Whereupon the man’s thoughts turned to her entirely and he forgot for a while the significance of her letter. He had expected to see her that night at Princetown. Instead he would find her far nearer, in the house on the cliffs beyond Dartmouth.
He telegraphed presently that he would meet the launch. Then he had leisure to be annoyed that the letter from Robert Redmayne was thus delayed. He speculated on Bendigo Redmayne.
“A brother is a brother,” he thought, “and no doubt this old sailor’s home would offer a very efficient hiding-place for any vanished man.”
A motor boat lay off Kingswear Ferry when Mark Brendon arrived. The famous harbour was new to him and though his mind found itself sufficiently occupied, he still had perception disengaged and could admire the graceful river, the hills towering above the estuary, and the ancient town lying within their infolding and tree-clad slopes. Dominating all stood the Royal Naval College, its great masses of white and red masonry breaking the blue sky.
A perfect little craft awaited him. She was painted white and furnished with teak. Her brasses and machinery glittered; the engines and steering wheel were set forward, while aft of the cabins and saloon an awning was rigged over the stern. The solitary sailor who controlled the launch was in the act of furling this protection against the sun as Mark descended to the water; and while the man did so, Brendon’s eyes brightened, for a passenger already occupied the boat: a woman sat there and he saw Jenny Pendean.
She wore black and he found, as he leaped aboard and greeted her, that her mourning attire was an echo to her heart. That had happened which convinced the young wife that all hope must be abandoned; she knew that she was a widow, for the letter in her uncle’s possession told her so. She greeted the detective kindly and was glad that he had responded to her invitation, but Mark soon found that her attitude of mind had changed. She now exhibited an extreme listlessness and profound melancholy. He told her that a letter from himself had gone to her at Princetown and he asked her for information respecting the communication received from Captain Redmayne; but she was not responsive.
“My uncle will tell you what there is to tell,” she said. “It appears that your original suspicion has proved correct. My husband has lost his precious life at the hands of a madman.”
“Yet it seems incredible, Mrs. Pendean, that such an afflicted creature, if alive, should still be evading the general search. Can you tell me from where this letter came? We ought to have heard of it instantly.”
“So I told my Uncle Bendigo.”
“Is he sure that it really does come from his brother?”
“Yes; there is no doubt about that. The letter was posted in Plymouth. But please do not ask me about it, Mr. Brendon. I do not want to think of it.”