|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||The Crime of a Christmas Toy|
THE Crime of a Christmas Toy.
(BY HENRY HERMAN.)
It seemed truly- strange to me that a man eo skilled in the world'd warfare as the fermer Lord sehftey sWhlti h&ve cotosideteHl Dorothy Andetfgoii irGythf oi being ffientibtied ih hlfe will. The girl was one of the brightest and cleverest actresses of the Sheridan Theatre, but from what I knew concerning her she
had about as much heart as a mosquito. And there was no doubt about it, had Lord Senfrey married Lady Gteorgina RhoWQon the will he had signed and the legacy it had con tained would have been null and void. Was Dorothy Anderson aware of the legacy? Did she know that Lord Senfrey's intended mar riage would vo|ji the will so made in her favor? I hare alwaygrhelcLiiat a- woman callous euough to break a m&ii'g heart without car iug a rap what became of him— and Dorothy Anderson had done this more than once— was capable of any crime, if it suited her pur pose. Social ^ philosophers may scout the idea, and cite -in proof of their reasoning the fact that very few murders can be traced to abandoned 'women, but my experience has taught me that if that class of people do not commit -pajurder, it is generally because they are afraid, or because they can carry out their plans without overstepping the bounds of the law. ? . . Given neartlessness and courage combined —and women are very often much more cour ageous than men-i-and given, also, the fact that me desired end can only be obtained by crime, 1 hold that a really heartless woman will not hesitate to commit murder, oi, per haps, oftener, to incite it, to gain her end. For this reason Lady Senfrey's reference to Dorothy AfidersOn interested ine greatly. I considered there was very little to choose in the matter of callousness between Lady Sen frey and Miss Dorothy Anderson. As far as that useful portion of the anatomy, the heart, was concerned, I thought them. both equally deficient, and, as it had turned out, both were in their way greatly benefited by Lord Sen frey's death. 'You know very well, Agatha,' the newly made peer ventured timidly, 'why Alfred left the money to that girl. The will is- clear enough. Alfred says plainly that he wished to provide for the woman whom, during a few days, he honored with his undivided love. I must confess that I, for one, do not understand that kind of chivalry.' 'I quite comprehend that you would not,' Lord Bent rejoined drily. 'Your brother's temperament differed so widely from yours.' Lady Senfrey bridled up at this retort. : 'Alfred was a fool,' she exclaimed. 'Undoubtedly,' was Lord Bent's quiet re ply. 'MoBt really honorable men are fools, to the world's thinking.' 'Will you say, Lord Bent, that there was either sense or reason hi Alfred's leaving fif ty thousand pounds to the woman whom he himself acknowledges to have proved unwor thy of his lore?' The old nobleman was incisively stubborn. 'No, my dear Lady Senfrey,' he answered. 'There was neither sense nor reason in it, according to the present acceptation of the word. In my young days people might have understood it Honor and chivalry were not quite dead then. Poor Senfrey was born out of his time. He ought to have been young when I was a boy. He was so old fashioned in his conception of what was light, and so stupidly out of date in his ideas of honor.' . 'And yet,' Lady Senfrey retorted, with a sneer, 'they say that he broke that Italian girl's heart, and drove her to suicide.' 'Who says that?' asked Lord Bent 'People eay it' f 'Who says it? ' 'What people say if:? Name them to me.' 'Oh, I can't be' bothered with naming them,', -answered the lady, driven into -a cor ner; 'Everybody says it. The papers say' it.' 'I beg your pardon, my dear Lady Sen frey,' rejoined Lord Bent, with a look of quiet determination, 'the papers would, not dare to eay it That Italian, who is even now in prison on suspicion of poor Senfrey'fe murder, is the only person who has asserted it. But, before long, the mystery of .that girl's death will -be cleared up, and poor Al fred's assassin brought to justice.' The old gentleman uttered his words with a. hot fervor, and look«d so straight into\Lady Senfrey's eyes, that I thought I saw her turn pale. But if it was so— and the light in which she stood was fitful and treacherous — it was only for a moment I thought I saw her gasp and turn her head aside, and I look ed on all the more interestedly. A little peal of semi-hysterical laughter answered Lord Bent 'Of course, it will be all cleared up,' the lady said. 'I'm sure we all hope it wilL Martin does, I know, and nobody can wish it more than I do.' I was standing in the open doorway of the bedroom at that moment, and as I casually glanced down I saw just behind tthe heavy plush curtain which framed the opening something wnite. I stooped and picked it up. It was a piece of paper a little over two inches long and about an inch broad, torn in an irregular shape from the sheet of which it had originally formed part There' ; were six letters upon it, written in Imitation of printed characters— the letters 'SENT PR—.' 