'I had found out what I wanted-and more. I had discovered that the two John Ridgways were step-brothers, and light and still light broadened on the path before me. I got Ribault to part with the photograph to me, cautioning him to say nothing about his possessing the negative to any one, and with my prize I came on the following day to London. Thereafter my task was an easy one. Possessing that face and that name, and associating both with the name of a famous Scotland Yard detective, I had only to place the matter in the hands of a very clever and trustworthy private inquiry agent of my acquaintance to find out all that I needed. His investigations-with the details of which I need not trouble you-yielded the following information :-
'Ivy Mellor had been not many months discharged from a reformatory, to which she had been committed for three years for procuring a situation as nursery governess with a forged character, and obtaining goods by false pretences. She was the illegitimate daughter of an actress now dead, and was possessed herself of some decided histrionic ability. Upon her discharge, Ridgway had somehow got hold of her, or had been got hold of by her, with the result that he had fallen a complete slave to her attractions. It was probably she who had been his evil genius from the first; probably she who had planned and perpetrated the " written character " which had procured her an entree to Wildshott. He promised her great things in the event of success, and, in view of those great things, she held him at arms' length; there were to be no questionable relations between them. The man was hopelessly infatuated; he used to visit her under an assumed name; probably " kept her," in the unequivocal sense. I am giving here not only the agent's report, but some of my own conclusions drawn therefrom. Summarized, they showed my case complete, so far as effect was concerned. I had only now to penetrate to the cause. It could be fathomed, I believed, but fathomed in one direction alone. I determined to go boldly to the fountain-head, and challenge there a decision. In Sir Calvin's hands lay the final verdict. I could hardly doubt what it would be, or that for the sake of the whole truth he would yield at last to daylight the guarded secret of a long-past episode. I judged him rightly,' and I need say no more. He told me the story, produced for my examination the written evidence, and le|t me to deal with the matter as I would.
'But one remark more I have to make before running, as briefly as I can, through the main points of the narrative unfolded to me. While in Paris I had procured from my very good friend, M. Despard, the head of the secret police, an introduction to our own First Commissioner. I saw the latter, confided to his interested, and rather horrified, ears the whole truth of the case, so far as I had then conceived and mastered it, and arranged with him the httle trap which was to entice John Ridgway into our midst again--conditional always on my procuring that supplementary evidence which was to prove his guilt beyond any possibility of doubt. The rest you know.
"We come now to the final chapter, which, hke the postscript to a lady's letter, contains, in Hazlitt's phrase, the pith of the whole. In relating it I choose my own words, and must not be understood to aim at reproducing the actual terms in which it was revealed to me by Sir Calvin. I wish to give a mere brief or abstract of a painful story, and I wish, moreover, to warn you once more that certain reflections and conclusions of mine, not affecting the main body of the narrative, were and are conjectural, and must so remain unless and until the accused himself shall confirm their accuracy; and that, in my soul I anticipate, will be the case. Here, then, is the story :-
'In the early part of the year 1882, Sir Calvin Kennett, then a young cavalry officer of twejity-six, unmarried, and only latterly succeeded to his inheritance, was hving in Cairo, attached as military representative to the British legation there. While in that situation he made the acquaintance of a very beautiful young Frenchwoman, Mademoiselle Desilles, the daughter of a tobacconist in a modest way of business, between whom and himself a mutual attachment sprang up, pure and sincere on her part, passionate and unscrupulous on his. Madly enamoured, yet hopeless of prevailing against the virtue of the lady, young Kennett had recourse to the vile and dishonourable strategem of a sham marriage, which he effected through the instrumentality of a worthless acquaintance, one Barry Skelton, who had come abroad in connexion with some Oxford Missionary Society, and who, though not yet in Holy Orders, was supposed to be qualifying himself for the priesthood. With the aid of this scamp the cruel fraud was perpetrated, and Mademoiselle Desilles became the wife, as she supposed, of Sir Calvin. The union, for reasons seeming sufficient as urged by the pseudo-husband, was kepi a present secret-even from the girl's father, whose death about this time greatly facilitated the success of the imposture. In July of that year occurred the definite revolt of Arabi Pasha, and the landing at Alexandria of a considerable British force; and Sir Calvin was called upon to rejoin his regiment in view of the operations pending. He went, leaving his wife, as I will call her, in the distant way to become a mother. In a skirmish near Mahmoudieh he lost the first finger of his right hand-a casualty not without its bearing on subsequent events. He was present at Tel-el-Kebir in mid-September, and again, two days later, at the entry of the British troops into Cairo, when he took the occasion--his passion in the interval having burned itself out, as such mere animal transports will-to break the truth to Mademoiselle Desilles of the fraud he had practised on her. I make it no part of my business to comment on his behaviour, then^or previously, or to imagine the spirit in which his revelation was received by his unfortunate victim. No doubt each of you can supply the probable text for himself, as his sympathy or his indignation may dictate. It is enough to state the compromise by way of which the deceiver could find the heart to propose to condone his offence. This was no other than that, in order to save her credit and that of her unborn infant, a marriage should be instantly contrived between his unhappy dupe and a certain Quartermaster-Sergeant George Ridgway--a widower with a single young child, a boy--who had been in the secret, yet who, strangely enough, had no more inherent vice in him than was consistent with good nature, a weakness for beauty in distress, and a conscience of the easiest capacity in the matter of hush-money. This man was no doubt a personable fellow; the woman's situation very certainly desperate and deplorable. Anyhow, following whatever^ distressful scenes, she was brought to consent, the two were married, and shortly afterwards the child was born in London, whither the couple had removed in the interval.