It was a bitter disappointment, and it proved the last straw to the burden of Jack’s troubles. For a week he tried vainly to trace the girl, and then, at the earnest request of Sir Lucius, he went down to Priory Court. There fever gripped him, and he fell seriously ill.
For weeks Jack hovered between life and death, and when the crisis was finally passed, and he found himself well on the road to convalescence, the new year was a month old. His first thoughts were of Madge, whose disappearance was still a mystery; he learned this from Jimmie, who came down to Priory Court more than once to see his friend. He had decided to spend the winter in England, and since Jack’s illness he had been trying to find the girl.
By medical advice the patient was sent off to Torquay, in Devonshire, to recuperate, and Sir Lucius, who was anxious to restore his nephew to perfect health again, accompanied him. Jimmie remained in London, determined to prosecute his search for Madge more vigorously than ever. Sir Lucius, who, of course, knew the whole story, himself begged Jimmie to spare no pains.
In the mild climate of Devon the days dragged along monotonously, and Jimmie’s letters spoke only of failure. But Jack grew stronger and stouter, and in looks, at least, he was quite like his old self, with a fine bronze on his cheeks, when he returned with Sir Lucius to Priory Court in March. It was the close of the month, and many a nine days’ wonder had replaced in the public interest the tragic death of Stephen Foster, the exposure of Benjamin and Company’s nefarious transactions, and the solved mystery of the two Rembrandts. The world easily forgets, but not so with the actors concerned.
Jack had been at Priory Court two days, and was expecting a visit from Jimmie, when the latter wired to him to come up to town at once if he was able. Sir Lucius was not at home; he was riding over some distant property he had recently bought. So Jack left a note for him, drove to the station, and caught a London train. He reached Victoria station at noon, and the cab that whirled him to the Albany seemed to crawl. Jimmie greeted him gladly, with a ring of deep emotion in his mellow voice.
“By Jove, old fellow,” he cried, “you are looking splendidly fit!”
“Have you succeeded?” Jack demanded, impatiently.
“Yes, I have found her,” Jimmie replied. “It was by a mere fluke. I went to a solicitor on some business, and it turned out that he was acting for Miss Foster—you see her father left a good bit of money. He was close-mouthed at first, but when I partly explained how matters stood, he told me that the girl and her old servant, Mrs. Sedgewick, went off to a quiet place in the country—”
“And he gave you the address?”
“Yes; here it is!”
Jack took the piece of paper, and when he glanced at it his face flushed. He wrung his friend’s hand silently, looking the gratitude that he could not utter, and then he made a bolt for the door.