Chapter 111037048

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111037048
Full Date1896-07-24
Page Number7
Corrections0
Word Count3604
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
Trove TitleThe Crime of a Christmas Toy
article text

THE - Crime of a Ghristmas Toy.

— *? — ? (BY HENRY HERMAN.)

CHAPTER IL— (Continued.)

About the time when Mrs. Canstrome be came Lady Bent, Count Gyffa Brodie made his first appearance in JLondon. He brought letters ? of introduction to the Countess of Bent, and from that moment forward the Count was a frequent and a favorite visitor at the earl's mansion in Park Lane. Lady

Bent said that he was a brother of a dear old friend, now departed, who had married a Roumanian nobleman, and had died at Con stantinople. Most people in London Society at about that time were anxious to please the newly-made Countess, and with Lady Bent's recommendation, and those which he brought L.+o other people of note, the Count's progress ^as easy. . As we have seen, there were persons, how ever, who did not take so kindly to the Count Gyffa Brodie as Lady Bent had done, and when I commenced to make my inquiries and tracked my Eastern nobleman home to his lair in Half moon-street, and got to know what kind of men now and then came to see him, I began to think that dear old General Massinger was not so foolish in his surmises ae people might have thought It was on the morning of the Friday after Lord Senfrey's murder, which had occurred on Monday night Luigi Orano had been ar rested on the .Tuesday,' and been brought be fore the magistrates on Wednesday. The police authorities had ^ asked for a remand, which had been granted. The coroner's in quests on Lord Senfrey and Maria Orano had been held- on the Thursday, and both had been adjourned. The papers were full of the sorry business. . I was that very morning engaged in endea voring to unravel the tangled skein of the Count's antecedents, when a tall and powder ed footman knocked at my office door and brought me a letter. ? 'My dear sir,' it ran, 'Lord Bent's secre tary is out of the way this morning, and I have undertaken to supply his place. His lordship wishes you to call as soon as you can. This awful affair of poor Senfrey has so shocked him, and so prostrated Georgina, that neither of them knows what to do about it. But Lord Bent thinks that somebody ought to take the matter in hand for Georgina and for him, and he wishes you' to do so.— Tours truly, Lavinia Bent' Here was a combination both fortunate and interesting. I had often wished for the plea sure of Lady Bent's company, for the pur pose, if possible, of eliciting an idea or two from her concerning her favorite Count Gyffa Brodie; but, of course, having once taken my place as a private detective, I could not liope for such a privilege except under unusual cir cumstances. The unusual circumstances Jiad arisen, and though I deeply regretted that the death of bo good a fellow, and so- brave a man, as Lord Senfrey should have been the means of obtaining the opportunity for me, I was glad that it had come. ? ? , I jumped into a hansom, and during 'the journey to Park Lane deliberated with my self about the position I would hold in this business. It was well enough to be instruct ed by Lord Bent but I would have preferred that my orders should have come from Mr. Martin Neymer, now his brother's successor, and Lord Senfrey. It would have given me a greater influence and a higher standing vis a-vis the regular Government investigators. But as I thought over it I satisfied myself that the matter was one of easy arrangement I might, perhaps, be able to persuade Lord Bent to get the present Lord Senfrey to give me my instructions. They would open to me not only the mansion in Park Lane, but also the one in Eaton Square. The .servants would give me their information with less re straint and more sympathy. Lord Bent's secretary, Mr. Oscar Hume, M.A., had evidently returned from his busi ness when I reached the Park Lane mansion, for it was he who received me. I knew him, for he had been in the earl's employ some ten or twelve years, and I had met him years ago. He was a prematurely bald man, in the latter thirties, with a pale, sphinx-like, clean shaven face, and strikingly cold grey eyes that, at odd moments, became impassioned. He moved with deliberate 'slowness, and al ways spoke with a low voice and wth the Oxford intonation. I remember as a boy grinning at him, and receiving in return a look that quieted all my merriment 'This is a horrid business, Mr. Grey,' he said, in his slow drawL 'I suppose it willi turn out to be one of those cases which the j London police are unable to fathom. I beg you to be seated. His lordship will see you immediately.' As it happened, it was not his lordship who came downstairs first, but my lady, accom panied by no less a person than Count Gyffa Brodie. Her ladyship greeted me effusively. 'So you are Mr. Grey?' said Lady Bent, holding out tier hand for a second and with drawing it again, as if remembering that, I was a detective after all, and not for the mo ment Sir Patrick Grey's son. 'This is Count Brodie, of whom, perhaps, you've heard.' I bowed in acknowledgment of the sugges tion. 'The Count,' added Lady Bent, 'is the bro ther of a dear dead friend of mine, and he al ways advises me in matters of difficulty.' The thought struck me at that moment that one might have imagined the proper person to advise Lady Bent to be Lord Bent 'The Count thinks,' Lady Bent went on, 'that it, would be wiser if Lord Bent were to give yon a letter to the new Lord Senfrey. it will look so peculiar, he thinks, and I think, for you to be instructed by us, who, beyond dear Georgina's interest, have no position in the matter at alL' 'What's your little game, my lady?' I questioned myself inwardly. 'Do you want to keep me out of your house--. or does Count Brodie suspect that Fm not as friendly to Mm as I might be?' 'That must, of course, be, as Lord Bent wishes,' I said; 'but if you will allow me to offer a suggestion, I should say that the most suitable course will be for Lord Bent and Lord Senfrey to instruct me jointly. I should then report to Lord .Bent and Lord ^Senfrey both, and would have the benefit of their com bined experience and orders.' Lord Bent, had entered the room by that time, and the old nobleman came to m^ as I stood up, and shook me iwarmly Tiy the hand;' He looked' older than I hud -ever seen- him, and all the twinkle of a smile was gone froni his lace. He looked Into iny ey£s plain tively., r \ :? ? ,''- ',',- . -.V. ?'?:?'.?'.? ?,,'.,?-'/'.:?'.. .?'??:? 'So ijftSbfre the little Oedrge- grown to be a big maiir' he «aid,:v'8^V;itoidbig-,')i}y:'6asia.;. 'They say. you're Selever^ Well, vlielp jne in: this. ®m; ; not a : revengeful man, ?;, but it makes W$i&16o& Wti'r^-Iilnkof ^qor Sen-: frey's .fate.^;It.has broken the iheart of jmy poor chiiS j upstairs; .and tv-want to Tae fevtei' With the vMMii who Md it, ;i£I can, for ^u^ eake. I heard rwhffit fSfi 'saia'Just' xurt^ isS1 I think ttie-finggesabn is quite right /SfW£3K drive over toTJEaton Square together. Mar tin is there now.' I simply said, 'Thank you, my lord,' and bowed assent As my glance travelled from Lord Bent to' the Countess and Count Gyffa Brodie, who stood a little behind htm Irioticeda quick and savage look which Count Brodie fihot towards the lady, a iooku fall of 'meaning and angry I reproach. TBe laQy^naiJed jinder It, and a I visible shiver ran 'through her. | 'Hallo!'*! said'to myself, 'whafs up here? i It's only a look, but there's more in that look thai] can be written in a page.'

