|Newspaper Title||Evening News (Sydney, NSW : 1869 - 1931)|
|Trove Title||The Crime of a Christmas Toy|
j THE Crime of a Christmas Toy.
? ? ? (BY HENRY HERMAN.)
— -*- — CHAPTER V.^rConiinuern
-From the Strand I strode to the Burlington Arcade, and there, among the goods exhibit ed in the shop windows, I discovered at least three places where gentlemen's suede gloves were sold. While in the arcade I looked also into the fancy stationers' shops, to see if anywhere I could find a paper like that of my
h aciaij. j. euiereu one place, and putting out ? my little sample, without showing the letter ? ing, I asked the man if he could give' me any ? letter paper like that. I 'Oh, yes, I can,' was the man's reply. 'It ? conies from an ordinary De la Rue eighteen ? penny packet'. ? I bought my De la Rue eighteenpenny pac ? ket, and sure enough there was the same pa ? per— ribbed, waterlined, quality, and all ex ? actly the same. That paper was most likely ? sold by myriads of packets in London, and ? any, of the persons I suspected might have ? used that kind of paper. I felt a little dis ? heartened at the discovery, but soon plucked ? up courage again. Many persons might, have ? used^De la Rue's eighteenpenny packets, but ? if I found that one of the people I suspected ? used such paper, it would yet be an addi ? Eonal step In my inquiry. ? The Burlington Arcade was but a few steps ? from Graftoiinstreet, Bond-street, where the ? present IJady Senfi-ey had lived up to a day ? or two ago. A thought shot into my mind ? at that moment, and taking advantage of it ? while the- man was wrapping up my little par ? eel, I asked quite casually, 'I suppose you've ? heard of the awful murder of Lord Senfrey?' ? 'Oh, yes,' replied the man. 'Shocking af ? fair, isn't it? I'm very sorry for- it for more ? than one reason. You spp. Mrs MarKn TVoTr
I mer, who is Lady Senfrey now, lived in Graf ? tou-street,. just over the way, and she was a ? regular customer of ours, and had lots ? of ? tilings from us.' ? This was news indeed. ? 'Oh!' I exclaimed. 'I suppose she bought ? her stationery here?' ? 'Yes,' said the man, 'and lots of It— all ? kinds of paper, and all kinds of colors, and all ? kinds of shapes. You see that sheet there ? \rith 'Agatha' in gold letters right across the ? corner of the page. We got that up for her. ? Xow she'll move to Eaton Square, I suppose, ? and forget all about this shop.' ? I could not tell why, but as the man went ? on so carelessly the color nearly faded out of ? my cheeks. Had I put my finger upon the ? right clue at last? Were my suspicions
I rounaea upon a shadow of fact? Had Lady I Senfrey, driven to desperation by the threat I of prosecution against her husband, resorted I to this diabolic means of extricating herself I from penury and Martin Neymer from pri^ I son? I 'I suppose,' I ventured, with a smile* that I must have looked sickly, 'Lady Senfrey I bought plenty of paper like what I've bought I just now?' I 'No,' was the man's quick answer, 'not I much. It's a kind of paper that she wouldn't I touch. All her own notepaper has some or I iiainentation of some kind — flowers, or gilt I lettering, or something. Her husband, the I present Lord Senfrey, might have bought I some, but Mrs. Alfred Neymer— never.' I At that moment a servant entered the I place and asked for three packets of ordinary I notepaper, the same as 'he had bought be* I fore,' he add&L r?The shopman, handed. him I three packets exactly like the one I had pur I chased. I 'That man came from a place that's closed I ly connected with the Senfrey case,' the at I ttndant said, when the man had gone. 'He I comes from Rhowdon House, Park Lane.' ? X'ord- -Bent's'' house?' I asked, 3B'.3ubaze I jnent I 'The same,' was the answer. 'Lady Bent I often comes here. We sell a lot of things to I her and to the earl, and. also to one of' her I friends, Count Brodie.' ' [ I am afraid the man must have thought me I impolite, for I left the shop hurriedly, so daz j ed was I for the moment by the force of my j discovery. At that early period of mv ca
