“Yet,” I said, “I don’t think he had anything to do with it.”
“It would have been far too much moral exertion—”
“You call it moral?” Sir Anthony burst out angrily.
I pacified him with an analysis, from my point of view, of Randall’s character. Centripetal forces were too strong for the young man. I dissertated on his amours with Phyllis Gedge.
“No, my dear old friend,” said I, in conclusion, “I don’t think it was Randall Holmes.”
Sir Anthony rose and shook his fist in my face. As I knew he meant me no bodily harm, I did not blench.
“Who was it, then?”
“Althea,” said I, “often used to stay in town with your sister. Lady Greatorex has a wide circle of acquaintances. Do you know anything of the men Althea used to meet at her house?”
“Of course I don’t,” replied Sir Anthony. Then he sat down again with a gesture of despair. “After all, what does it matter? Perhaps it’s as well I don’t know who the man was, for if I did, I’d kill him!”
He set his teeth and glowered at nothing and smote his left palm with his right fist, and there was a long silence. Presently he repeated:
“I’d kill him!”
We fell to discussing the whole matter over again. Why, I asked, should we assume that the poor child was led astray by a villain? Might there not have been a romantic marriage which, for some reason we could not guess, she desired to keep secret for a tune? Had she not been bright and happy from January to June? And that night of tragedy... What more likely than that she had gone forth to keep tryst with her husband and accidentally met her death? “He arrives,” said I, “waits for her. She never comes. He goes away. The next day he learns from local gossip or from newspapers what has happened. He thinks it best to keep silent and let her fair name be untouched...What have you to say against that theory?”
“Possible,” he replied. “Anything conceivable within the limits of physical possibility is possible. But it isn’t probable. I have an intuitive feeling that there was villainy about—and if ever I get hold of that man—God help him!”
So there was nothing more to be said.
I haven’t that universal sympathy which is the most irritating attribute of saints and other pacifists. When, for instance, anyone of the fraternity arguing from the Sermon on the Mount tells me that I ought to love Germans, either I admit the obligation and declare that, as I am a miserable sinner, I have no compunction in breaking it, or, if he is a very sanctimonious saint, I remind him that, such creatures as modern Germans not having been invented on or about the year A.D. 30, the rule about loving your enemies could not possibly apply. At least I imagine I do one of these two things (sometimes, indeed, I dream gloatfully