“You know as well as I do that I have been dragged into the case against my wishes,” answered Bryce almost sullenly. “I was fetched to Braden—I saw him die. It was I who found Collishaw—dead. Of course, I’ve been mixed up, whether I would or not, and I’ve had to see a good deal of the police, and naturally I’ve learnt things.”
Mary suddenly turned on him with a flash of the eye which might have warned Bryce that he had signally failed in the main feature of his adventure.
“And what have you learnt that makes you come here and tell me all this?” she exclaimed. “Do you think I’m a simpleton, Dr. Bryce? You set out by saying that Dr. Ransford is in danger from the police, and that you know more—much more than the police! what does that mean? Shall I tell you? It means that you—you!—know that the police are wrong, and that if you like you can prove to them that they are wrong! Now, then isn’t that so?”
“I am in possession of certain facts,” began Bryce. “I—”
Mary stopped him with a look.
“My turn!” she said. “You’re in possession of certain facts. Now isn’t it the truth that the facts you are in possession of are proof enough to you that Dr. Ransford is as innocent as I am? It’s no use your trying to deceive me! Isn’t that so?”
“I could certainly turn the police off his track,” admitted Bryce, who was growing highly uncomfortable. “I could divert—”
Mary gave him another look and dropping her needlework continued to watch him steadily.
“Do you call yourself a gentleman?” she asked quietly. “Or we’ll leave the term out. Do you call yourself even decently honest? For, if you do, how can you have the sheer impudence —more, insolence!—to come here and tell me all this when you know that the police are wrong and that you could—to use your own term, which is your way of putting it—turn them off the wrong track? Whatever sort of man are you? Do you want to know my opinion of you in plain words?”
“You seem very anxious to give it, anyway,” retorted Bryce.
“I will give it, and it will perhaps put an end to this,” answered Mary. “If you are in possession of anything in the way of evidence which would prove Dr. Ransford’s innocence and you are wilfully suppressing it, you are bad, wicked, base, cruel, unfit for any decent being’s society! And,” she added, as she picked up her work and rose, “you’re not going to have any more of mine!”
“A moment!” said Bryce. He was conscious that he had somehow played all his cards badly, and he wanted another opening. “You’re misunderstanding me altogether! I never said—never inferred—that I wouldn’t save Ransford.”
“Then, if there’s need, which I don’t admit, you acknowledge that you could save him?” she exclaimed sharply. “Just as I thought. Then, if you’re an honest man, a man with any pretensions to honour, why don’t you at once! Any man who had such feelings as those I’ve just mentioned wouldn’t hesitate one second. But you—you!—you come and—talk about it! As if it were a game! Dr. Bryce, you make me feel sick, mentally, morally sick.”