On reaching London, Mr. Harker’s first visit was to the Casket Theatre, which Jessica at once remembered as the one before which she had kept watch for Adrien Leroy; and with that recollection came the memory of the roll of papers which she had picked up. She related this little incident to Harker; and undoing the bag in which kind-hearted Lucy had put some clothes for her, she found the papers and gave them to him.
Harker looked them over, and gave a cry of joy; for he realised at once that they delivered his arch-enemy into his hands—no miracle from Heaven itself could have done more. Jessica did not understand the reason for his excitement, but she was quite content to let the papers remain in his keeping.
At the theatre he inquired for Miss Lester; and, it being matinee day, he found that the popular actress had already arrived. It took time and money to convince the military-looking door-keeper that it was absolutely necessary to take an urgent message to Miss Lester, but eventually this was done, and Mr. Harker, with Jessica—–who was almost dazed by the strangeness of her surroundings—found themselves in Miss Lester’s dressing-room, a few minutes before she was due on the stage as Prince Bon-Bon.
Mr. Harker at once hastened to apologise for the intrusion; but, in the midst of his words, he broke off short, for Jessica and the actress were gazing at one another in a mutual recognition. Jessica remembered her at once as the lady who had been with Adrien Leroy; then came the earlier memory, which had so puzzled her on the night she had seen the actress entering the theatre.
“Jessica!” exclaimed Miss Lester, blankly, and she turned on the astounded Harker. “What’s the meaning of this?”
The few minutes were nearly up, and the call-boy and the dresser had met in several consultations with regard to the difficulty of getting Miss Lester on to the stage in time, before Mr. Harker’s explanations were through.
Ada, now thoroughly assured as to her own future, thanks to her recent visit to Barminster, was quite willing to look after her niece better than in the past; especially as her presence formed a strong link in the chain of evidence the actress intended shortly to bring against Jasper Vermont. She assured Harker that she would take care of the girl, and with this he was content; then, leaving Jessica in her aunt’s charge, he made his way to his own office, prior to taking a journey down to Barminster Castle.
The unexpected appearance of Jasper Vermont startled both Lady Constance and Adrien.
“Jasper!” exclaimed Adrien, almost sternly, drawing the silken wrap around Lady Constance as if to shield her from all eyes but his own. “I did not expect you here to-night.”
“No,” answered Jasper. “I have travelled post-haste to try and save you from heavy trouble; the matter is so pressing that you must give me my way and attend to it at once. I am sure Lady Constance would forgive this intrusion, if she only knew of what serious importance it is to you, and, indeed, to us all.”