ONE PART OF THE TRUTH

Naturally Mr. and Mrs. Shawe did not care about interrupting their
honeymoon by a visit to town, especially on an errand connected with
criminal matters. But the necessity of taking such a journey was very
great, seeing that Perry Toat assured them how the arranged interview
with Madame Coralie and her husband would probably clear up matters in
a surprising way. Apparently the detective knew much more than she was
prepared to admit, for once or twice she looked at the young couple in
an odd way. Ralph saw her stealthy glances, but did not ask her in the
presence of his wife what they meant. Warned by experience, he
hesitated to be too abrupt in his questioning. He did not know what
astonishing fact might be told.

But the young man did express surprise when he examined the photograph
of Madame Coralie. It was the woman herself without doubt, for her
face, although looking much younger, was too strongly marked to be
mistaken. She was dressed as a nurse, and looked quite pretty, as her
figure was more shapely and the garb became her. Of course, the
birthmark was not revealed by the photographic process, or if it had
been–Ralph was not sufficiently an expert to know–was eliminated
carefully, so that the subject of the portrait might appear at her
best.

“Where did you get this?” asked Ralph, when the trio walked back to
the Three Fishers to get ready for the midday journey.

“I have been hunting for it for a long time,” replied Perry Toat,
replacing the photograph in her pocket, “and at length procured it
from an old servant of Colonel Ilse, who had been in the house when
Madame Coralie acted as nurse to Mrs. Ilse. She called herself Mrs.
Askew then.”

“Askew, Askew!” muttered Shawe, musingly. “And her true name is
Arkwright.”

“She used a false name with the same initial letter because of the
marks on her linen, no doubt,” said Miss Toat. “Of course, this
portrait was taken more than twenty years ago, but there is sufficient
resemblance for me to recognise it as that of Madame Coralie.”

“But as she always wears a yashmak–”

“You forget my midnight exploration of the Pink Shop, when I saw
Madame Coralie in bed without the yashmak and by the light of my
bull’s-eye lantern,” said the detective, quickly.

“Then you are sure that she is the nurse who stole the child?”

“Quite sure. It appears she was jealous of Mrs. Ilse, as she was in
love with the Colonel at the time, although she had no grounds to go
upon. He was not the Colonel then, of course.”

“He is pleased at your discovery, I expect?” said Audrey.

Perry Toat cast one of her stealthy glances at the young wife. “Very
pleased indeed,” she assented cordially, “since the discovery of
Madame Coralie as the nurse may give him back his daughter.”

At the Three Fishers Audrey found a curt note from her father saying
that he was coming down to see her that afternoon, as he had obtained
her address from Lady Sanby. Sir Joseph had learnt all about the
wedding and how Lady Sanby had acted as the fairy godmother. Perhaps
for this reason he was willing to be reconciled to his daughter. But a
letter from Miss Rosy Pearl to Ralph, which had arrived by the same
post, put a different complexion on the affair. Miss Pearl wrote
saying that she had prevailed on Sir Joseph to become friends again
with Audrey, and that she would come herself with the millionaire to
Weed-on-the-Sands to witness the reconciliation. “Fortunately I am not
engaged at any music-hall for two weeks,” wrote the dancer, “so I can
stay at the Three Fishers for the night and cultivate the society of
your wife. I may tell you that if she were not at Weed-on-the-Sands I
would not be able to come down with Sir Joseph, as in my profession
one can never be too careful.”

Ralph laughed at this display of Miss Pearl’s uneasy virtue. “I am
afraid that she will not find us here,” he said to Audrey.

“Not this afternoon,” replied the girl, quickly, “but we can return by
the late train. I should like to become reconciled with papa.”

“I think Lady Sanby has something to do with Sir Joseph’s desire to be
on speaking terms with us,” said Ralph, a trifle drily. “No doubt she
gave him a good talking to. However, I shall leave a note saying that
we shall return by–When can we return, Miss Toat?”

The detective thought for a moment or so. “We leave here by the
half-past twelve train,” she said, looking at the watch attached to
her wrist, “and get to London at half-past two o’clock. We shall reach
my office in Buckingham Street at three, and there I expect to find
Madame Coralie and Eddy Vail waiting for us. The interview will likely
be a long one–say two or three hours. You can catch the six o’clock
train, and there is also one at eight, if you prefer to dine in
London.”

“We will take the six train back,” said Audrey, quickly, “as I don’t
want to keep my father waiting longer than I can help.”

