Part 10 out of 11
with which she dealt after her own inimitably kind and undeleterious
method, which in itself was an education to any amorous youth.
"I can understand all you tell me," she said when he reached the point
of confiding his hard past to her. "I can understand it because I knew
some one who had to fight for himself just that way, only perhaps it
was harder because he wasn't educated as you are."
"Did he--confide in you?" Dudevant ventured, with delicate hesitation.
"You are so kind I am sure he did, Mademoiselle."
"He told me about it because he knew I wanted to hear," she answered.
"I was very fond of him," she added, and her kind gravity was quite
unshaded by any embarrassment. "I was right-down fond of him."
His emotion rendered him for a moment indiscreet, to her immediate
realization and regret, as was evident by his breaking off in the
midst of his question.
"And now--are you?"
"Yes, I always shall be, Mr. Dudevant."
His adoration naturally only deepened itself as all hope at once
receded, as it could not but recede before the absolute pellucid truth
"However much he likes me, he will get over it in time. People do,
when they know how things stand," she was thinking, with maternal
It did him no bitter harm to help her with her efforts at learning
what she most needed, and he found her intelligence and modest power
of concentration remarkable. A singularly clear knowledge of her own
specialized requirements was a practical background to them both. She
had no desire to shine; she was merely steadily bent on acquiring as
immediately as possible a comprehension of nouns, verbs, and phrases
that would be useful to her father. The manner in which she applied
herself, and assimilated what it was her quietly fixed intention to
assimilate, bespoke her possession of a brain the powers of which
being concentrated on large affairs might have accomplished almost
startling results. There was, however, nothing startling in her
intentions, and ambition did not touch her. Yet, as she went with
Hutchinson from one country to another, more than one man of affairs
had it borne in upon him that her young slimness and her silence
represented an unanticipated knowledge of points under discussion
which might wisely be considered as a factor in all decisions for or
against. To realize that a soft-cheeked, child-eyed girl was an
element to regard privately in discussions connected with the sale of,
or the royalties paid on, a valuable patent appeared in some minds to
be a situation not without flavor. She was the kind of little person a
man naturally made love to, and a girl who was made love to in a
clever manner frequently became amenable to reason, and might be
persuaded to use her influence in the direction most desired. But such
male financiers as began with this idea discovered that they had been
led into errors of judgment through lack of familiarity with the
variations of type. One personable young man of title, who had just
been disappointed in a desirable marriage with a fortune, being made
aware that the invention was likely to arrive at amazing results, was
sufficiently rash to approach Mr. Hutchinson with formal proposals.
Having a truly British respect for the lofty in place, and not being
sufficiently familiar with titled personages to discriminate swiftly
between the large and the small, Joseph Hutchinson was somewhat unduly
"The chap's a count, lass," he said. "Tha'u'd go back to Manchester a
"I've heard they're nearly all counts in these countries," commented
Ann. "And there's countesses that have to do their own washing, in a
manner of speaking. You send him to me, Father."
When the young man came, and compared the fine little nose of Miss
Hutchinson with the large and bony structure dominating the
countenance of the German heiress he had lost, also when he gazed into
the clearness of the infantile blue eyes, his spirits rose. He felt
himself en veine; he was equal to attacking the situation. He felt
that he approached it with alluring and chivalric delicacy. He almost
believed all that he said.
But the pellucid blueness of the gaze that met his was confusingly
unstirred by any shade of suitable timidity or emotion. There was
something in the lovely, sedate little creature, something so
undisturbed and matter of fact, that it frightened him, because he
suddenly felt like a fool whose folly had been found out.
"That's downright silly," remarked Little Ann, not allowing him to
escape from her glance, which unhesitatingly summed up him and his
situation. "And you know it is. You don't know anything about me, and
you wouldn't like me if you did. And I shouldn't like you. We're too
different. Please go away, and don't say anything more about it. I
shouldn't have patience to talk it over."
"Father," she said that night, "if ever I get married at all, there's
only one person I'm going to marry. You know that." And she would say
By the time they returned to England, the placing of the invention in
divers countries had been arranged in a manner which gave assurance of
a fortune for its owners on a foundation not likely to have
established itself in more adverse circumstances. Mr. Hutchinson had
really driven some admirable bargains, and had secured advantages
which to his last hour he would believe could have been achieved only
by Lancashire shrewdness and Lancashire ability to "see as far through
a mile-stone as most chaps, an' a bit farther." The way in which he
had never allowed himself to be "done" caused him at times to chuckle
himself almost purple with self-congratulation.
"They got to know what they was dealing with, them chaps. They was
sharp, but Joe was a bit sharper," he would say.
They found letters waiting for them when they reached London.
"There's one fro' thy grandmother," Hutchinson said, in dealing out
the package. "She's written to thee pretty steady for an old un."
This was true. Letters from her had followed them from one place to
another. This was a thick one in an envelop of good size.
"Aren't tha going to read it? " he asked.
"Not till you've had your dinner, Father. You've had a long day of it
with that channel at the end. I want to see you comfortable with your
The hotel was a good one, and the dinner was good. Joseph Hutchinson
enjoyed it with the appetite of a robust man who has had time to get
over a not too pleasant crossing. When he had settled down into a
stout easy-chair with the pipe, he drew a long and comfortable breath
as he looked about the room.
"Eh, Ann, lass," he said, "thy mother 'd be fine an' set up if she
could see aw this. Us having the best that's to be had, an' knowin' we
can have it to the end of our lives, that's what it's come to, tha
knows. No more third-class railway-carriages for you and me. No more
`commercial' an' `temperance' hotels. Th' first cut's what we can
have--th' upper cut. Eh, eh, but it's a good day for a man when he's
begun to be appreciated as he should be."
"It's a good day for those that love him," said Little Ann. "And I
dare say mother knows every bit about it."
"I dare say she does," admitted Hutchinson, with tender lenience. "She
was one o' them as believed that way. And I never knowed her to be
wrong in aught else, so I'm ready to give in as she was reet about
that. Good lass she was, good lass."
He had fallen into a contented and utterly comfortable doze in his
chair when Ann sat down to read her grandmother's letter. The old
woman always wrote at length, giving many details and recording
village events with shrewd realistic touches. Throughout their
journeyings, Ann had been followed by a record of the estate and
neighborhood of Temple Barholm which had lacked nothing of atmosphere.
She had known what the new lord of the manor did, what people said,
what the attitude of the gentry had become; that the visit of the
Countess of Mallowe and her daughter had extended itself until
curiosity and amusement had ceased to comment, and passively awaited
results. She had heard of Miss Alicia and her reincarnation, and knew
much of the story of the Duke of Stone, whose reputation as a "dommed
clever owd chap" had earned for him a sort of awed popularity. There
had been many "ladies." The new Temple Barholm had boldly sought them
out and faced them in their strongholds with the manner of one who
would confront the worst and who revealed no tendency to flinch. The
one at Stone Hover with the "pretty color" and the one with the
dimples had appeared frequently upon the scene. Then there had been
Lady Joan Fayre, who had lived at his elbow, sitting at his table,
driving in his carriages with the air of cold aloofness which the
cottagers "could na abide an' had no patience wi'." She had sometimes
sat and wondered and wondered about things, and sometimes had flushed
daisy-red instead of daisy-pink; and sometimes she had turned rather
pale and closed her soft mouth firmly. But, though she had written
twice a week to her grandmother, she had recorded principally the
successes and complexities of the invention, and had asked very few
questions. Old Mrs. Hutchinson would tell her all she must know, and
her choice of revelation would be made with a far-sightedness which
needed no stimulus of questioning. The letter she had found awaiting
her had been long on its way, having missed her at point after point
and followed her at last to London. It looked and felt thick and solid
in its envelop. Little Ann opened it, stirred by the suggestion of
quickened pulse-beats with which she had become familiar. As she bent
over it she looked sweetly flushed and warmed.
Joseph Hutchinson's doze had almost deepened into sleep when he was
awakened by the touch of her hand on his shoulder. She was standing by
him, holding some sheets of her grandmother's letter, and several
other sheets were lying on the table. Something had occurred which had
changed her quiet look.
"Has aught happened to your grandmother?" he asked.
"No, Father, but this letter that's been following me from one place
to another has got some queer news in it."
"What's up, lass? Tha looks as if summat was up."
"The thing that's happened has given me a great deal to think of," was
her answer. "It's about Mr. Temple Barholm and Mr. Strangeways."
He became wide-awake at once, sitting up and turning in his chair in
"Now, now," he exclaimed, "I hope that cracked chap's not gone out an'
out mad an' done some mischief. I towd Temple Barholm it was a foolish
thing to do, taking all that trouble about him. Has he set fire to th'
house or has he knocked th' poor lad on th' head?"
"No, he hasn't, Father. He's disappeared, and Mr. Temple Barholm's
"Disappeared?" Hutchinson almost shouted. "What for, i' the Lord's
"Nobody knows for certain, and people are talking wild. The village is
all upset, and all sorts of silly things are being said."
"What sort o' things?"
"You know what servants at big houses are--how they hear bits of talk
and make much of it," she explained. "They've been curious and
chattering among themselves about Mr. Strangeways from the first. It
was Burrill that said he believed he was some relation that was being
hid away for some good reason. One night Mr. Temple Barholm and
Captain Palliser were having a long talk together, and Burrill was
"Aye, he'd be about if he thought there was a chance of him hearing
summat as was none of his business," jerked out Hutchinson, irately.
"They were talking about Mr. Strangeways, and Burrill heard Captain
Palliser getting angry; and as he stepped near the door he heard him
say out loud that he could swear in any court of justice that the man
he had seen at the west room window--it's a startling thing, Father--
was Mr. James Temple Barholm." For the moment her face was pale.
Hereupon Hutchinson sprang up.