I reer I was not get so steeled to the exigencies of my calling ^ to ,be able jfo keep the thor I oua:h control over my nerves which I have since attained. I 'There's no doubt about it now,' I said. 'Count Brodie has had a hand in the busi I ness, and the sooner I get upon T»« tracks the I better.' I But it was one thing to suspect Count Bro I die. it was . another to prove that he was | guilty. I could not at that moment prove I to myself even what possible advantage he I had to gain, or what possible end he had to I achieve by murdering Lord Senfrey. No crime I is committed without a motive, and it would I have to be 'my object to discover what mo I tire he and Lady Bent, if she were mixed I up with it, could have in taking the life of a I man who, as far as I knew, had done them I no harm, and through whose death they could I not reap any benefit. I I rather regretted that I had not been pre I sent at either of the inquests, nor at the first I hearing of the charge against Orano. I I might have gathered so much by watching I the faces and demeanor of the persons I su&- I pected. Of course, when I first read about I the business I had no. inkling that I would be I concerned in it I was occupied with other I important matters, and therefore paid but lit I tie attention to the Senfrey case. Now both I Inquests and tie hearing of the . charge I apiinst Luigi Orano had been adjourned un
? m me ionowmg week. . I After a short consideration of the pros and I fins. I decided to take up my abode at 132 I James-street, Bedford Row, for a few days I at any rate. I returned to Craven-street and I pac-keu my oldest portmanteau with such ar I tides of daily wear as I might need. Sprat I looked at me mournfully as I moved about I En- room, and finally jumped on my little I table and. looked into my face; inquiringly. I He said as plainly as he could, 'Please don't I lea vevme- here alone again.' I' patted him I am] stroked him, and he crept up to me as I if lie had known me ever so long. A dog's I fc.stinet is a wonderful faculty. Any decent I dog knows a friend from- a foe at a glance. I I gave f^ Instructions to Weatherby, and I takiug Sprat tinder my arm, I jumped into a I hansom, gave my portmanteau In1 the man I on top, and' drove to Holborn. ' ... I I think I rose greatly^in Mrs. 'Matilda Roo« I ley's, estimation when she saLW^xne-axrlyg.ja I a hansom, .haying evidently w(0i\t&e!'& the I cabman, for he touched his hat to me with I cheerful* alacrity. V '?.:'? .' ' ? ' ?' -'J: ?r* \ ' ':. I lly .portmanteau was odt yery-lieaVyj riut, I with Sjnaj: tinder dne arn^ :.i inade a .great I Eh ,\v i-£ dragging tt jnto -i^jbiiiit* . j 'hajl I bi.mghtwith me that *yTiich I -knew to toe an. I opl;n sesame to the ^eart of ladies of the class I to wtt -Mrs. Rooney belonged. -L il liafr^op-: I I-ed theicab^taipulsUcttiiise ;oh(t^e -iodd 4uad I had pnrc^as«dab6tije'#i'aie h^tpwwt^m I ed g\nfl?:l^::i ^^J^'^K-tri-l V -?' V f'; ; '-i :- I 'Come^Sn^here^fOT- :ai:«nomfi&t,;' fkbr-^c^rf' I ing the door .-.of ^*me'j&&OTi':^Hen;^lie}sa^,^^ I api.arentiy distressed ^^e^^ri tif jlfiffiog I about fiif^ -j-ouh-I£; '?O^ :fiire5tflaiprria; I flown .a-i<,;^^^to;;tB^^:-^nv»;i^a ;:;&- I take sj^^^xt^^^^^j^pii^y^'^isR.'^il^'-. I dog th^^^f''3^u^^^-:#fy-%^^;r:5;;?^U.-?; I 1 hat:;was sinstJ^vliat; :^a^B^L^ti&at^c^.: I the sittii^'TMiii}:^^^---m^^riM\^Z^-^' I ricketty armchair there. Sprat immediately I took his post tra the table neat me, and look I ed at Mrs Booney wlih fcfernead cocked on I one side. The lady attempted to stroke Mm, I but Sprat wriggled ont^of tiie way. Mis. I fioi ney*s breath was reminiscent of onions, I and Sprat ^evidently jelsented it , I 'My name is Grant You'll remember it, I Won't you, in case of any letters coming for I fcer I saiu.
