Yet the future looked terribly doubtful. Would the inquiries be successful? would Gertrude be freed from Voltaire? and should I be happy?
USING THE ENEMY’S WEAPONS
Two months passed, and no tidings of Kaffar—at least, none that were worthy of consideration. The detectives had done all that men could do; they had made every inquiry possible, they had set on foot dozens of schemes; but all in vain. Voltaire, who had been closely watched, was apparently living a quiet, harmless life, and was not, so far as could be seen, in communication with him. I had done all that I could do myself. I had followed in England every possible clue, all of which had ended in failure.
Three months passed. Still no reliable news. One detective fancied he had detected him in Constantinople; another was equally certain he had, at the same time, seen him in Berlin. I became almost mad with despair. The first of December had come, and I was not a step nearer finding the man whose presence would free me from Voltaire’s villainous charge.
That which troubled me most was the fact that I did not know whether he were alive. Even if I did not kill him, perhaps Voltaire had got him out of the way so that he might fasten the guilt on me. “What, after all,” was the thought that maddened me, “if he should be lying at the bottom of Drearwater Pond?”
There were only twenty-four days now. Three weeks and three days, and I knew not what to do. If I failed, my love would marry the man who was worse than a fiend, while I, for whom she was to suffer this torture, was unable to help her.
And yet I had tried, God alone knows how; but only to fail. Still, there were twenty-four days; but what were they? Kaffar, if he were alive, might be in Africa, Australia—no one knew where. I saw no hope.
A week more slipped by. There were only seventeen days left now. I was sitting in my room, anxiously waiting for the Continental mail, and any telegrams which might arrive. I heard the postman’s knock, and in a minute more letters were brought in. Eagerly I opened those which came from the detectives, and feverishly read them. “Still in the dark; nothing discovered”—that summed up the long reports they sent me. I read the other letters; there was nothing in them to help me.
Still another week went by. Only ten days were wanting to Christmas Eve, and I knew no more of Kaffar’s whereabouts than I did on the day when I defied Voltaire and started on my search. Again reports from the detectives came, and still no news. No doubt, by this, Voltaire was gloating over his victory, while I was nearly mad with despair.