'This room hasn't been swept, I suppose, since his lordship's death?' I asked Morton. 'No, sir,' the man replied. 'The superin tendent said we were to leave it exactly as it was, and not to touch it by any means.' 'ThaiuV you,' I said, and put the little piece of paper in my pocket CHAPTER IV. Before I left Eaton Square I took. Morton into my confidence. 'I suppose you were very fond of your mas tor, Morton?' I asked. 'I shall never get another like him, sir,' re plied the man. 'I would have gone through Hie and water for himl I tried all I jaiew to save him; but 1 assure you, sir, it .was Impos sible.'- 'And I suppose,' I went on, 'you would be very glad if the *nan, or the woman, for all I know, who murdered him were -brought to justice?' ?? 'I would that, air,' Morton replied. 'Pd give all I have— and I've saved up a pound or two— if -it could toe done.' . 'I think it will be done, Morton. Don't doubt that, though yon will not be called up on to help towards it, except by your good will. I'm a private detective.' ? . 'I know that, sir,' said the man, -with a smile. 'I've heard all about yon, sir.' - ...-,- 'Well, since you' know it,' J retorted, '?t's ail the better. I'm going to try.and tUscove* who is guilty of this awful business, and you'll help me if you can, won't 5;ou? ??**&-,. ton?' ' ' ',. .. ? ? .???, ; ?' '?', ?- .??'.;'.? ;'~7* i 'You may Tely tipbn 'that;'1 said Morton, a&e*; terminedly and' bitterly. ' 'You can call on ffie early and late, winter^nd sauaner. .I'd walk front Jaere to JScoilftod barefpbted If 1 could do anything to further.it' 7' - 'That being the case,' I, said, 'yon c&q} tell me the truth about one thing, because itwill, lie of the utmost importance. Had Ijord SejQr frey anything, to do witli that Ita}ia^:5jgitl?ff: 'Nothing -whatever,' was the prompt -Vj^gds, 'I assure yon; £xcept introducing her fd^« theatrical manager, and lending her nibney/' : ''Of that yoo're sure?' T asked. *;r-.'-r 'Quite sure,' he replied- 'I knew all about his little affairs. Held 'no secrets trqm rae, ! you see, sir, and he'd no more to do with that I girl Orano than I'l&tiL? ??: ; 'You're telling me -the exact unvarnished
truth?' I asked? 'hiding notiiing? ', t aii'fe not thinking of shielding your ddad maBtef*e character 1' 'Tib telling the absolute 'truth, sir. If I W«?e piit ligoh ihf Bath I couldn't say a dit fe&ent trortf,' - - '?'??? ? .. ' *. £1 Believe y6u,' I remarj&db -^feaire ybu any idea Jh.ow tftat girt-€ain-§ td p*dtedh her-' self, ihea#-: '-?- .--'-,. .. , , ? ''None,*' was thfe man's dui-S£ reply. ^'t)b-fdtL know 'whether or not she had a lover?'. 'That I don't know* I never saw a man talfe to her except tnlce, afld that Was one day when I took a letter to Miss Anderson at the Sheridan. You see, my lord got Maria Oranb taken onat the Sheridan, and while I was waiting for the hsil-keepef to bring an an swer from Miss Andeison,- I saiv the little Italian gii'l come Out, and a moment after wards Count Brodie came out too, and they walked down the street together, talking to one another as if they knew each other quite well.' Count Brodie again. He evidently had the entree of the Sheridan stage— a not very diffi cult matter, and not an oceut*e'nee upon which to found a suspicion of the crime. 'That was the only occasion,' I 'asked, 'on which you saw Maria Orano and Count Bro die together?' 'The only one,' was the man's reply. 'Did you ever gee Count Brodie spe&k to Miss Anderson?' 'He might have done so, for ail I remem ber,' Morton replied. 'He used to be regu larly at the Sheridan at nights during the short time my lord went there.' . 'Thank you,' I rejoined. 'Let me give you one Mt of advice, however* Don't say a word 'about what you have said tome to any body. It might get to the Count's ears, and it might prevent me from, following out a chie I have in my mind.' ? : 'You can rely upon me,' said the man. 'I'll be as silent as a mouse.' 'It's a case of 'cherehez Ja fernme^ ' I said to inyself, as I was walking along from Batoii Square to the Sloane Square railway station. 'A woman is at the bottom of it, that's cer tain.' Who was the woman? That was the ques tion. I ran over in my mind the names of the ladies who were in any way connected with Lord Senfrey. There was Lady Geor gina Rhowdon to start with, but naturally she was out of the question— one of the most lovable and loving girls on earth, puremind ed and simple, and always moving with 'a languor which by itself made crime and its attendant violence impossible. Then there was Mrs. Alfred Neymer, now Lady Senfrey. She had been as poor as a church mouse two or three days ago. ttow a fortune had -dropped upon her hs from the clouds. She was heartless among the heart less. Money was her god— not money for the love of itself, but for what it brought. She loved to fling the gold into, the streets. Could she have been the instigator of the crime, or even the actual criminal? Her hus band, weak, boneless, purposeless, was like an indiarubber ball in her hands. Such a