"What!" His second shout was louder than his first. "Th' liar! Th'
chap's dead, an' he knows it. Th' dommed mischief-makin' liar!"
Her eyes were clear and speculatively thoughtful, notwithstanding her
lack of color.
"There have been people that have been thought dead that have come
back to their friends alive. It's happened many a time," she said. "It
wouldn't be so strange for a man that had no friends to be lost in a
wild, far-off place where there was neither law nor order, and where
every man was fighting for his own life and the gold he was mad after.
Particularly a man that was shamed and desperate and wanted to hide
himself. And, most of all, it would be easy, if he was like Mr.
Strangeways, and couldn't remember, and had lost himself."
As her father listened, the angry redness of his countenance moderated
its hue. His eyes gradually began to question and his under jaw fell
"Si' thee, lass," he broke out huskily, "does that mean to say tha
"It's not often you can believe what you don't know," she answered. "I
don't know anything about it. There's just one thing I believe,
because I know it. I believe what grandmother does. Read that."
She handed him the final sheet of old Mrs. Hutchinson's letter. It was
written with very black ink and in an astonishingly bold and clear
hand. It was easy to read the sentences with which she ended.
There's a lot said. There's always more saying than doing. But it's
right-down funny to see how the lad has made hard and fast friends
just going about in his queer way, and no one knowing how he did it. I
like him myself. He's one of those you needn't ask questions about. If
there's anything said that isn't to his credit, it's not true. There's
no ifs, buts, or ands about that, Ann.
Little Ann herself read the words as her father read them.
"That's the thing I believe, because I know it," was all she said.
"It's the thing I'd swear to mysel'," her father answered bluffly.
"But, by Judd--"
She gave him a little push and spoke to him in homely Lancashire
phrasing, and with some soft unsteadiness of voice.
"Sit thee down, Father love," she said, "and let me sit on thy knee."
He sat down with emotional readiness, and she sat on his stout knee
like a child. It was a thing she did in tender or troubled moments as
much in these days as she had done when she was six or seven. Her
little lightness and soft young ways made it the most natural thing in
the world, as well as the prettiest. She had always sat on his knee in
the hours when he had been most discouraged over the invention. She
had known it made him feel as though he were taking care of her, and
as though she depended utterly on him to steady the foundations of her
world. What could such a little bit of a lass do without "a father"?
"It's upset thee, lass," he said. "It's upset thee."
He saw her slim hands curl themselves into small, firm fists as they
rested on her lap.
"I can't bear to think that ill can be said of him, even by a wastrel
like Captain Palliser," she said. "He's MINE."
It made him fumble caressingly at her big knot of soft red hair.
"Thine, is he?" he said. "Thine! Eh, but tha did say that just like
thy mother would ha' said it; tha brings the heart i' my throat now
and again. That chap's i' luck, I can tell him--same as I was once."
"He's mine now, whatever happens," she went on, with a firmness which
no skeptic would have squandered time in the folly of hoping to shake.
"He's done what I told him to do, and it's ME he wants. He's found out
for himself, and so have I. He can have me the minute he wants me--the
"He can?" said Hutchinson. "That settles it. I believe tha'd rather
take him when he was i' trouble than when he was out of it. Same as
tha'd rather take him i' a flat in Harlem on fifteen dollar a week
than on fifteen hundred."
"Yes, Father, I would. It'd give me more to do for him."
"Eh, eh," he grunted tenderly, "thy mother again. I used to tell her
as the only thing she had agen me was that I never got i' jail so she
could get me out an' stand up for me after it. There's only one thing
worrits me a bit: I wish the lad hadn't gone away."
"I've thought that out, though I've not had much time to reason about
things," said Little Ann. "If he's gone away, he's gone to get
something; and whatever it happens to be, he'll be likely to bring it
back with him, Father."
Old Mrs. Hutchinson's letter had supplied much detail, but when her
son and grand-daughter arrived in the village of Temple Barholm they
heard much more, the greater part of it not in the least to be relied
"The most of it's lies, as folks enjoys theirsels pretendin' to
believe," the grand- mother commented. "It's servants'-hall talk and
cottage gossip, and plenty made itself up out o' beer drunk in th'
tap-room at th' Wool Park. In a place where naught much happens,
people get into th' way 'o springin' on a bit o' news, and shakin' and
worryin' it like a terrier does a rat. It's nature. That lad's given
'em lots to talk about ever since he coom. He's been a blessin' to
'em. If he'd been gentry, he'd not ha' been nigh as lively. Th'
village lads tries to talk through their noses like him. Little Tummas
Hibblethwaite does it i' broad Lancashire."
The only facts fairly authenticated were that the mysterious stranger
had been taken away very late one night, some time before the
interview between Mr. Temple Barholm and Captain Palliser, of which
Burrill knew so much because he had "happened to be about." When a
domestic magnate of Burrill's type "happens to be about" at a crisis,
he is not unlikely to hear a great deal. Burrill, it was believed,
knew much more than he deigned to make public. The entire truth was
that Captain Palliser himself, in one of his hasty appearances in the
neighborhood of Temple Barholm, had bestowed a few words of cold
caution on him.
"Don't talk too much," he had said. "Proof is required before talk is
safe. The American was sharp enough to say that to me himself. He was
sharp enough, too, to keep his man hidden. I was the only person that
saw him who could have recognized him, and I saw him by chance.
Palford & Grimby require proof. We are in search of it. Servants will
talk; but if you don't want to run the risk of getting yourself into
trouble, don't make absolute statements."
This had been a disappointment to Burrill, who had seen himself
developing in magnitude; but he was a timid man, and therefore felt it
wise to convey his knowledge merely through the conviction carried by
a dignified silence after his first indiscreet revelation of having
"happened to be about" had been made. It would have been some solace
to him to intimate to Miss Alicia by his bearing and the manner of his
services that she had been discovered, so to speak, in the character
of a sort of accomplice; that her position was a perilously uncertain
one, which would probably end in utter downfall, leaving her in her
old and proper place as an elderly, insignificant, and unattractive
poor relation, without a feature to recommend her. But being, as
before remarked, a timid man, and recalling the interview between
himself and his employer held outside the dining-room door, and having
also a disturbing memory of the sharp, cool, boyish eye and the tone
of the casual remark that he had "a head on his shoulders" and that it
was "up to him to make the others understand," it seemed as well to
restrain his inclinations until the proof Palford & Grimby required
It was perhaps the moderate and precautionary attitude of Palford &
Grimby, during their first somewhat startled though reserved interview
with Captain Palliser, which had prevented the vaguely wild rumors
from being regarded as more than villagers' exaggerated talk among
themselves. The "gentry," indeed, knew much less of the cottagers than
the cottagers knew of the gentry; consequently events furnishing much
excitement among the village people not infrequently remained unheard-
of by those in the class above them. A story less incredible might
have been more considered; but the highly colored reasons given for
the absence of the owner of Temple Barholm would, if heard of, have
been more than likely to be received and passed over with a smile.
The manner of Mr. Palford and also of Mr. Grimby during the
deliberately unmelodramatic and carefully connected relation of
Captain Palliser's singular story, was that of professional gentlemen
who for reasons of good breeding were engaged in restraining outward
expression of conviction that they were listening to utter nonsense.
Palliser himself was aware of this, and upon the whole did not wonder
at it in entirely unimaginative persons of extremely sober lives. In
fact, he had begun by giving them some warning as to what they might
expect in the way of unusualness.
"You will, no doubt, think what I am about to tell you absurd and
incredible," he had prefaced his statements. "I thought the same
myself when my first suspicions were aroused. I was, in fact, inclined
to laugh at my own idea until one link connected itself with another."
Neither Mr. Grimby nor Mr. Palford was inclined to laugh. On the
contrary, they were extremely grave, and continued to find it
necessary to restrain their united tendency to indicate facially that
the thing must be nonsense. It transcended all bounds, as it were. The
delicacy with which they managed to convey this did them much credit.
This delicacy was equaled by the moderation with which Captain
Palliser drew their attention to the fact that it was not the thing
likely-to-happen on which were founded the celebrated criminal cases
of legal history; it was the incredible and almost impossible events,
the ordinarily unbelievable duplicities, moral obliquities and
coincidences, which made them what they were and attracted the
attention of the world. This, Mr. Palford and his partner were
obviously obliged to admit. What they did not admit was that such
things never having occurred in one's own world, they had been
mentally relegated to the world of newspaper and criminal record as
things that could not happen to oneself. Mr. Palford cleared his
throat in a seriously cautionary way.
"This is, of course, a matter suggesting too serious an accusation not
to be approached in the most conservative manner," he remarked.
"Most serious consequences have resulted in cases implying libelous
assertions which have been made rashly," added Mr. Grimby. "As Mr.
Temple Barholm intimated to you, a man of almost unlimited means has
command of resources which it might not be easy to contend with if he
had reason to feel himself injured."
