Robert returns to Fig-tree Court to find no letters from George. Exhausted and worried, Robert falls asleep on George’s bed. He dreams that he has to go to strange places to uncover the secrets of the telegram, and that he goes to Helen Talboys’ grave to find her headstone gone.
The dream foreshadows Robert’s discovery that Helen is not actually dead. Robert falling asleep in George’s bed also highlights the extreme closeness between the two men that motivates Robert throughout the novel.
Robert wakes to knocking at the door of his apartment. He assumes it is his incompetent housekeeper, Mrs. Maloney, who probably forgot her key again. Another knock comes, then Robert hears the key turning in the door. Mrs. Maloney enters, but says she did not knock at all, and instead just let herself in with her key.
The strange knock at the door builds tension and suspicion for Robert. This scene also establishes the incompetence of Robert’s housekeeper (and therefore the vulnerability of his home), which will become relevant later in the plot.
Robert thinks about the mystery of the telegraph, questioning if Maldon purposely separated Robert from George or harmed George in order to get the 20,000-pound inheritance Robert manages for Georgey. He concludes that neither of these options explains the telegram.
Robert’s confusion and suspicion over George’s case and Maldon’s involvement grows, but he needs to investigate in order to gain more information, pressing him on in the case.
Robert goes to Liverpool but does not find George’s name on the passenger list for the one ship heading to Australia. The clerk does remember a young man with his arm in his sling going by the name of Thomas Brown, but Robert doesn’t think it’s George.
As the reader learns later, Thomas Brown actually is George under a false name, but since Robert falls for this ruse, his investigation continues.
Having concluded that George did not leave England, Robert returns to London and begins making a “Journal of Facts Connected with the Disappearance of George Talboys.” He reviews the list and then places it in his desk. He decides he will go back to Audley Court to look for George.
Despite the fact Robert never cared for his job as a barrister (which is basically a lawyer), he is now performing the methodical investigative and deductive duties of one. He correctly traces the source of mystery back to Audley Court.