“What luck!” he thought, exultantly. “It was a happy inspiration to go there to-night! Gad, I ought to be in Scotland Yard! There is no doubt that the man who killed Diane was the same fellow she met the day before. He hailed from her native village, and of course he was a discarded lover. It is even possible that he was her husband, in the days before she went to Paris, became a dancer, and married Jack. I must utilize the information to the best advantage. The first thing is to run down to Dunwold, find out all I can, and then put the police on the track. For the present I will dispense with their services, though it seems a bit risky to take matters into my own hands. But I rather fancy the idea of playing detective, and I’ll have a go at the business. I won’t tell the solicitor what I have discovered, but I think it will be wise to confide in Sir Lucius Chesney. By the bye, he lives somewhere in Sussex. He may be able to help me at the start.”
Jimmie remembered the mysterious envelope in his pocket, and it occurred to him that the contents might alter the whole situation, and make a trip to Dunwold unnecessary. He walked faster, impatient to reach the Albany and investigate his prize in safety.
Jimmie’s first move, on entering his chambers, was to lock the door behind him and turn up the gas. Then he produced the envelope, and tore it open, wondering as he did so what penalty the law would exact for such an offense. The enclosure consisted of a dozen closely-written pages of note-paper, dated two days before the murder. It was in the nature of a statement, or confession, which some whim had prompted Diane to put down in writing. Her motive became clearer to Jimmie as he read on. She had meant no treachery to Jack in her letter. She had come to London, a repentant woman, to do him a real service—to open his eyes to various things—and for that purpose she had made the appointment at Beak street on the fatal night. In all likelihood the document hidden in the closet was due to a premonition of impending evil—a haunting dread of the danger that was creeping upon the unfortunate woman.
The statement was in the form of a letter, addressed to Jack Vernon on the first page, and signed “Diane Merode” on the last. It ended quite abruptly, and did not refer directly to the mysterious stranger or to Diane’s early life, though it hinted at certain things of importance which she was resolved to tell. But what she disclosed was astounding in itself, and when Jimmie threw down the pages, after reading them attentively, his face showed how deeply he was agitated. It took much to rouse his placid nature to anger, but now his eyes blazed with rage and indignation.