Chapter 110246719

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110246719
Full Date1893-05-05
Page Number2
Corrections0
Word Count1931
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitlePetersburgTimes (SA : 1887 - 1919)
Trove TitleBrought to Book
article text

CHiPTER IV.

" It was three weeks later. Marcus Gray had been as good its his word. Not only had he made Crake's acquaintance in the interim but by this time the two, to employ an expressive

locution, had becomo as " thick as thieves.'' He had sought out Crake at the billiard-roam of the Flaaron and Cask, the tavern which Inspector Fountain's report to

Mr Orde had mentioned as being his! favorite house of call. Gray's role had been that of a simple young: American over in London for a holiday, with no lack of money to fling away, and not caring much how be got rid of it bo long- as he saw plenty of " life" in return. It was a part he played to perfection, and Crake clung to him like a leech from the moment ho found that the supply of sovereigns to be squeezed oat of him in one way or another had no apparent

limit. They got into the way of

meeting regularly about two o'clock in the afternoon, when Crake, who was really a] crack player, would for the next two _ hours give lessons to his new-found friend in the < art and myeteiy of billiards, always, of course for a consideration. Later on they would dine and spend the evening together, equally, of course, at the American's expense.

For the present there was only one thing that Gray stuck but against. He would | have nothing to do with the betting on the ; turf, but Crake by no means despaired of ! being able by and bye to overcome a prejudice

so puritanical and absurd, and one at the

same time so inimical to his own interests.

On the night to which we have now come Gray and Crake left the Flagon and Cask } together, as they had done several times before. It was half past twelve and closing time, and no sooner had they crossed the threshold than the door was shut and bolted behind them. They had been playing billiards together since eight o'clock, Crake, of course, giving his opponent a certain number of points, notwithstanding which the Amarican had lost every game but two. ' To-night, too, he had insisted on backing his

play for half a sovereign a game, and as by some mischance—it was a thing which had never happened before—he had fallen short

| of ready money, the result had been that by

the time they left off play Crake held his 10 U for three pounds fifteen borrowed cash, as to ; which he was not at ali uneasy, feeling Bure |

he would be recouped on the morrow. It was evident that Gray, who was ordinarily most abstemious, had been drinking more than was good for him. He staggered slightly as he came out into the cool night air and clutched at the lapel of his companion's

coat.

Crake drew the other's arm within his own, and as they strolled up the street together

he said:

" I suppose I had better hail the first hansom

we come acroBS F"

To which Gray, who had left his nncle's j house some time before and was now in lodgings

at the west end, replied:

" Eight you are, dear boy; only I haven't got a blessed sou to pay the cabby with." Here he gave a lursh which carried Crake and himself half across the pavement.

" My dear fellow, as if my purse wasn't at your service!" exclaimed Crake reproachfully.

A second or two later Gray came to an an- 1

steady halt.

" Crake,'' he said, with tipsy gravity, "I've made a dashed id jit of m'ahelf t'night."

" Can't see it, my boy. "What is it that you have done?'

" I've given you I O U for the money I owe yon, while all the time I've a twenty pound note in my pocketbook."

"That's no good to-night, old man. There's no place open where yon could get it changed. Bat what does it matter? You can redeem your bit of paper when I see yon

to-morrow."

'« Yash, but yon won't see me to-morrow," answered Gray, with another lurch and a hiccough.

? " Going to Paris by morning train. Telegram. Forgot all about it till now. MnaVi go. Be back in a fortnight or three weeks. If you can't change note, IO U

mush stand over till I come back."

For a full minute or more Crake stood in

silent thought. The chances were, he argned, that if the American once got as far as Fans nothing more would be seen of him inLondon, in which case his IOU would be so much waste paper. The sum was not a large one, but Crake was by no meanB minded to

lose it.

He set his teeth hard for a moment or two and then said:

" If yon like to come to my lodgings, I think I can perhaps manage to change your

note."

Half an hour later Marcus Gray was on his way homein a hansom. All signs of inebriety

had vanished.

Eustace Crake wag seated at breakfast next morning, with a sporting newspaper supported

against the hot water jog in front of him, when the door of his sitting room was unceremoniously opened and two men, entire strangers to him, walked in and shut the

donr behind them.

•• 1'uu aieMr Eustace Crake?" said the elder of the two, interrogatively.

Crake nodded.

" I am Inspector Fountain, of Scotland Yard, ' added the officer.