'Oh, to be sure I will, Mr. Grant,' respond ed the lady, grinning and curtseying. 'I think we shall get on very well together, Mr. Grant' I inwardly ^expressed the hope that-- the. pleasure might be short-lived, but I rejoined, 'I sincerely hope so, Mrs. Rooney. I give very little trouble, and even when I work at home you seldom heir me stir.' 'And what may be your business, Mr. Grant?' Mrs. Rooney inquired, with a per suasive smirk. 'Most of the gentlemen that live 'ere have something to do in the City Are you in the City, Mr. Grant?' 'No,' I answered, drily. 'learn, my living by spoiling paper,' 'What's that?' interrogated the lady. 'I am a pretty fair draughtsman, and many of my sketches have been honored by publi cation in papers comic and serious.' In my little book there were two or three bite of which I was very proud. I produced them and showed them to the good woman ..mP*1' that's **- Mr- Grant»' eae exclaimed. That's very nice. You draw, then. And V v» Pay y°U money for doinS that sort of Mrs. Rooney's criticism of my artistic ef forts was not flattering, but it was doubtless ly sincere. 'Yes,' I answered. 'It may be strange but they do pay me for that kind of thing It's very warm, Mrs. Rooney,' I added 'and I'm very thirsty.' I looked round the room. ' You haven't a drop of— ?'? I asked. 'No- a drop,' Mrs. Rooney interrupted me sharply, 'if it's anything short you mean. I now and then do take something, Jbut it's on account of my chest and my liver, and the doctor 'e says I ought to have a drop once a day at least But I've been so poor of late and so worried, and what with my old man dead these ten years and seven children to I keep, and one of 'em a cripple from his birth ? ' I was afraid that the story of the lady's woes might be continued for some time. Therefore I produced my bottle from my coat i pocket. 'I've brought this with me, Mrs. Roonev'
l said, * because my doctor also has recom mended me to take a drop now and again and if you could find two tumblers and a drop of clean water ? ' 'That I can,' the lady replied with gusto. 'I always keep clean water— filtered water— and I'll see that the bottle in your room is always filled with filtered water; and if you don't mind waiting a second or two, I'll be up. again in a jiffy.' Mrs. Rooney disappeared, and a moment or two afterwards returned with two tumblers and an earthenware jug full of water. The ' bottle of 'Old Tom' was .opened. I asked ? the lady, to help herself, and she took a glass, and holding her broad palm in front of it, ?? poured out about three-fourths of its capacity ' of the pure spirit Then she filled up the i small remaining space with water. I had no- i ticed the operation perfectly, and could not i repress a grim smile. j 'I do hope, Mrs. Rooney,' I said, 'that my next door neighbor is a quiet man.' The lady smacked her lips, and having. emp- tied her glass, looked with greedy eyes upon I the bottle. . i ? ? ' I
'Oh, Mr. Byrne, you mean! ' Well, 'e isn't 1 a bad sort, as men go, Mr. Grant,' she an swered. 'And he's clever, if what I'm told is true. He's always inventing something or other, and always a saying that something or other is to make him rich, bat he never does get rich. When I go into his room to tidy j it, the place is choke full of things— clock- ; work things, and things like locks, and alii kinds of queer things.' That was information to start with. Mr. Byrne , was a praetiqat Inventor. That was worth knowing. 'Help yourself again, Mrs. Rooney,' I 6aid, pushing the bottle towards the lady. 'Don't i mind me. It's the best gin that can be bought, and it -will do your chest and liver good.' ? ' i Mrs. Rooney did not require to be asked ! twice. She helped herself to about a gill of i the raw spirit 'I've read all about your troubles since Tve been here,' I went on, while the lady gasped under the effect of the 'liver medicine' and fanned herself with her apron. 'I went and bought the papers on purpose. That Door
girl must have had a lot of trouble. Have you any Idea fiow she came jto poison her self?'- . .-'?'' ? 'Aone whatever,' Mrs. Roney replied, in a more guttural voice than before, 'as I tola the coroner and as I told the jury. None whatever. I don't know no reason why the poor thing should 'ave taken her life, and she so young and so nice.' 'Wasn't there some love trouble?' I de manded. 'Did nobody come to see her?'
.'Not a soul, Mr. Grant, not a living human creature soul.' 'No man?' 'No man,, nor -woman, nor child.' 'How did she come to you? Who recom mended her?' 'Nobody recommended her as I know, ex cept the respectable appearance of my 'ouse. She came here to look for lodgings, the same as you did, and as anybody else might have done, and I'nr only sorry that the poor young thing came to take away that which God had given her and/ which she couldn't restore.' Here was a new entanglement of the mys tery. 'I have an -odd question to ask you, Mrs. Rooney,' I continued. 'Do you know whe ther she smoked?' , - ? ? . 'Smoked!' nearly, screamed the lady. 'That poor girl smoke? Of course she didn't Why should she smoke?' ? 'I thought the room smelt of smoke,' was my answer, -'but I might. have been mis taken.' . , 'Thefi y.ou are mistaken,' Mrs. Rooney re torted; 'I'm sure she; never touched tobacco.*' Then I was right .A man had been 'in th£' place, a man who smoked Turkish tobacco and who wore suede gloves. : I eventually left my 'open 'sesame' bottle with Mirs. Rooney, reeelvmg. in return the good woman's blessings and the fervently ex
