“I am afraid I have wasted a great deal of time,” said Juliet, looking at her watch. “Shall we be too late, do you think?”
“I hope not,” I replied, “for Reuben will be looking for us; but we must hurry.”
I caught up my hat, and we went forth, closing the oak behind us, and took our way up King’s Bench Walk in silence, but with a new and delightful sense of intimate comradeship. I glanced from time to time at my companion, and noted that her cheek still bore a rosy flush, and when she looked at me there was a sparkle in her eye, and a smiling softness in her glance, that stirred my heart until I trembled with the intensity of the passion that I must needs conceal. And even while I was feeling that I must tell her all, and have done with it, tell her that I was her abject slave, and she my goddess, my queen; that in the face of such a love as mine no man could have any claim upon her; even then, there arose the still, small voice that began to call me an unfaithful steward and to remind me of a duty and trust that were sacred even beyond love.
In Fleet Street I hailed a cab, and, as I took my seat beside my fair companion, the voice began to wax and speak in bolder and sterner accents.
“Christopher Jervis,” it said, “what is this that you are doing? Are you a man of honour or nought but a mean, pitiful blackguard? You, the trusted agent of this poor, misused gentleman, are you not planning in your black heart how you shall rob him of that which, if he is a man at all, must be more to him than his liberty, or even his honour? Shame on you for a miserable weakling! Have done with these philanderings and keep your covenants like a gentleman—or, at least, an honest man!”
At this point in my meditations Juliet turned towards me with a coaxing smile.
“My legal adviser seems to be revolving some deep and weighty matter,” she said.
I pulled myself together and looked at her—at her sparkling eyes and rosy, dimpling cheeks, so winsome and lovely and lovable.
“Come,” I thought, “I must put an end to this at once, or I am lost.” But it cost me a very agony of effort to do it—which agony, I trust, may be duly set to my account by those who may sit in judgement on me.
“Your legal adviser, Miss Gibson,” I said (and at that “Miss Gibson” I thought she looked at me a little queerly), “has been reflecting that he has acted considerably beyond his jurisdiction.”
“In what respect?” she asked.
“In passing on to you information which was given to him in very strict confidence, and, in fact, with an implied promise of secrecy on his part.”
“But the information was not of a very secret character, was it?”
“More so than it appeared. You see, Thorndyke thinks it so important not to let the prosecution suspect that he has anything up his sleeve, that he has kept even Mr. Lawley in the dark, and he has never said as much to me as Anstey did this morning.”