“Tell me—tell me,” I cried, “who is this woman?”
“You ought to know that, for you were in the box with her during most of the first night of ‘Francesca.’”
A horrible, paralysing dread had seized me.
“Her name, and his? Quick—tell me, for God’s sake!”
“Colliver. He is called Simon Colliver. But, Jasper, what is it? What—”
I took the chain and Golden Clasp and handed them to Claire without speech.
“Why, what is this?” she cried. “He has a piece exactly like this, the fellow to it; I remember seeing it when I was quite small. Oh, speak! what new mystery, what new trouble is this?”
“Claire, Colliver is here in London, or was but a week ago.”
“Yes, Claire; and it was he that murdered Thomas Loveday.”
“Murdered Thomas Loveday! I do not understand.” She had turned a deathly white, and spread out her hands as if for support. “Tell me—”
“Yes, Claire,” I said, as I stepped to her, and put my arm about her; “it is truth, as I stand here. Colliver, your mother’s husband, foully murdered my innocent friend for the sake of that piece of gold; and more, Simon Colliver, for the sake of this same accursed token, murdered my father!”
She shook off my arm, and stood facing me there, by Tom’s grave, with a look of utter horror that froze my blood.
“Yes, my father; or stay, I am wrong. Though Colliver prompted, his was not the hand that did the deed. That he left to a poor wretch whom he afterwards slew himself—one Railton—John Railton.”
“Why, Claire, Claire! What is it? Speak!”
“I am Janet Railton!”
TELLS HOW THE CURTAIN FELL UPON “FRANCESCA: A TRAGEDY.”
For a moment I staggered back as though buffeted in the face, then, as our eyes met and read in each other the desperate truth, I sprang forward just in time to catch her as she fell. Blindly, as if in some hideous trance, reeling and stumbling over the graves, I carried her in my arms to the cemetery gate and stood there panting and bewildered.