“Ah, bad temper, Scarse. Keep that for those who are fighting our Republics. Au revoir until to-morrow,” and Van Zwieten, jumping lightly out of the compartment, made for a smoking-carriage.
“Why did you agree to meet the 长沙桑拿洗浴按摩论坛 blackguard?” fumed Mr. Scarse when the train was moving off again. “You know he is lying!”
“No, I don’t think he is.”
“What? do you believe your husband guilty?”
wouldn’t believe it if an angel from heaven told me so!” flashed out Mrs. Harold Burton. “But Van Zwieten has this revolver with Harold’s name on it or he would not dare to speak so confidently. I will find out where he got it. He might have stolen it from Harold, or he might have had the name put on the silver plate. Harold is not here to contradict him. To-morrow we will take Wilfred with us. He will know if the revolver is Harold’s or not. In the meantime I will see Lady Jenny. Harold told me to go to her if Mr. van Zwieten made himself disagreeable. The time seems to have come.”
“But what can she do?”
“I don’t know; but that is what I must find out. 长沙桑拿夜生活论坛 We will baffle this man yet. Oh, father, and to think that you once wanted me to marry him!”
“I was wrong, my dear, very wrong,” Mr. Scarse said penitently; “but at any rate you
are married now to the man of your choice.”
“Harold, my darling!” Brenda’s tears burst out afresh. “God knows if I shall ever see him again!” She wept bitterly. Truly, poor Brenda was hard beset.
Meantime Van Zwieten was swearing at his own stupidity in not having kept a sharper eye on Harold. But he had not expected the young man–whom he had regarded as his victim–to display such daring.
At Chippingholt he had warned him that if he married Brenda he would denounce him. Well, he had married Brenda, and was now well beyond reach on his way to Africa. More than ever was Van Zwieten determined that he should pay for what he had done. He had but exchanged the gallows in England for a Boer bullet in South Africa. Then, when he was no more, his widow should become Mrs. van Zwieten. That he swore should be. He had failed once, he would not fail again. From Waterloo he went to Westminster, to get the revolver and take it to his rooms, that he might have it ready for production on the morrow.
On arrival there he was met by Mrs. Hicks. She was in the greatest distress. “Oh, sir!” she cried, “a policeman’s been here, and has taken a box from your room–an iron box!”
For the moment Van Zwieten stood stunned. Then he rushed upstairs and looked on the top of the press. The box was gone!
CHAPTER XVII. CHECKMATED.
Strong man as he was, Van Zwieten reeled half-fainting against the wall. It was true–the box was gone! In a flash he realized his peril. For that box held little that was not of a highly compromising nature. Once its contents were seen by the authorities–as it would seem they must be–he would be arrested as a spy, imprisoned, perhaps hanged. No ingenuity or lying on his part could explain away the damning evidence of the papers. They spoke for themselves.
What a fool he had been not to have forwarded them to Leyds in the morning as he had intended to do. Now it was too late, and nothing remained but to fly to Pretoria and to throw in his lot openly with his employers. Useless now to think of going out as correspondent to an English newspaper, even were he able to manage his escape from London. Those in command at the front would surely be advised of his true character by the home authorities; and not only that, but he would be unmasked in a country under military law, where a spy such as he would receive but short shrift. Fly he must, and that at once. He must get to the Continent, and take ship for Delagoa Bay. The game was up in England; there remained now only the Transvaal.
After the first emotion of terror had passed, Van Zwieten collected his wits and set to work to find some way out of the difficulty. Had he been in Russia or France he would have given himself up to despair, for there the authorities were lynx-eyed and relentless. But here in England he was amongst a people so firmly wedded to their old-fashioned laws as to freedom and justice that they might fail to take the strong measures which the situation, so far as they were concerned, demanded. He would baffle these pig-headed islanders yet, and, with a courage born of despair, he set himself to the accomplishment of this design.
Mrs. Hicks, pale and tearful, had followed him into the room and had been witness of his despair. The poor woman was too much agitated to speak. This unexpected 长沙桑拿洗浴会所 invasion of her quiet house by the police had been altogether too much for her. Van Zwieten made her sit down, and proceeded to question her. With many tears and
lamentations that she had no husband to protect her, she gave him all the necessary details, and he listened with feverish anxiety to every word.
“It was about midday, Mr. Jones,” said Mrs. Hicks; “yes, I will not deceive you, sir, the clock was just on twelve when I heard a ring at the door. I left Mary Anne in the kitchen and went to see who it was. There was a hansom at the door, sir, and standing on the mat there was a policeman and a lady.”