They remained in London that night, in order that they might tell Mr. Liscomb how they had fared on their visit to the prison. They had a good deal to discuss between themselves in the meantime. Upon one point they were in complete agreement, and this was with regard to Major Crosbie’s belief in the relationship existing between Marcus Blaydon and the woman who had signed herself ‘Lucy.’ He had endeavoured to be very cautious in all that he had said on this important point in their presence. He had been extremely careful not to commit himself in any way, or to leave them any chance of reproaching him afterwards for leading them to have false hopes that the marriage of Blaydon with Priscilla was a bigamous one. But in spite of his intelligent caution, the impression which he had produced upon them was that he at least was a firm believer that Blaydon and his Lucy were man and wife.

They tried to reconstruct the whole of Blaydon’s story so far as Priscilla was concerned. It was quite plausible that, after marrying his Lucy in Canada and living with her for some years, they had quarrelled—had not Major Crosbie said that the letters betray a very ill-balanced temperament—one page showing her going into an extreme of affection and the next flying into an excess of abuse? This was eminently the sort of woman with whom a husband would quarrel, and from whom he would eventually fly.

And then fancying that he had escaped from her, and being led to commit those frauds for which he was afterwards sentenced to imprisonment, was not his wooing of Priscilla just what might be looked for from such an unprincipled man? He had an idea, no doubt, that he would be able to squeeze a fortune out of her father, and when he had made his position secure, he would have cleared off, perhaps leaving Priscilla a message that he was not her husband.

They had no trouble whatever in piecing together such a story of fraud as was adapted, they felt sure, to the fraudulent tendencies of the man and the ill-balanced passions of the woman on the other side of the Atlantic—Priscilla could see her quite clearly—a tall, darkhaired and dark-skinned creature—a termagant—the sort of woman that a sort of man would love fiercely and desert with joy when the dust of the ashes of his passion began to make his eyes smart and to irritate his nostrils. And as she pictured her, this woman was not the one to let a man wrong her and remain unpunished. She would not be such a fool as to allow a man to approach her unless he meant marriage; and she would certainly be able to hold him captive until he was ready to marry her.

But while Priscilla believed what she wanted to believe—namely, that the man and the woman had been husband and wife before he had left her, she would have been sorry to allow herself to be so carried away by that impression as to believe that Marcus Blaydon might not have behaved to that woman as the scoundrel he had shown himself to be in regard to herself. She would have been sorry to think that he was not capable of deceiving his Lucy and running away from her; and being so obsessed by the certainty that the man was a villain, she could not feel so sure as she would have liked that he had actually married the woman who had been writing to him.

She and Jack agreed, however, that Major Crosbie, a man who had been associated with greater villains, and a greater number of them, than almost any living man, certainly believed that Blaydon and that woman were man and wife, and against the belief of a man so well qualified to judge, the impressions of ordinary people not moving in criminal circles must be held of small account. And Priscilla, feeling this, was quite satisfied to allow her belief in the persistent villainy of Marcus Blaydon to yield to such force majeure.

But these beliefs and impressions and speculations were, after all, of no importance in relation to the final issue of their visit to the prison, compared with what they had achieved in learning in what direction to begin their search for whatever Captain Lyman could tell them. When they had set out upon their journey to the prison, the only thing that they had before them was the discovery of the whereabouts of Captain Lyman, who might possibly be able to give them some information in regard to the woman whom Jack, with his acquaintance with the wickedness of men, had asserted, when face to face with Marcus Blaydon, that this same Blaydon had gone straight from gaol to meet. But from this rather indefinite quest they had come with some very definite information indeed, not respecting Captain Horace Lyman, but respecting the woman herself. They had no need of the help of Captain Lyman or the fulness of his knowledge just now. They were in a position to go direct to the woman, and then...

“We are going ahead a bit too fast,” said Jack, when they had got so far in their review of all that they had gained by their visit to the prison. “We would do well not to go just yet beyond the point when we set out for Canada.”

We?” cried Priscilla. “Do you mean to say that you would take me with you?”

“I told you a long time ago that I meant to run no risks where you are concerned, and that’s my situation still,” replied Jack. “I do not intend to let you out of my sight until this business is settled. It is about time that you had a holiday, and there’s no better place for holiday-making than Canada in the Fall.”

She could not speak to acknowledge her appreciation of his care for her. She pulled his arm about her and nestled in its hollow.

“There is no such amazing sight—no such picture of colour in the whole world as the Canadian backwoods in the Fall,” he continued. “It will amaze you. The sight of those leaves...”

Off he went, and for the rest of the evening they threw aside every consideration of the ostensible object of their trip to Canada and devoted themselves to their itinerary of the St. Lawrence, with excursions north and south, and a week at Niagara. Not another word did they say about the man or the woman, or the possible effect of producing the latter in the English courts to testify to the man’s perfidy. They were going on a holiday together, and that was enough for them. They exchanged plans until bed-time.

Even at breakfast the next morning Priscilla returned to the topic, asking him what clothes she should take with her on her journey, and he replied that she couldn’t do better than take the usual sort; an answer that sent her into a little fit of laughter which lasted until he had shaken his newspaper out of its folds and glanced at the first page. Then her laughter was stopped by his familiar exclamation:

“Great Gloriana! What’s this?”

