“I have just prescribed a drive,” said Dr. Cumberly, turning to them, “for to-morrow morning; with lunch at Richmond and a walk across the park, rejoining the car at the Bushey Gate, and so home to tea.”
Henry Leroux looked eagerly at Helen in silent appeal. He seemed to fear that she would refuse.
“Do you mean that you have included us in the prescription, father?” she asked.
“Certainly; you are an essential part of it.”
“It will be fine,” said the girl quietly; “I shall enjoy it.”
“Ah!” said Leroux, with a faint note of contentment in his voice; and he reseated himself.
There was an interval of somewhat awkward silence, to be broken by Denise Ryland.
“Dr. Cumberly has told you the news?” she asked, dropping for the moment her syncopated and pugnacious manner.
Leroux closed his eyes and leant back upon the couch.
“Yes,” he replied. “And to think that I am a useless wreck—a poor parody of a man—whilst—Mira is... Oh, God! help me!—God help her!”
He was visibly contending with his emotions; and Helen Cumberly found herself forced to turn her head aside.
“I have been blind,” continued Leroux, in a forced, monotonous voice. “That Mira has not—deceived me, in the worst sense of the word, is in no way due to my care of her. I recognize that, and I accept my punishment; for I deserved it. But what now overwhelms me is the knowledge, the frightful knowledge, that in a sense I have misjudged her, that I have remained here inert, making no effort, thinking her absence voluntary, whilst—God help her!—she has been"...
“Once again, Leroux,” interrupted Dr. Cumberly, “I must ask you not to take too black a view. I blame myself more than I blame you, for having failed to perceive what as an intimate friend I had every opportunity to perceive; that your wife was acquiring the opium habit. You have told me that you count her as dead”—he stood beside Leroux, resting both hands upon the bowed shoulders—“I have not encouraged you to change that view. One who has cultivated—the—vice, to a point where protracted absences become necessary—you understand me?—is, so far as my experience goes"...
“Incurable! I quite understand,” jerked Leroux. “A thousand times better dead, indeed.”
“The facts as I see them,” resumed the physician, “as I see them, are these: by some fatality, at present inexplicable, a victim of the opium syndicate met her death in this flat. Realizing that the inquiries brought to bear would inevitably lead to the cross-examination of Mrs. Leroux, the opium syndicate has detained her; was forced to detain her.”
“Where is the place,” began Leroux, in a voice rising higher with every syllable—“where is the infamous den to which—to which"...
Dr. Cumberly pressed his hands firmly upon the speaker’s shoulders.
“It is only a question of time, Leroux,” he said, “and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that—though at a great cost to yourself—this dreadful evil has been stamped out, that this yellow peril has been torn from the heart of society. Now, I must leave you for the present; but rest assured that everything possible is being done to close the nets about Mr. King.”