“You lie!” he raved. “Louis is here! He has come for me! Give me your knife, Hewlett. It is for him, not for me. He deserved to die. He tricked me after we had found the gold. He tricked me twice. He told Leroux, thinking that he would win his gratitude and get free from the man’s power. And the second time he told Carson.”
My heart was thumping as he spoke. I hardly dared to hope his words were true.
“He was my friend,” he mumbled. “We were friends since we were boys. We would have kicked Leroux into the street if he had dared to enter our homes. But we owed so much money. And he discovered—what we had done. He wanted our family interest; he wanted to make use of us. And when we found the mine, Louis thought we would never be in need of money again. But Leroux was pressing him, threatening him. And so he told him. Then there were three of us in the secret.
“Leroux had formed a lumber company with Carson, but he did not tell him about the gold. He formed his scheme with Louis. They said nothing to me; they wanted to leave me out. Louis was to get the girl and sell his rights to Simon. But afterward, when he had spent the money Simon had given him, he thought he could get more out of Carson. So he went to him and told the secret. That made four of us—four of us, where there should have been only two.”
“What did you do?” I asked, though it was like conducting a postmortem upon a murderer’s corpse.
“I went to New York to get my share. I wasn’t going to be ousted, I, who had been one of the discoverers. I don’t know how much Carson paid Louis, but I meant to demand half. I thought he had the money in his pocket.
“I followed him all that afternoon after he had left Carson’s office. I watched him in the street. At night he went to a room somewhere—at the top of a tall building. I followed him. When I got in I found a woman there. Louis was talking to her and threatening her. He said she was his wife. How could she be his wife when he had married Jacqueline Duchaine?
“I didn’t care—it was no business of mine. I couldn’t see them, because there was a curtain in the way. There was no light in the bedroom. There was a light in the room in which I was. I put it out, so that neither of them should see my face. She might have betrayed me, you know, Simon.
“He spun round when the light went out, and pushed the curtain aside. I was waiting for that. I had calculated my blow. I stabbed him. It was a good blow, though it was delivered in the dark. He only cried out once. But the woman screamed, and a dog flew at me, and I couldn’t find his money. So I ran away.
“And then there were only three of us who knew the secret. Then Simon died and there were only two, and now there are only Hewlett and I, and he is dead, poor fool, and I have my gold here. For God’s sake give me a knife, Simon!”