“By heavens, this is awful!” he said, hoarsely. “It is far worse than I dreamed of! The consummate scoundrel! The treacherous blackguard! There is no need to keep further watch on Victor Nevill. His record is exposed. How true were my suspicions about that money-lending business! He dropped some letters in Diane’s room last spring, which she declares proved him to be a partner in the firm of Benjamin and Company. I believe her—I don’t doubt it. The cursed tout! For how many years has he made use of his social advantages to ruin young men—to decoy them into the clutches of the Jews? It makes my blood boil! And the worst of it all is the part he has played toward poor Jack—a false, black-hearted friend from beginning to end; from the early days in Paris up to the present time. If I had him here now—”
He finished the sentence by banging his clenched fist on the table with a force that made it quiver.
Little wonder that Jimmie was indignant and wrathful! For Diane, weary of being made a cat’s-paw for an unscrupulous villain, remorseful for the misery she had brought on one who once loved her, had confessed in writing all of Victor Nevill’s dark deeds. She had not known at first, she said, that his sole aim had been to injure his trusting friend, else she would have refused to help him. She had learned the truth since, and she did not spare her knowledge of Nevill’s dark deeds and cunning tricks. She told how he had tempted her to desert her husband and flee from Paris with him; how he had met her five years later in London, and planned the infamous scheme which brought Jack and Diane together on Richmond Terrace; and she declared that it was Victor Nevill also who sent the anonymous letters to Madge Foster, the second of which had led to the painful denouement in the Ravenscourt Park studio. It was all there in black and white—a story bearing the unmistakable evidence of truth and sincerity.
“This is a private matter,” thought Jimmie, when he had calmed down a little, “and I’m bound to regard it as such. The statement can’t affect the case against Jack—it is useless to Mr. Tenby—and it would be unwise to make it public for the purposes of denouncing Nevill—at least at present. I will put it away carefully, and give it to Jack when his innocence is proved, which I trust will be very soon. As for Nevill, I’ll reckon with the scoundrel at the proper time. I’ll expose him in every club in London, and drive him from the country. He shall not marry Miss Foster—I’ll nip that scheme in the bud and open her eyes—and I’ll let Sir Lucius Chesney know what sort of a man his nephew is. He’ll cut him off with a penny, I’ll bet. But all these things must wait until I find Diane’s murderer, and meanwhile I will lock up the confession and keep my own counsel.”
Taking the letter, he reread the closing lines, studying the curiously-worded phrases.
“I am not writing this to send to you,” Diane concluded, “but to hide in a secret place where it will be found if anything happens to me; life is always uncertain. I have much more to tell, but I am too weary to put it on paper. You will know all when me meet, and when you learn my secret, happiness will come into your life again.”