pressed wish that I might often ;.-»ome and haye a chat, with hei; toTvhich I- Bald. 'Amen' with mediocre enthusiasm. f She would insist upon helping me upstairs, with- my ^portmanteau, with t&e result that I had to drag to the. upper regions an addi tional dead weight of perhaps, eleven^stone of alcoholic rebelliousness. Once arrived at my room, the good lady disposed herself in my armchair, as if intent --to ?remain there^ vow ing that it was the sweetest, room in the house, and that I was the nicest and most gentlemanly lodger she had ever iad^ and in forming me, , with teaman Jier eye^,' of iier de vout -wish ihat : fcer old man, deald and ' gone theses ten -years, leaving her ^vwj|th sevr«n child renito support, '?etoeiM^.eteetera, might: have been ivith $er.:1» ^-;i6w:;iieDtlein^*couia behave when he ,W&s a gentieman, and pro-. nflffirigffig^i^'T'wffiiffiffi^ lahould haTe^alh^ yawped and sttetch^
Wj&BXsVl&G 'tlOliei1 . ?:^^0OWvC*tiiw^.:^lDOi©EMnjV'rO*- Of as ZLlCe iMDe 'ft a^v&T^'-mn^&^'^^r^^i^nti-: nun j, Ttii^ir its Q, snanie qeqx j& Doorp^s3?low to be l.e£t ^willi fieven ^buSren ~io ^U0por4« $uuL one of them a cripple ftom 'Is bbtIC' I ventured upon, the suggestion ^iat If 1tb.e tripe was to J»e glared feomsirtter4§g^nettbn by See or iiood, time woula be the essence ntrf the contiwit^tind Mm. «oone^*eluctantly took .her .leave, Showering upon my fcead mori blessings than It nvet could Have «awied jin comfort * :
When Mrs. Roongy was gone I locked my door, and after listening for a while and. dis covering no sound In the chamber next to mine, I proceeded to give another, .glance around my newly chosen apartment It was a lovely moonlight nigu^ and the silver ray& fell dimly through the white muslin curtains upon the dark carpet, ofr my room. They ran in mellow, glittering lines along the carvings of my mahogany bedstead and fell upon the bed itself in ah opal patch. In the shade of the wall opposite my bed stood my candle, and the deeper yellow sheen mingled curious ly with the pale light which streamed through the dingy p^nes. The old lace cur tains on either side of the window looked to me like misty columns in the ,eemi-gloom. I gave Sprat some water, and tried to tempt him with food. He drank greedily, but I could hot get him to eat more than a tiny morsel of a biscuit I threw a -rug over the foot of my bed, and arranged it so as to form a comfortable little nest for him. I sat up for a while, and by the flickering light of my candle made my entries for the day into my diary, as was my habit. All the '? while I kept my heart in my ears, -listening for every step, for every voice, for every' breath. But next door to me there was no | sound. If the man was within, he was either asleep or as watchful as a weaseL I therefore undressed myself and went to bed. I had walked a great deal during the day, and with one thing and another, though n*t accustomed to retire early, I soon fell asleep. How long I might have slumbered Iiknpw not, but I was awakened by SpratVs move ments on my bed. , ? ? -.' ? ;£l.; When I rose to an upright position and rubbed my eyes, the moonlight was falling through the figured muslin curtains of the window, -and the lacework threw little fantaa tic 'shadows into the midst of the greenish glow. It seemed to .me as if the curtains were waving quaintly, and as if. there was a ; flutter, delicate, soundless, and graceful, ' among- the lace. Sprat was sitting on his - haunches on my bed, staring towards the cur- ! tains, now growling, then whining, now dart- ! ing towards the window, and then shrinking back again, as in fear. 'What's the matter, Sprat?' I asked, pull-j ing the little dog towards me, while he strug gled and tried to free himself, his little body
tremDiing an tne while as in a fever. I looked around the room, but could disco ver no cause for Sprat's undue excitement, j but he escaped from my grasp and again j darted towards the window, and then cower ed back again, whining loudly. I looked again. I could see nothing but the peculiar formless movement which I had
thought I noticed, like that of a human hand waved up and down behind the curtains, dis placing the white, embroidered muslin strips, raising them and allowing them to fall into then- natural folds again. 'What's up, I wonder?' I said, looking round with uninterested surprise. 'You must really be quiet, Sprat This won't do at all, you know.' I stroked him and patted him; but he would not be consoled. He stared as if his. eyes were bursting from his head; and at last ? I jumped up, crying, 'What can be the matter? Let me have a look.' Sprat had followed me out of bed, and darting towards the window had jumped on the window-silL In endeavoring to gam a foothold on the narrow surface he brushed against one of the flower pots that were standing there, and it came down on the floor with a crash. I picked it up, and as I did so a curious sensation fastened itself upon me, as if a cold, clammy hand were touching the hand with which I gripped the earthen ware. I could not for the life of me. have told why, but the contact seemed to be on me, and the moment afterwards I had to smile hi spite of myself, muttering, 'What a fool you must be, George! The next thing
that will happen to you will be to believe that the ghost of this girl is haunting -this -xooul.'. The pot had broken. into two pieces On the floor, and the flower and earth, holding solid ly together, were lying in one of them. In the other half something white attracted my attention. r picked it up. It was one half of a sheet of notepaper folded together, and hi it was wrapped a ten-pound note. 'Goodness gracious!' I said. 'How does this come here?' I examined the half sheet of paper hi the bright moonlight A woman had written on it the words, 'Does he flunk he can buy my soul for ten pounds?' (To be continued.)