After this there was little more to be said. The miracle had indeed happened! It was clearly a case of perjury on the part of Harker’s clerk, for whose arrest the judge ordered a warrant to be issued.
On the delivery of the verdict in Adrien’s favour, Lady Merivale left the court. She did not glance at Leroy, nor indeed anyone present, but walked blindly out. She knew that not only had she restored the man she loved to freedom and to honour, but in all probability ruined her own social position. For Jasper Vermont’s veiled threats at the Barminster fancy dress ball could not be ignored, and now that she had deliberately gone contrary to his wishes in disclosing where Adrien had spent the fateful twenty-second of May, she could not but doubt that Vermont would make use of the mysterious power which he had hinted he held over her. What this power was she could only surmise, for, of course, she was in ignorance of Jasper’s connection with “Harker’s Ltd.” But she had an uncomfortable feeling that Adrien’s freedom had been purchased at considerable danger to herself, and the thought haunted her unpleasantly.
Mr. Harker, having arranged things to his liking at Lawrence Lane, returned to Miss Lester and reminded her of her promise to assist him to unmask Jasper Vermont. He found her more than willing to accompany him to Barminster, and accordingly it was arranged that they should travel down together on the following day, accompanied also by Jessica. Upon the rare occasions that Vermont and Harker had met during the past week the latter had made no sign of his recently acquired emancipation from Jasper’s rule, and that gentleman was in blissful unconsciousness of the sword hanging over him.
Arrived at Windleham, the nearest station to Barminster, Mr. Harker left the two women at the little hotel facing the railway, there to await his return or instructions to come on to the Castle. Then he made his way to Barminster. Here he delivered a note into the care of the footman, bidding him to take it to his master without delay. In it he had begged Lord Barminster to grant him an interview on important personal business, hinting that by so doing he might avert future peril for Adrien and himself.
In a very short time the man returned, with the message that Lord Barminster would see him at once; and Mr. Harker was shown into the Blue Room, in which Adrien Leroy had been arrested little more than a week before.
“His lordship will be with you in a few moments,” said the man as he left the room.
Almost immediately Lord Barminster appeared, accompanied by Mortimer Shelton. Harker rose respectfully and rather nervously, but Lord Barminster at once put him at his ease.
“Pray be seated, Mr. Harker,” he said politely, as he and Shelton set the example. “This is my son’s friend, Mr. Shelton, and I should like him to be present at our interview.”