3. CHAPTER III
With regard to the subject now in hand, I may state, at the outset,
that Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite's life had two sides to it.
The side turned up to the public view, presented the spectacle of a gentleman,
possessed of considerable reputation as a speaker at charitable meetings,
and endowed with administrative abilities, which he placed at the disposal
of various Benevolent Societies, mostly of the female sort. The side kept
hidden from the general notice, exhibited this same gentleman in the totally
different character of a man of pleasure, with a villa in the suburbs which
was not taken in his own name, and with a lady in the villa, who was not taken
in his own name, either.
My investigations in the villa have shown me several fine
pictures and statues; furniture tastefully selected,
and admirably made; and a conservatory of the rarest flowers,
the match of which it would not be easy to find in all London.
My investigation of the lady has resulted in the discovery
of jewels which are worthy to take rank with the flowers,
and of carriages and horses which have (deservedly) produced
a sensation in the Park, among persons well qualified to judge
of the build of the one, and the breed of the others.
All this is, so far, common enough. The villa and the lady are such familiar
objects in London life, that I ought to apologise for introducing them
to notice. But what is not common and not familiar (in my experience),
is that all these fine things were not only ordered, but paid for.
The pictures, the statues, the flowers, the jewels, the carriages,
and the horses--inquiry proved, to my indescribable astonishment,
that not a sixpence of debt was owing on any of them. As to the villa,
it had been bought, out and out, and settled on the lady.
I might have tried to find the right reading of this riddle,
and tried in vain--but for Mr. Godfrey Ablewhite's death,
which caused an inquiry to be made into the state of his affairs.
The inquiry elicited these facts:--