He read the letter a second time, and it turned his curiosity into a desire to probe the mystery. He concluded to put off the interview with his nephew, and see him later in the day. He hailed a cab, and told the driver to take him to Pentonville.
NOAH HAWKER’S DISCLOSURE.
True to his word, Mr. Tenby set the machinery of the law in motion as speedily as possible. About the time when Sir Lucius entered the dreary prison that lies Islington way, Gilbert Morris was brought to the court in Great Marlborough street. Jack was present—a warder had driven him from Holloway—and he promptly identified the prisoner as the man he had seen coming out of the Beak street house on the night of the murder. Other evidence was given by the police, and by Doctor Bent, the proprietor of the Surrey madhouse, and the lunatic was remanded for a week; he boasted of his crime while in the dock. Then a brief formality ensued. Mr. Tenby applied for the discharge of his client, and the magistrate granted it without delay.
A free man again! The words seemed to ring in Jack’s ears as he left the court, but they meant little to him, so broken was he in spirit, so ashamed of his unmerited disgrace. Jimmie was waiting for him, and congratulated him fervently. The two shook hands with the solicitor, and thanked him for what he had done, and they went quickly off in a cab.
They drove to the Albany, and Jimmie ordered a lunch to be sent in from a Piccadilly restaurant. Jack ate listlessly, but a bottle of prime claret made him slightly more cheerful and brought some color to his bleached features. He listened to all that Jimmie had to tell him—sat with stern eyes and compressed lips while the black tale of Victor Nevill’s treachery was recounted. He could not doubt when he had read the murdered woman’s statement; it breathed truth in every word. He crushed the letter in his hand, as though he wished it had been the throat of his enemy.
“Nevill, of all men!” he said, hoarsely. “A creeping serpent, masked as a friend, who struck in the dark! And he was Diane’s seducer! The night he stole her from me we were drinking together in a brasserie in the Latin Quarter! And, as if that was not deep enough injury, he brought her to England, years afterwards, to ruin my new-found happiness. There was never such perfidy! I was not even aware that he knew Madge, much less that he loved her. But she surely won’t marry him now.”
“No fear!” replied Jimmie. “His retribution has come. I hope you will pay him with interest, old chap.”
“I should like to confront him,” Jack answered, “but it is wiser not to; my passion would get the better of me. No, his punishment is sufficient—you have avenged me, Jimmie. Think of what it means! Public exposure, perhaps, exile from England, and the loss of his uncle’s fortune. He will suffer more keenly than any low-born criminal who goes to the gallows. I will leave him to his conscience and his God.”