As we proceeded, her spirits revived somewhat, a circumstance that she graciously ascribed to the enlivening influence of my society; and I then told her of the mishap that had befallen my colleague.
“What a terrible thing!” she exclaimed, with evidently unaffected concern. “It is the merest chance that he was not killed on the spot. Is he much hurt? And would he mind, do you think, if I called to inquire after him?”
I said that I was sure he would be delighted (being, as a matter of fact, entirely indifferent as to his sentiments on the subject in my delight at the proposal), and when I stepped down from the cab at King’s Cross to pursue my way homewards, there already opened out before me the prospect of the renewal of this bitter-sweet and all too dangerous companionship on the morrow.
POLTON IS MYSTIFIED
A couple of days sufficed to prove that Thorndyke’s mishap was not to be productive of any permanent ill consequences; his wounds progressed favourably and he was able to resume his ordinary avocations.
Miss Gibson’s visit—but why should I speak of her in these formal terms? To me, when I thought of her, which I did only too often, she was Juliet, with perhaps an adjective thrown in; and as Juliet I shall henceforth speak of her (but without the adjective) in this narrative, wherein nothing has been kept back from the reader—Juliet’s visit, then, had been a great success, for my colleague was really pleased by the attention, and displayed a quiet geniality that filled our visitor with delight.
He talked a good deal of Reuben, and I could see that he was endeavouring to settle in his own mind the vexed question of her relations with and sentiments towards our unfortunate client; but what conclusions he arrived at I was unable to discover, for he was by no means communicative after she had left. Nor was there any repetition of the visit—greatly to my regret—since, as I have said, he was able, in a day or two, to resume his ordinary mode of life.
The first evidence I had of his renewed activity appeared when I returned to the chambers at about eleven o’clock in the morning, to find Polton hovering dejectedly about the sitting-room, apparently perpetrating as near an approach to a “spring clean” as could be permitted in a bachelor establishment.
“Hallo, Polton!” I exclaimed, “have you contrived to tear yourself away from the laboratory for an hour or two?”
“No, sir,” he answered gloomily. “The laboratory has torn itself away from me.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The Doctor has shut himself in and locked the door, and he says I am not to disturb him. It will be a cold lunch to-day.”
“What is he doing in there?” I inquired.
“Ah!” said Polton, “that’s just what I should like to know. I’m fair eaten up with curiosity. He is making some experiments in connection with some of his cases, and when the Doctor locks himself in to make experiments, something interesting generally follows. I should like to know what it is this time.”