at all. If he could only stop Kitty’s mouth
in some way—persuasion was thrown away on
her. If he could with safety get rid of her he
would. Ah! that was an idea. He had some
of this poison—if he could only manage to
give it to her, and thus remove her from his path.
There would be no risk of discovery, as the poison
left no traces behind, and if it came to the worst,
it would appear she had committed suicide, for poison
similar to what she had used would be found in her
possession. It was a pity to kill her, so young
and pretty, and yet his safety demanded it; for if
she told Madame Midas all, it might lead to further
inquiries, and M. Vandeloup well knew his past life
would not bear looking into. Another thing, she
had threatened him about some secret she held—he
did not know what it was, and yet almost guessed;
if that was the secret she must be got rid of, for
it would imperil not only his liberty, but his life.
Well, if he had to get rid of her, the sooner he did
so the better, for even on the next day she might
tell all—he would have to give her the poison
that night—but how? that was the difficulty.
He could not do it at this ball, as it would be too
apparent if she died—no—it would
have to be administered secretly when she went home.
But then she would go to Madame Midas’ room
to see how she was, and then would retire to her own
room. He knew where that was—just off
Mrs Villiers’ room; there were French windows
in both rooms—two in Mrs Villiers’,
and one in Kitty’s. That was the plan—they
would be left open as the night was hot. Suppose
he went down to St Kilda, and got into the garden,
he knew every inch of the way; then he could slip into
the open window, and if it was not open, he could
use a diamond ring to cut the glass. He had a
diamond ring he never wore, so if Kitty was discovered
to be poisoned, and the glass cut, they would never
suspect him, as he did not wear rings at all, and the
evidence of the cut window would show a diamond must
have been used. Well, suppose he got inside,
Kitty would be asleep, and he could put the poison
into the water carafe, or he could put it in a glass
of water and leave it standing; the risk would be,
would she drink it or not--he would have to run that
risk; if he failed this time, he would not the next.
But, then, suppose she awoke and screamed—pshaw!
when she saw it was he Kitty would not dare to make
a scene, and he could easily make some excuse for
his presence there. It was a wild scheme, but
then he was in such a dangerous position that he had
to try everything.
When M. Vandeloup had come to this conclusion he arose,
and, going to the supper room, drank a glass of brandy;
for even he, cool as he was, felt a little nervous
over the crime he was about to commit. He thought
he would give Kitty one last chance, so when she was
already cloaked, waiting with Mrs Killer for the carriage,
he drew her aside.
‘You did not mean what you said tonight,’
he whispered, looking searchingly at her.