"I owe you this," he said, signing the paper, "as some atonement for what passed between us earlier in the evening. I beg your pardon, Mr. Jennings, for having doubted you. You have done Franklin Blake an inestimable service. In our legal phrase, you have proved your case."
Betteredge's apology was characteristic of the man.
"Mr. Jennings," he said, "when you read ROBINSON CRUSOE again (which I strongly recommend you to do), you will find that he never scruples to acknowledge it, when he turns out to have been in the wrong. Please to consider me, sir, as doing what Robinson Crusoe did, on the present occasion." With those words he signed the paper in his turn.
Mr. Bruff took me aside, as we rose from the table.
"One word about the Diamond," he said. "Your theory is that Franklin Blake hid the Moonstone in his room. My theory is, that the Moonstone is in the possession of Mr. Luker's bankers in London. We won't dispute which of us is right. We will only ask, which of us is in a position to put his theory to the test?"
"The test, in my case," I answered, "has been tried to-night, and has failed."
"The test, in my case," rejoined Mr. Bruff, "is still in process of trial. For the last two days I have had a watch set for Mr. Luker at the bank; and I shall cause that watch to be continued until the last day of the month. I know that he must take the Diamond himself out of his bankers' hands - and I am acting on the chance that the person who has pledged the Diamond may force him to do this by redeeming the pledge. In that case I may be able to lay my hand on the person. If I succeed, I clear up the mystery, exactly at the point where the mystery baffles us now! Do you admit that, so far?"
I admitted it readily.
"I am going back to town by the morning train," pursued the lawyer. "I may hear, when I return, that a discovery has been made - and it may be of the greatest importance that I should have Franklin Blake at hand to appeal to, if necessary. I intend to tell him, as soon as he wakes, that he must return with me to London. After all that has happened, may I trust to your influence to back me?"
"Certainly!" I said.
Mr. Bruff shook hands with me, and left the room. Betteredge followed him out; I went to the sofa to look at Mr. Blake. He had not moved since I had laid him down and made his bed - he lay locked in a deep and quiet sleep.
While I was still looking at him, I heard the bedroom door softly opened. Once more, Miss Verinder appeared on the threshold, in her pretty summer dress.
"Do me a last favour?" she whispered. "Let me watch him with you."
I hesitated - not in the interests of propriety; only in the interest of her night's rest. She came close to me, and took my hand.
"I can't sleep; I can't even sit still, in my own room," she said. "Oh, Mr. Jennings, if you were me, only think how you would long to sit and look at him. Say, yes! Do!"
Is it necessary to mention that I gave way? Surely not!
She drew a chair to the foot of the sofa. She looked at him in a silent ecstasy of happiness, till the tears rose in her eyes. She dried her eyes, and said she would fetch her work. She fetched her work, and never did a single stitch of it. It lay in her lap - she was not even able to look away from him long enough to thread her needle. I thought of my own youth; I thought of the gentle eyes which had once looked love at me. In the heaviness of my heart I turned to my Journal for relief, and wrote in it what is written here.
So we kept our watch together in silence. One of us absorbed in his writing; the other absorbed in her love.
Hour after hour he lay in his deep sleep. The light of the new day grew and grew in the room, and still he never moved.
Towards six o'clock, I felt the warning which told me that my pains were coming back. I was obliged to leave her alone with him for a little while. I said I would go up-stairs, and fetch another pillow for him out of his room. It was not a long attack, this time. In a little while I was able to venture back, and let her see me again.
I found her at the head of the sofa, when I returned. She was just touching his forehead with her lips. I shook my head as soberly as I could, and pointed to her chair. She looked back at me with a bright smile, and a charming colour in her face. "You would have done it," she whispered, "in my place!"
It is just eight o'clock. He is beginning to move for the first time.
Miss Verinder is kneeling by the side of the sofa. She has so placed herself that when his eyes first open, they must open on her face.
Shall I leave them together?
Eleven o'clock. - The house is empty again. They have arranged it among themselves; they have all gone to London by the ten o'clock train. My brief dream of happiness is over. I have awakened again to the realities of my friendless and lonely life.
I dare not trust myself to write down, the kind words that have been said to me especially by Miss Verinder and Mr. Blake. Besides, it is needless. Those words will come back to me in my solitary hours, and will help me through what is left of the end of my life. Mr. Blake is to write, and tell me what happens in London. Miss Verinder is to return to Yorkshire in the autumn (for her marriage, no doubt); and I am to take a holiday, and be a guest in the house. Oh me, how I felt, as the grateful happiness looked at me out of her eyes, and the warm pressure of her hand said, "This is your doing!"
My poor patients are waiting for me. Back again, this morning, to the old routine! Back again, to-night, to the dreadful alternative between the opium and the pain!
God be praised for His mercy! I have seen a little sunshine - I have had a happy time.