Liberty, September 15, 1928
EVEN after the most complete rout on a stricken battlefield, a beaten general probably hesitates for an instant before surrendering his sword. And so now, obvious though it was that there was no other course before them but confession, Chimp and Soapy remained silent for a space. Then Chimp, who was the first to catch John’s eye, spoke hastily:
“They’re in Worcester.”
“Whereabouts in Worcester?”
“At the depot.”
“There’s only one, isn’t there?”
“Do you mean the station?”
“They’re in the left luggage place at the station in Worcester,” said Mr. Molloy.
He spoke almost cheerfully; for it had suddenly come to him that matters were not so bad as he had supposed them to be, and that there was still an avenue unclosed which might lead to a peaceful settlement. “And you’ve got the ticket in your pocket.”
“That ticket is for a bag my uncle sent the chauffeur to leave at Shrub Hill.”
“Sure. And the stuff’s inside it.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’ll tell you what I mean,” said Mr. Molloy.
“Ataboy!” said Chimp faintly.
He, too, had now become aware of the silver lining. He sank upon the bed, and so profound was his relief that the ends of his mustache seemed to spring to life again and cease their drooping.
“Yes, sir,” said Mr. Molloy. “I’ll tell you what I mean. It’s about time you got hep to the fact that that old uncle of yours is one of the smoothest birds this side of God’s surging Atlantic Ocean.
“He was sitting in with us all along—that’s what he was doing.
“He said those heirlooms had never done him any good and it was about time they brought him some money. It was all fixed that Chimpie, here, should swipe them, and then I was to give the old man a check, and he was to clean up on the insurance, besides. That was when he thought I was a millionaire that ran a museum over in America and was in the market for antiques.
“But he got on to me, and then he started in to double cross us. He took the stuff out of where we’d put it and slipped it over to the depot at Worcester, meaning to collect it when he got good and ready. But the chauffeur gave the ticket to you, and you came over here, and Chimpie doped you and locked you up.”
“And you can’t do a thing,” said Chimp.
“No, sir,” agreed Mr. Molloy. “Not a thing—not unless you want to bring that uncle of yours into it and have him cracking rocks in the same prison where they put us.”
“I’d like to see that old bird cracking rocks, at that,” said Chimp pensively.
“So would I like to see him cracking rocks,” assented Mr. Molloy cordially. “I can’t think of anything I’d like better than to see him cracking rocks. But not at the expense of me cracking rocks too.”
“Or me,” said Chimp.
“Or you,” said Mr. Molloy, after a slight pause.
“So there’s the position, Mr. Carroll. You can go ahead and have us pinched, if you like. But just bear in mind that if you do there’s going to be one of those scandals in high life you read about. Yes, sir, real front page stuff.”
“You bet there is,” said Chimp.
“Yes, sir, you bet there is,” said Mr. Molloy.
“You’re dern tooting there is,” said Chimp.
“Yes, sir, you’re dern tooting there is,” said Mr. Molloy.
AND on this note of perfect harmony the partners rested their case, looking at John expectantly.
John’s reaction to the disclosure was not agreeable. It is never pleasant for a spirited young man to find himself baffled; nor is it cheering for a member of an ancient family to discover that the head of that family has been working in association with criminals and behaving in a manner calculated to lead to rock cracking.
Not for an instant did it occur to him to doubt the story. Although the Messrs. Twist and Molloy were men whose statements the prudent would be inclined to accept, as a rule, with reserve, on this occasion it was evident that they were speaking nothing but the truth.
“Say, listen!” cried Chimp, alarmed. He had been watching John’s face and did not like the look of it. “No rough stuff!”
John had been contemplating none. Chimp and his companion had ceased to matter, and the fury which was making his face rather an unpleasant spectacle for two peace loving men shut up in a small room with him was directed exclusively against his Uncle Lester. Rudge Hall and its treasures were sacred to John; and the thought that Mr. Carmody, whose trust they were, had framed this scheme for the house’s despoilment was almost more than he could bear.
“It isn’t us you ought to be sore at,” urged Mr. Molloy. “It’s that old uncle of yours.”
“Sure it is,” said Chimp.
“Sure it is,” echoed Mr. Molloy. Not for a long time had he and his old friend found themselves so completely in agreement. “He’s the guy you want to soak it to.”