CHAPTER IIL -When Lord Bent and. myself arrived at Eaton Square we found the newly-made Lord Senfrey and his wife busy in' the drawing room. Both were dressed in black, and the lady especially made a' brave outward show of crape and jet She was too deeply engag ed in the occupation of turning out drawers and examining knick-knacks to greet us with even a sign of recognition. 'My dear Martin,' said Lord Bent, when he entered, 'I need not. tell you how grieved I am for the awful loss we have all sustained, and how much I feel for you.' Lord Senfrey looked round the room and to wards his wife, and sighed; but whether the expression was one of weariness or concur rence in his lordship's remfark no person might have told. My lady, at that moment turned and re-turned in her fingers a diamond cross, which she had found in one of the sec retaires, and paid no more regard to us than if we had been a pair of canaries. 'Poor Georgma is heart-broken.' Lord Bent

went on, 'and it must have been an awful shock to you.— so sudden, so ghastly.' Lord Senfrey's shifty glance again flitted here and there, and he nodded his head twice and thrice in a half-dazed consent. ''mat's simply too lovely, Martin,' the lady exclaimed at that moment 'How your bro ther has been able to keep all these beautiful things I can't imagine.' A magnificent ri viere of diamonds and pearls was dangling from her fingers. 'It will just suit me. I like diamonds and pearls. This is much handsomer than the one Lady Hepdale wore at the last Drawing Room.' As she turned she espied Lord Bent, and nodded. A butterfly could not- have exhibit ed less seriousness nor a sparrow less appre ciation of .the situation of the moment. 'You're getting on famously,'' Lord Bent said, rather bitterly. 'Poor. Senfrey's death means no loss to you.' ' The lady felt not the hidden sting. 'Yes,' she replied, 'it's an ill wind that blows nobody good. T$ow I have stepped in to my proper position. When I was a girl I was told that I should marry a lord; and when I took poor Martin there for better or for worse my companions laughed at me. Now I -have the laugh over them, you see.' I wondered within myself whether this non chalance was real or assumed. If Lady Sen frey had been blind-she could have taken no less notice of me. Yet she knew me very welL I knew her, and had known her father, Mr. Algernon Weyl, Secretary of Legation, before he died. Miss Agatha Weyl had been brought up in the shadow of southern Courts, first at Na ples, then at Athens, finally at Rome. Her mother had been a Greek lady of noble birth, but bringing to her husband no dowry but her rare .beauty, of which the flashing eyes were her daughter's only inherited legacy. Miss Agatha Weyl's southern rearing, her intercourse with the men and women she met whilst still a girl, warranted no such cold blooded indifference as she now exhibited. (She had married Martin Neymer at a moment of despair, when a dashing and wealthy young Hussar had, for some reason or other | hitherto unexplained, thrown her over. Lord Bent shrugged his shoulders, and turned to the lady's husband. 'I've brought Mr. Grey with me, Martin,' he said, 'because I think that you and I both ought to have this matter thoroughly inquir ed into. The police are not always the best people for this purpose, and Mr. /Grey, whom you know and whom I faring to you now, has at least the qualification of being a gentle man.' It was then that Lady Senfrey for the first time acknowledged my presence. 'Ah, Mr. Grey,' she said, 'you're there;' and she nodded. Lord Senfrey again looked towards Ms wife, and hi a weary, haggard way asked, 'What do you think of it, Agatha?' 'Oh, bother the police!' exclaimed the lady. 