“Nothing is the matter,” I answered, “except that we have come to an end of this tissue of lies and plots and counterplots. There is no uncle of yours in that room, nor ever has been. The man who was to have been murdered here has gone. And for the rest, I saw you here with Louis and I heard your conversation less than an hour ago.”
“You saw us?” she gasped.
“From the transept there,” I answered, pointing towards it. “I was brought into that room to personate your uncle, to receive an attack which was meant for him—a very clever scheme! I was drugged, and was to have lain there to cover this fellow’s crime. But there, I don’t suppose that I need tell you any of these things!” I added brutally.
She looked at me with horror.
“You do not believe—” she gasped.
“Oh! I believe nothing,” I answered,—“nothing at all! Every word I have been told by both of you is a lie! Your lives are lies! God knows why I should ever have believed otherwise!” I said, looking at her.
“Let me go,” Louis pleaded, “and you shall hear the truth.”
“I shall be more likely to feel the knife you have in your pocket,” I answered contemptuously, for I had seen his left hand struggling downward for the last few moments. “Oh! I’ll let you go! I have no interest in any of you,—no interest in your cursed conspiracy, whatever it may be! Keep your story. I don’t care to hear it. Lie there and talk to your accomplice!”
I sent him reeling across the room till he fell in the corner. Then I walked out, closing the sitting-room door behind me,—out into the corridor and up the stairs into my own room. Then I locked and bolted my own door and looked at my watch. It was a quarter to three. I took a Bradshaw from my bookcase, packed a few clothes myself, set an alarm clock for seven o’clock in the morning, and turned into bed. I told myself that I would not think. I told myself that there was no such person in the world as Felicia, that she had never lived, that she was only part of this nightmare from which I was freeing myself! I told myself that I would go to sleep, and I stayed awake until daylight. All the time there was only one thought in my brain!
A CHANGE OF PLANS
At a few minutes past nine on the following morning, I was standing outside the front door of the Court watching the piling of my luggage on to a four-wheel cab. The hall-porter stood by my side, superintending the efforts of his myrmidons.
“You had better send my letters on,” I told him. “I am going down into Norfolk for several weeks,—perhaps longer.”
“Very good, sir,” he answered. “By the bye,” he added, turning away, “this morning’s letters have just arrived. There was one for you, I think.”
He handed it to me, and I tore it open as I stepped on to the pavement. It was written from Feltham Court, Norfolk, and dated the previous day.