Lala Roy spoke slowly, and with meaning.
“Oh!” cried Arnold. “It is more than strange. Do you think—is it possible—”
He could not for the moment clothe his thoughts in words.
“Do you know if any one has brought this girl to England?”
“Yes; she was brought over by a young American physician, one of the family who adopted and brought her up.”
“What is he like—the young American physician?”
“I have not seen him.”
“Go, my young friend, to-morrow morning, and ask your cousin if this photograph resembles the American physician.”
It was the photograph of a handsome young fellow, with strongly marked features, apparently tall and well-set-up.
“Lala, you don’t really suspect anything—you don’t think—”
“Hush! I know who has stolen the papers. Perhaps the same man has produced the heiress.”
“And you think—you suspect that the man who stole the papers is connected with—But then those papers must be—oh, it cannot be! For then Iris would be Clara’s cousin—Clara’s cousin—and the other an impostor.”
“Even so; everything is possible. But silence. Do not speak a word, even to Iris. If the papers are lost, they are lost. Say nothing to her yet; but go—go, and find out if that photograph resembles the American physician. The river wanders here and there, but the sea swallows it at last.”
Mr. James makes atonement.
James arrived as usual in the morning at nine o’clock, in order to take down the shutters. To his astonishment, he found Lala Roy and Iris waiting for him in the back shop. And they had grave faces.
“James,” said Iris, “your master has suffered a great shock, and is not himself this morning. His safe has been broken open by some one, and most important papers have been taken out.”
“Papers, miss—papers? Out of the safe?”
“Yes. They are papers of no value whatever to the thief, whoever he may be. But they are of the very greatest importance to us. Your master seems to have lost his memory for a while, and cannot help us in finding out who has done this wicked thing. You have been a faithful servant for so long that I am sure you will do what you can for us. Think for us. Try to remember if anybody besides yourself has had access to this room when your master was out of it.”
James sat down. He felt that he must sit down, though Lala Roy was looking at him with eyes full of doubt and suspicion. The whole enormity of his own guilt, though he had not stolen anything, fell upon him. He had got the key; he had given it to Mr. Joseph; and he had received it back again. In fact, at that very moment, it was lying in his pocket. The worst that he had feared had happened. The safe was robbed.
He was struck with so horrible a dread, and so fearful a looking forward to judgment and condemnation, that his teeth chattered and his eye gave way.