woman, if driven into a comer, might play a desperate card and risk a crime. Then there came three names, with all of whom, as I now found, Count Brodie was in gome way connected. There was poor Maria Orano, whom Morton had- seen in converse with the Count; there was Dorothy Anderson, engaged at the theatre which he regularly frequented; and there was, last of all, Lady Bent, whose particular favorite he seemed to be, and over whom, I had little doubt, he had some kind of a hold. I was turning these things over in my mind I while I was seated in the railway carriage .going towards Charing Cross. I was alone in my first-class compartment.' It was one of those in which the partition runs nearly to the top and leaves an aperture curved above, and straight below, and barely a foot at its highest. 'i' A sudden jar of the carriage, as the brakes were being applied, when we reached Victoria, startled 'me from my thoughts, and I healrd -two gentlemen enter the next compartment. The train steamed away towards St. James's Park, and before I could fall into selfcom munion again my attention was attracted to wards the men in the next division. One pf them was a Scotchman by his dialect : 'Ah tell ye,' he was saying, 'et was just a piece o' hick sent to earrth from the sky for him. ? Ah'd a bill of his for twa thousand poon, and'— here the voice dropped a trifle, but as I listened attentively I could still f 6l- , low it— 'et was supposed to be endorsed by Lorrd Senfrey, -and Lorrd Senfrey's signature was a forrgery.' , , 'You don't mean to say so?' said the other i man. ? ! 'Et's as true as the GospeL Ah'd gi'en I him tell the next day at noon to pay et, and' the next day at noon he brought me the money and got the bill.' . ; ; 'You surprise me,' said the other man. VI ! always thought Alfred Neymer to be ofie of the most honorable of men.' 'So he 'es, ah've nae doubt,' the Scotching ' went on. 'Et's that wife 0' his. Ah tell ye, et just was a bet of Itick for him, for ahkd told him that ah would prosecute him. Of course, ah would nae ha' done eo en the end, but he didna know that' Here was a discovery. Alfred Neymer had i not only been over his. shoulders in debt as I knew, but he was actually threatened with a i prosecution for forgery on the very day when ; Lord Senfrey was murdered. In such an 1 emergency that wife of his might not haveij hesitated, and, placed Tjetweenl Scylla and! Charybdis, ; -migTit' 'have fbugfif^for Tier hus band's liberty by murdering his brother. ! I sat still until we reached Charing press. \ There, as I got out, I looked into the compart ment wnere the two gentlemen were sitting, and I recognised the Scot as Mr. Muir Mac rae, the well-known money-lender of Duke street The mystery was darkening. It would require a great deal of skilful ferret ing out _ ?''? ' i When I got 'home, I took the little scrap of paper which I had found at Baton Square from my. pocket and examined ; it carefully by. the aid of a magnifying glass/ '. The letters' :had been formed by some one wjjhoV used a ('J' pen, for most of;'therside sttjoifees were thicker than the up and. down strokes: The paper was smooth, stout, white writing paper, probably torn from a sheet of - .letter or note paper. The quality was gootL- It-was ribbed crossways, and- water-lined'stiaightVup and down. One water-line was visible : ? on my piece. I could find no other water-mark, except in one corner, where a little, nearly triangular mark was barely visible. I looked (carefully ftt the letters. ;|They were formed by an expert writer endeavoring. to disguise his or her Identity. Some of the letters were exceedingly, well-ehaped, others were straggling, and certainly intentionally distorted. The ; first letter jsk;.iay_. serap—rthe letter 'S'— was sUch a ^*ie.; It was a' letter which a child' in; its. flrst attempt to =wrfte might have; formed. But the criminal had apparently ^ lost ^lght ; of his or hei purppse; when making the last letter on iiiy scrap— the letter 'R.' ! ?. V. .',. '.:'?, ::--^.i :-??'.;}?- ' -,: . ./:..; .:.: There t&e first np ^nddpwn stroke wifus 'very thin, and ih^ rounded portion ^«t; jhec.^p'l faid 'the portion -j& JQ& -'entr -'.weie* *boQi ?-iiaaicLe., with' vigor ajid self-aesurance, for tie loop Was beaotifufly ;Tounded, and .ttefiM&ttdrii 0*' the 'R' citt'^^JBhar^ii:ehb-«^n£'^j^:'ii£ieI'leifi»'-i had . been made with swiftness and decision. : : CThe writing seemed: ^^^veiinbiln^icaMon- either of a female or a niale haiid, J.;I -iiaclinr1. ^ed toward^ icdnslaerinif J:it ^^?#ritanjg€ibf.' W ?iaani;- ?.:BuV:'tiie3a,;' i: ?argneja*l^tV;Ver^^|Eeifg men use a '2'&- -pen :in ttieyiinapieryfiat^fls] persoh had tised it, by holding .it. wit!i¥tiie broad part iit -the . -point fiidewaysl, 'It ,1s jnioHtly wpmen,'^ £ said to-wge&ii ^'yrifo ^^ use -a 'J* pen in «thls fatehion.' vaBuI, .jof ionrse^ ffc woman might 'ba^e ! wiittfen ^er^af0j'ja^a. -a; inan might p&yejjkchfn^ed-^ abut pie ^^ iiorjiible; ??-???. ? ? ' -.- ^XTjoieL^c^ttooed^:- ??.;?...? /?..-:* :-:::;; ? ?'(;? ? ^^'v'^J^^-^.^-^-.' -:Xri. /ir^.- /':'V;'V:.::-r-