“I’ll say he is,” said Chimp.
“I’ll say he is,” said Mr. Molloy. “Say, listen. Let me tell you something—something that’ll make you feel good. I happen to know that old man Carmody is throwing the wool over those insurance people’s eyes by offering a reward for the recovering of that stuff. A thousand pounds. He told me so himself. If you want to get him good and sore, all you’ve got to do is claim it. He won’t dare hold out on you.”
“Certainly he won’t,” said Chimp.
“Certainly he won’t,” said Mr. Molloy. “And will that make him good and sore!”
“Will it!” said Chimp.
“Will it!” said Mr. Molloy.
“Wake me up in the night and ask me,” said Chimp.
“Me too,” said Mr. Molloy.
Their generous enthusiasm seemed to have had its effect. The ferocity faded from John’s demeanor. Something resembling a smile flitted across his face, as if some pleasing thought were entertaining him. Mr. Molloy relaxed his tension and breathed again. Chimp, in his relief, found himself raising a hand to his mustache.
“I see,” John said slowly.
HE passed his fingers thoughtfully over his unshaven chin.
“Is there a car in your garage?” he asked.
“Sure there’s a car in my garage,” said Chimp. “Your car.”
“But that girl went off in it.”
“She sent it back.”
So overwhelming was the joy of these tidings that John found himself regarding Chimp almost with liking. His car was safe, after all. His Arab steed! His Widgeon Seven!
Any further conversation after this stupendous announcement would, he felt, be an anticlimax. Without a word he darted to the door and passed through, leaving the two partners staring after him blankly.
“Well, what do you know about that?” said Chimp.
Mr. Molloy’s comment on the situation remained unspoken; for, even as his lips parted for the utterance of what would no doubt have been a telling and significant speech, there came from the corridor outside a single, thundering “Oo—er!” followed immediately by a sharp, smacking sound and then a noise that resembled the delivery of a ton of coals.
Mr. Molloy stared at Chimp. Chimp stared at Mr. Molloy.
“Gosh!” said Chimp, awed.
“Gosh!” said Mr. Molloy.
“That was Flannery!” said Chimp unnecessarily.
“ ‘Was,’ ” said Mr. Molloy, “is right.”
It was not immediately that either found himself disposed to leave the room and institute inquiries—or more probably, judging from that titanic crash, a post mortem.
When eventually they brought themselves to the deed and crept palely to the head of the stairs, they were enabled to see, resting on the floor below, something which from its groans appeared, at any rate for the moment, to be alive. Then this object unscrambled itself and, rising, revealed the features of Sergeant Major Flannery.
Mr. Flannery seemed upset about something.
“Was it you, sir,” he inquired in tones of deep reproach—“was it you, Mr. Twist, that unlocked that case’s door?”
“I wanted to have a talk with him,” said Chimp, descending the stairs and gazing remorsefully at his assistant.
“I have the honor to inform you,” said Mr. Flannery formally, “that the case has legged it.”
“Are you hurt?”
“In reply to your question, sir,” said Mr. Flannery in the same formal voice, “I am hurt.”
It would have been plain to the most casual observer that the man was speaking no more than the truth. How, in the short time at his disposal, John had managed to do it was a mystery which baffled both Chimp and his partner. An egg shaped bump stood out on the sergeant major’s forehead like a rocky promontory, and already he was exhibiting one of the world’s most impressive black eyes. The thought that there, but for the grace of God, went Alexander Twist, filled the proprietor of Healthward Ho with so deep a feeling of thankfulness that he had to clutch at the banister to support himself.
A similar emotion was plainly animating Mr. Molloy. To have been shut up in a room with a man capable of execution like that—a man, moreover, nurturing a solid and justifiable grudge against him—and to have escaped uninjured, was something that seemed to him to call for celebration. He edged off in the direction of the study. He wanted a drink, and he wanted it quick.
Mr. Flannery, pressing a hand to his wounded eye, continued with the other to hold Chimp rooted to the spot. It was an eye that had much of the quality of the Ancient Mariner’s, and Chimp did not attempt to move.
“If you had listened to my advice, sir,” said Mr. Flannery coldly, “this would never have happened. Did I or did I not say to you, Mr. Twist—did I or did I not repeatedly say that it was imperative and essential that that case be kept securely under lock and key? And then you go asking for it, sir, begging for it, pleading for it, by opening the door and giving him the opportunity to roam the ’ouse at his sweet will and leg it when so disposed.
