was tempted to thrash the case out in the police court, but it would not have been safe. He would almost certainly have been committed for trial after all, and then we should have shown our hand to the prosecution.”
He sprang into the hansom and was speedily swallowed up in the traffic, while I turned back towards the police court to make certain inquiries concerning the regulations as to visitors at Holloway prison. At the door I met the friendly inspector from Scotland Yard, who gave me the necessary information, whereupon with a certain homely little French restaurant in my mind I bent my steps in the direction of Soho.
SHOALS AND QUICKSANDS
When I arrived at Endsley Gardens, Miss Gibson was at home, and to my unspeakable relief, Mrs. Hornby was not. My veneration for that lady’s moral qualities was excessive, but her conversation drove me to the verge of insanity—an insanity not entirely free from homicidal tendencies.
“It is good of you to come—though I thought you would,” Miss Gibson said impulsively, as we shook hands. “You have been so sympathetic and human—both you and Dr. Thorndyke—so free from professional stiffness. My aunt went off to see Mr. Lawley directly we got Walter’s telegram.”
“I am sorry for her,” I said (and was on the point of adding “and him,” but fortunately a glimmer of sense restrained me); “she will find him dry enough.”
“Yes; I dislike him extremely. Do you know that he had the impudence to advise Reuben to plead ’guilty’?”
“He told us he had done so, and got a well-deserved snubbing from Thorndyke for his pains.”
“I am so glad,” exclaimed Miss Gibson viciously. “But tell me what has happened. Walter simply said ‘Transferred to higher court,’ which we agreed was to mean, ‘Committed for trial.’ Has the defence failed? And where is Reuben?”
“The defence is reserved. Dr. Thorndyke considered it almost certain that the case would be sent for trial, and that being so, decided that it was essential to keep the prosecution in the dark as to the line of defence. You see, if the police knew what the defence was to be they could revise their own plans accordingly.”
“I see that,” said she dejectedly, “but I am dreadfully disappointed. I had hoped that Dr. Thorndyke would get the case dismissed. What has happened to Reuben?”
This was the question that I had dreaded, and now that I had to answer it I cleared my throat and bent my gaze nervously on the floor.
“The magistrate refused bail,” I said after an uncomfortable pause.
“Consequently Reuben has been—er—detained in custody.”