And yet this catastrophe rose out of a mistake. When the detective asked Jem Davies to watch the lawn, he never suspected that the clergyman was the villain who had been concerned in that explosion. But Davies, a man of few ideas and full of his own wrong, took for granted, as such minds will, that the policeman would not have spoken to him if this had not been his affair; so he and his fellows gathered about the steps and watched the drawing-room. They caught a glimpse of Monckton, but that only puzzled them. His appearance was inconsistent with the only description they had got—in fact opposed to it. It was Grace Clifford’s denunciation, trumpet-tongued, that let loose savage justice on the villain. Never was a woman’s voice so fatal, or so swift to slay. She would have undone her work. She screamed, she implored; but it was all in vain. The fury she had launched she could not recall. As for Bartley, words can hardly describe his abject terror. He crouched, he shivered, he moaned, he almost swooned; and long after it was all over he was found crouched in a corner of the little room, and his very reason appeared to be shaken. Judge Lynch had passed him, but too near. The freezing shadow of Retribution chilled him.
Colonel Clifford looked at him with contemptuous pity, and sent him home with John Baker in a close carriage.
* * * * *
Lucy Monckton was in the parlor of the Dun Cow waiting for her master. The detectives and some outdoor servants of Clifford Hall brought a short ladder and paillasses, and something covered with blankets, to the door. Lucy saw, but did not suspect the truth.
They had a murmured consultation with the landlady. During this Mark Waddy came down, and there was some more whispering, and soon the battered body was taken up to Mark Waddy’s room and deposited on his bed. The detectives retired to consult, and Waddy had to break the calamity to Mrs. Monckton. He did this as well as he could; but it little matters how such blows are struck. Her agony was great, and greater when she saw him, for she resisted entirely all attempts to keep her from him. She installed herself at once as his nurse, and Mark Waddy retired to a garret.
A surgeon came by Colonel Clifford’s order and examined Monckton’s bruised body, and shook his head. He reported that there were no bones broken, but there were probably grave internal injuries. These, however, he could not specify at present, since there was no sensibility in the body; so pressure on the injured parts elicited no groans. He prescribed egg and brandy in small quantities, and showed Mrs. Monckton how to administer it to a patient in that desperate condition.
His last word was in private to Waddy. “If he ever speaks again, or even groans aloud, send for me. Otherwise—” and he shrugged his shoulders.