“What’s what?” she asked.

He did not answer her.. His eyes were staring at the paper. He was reading something with an intensity that prevented his hearing her.

She waited patiently until he looked up in a puzzled way, and remarked once more:

“Great Gloriana!”

“What is it, Jack? What have you been reading there?” she said.

He gave a little start, as if he had not expected to see her beside him.

“I beg your pardon,” he cried. “I was so—so—knocked—read it—the letter—there—farther down.”

“Horace Lyman!” she cried. “What is this?”

The name that had been so much in their thoughts for all these weeks was there—printed in small capitals at the foot of a letter addressed to the editor: “Horace Lyman, master mariner.”

It did not take her long to read every word that appeared above that signature.

The letter was headed “An Impostor,” and between that heading and the signature she read the following:

“Sir,—A copy of your esteemed paper, dated the 2nd ult., having come into my hand, I learn that a man named Marcus Blaydon has been giving an account to your representatives of an incident which he describes as a miraculous escape from drowning when endeavouring to carry a line ashore from the wreck of the barque Kingsdale, off the coast of Nova Scotia, on the night of April the 9th. Sir, I fear that you have been hoaxed by an impostor in this matter; for it would be impossible to believe that any man who, when he reached the shore, had the heartlessness to free himself from the line, leaving his messmates to their fate—certain death, as he had every reason to believe it would be—and then to hurry away from the scene of the disaster, would have the effrontery to face men and women—and women, I repeat—in a Christian land.

“Sir, I am prepared to prove every word that I say, and what I do say and affirm solemnly and before my Maker, is that Marcus Blaydon cast off the line which he had carried ashore, leaving us to our fate, and walked away from the coast inland without making any enquiry and without making any attempt to procure help for us in our extremity from some of the fishing population of that coast. With his further movements ashore I am also fully acquainted up to a certain point; but I still say that I refuse to believe that even so inhuman a wretch would presume to have the impudence to face Christian people in a Christian country.”

That was the letter, written by the hand of a sailor-man all unaccustomed to that elegance of diction which marks the sentences of a newspaper correspondent, but at the same time quite practised in the art of striking out straight from the shoulder, regardless of pleonasms in composition.

“That is Horace Lyman, and that is Marcus Blaydon,” said Priscilla without emotion.

“Look for a leader,” cried Jack, turning over the pages of the newspaper. “I shouldn’t wonder if there was a leader or something on this letter. A man would need to convince the newspaper people pretty completely of his rights in this matter before’ he could induce them to print such a libel. By the nine gods, here it is!”

And there, sure enough, was a short editorial note calling attention to Captain’s Lyman’s letter and stating that Captain Lyman had proved to the satisfaction of the editor that he could, if given an opportunity, substantiate every word of the serious charges which he had brought against Marcus Blaydon, a man whose name the public had acclaimed as that of a hero in the Spring, but who, it would now appear, so far from being a hero, was a paltry adventurer, without any of those better qualities which are occasionally found associated with adventurers.

The newspaper was one which had made a name for itself by reason of its fearlessness in exposing fraud and for its persistence in following up a clue to an imposition, no matter by whom attempted.

Jack read the editorial comment and laughed.

“I’m afraid there will be no trip to Canada, Priscilla,” he said.

“On our part, no,” she said.

He looked at her enquiringly.

“On our part? Do you suggest that—that—he——”

“I think that he will go to Canada—to London, Canada,” said she.

“Even though her brother has shown him to be such a skunk?”

Because her brother has done so.”

“Is that woman?”

“Yes, that is woman.”

“I’m learning. And she is married to him, you still think?”

“No; I don’t believe now that she is. However, we’ll soon learn the truth. We shall have no difficulty in getting in touch with Captain Lyman now. The newspaper people will be certain to have his address in case of accidents. They would not care to be saddled with a libel action unless they could lay a hand on Captain Lyman at a moment’s notice.”

“I’m certain of that; they’ll give us his address fast enough at the newspaper office. We shall call for it when we have seen Reggie Liscomb.”

They had agreed with Mr. Liscomb to call upon him on their return from their visit to Major Crosbie, to acquaint him with the result of their interview with that officer; and when they entered the private room of the junior partner, they found him with a copy of the newspaper which they had just been reading, on the desk in front of him.

“You have seen it?” said Jack. “Captain Lyman’s letter?”

“I have gone one better. I have seen Captain Lyman himself,” said Mr. Liscomb.

“Then you know his present address and we need not send for it to the paper?” said Priscilla.

“You certainly need not be at that trouble. His address just at this present moment is ‘Waiting-room, 3, Bishop’s Place.’”

He touched a bell.

“Send in the gentleman who went last into the room,” he said to the messenger, and before Jack or Priscilla had recovered from their surprise, a black-bearded, well-built man, wearing a jacket and carrying a tall hat of an obsolete pattern that had been called in several years before, entered the room, and gave a fine quarterdeck bow all round.

“Captain Lyman,” said Mr. Liscomb, “this is the lady and gentleman about whom we had our chat just now.”

“Proud, ma’am—proud, sir,” said Captain Lyman, bowing once more.

“Captain Lyman,” said Priscilla quickly. “Was your sister Lucy ever married to Marcus Blaydon?”

“Never, ma’am, never; and never will be if I can help it,” was the reply.

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