Chapter 111039367

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Chapter NumberI
Chapter Title
Chapter Url
Full Date1896-07-23
Page Number7
Word Count3652
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleEvening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)
Trove TitleThe Crime of a Christmas Toy
article text

THE Crime of* a Christmas Toy.


CHAPTER L— (Continued.)

'What's up now, Martin?' he asked, ra iSier peevislily. 'Hass that wife of youns run. through all that m-Mley already?' 'I'm ia aytrfui trouble, Alfred,' replied the younger brother, seating himself by Lord Senfrey's aide, 'and I wamt you. to heLji me out of it just this onoe.' 'Oh, I know wha-t it is,' answered Lord

Senfrey. 'It's 'only this tune* until the next.' , ?. . . 'I promise you m insist upon retrench ment if you'll help me over flhis,' rejoined Martin; in hoarse gutturals. Lord Senfrey, rose and went to^his desk. There he took ibSs chequfiTboot; and returned to the table. ' ' ? **' ''',-'. 'You've had a great deal of 'money from me lately, Martin; but I don't mind. I don't want to be bothered with a recital of your woes. I'm out of temper already, and I don't want to be o&t of temper wihen I meet Georgina this morning.' He wrote out a cheque for five hundred pounds. 'Here,' he said, 'take this. This ought to help you over the next month, at any rate.' Martin took the piece of paper and glanc ed at it with ? burning eyes. 'I was going to ask you ? ' he said. 'I dOrrnot— ~wap± to be b^theaied, Martin,' said ligrS Senftrey,' -firmly. -;'3S3ie this, and : leave me in peace on the day befibre my mar riage.' ? ' ' : ? ' ' ?*¥ 'But this won't help me, Alfred,' ?' feebly re monstrated the trembling Marian. Again he was interrupted. 'Surely five hundred pounds will keep you from starvation for a while! Come to me again in a fortnight, if you like, but leave me aloite now.' 'I must have two thousand pounds, Al fred,' pleaded Martin. Lord Senfrey rose and looked Ms brother straight in the face. 'Look here, Martin,' he said; 'yon are my brother, and Til do anything in tine world to serve you, but Fm not going to continue to let your wife fling my money out of the win dow. You have five hundred pounds there. As I said before, this will: help you for a while, and it must help you. Now, do please leave- me.' There was nothing left for the poor man but to take what was given him and to go. 'Thanlr you, Alfred,' ne said. 'I quite appreciate what you say, and, of course, you are quite right— absolutely right— only- — ' 'Do have some commiseration for a man,' interrupted Lord Senfrey. 'I've told you that Jn a fortnight you can come to me agam, but I want to be left in peace this morning. I've said, it, and mean it.' 'Thank you, Alfred,' said Martin, quietly, and walked out in stony despair. While Lord Senfrey was writing out his cheque. Sprat had been busy with his lord ship's breakfast. He was a pampered* little doggie, and had shared his master's poverty as he was now sharing his wealth.- 'Lord Senfrey smiled at his little four-footed friend, and patted Ms head. 'It doesn't cost much to keep you, Sprat,5' lie said, 'and you're the only true and faith ful creature about me in this world, after all— just now, at any rate.' The little -old doggie wriggled and wagged his tail in seeming acknowledgment of his master's eulogy Ttien he pressed his cold muzzle- against his master's cheek, and Lord Senfrey's face brightened. 'What's the good 'of annoying one's self?' lie muttered. 