Madame Midas folded her hands loosely on the table, and looked dreamily out of the open French window, and at the trellis covered with creeping plants beyond, through which the sun was entering in pencils of golden light. Life would have been so sweet to her if she had only been content to be deceived like other people; but then she was not of that kind. Faith with her was a religion, and when religion is taken away, what remains?—nothing.
‘I am going to England,’ she said, abruptly, to Calton, rousing herself out of these painful reflections.
‘After the trial, I presume?’ observed Calton, slowly.
‘Yes,’ she answered, hesitatingly; ’do you think they will—they will—hang the girl?’
Calton shrugged his shoulders. ‘I can’t tell you,’ he answered, with a half smile; ’if she is found guilty—well—I think she will be imprisoned for life.’
‘Poor Kitty,’ said Madame, sadly, ’it was an evil hour when you met Vandeloup. What do you think of him?’ she asked, suddenly.
‘He’s a scoundrel,’ returned Calton, decisively; still, a clever one, with a genius for intrigue; he should have lived in the times of Borgian Rome, where his talents would have been appreciated; now we have lost the art of polite murder.’
‘Do you know,’ said Mrs Villiers, musingly, leaning back in her chair, ‘I cannot help thinking Kitty is innocent of this crime.’
‘She may be,’ returned Calton, ambiguously, ’but the evidence seems very strong against her.’
‘Purely circumstantial,’ interrupted Madame Midas, quickly.
‘Purely circumstantial, as you say,’ assented Calton; ’still, some new facts may be discovered before the trial which may prove her to be innocent. After the mystery which enveloped the death of Oliver Whyte in the hansom cab murder I hesitate giving a decided answer, in any case till everything has been thoroughly sifted; but, if not Kitty Marchurst, whom do you suspect—Vandeloup?’
‘No; he wanted to marry me, not to kill me.’
‘Have you any enemy, then, who would do such a thing?’
‘Yes; my husband.’
‘But he is dead.’
‘He disappeared,’ corrected Madame, ’but it was never proved that he was dead. He was a revengeful, wicked man, and if he could have killed me, without hurting himself, he would,’ and rising from her seat she paced up and down the room slowly.
‘I know your sad story,’ said the barrister, ’and also how your husband disappeared; but, to my mind, looking at all the circumstances, you will not be troubled with him again.’
A sudden exclamation made him turn his head, and he saw Madame Midas, white as death, staring at the open French window, on the threshold of which was standing a man—medium height, black beard, and a haggard, hunted look in his eyes.
‘Who is this?’ cried Calton, rising to his feet.
Madame Midas tottered, and caught at the mantelpiece for support.