Presently the door opened, and the young man entered. Lord Barminster held out his hand without a word, and his son, as silently, grasped it; then, with a sigh, he seated himself at the table, prepared to learn to what extent he had been robbed by the man he trusted so fully.
Without comment, Shelton passed him paper after paper, all drawn up in the clear writing of Mr. Harker; Adrien, with deep humiliation, examining them all. With another sigh he dropped the last one upon the table and looked up.
“It is like some hideous dream,” he said in a low, shocked voice. “Jasper Vermont, then, was not a traitor to me, but a forger and thief. I can scarcely believe it—though, of course, it is impossible to get away from these proofs. He must have even bribed that jockey to lose the race, as the man hinted. That he could so have used my trust and confidence to gain money, and by crime, when he could have had it for the asking, seems past belief.”
His father looked pityingly at him; he knew only too well what a blow this was to the young man.
“I believed in him to the last,” continued Adrien, in the same low tones. “I believed him true, in spite of all your warnings.”
He turned to his friend.
“Shelton,” he said, “I cannot thank you as I should like, nor indeed you either, Mr. Harker. I am deeply grateful to you all for what you have done for me. Truly a man should take heed of his self-conceit, lest he fall, as I have done.”
He dropped his head on his hands, and his father turned to him affectionately.
“You do not ask if the evil this man has worked can be remedied, Adrien,” he said, in a softer tone than he had ever been known to use. “You do not ask whether anything can be regained?”
“I am willing to pay the penalty of my folly,” said Adrien, in a low tone; “and if only it can be arranged that you, too, do not suffer, I shall not mind.”
“Not even if it should leave you penniless?” asked his father.
Adrien raised his head with a mournful smile.
“But for one reason, I am indifferent,” he said.
His father’s face lit up.
“Yes,” he said, “I think I know that reason. Mr. Harker, will you be so good as to place Mr. Leroy in possession of the facts which you have already given me. I am almost too tired to speak, after the strain of these last few hours.”
Adrien looked at him remorsefully; for the old man had indeed undergone much suffering during the last eventful weeks.
Mr. Harker laid a small book upon the table.
“This will do so better than I can, gentlemen,” he said. “It is a list of the various investments in which Mr. Jasper Vermont placed the wealth he had so fraudulently amassed. His expenses were small; and the investments which were made with Mr. Leroy’s money, and which he had hoped, of course, to put to his own use, amount to a large sum. When realised, they will cover the enormous embezzlements, when the forged bills are destroyed.”