The fact that Captain Palliser had in a bitterly frustrated moment
allowed himself to be goaded into losing his temper, and "giving away"
to Tembarom the discovery on which he had felt that he could rely as a
lever, did not argue that a like weakness would lead him into more
dangerous indiscretion. He had always regarded himself as a careful
man whose defenses were well built about him at such crises in his
career as rendered entrenchment necessary. There would, of course, be
some pleasure in following the matter up and getting more than even
with a man who had been insolent to him; but a more practical feature
of the case was that if, through his alert observation and shrewd aid,
Jem Temple Barholm was restored to his much-to-be-envied place in the
world, a far from unnatural result would be that he might feel
suitable gratitude and indebted-ness to the man who, not from actual
personal liking but from a mere sense of justice, had rescued him. As
for the fears of Messrs. Palford & Grimby, he had put himself on
record with Burrill by commanding him to hold his tongue and stating
clearly that proof was both necessary and lacking. No man could be
regarded as taking risks whose attitude was so wholly conservative and
non-accusing. Servants will gossip. A superior who reproves such
gossip holds an unattackable position. In the private room of Palford
& Grimby, however, he could confidently express his opinions without
"The recognition of a man lost sight of for years, and seen only for a
moment through a window, is not substantial evidence," Mr. Grimby had
proceeded. "The incident was startling, but not greatly to be relied
"I knew him." Palliser was slightly grim in his air of finality. "He
was a man most men either liked or hated. I didn't like him. I
detested a trick he had of staring at you under his drooping lids. By
the way, do you remember the portrait of Miles Hugo which was so like
Mr. Palford remembered having heard that there was a certain portrait
in the gallery which Mr. James Temple Barholm had been said to
resemble. He had no distinct recollection of the ancestor it
"It was a certain youngster who was a page in the court of Charles the
Second and who died young. Miles Hugo Charles James was his name. He
is my strongest clue. The American seemed rather keen the first time
we talked together. He was equally keen about Jem Temple Barholm. He
wanted to know what he looked like, and whether it was true that he
was like the portrait."
"Indeed!" exclaimed Palford and Grimby, simultaneously.
"It struck me that there was something more than mere curiosity in his
manner," Palliser enlarged. "I couldn't make him out then. Later, I
began to see that he was remarkably anxious to keep every one from
Strangeways. It was a sort of Man in the Iron Mask affair. Strangeways
was apparently not only too excitable to be looked at or spoken to,
but too excitable to be spoken of. He wouldn't talk about him."
"That is exceedingly curious," remarked Mr. Palford, but it was not in
response to Palliser. A few moments before he had suddenly looked
thoughtful. He wore now the aspect of a man trying to recall something
as Palliser continued.
"One day, after I had been to look at a sunset through a particular
window in the wing where Strangeways was kept, I passed the door of
his sitting-room, and heard the American arguing with him. He was
evidently telling him he was to be taken elsewhere, and the poor devil
was terrified. I heard him beg him for God's sake not to send him
away. There was panic in his voice. In connection with the fact that
he has got him away secretly--at midnight-it's an ugly thing to
"It would seem to have significance." Grimby said it uneasily.
"It set me thinking and looking into things," Palliser went on.
"Pearson was secretive, but the head man, Burrill, made casual
enlightening remarks. I gathered some curious details, which might or
might not have meant a good deal. When Strangeways suddenly appeared
at his window one evening a number of things fitted themselves
together. My theory is that the American--Tembarom, as he used to call
himself --may not have been certain of the identity at first, but he
wouldn't have brought Strangeways with him if he had not had some
reason to suspect who he was. He daren't lose sight of him, and he
wanted time to make sure and to lay his plans. The portrait of Miles
Hugo was a clue which alarmed him, and no doubt he has been following
it. If he found it led to nothing, he could easily turn Strangeways
over to the public charge and let him be put into a lunatic asylum. If
he found it led to a revelation which would make him a pauper again,
it would be easy to dispose of him."
"Come! Come! Captain Palliser! We mustn't go too far!" ejaculated Mr.
Grimby, alarmedly. It shocked him to think of the firm being dragged
into a case dealing with capital crime and possible hangmen! That was
not its line of the profession.
Captain Palliser's slight laugh contained no hint of being shocked by
any possibilities whatever.
"There are extremely private asylums and so-called sanatoriums where
the discipline is strict, and no questions are asked. One sometimes
reads in the papers of cases in which mild-mannered keepers in
defending themselves against the attacks of violent patients are
obliged to use force--with disastrous results. It is in such places
that our investigations should begin."
"Dear me! Dear me!" Mr. Grimby broke out. "Isn't that going rather
far? You surely don't think--"
"Mr. Tembarom's chief characteristic was that he was a practical and
direct person. He would do what he had to do in exactly that
businesslike manner. The inquiries I have been making have been as to
the whereabouts of places in which a superfluous relative might be
placed without attracting attention."
"That is really astute, but--but--what do you think, Palford?" Mr.
Grimby turned to his partner, still wearing the shocked and disturbed
"I have been recalling to mind a circumstance which probably bears
upon the case," said Mr. Palford. "Captain Palliser's mention of the
portrait reminded me of it. I remember now that on Mr. Temple
Barholm's first visit to the picture-gallery he seemed much attracted
by the portrait of Miles Hugo. He stopped and examined it curiously.
He said he felt as if he had seen it before. He turned to it once or
twice; and finally remarked that he might have seen some one like it
at a great fancy-dress ball which had taken place in New York."
"Had he been invited to the ball?" laughed Palliser.
"I did not gather that," replied Mr. Palford gravely. "He had
apparently watched the arriving guests from some railings near by--or
perhaps it was a lamp-post--with other news-boys."
"He recognized the likeness to Strangeways, no doubt, and it gave him
what he calls a 'jolt,'" said Captain Palliser. "He must have
experienced a number of jolts during the last few months."
Palford & Grimby's view of the matter continued to be marked by
extreme distaste for the whole situation and its disturbing and
irritating possibilities. The coming of the American heir to the
estate of Temple Barholm had been trying to the verge of extreme
painfulness; but, sufficient time having lapsed and their client
having troubled them but little, they had outlived the shock of his
first appearance and settled once more into the calm of their
accustomed atmosphere and routine. That he should suddenly reappear
upon their dignified horizon as a probable melodramatic criminal was a
fault of taste and a lack of consideration beyond expression. To be
dragged-into vulgar detective work, to be referred to in news-papers
in a connection which would lead to confusing the firm with the
representatives of such branches of the profession as dealt with
persons who had committed acts for which in vulgar parlance they might
possibly "swing," if their legal defenders did not "get them off," to
a firm whose sole affairs had been the dealing with noble and ancient
estates, with advising and supporting personages of stately name, and
with private and weighty family confidences. If the worst came to the
worst, the affair would surely end in the most glaring and odious
notoriety: in head-lines and daily reports even in London, in
appalling pictures of every one concerned in every New York newspaper,
even in baffled struggles to keep abominable woodcuts of themselves--
Mr. Edward James Palford and Mr. James Matthew Grimby--from being
published in sensational journalistic sheets! Professional duty
demanded that the situation should be dealt with, that investigation
should be entered into, that the most serious even if conservative
steps should be taken at once. With regard to the accepted report of
Mr. James Temple Barholm's tragic death, it could not be denied that
Captain Palliser's view of the naturalness of the origin of the
mistake that had been made had a logical air.
"In a region full of rioting derelicts crazed with the lawless
excitement of their dash after gold," he had said, "identities and
names are easily lost. Temple Barholm himself was a derelict and in a
desperate state. He was in no mood to speak of himself or try to make
friends. He no doubt came and went to such work as he did scarcely
speaking to any one. A mass of earth and debris of all sorts suddenly
gives way, burying half-a-dozen men. Two or three are dug out dead,
the others not reached. There was no time to spare to dig for dead
men. Some one had seen Temple Barholm near the place; he was seen no
more. Ergo, he was buried with the rest. At that time, those who knew
him in England felt it was the best thing that could have happened to
him. It would have been if his valet had not confessed his trick, and
old Temple Barholm had not died. My theory is that he may have left
the place days before the accident without being missed. His mental
torment caused some mental illness, it does not matter what. He lost
his memory and wandered about--the Lord knows how or where he lived;
he probably never knew himself. The American picked him up and found
that he had money. For reasons of his own, he professed to take care
of him. He must have come on some clue just when he heard of his new
fortune. He was naturally panic-stricken; it must have been a big blow
at that particular moment. He was sharp enough to see what it might
mean, and held on to the poor chap like grim death, and has been
holding on ever since."
"We must begin to take steps," decided Palford & Grimby. "We must of
course take steps at once, but we must begin with discretion."
After grave private discussion, they began to take the steps in
question and with the caution that it seemed necessary to observe
until they felt solid ground under their feet. Captain Palliser was
willing to assist them. He had been going into the matter himself. He
went down to the neighborhood of Temple Barholm and quietly looked up
data which might prove illuminating when regarded from one point or
another. It was on the first of these occasions that he saw and warned
Burrill. It was from Burrill he heard of Tummas Hibblethwaite.
"There's an impident little vagabond in the village, sir," he said,
"that Mr. Temple Barholm used to go and see and take New York
newspapers to. A cripple the lad is, and he's got a kind of craze for
talking about Mr. James Temple Barholm. He had a map of the place
where he was said to be killed. If I may presume to mention it, sir,"
he added with great dignity, "it is my opinion that the two had a good
deal of talk together on the subject."
"I dare say," Captain Palliser admitted indifferently, and made no
further inquiry or remark.
He sauntered into the Hibblethwaite cottage, however, late the next
Tummas was in a bad temper, for reasons quite sufficient for himself,
and he regarded him sourly.
"What has tha coom for?" he demanded. "I did na ask thee."
"Don't be cheeky!" said Captain Palliser. "I will give you a sovereign
if you'll let me see the map you and Mr. Temple Barholm used to look
at and talk so much about."
He laid the sovereign down on the small table by Tummas's sofa, but
Tummas did not pick it up.
"I know who tha art. Tha'rt Palliser, an' tha wast th' one as said as
him as was killed in th' Klondike had coom back alive."
"You've been listening to that servants' story, have you?" remarked
Palliser. "You had better be careful as to what you say. I suppose you
never heard of libel suits. Where would you find yourself if you were
called upon to pay Mr. Temple Barholm ten thousand pounds' damages?
You'd be obliged to sell your atlas."
"Burrill towd as he heard thee say tha'd swear in court as it was th'
one as was killed as tha'd seen."
"That's Burrill's story, not mine. And Burrill had better keep his
mouth shut," said Palliser. "If it were true, how would you like it?
I've heard you were interested in 'th' one as was killed.'"
Tummas's eyes burned troublously.
