Dr Gollipeck was tall and lank, with an unfinished look about him, as if Nature in some sudden freak had seized an incomplete skeleton from a museum and hastily covered it with parchment. He dressed in rusty black, wore dingy cotton gloves, carried a large white umbrella, and surveyed the world through the medium of a pair of huge spectacles. His clothes were constantly coming undone, as he scorned the use of buttons, and preferred pins, which were always scratching his hands. He spoke very little, and was engaged in composing an erudite work on ’The Art of Poisoning, from Borgia to Brinvilliers’.
Selina was not at all impressed with his appearance, and mentally decided that a good wash and a few buttons would improve him wonderfully. Dr Gollipeck, however, soon verified the adage that appearances are deceptive—as Selina afterwards remarked to Archie— by bringing Madame Midas back to health in a wonderfully short space of time. She was now convalescent, and, seated in the arm-chair by the window, looked dreamily at the landscape. She was thinking of her husband, and in what manner he would annoy her next; but she half thought—and the wish was father to the half thought—that having got the nugget he would now leave her alone.
She knew that he had not been in Ballarat since that fatal night when he had attacked her, but imagined that he was merely hiding till such time as the storm should blow over and he could enjoy his ill-gotten gains in safety. The letter asking him to give up the nugget and ordering him to leave the district under threat of prosecution had been sent to his lodgings, but was still lying there unopened. The letters accumulated into quite a little pile as weeks rolled on, yet Mr Villiers, if he was alive, made no sign, and if he was dead, no traces had been found of his body. McIntosh and Slivers had both seen the police about the affair, one in order to recover the nugget, the other actuated by bitter enmity against Madame Midas. To Slivers’ hints, that perhaps Villiers’ wife knew more than she chose to tell, the police turned a deaf ear, as they assured Slivers that they had made inquiries, and on the authority of Selina and McIntosh could safely say that Madame Midas had been home that night at half-past nine o’clock, whereas Villiers was still alive in Ballarat—as could be proved by the evidence of Mr Jarper—at two o’clock in the morning. So, foiled on every side in his endeavours to implicate Mrs Villiers in her husband’s disappearance, Slivers retired to his office, and, assisted by his ungodly cockatoo, passed many hours in swearing at his bad luck and in cursing the absent Villiers.
As to M. Vandeloup, he was indefatigable in his efforts to find Villiers, for, as he very truly said, he could never repay Madame Midas sufficiently for her kindness to him, and he wanted to do all in his power to punish her cruel husband. But in spite of all this seeking, the whereabouts of Mr Randolph Villiers remained undiscovered, and at last, in despair, everyone gave up looking. Villiers had disappeared entirely, and had taken the nugget with him, so where he was and what he was doing remained a mystery.