There wasn't much time left, however, for Guy to make up his mind in. He mus_ecide at once. Should he accept this mysterious warning or not? Pure fat_ecided it. As he hesitated he heard a boy crying in the street. It was th_pecial-edition-fiend calling his evening paper. The words the boy said Gu_idn't altogether catch; but the last sentence of all fell on his ea_istinctly. He started in horror. It was an awful sound: "Warrant issued to-
day for the apprehension of Waring."
Then the letter, whoever wrote it, was not all a lie. The forgery was out.
Cyril or the bankers had learnt the whole truth. He was to be arrested to-da_s a common felon. All the world knew his shame. He hid his face in his hands.
Come what might, he must accept the mysterious warning now. He would take th_icket, and go off to South Africa.
In a moment a whole policy had arisen like a cloud and framed itself in hi_ind. He was a forger, he knew, and by this time Cyril too most probably kne_t. But he had the three thousand pounds safe and sound in his pocket, an_hose at least he could send back to Cyril. With them he could send a chequ_n his own banker for three thousand more; not that there were funds there a_resent to meet the demand; but if the unknown benefactor should pay in th_ix thousand he promised within the next few weeks, then Cyril could repa_imself from that hypothetical fortune. On the other hand, Guy didn't disguis_rom himself the strong probability that the unknown benefactor might no_efuse to pay in the six thousand. In that case, Guy said to himself with _roan, he would take to the diamond fields, and never rest day or night in hi_elf-imposed task till he had made enough to repay Cyril in full the missin_hree thousand, and to make up the other three thousand he still owed th_reditors of the Rio Negro Company. After which, he would return and giv_imself up like a man, to stand his trial voluntarily for the crime he ha_ommitted.
It was a young man's scheme, very fond and youthful; but with the ful_onfidence of his age he proceeded at once to put it in practice. Indeed, no_e came to think upon it, he fancied to himself he saw something like _olution of the mystery in the presence of the great Q.C. at Plymouth tha_orning. Cyril had found out all, and had determined to save him. The banker_ad found out all, and had determined to prosecute. They had consulte_ildersleeve. Gildersleeve had come down on a holiday trip, and run up agains_im at Plymouth by pure accident. Indeed, Guy remembered now that the grea_.C. looked not a little surprised and excited at meeting him. Clearl_ildersleeve had communicated with the police at once; hence the issue of th_arrant. At the same time the writer of the letter, whoever he might be—an_uy now believed he was sent down by Cyril, or in Cyril's interest—the write_ad found out the facts betimes, and had taken a passage for him in the nam_f Billington. Uncertain as he felt about the minor details, Guy was sure thi_nterpretation must be right in the main. For Elma's sake—for the honour o_he family—Cyril wished him for the present to disappear. Cyril's wish wa_acred. He would go to South Africa.
The great point was now to avoid meeting Gildersleeve before the ship sailed.
So he would pay his bill quietly, put his things in his portmanteau, stop i_is room till dusk, and then drive off in a close cab to the landing-stage.
But, first of all, he must send the three thousand direct to Cyril.
He sat down in a fit of profound penitence, and penned a heart-broken lette_f confession to his brother.
It was vague, of course; such letters are always vague; no man, even i_onfessing, likes to allude in plain terms to the exact nature of the crime h_as committed; and besides, Guy took it for granted that Cyril knew all abou_he main features of the case already. He didn't ask his brother to forgiv_im, he said; he didn't try to explain, for explanation would be impossible.
How he came to do it, he had no idea himself. A sudden suggestion—a strang_naccountable impulse—a minute or two of indecision—and almost before he kne_t, under the spell of that strange eye, the thing was done, irretrievabl_one for ever. The best he could offer now was to express his profound an_ndying regret at the wrong he had committed, and by which he had neve_rofited himself a single farthing. Nevitt had deceived him with incredibl_eanness; he could never have believed any man would act as Nevitt had acted.
Nevitt had stolen three thousand pounds of the sum, and applied them to payin_ff his own debt to the Rio Negro creditors: The remaining three thousand,
sent herewith, Guy had recovered, almost by a miracle, from that fals_reature's grasp, and he returned them now, in proof of the fact, in Montagu_evitt's own pocket-book, which Cyril would no doubt immediately recognise.
For himself, he meant to leave England at once, at least for the present.
Where he was going he wouldn't as yet let Cyril know. He hoped in a ne_ountry to recover his honour and rehabilitate his name. Meanwhile, it wa_ainly for Cyril's sake that he fled—and for one other person's too—to avoid _candal. He hoped Cyril would be happy with the woman of his choice; for i_as to insure their joint happiness that he was accepting the offer of escap_o unexpectedly tendered him.
He sealed up the letter—that incriminating letter, that might mean so muc_ore than he ever put into it—and took it out to the post, with the thre_housand pounds and Montague Nevitt's pocket-book in a separate packet. Prou_elmscott as he was by birth and nature, he slunk through the streets like _uilty man, fancying all eyes were fixed suspiciously upon him. Then h_eturned to the hotel in a burning heat, went into the smoking room on purpos_ike an honest man, and rang the bell for the servant boldly.
"Bring my bill, please," he said to the waiter who answered it. "I go at seve_'clock."
"Yes, sir," the waiter replied, with official promptitude. "Directly, sir.
"I forget the number," Guy answered, with a beating heart; "but the name'_illington."
"Yes, sir," the waiter responded once more, in the self-same unvaried tone,
and went off to the office.
Guy waited in profound suspense, half expecting the waiter to come back fo_he number again; but to his immense surprise and mystification, the fello_idn't. Instead of that, he returned some minutes later, all respectfu_ttention, bringing the bill on a salver, duly headed and lettered, "Mr.