"I've got reet down taken wi' th' other un," he answered. "He's noan
gentry, but he's th' reet mak'. I--I dunnot believe as him as was
killed has coom back."
"Neither do I," Palliser answered, with amiable tolerance. "The
American gentleman had better come back himself and disprove it. When
you used to talk about the Klondike, he never said anything to make
you feel as if he doubted that the other man was dead?"
"Not him," answered Tummas.
"Eh! Tummas, what art tha talkin' about?" exclaimed Mrs.
Hibblethwaite, who was mending at the other end of the room. "I heerd
him say mysel, `Suppose th' story hadn't been true an' he was alive
somewhere now, it'd make a big change, would na' it?' An' he laughed."
"I never heerd him," said Tummas, in stout denial.
"Tha's losin' tha moind," commented his mother. "As soon as I heerd
th' talk about him runnin' away an' takin' th' mad gentleman wi' him I
remembered it. An' I remembered as he sat still after it and said nowt
for a minute or so, same as if he was thinkin' things over. Theer was
summat a bit queer about it."
"I never heerd him," Tummas asserted, obstinately, and shut his mouth.
"He were as ready to talk about th' poor gentleman as met with th'
accident as tha wert thysel', Tummas," Mrs. Hibblethwaite proceeded,
moved by the opportunity offered for presenting her views on the
exciting topic. "He'd ax thee aw sorts o' questions about what tha'd
found out wi' pumpin' foak. He'd ax me questions now an' agen about
what he was loike to look at, an' how tall he wur. Onct he axed me if
I remembered what soart o' chin he had an' how he spoke."
"It wur to set thee goin' an' please me," volunteered Tummas,
grudgingly. "He did it same as he'd look at th' map to please me an'
tell me tales about th' news-lads i' New York."
It had not seemed improbable that a village cripple tied to a sofa
would be ready enough to relate all he knew, and perhaps so much more
that it would be necessary to use discretion in selecting statements
of value. To drop in and give him a sovereign and let him talk had
appeared simple. Lads of his class liked to be listened to, enjoyed
enlarging upon and rendering dramatic such material as had fallen into
their hands. But Tummas was an eccentric, and instinct led him to
close like an oyster before a remote sense of subtly approaching
attack. It was his mother, not he, who had provided information; but
it was not sufficiently specialized to be worth much.
"What did tha say he'd run away fur?" Tummas said to his parent later.
"He's not one o' th' runnin' away soart."
"He has probably been called away by business," remarked Captain
Palliser, as he rose to go after a few minutes' casual talk with Mrs.
Hibblethwaite. "It was a mistake not to leave an address behind him.
Your mother is mistaken in saying that he took the mad gentleman with
him. He had him removed late at night some time before he went
"Tak tha sov'rin'," said Tummas, as Palliser moved away. "I did na
show thee th' atlas. Tha did na want to see it."
"I will leave the sovereign for your mother," said Palliser. "I'm
sorry you are not in a better humor."
His interest in the atlas had indeed been limited to his idea that it
would lead to subjects of talk which might cast illuminating side-
lights and possibly open up avenues and vistas. Tummas, however,
having instinctively found him displeasing, he had gained but little.
Avenues and vistas were necessary --avenues through which the steps of
Palford and Grimby might wander, vistas which they might explore with
hesitating, investigating glances. So far, the scene remained
unpromisingly blank. The American Temple Barholm had simply
disappeared, as had his mysterious charge. Steps likely to lead to
definite results can scarcely be taken hopefully in the case of a
person who has seemed temporarily to cease to exist. You cannot
interrogate him, you cannot demand information, whatsoever the
foundations upon which rest your accusations, if such accusation can
be launched only into thin air and the fact that there is nobody to
reply to --to acknowledge or indignantly refute them--is in itself a
serious barrier to accomplishment. It was also true that only a few
weeks had elapsed since the accused had, so to speak, dematerialized.
It was also impossible to calculate upon what an American of his class
and peculiarities would be likely to do in any circumstances whatever.
In private conference, Palford and Grimby frankly admitted to each
other that they would almost have preferred that Captain Palliser
should have kept his remarkable suspicions to himself, for the time
being at least. Yet when they had admitted this they were confronted
by the disturbing possibility--suggested by Palliser--that actual
crime had been or might be committed. They had heard unpleasant
stories of private lunatic asylums and their like. Things to shudder
at might be going on at the very moment they spoke to each other.
Under this possibility, no supineness would be excusable. Efforts to
trace the missing man must at least be made. Efforts were made, but
with no result. Painful as it was to reflect on the subject of the
asylums, careful private inquiry was made, information was quietly
collected, there were even visits to gruesomely quiet places on
various polite pretexts.
"If a longer period of time had elapsed," Mr. Palford remarked several
times, with some stiffness of manner, "we should feel that we had more
solid foundation for our premises."
"Perfectly right," Captain Palliser agreed with him, "but it is lapse
of time which may mean life or death to Jem Temple Barholm; so it's
perhaps as well to be on the safe side and go on quietly following
small clues. I dare say you would feel more comfortable yourselves."
Both Mr. Palford and Mr. Grimby, having made an appointment with Miss
Alicia, arrived one afternoon at Temple Barholm to talk to her
privately, thereby casting her into a state of agonized anxiety which
reduced her to pallor.
"Our visit is merely one of inquiry, Miss Temple Barholm," Mr. Palford
began. "There is perhaps nothing alarming in our client's absence."
"In the note which he left me he asked me to--feel no anxiety," Miss
"He left you a note of explanation? I wish we had known this earlier!"
Mr. Palford's tone had the note of relieved exclamation. Perhaps there
was an entirely simple solution of the painful difficulty.
But his hope had been too sanguine.
"It was not a note of explanation, exactly. He went away too suddenly
to have time to explain."
The two men looked at each other disturbedly.
"He had not mentioned to you his intention of going?" asked Mr.
"I feel sure he did not know he was going when he said good-night. He
remained with Captain Palliser talking for some time." Miss Alicia's
eyes held wavering and anxious question as she looked from one to the
other. She wondered how much more than herself her visitors knew. "He
found a telegram when he went to his room. It contained most
disquieting news about Mr. Strangeways. He--he had got away from the
"Got away!" Mr. Palford was again exclamatory. "Was he in some
institution where he was kept under restraint?"
Miss Alicia was wholly unable to explain to herself why some quality
in his manner filled her with sudden distress.
"Oh, I think not! Surely not! Surely nothing of that sort was
necessary. He was very quiet always, and he was getting better every
day. But it was important that he should be watched over. He was no
doubt under the care of a physician in some quiet sanatorium."
"Some quiet sanatorium!" Mr. Palford's disturbance of mind was
manifest. "But you did not know where?"
"No. Indeed, Mr. Temple Barholm talked very little of Mr. Strangeways.
I believe he knew that it distressed me to feel that I could be of no
real assistance as--as the case was so peculiar."
Each perturbed solicitor looked again with rapid question at the
other. Miss Alicia saw the exchange of glances and, so to speak, broke
down under the pressure of their unconcealed anxiety. The last few
weeks with their suggestion of accusation too vague to be met had been
too much for her.
"I am afraid--I feel sure you know something I do not," she began. "I
am most anxious and unhappy. I have not liked to ask questions,
because that would have seemed to imply a doubt of Mr. Temple Barholm.
I have even remained at home because I did not wish to hear things I
could not understand. I do not know what has been said. Pearson, in
whom I have the greatest confidence, felt that Mr. Temple Barholm
would prefer that I should wait until he returned."
"Do you think he will return?" said Mr. Grimby, amazedly.
"Oh!" the gentle creature ejaculated. "Can you possibly think he will
not? Why? Why?"
Mr. Palford had shared his partner's amazement. It was obvious that
she was as ignorant as a babe of the details of Palliser's
extraordinary story. In her affectionate consideration for Temple
Barholm she had actually shut herself up lest she should hear anything
said against him which she could not refute. She stood innocently
obedient to his wishes, like the boy upon the burning deck, awaiting
his return and his version of whatsoever he had been accused of. There
was something delicately heroic in the little, slender old thing, with
her troubled eyes and her cap and her quivering sideringlets.
"You," she appealed, "are his legal advisers, and will be able to tell
me if there is anything he would wish me to know. I could not allow
myself to listen to villagers or servants; but I may ask you."
"We are far from knowing as much as we desire to know," Mr. Palford
"We came here, in fact," added Grimby, "to ask questions of you, Miss
"The fact that Miss Temple Barholm has not allowed herself to be
prejudiced by village gossip, which is invariably largely unreliable,
will make her an excellent witness," Mr. Palford said to his partner,
with a deliberation which held suggestive significance. Each man, in
fact, had suddenly realized that her ignorance would leave her
absolutely unbiased in her answers to any questions they might put,
and that it was much better in cross-examining an emotional elderly
lady that such should be the case.
"Witness!" Miss Alicia found the word alarming. Mr. Palford's bow was
"A mere figure of speech, madam," he said.
"I really know so little every one else doesn't know." Miss Alicia's
protest had a touch of bewilderment in it. What could they wish to ask
"But, as we understand it, your relations with Mr. Temple Barholm were
most affectionate and confidential."
"We were very fond of each other," she answered.
"For that reason he no doubt talked to you more freely than to other
people," Mr. Grimby put it. "Perhaps, Palford, it would be as well to
explain to Miss Temple Barholm that a curious feature of this matter
is that it--in a way--involves certain points concerning the late Mr.
Miss Alicia uttered a pathetic exclamation.
"Poor Jem--who died so cruelly!"
Mr. Palford bent his head in acquiescence.
"Perhaps you can tell me what the present Mr. Temple Barholm knew of
him--how much he knew?"
"I told him the whole story the first time we took tea together," Miss
Alicia replied; and, between her recollection of that strangely happy
afternoon and her wonder at its connection with the present moment,
she began to feel timid and uncertain.