“To say nothing of Miss Pearl,” said Ralph, with a shrug. “She would
be horrified if we did not arrive at the Three Fishers until eight
o’clock, and she found herself alone with her future husband at that
disgraceful hour. By the way, Miss Toat,” he went on, quickly, for he
saw that Audrey was about to rebuke him for his flippant speech, “does
Colonel Ilse know that–”

“He knows that this interview is taking place,” interrupted the
detective, rapidly, “and he will be present at it, so that Madame
Coralie may be forced to tell him where his long-lost daughter is to
be found. Of course, we have the affair of the murder to deal with
also; but it is just as well to get the whole matter finished off at
once.”

“I, for one, shall be delighted,” said Shawe, with emphasis. “I am
very, very tired of the whole sordid business.”

“I think you must have been when you wrote that anonymous letter,”
said Miss Toat, with a sly smile.

Ralph laughed. “It was very clever of you to trace the writing of it
to me,” he remarked coolly. “However, my wife now understands why I
wrote it.”

Here Audrey intimated her opinion that they would lose the train if
they did not start at once for the station. The other agreed, and a
brisk walk soon took them on to the platform. Shortly they were on
their way to the junction, and there transferred their three selves to
the main express. During the journey they talked a great deal about
the case, as they had a compartment to themselves. Ralph saw, although
Audrey did not, that Miss Toat was keeping back something which she
was anxious to tell, and wondered what it could be.

When the train left the junction it steamed through a clear
atmosphere, and in the midst of sunshine. But as it drew near to the
metropolis the air became dense and smoky, and by the time it arrived
at the terminus the three travellers found themselves environed by a
thick fog. Not a glimpse of the sun was to be seen, and all round was
a cotton-wool atmosphere, disagreeable and dispiriting. Audrey
shivered when she stepped out on to the London platform, and was glad
that Ralph had insisted on bringing a fur cloak with him for her to
wear.

“What an extraordinary climate,” she said, with a shudder; “scarcely
an hour ago and we were in broad sunshine. Now look at it.”

“Look at what?” asked Ralph, laughing. “We can see nothing.”

And, indeed, he was right. From Victoria Station to the Strand they
were in a kind of cloud-land, through which the taxi-cab crawled at a
cautious pace. It took them three quarters of an hour to reach
Buckingham Street, and here the fog was denser than ever. Miss Toat,
leading the way up the narrow stairs to her office, simply groped
amidst familiar surroundings like a miner in a coal mine. However, the
two rooms of the office blazed with electric lights, and the warmth
and the illumination were quite comfortable after the chilly gloom of
the streets. Madame Coralie and her husband were waiting, but Colonel
Ilse had not yet put in an appearance.

The proprietress of the Pink Shop had for once discarded her Turkish
dress and yashmak. She wore a quiet costume and a loose cloak to hide
her shapeless figure, together with a thick black veil, which masked
the disfigured face. Eddy appeared over-dressed and more cherubic than
ever in a quite unnecessary fur coat–for the day was warm in spite of
the fog, and he did not need it. His face, however, was very pale, and
he looked decidedly uncomfortable as he grinned uneasily at Mrs.
Shawe.

“Dear Aunt Flora, how are you?” said the girl, coming forward.

Madame Coralie kept her at arm’s length, and simply shook her hand.
“You are Mrs. Shawe now,” she said quietly, “and do not belong to me.”

“I shall always look upon you as my aunt, and I shall never forget
your kindness to me in my hour of need,” said Audrey, hurt by this
cold behaviour.

“You are a good child,” said Madame Coralie, quietly, and in a steady
voice, “but I have not done all that I wish to do. I intend to see
your father and make him give you an allowance.”

“Oh, papa will do that in any case, I think,” said Mrs. Shawe,
eagerly. “He is going down to-day to Weed-on-the-Sands to the Three
Fishers Hotel, where Ralph and I are staying.”

“Your father has gone down to see you, and you are not there?”

“We had to come up at the request of Miss Toat to see about this
business, Aunt Flora,” said Audrey, quickly; “but we shall return by
the six or eight o’clock train to see papa and Miss Rosy Pearl.”

Madame Coralie started. “What has Miss Pearl got to do with your
father going down to see you?” she asked in an angry tone.

“Miss Pearl, so she says,” remarked Ralph, “has persuaded Sir Joseph
to forgive Audrey.”