'What- do I care, after all? I know .that, whatever that manjnay say, I . am absolutely innocent. It iaa^irTJeeii so in everything, but in this ease' heaven knows my hands are dean. I suppose there'll be a coroner's Inquest, and a scandal. . WeH,' —tie heaved a great sigh — 'iiywlll toa an oc casion to try Georgina's love for me, anil her faith' in me.' Dressing, with Lord Senfrey, always oc cupied a short space of timfe, but the opera, tion, short as it was, stm' further depressed nim. As the morningj '.how ever, wore on, his spirits brightened. A gallop along the Row quickened hJs circula tion, and whenJie met !hds bride he was in the. best possible humor.-- The day passed pleasantly indeed. There were a bundr^ and one things to do whidh fall to every man's lot on his bridal eve, and with the petty excitement resulting from Jus occupa tion the trouble of the morning was for gotten. In the evening Lord Senfrey gave his last bachelor party, and a dozen friends— tried chums, most of them— sat down to dinner. That, too, was over; and the faithful Mor ton was waiting in Ms lordship's own. room with a small parcel of letters and other mis sives. Ae was his Ibaiblt, lie assisted Lord Senfrey to his dressing gown, and slippers, and, shaving put everything ready fox the night, awaited further orders. 'I don't think I shall iopk through these letters to-night, Morton,' said Lord Senfrey, when a small parcel attracted Ms gaze. It was a. packet about five or six Inches long, three 'inches broad, and about an. inch deep, and was neatly addressed-, in imitation of printed chajrafeters'. : lt%i£is marked 'personal and imnitefllate.' . ' .. ' ?'. ~ Sprat had. jumped on the table, and made -littie darts at the box, as if Sie were endea voring to drag it out of Lord Senfrey's hands. He snarlgd and sat up and begged effusively, and tfeen snarled again. 'Quiet, be. quiet, Sprat,' said, Senfrey, ca ressing the 'doggie. 'This is for me, and not for you.' Sprat v growled ail/the more, sat up, and begg-cl again. Tie littie paws went up and down, in a swift quiver, and he made ano ther dart-at the box, and sneezed, aaid shook his little head, and sneezed again. Lord Senfrey:, patted Ms; old caning iifriend, and placed lain on the armchair by fils side. 'Toil must 'be quiet, Sprat,'*-- he said; 'I want -to have a lobk at this. It's a present, I suppose, from somebody who wishes to dis gnise &ls identity,' he added. So saying, he tore off the paper whieh en wrapped it, and found a; second covering of plain whate paper, and on. It were written, in liandwritng similar to the address, the words, 'From a friend; a present for to morrow.' 'I told you I Imew what it was, Morton,' . said iris lordship, gafly. He removed that covering too, end found a tin box, eudh as is often used for packing Egyptian or {PurM&i cigarettes. He tore it open with a. quick movement, and 1nn-rn»flta.- tely there resounded ihrougb the'i^oUi ft sharp report, like that wach is hefcjd'*wiiea joung people at Christmas pull explosive erafiltm. .. , At -the same 43me sometihing famed and hissed %and «ee&.ed in the open box end a column, or thick, brownish smoke curled ewiftiy, ipwards antl,s|truek I*ord Senfrey full |n -tHe face 'and eny^loped him, Tne poor man rasped like a fish that is flung out of toe wafer on to the grass, aid Ml tor w&rd, tight into tiie horrible vapor.1 The dMKofie substance in the box fumed and cractled all the more- tthe brown. smoke be*iamfe'iiiieker and more voluminous, andJ3pra£,''*fro 2nad jumped on -flie table, made a -darti towards M& master, tout flew away again, bowling plteously. MoTtoiij3isaiea,s&wa*ds Lord Senfrey 'for, 1he purpose of 'drawing Mm away; but the hendish smoke etruck Mm. Me bad- to fly Tor dear life towards^, one of tiie windows, whieh lie flung open wide, and, gasping, held on;to lie sill, whiie.'ibhe venomous smoke crept around 4he Jbpmjfihd filled it. Sprat, whined afe & chlla:'Ba§£t;l»ave cried. -?'- ''!

