Then John, he shrugged his shoulders as much as to say, ’It’s all up now,’ and he said to Mr. Oliver very politely, ’You are always fond of poking your nose into other people’s business, sir, and I daresay you’d like to know why I did it. Oh yes. You know everything, you do,’ says John, growing very white, and speaking angry and quick, ’with your writing, and your snuff, and your gossiping with the servants, which no gentleman would do, and your nasty, sneaking, Jaeger-felt boots, and your silly old tub of a wife. I knew that smooth-spoken man of yours would believe anything against her, and I knew he would never marry her after a set-out like this, and I knew I should get her when she found I stuck to her through it all, as I should have done, and as I would have done too, if she had taken fifty diamond necklaces.’
‘Send for the police,’ said master, but nobody moved. For Mrs. Oliver, who had been crying like a waterworks ever since we came down into the library, said quite sudden, ’O Dick dear! let him go. Don’t prosecute him. See, he’s lost everything, and he’s lost her, and he must have been mad with love for her or he wouldn’t have done such a thing.’
Now, wasn’t that a true lady to speak up like that for him after what he’d said of her? Mr. Oliver looked surprised at her speaking up like that, her that hardly ever said a word except ’Yes, Dick dear,’ and ‘No, Dick dear,’ and then he shrugs his shoulders and he says, ‘You are right, my dear, he’s punished enough.’
And John turned to go like a dog that has been whipped; but at the door he faced round, and he said to Mrs. Oliver, ’You’re a good woman, and I’m sorry I said what I did about you. But for the other I’m not sorry, not if it was my last word.’
And with that he went out of the room, and out of the house through the front door. He had no relations and he had no friends, and I suppose he had nowhere to go with his character gone, and so it happened that was truly his last word as far as any one knows. For he was found next morning on the level-crossing after the down express had passed.
You never saw such a fuss as every one made of me and James afterwards. I might have been a queen and him a king. But when it was all over it stuck in my mind that he oughtn’t to have doubted me, and so I wouldn’t name the day for over a year, though Mrs. Oliver had bought him a nice little hotel and given it to him herself; but when the year was up, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver came down to stay again, and seeing them brought it all back, and his having tried to save me as he had seemed more than his having doubted me. And so I married him, and I don’t think any one ever made a better match. James says he made a better match, and if I don’t agree with him, it’s only right and proper that he should think so, and I thank God that he does every hour of my life.