Five or six times, throughout the day and evening, Waymark had knocked at Ida’s door. About seven o’clock he had called at the Castis’, but found neither of them at home. Returning thence to Fulham, he had walked for hours up and down, in vain expectation of Ida’s coming. There was no light at her window.
Just before midnight he reached home, having on his way posted a letter with money in it. As he reached his door, Julian stood there, about to knock.
“Anything amiss?” Waymark asked, examining his friend by the light of the street-lamp.
Julian only made a sign to him to open the door. They went upstairs together, and Waymark speedily obtained a light. Julian had seated himself on the couch. His face was ghastly.
“What’s the matter?” Waymark asked anxiously. “Do you know anything about Ida?”
“She’s locked up in the police cells,” was the reply. “My wife has accused her of stealing things from our rooms.”
Waymark stared at him.
“Cacti, what’s the matter with you?” he exclaimed, overcome with fear, in spite of his strong self-command. “Are you ill? Do you know what you’re saying?”
Julian rose and made an effort to control himself.
“I know what I’m saying, Waymark I’ve only just heard it. She has come back home from somewhere—only just now—she seems to have been drinking. It happened in the middle of the day, whilst I was at the hospital. She gave her in charge to a policeman in the street, and a brooch was found on her.”
“A brooch found on her? Your wife’s?”
“Yes. When she came in, she railed at me like a fury, and charged me with the most monstrous things. I can’t and won’t go back there to-night! I shall go mad if I hear her voice. I will walk about the streets till morning.”
“And you tell me that Ida Starr is in custody?”
“She is. My wife accuses her of stealing several things.”
“And you believe this?” asked Waymark, under his voice, whilst his thoughts pictured Ida’s poverty, of which he had known nothing, and led him through a long train of miserable sequences.
“I don’t know. I can’t say. She says that Ida confessed, and, gave the brooch up at once. But her devilish malice is equal to anything. I see into her character as I never did before. Good God, if you could have seen her face as she told me! And Ida, Ida! I am afraid of myself, Waymark. If I had stayed to listen another moment, I should have struck her. It seemed as if every vein was bursting. How am I ever to live with her again? I dare not! I should kill her in some moment of madness! What will happen to Ida?”
He flung himself upon the couch, and burst into tears. Sobs convulsed him; he writhed in an anguish of conflicting passions. Waymark seemed scarcely to observe him, standing absorbed in speculation and the devising of a course to be pursued.
“I must go to the police-station,” he said at length, when the violence of the paroxysm had passed and left Julian in the still exhaustion of despair. “You, I think, had better stay here. Is there any danger of her coming to seek you?”