On the instant every vestige of color faded out of Crake's face, leaving it of a grey, corpselike pallor. For a few moments he was like a man suddenly smitten with the loss of speech; then, with a grimace which he evidently meant for a smile, he said:

" To what may I attribute the honor of this visit, Mr Inspector?"

"Last night, or rather at an early hour this morning, yon changed a twenty-pound note for 8 gentleman of the name of Gray, giving him as part of the change three notes of five pounds each. Can you oblige me, Mr Crake, by informing me when and from whom the notes in question came into your possession ?*'

Crake bit his lip hard for a moment or two, as if the pain might help him to keep down the nervous trembling that was beginning

to overmaster him. Then he said:

" Really, you ask me mere than I am in a position to tell you. In my profession, which is that of a betting man, such a number

of notes pass through my hands in the course of a month that it is out of the question for me to keep any record of their numbers

or to remember from whom I may have received this one or the other."

" I can quite understand that," replied Fountain. "May I ask whether yon are acquainted with any one of the name of

Parkinson—Mr William Parkinson ?"

Crake considered awhile and then shook his head.

"I have no recollection of having been introduced to or done business with any one of (hat name. Bat what is the object of all this catechising', if I may be allowed a quea\x=req-\ tioninmy turn?"

" That you will presently learn. In the first place, I may inform you that it was a Mr Parkinson who paid the late Mr Lrunsden a certain sum in bank notes on the morning of that gentleman's death, which notes were undoubtedly stolen by the person or persons who were guilty of the murder."

" Ah!" was all that Crake could find to say for a moment. Then, after moistening his lips with his tongue, he added: "You will pardon me if I fall to see in what way that fact connects itself with the notes paid over by me to Mr Gray. My cousin, Mr Charles Xiumsden, in a talk I had with him a little while ago, distinctly assured me that the number of the missing notes were not known. Now, if that be the case how "— His eyes finished the question.

" It is quite true, Mr Crake, that the number of the stolen notes are not known," said the inspector gravely, "but that does not imply that there may not be other means of identification."

" Not one of the notes paid by me to Gray bore an indorsement of any kind. On that point I can speak most positively," was Crake's reply.

" In any case I must ask you to accompany

me to Scotland Yard," said Fountain. "I have a cab waiting at the corner of

the street."

On their arrival at Scotland Y ard inspector Fountain ushered his charge into a room where two officials in uniform were busy writing, with one of whom he held a brief colloquy in a low voice. In another room, althongh Crake did not know it, Marcus Gray and Mr Parkinson were in waiting, in case any further evidence beyond that which they had already tendered should be required.

Their colloquy at an end, one of the officials produced from a drawer the three notes given by Crake to Gray a few hours before and handed them to Fountain, who proceeded to straighten them out on the smooth surface of the desk. They were old and crumpled and frayed at the edges ; they had seen much service and were grimy with the contact of many fingers. As they lay there, face downward, no sign of an indorsement

or memorandum of any sort was visible on the back of any of them. Fountain had beckoned to Crake, who, with gray, set face and straining eyes, was now peering over his shoulder, and it was not till the former with his forefinger had drawn attention to what even when closely examined looked like nothing more than a few meaningless dots and scratches in faded ink on the soiled

paper that Crake, sharpsighted^as ho was, AS much as noticed their existence. Then, producing

a email magnifying glass and offering it to the other, Fountain said:

" And now, sir, if yon will look through this yon will see that on each of the notes is plainly to be read in phonographic characters —that is to say, in shorthand—the indorsement,

•William Parkinson,' together with the date of June the eighth, the very day, in point of fact, before the murder of Mr. Lnmfiden."

Scarcely had the last words left the officer's lips before Crake fell backwards in a swoon.

A careful search of his lodgings brought to - light two more notes bearing - a ?"""*<»* phonographic indorsement. The remaining five had probably.been passed awaj by him in the ordinary course of his business. He was committed for trial in due course, but before that event took place he contrived to commit suicide in his oelL In a paper

which he left behind him occurred the following

passage:

"It is true that I killed my consin, bat I asseverate most solemnly that the act was wholly unpremeditated and was the result of a moment of ungovernable passion.''

. Some three months later one of the quietest -

of quigt weddings was celebrated in a certain '

suburban church. To the reader who has seen fit thas far to follow the fortunes of the personages concerned in this narrative it would be superfluous to mention the name of

I either the bride or bridegrom.

—"All the

Year -Round.'