The Evil Genius
39. Listen to Reason
Not having heard from Captain Bennydeck for some little time, Randal thought it
desirable in Sydney's interests to make inquiries at his club. Nothing was known of the
Captain's movements there. On the chance of getting the information that he wanted,
Randal wrote to the hotel at Sandyseal.
The landlord's reply a little surprised him.
Some days since, the yacht had again appeared in the bay. Captain Bennydeck had
landed, to all appearance in fairly good health; and had left by an early train for London.
The sailing-master announced that he had orders to take the vessel back to her port--with
no other explanation than that the cruise was over. This alternative in the Captain's plans
(terminating the voyage a month earlier than his arrangements had contemplated) puzzled
Randal. He called at his friend's private residence, only to hear from the servants that they
had seen nothing of their master. Randal waited a while in London, on the chance that
Bennydeck might pay him a visit.
During this interval his patience was rewarded in an unexpected manner. He discovered
the Captain's address by means of a letter from Catherine, dated "Buck's Hotel,
Sydenham." Having gently reproached him for not writing to her or calling on her, she
invited him to dinner at the hotel. Her letter concluded in these words: "You will only
meet one person besides ourselves--your friend, and (since we last met) our friend too.
Captain Bennydeck has got tired of the sea. He is staying at this hotel, to try the air of
Sydenham, and he finds that it agrees with him."
These lines set Randal thinking seriously.
To represent Bennydeck as being "tired of the sea," and as being willing to try, in place of
the breezy Channel, the air of a suburb of London, was to make excuses too perfectly
futile and absurd to deceive any one who knew the Captain. In spite of the appearance of
innocence which pervaded Catherine's letter, the true motive for breaking off his cruise
might be found, as Randal concluded, in Catherine herself. Her residence at the sea-side,
helped by the lapse of time, had restored to her personal attractions almost all they had
lost under the deteriorating influences of care and grief; and her change of name must
have protected her from a discovery of the Divorce which would have shocked a man so
sincerely religious as Bennydeck. Had her beauty fascinated him? Was she aware of the
interest that he felt in her? and wa s it secretly understood and returned? Randal wrote to
accept the invitation; determining to present himself before the appointed hour, and to
question Catherine privately, without giving her the advantage over him of preparing
herself for the interview.
In the short time that passed before the day of the dinner, distressing circumstances
strengthened his resolution. After months of separation, he received a visit from Herbert.