Toward the close of the second week, a body was washed ashore, some miles down the coast, and the authorities there signified to the authorities of Worrel that the corpse might be the missing lady.
Sir Everard, his mother, and Miss Silver went at once. But the sight was too horrible to be twice looked at.
The height corresponded, and so did the long waves of flowing hair, and Sybilla Silver, the only one with nerve enough to glance again, pronounced it emphatically to be the body of Harriet, Lady Kingsland.
There was to be a verdict, and the trio remained; and before it commenced, the celebrated detective from Scotland Yard, employed from the first by Sir Everard, appeared upon the scene with crushing news. He held up a blood-stained dagger before the eye of the baronet:
“Do you know this little weapon, Sir Everard?”
Sir Everard looked at it and recognized it at once.
“It is mine,” he replied. “I purchased it last year in Paris. My initials are upon it.”
“So I see,” was the dry response.
“How comes it here? Where did you find it?”
The detective eyed him narrowly, almost amazed at his coolness.
“I found it in a very queer place, Sir Everard—lodged in the branches of an elm-tree, not far from the stone terrace. It’s a miracle it was ever found. I think this little weapon did the deed. I’ll go and have a look at the body.”
He went. Yes, there in the region of the heart was a gaping wound.
The inquest came on; the facts came out—mysteriously whispered before, spoken aloud now. And for the first time the truth dawned on the stunned baronet—he was suspected of the murder of the wife he loved!
The revolting atrocity, the unnatural horror of the charge, nerved him as nothing else could have done. His pale, proud face grew rigid as stone; his blue eyes flashed scornful defiance; his head reared itself haughtily aloft. How dare they accuse him of so monstrous a crime?
But the circumstantial evidence was crushing. Sybilla Silver’s evidence alone would have damned him.
She gave it with evident reluctance; but give it she did with frightful force, and the bereaved young husband stood stunned at the terrible strength of the case she made out.
Everything told against him. His very eagerness to find the murderer seemed but throwing dust in their eyes. Not a doubt lingered in the minds of the coroner or his jury, and before sunset that day Sir Everard Kingsland was on his way to Worrel Jail to stand his trial at the coming assizes for the willful murder of Harriet, his wife.
MISS SILVER ON OATH.
The day of trial came. Long, miserable weeks of waiting—weeks of anguish and remorse and despair had gone before, and Sir Everard Kingsland emerged from his cell to take his place in the criminal dock and be tried for his life for the greatest crime man can commit.