Morton, creeping along the wail -witti his. toaadkereMef before Ms noser and moothf managed to reach. $he second window, : '''$&?' push it open, and, half strangled, staggered on to/!(23e*S)ailcohy, ^wihere Sprat followed Mm howiiTig. When his eyes burned a littie less, and be recovered ids power of speech, Morton cried for help, aajflpassersby.atfracfc ed by Ms shouts, roused the servants below, wno came rushing upstairs helter-skelter andttoew open the door. ( -? - ??: But the room was one moss of rolling, poisonous haze; and though a current of; fresh air was established, entrance was im possible. Strong men, desperately endea voring to reach -their master, ' whom they ; could see lying in the Satanic mist, with Ma bead on the table, nad to retire in ghastly hoiTor. - A 'good many minutes passed before either Morton or the other servants could ' reach Lord Senfrey, and when. they carried the limp and prostrate figure to the bed, and laid it there, tney found, that life was ex tinct ?'??.- Sprat had crept on to his dead master's bed, and, -whining as if his little heart were breaking, licked the cold, white face. CHAPTER II. The London season was at its height wnen society was startled and all the world was shocked by the simultaneous announcements of Maria Orano's suicide and of Lord Sen frey's murder. Society, consisting, of course, of nice people only, immediately laid the foul murder to the charge of the plebeian for eigner who had threatened Lord Senfrey. The world at large, being actuated by more communistic ideas, came to a similar conclu sion; but added a- rider ,fe its verdict— najne- ly, lihat if Lord Senfrey -had driven the, girl to the poisoned cup, he ihad only got his deserts if the brother had avenged his sis ter's death. ? . . The world at large, 'being rather purblind, considered the 'if' as of little virtue, and from saying 'if' timidly and without vigor, came gradually to omitting it altogether. Luigi . Orano was immediately - arrested on suspicion, and remanded, pending inquiries. The two inquests were summoned for ISie same day; that upon Lord Senfrey at the Eaton Square mansion, that upon poor Maria Orano in the Holborn Town Hall in Gray's Inn-road, as she had poisoned herself in a lodging in James-street, Bedford Row. The doctors were at loggerheads about the exact means by which Lord Senfrey had met his death, but they all agreed that he died from paralysis of the heart, the ' contractions of the vital organ having been stopped by perfect paralysis of the cardiac ganglia . of the sympathetic nerve. They were also agreed that death most likely occurred sud denly and swiftly. The only further indi cation which they obtained to guide their opinion was the extreme contraction of the iris.' Having got so far as to acknowledge that Lord Senfrey was 'undoubtedly killed by the inhalation of a cerebro-cardiac poison, they agreed to disagree upon the actual venom used for the purpose; and, in fact, having very little indicaton to guide them, none of them ventured to express a decided opinion. * * * * My full patronymic 3s Gorge Patrick Ed ward Victor Sandon Molyneux Grey, but I call myself George Grey, and my friends call me 'G.G.,' because, they say, I am as strong as a fliorse, and can go as fast. My dear, dead dad, Major-General Sir Patrick Grey, was wounded at the Alma, and had to Tetire. Besides his pension he had at that time an income of fully two thousand a year from his Irish estates. Be fore he died, the good old- gentleman saw that rent-roll dwindle down .to. one thousand, then to six hundred, and then to five hun dred; and when he was laid to- his last rest^ it- was three hundred all told. - I was, at that time, walking Uie hospitals, and poor dad liad been struggling his hard est to keep me' and my two delicate sisters in a style fitting our station. With his death, of course, his pension ceased. The estates and their appurtenant income revert ed to me; but I thought that a great hulking fellow Ifce myself had much less right to the three hundred a year fhan my sisters, so I nave since then handed over to them my Irish agent's cheques. Qf course I had to earn my own Jiying and to leave the hospitals. Ae -goodyluck fav ored me, I managed to obtain a secretary ship* to a wealthy Radical M.P.; and through Mm I acquired such a knowledge of London, its