“Oh!” Madame Coralie shook from head to foot with silent rage, “how
dare she! That woman–how dare she! To go down to Weed-on-the-Sands
with your father and on such an errand!”

“She means well, aunt.”

“I shall see to that later,” retorted Madame Coralie, ominously.

“Quite so,” said Perry Toat, looking up briskly, as she sat down at
her desk. “Meanwhile we must see to the matter in hand.”

“That is what I wish to know about,” said Madame Coralie, sharply.
“Eddy told me that you had been talking to him, and insisted that I
should come with him this day. Perhaps you will tell me what it all
means. This fool,” she added, glaring at Eddy through her veil,
“pretends he knows nothing.”

Eddy swallowed something and balanced his smart silk hat on his knee.
“I only know that Miss Toat seems to think that I killed–er–Lady
Branwin.”

“That is ridiculous,” said Madame Coralie, resolutely. “Are you going
to re-open that painful case?” she asked Perry Toat, abruptly.

“I don’t think that it was ever closed,” said the detective, quietly,
“and in view of what Miss Pearl overheard it is necessary to talk
about the matter, however painful it may be to you, Madame.”

“What did Miss Pearl overhear?”

“You shall know later.”

“It is my belief,” said Madame Coralie, folding her arms and speaking
in a loud tone, “that Miss Pearl is implicated in the matter.”

“We shall prove that in a certain way,” said Perry Toat, quickly, “as
Miss Pearl certainly saw Lady Branwin dead. She stole down into the
lower passage and entered the bedroom about nine.”

“What was she doing wandering about my house at that hour?”
demanded Madame Coralie, fiercely.

“You shall learn soon. Meanwhile, we must wait for the arrival of
Colonel Ilse,” and she looked directly at Madame Coralie to see what
effect the name had on her.

Whatever recollections the name brought to Madame Coralie, she did not
reveal that they startled her, but remained silent behind the thick
folds of the veil which masked her face. Audrey would have spoken, if
only to ask why Perry Toat was badgering her aunt, when the door
opened and Colonel Ilse made his appearance. He looked spic and span,
and entirely military in his upright carriage.

“I am glad to see you, Colonel Ilse,” said Perry Toat. And Audrey,
whose hand was on the arm of her aunt, felt the woman quiver, although
she did not open her mouth.

The Colonel seemed rather perturbed, and addressed himself to Miss
Toat after a hurried glance at Audrey.

“You wrote saying you had found the nurse who stole my daughter
Elsie,” he said in faltering tones.

“Yes,” said Perry Toat, deliberately pointing to Madame Coralie,
“there she is, Colonel.”

“It is a lie!” breathed Madame Coralie, under her breath.

“It is not a lie,” said the detective, coldly, “no more than the fact
that your husband killed Lady Branwin is a lie.”

Eddy jumped to his feet with a shrill, hysterical laugh. “I did not
kill Lady Branwin,” he said excitedly. “I can prove that I did not.”

“Hold your tongue, you fool!” cried Madame Coralie, savagely.

“Prove your innocence,” commanded Perry Toat, who looked puzzled.

“Lady Branwin,” said Vail, still shrilly, “is not dead.”

“Not dead?” Everyone looked bewildered.

Eddy stretched out his hand and pulled the veil from his wife’s face.
“This woman is Lady Branwin,” he said, with a choking note in his
voice.

“My mother–my mother!” cried Audrey, rising to her feet and grasping
at Ralph for support.

It was indeed Lady Branwin who sat there, quiet and silent and
immovable, gazing at the astonished company. Eddy, with a look of fear
on his craven face, had sunk back into his chair the moment he had
torn off the veil and had told the wonderful truth. The others could
only stare and marvel at the revelation. Audrey, womanlike, was the
first to recover the use of her tongue, although Perry Toat–also
womanlike–was on the point of breaking into speech.

“Yes, you are my mother!” cried Audrey. “Yet I saw your face before at
the Pink Shop. How was it I did not recognise you then?”

Lady Branwin, as it will be now convenient to call her, laid her
finger on her right cheek. “You see, the birthmark of my sister Flora
is not here,” she said quietly; “for that reason you know me for
certain. Even when the mark was there you thought I was your mother,
because of the wonderful likeness, and it was only the mark which made
you change your mind.”

“You painted the birthmark on your face?”
said Miss Toat, who seemed as astonished as anyone at this
extraordinary development. She had expected to learn much, but never
that the woman supposed to be dead was still in the flesh and
masquerading as Madame Coralie.



