Jannaway stood as though turned to stone. His face was bloodless, his mouth wide-open.
"You--you've made a mistake--a very big mistake!" he managed to exclaim with a sorry attempt to laugh. "Where's the gov'nor--I mean Sir Felix Challas? I must see him at once."
"I'm afraid, Mr Jannaway, you'll never see him again," replied the officer. "Yesterday he was arrested in Breslau on a charge of complicity with you in the crime at Bordeaux, but an hour later he poisoned himself in the police-cell. It'll all be in the papers this afternoon, I expect."
"Suicide!" gasped the adventurer, utterly staggered.
"Yes, it seems that the dead man's daughter, Louise Laroche, whom you believed you had also killed, though ruined and destitute, has searched and found you both out, and made a startling statement to the Prefet de Police of Paris. Hence this warrant. But, come along. I must warn you that any statement you make may be used against you upon your trial."
"Louise!" he gasped, staring straight before him. He recollected that woman's pale, pinched face at the corner of Berkeley Street that night-- that face which he had tried to forget and believe to be a mere fancy.
"Louise alive--a living witness!" he cried, plainly terrified. "And Felix always told me that he--he'd killed her with his own hand to prevent her giving the alarm! She came into the room and discovered me at the safe, and she paid for it, I always thought, with her life. Then the young woman found dead must have been the servant!"
"Come, you'd better say no more," urged the officer, who, turning to the man who had opened the door, said: "Just whistle a cab, Hall."
"No!" cried Jim Jannaway, hoarsely; "You--you shan't take me alive. I-- I'll--I'll die game, too!" and before the inspector could prevent him he had whipped out his revolver, placed the muzzle in his mouth and fired, falling lifeless next second at the officer's feet.
God's wrath had fallen upon the evil-doers.
Next day--the very day when the great sensation of Sir Felix Challas's tragic end, which every one recollects, appeared in the papers--"Red Mullet" ascended the stairs at Pembridge Gardens, and grasped the hand which the Professor stretched forth.
At his side stood Frank Farquhar, to whom he was introduced by the Professor.
"I'm most delighted, Mr Mullet, to have the opportunity of at last knowing you," Frank exclaimed. "The Professor has to-day shown me your letters and telegrams. In the circumstances, the situation is as satisfactory as it possibly can be. We can only hope that the Sultan will, after all the eventualities have been fully considered, grant to you the concession to search. It is fortunate, indeed, that you enjoy the friendship of the Grand Vizier."
"Yes," laughed the tall fellow, "his Excellency has been good enough to give me quite a lucrative appointment in the Department of Mines. I'm entering the Turkish service on the first of next month, when--well--I hope I'll be able to lead an honest life in the future."
"Let's hope so," exclaimed the Professor. "These revelations concerning Sir Felix Challas and your friend Jannaway, in the papers to-day, are most astounding."
"Not so astounding, Professor, as the story which I could tell. But both men are dead; therefore, for me to speak is now unnecessary. They were as crafty a pair of scoundrels as there were in the whole of Europe: and from them, your daughter Miss Gwen, had, indeed, a very narrow escape."
"Ah!" cried Frank. "Tell us the whole truth--do!"
"Not without Miss Gwen's consent," he laughed. "My daughter is out,"
Griffin said, "I expect her to return every moment. She has been expecting you daily."
"Red Mullet" smiled.
"Well, you know," he said, "your daughter, Professor, is my particular little friend."
"And you have been her good friend and protector, if what she tells me is correct," remarked her father. "But I want to hear the story from your lips. She refuses to say anything."
"Because I bound her to secrecy. It was imperative," he assured the grey-haired man. "And to you, Mr Farquhar," he said, "I must apologise. Some of my actions must have appeared mysterious--even suspicious."
"Well," replied Frank, with some hesitation. "I saw Jim Jannaway and-- and he told me a very strange story."
"He lied to you," said Mullet quickly. "Ah! I know! He told you that he was her lover--eh? It was a lie--an infernal and cowardly lie! Look here, Mr Farquhar, I'm older than you, a good deal, and I'm a man who respects a woman's honour--I've a daughter of my own in Diamond's care.
You know my little Aggie, to whom I'm devoted. Well, I tell you upon my oath--if you will accept the oath of an outsider like myself--that Miss Gwen is innocent, and that she loves only you--has thought of only you-- and is as devoted to you as I am to my own dear child."
Frank hesitated, his eyes fixed upon the speaker. He saw that the man before him spoke the truth: that the evil-tongued coward who, cornered, dare not face the music, had uttered foul lies.
At that moment the door suddenly opened, and Gwen in her warm furs stood upon the threshold, her face full of surprise at seeing their visitor.
"Why!" she cried, "Mr Mullet!" and rushing forward, she grasped his hand eagerly.
"I have told them, Miss Gwen, I have just told them the truth," he said simply.
"Yes!" cried Frank Farquhar, stepping forward quickly, and taking the girl's hand he kissed her upon the lips there, before both her father and Mullet. "I have misjudged you, my darling!" he said. "Forgive me.
That man lied to me, and, alas, I believed him. But to-day I know the truth. The death of that scoundrel Challas and his `cat's-paw' has released Mr Mullet from his bondage. He has now no further fear of their reprisals, and has spoken--spoken the truth, and cleared you of that shameful scandal which Jannaway placed upon you."
"Did I not tell you, Frank, that Mr Mullet had been my very best friend?" said the girl simply, as, at that moment, the little Doctor entered, fussy and excited as usual.
"I did not believe it once," he replied, "but now I know it to be the truth." And turning to the man who had staked his own liberty to protect Gwen's honour, he grasped him warmly by the hand, uttering words of heartfelt thanks.
And so again, and for ever, two hearts became united, and the dark clouds of suspicion opened to give way to the sunshine of life and love.
All these stirring events happened not quite a year ago.
Though the Ark and the sacred vessels still remain hidden beneath the Mount of Offence till such time as his Majesty the Sultan thinks fit to rescind his prohibition, one interesting circumstance has occurred, namely, the joyous marriage at St Margaret's, Westminster, of Frank Farquhar and Gwen Griffin, which was celebrated a couple of months ago.
The tragic and sensational end of Sir Felix Challas, followed by that of his friend Jim Jannaway, was a mere one day's wonder, as are all the sensations of our daily press nowadays. The whole facts were never revealed at the inquest, and the public quickly forgot the mystery connected with the affair.
They are in ignorance of that colossal and startling secret which led to the final _denouement_, or of the remarkable discovery by Arminger Griffin.
Frank and Gwen have just returned from their sunny honeymoon in Italy and Tunis to their pretty, semi-rural home at Chislehurst, whence every day Farquhar comes to London to direct the fortunes of the Gavin group of newspapers.
Only now, in these pages, is the truth revealed; a strange, astounding truth which one day, ere long--for diplomatic representations are at present being made by the Powers--must cause his Majesty the Sultan, and his reformed Government, to reverse the former prohibition regarding it.
And for that Professor Griffin and his friends are patiently waiting.
Then will the words of the prophet be fulfilled the secret place of concealment in the Mount of Offence be opened, and, after nearly two thousand five hundred years, to its just ownership, that of the Hebrew race, will be given back the most sacred relics of that colossal and wonderful hoard, the Treasure of Israel.