tricks and its trickeries, its crimes and its criminals, as I could never have other wise obtained outside of a police-oflice. All kinds of investigations were entrusted to me, and I can, even now revert to them with pride. My Radcal M.P. got thrown out at the general election, and went abroad in a huff. I then determined to make use of the knowledge I had acquired to start in business as a private detective. When the Senfrey murder became the all engrossing subject of conversation, I nad established myself prosperously in my little office and chambers in Craven-street, Strand. I wa^ engaged at tihe time in an enquiry re lating to the doings, or misdoings, of Count Gyffa Bro'die, a Levantine nobleman who had. crosfed the sacred portals of London Society by means of excellent introductions, and who, during his snort stay among L6n-= don Society y people, had managed to .meet with extraordinary luck at cards. He was a member, honorary or regular, of two or ?three clubs much frequented by the jeunesse doree. His recommendations had been un impeachable. His manner was distilaguiened, nis appear ance and style of dress elegant Among the committee men of the Olympian Olub, however, tEere were Iwo or tfhree bluff, hard headed old soldiers ?who did not at all jrelisJii Count Gyffa Brodie'S' triumphal career— as far as -Kheir drib was concerned, at any rate. One of these, General Massinger, a war and weather-bronzed old Indian, came to me and asked, me to i&ke tile matter in hand. ' = -. '.'Wot $hat I can «&y-a word dibout &e~ fel low, George,*' fee J9a5d; 'bttt-.-I . don't like Mm.' - ? - 'My dear General,' 1 argued, 'tJiere^s no indicaton of dishonesty or eveh Of ungiSniie manly conduct on the man's part?' 'Hang me,' said line General 'if. I had any. proof I'd soon ning idin out ,1 Want you to get me proof.' - : ' ?'But,-' I went on/'^uppos3iig the man is what aie sa^ys he is, and we iiave no right to Suppose anything else, how am I to get proof?' 'QhT.' said the General, an his stubborn old dscipliaiarian fashion, *1 don't like the man, ami when I don't likfe a man I know he's a rogue. You'll prove he^a a rogue all right Go -on; til pay tee piper.' I went on, and «norHy before the time when fiie Senfrey murder came like a thunderbolt out Of a -9e&f «ky tifppn London, I had come to the ioncinsibn that the olfl soldier -was per fcapg iiiht in hfe SUfmlses about Count GySa Brodie. - ,r When J Bead toe aceonnis «f the Senirey affafr In the papfe«sr*«aia to' myself, 'That's the tort of pie in which I should like to have * finger/' It 'w&s liound tohe & tough case, 'and a tough case was jl&t what I wanted. The more mysterious anS fee more janfatiiom able; the letter I would iiave likefl %t, Tb& old 4dage eaV-s that *'Poets sftre bom; theyf cannot tie-maae.'' *I 'Verily b&ieve the saying applies ^to aetetsfives. It deemed to me as if I had 'beea l-orn to ae' _ business, and jtne detective Instinct twas strong in me. J panted to get a chanee^to unravel ate mys tery, ahd the opportunity^ as at happened, was afforded me. u * ' *' - - !?' * ~ My fether bad jal ways been on .termg jdf tn tiniacy with the -Sail of 'Bent' I remembei; well, ill toy J3toja jacket «ays, paying on the, lawn of Fariowe fDowerM, down Yorkshire

way, with Lady Georgina Rhowdon, the earl's only daughter, then a pretty girl of five or six. She was a delicate little lady at the time, and impressed me as. being too frail to be made of flesh and blood— her hands were so tiny, her skin so transparent, and her eyes, even at that early age, so limpid and lan guid. . The earl was a widower at that time, and was a great chum of my father's. The two old gentlemen both frequented the same club, and were of the same politics to a shade, held the same views on Church matters, and were interested in the same hobbies, with the only difference that my old dad was comparatively poor, and Lord Bent was very rich. From my boyish days forward I had looked upon Lord Bent with a peculiar kind of awe. I had heard my father speak about him as a man who was able to do what he, my father, could not, and this impressed my young mind with a sense of the peculiar importance to the State, to society, and to the world at large, of the great master of Fariowe Towers. Yet he was a little^ man— barely five feet four, perhaps— as thin as a rat