MY MEMORY RETURNS
At last my chance came,” Jack went on. “I’d found out almost everything; not, of course, exactly by way of legal proof, but to my own entire satisfaction: and I determined to lay the matter definitely at once before Mr. Callingham. So I took a holiday for a fortnight, to go bicycling in the Midlands I told my patients; and I fixed my head-quarters at Wrode, which, as you probably remember, is twenty miles off from Woodbury.
“It was important for my scheme I should catch Mr. Callingham alone. I had no idea of entrapping him. I wanted to work upon his conscience and induce him to confess. My object was rather to move him to remorse and restitution than to terrify or surprise him.
“So on the day of the accident—call it murder, if you will—I rode over on my machine, unannounced, to The Grange to see him. You knew where I was staying, you recollect—”
At the words, a burst of memory came suddenly over me.
“Oh yes!” I cried. “I remember. It was at the Wilsons’, at Wrode. I wrote over there to tell you we were going to dine alone at six that evening, as papa had got his electric apparatus home from his instrument-maker, and was anxious to try his experiments early. You’d written to me privately—a boy brought the note—that you wanted to have an hour’s talk alone with papa. I thought it was about me, and I was, oh, ever so nervous!”
For it all came back to me now, as clear as yesterday.
Jack looked at me hard.
“I’m glad you remember that, dear,” he said. “Now, Una, do try to remember all you can as I go along with my story... Well, I rode over alone, never telling anybody at Wrode where I was going, nor giving your step-father any reason of any sort to expect me. I trusted entirely to finding him busy with his new invention. When I reached The Grange, I came up the drive unperceived, and looking in at the library window, saw your father alone there. He was pottering over his chemicals. That gave me the clue. I left my bicycle under the window, tilted up against the wall, and walked in without ringing, going straight to the library. Nobody saw me come: nobody saw me return, except one old lady on the road, who seemed to have forgotten all about it by the time of the inquest.”
(I nodded and gave a start. I knew that must have been Aunt Emma.)
“Except yourself, Una, no human soul on earth ever seemed to suspect me. And that wasn’t odd; for you and your father, and perhaps Minnie Moore, were the only people in the world who ever knew I was in love with you or cared for you in any way.”
“Go on,” I said, breathless. “And you went into the library.”
“I went into the library,” Jack continued, “where I found your father, just returned from enjoying his cigar on the lawn. He was alone in the room—”