"How did it seem to impress him?"
She remembered it all so well--his queer, dear New York way of
expressing his warm-hearted indignation at the cruelty of what had
"Oh, he was very much excited. He was so sorry for him. He wanted to
know everything about him. He asked me what he looked like."
"Oh!" said Palford. "He wanted to know that?"
"He was so full of sympathy," she replied, her explanation gaining
warmth. "When I told him that the picture of Miles Hugo in the gallery
was said to look like Jem as a boy, he wanted very much to see it.
Afterward we went and saw it together. I shall always remember how he
stood and looked at it. Most young men would not have cared. But he
always had such a touching interest in poor Jem."
"You mean that he asked questions about him--about his death, and so
forth?" was Mr. Palford's inquiry.
"About all that concerned him. He was interested especially in his
looks and manner of speaking and personality, so to speak. And in the
awful accident which ended his life, though he would not let me talk
about that after he had asked his first questions."
"What kind of questions?" suggested Grimby.
"Only about what was known of the time and place, and how the sad
story reached England. It used to touch me to think that the only
person who seemed to care was the one who --might have been expected
to be almost glad the tragic thing had happened. But he was not."
Mr. Palford watched Mr. Grimby, and Mr. Grimby gave more than one
dubious and distressed glance at Palford.
"His interest was evident," remarked Palford, thoughtfully. "And
unusual under the circumstances."
For a moment he hesitated, then put another question: "Did he ever
seem--I should say, do you remember any occasion when he appeared to
think that--there might be any reason to doubt that Mr. James Temple
Barholm was one of the men who died in the Klondike?"
He felt that through this wild questioning they had at least reached a
certain testimony supporting Captain Palliser's views; and his
interest reluctantly increased. It was reluctant because there could
be no shadow of a question that this innocent spinster lady told the
absolute truth; and, this being the case, one seemed to be dragged to
the verge of depths which must inevitably be explored. Miss Alicia's
expression was that of one who conscientiously searched memory.
"I do not remember that he really expressed doubt," she answered,
carefully. "Not exactly that, but--"
"But what?" prompted Palford as she hesitated. "Please try to recall
exactly what he said. It is most important."
The fact that his manner was almost eager, and that eagerness was not
his habit, made her catch her breath and look more questioning and
puzzled than before.
"One day he came to my sitting-room when he seemed rather excited,"
she explained. "He had been with Mr. Strangeways, who had been worse
than usual. Perhaps he wanted to distract himself and forget about it.
He asked me questions and talked about poor Jem for about an hour. And
at last he said, `Do you suppose there's any sort of chance that it
mightn't be true--that story that came from the Klondike?' He said it
so thoughtfully that I was startled and said, `Do you think there
could be such a chance--do you?' And he drew a long breath and
answered, `You want to be sure about things like that; you've got to
be sure.' I was a little excited, so he changed the subject very soon
afterward, and I never felt quite certain of what he was really
thinking. You see what he said was not so much an expression of doubt
as a sort of question."
A touch of the lofty condemnatory made Mr. Palford impressive.
"I am compelled to admit that I fear that it was a question of which
he had already guessed the answer," he said.
At this point Miss Alicia clasped her hands quite tightly together
upon her knees.
"If you please," she exclaimed, "I must ask you to make things a
little clear to me. What dreadful thing has happened? I will regard
any communication as a most sacred confidence."
"I think we may as well, Palford?" Mr. Grimby suggested to his
"Yes," Palford acquiesced. He felt the difficulty of a blank
explanation. "We are involved in a most trying position," he said. "We
feel that great discretion must be used until we have reached more
definite certainty. An extraordinary--in fact, a startling thing has
occurred. We are beginning, as a result of cumulative evidence, to
feel that there was reason to believe that the Klondike story was to
"That poor Jem--!" cried Miss Alicia.
"One begins to be gravely uncertain as to whether he has not been in
this house for months, whether he was not the mysterious Mr.
"Jem! Jem!" gasped poor little Miss Temple Barholm, quite white with
"And if he was the mysterious Strangeways," Mr. Grimby assisted to
shorten the matter, "the American Temple Barholm apparently knew the
fact, brought him here for that reason, and for the same reason kept
him secreted and under restraint."
"No! No!" cried Miss Alicia. "Never! Never! I beg you not to say such
a thing. Excuse me--I cannot listen! It would be wrong--ungrateful.
Excuse me!" She got up from her seat, trembling with actual anger in
her sense of outrage. It was a remarkable thing to see the small,
elderly creature angry, but this remarkable thing had happened. It was
as though she were a mother defending her young.
"I loved poor Jem and I love Temple, and, though I am only a woman who
never has been the least clever, I know them both. I know neither of
them could lie or do a wicked, cunning thing. Temple is the soul of
It was quite an inspirational outburst. She had never before in her
life said so much at one time. Of course tears began to stream down
her face, while Mr. Palford and Mr. Grimby gazed at her in great
"If Mr. Strangeways was poor Jem come back alive, Temple did not know-
-he never knew. All he did for him was done for kindness' sake. I--I--
" It was inevitable that she should stammer before going to this
length of violence, and that the words should burst from her: "I would
It was really a shock to both Palford and Grimby. That a lady of Miss
Temple Barholm's age and training should volunteer to swear to a thing
was almost alarming. It was also in rather unpleasing taste.
"Captain Palliser obliged Mr. Temple Temple Barholm to confess that he
had known for some time," Mr. Palford said with cold regret. "He also
informed him that he should communicate with us without delay."
"Captain Palliser is a bad man." Miss Alicia choked back a gasp to
make the protest.
"It was after their interview that Mr. Temple Barholm almost
immediately left the house."
"Without any explanation whatever," added Grimby.
"He left a few lines for me," defended Miss Alicia.
"We have not seen them." Mr. Palford was still as well as cold. Poor
little Miss Alicia took them out of her pocket with an unsteady hand.
They were always with her, and she could not on such a challenge seem
afraid to allow them to be read. Mr. Palford took them from her with a
slight bow of thanks. He adjusted his glasses and read aloud, with
pauses between phrases which seemed somewhat to puzzle him.
"Dear little Miss Alicia:
"I've got to light out of here as quick as I can make it. I can't even
stop to tell you why. There's just one thing--don't get rattled, Miss
Alicia. Whatever any one says or does, don't get rattled.
There was a silence, Mr. Palford passed the paper to his partner, who
gave it careful study. Afterward he refolded it and handed it back to
"In a court of law," was Mr. Palford's sole remark, "it would not be
regarded as evidence for the defendant."
Miss Alicia's tears were still streaming, but she held her ringleted
head well up.
"I cannot stay! I beg your pardon, I do indeed!" she said. "But I must
leave you. You see," she added, with her fine little touch of dignity,
"as yet this house is still Mr. Temple Barholm's home, and I am the
grateful recipient of his bounty. Burrill will attend you and make you
quite comfortable." With an obeisance which was like a slight curtsey,
she turned and fled.
In less than an hour she walked up the neat bricked path, and old Mrs.
Hutchinson, looking out, saw her through the tiers of flower-pots in
the window. Hutchinson himself was in London, but Ann was reading at
the other side of the room.
"Here's poor little owd Miss Temple Barholm aw in a flutter," remarked
her grandmother. "Tha's got some work cut out for thee if tha's going
to quiet her. Oppen th' door, lass."
Ann opened the door, and stood by it with calm though welcoming
"Miss Hutchinson "--Miss Alicia began all at once to realize that they
did not know each other, and that she had flown to the refuge of her
youth without being at all aware of what she was about to say. "Oh!
Little Ann!" she broke down with frank tears. "My poor boy! My poor
Little Ann drew her inside and closed the door.
"There, Miss Temple Barholm," she said. "There now Just come in and
sit down. I'll get you a good cup of tea. You need one."
The Duke of Stone had been sufficiently occupied with one of his
slighter attacks of rheumatic gout to have been, so to speak, out of
the running in the past weeks. His indisposition had not condemned him
to the usual dullness, however. He had suffered less pain than was
customary, and Mrs. Braddle had been more than usually interesting in
conversation on those occasions when, in making him very comfortable
in one way or another, she felt that a measure of entertainment would
add to his well-being. His epicurean habit of mind tended toward
causing him to find a subtle pleasure in the hearing of various
versions of any story whatever. His intimacy with T. Tembarom had
furnished forth many an agreeable mental repast for him. He had had T.
Tembarom's version of himself, the version of the county, the version
of the uneducated class, and his own version. All of these had had
varying shades of their own. He had found a cynically fine flavor in
Palliser's version, which he had gathered through talk and processes
of exclusion and inclusion.
"There is a good deal to be said for it," he summed it up. "It's
plausible on ordinary sophisticated grounds. T. Tembarom would say,
`It looks sort of that way."'
As Mrs. Braddle had done what she could in the matter of expounding
her views of the uncertainties of the village attitude, he had
listened with stimulating interest. Mrs. Braddle's version on the
passing of T. Tembarom stood out picturesquely against the background
of the version which was his own--the one founded on the singular
facts he had shared knowledge of with the chief character in the
episode. He had not, like Miss Alicia, received a communication from
Tembarom. This seemed to him one of the attractive features of the
incident. It provided opportunity for speculation. Some wild
development had called the youngster away in a rattling hurry. Of what
had happened since his departure he knew no more than the villagers
knew. What had happened for some months before his going he had
watched with the feeling of an intelligently observant spectator at a
play. He had been provided with varied emotions by the fantastic
drama. He had smiled; he had found himself moved once or twice, and he
had felt a good deal of the thrill of curious uncertainty as to what
the curtain would rise and fall on. The situation was such that it was
impossible to guess. Results could seem only to float in the air. One
thing might happen; so might another, so might a dozen more. What he
wished really to attain was some degree of certainty as to what was
likely to occur in any case to the American Temple Barholm.