“I ’AD just reached the ’ead of the stairs when I see him. I said, ‘Oo—er!’ I said, and advanced smartly at the double to do my duty, that being what I am paid for and what I draw my salary for doing. And the next thing I know, I’d copped it square in the eye, and him and me was rolling down the stairs together. I bumped my ’ead against the woodwork at the bottom, or it may have been that chest there, and for a moment all went black and I knew no more.”
Mr. Flannery paused.
“All went black and I knew no more,” he repeated, liking the phrase. “And when I come to, as the expression is, the case had gone. Where he is now, Mr. Twist, ’oo can say? Murdering the patients, as like as not, or—”
He broke off. Outside on the drive, diminishing in the distance, sounded the engine of a car.
“That’s him,” said Mr. Flannery. “He’s gorn!”
He brooded for a moment.
“Gorn!” he resumed. “Gorn to range the countryside and maybe ’ave ’alf a dozen assassinations on his conscience before the day’s out. And you’ll be responsible, Mr. Twist. On that Last Awful Day, Mr. Twist, when you and I and all of us come up before the Judgment Seat, do you know what’ll ’appen?
“I’ll tell you what’ll ’appen. The Lord God Almighty will say, angry like, ‘ ’Oo’s responsible for all these corpses I see laying around ’ere?’ And ’E’ll look at you sort of sharp, and you’ll have to rise up and say, ‘It was me! I’m responsible for them corpses. If I’d of done as Sergeant Major Flannery repeatedly told me and kep’ that case under lock and key, as the saying is, there wouldn’t have been none of these poor murdered blokes.’ That’s what you’ll ’ave to rise and say, Mr. Twist.
“I will now leave you, sir, as I wish to go into the kitchen and get that young Rosa to put something on this nasty bruise and eye of mine. If you ’ave any further instructions for me, Mr. Twist, I’ll be glad to attend to them. If not, I’ll go up to my room and ’ave a bit of a laydown. Good morning, sir.”
The sergeant major had said his say. He withdrew in good order along previously prepared lines of retreat. And Chimp, suddenly seized with the same idea which had taken Soapy to the study, moved slowly off down the passage.
In the study he found Mr. Molloy, somewhat refreshed, seated at the telephone.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Playing the flute,” replied Mr. Molloy shortly.
“Who are you phoning to?”
“Dolly, if you want to know. I’ve got to tell her about all this business going blooey, haven’t I? I’ve got to break it to her that, after all her trouble and pains, she isn’t going to get a cent out of the thing, haven’t I?”
Chimp regarded his partner with disfavor. He wished he had never seen Mr. Molloy. He wished he might never see him again. He wished he were not seeing him now.
“Why don’t you go up to London and tell her?” he demanded sourly. “There is a train in twenty minutes.”
“I’d rather do it on the phone,” said Mr. Molloy.
THE sun whose rays had roused Sergeant Major Flannery from his slumbers at Healthward Ho that morning had not found it necessary to perform the same office for Lester Carmody at Rudge Hall. In spite of the fact that he had not succeeded in getting to sleep till well on in the small hours, Mr. Carmody woke early. There is no alarm clock so effective as a disturbed mind.
And Mr. Carmody’s mind was notably disturbed. On the previous night he had received shock after shock, each more staggering than the last. First, Bolt the chauffeur had revealed the fact that he had given the fateful ticket to John. Then Sturgis, after letting fall in the course of his babblings the information that Mr. Molloy knew that John had the ticket, had said that that young man, when last seen, had been going off in the company of Dolly Molloy. And, finally, John had not only failed to appear at dinner, but was not to be discovered anywhere on the premises at as late an hour as midnight.
In these circumstances, it is scarcely to be wondered at that Mr. Carmody’s repose was not tranquil. To one who, like himself, had had the advantage of hearing the views of the Molloy family on the virtues of knockout drops, there could be no doubt as to what had happened. John, suspecting nothing, must have allowed himself to be lured into the trap; and by this time the heirlooms of Rudge Hall were probably in London.
Having breakfasted, contrary to the habit of years, quickly and sketchily, Mr. Carmody, who had haunted the stable yard till midnight, went there again in the faint hope of finding that his nephew had returned.