condemned to roam about a church, and perhaps as lithe in his movements. He had a pleasant face, though a sharp one; always smooth-shaven, except for small white whiskers. His glossy white hair was always smoothly parted and nicely brushed, and he was about as affable, as unpretentious, and as nice an old gentleman as you might meet anywhere. . When he strolled along the walk in Hyde Park, with his hands behind his back and his stick dangling from his fingers, bowing plea santly right and left, and smiling all the while, one might have taken him for an old professor recognising and being recognised by a large number of grateful pupils. s Georgina, at the tune of the commencement o'f this our history, had grown into a beauty of the fragile and exotic kind. She resem bled her father in the smaUness of her build, though ehe was a trifle taller. Her skin was of the palest, and most translucent Her hair, which was of that delicate brown that glitters with a sheen of gold or bronze, ac cording to the light that falls upon it) set off and rendered more delicate the creamy pallot of her complexion. Her eyes attracted everybody's gaze— large, round, dark blue, and dreamy.' There was a languor about her movements and a mellow softness about her manner which made people wonder that she had accepted as her future husband eo bluff, hardy, and stalwart a sol dier as Lord Senfrey. The old earl doted upon her. . She was his only child, and in her he thought he saw a delicate and idealis ed image of his dear dead wife. . . . If there was anybody to dispute Lady Geor gioa Rhowdon's place hi her father's heart, that person was the present Lady Bent— Locd Bent's second wife— a tall, stately lady, who had passed the line whieh divides woman's existence on this earth, and had stepped well into the forties. The hand of time drops lightly upon eome women, however, and Lady Bent, when looking her best and when dressed as she knew how to dress herself, ap peared certainly, not much above thirty-three or thirlyTf pur. The story .of Lord Bent's engagement and marriage with the second Lady Bent was a rather interesting one. Lord Bent was win tering at Nice with his daughter Georgina, then supposed to be in delicate liealth. One evening they, were driving back from Monte Carlo, when a storm broke out Rain came down in torrents, the lightnings flashed, and the thunderfe growled. The horses shied at a railway train which was passing but six or eight paces frOiti the road, and the driver, losing control over them, ran the carriage into a ditch. ? Lord Bent and his, daughter were lifted from the debris, shaken, but not very much hurt; and as return to Monte Carlo or ad vance towards Nice were equally impossible, they accepted the hospitality offered to them by Mrs.. Canstfome, an American lady, who,, had hired a fetnall villa dose toy, 'and Was living there for the Winter. Mrs. Ganstrome proved to be the widow of Judge Eben . Canstrome, . a well-known and we!l-tS-ao lawyer of New Orleans. She had come with her husband to Europe for the pur pose of .going the' regulation round of alt the sights. Jiidgfe Canstrome had fallen ill at ftdtne. and haa died there. Since tti§h Mfe. 'Canstrome haa,lired quietly at Beaulieu, mid way* between Monte Carlo and Nice. Mrs. Canstrome was exceedingly kind to Georgina, and more than attentive to JJorfl Bent Tbe earl Had his daughter stayed at Mis. Canstromete little $l&ce for three &r four days, and then the American widow, in her tarn,' Stayed a few day£ with Lord Bent at the Villa AnOato at Nice. When the Riviera season was over, and pfe&ple commences to journey Loodonward, Mrsi Caustrome accepted Lord Seni*s invita tion tot a fortnight jto Fariowe Towers. Be fore 1nat fortnight was over, Lord Bent ha& proposed to her.' No doubt ie -.thought that a woman like Lavinla Ganstrome would look wett at the head of his table; for, although iier manner bespoke a. certain uneasiness, (she naS atftftftie? that kind of polish which hides ^veneer and makes ordinary material look isoltd mahogany , Sfa& -Gangbpdme at first J-ef nfieA or pigsiend ecMo refuse, wit jn thcmonth nt .June of Jthst same year she bad become the Countess of Bent GHwrglna .liked Tjer^jBtepnioHier jf&fy much, janato -a& outward appearances Lady Bent returned ,aer Stepdaughter's ;affeclioh. , % ~ffi° %B oonfintiea.)