“Yes, I did,” said the other, defiantly, “for reasons which I am now
about to tell you. I was nearly discovered by Audrey when my yashmak
was torn off in the alcove of the shop, and I half believed and half
wished that her instinct would tell her the truth. But her father had
mentioned my sister to her, and she was, therefore, prepared to
believe that I was her aunt when I told her that I and Flora were
twins.”

“And were you twins?” demanded Ralph, quickly.

“Yes,” said Lady Branwin, coolly. “In face and figure we were exactly
alike, though not in mind, as Flora was always the clever one. Perhaps
I may have been a trifle prettier, as the birthmark disfigured
Flora–Joseph always said that I was. But Flora’s mark was not nearly
so dark as this”–she touched her cheek. “Oh, I forgot, I have washed
it off.”

“Why did you do that?” asked Perry Toat, quickly. “Did you come here
to declare your real name and explain?”

“Yes and no. I came prepared to put aside my veil and show my real
face, according to what took place. Eddy has taken me by surprise. But
you can now understand, Audrey”–she addressed herself to her
daughter–“how it was that the birthmark and my story deceived you.”

“Yes,” said Mrs. Shawe, faintly, and sitting down by her husband to
cling to him as if for protection. “And I really believed you; your
manner was so different from your true one.”

“I acted a part, my dear, and, although I say it myself, I acted it
very well, as all of you must admit.”

“You wouldn’t have kept your secret so long had you not worn the
yashmak,” Ralph ventured to remark.

“Perhaps not. The yashmak was a very good mask. I often wondered why
Flora wore it, if not for business purposes; as her birthmark was not
so disfiguring as the one which I painted on my face.”

“It was very faint,” said Colonel Ilse, speaking for the first time,
and in his crisp, military voice–“over twenty years ago, that is. But
then Mrs. Askew, as she called herself, was a much younger woman.”

“And not so fat,” supplemented Lady Branwin, calmly. “Yes, I remember
Flora then. After she left Bleakleigh as a widow she tried many ways
in which to make money. I told you some of them, Audrey, although I
don’t think that I mentioned she had been an hospital nurse.”

“And for an obvious reason,” put in Perry Toat, in an acrid voice. The
little woman was annoyed that her search for the hospital nurse had
ended in this unexpected way. “You were afraid.”

“Why should I be afraid?” demanded Lady Branwin, coolly. “It was Flora
who kidnapped Colonel Ilse’s daughter, not I. She told me all about
it, and did so out of jealousy. She was in love with the Colonel.”

“I certainly was not in love with her,” said the soldier, stiffly, and
the flush which Audrey had noticed on a former occasion appeared on
his tanned face. “She made my life a burden to me, and finally took
away my own child. I was left lonely,” added Ilse, pathetically, “as
my dear wife died when Elsie was born. Perhaps, Lady Branwin, you can
tell me what your sister did with my child.”

“I can tell you many things which will astonish you,” said the
unmasked woman, drily, “and I intend to. Perhaps had this fool”–she
shot a glance of scorn and wrath at the unhappy Vail–“not torn off my
veil I would not have revealed myself. But you can see from the fact
that I have washed off the pretended birthmark that I intended to do
so if it were necessary. I now see that it is very necessary.”

“I think it is,” said Perry Toat, sharply, “as we have yet to learn
who murdered Madame Coralie.”

“Are you going to accuse me of the crime? Why not accuse Eddy here,
who put back the still-room clock?”

Vail became violently emotional. “I put it back because I intended to
return and steal the diamonds,” he said loudly. “I don’t mind owning
that, as I have already told the story to Miss Toat. But when I came
back after you turned me out of the house and found that my wife was
strangled, I–”

“Your wife?” interrupted Ralph, suddenly. “How could you think it was
your wife who was dead when she–as you thought, I presume–had just
dismissed you from the still-room.”

“I did not think that the dead woman was my wife,” said Eddy,
sullenly. “I knew that there was a resemblance between my wife and
Lady Branwin, as Flora had long since told me that they were twins.
But I saw the birthmark on my wife’s face, comparatively faint as it
was.”

“Then you knew all the time that Lady Branwin was masquerading as
Madame Coralie?” demanded Perry Toat, much mortified, for she saw that
this foolish, effeminate little creature had tricked her.

“Yes, because she threatened to say that I had killed Flora.”

“And because I gave you my diamonds,” retorted Lady Branwin.

