Mr. Ransom sprang upright in an agitation the other may have shared, but of which he gave no token.
“Do you mean to say,” he asked, “that you cannot tell me where the woman you call your sister is now?”
“No more than you can give me the same necessary information in regard to your wife. I am waiting like yourself to hear from her—and waiting with as little hope.”
Had he seen Ransom’s hand close convulsively over the pocket in which her few strange words to him were lying, that a slight tinge of sarcasm gave edge to the last four words?
“But this is not like my wife,” protested Ransom, hesitating to accuse the other of falsehood, yet evidently doubting him from the bottom of his heart. “Why deceive us both? She was never a disingenuous woman.”
“In childhood she had her incomprehensible moments,” observed Hazen, with an ambiguous lift of his shoulders; then, as Ransom made an impatient move, added with steady composure: “I have candidly answered all your questions whether agreeable or otherwise, and the fact that I am as much shocked as yourself by these mad and totally incredible statements of hers about a newly recovered sister should prove to you that she is not following any lead of mine in this dissemination of a bare-faced falsehood.”
There was truth in this which both Mr. Ransom and Gerridge felt obliged to own. Yet they were not satisfied, even after Mr. Hazen, almost against Mr. Ransom’s will, had established his claims to the relationship he professed, by various well-attested documents he had at hand. Instinct could not be juggled with, nor could Ransom help feeling that the mystery in which he found himself entangled had been deepened rather than dispelled by the confidences of this new brother-in-law.
“The maze is at its thickest,” he remarked as he left a few minutes later with the perplexed Gerridge. “How shall I settle this new question? By what means and through whose aid can I gain an interview with my wife?”
The answer was an unexpectedly sensible one.
“Hunt up her man of business and see what he can do for you. She cannot get along without money; nor could that statement of hers have got into the papers without somebody’s assistance. Since she did not get it from the fellow we have just left, she must have had it from the only other person she would dare confide in.”
Ransom answered by immediately hailing a down-town car.
The interview which followed was certainly a remarkable one. At first Mr. Harper would say nothing, declaring that his relations with Mrs. Ransom were of a purely business and confidential nature. But by degrees, moved by the persuasive influence of Mr. Ransom’s candor and his indubitable right to consideration, he allowed himself to admit that he had seen Mrs. Ransom during the last three days and that he had every reason to believe that there was a twin sister in the case and that all Mrs. Ransom’s eccentric conduct was attributable to this fact and the overpowering sense of responsibility which it seemed to have brought to her—a result which would not appear strange to those who knew the sensitiveness of her nature and the delicate balance of her mind.