In Friendship's Guise eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 271 pages of information about In Friendship's Guise.

“That unhappy man, Gilbert Morris, was spared by the sea,” he answered in a low voice.  “The ship was lost, as reported, but he and two of the crew were picked up by a sailing vessel and carried to South America.  Months elapsed before they were heard of, and Diane had been gone for a year when Gilbert Morris returned to Dunwold.  The news was a terrible shock to him, for he had loved his wife with all the depth of a fierce and fiery nature.  His affection seemed to turn to rage, and it was thought best to keep him in ignorance of the fact that Diane had been seen in Paris.  Brain fever prostrated him, and when he recovered physically from that his mind was affected—­in other words, he was a homicidal lunatic, with a fixed determination to find and kill his wife.”

“By heavens!” exclaimed Jimmie.  “The scent is getting warm!  What was done with the man?”

“He was sent to a private madhouse in Surrey.”

“And is he there still?”

“No, he is not,” the vicar replied agitatedly.  “He succeeded in making his escape more than a week ago.  The matter was hushed up, because it was hoped that he would come back to Dunwold, and that he could be quietly captured here.  But, in spite of the utmost vigilance, he was not found or traced; and this very morning I received a letter from Doctor Bent, the proprietor of the madhouse, stating that he had furnished the London police with a description of his missing patient.”

“That settles it!” cried Jimmie, jumping up in excitement.  “Gilbert Morris is the man!”

“Yes, I fear he is the murderer,” assented the vicar.  “But, pray sit down, Mr. Drexell, and we will talk further of the sad affair.  Lunch will be ready in a few minutes, and I shall be glad to have you—­”

“Thanks, but I can’t stop,” Jimmie interrupted, as he put on his hat.  “I’m off to town to help the police to find the guilty man.”

“But surely, my dear sir, this is a very hasty conclusion—­”

“Can you doubt for one moment, in your heart, that Gilbert Morris killed that unfortunate woman?”

“The circumstances all point that way,” admitted Mr. Chalfont.  “Yes, it is a pretty clear case.  It is distressing to think that the crime might have been prevented, had the police been promptly informed of the madman’s escape.  But only Doctor Bent and myself were aware of the fact—­excepting the attendants of the institution.  As I told you, I knew nothing of the murder until you informed me, and it was unlikely that the doctor—­though he must have read the papers—­should have associated the deed with Morris; he took charge of the place quite recently, and could not have been well posted regarding the history of his patient.”

“He ought to be arrested for criminal neglect,” Jimmie said, indignantly.  “He is in a measure responsible for the murder.  Gilbert Morris might have been retaken almost at once had the police been informed at the time of the escape.”

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In Friendship's Guise from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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