He felt, the first time he drove over to call on Miss Alicia, that his
indisposition and confinement to his own house had robbed him of
something. They had deprived him of the opportunity to observe shades
of development and to hear the expressing of views of the situation as
it stood. He drove over with views of his own and with anticipations.
He had reason to know that he would encounter in the dear lady
indications of the feeling that she had reached a crisis. There was a
sense of this crisis impending as one mounted the terrace steps and
entered the hall. The men-servants endeavored to wipe from their
countenances any expression denoting even a vague knowledge of it. He
recognized their laudable determination to do so. Burrill was
monumental in the unconsciousness of his outward bearing.
Miss Alicia, sitting waiting on Fate in the library, wore precisely
the aspect he had known she would wear. She had been lying awake at
night and she had of course wept at intervals, since she belonged to
the period the popular female view of which had been that only the
unfeeling did not so relieve themselves in crises of the affections.
Her eyelids were rather pink and her nice little face was tired.
"It is very, very kind of you to come," she said, when they shook
hands. "I wonder "--her hesitance was touching in its obvious appeal
to him not to take the wrong side,--"I wonder if you know how deeply
troubled I have been?"
"You see, I have had a touch of my abominable gout, and my treasure of
a Braddle has been nursing me and gossiping," he answered. "So, of
course I know a great deal. None of it true, I dare say. I felt I must
come and see you, however."
He looked so neat and entirely within the boundaries of finished and
well-dressed modernity and every-day occurrence, in his perfectly
fitting clothes, beautifully shining boots, and delicate fawn gaiters,
that she felt a sort of support in his mere aspect. The mind connected
such almost dapper freshness and excellent taste only with
unexaggerated incidents and a behavior which almost placed the stamp
of absurdity upon the improbable in circumstance. The vision of
disorderly and illegal possibilities seemed actually to fade into an
"If Mr. Palford and Mr. Grimby knew him as I know him --as--as you
know him--" she added with a faint hopefulness.
"Yes, if they knew him as we know him that would make a different
matter of it," admitted the duke, amiably. But, thought Miss Alicia,
he might only have put it that way through consideration for her
feelings, and because he was an extremely polished man who could not
easily reveal to a lady a disagreeable truth. He did not speak with
the note of natural indignation which she thought she must have
detected if he had felt as she felt herself. He was of course a man
whose manner had always the finish of composure. He did not seem
disturbed or even very curious--only kind and most polite.
"If we only knew where he was!" she began again. "If we only knew
where Mr. Strangeways was!"
"My impression is that Messrs. Palford & Grimby will probably find
them both before long," he consoled her. "They are no doubt exciting
He was not agitated at all; she felt. it would have been kinder if he
had been a little agitated. He was really not the kind of person whose
feelings appeared very deep, being given to a light and graceful
cynicism of speech which delighted people; so perhaps it was not
natural that he should express any particular emotion even in a case
affecting a friend--surely he had been Temple's friend. But if he had
seemed a little distressed, or doubtful or annoyed, she would have
felt that she understood better his attitude. As it was, he might
almost have been on the other side--a believer or a disbeliever--or
merely a person looking on to see what would happen. When they sat
down, his glance seemed to include her with an interest which was
sympathetic but rather as if she were a child whom he would like to
pacify. This seemed especially so when she felt she must make clear to
him the nature of the crisis which was pending, as he had felt when he
entered the house.
"You perhaps do not know"--the appeal which had shown itself in her
eyes was in her voice--"that the solicitors have decided, after a
great deal of serious discussion and private inquiry in London, that
the time has come when they must take open steps."
"In the matter of investigation?" he inquired.
"They are coming here this afternoon with Captain Palliser to--to
question the servants, and some of the villagers. They will question
"They would be sure to do that,"--he really seemed quite to envelop
her with kindness--"but I beg of you not to be alarmed. Nothing you
could have to say could possibly do harm to Temple Barholm." He knew
it was her fear of this contingency which terrified her.
"You do feel sure of that?" she burst forth, relievedly. "You do--
because you know him?"
"I do. Let us be calm, dear lady. Let us be calm."
"I will! I will!" she protested. "But Captain Palliser has arranged
that a lady should come here--a lady who disliked poor Temple very
much. She was most unjust to him."
"Lady Joan Fayre?" he suggested, and then paused with a remote smile
as if lending himself for the moment to some humor he alone detected
in the situation.
"She will not injure his cause, I think I can assure you."
"She insisted on misunderstanding him. I am so afraid--"
The appearance of Pearson at the door interrupted her and caused her
to rise from her seat. The neat young man was pale and spoke in a
nervously lowered voice.
"I beg pardon, Miss. I beg your Grace's pardon for intruding, but--"
Miss Alicia moved toward him in such a manner that he himself seemed
to feel that he might advance.
"What is it, Pearson? Have you anything special to say?"
"I hope I am not taking too great a liberty, Miss, but I did come in
for a purpose, knowing that his Grace was with you and thinking you
might both kindly advise me. It is about Mr. Temple Barholm, your
Grace--" addressing him as if in involuntary recognition of the fact
that he might possibly prove the greater support.
"Our Mr. Temple Barholm, Pearson? We are being told there are two of
them." The duke's delicate emphasis on the possessive pronoun was
delightful, and it so moved and encouraged sensitive little Pearson
that he was emboldened to answer with modest firmness:
"Yes,--ours. Thank you, your Grace."
"You feel him yours too, Pearson?" a shade more delightfully still.
"I--I take the liberty, your Grace, of being deeply attached to him,
and more than grateful."
"What did you want to ask advice about?"
"The family solicitors. Captain Palliser and Lady Joan Fayre and Mr.
and Miss Hutchinson are to be here shortly, and I have been told I am
to be questioned. What I want to know, your Grace, is--" He paused,
and looked no longer pale but painfully red as he gathered himself
together for his anxious outburst--"Must I speak the truth?"
Miss Alicia started alarmedly.
The duke looked down at the delicate fawn gaiters covering his fine
instep. His fleeting smile was not this time an external one.
"Do you not wish to speak the truth, Pearson?"
Pearson's manner could have been described only as one of obstinate
"No, your Grace. I do not! Your Grace may misunderstand me--but I do
His Grace tapped the gaiters with the slight ebony cane he held in his
"Is this "--he put it with impartial curiosity--"because the truth
might be detrimental to our Mr. Temple Barholm?"
"If you please, your Grace," Pearson made a firm step forward, "what
is the truth?"
"That is what Messrs. Palford & Grimby seem determined to find out.
Probably only our Mr. Temple Barholm can tell them."
"Your Grace, what I'm thinking of is that if I tell the truth it may
seem to prove something that's not the truth."
"What kinds of things, Pearson?" still impartially.
"I can be plain with your Grace. Things like this: I was with Mr.
Temple Barholm and Mr. Strangeways a great deal. They'll ask me about
what I heard. They'll ask me if Mr. Strangeways was willing to go away
to the doctor; if he had to be persuaded and argued with. Well, he had
and he hadn't, your Grace. At first, just the mention of it would
upset him so that Mr. Temple Barholm would have to stop talking about
it and quiet him down. But when he improved--and he did improve
wonderfully, your Grace--he got into the way of sitting and thinking
it over and listening quite quiet. But if I'm asked suddenly--"
"What you are afraid of is that you may be asked point-blank questions
without warning?" his Grace put it with the perspicacity of
"That's why I should be grateful for advice. Must I tell the truth,
your Grace, when it will make them believe things I'd swear are lies--
I'd swear it, your Grace."
"So would I, Pearson." His serene lightness was of the most baffling,
but curiously supporting, order. "This being the case, my advice would
be not to go into detail. Let us tell white lies--all of us--without a
shadow of hesitancy. Miss Temple Barholm, even you must do your best."
"I will try--indeed, I will try!" And the Duke felt her tremulously
ardent assent actually delicious.
"There! we'll consider that settled, Pearson," he said.
"Thank you, your Grace. Thank you, Miss," Pearson's relieved gratitude
verged on the devout. He turned to go, and as he did so his attention
was arrested by an approach he remarked through a window.
"Mr. and Miss Hutchinson are arriving now, Miss," he announced,
"They are to be brought in here," said Miss Alicia.
The duke quietly left his seat and went to look through the window
with frank and unembarrassed interest in the approach. He went, in
fact, to look at Little Ann, and as he watched her walk up the avenue,
her father lumbering beside her, he evidently found her aspect
"Ah!" he exclaimed softly, and paused. "What a lot of very nice red
hair," he said next. And then, "No wonder! No wonder!"
"That, I should say," he remarked as Miss Alicia drew near, "is what I
once heard a bad young man call `a deserving case.'"
He was conscious that she might have been privately a little shocked
by such aged flippancy, but she was at the moment perturbed by
"The fact is that I have never spoken to Hutchinson," she fluttered.
"These changes are very confusing. I suppose I ought to say Mr.
Hutchinson, now that he is such a successful person, and Temple--"
"Without a shadow of a doubt!" The duke seemed struck by the happiness
of the idea. "They will make him a peer presently. He may address me
as 'Stone' at any moment. One must learn to adjust one's self with
agility. `The old order changeth.' Ah! she is smiling at him and I see
Miss Alicia made a clean breast of it.
"I went to her--I could not help it! " she confessed. "I was in such
distress and dare not speak to anybody. Temple had told me that she
was so wonderful. He said she always understood and knew what to do."
"Did she in this case?" he asked, smiling.
Miss Alicia's manner was that of one who could express the extent of
her admiration only in disconnected phrases.
"She was like a little rock. Such a quiet, firm way! Such calm
certainty! Oh, the comfort she has been to me! I begged her to come
here to-day. I did not know her father had returned."
