Chapter XLVII: Law and Order

“God help you! No wonder you look pale and ill. You have a fine prospect from the window.” He drew the blind aside and looked out into the darkness. A gleam of moonlight lay upon the heaving ocean, and in the centre of this silver streak was a single brown-sailed fishing-boat running to the eastward before the wind. The inspector’s keen eye rested upon it for an instant, and then he dropped the blind and turned away. It never flashed across his mind that the men whom he was hunting down could have chosen that means of escape, and were already beyond his reach.

He examined very carefully the rooms of Ezra and of his father. Both had been furnished comfortably, if not solidly, with spring mattresses to their beds and carpets upon the floor. The young man’s room had little in it beyond the mere furniture, which was natural, as his visits were so short. In the merchant’s chamber, however, were many books and papers. On the little square table was a long slip of foolscap covered with complex figures. It appeared to be a statement of his affairs, in which he had been computing the liabilities of the firm. By the side of it was a small calf-bound diary. The inspector glanced over one of the pages and uttered an exclamation of disgust. “Here are some pretty entries,” he cried. “‘Feel the workings of grace within me!’ ‘Prayed that I might be given a livelier interest in the Holy Scriptures!’ The book’s full of that sort of thing!” he added, turning over the leaves. “The fellow seems to have played the hypocrite even with himself, for he could never have known that other eyes would rest upon this.”

“Dere’ll be some queer company among de elect if he is dere!” Von
Baumser remarked.

“What’s all this?” asked the inspector, tumbling a heap of clothes out of the corner with his foot. “Why, here’s a monk’s dress!”

Kate sprang forward at the words. “Then I did see him!” she cried.
“I had almost persuaded myself that it was a dream.”

“What was that?”

Kate told her story as well as she could, and the inspector made notes of it.

“The crafty old dog!” he cried. “No doubt he could reconcile it with his conscience more easily to frighten you to death than to actually kill you. He told you that cock-and-a-bull story to excite your imagination, and then, feeling sure that you would sooner or later try and escape by night, he kept guard in this rig. The only wonder is that he didn’t succeed in either killing you or driving you mad with fright.”

“Never mind now, dear,” Tom whispered, as he saw the look of fear spring into her eyes at the recollection of what had passed. “Don’t think of these terrible things. You will soon be safe in Phillimore Gardens in my mother’s arms. In the meanwhile, I think you would be the better for some sleep.”

“I think I should, Tom.”

“Are you afraid to sleep in your own room?”

“No; I am afraid of nothing, now that I know you are near me. I knew so well that you would come. I have been expecting you all the evening.”

“I can never thank my good friends here enough for the help which they have given me!” Tom exclaimed, turning to his companions.

“It is I who should thank them,” said Kate earnestly, “I have found friends, indeed. Who can say now that the days of chivalry are past?”

“Me dear young lady,” the major answered, bowing with all the innate grace of an Irish gentleman, “ye have warmed us by what ye say. I personally was, as ye know, under orders which left me no choice but to come. I hope, however, that ye will believe that had Mrs. Scully not occupied the place in me affections which she does, I should still be as prompt as me friends here to hasten to the rescue of a lady. Tobias Clutterbuck may be ould, Miss Harston, but his heart will niver grow so hardened but that it will milt at the thought of beauty in distriss.” With this beautiful sentiment the major placed his fat hand over his heart, and bowed again, even more gracefully than before. The three foreigners behind made no remark, but they all stood in a line grinning in a most amicable fashion, and nodding their heads as if to intimate that the major was expressing their united sentiments to a nicety. Kate’s last recollection of that eventful evening was the smiling visages of Von Baumser, Bulow, and the nameless Russian as they beamed their good night at her.

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