Billington, number 40." In unspeakable trepidation, Guy paid it and walke_way. Never before in all his life had he been surrounded so close on ever_ide by a thick hedge of impenetrable and inexplicable mystery.
Then a new terror seized him. Was he running his head into a noose, blindfold?
Who was the Billington he was thus made to personate, and who must really b_taying at the very same time in the Duke of Devonshire? Was this just anothe_f Nevitt's wily tricks? Had he induced his victim to accept without questio_he name and character of some still more open criminal?
There was no time now, however, to drawback or to hesitate. The die was cast;
he must stand by its arbitrament. He had decided to go, and on that hast_ecision had acted in a way that was practically irrevocable. He put hi_hings together with trembling hands, called a cab by the porter, and drov_ff alone in a turmoil of doubt, to the landing-stage in the harbour.
Policemen not a few were standing about on the pier and in the streets as h_rove past openly. But in spite of the fact that a warrant had been issued fo_is apprehension, none of them took the slightest apparent notice of him. H_ondered much at this. But there was really no just cause for wonder. For a_east an hour earlier the police had ceased to look out any longer fo_evitt's murderer. And the reason they had done so was simply this: a telegra_ad come down from Scotland Yard in the most positive terms, "Waring arreste_his afternoon at Dover. The murdered man McGregor is now certainly known t_e Montague Nevitt, a bank clerk in London. Endeavour to trace Waring's lin_f retreat from Mambury to Dover by inquiry of the railway officials. We ar_ure of our man. Photographs will be forwarded you by post immediately."
And, as a matter of fact, at the very moment when Guy was driving down to th_ender, in order to escape from an imaginary charge of forgery, his brothe_yril, to his own immense astonishment, was being conveyed from Dover Pier t_avistock, under close police escort, on a warrant charging him with th_ilful murder of Montague Nevitt, two days before, at Mambury, in Devon.
If Guy had only known that, he would never have fled. But he didn't know it.
How could he, indeed, in his turmoil and hurry? He didn't even know Montagu_evitt was dead. He had been too busy that day to look at the papers. And th_ew facts he knew from the boys crying in the street he naturall_isinterpreted, by the light of his own fears and personal dangers. He though_e was "wanted" for the yet undiscovered forgery, not for the murder, of whic_e was wholly ignorant.
Nevertheless, we can never in this world entirely escape our own personality.
As Guy went on board, believing himself to have left his identity on shore, h_eard somebody, in a voice that he fancied he knew, ask a newsboy on th_ender for an evening paper. Guy was the only passenger who embarked a_lymouth; and this person unseen was the newsboy's one customer.
Guy couldn't discover who he was at the moment, for the call for a paper cam_rom the upper deck; he only heard the voice, and wasn't certain at first tha_e recognised even that any more than in a vague and indeterminat_eminiscence. No doubt the sense of guilt made him preternaturally suspicious.
But he began to fear that somebody might possibly recognise him. And he ha_ought the paper with news about the warrant. That was bad; but 'twas too lat_o draw back again now. The tender lay alongside a while, discharging he_ails, and then cast loose to go. The Cetewayo's screw began to move throug_he water. With a dim sense of horror, Guy knew they were off. He was wel_nder way for far distant South Africa.
But he did NOT know or reflect that while he ploughed his path on over tha_rackless sea, day after day, without news from England, there would be ampl_ime for Cyril to be tried, and found guilty, and perhaps hanged as well, fo_he crime that neither of them had really committed.
The great ship steamed out, cutting the waves with her prow, and left th_arbour lights far, far behind her. Guy stood on deck and watched the_isappearing with very mingled feelings. Everything had been so hurried, h_ardly knew himself as yet how his flight affected all the active and passiv_haracters in this painful drama. He only knew he was irrevocably committed t_he voyage now. There would be no chance of turning till they reached Cap_own, or at, the very least Madeira,
He stood on deck and looked back. Somebody else in an ulster stood not fa_ff, near a light by the saloon, conversing with an officer. Guy recognised a_nce the voice of the man who had asked in the harbour for an evening paper.
At that moment a steward came up as he stood there, on the look-out for th_ew passenger they'd just taken in. "You're in thirty-two, sir, I think," h_aid, "and your name—"
"Is Billington," Guy answered, with a faint tremor of shame at the continue_alsehood.
The man who had bought the paper turned round sharply and stared at him. Thei_yes met in one quick flash of unexpected recognition. Guy started in horror.
This was an awful meeting. He had seen the man but once before in his life,
yet he knew him at a glance. It was Granville Kelmscott.
For a minute or two they stood and stared at one another blankly, thos_nacknowledged half-brothers, of whom one now knew, while the other stil_gnored, the real relationship that existed between them. Then Granvill_elmscott turned away without one word of greeting. Guy trembled in his shame.
He knew he was discovered. But before his very eyes, Granville took the pape_e had been reading by that uncertain light, and, raising it high in his hand,
flung it over into the sea with spasmodic energy. It was the special editio_ontaining the account of the man McGregor's death and Guy Waring's suppose_onnection with the murder. Granville Kelmscott, indeed, couldn't brin_imself to denounce his own half-brother. He stared at him coldly for a secon_ith a horrified face.
Then he said, in a very low and distant voice, "I know your identity, Mr.
Billington," with a profoundly sarcastic accent on the assumed name, "and _ill not betray it. I know your secret, too; and I will keep that inviolate.
Only, during the rest of this voyage, do me the honour, I beg of you, not t_ecognise me or speak to me in any way at any time."
Guy slunk away in silence to his own cabin. Never before in his life had h_nown such shame. He felt that his punishment was indeed too heavy for him.