“You went half shares,” snapped Eddy, crossly. “I didn’t make half as
much out of the business as I expected. I held my tongue and allowed
my wife to be buried as you, because I knew that by putting back the
still-room clock I laid myself open to having committed the crime. But
I am perfectly innocent, and you know it.”

“Permit me to speak,” said Lady Branwin, in harsh, hard tones, which
recalled more than ever her assumption of her sister’s character. “I
intend to explain everything and to clear up the mystery.”

“Do you wish me to go?” asked Colonel Ilse, rising. “As you are not
Mrs. Askew, and cannot tell me where my child is, I don’t want to
stay.”

“I think you had better stay,” said Lady Branwin, without wincing. “I
told you before that I have much to say. I am tired of myself and
tired of my life. I was unhappy as the wife of Sir Joseph, who always
treated me in a most brutal fashion, and I am still more unhappy
masquerading as my sister. I have to put up with the blackmailing and
insolence of this beast.” And Lady Branwin pointed an accusing finger
at Eddy, who shrank in his chair.

“You had better take care,” he threatened, looking white-faced and
cowardly, “for although I have told much, I can tell more.”

“There is no need for you to tell anything,” said Lady Branwin,
scornfully, “since I am capable of revealing everything.”

“Perhaps,” said Perry Toat, looking at her watch, “you had better get
on with your story. It is growing late.”

“I shall tell my story when it suits me,” snarled Lady Branwin,
turning on her savagely. “I am no longer the timid fool that I was. I
am hard, I tell you; hard and determined in every way. Now don’t say a
word,” she went on, imperiously throwing up her hand; “let me talk.
When I finish, you can make your comments. Not that it matters to me
what any of you say.”

“Mother,” said Audrey, imploringly, and strove to take Lady Branwin’s
hand.

“You are a good child, Audrey,” said the elder woman, preventing the
action, “but when you know all you may not be so ready to be kind to
me.”

“I don’t care what you have done,” cried Mrs. Shawe, impetuously, “you
are my mother; nothing can alter the relationship between us.”

“Oh, I think so,” began Perry Toat. “You left the upper portion of the
window open when you were conversing with Madame Coralie,” she added,
addressing herself to Lady Branwin, who sat looking as still and hard
as any statue, “and you conversed rather loudly, so–”

“Ah!” interrupted Ralph, with a start, “is this what you kept back at
Weed-on-the Sands, Miss Toat?”

“Yes,” she assented calmly. “I made Miss Pearl confess that she was
not asleep. When Eddy Vail entered the court and disappeared into the
house–”

“I did not disappear into the house,” said the scamp, rudely. “I hid
in the shadow, and watched the window to see the diamonds.”

“Ah! Miss Pearl lost sight of you, as you were in the shadow, no
doubt,” was Miss Toat’s reply; “but perhaps you heard what your wife
and Lady Branwin were talking about?”

“I didn’t gather much,” said Eddy, quickly. “I saw that there were
diamonds, and then ran upstairs to the still-room to alter the clock,
and get ready to steal them. Badoura, as she frequently did, left the
inner door open. After I left on that night she locked it again and
restored the key to–”

Miss Perry Toat waved her hand impatiently.

“We know all about that,” she said sharply. “But you”–she again
addressed herself to Lady Branwin–“talked so loudly that Miss Pearl
overheard your secret, and I forced her, by threatening to bring her
in as an accomplice after the fact, to tell it to me.”

“There is no need for you to call it a secret,” said Lady Branwin,
quite unmoved. “You have already told Audrey that something can alter
the relationship between us. I prefer to explain the matter myself
since Audrey is married, and I shall see no more of her.”

“Oh, yes, mother, you–”

“I am not your mother. You are no child of mine.”

Colonel Ilse leaped to his feet, greatly agitated. “Then she is–”

“Yes, yes, yes!” cried Lady Branwin, impatiently. “She is your
daughter!”

“Elsie! Elsie!” cried the Colonel, and striding across the small room
he caught the bewildered girl in his arms. “I might have guessed the
truth at the first glimpse of you. You are so like your dear mother. I
told you that you reminded me of one who was dear to me, and now–”

“Yes, yes,” murmured Audrey, feverishly. “And I thought that you
reminded me of someone.”

“I remind you of the face you see in the glass,” said the Colonel,
with deep emotion. “You have my eyes, dear. Oh, my child–my darling
Elsie.”