But, except for Emily, who barked at him, John’s room was empty.
Mr. Carmody wandered out into the grounds, and for some half hour paced the gravel paths in growing desolation of soul. Then his tortured nerves becoming more and more afflicted by the behavior of one of the undergardeners, who, full of feudal spirit, insisted on touching his hat like a clockwork toy every time his employer passed, he sought refuge in his study.
It was there, about an hour later, that John found him.
Mr. Carmody’s first emotion on beholding his long lost nephew was one of ecstatic relief.
“John!” he cried, bounding from his chair.
Then, chilling his enthusiasm, came the thought that there might be no occasion for joy in this return. Probably, he reflected, John, after being drugged and robbed of the ticket, had simply come home in the ordinary course of events.
After all, there would have been no reason for those scoundrels to detain him. Once they had got the ticket, John would have ceased to count.
“Where have you been?” he asked in a flatter voice.
A rather peculiar smile came and went on John’s face.
“I spent the night at Healthward Ho,” he said. “Were you worried about me?”
“I’m sorry. Twist is a hospitable chap. He wouldn’t let me go.”
Mr. Carmody, on the point of speaking, checked himself. His position, he suddenly saw, was a delicate one. Unless he were prepared to lay claim to the possession of special knowledge—which he certainly was not—anything in the nature of agitation on his part must inevitably seem peculiar.
To those without special knowledge, Mr. Twist, Mr. Molloy, and Dolly were ordinary, respectable persons, and there was no reason for him to exhibit concern at the news that John had spent the night at Healthward Ho.
“Indeed?” he said carefully.
“Yes,” said John. “Most hospitable he was. I can’t say I liked him though.”
“No. Perhaps what prejudiced me against him was the fact of his having burgled the Hall the night before last.”
MORE and more Mr. Carmody was feeling, as Ronnie Fish had no doubt felt at the concert, that he had been forced into playing a part to which he was not equal. It was obviously in the rôle that at this point he should register astonishment, and he did his best to do so. But the gasp he gave sounded so unconvincing to him that he hastened to supplement it with words.
“What! What are you saying? Dr. Twist?”
“It’s come as quite a surprise to you, hasn’t it?” said John.
And, for the first time since this interview had begun, Mr. Carmody became alive to the fact that in his nephew’s manner there was a subtle something which he did not like—something decidedly odd. This might, of course, simply be due to the circumstance that the young man’s chin was bristling with an unsightly growth and his eyes red about the rims. Perhaps it was merely his outward appearance that gave that suggestion of the sinister. But Mr. Carmody did not think so. He noted now that John’s eyes, besides being red, were strangely keen. Their expression seemed to his sensitive conscience accusing. The young man was looking at him—yes, undoubtedly the young man was looking at him most unpleasantly.
“By the way,” said John, “Bolt gave me this ticket yesterday to give to you. I forgot about it till it was too late.”
The relatively unimportant question of whether or not there was a peculiar look in his nephew’s eyes immediately ceased to vex Mr. Carmody. All he felt at this instant was an almost suffocating elation. He stretched out an unsteady hand.
“Oh, yes,” he heard himself saying. “That ticket. Quite so, of course. Bolt left a bag for me at Shrub Hill station.”
“Give me the ticket.”
“Later,” said John—and put it back in his pocket.
Mr. Carmody’s elation died away. There was no question now about the peculiar look in his companion’s eye. It was a grim look. A hard, accusing look. Not at all the sort of look a man with a tender conscience likes to have boring into him.
“What—what do you mean?”
John continued to regard him with that unpleasantly fixed stare.
“I hear you have offered a reward of a thousand pounds for the recovery of those things that were stolen, Uncle Lester.”
“I’ll claim it.”
“Uncle Lester,” said John, and his voice made a perfect match for his eye, “before I left Healthward Ho I had a little talk with Mr. Twist and his friend Mr. Molloy. They told me a lot of interesting things. Do you get my meaning, or shall I make it plainer?”
MR. CARMODY, who had bristled for a moment with the fury of a parsimonious man who sees danger threatening his checkbook, sank slowly back into his chair like a balloon coming to rest.
“Good!” said John. “Write out a check and make it payable to Colonel Wyvern.”