'I hate having anything to do with them, or with private detectives either. They're a great nuisance. They ask all sorts of ques tions, and want to know all sorts of things that nobody in the world can answer. I really wouldn't have one of them about the place for worlds. Poor Alfred is dead, and nothing that we can do can bring him back again, ana there's an end to it. We'd better let things be as they are. No good can come of it' 'I beg your pardon,' Lord Bent said stern ly. , 'This can come of it Poor Senfrey was foully murdered. He was about to be my Georgina's husband. I for one want to know at whose hands he met his death.' Then, turning to Martin, he aded, 'You've taken his place, Martin, and it's your duty to do all you can to bring your brother's mur derer to justice.' There was the same shifty indecision of re ply. Lord Senfrey again glanced towards his wife and haggardly said: 'It's a fearful trouble. What do you say, Agatha?' 'I suppose,' said the lady, 'I've got to put up with it. I don't believe in police or de tectives either. They're a lot of fools, if they weren't, so many murders would not be committed without being traced. What's the good of employing Mr. Grey there? What does he know about it? He's an excellent dancer, and he sings very well, but he has never been a policeman— at least, I never saw him with a helmet on his head.' 'This,' I said to myself, 'is put on. My lady has overstepped the bounds which dis tinguish natural callousness from acting.' In the same flash it struck me that, after all, Martin Neymer and his wife were the greatest gainers by the former Lord Senfrey's dea.th. In the same heart-beat the ghastly idea shot into my mind — 'What! can she have had a hand in it?' Who could tell? -.. She was known to be recklessly extravagant, and Martin Neymer was, everybody said, as near the bankruptcy court as a man can be without actually being gazetted. 'I'll think this over,' I added in my mind. 'If Lady Senfrey will only give me a trial,' I suggested, smilingly, 'I will agree not to bother her with questions, nor to make my presence a bore to her. All I want is to be allowed to walk about the house as I like and where I like, and an introduction to the ser vants, which will ensure me their willing sup port' ??..-.' 'I think -we'd better consent to this arrange ment, Agatha,' ventured Lord Senfrey timid ly. 'It will look better if we do. People expect that we should take steps ±q have this matter ferreted out. ? We -must abide by the prejudices of the ebciety in which we live.' - 'Oh, well!' cried the lady, 'if it has to be,: it has 'ib'^.'^d;iioW''{^me-^-':.tiibik':'of. it, I've not yet had ??& look 'at the : room, upstairs where , it all took ; Xptec& ' Sihg ^forfMorion/ Mar^ ^ajad si^ ^^ ?,-??-.? ;;;v.^ ., '* Morton ^Vi^\^^%%oxp^^^Q^\x^ The faithful valet was. pale, -w& p4a i:#5^* :i^re swpUen; iirougljy^h^ upstairs, and Lord Bent and ^The forhier ^ra^.enficejp3 ;,:$sro: TOjtons . 'were iiirowji opfenj an^rwfe^tfei*a5his sitting ippin ^llfljil^l^.y^ti^6iii*i*'iUiP^V^'-^Bji3l?b^-*^- tie met his 4^&; pe bedroom adjoined, and through the tjpen door we could see the body lying there— the face white In death, and the wax like hands crossed over the t»£asi, ,as hx prayer. - *J_~ An old, white-headed xeialnef of the family sat by the bedside, and Spratraa to, meet ns, ana sniffing air round ^vith inquMng glances at -each person who'aenfered, fie.^elnnk back into a corner of the I-Bdroin 'and eat down there. JLord -Benjt ^noticed the littje Hog, 4anfl questioned Morton hiHmt&Snii1-^' 'Yes, that was his lordshipte Aog,' Morton answered.' 'He's breaJSng his little heart over his death. He has- barely touched food or water «inee his lordBhlp'-— the olcliMroapt