“Ralph! Ralph!” muttered Mrs. Shawe. “What–what”–she stretched out
her hands to her equally bewildered husband–“can it be true?”

“I believe it is true, Audrey–”

“Elsie–Elsie!” interrupted Colonel Ilse, vehemently.

“Well, then, Elsie–for the moment, at any rate,” said the young
husband. “I mentioned to you how impossible it was that Sir Joseph
could be your father. He is not at all like you.”

“Neither am I,” said Lady Branwin, who had been looking at the embrace
of the newly-discovered father with sad and envious eyes. “But you had
better restrain your emotion.” She rose and crossed the room to lay
her hand on Audrey’s arm, and in doing so brought herself near the
door. “My dear, although I am not your mother you have been very dear
to me. Don’t forget me entirely, my child.”

“No, no!” said Mrs. Shawe, much agitated. “I shall still look on you
as my mother, dear Lady Branwin.”

The woman winced at the name, and drew back. “I only ask you to think
kindly of me,” she said in a low voice, “for we may never meet again.
When you know everything–”

“Oh, no, no!” cried poor Audrey, anxiously. “I have learnt as much as
I can bear just now. I do not wish to hear anything more,” and she
clung to her husband, while her father tightly clasped her hand as
though fearful of losing her again.

“You must know all,” said Lady Branwin, calmly, “because you won’t see
me again. I pass out of your life very, very soon.”

“What would you do?” asked Colonel Ilse, sharply.

“I would tell you the whole truth.”

“Perhaps I know it,” put in Perry Toat, who was on her feet. “You were
quarrelling with your sister over the stolen child.”

“Ah! Miss Pearl heard that much and told you, did she?”
sneered Lady Branwin, taking care to keep near the door. “What more?”

“Nothing more. She said that your voices ceased suddenly.”

“Ah,” said Lady Branwin, coolly and reflectively, “that must have been
while I was strangling Flora.”

“Oh!” There was a general cry of dismay and horror. Eddy staggered to
his feet and pointed a shaking finger at the woman. “You–you murdered
my dear wife?” he stammered.

“Yes,” mocked Lady Branwin, sneeringly, “I murdered your dear wife,
who for years had been blackmailing me. Colonel Ilse, you will
understand that Sir Joseph was angry because I had no children; there
was no prospect of my having any. Then Flora told me how she wished to
be revenged on you, and offered to bring me your child as soon as it
was born. I agreed.”

“You wicked woman!” cried the Colonel, glaring.

“Yes, I am very wicked,” said Lady Branwin, with a weary air. “And if
you had lived my life you would have been wicked also–that is, if you
could have endured such a life for so many years as I did. You needn’t
look so savage. Your child had a good home. I was sorry it was not a
boy, but under the circumstances I adopted the baby when Flora brought
it as my own, and Audrey cannot say but what I have been a good
mother.”

“You have been very kind,” said the girl, in muffled tones, and hiding
her tearful face on her husband’s breast.

“You are a wicked woman!” repeated Colonel Ilse again, shrinking from
her.

“And a murderess!” said Perry Toat, indignantly. “Why didn’t you tell
me?” she asked, turning on Eddy.

“I didn’t know for certain,” stammered the young man.

“No one knew,” said Lady Branwin, who was much the calmest of the
party. “I managed to keep my secret very well, and you should not have
known it now but that I chose to admit the truth. I grew weary of
Flora’s blackmailing. For years and years she made my life a misery by
threatening to tell Sir Joseph the truth. I took my diamonds to her on
that night so as to pay a large bribe which she demanded. She said
that the amount was not enough. In despair I sprang at her throat when
she was threatening to go to Sir Joseph the next day and say to him
that Audrey was not his daughter. I knew that Sir Joseph would turn my
poor girl into the streets, as he had never loved her. I strangled
Flora, and I am glad that I did so.”

“But I wish to know,” began Perry Toat, springing forward, “what–”

“You shall know no more. I go to do justice,” and before anyone could
move Lady Branwin was out of the room.

Perry Toat, crying out that she must be arrested, ran out of the
office in pursuit. She arrived at the street door to see Lady Branwin
disappear into the thick fog. All pursuit proved useless. The woman
who had slain Madame Coralie vanished into the dense blackness of the
fog, like the ghost she had long been supposed to be. Only there rang
in Perry Toat’s ears her concluding words: “I go to do justice!”

“What does she mean?” cried the detective, helplessly. “What does she
mean?”

There was no answer, and the fog came down thicker and darker than
ever.