Mr. Harper altered his tone. He had real commiseration for his client and had provided himself with an antidote to the poison he had just so ruthlessly administered.
“Courage!” he cried. “I only wished you to see that there were worse losses to consider than that of your wife’s desertion, even if that desertion took the form of suicide. There is a reason which you have forgotten for acquitting Mrs. Ransom of such criminal intentions and of accepting as your sister-in-law the woman who calls herself Anitra. Recall Mrs. Ransom’s will; the general terms of which I felt myself justified in confiding to you. In it there are no provisions made for this Anitra. Had Mrs. Ransom, for any inexplicable reason, planned an exchange of identities with her sorely afflicted sister, she would have been careful to have left that sister some portion of her great fortune. But she did not remember her with a cent. This fact is very significant and should give you great comfort.”
“It should, it should, in face of the other alternative you have suggested as possible. But I fear that I am past comfort. In whatever light we regard this tragedy, it all means woe and disaster to me. I have made a mess of my life and I have got to face the fact like a man.” Then rising and confronting Mr. Harper with passionate intensity, he called out till the room rang again:
“Georgian is dead! You hear me, Georgian is dead!”
“I DON’T HEAR”
The afternoon passed without further developments. Mr. Harper, who had his own imperative engagements, left on the evening train for New York, promising to return the next day in case his presence seemed indispensable to his client.
That client’s final word to him had been an injunction to keep an eye on Georgian’s so-called brother and to report how he had been affected by the news from Sitford; and when, in the lull following the lawyer’s departure, Mr. Ransom sat down in his room to look his own position resolutely in the face, this brother and his possible connection with the confusing and unhappy incidents of this last fatal week regained that prominent place in his thoughts which the doubts engendered by the unusual character of these incidents had for a while dispelled.
What had been the hold of this strange and uncongenial man on Georgian? And was his reappearance at the same time with that of a supposedly long deceased sister simply a coincidence so startling as to appear unreal?
He had not seen Anitra again and did not propose to, unless the meeting came about in a natural way and without any show of desire on his part. If any suspicion had been awakened in the house by his peculiar conduct in the morning, he meant it to be speedily dissipated by the careful way in which he now held to his role of despairing husband whose only interest in the girl left on his hands was the dutiful one of a reluctant brother-in-law, who doubts the kindly feelings of his strange and unwelcome charge.