"No doubt he will have testimony to give which will be of the greatest
assistance," the duke said most encouragingly. "Perhaps he will be a
sort of rock."
"I--I don't in the least know what he will be!" sighed Miss Alicia,
evidently uncertain in her views.
But when the father and daughter were announced she felt that his
Grace was really enchanting in the happy facility of his manner. He at
least adjusted himself with agility. Hutchinson was of course
lumbering. Lacking the support of T. Tembarom's presence and
incongruity, he himself was the incongruous feature. He would have
been obliged to bluster by way of sustaining himself, even if he had
only found himself being presented to Miss Alicia; but when it was
revealed to him that he was also confronted with the greatest
personage of the neighborhood, he became as hot and red as he had
become during certain fateful business interviews. More so, indeed.
"Th' other chaps hadn't been dukes;" and to Hutchinson the old order
had not yet so changed that a duke was not an awkwardly impressive
person to face unexpectedly.
The duke's manner of shaking hands with him, however, was even touched
with an amiable suggestion of appreciation of the value of a man of
genius. He had heard of the invention, in fact knew some quite
technical things about it. He realized its importance. He had
congratulations for the inventor and the world of inventions so
"Lancashire must be proud of your success, Mr. Hutchinson." How
agreeably and with what ease he said it!
"Aye, it's a success now, your Grace," Hutchinson answered, "but I
might have waited a good bit longer if it hadn't been for that lad an'
his bold backing of me."
"Mr. Temple Barholm?" said the duke.
"Aye. He's got th' way of making folks see things that they can't see
even when they're hitting them in th' eyes. I'd that lost heart I
could never have done it myself."
"But now it is done," smiled his Grace. "Delightful!"
"I've got there--same as they say in New York--I've got there," said
He sat down in response to Miss Alicia's invitation. His unease was
wonderfully dispelled. He felt himself a person of sufficient
importance to address even a duke as man to man.
"What's all this romancin' talk about th' other Temple Barholm comin'
back, an' our lad knowin' an' hidin' him away? An' Palliser an' th'
lawyers an' th' police bein' after 'em both?"
"You have heard the whole story?" from the duke.
"I've heard naught else since I come back."
"Grandmother knew a great deal before we came home," said Little Ann.
The duke turned his attention to her with an engaged smile. His look,
his bow, his bearing, in the moment of their being presented to each
other, had seemed to Miss Alicia the most perfect thing. His fine eye
had not obviously wandered while he talked to her father, but it had
in fact been taking her in with an inclusiveness not likely to miss
agreeable points of detail.
"What is her opinion, may I ask?" he said. "What does she say?"
"Grandmother is very set in her ways, your Grace." The limpidity of
her blue eye and a flickering dimple added much to the quaint
comprehensiveness of her answer. "She says the world's that full of
fools that if they were all killed the Lord would have to begin again
with a new Adam and Eve."
"She has entire faith in Mr. Temple Barholm--as you have," put forward
"Mine's not faith exactly. I know him," Little Ann answered, her tone
as limpid as her eyes.
"There's more than her has faith in him," broke forth Hutchinson.
"Danged if I don't like th' way them village chaps are taking it.
They're ready to fight over it. Since they've found out what it's come
to, an' about th' lawyers comin' down, they're talkin' about gettin'
up a kind o' demonstration."
"Delightful!" ejaculated his Grace again. He leaned forward. "Quite
what I should have expected. There's a good deal of beer drunk, I
"Plenty o' beer, but it'll do no harm." Hutchinson began to chuckle.
"They're talkin' o' gettin' out th' fife an' drum band an' marchin'
round th' village with a calico banner with `Vote for T. Tembarom'
painted on it, to show what they think of him."
The duke chuckled also.
"I wonder how he's managed it?" he laughed. "They wouldn't do it for
any of the rest of us, you know, though I've no doubt we're quite as
deserving. I am, I know."
Hutchinson stopped laughing and turned on Miss Alicia.
"What's that young woman comin' down here for?" he inquired.
"Lady Joan was engaged to Mr. James Temple Barholm," Miss Alicia
"Eh! Eh!" Hutchinson jerked out. "That'll turn her into a wildcat,
I'll warrant. She'll do all th' harm she can. I'm much obliged to you
for lettin' us come, ma'am. I want to be where I can stand by him."
"Father," said Little Ann, "what you have got to remember is that you
mustn't fly into a passion. You know you've always said it never did
any good, and it only sends the blood to your head."
"You are not nervous, Miss Hutchinson?" the duke suggested.
"About Mr. Temple Barholm? I couldn't be, your Grace. If I was to see
two policemen bringing him in handcuffed I shouldn't be nervous. I
should know the handcuffs didn't belong to him, and the policemen
would look right-down silly to me."
Miss Alicia fluttered over to fold her in her arms.
"Do let me kiss you," she said. "Do let me, Little Ann!"
Little Ann had risen at once to meet her embrace. She put a hand on
"We don't know anything about this really," she said. "We've only
heard what people say. We haven't heard what he says. I'm going to
wait." They were all looking at her,-- the duke with such marked
interest that she turned toward him as she ended. "And if I had to
wait until I was as old as grandmother I'd wait--and nothing would
change my mind."
"And I've been lying awake at night!" softly wailed Miss Alicia.
It was Mr. Hutchinson who, having an eye on the window, first
announced an arriving carriage.
"Some of 'em's comin' from the station," he remarked. "There's no
young woman with 'em, that I can see from here."
"I thought I heard wheels." Miss Alicia went to look out, agitatedly.
"It is the gentlemen. Perhaps Lady Joan--" she turned desperately to
the duke. "I don't know what to say to Lady Joan. I don't know what
she will say to me. I don't know what she is coming for, Little Ann,
do keep near me!"
It was a pretty thing to see Little Ann stroke her hand and soothe
"Don't be frightened, Miss Temple Barholm. All you've got to do is to
answer questions," she said.
"But I might say things that would be wrong--things that would harm
"No, you mightn't, Miss Temple Barholm. He's not done anything that
could bring harm on him."
The Duke of Stone, who had seated himself in T. Tembarom's favorite
chair, which occupied a point of vantage, seemed to Mr. Palford and
Mr. Grimby when they entered the room to wear the aspect of a sort of
presidiary audience. The sight of his erect head and clear-cut, ivory-
tinted old face, with its alert, while wholly unbiased, expression,
somewhat startled them both. They had indeed not expected to see him,
and did not know why he had chosen to come. His presence might mean
any one of several things, and the fact that he enjoyed a reputation
for quite alarming astuteness of a brilliant kind presented elements
of probable embarrassment. If he thought that they had allowed
themselves to be led upon a wild-goose chase, he would express his
opinions with trying readiness of phrase.
His manner of greeting them, however, expressed no more than a lightly
agreeable detachment from any view whatsoever. Captain Palliser felt
this curiously, though he could not have said what he would have
expected from him if he had known it would be his whim to appear.
"How do you do? How d' you do?" His Grace shook hands with the amiable
ease which scarcely commits a man even to casual interest, after which
he took his seat again.
"How d' do, Miss Hutchinson?" said Palliser. "How d' do, Mr.
Hutchinson? Mr. Palford will be glad to find you here."
Mr. Palford shook hands with correct civility.
"I am, indeed," he said. "It was in your room in New York that I first
saw Mr. Temple Temple Barholm."
"Aye, it was," responded Hutchinson, dryly.
"I thought Lady Joan was coming," Miss Alicia said to Palliser.
"She will be here presently. She came down in our train, but not with
"What--what is she coming for?" faltered Miss Alicia.
"Yes," put in the duke, "what, by the way, is she coming for?"
"I wrote and asked her to come," was Palliser's reply. "I have reason
to believe she may be able to recall something of value to the inquiry
which is being made."
"That's interesting," said his Grace, but with no air of participating
particularly. She doesn't like him, though, does she? Wouldn't do to
put her on the jury."
He did not wait for any reply, but turned to Mr. Palford.
"All this is delightfully portentous. Do you know it reminds me of a
scene in one of those numerous plays where the wrong man has murdered
somebody--or hasn't murdered somebody--and the whole company must be
cross-examined because the curtain cannot be brought down until the
right man is unmasked. Do let us come into this, Mr. Palford; what we
know seems so inadequate."
Mr. Palford and Mr. Grimby each felt that there lurked in this manner
a possibility that they were being regarded lightly. All the
objections to their situation loomed annoyingly large.
"It is, of course, an extraordinary story," Mr. Palford said, "but if
we are not mistaken in our deductions, we may find ourselves involved
in a cause celebre which will set all England talking."
"I am not mistaken," Palliser presented the comment with a short and
"Tha seems pretty cock-sure!" Hutchinson thrust in.
"I am. No one knew Jem Temple Barbolm better than I did in the past.
We were intimate--enemies." And he laughed again.
"Tha says tha'll swear th' chap tha saw through th' window was him?"
"I'd swear it," with composure.
The duke was reflecting. He was again tapping with his cane the gaiter
covering his slender, shining boot.
"If Mr. Temple Temple Barholm had remained here his actions would have
seemed less suspicious?" he suggested.
It was Palliser who replied.
"Or if he hadn't whisked the other man away. He lost his head and
played the fool."
"He didn't lose his head, that chap. It's screwed on th' right way--
his head is," grunted Hutchinson.
"The curious fellow has a number of friends," the duke remarked to
Palford and Grimby, in his impartial tone. "I am hoping you are not
thinking of cross-examining me. I have always been convinced that
under cross-examination I could be induced to innocently give evidence
condemnatory to both sides of any case whatever. But would you mind
telling me what the exact evidence is so far? "
Mr. Palford had been opening a budget of papers.
"It is evidence which is cumulative, your Grace," he said. "Mr. Temple
Temple Barholm's position would have been a far less suspicious one--
as you yourself suggested--if he had remained, or if he hadn't
secretly removed Mr.--Mr. Strangeways."