“I am passing the reward on to him. I have a particular reason for wanting to end all that silly trouble between you two, and I think this should do it. I know he is simply waiting for you to make some sort of advance. So you’re going to make an advance—of a thousand pounds.”
Mr. Carmody gulped.
“Wouldn’t five hundred be enough?”
“It’s such a lot of money.”
“A nice round sum,” said John.
Mr. Carmody did not share his nephew’s views as to what constituted niceness and roundness in a sum of money, but he did not say so. He sighed deeply and drew his checkbook from its drawer.
He supposed, in a vague sort of way, that he ought to be feeling grateful to the young man for not heaping him with reproaches and recrimination; but the agony of what he was about to do prevented any such emotion. All he could feel was that dull, aching sensation which comes to most of us when we sit down to write checks for the benefit of others.
It was as if some malignant fate had brooded over him, he felt, ever since this business had started. From the very first, life had been one long series of disbursements. All the expense of entertaining the Molloy family, not to mention the unspeakable Ronnie Fish.
The car going to and from Healthward Ho and Rudge at six shillings per trip. The £500 he had had to pay to get Hugo out of the house. And now this appalling, devastating sum for which he had just begun to write his check. Money going out all the time! Money—money—money! And all for nothing.
He blotted the check and held it out.
“Don’t give it to me,” said John. “You’re coming with me now to Colonel Wyvern’s house, to hand it to him in person with a neat little speech.”
“I shan’t know what to say to him.”
“I’ll tell you.”
“And after that,” said John, “you and he are going to be like two love birds.” He thumped the desk. “Do you understand? Love birds.”
THERE was something in the unhappy man’s tone as he spoke, something so crushed and forlorn, that John could not but melt a little.
He paused at the door. It crossed his mind that he might possibly be able to cheer his uncle up.
“Uncle Lester,” he said, “how did you get on with Sergeant Major Flannery at Healthward Ho?”
Mr. Carmody winced. Unpleasant memories seemed to be troubling him.
“Just before I left,” said John, “I blacked his eye and we fell downstairs together.”
“Right down the entire flight. He bumped his head against an oak chest.”
On Mr. Carmody’s drawn face there hovered for an instant a faint, flickering smile.
“I thought you’d be pleased,” said John.
COLONEL WYVERN hitched the celebrated eyebrows into a solid mass across the top of his nose, and from beneath them stared hideously at Jane, his parlor maid. Jane had just come into the morning room, where he was having a rather heated conversation with his daughter Patricia, and had made the astounding statement that Mr. Lester Carmody was waiting in his front hall.
“Who?” said Colonel Wyvern, rumbling like a thundercloud.
“Sir, please, sir, Mr. Carmody.”
“And Mr. Carroll, sir.”
Pat, standing by the French windows, caught in her breath.
“Show them in, Jane,” she said.
“I will not see that old thug,” said Colonel Wyvern.
“Show them in, Jane,” repeated Pat firmly. “You must, father,” she said as the door closed. “He may have come to apologize about that dynamite thing.”
“Much more likely he’s come about that business of yours. Well, I’ve told you already, and I say it again, that nothing will induce—”
“All right, father. We can talk about that later. I’ll be out in the garden if you want me.”
She went out through the French windows, and almost simultaneously the door opened and John and his uncle came in.
John paused in the doorway, gazing eagerly toward the garden.
“Was that Pat?” he asked.
“I beg your pardon?” said Colonel Wyvern.
“Was that Pat I thought I caught a glimpse of going into the garden?”
“My daughter has just gone into the garden,” said Colonel Wyvern with cold formality.
“Oh!” said John.
He seemed about to follow her, but a sudden bark from the owner of the house brought him to a halt.
“Well?” said Colonel Wyvern, and the monosyllable was a verbal pistol shot. It brought John back instantly from dreamland and, almost more than the spectacle of his host’s eyebrows, told him that life was real and life was earnest.
“Oh, yes,” he said.
“What do you mean, ‘Oh, yes’?”
John advanced to the table, meeting the Colonel’s gaze with a steady eye. There is this to be said for being dosed with knockout drops and shut up in locked rooms and having to take your meals through bars from the hands of a sergeant major whom only a mother could love—it fits a normally rather shy and diffident young man for the battles of life as few other experiences would be able to fit him. The last time he and this bushy eyebrowed man had met, John had quailed. But now mere eyebrows meant nothing to him. He felt hardened, like one who has been through the furnace.
