“You can let her alone,” Sanford Quest said quietly. “A wife cannot give evidence against her husband, and besides, I need her. She is going to work for me.”
Macdougal was already at the door, between the two detectives. He swung around. His voice was calm, almost clear—calm with the concentration of hatred.
“You are a wonderful man, Mr. Sanford Quest,” he said. “Make the most of your triumph. Your time is nearly up.”
“Keep him for a moment,” Sanford Quest ordered. “You have friends, then, Macdougal, who will avenge you, eh?”
“I have no friends,” Macdougal replied, “but there is one coming whose wit and cunning, science and skill are all-conquering. He will brush you away, Sanford Quest, like a fly. Wait a few weeks.”
“You interest me,” Quest murmured. “Tell me some more about this great master?”
“I shall tell you nothing,” Macdougal replied. “You will hear nothing, you will know nothing. Suddenly you will find yourself opposed. You will struggle—and then the end. It is certain.”
They led him away. Only Lenora remained, sobbing. Quest went up to her, laid his hand upon her shoulder.
“You’ve had a rough time, Lenora,” he said, with strange gentleness. “Perhaps the brighter days are coming.”
[Illustration: Lord Ashleigh accuses Lenora of being implicated in the crime, but Quest decides to the contrary.]
[Illustration: Ian Macdougal is given A life sentence for the murder of the daughter of lord Ashleigh.]
THE HIDDEN HANDS
Sanford Quest and Lenora stood side by side upon the steps of the Courthouse, waiting for the automobile which had become momentarily entangled in a string of vehicles. A little crowd of people were elbowing their way out on to the sidewalk. The faces of most of them were still shadowed by the three hours of tense drama from which they had just emerged. Quest, who had lit a cigar, watched them curiously.
“No need to go into Court,” he remarked. “I could have told you, from the look of these people, that Macdougal had escaped the death sentence. They have paid their money—or rather their time, and they have been cheated of the one supreme thrill.”
“Imprisonment for life seems terrible enough,” Lenora whispered, shuddering.
“Can’t see the sense of keeping such a man alive myself,” Quest declared, with purposeful brutality. “It was a cruel murder, fiendishly committed.”
Lenora shivered. Quest laid his fingers for a moment upon her wrist. His voice, though still firm, became almost kind.
“Never be afraid, Lenora,” he said, “to admit the truth. Come, we have finished with Macdougal now. Imprisonment for life will keep him from crossing your path again.”