"The last was Captain Palliser's suggestion, I believe," smiled the
duke. "Did he remove him secretly? How secretly, for instance?"
"At night," answered Palliser. "Miss Temple Barholm herself did not
know when it happened. Did you?" turning to Miss Alicia, who at once
flushed and paled.
"He knew that I was rather nervous where Mr. Strangeways was
concerned. I am sorry to say he found that out almost at once. He even
told me several times that I must not think of him--that I need hear
nothing about him." She turned to the duke, her air of appeal plainly
representing a feeling that he would understand her confession. "I
scarcely like to say it, but wrong as it was I couldn't help feeling
that it was like having a--a lunatic in the house. I was afraid he
might be more--ill--than Temple realized, and that he might some time
become violent. I never admitted so much of course, but I was."
"You see, she was not told," Palliser summed it up succinctly.
"Evidently," the duke admitted. "I see your point." But he seemed to
disengage himself from all sense of admitting implications with entire
calmness, as he turned again to Mr. Palford and his papers.
"You were saying that the exact evidence was--?"
Mr. Palford referred to a sheet of notes.
"That--whether before or shortly after his arrival here is not at all
certain--Mr. Temple Temple Barholm began strongly to suspect the
identity of the person then known as Strangeways--"
Palliser again emitted the short and dry laugh, and both the duke and
Mr. Palford looked at him inquiringly.
"He had `got on to' it before he brought him," he answered their
glances. "Be sure of that."
"Then why did he bring him?" the duke suggested lightly.
"Oh, well," taking his cue from the duke, and assuming casual
lightness also, "he was obliged to come himself, and was jolly well
convinced that he had better keep his hand on the man, also his eye.
It was a good-enough idea. He couldn't leave a thing like that
wandering about the States. He could play benefactor safely in a house
of the size of this until he was ready for action."
The duke gave a moment to considering the matter--still detachedly.
"It is, on the whole, not unlikely that something of the sort might
suggest itself to the criminal mind," he said. And his glance at Mr.
Palford intimated that he might resume his statement.
"We have secured proof that he applied himself to secret
investigation. He is known to have employed Scotland Yard to make
certain inquiries concerning the man said to have been killed in the
Klondike. Having evidently reached more than suspicion he began to
endeavor to persuade Mr. Strangeways to let him take him to London.
This apparently took some time. The mere suggestion of removal threw
the invalid into a state of painful excitement--"
"Did Pearson tell you that? " the duke inquired.
"Captain Palliser himself in passing the door of the room one day
heard certain expressions of terrified pleading," was Mr. Palford's
"I heard enough," Palliser took it up carelessly, "to make it worth
while to question Pearson--who must have heard a great deal more.
Pearson was ordered to hold his tongue from the first, but he will
have to tell the truth when he is asked."
The duke did not appear to resent his view.
"Pearson would be likely to know what went on," he remarked. "He's an
intelligent little fellow."
"The fact remains that in spite of his distress and reluctance Mr.
Strangeways was removed privately, and there our knowledge ends. He
has not been seen since--and a few hours after, Captain Palliser
expressed his conviction, that the person he had seen through the West
Room window was Mr. James Temple Barholm, Mr. Temple Temple Barholm
left the house taking a midnight train, and leaving no clue as to his
where-abouts or intentions."
"Disappeared! " said the duke. "Where has he been looked for?"
The countenance of both Mr. Palford and his party expressed a certain
degree of hesitance.
"Principally in asylums and so-called sanatoriums," Mr. Grimby
admitted with a hint of reluctance.
"Places where the curiosity of outsiders is not encouraged," said
Palliser languidly. "And where if a patient dies in a fit of mania
there are always respectable witnesses to explain that his case was
hopeless from the first."
Mr. Hutchinson had been breathing hard occasionally as he sat and
listened, and now he sprang up uttering a sound dangerously near a
"Art tha accusin' that lad o' bein' black villain enough to be ready
to do bloody murder?" he cried out.
"He was in a very tight place, Hutchinson," Palliser shrugged his
shoulders as he said it. "But one makes suggestions at this stage--not
That Hutchinson had lost his head was apparent to his daughter at
"Tha'd be in a tight place, my fine chap, if I had my way," he flung
forth irately. "I'd like to get thy head under my arm."
The roll of approaching wheels reached Miss Alicia.
"There's another carriage," was her agitated exclamation. "Oh, dear!
It must be Lady Joan!"
Little Ann left her seat to make her father return to his.
"Father, you'd better sit down," she said, gently pushing him in the
right direction. "When you can't prove a thing's a lie, it's just as
well to keep quiet until you can." And she kept quiet herself, though
she turned and stood before Palliser and spoke with clear
deliberateness. "What you pretend to believe is not true, Captain
Palliser. It's just not true," she gave to him.
They were facing and looking at each other when Burrill announced Lady
Joan Fayre. She entered rather quickly and looked round the room with
a sweeping glance, taking them all in. She went to the duke first, and
they shook hands.
"I am glad you are here! " she said.
"I would not have been out of it, my dear young lady," he answered,
"`for a farm' That's a quotation."
"I know," she replied, giving her hand to Miss Alicia, and taking in
Palliser and the solicitors with a bow which was little more than a
nod. Then she saw Little Ann, and walked over to her to shake hands.
"I am glad you are here. I rather felt you would be," was her
greeting. "I am glad to see you."
"Whether tha 'rt glad to see me or not I'm glad I'm here," said
Hutchinson bluntly. "I've just been speaking a bit o' my mind."
"Now, Father love!" Little Ann put her hand on his arm.
Lady Joan looked him over. Her hungry eyes were more hungry than ever.
She looked like a creature in a fever and worn by it.
"I think I am glad you are here too," she answered.
Palliser sauntered over to her. He had approved the duke's air of
being at once detached and inquiring, and he did not intend to wear
the aspect of the personage who plays the unpleasant part of the
pursuer and avenger. What he said was:
"It was good of you to come, Lady Joan."
"Did you think I would stay away?" was her answer. "But I will tell
you that I don't believe it is true."
"You think that it is too good to be true?"
Her hot eyes had records in them it would have been impossible for him
to read or understand. She had been so torn; she had passed through
such hours since she had been told this wild thing.
"Pardon my not telling you what I think," she said. "Nothing matters,
after all, if he is alive!"
"Except that we must find him," said Palliser.
"If he is in the same world with me I shall find him," fiercely. Then
she turned again to Ann. "You are the girl T. Tembarom loves?" she put
it to her.
"Yes, my lady."
"If he was lost, and you knew he was on the earth with you, don't you
know that you would find him?"
"I should know he'd come back to me," Little Ann answered her. "That's
what--" her small face looked very fine as in her second of hesitation
a spirited flush ran over it, "that's what your man will do," quite
It was amazing to see how the bitter face changed, as if one word had
brought back a passionate softening memory.
"My man!" Her voice mellowed until it was deep and low. "Did you call
T. Tembarom that, too? Oh, I understand you! Keep near me while I talk
to these people." She made her sit down by her.
"I know every detail of your letters." She addressed Palliser as well
as Palford & Grimby, sweeping all details aside. "What is it you want
to ask me?"
"This is our position, your ladyship," Mr. Palford fumbled a little
with his papers in speaking. "Mr. Temple Temple Barholm and the person
known as Mr. Strangeways have been searched for so far without result.
In the meantime we realize that the more evidence we obtain that Mr.
Temple Temple Barholm identified Strangeways and acted from motive,
the more solid the foundation upon which Captain Palliser's conviction
rests. Up to this point we have only his statement which he is
prepared to make on oath. Fortunately, however, he on one occasion
overheard something said to you which he believes will be
"What did you overhear?" she inquired of Palliser.
Her tone was not pacific considering that, logically, she must be on
the side of the investigators. But it was her habit, as Captain
Palliser remembered, to seem to put most people on the defensive. He
meant to look as uninvolved as the duke, but it was not quite within
his power. His manner was sufficiently deliberate.
"One evening, before you left for London, I was returning from the
billiard-room, and heard you engaged in animated conversation with--
our host. My attention was arrested, first because--" a sketch of a
smile ill-concealed itself, "you usually scarcely deigned to speak to
him, and secondly because I heard Jem Temple Barholm's name."
"And you--?" neither eyes nor manner omitted the word listened.
But the slight lift of his shoulders was indifferent enough.
"I listened deliberately. I was convinced that the fellow was a
criminal impostor, and I wanted evidence."
"Ah! come now," remarked the duke amiably. "Now we are getting on. Did
you gain any?"
"I thought so. Merely of the cumulative order, of course," Palliser
answered with moderation. "Those were early days. He asked you,"
turning to Lady Joan again, "if you knew any one--any one--who had any
sort of a photograph of Jem. You had one and you showed it to him!"
She was quite silent for a moment. The hour came back to her--the
extraordinary hour when he had stood in his lounging fashion before
her, and through some odd, uncivilized but absolutely human force of
his own had made her listen to him --and had gone on talking in his
nasal voice until with one common, crude, grotesque phrase he had
turned her hideous world upside down--changed the whole face of it--
sent the stone wall rising before her crumbling into dust, and seemed
somehow to set her free. For the moment he had lifted a load from her
the nature of which she did not think he could understand--a load of
hatred and silence. She had clutched his hand, she had passionately
wept on it, she could have kissed it. He had told her she could come
back and not be afraid. As the strange episode rose before her detail
by detail, she literally stared at Palliser.
"You did, didn't you?" he inquired.
"Yes," she answered.
Her mind was in a riot, because in the midst of things which must be
true, something was false. But with the memory of a myriad subtle
duplicities in her brain, she had never seen anything which could have
approached a thing like that. He had made her feel more human than any
one in the world had ever made her feel--but Jem. He had been able to