“I SUPPOSE you are surprised to see us here?”
“More surprised than pleased.”
“My uncle was anxious to have a few words with you.”
“I have not the slightest desire—”
“If you will just let me explain—”
“I repeat, I have not the slightest desire—”
“Sit down!” said John.
Colonel Wyvern sat down, rather as if he had been hamstrung. The action was purely automatic, the outcome of that involuntary spasm of acquiescence which comes upon everybody when someone speaks very loudly and peremptorily in their presence. His obsequiousness was only momentary, and he was about to inquire of John what the devil he meant by speaking to him like that, when the young man went on.
“My uncle has been very much concerned,” said John, “about that unfortunate thing that happened in the park some weeks ago. It has been on his mind.”
The desire to say something almost inhumanly sarcastic, and the difficulty of finding just the right words, caused the Colonel to miss his chance of interrupting at this point. What should have been a searing retort became a mere splutter.
“He feels he behaved badly to you. He admits freely that in grabbing you round the waist and putting you in between him and that dynamite he acted on the spur of an impulse to which he should never have yielded. He has been wondering ever since how best he might heal the breach. Haven’t you, Uncle Lester?”
Mr. Carmody swallowed painfully. “Yes.”
“He says ‘Yes,’ ” said John, relaying the information to its receiving station. “You have always been his closest friend, and the thought that there was this estrangement has been preying on my uncle’s mind. This morning, unable to endure it any longer, he came to me and asked my advice. I was very glad to give it to him. And I am still more glad that he took it. My uncle will now say a few words. . . . Uncle Lester!”
Mr. Carmody rose haltingly from his seat.
HE was a man who stood on the verge of parting with £1,000 in cool cash, and he looked it. His face was haggard, and his voice, when he contrived to speak, thin and trembling.
“—thought—” prompted John.
“I thought,” said Mr. Carmody, “that in the circumstances—”
“—it would be best—”
“—it would be best if—”
Words—and there should have been sixty-three more of them—failed Mr. Carmody. He pushed a slip of paper across the table and resumed his seat, a suffering man.
“I fail to—” began Colonel Wyvern. And then his eye fell on the slip of paper, and pomposity slipped from him like breath off a razor blade. “What—what—” he said.
“Moral and intellectual damages,” said John. “My uncle feels he owes it to you.”
Silence fell upon the room. The Colonel had picked up the check and was scrutinizing it as if he had been a naturalist and it were some rare specimen encountered in the course of his walks abroad. His eyebrows, disentangling themselves and moving apart, rose in an astonishment he made no attempt to conceal. He looked from the check to Mr. Carmody and back again.
“Good God!” said Colonel Wyvern.
With a sudden movement he tore the paper in two, burst into a crackling laugh, and held his hand out.
“GOOD God!” he cried jovially. “Do you think I want money? All I ever wanted was for you to admit you were an old scoundrel and murderer, and you’ve done it. And if you knew how lonely it’s been in this infernal place, with no one to speak to or smoke a cigar with—”
Mr. Carmody had risen, in his eyes the look of one who sees visions and beholds miracles. He gazed at his old friend in awe. Long as he had known him, it was only now that he realized his true nobility of soul.
“Carmody,” said Colonel Wyvern, “how are the pike?”
“The pike?” Mr. Carmody blinked, still dazed. “Pike?”
“In the moat. Have you caught the big one yet?”
“I’ll come up and try for him this afternoon. Shall I?”
“He says ‘Yes,’ ” said John, interpreting.
“And only just now,” said Colonel Wyvern, “I was savaging my daughter because she wanted to marry into your family!”
“What’s that?” cried Mr. Carmody—and John clutched the edge of the table. His heart had given a sudden ecstatic leap, and for an instant the room had seemed to rock about him.
“Yes,” said Colonel Wyvern.
He broke into another of his laughs; and John could not help wondering where Pat had got that tinkle of silver bells which served her on occasions when she was amused. Not from her father’s side of the family.
“Bless my soul!” said Mr. Carmody.
“Yes,” said Colonel Wyvern. “She came to me just before you arrived and told me that she wanted to marry your nephew Hugo.”
Now, if ever, John must prove himself a man. How does he stand this latest shock, and what does he decide to do? You’ll learn in next week’s concluding installment.