stopped in his hoarse emotion and wiped his - eyes. ? ' ' ' ? I. had entered the room, and the first object I came across was the table at which Lord i Senfrey had. sat when he was murdered. Thej scene had been 'vividly described in the pa- J pers, and I could picture it all to myself— the , box and the fiendish fumes that proceeded from it and enveloped their victim with a I shroud of death. There was still a square \ mark, on the tablecloth where the heated box ' had scorched the pile, and another one where a burning particle had dropped on to the doth itself and burned a hole in it j Lady Senfrey was standing by the open ' door of the bedroom, her gaze glued upon the corpse on the bed. The light from the . window streamed up on her profile, and I could see her biting her lip and gasping slightly. Then she. plac

ea a dainty lace nanoKercmer oerore ner mouth and approached the bed. Sprat jump ed upon the bed in a flash, and stood there snarling and showing his teeth, as if intent to protect his master against further approach. 'Take that nasty dog away!' screamed the lady; and Morton, taking Sprat up gently, placed him beneath his arm, where the little j dog struggled unavailingly to free himself. j 'I won't have that dog in the house,' said Lady Senfrey, returning to the study. 'I ? won't be vexed by yelping curs.' i 'But that was his lordship's pet,' pleaded Morton. 'Poor Sprat didn't mean any harm, but his lordship used to spoil him so. He slept on his bed every night, and'— his voice ; had become broken and guttural— 'if his lord- i ship were alive, he would be very grieved if any harm came to poor Sprat' 'I don't care whose dog it is or was,' retort ed Lady Senfrey. 'I won't have any yelping j dogs about the house. I hate them. I'm al- j ways thinking. \of hydrophobia wheji I look . at. one. ' Don't let me see the little beast again.' Morton clutched the little dog closer to him j and replied not When Lady Senfrey had - turned to say a word to Lord Bent, who had listened' to all this hi silence, I stepped up to Morton and said: 'So that was 'his lordship's dog? ' 'Yes, sir,' replied the man, 'and a dear little dog he is. I don't know what to do about him. I dare not keep him myself, i My lady might discover it' j 'Oh!' I rejoined, 'she'll forget all about it \ in a day or' two, and then she'll alter her ; mind.' \ 'No, sir, she won't,' replied the man, and | his voice sank to a whisper; 'I know Mrs. Martin Neymer. She has a rare memory, and no more heart than a stone.' ? 'Ira sorry for it,' I replied to the valet. 'You won't need to look far for a home for poor Sprat, and a good one, too— at least, as good a one as I can give him. When you find that you must get rid of him, bring him \ to me, and I promise he shall be treated like a prince of dogs.' 'Thank you, sir,' the man replied with warmth, 'thank you with all my heart' I had been so interested in the case of poor Sprat that I had not noticed Lord and Lady Senfrey and Lord Bent, who were engaged j in conversation at the study window. j ', 'Yes, I do think it's an awful shame,' the , lady was saying. 'He has left fifty thousand | pounds— fifty thousand golden sovereigns— to that brazen woman, and Mr. Henderson^ our silicitor, says that there's no possibility of disputing the legacy. Of course he had a per- j feet right to do what he liked with, his money ' when he was alive, but I think now that he's j dead it ought to go to those to whom it be- j longs by law.' I 'I beg your- pardon, my dear Lady Sen- 1 frey,' replied Lord Bent, with a grim smile. 'It strikes me that it does go to those to whom it belongs by law. I suppose you mean to say that it ought to go to those to ; whom it justly belongs. But we all know : well that the terms are not synonymous.' \ 'I wonder.' the lady went on bitterly, 'how j a creature like that Dorothy Anderson ob- ; tained such a control over Alfred as to cause . him to put her name into his will; and Mr. ? Henderson told us that if Alfred had married ] dear Georgina that will would have been ; void, and if he had died only a day after mar riage the hussy would have had nothing.' I listened with my heart in my ears. Here was another ? person who had benefited to a very large amount by Lord Senfrey's death. Dorothy Anderson was well known -to me by i name. j '? (To be continued.)