Chapter 111041112

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article111041112
Full Date1896-08-07
Page Number7
Corrections0
Word Count3003
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 Ctestias Toy,

(BY HENRY HERMAN.)

CHAPTER -XII.--Continued.l

But anotUer p5.ii' of eyes eauglit mine at that moment— languid, beseeching, trustful Lady Georgina's, There was a prayei- of liope in that look, a hope begotten of the love that was buried and yet alive—of the love

that had never been allowed to- ripen, and that yet was bearing bitter fruit. That glance nerved me to jny task, for here I had an unquestionable and unquestioned duty to perform. ? 'I've eomo, Lord Bent,' I said, 'as the., bearer of grave news.' Lady Bent sat up right at this moment, and I saw that she clutched the upholstery of the sofa nervously, as she had gripped the pillow on the day I had last seen her. 'I am the bearer of terri ble news, even though they bring comfort hi their way.' 'Now, don't go and frighten us, Mr. Grey,' chimed in Lady Senfrey: 'If there's any- J thing awful or shocking I don't want to hear it I've had enough of the whole business. Poor Alfred's dead, and there's an end to it. I'm nervous this morning, and not at all well.' Lady Bent had caught Lady Senfrey'e hand, and, without looking at her, said: 'Have patience, my dear. It's our duty to listen.'' . . ' 'I am sure,' I said, 'I don't wish to dis^ tress Lady Senfrey, and if she's likely to be ] shocked by what I haye to tell, I would pre- j ferehe were not here,' ; ?. ??_ ; Lady Bent's face had gone white, but. I could see her set her teeth hard in a despair ing effort to appear calm. 'You really must hear what Mr. Grey has to say, Agatha,' interposed Lord Senfrey. 'It may be disagreeable, but it is a' duty.

There was a pause for a moment, during which the movement of Mr. Oscar Hume's pen ever , travelling over the paper produced the only sound audible in the room. 'I suppose I am at liberty to speak?' I eaid, and the Earl slightly nodded his head. 'Go on. George,' he said. I advanced two or three steps towards Lady Georgina and addressed her. 'Lady Georgina,' I said, 'you have spe cially charged me to prove that Lord Senfrey was guiltless of any illicit connection with i that girl, ' Orano. I am happy .'to say that that fact was absolutely proven this morn tag-' . I could see Lady Bent heave a sigh of re lief. Her step-daughter rose and advanced towards me. 'Speak, Mr. Grey,' she said. 'Speak; I . am listening.' 'Your intended husband was absolutely sinless in this matter,' I said.' 'The seducer j of that girl has been discovered, and he was killed not half an hour ago by the girl's bro ther, who had found out his treachery to his sister.' ? ' The poor girl did not know whether or not to thank me, but she smiled painf ully, aQd retreating asislowly as she had advanced, eank down into her -chair again. ? j 'Thank God!' she said. 'My Alfred's me mory is saved. Thank God for that!' There was another pause. Then Lord Bent asked: 'And who is the man who was killed?'' 'Count Brodie,' I replied. Lady Bent rose with her eyes wide open and her arms abroad. Her lips were apart, as if she were choking. She gasped for a second or two, and then her eyes closed, and she would ftstvte fallen headlong to the floor had I not jumped forward and caught her, j and placed her gently back on the sofa. ] Lady Senfrey and Lady Georgina had! risen. Lord Senfrey had rushed to Lady j Bent, and the only person who seemed, to be j totally unmoved by the announcement was | Mr.-Hume,-who had -stayed his pen. and. .was ] looking on without a sign. He rose -quietly j at last, and said, 'Shall I call my lady's maid, ! mv lord?' . ! 'You'd better ring for her, I think,' said i

Lord Bent, who had gone to his wife and was fanning her with his handkerchief. 'The mo- j mentary excitement of this terrible news has shocked and ' prostrated her. The surprise must have been awfuL It nearly took my breath away.' The maid came with other women, and Lady Bent reluctantly followed her. As she passed me, she shot a glance towards me which, whether it were one of prayer or one of thanks, I could not telL It was some time before equanimity of mind was restored in that little conclave, and then Lord Bent asked me to be seated. i 'All this, though very awful, is very com forting for my poor child,' said the old man, 'for the villain seems to have met his deserts. There's little doubt hi my own mind that poor Senfrey was murdered because he was wrongly suspected of this treachery. Have you advanced any further hi your inquiry about this?' ' 'That's another point about which I've, come,' I said, 'and with which the name .of I Brodie is inextricably intermingled. May I ask you, Lord Bent, if you rememBer Brodie I staying with you at Farlowe, a little over a I fortnight ago?' - I 'Of course I remember that,' eaid Lord

Bent. ' 'Will yon please tell me,' I went on, 'who during your stay -at Parlowe is the person charged with receiving the parcels and letters which arrive there?' . . Mr. Hume, who had resumed his writing, t topped at this question and looked at ine.- 'Mr. HOme will explain that better than I can,' said the Earl. 'Will you please tell Mr. Grey, Mr. Hume?' The sphinx-like face was hard drawn. Toe cold grey eyes were looking straight at me, and then flashed across to. Lady Georgina aad back to me again, as if a 'sudden emotion had passed through the man's mind and vamsued. 'All letters and parcels,' he said, 'for my lord and my lady ci for -Xmfy Georgina ire taken straight to their rooms '. by their ser vants. All lett^/jrpareetefor any of the guests' are brought : to me, ^and. I send them to the different :*opma pr 4eliTOr them myself; or have Ihem ?deiiverear Wherever the ladies and gentlemen 1 may be.*' v 'Do you remember, Mr- Hume,' I asked, I 'whether on May the eleventh or twelfth last a small /parcel arrived at Farlowe addressed: to Count BroSier1-- v ' - The impenetrable ? face ' quivered with a slight atari. - The 3ip§ elbeed tightly. There was a momenta 3-aJB«J as of i reflecti6n.V \. . 'I think I ^ refflienibeir such a parcel/' Home Baid, -atflaStv' ;M;i,7^,:'fe:*.-; ^-. -;.{^\ ?:.-/' 'Gan J^tt t&l,^^^ I lparce^-r^as-;;delly!e^:.:=lnto';^nnt ;5Brodiete ' handsel';. -^ir'-f-^v^vVt ~;-M-'~-'~-'- '?*-?' -V'-^'T7' 'Wh^a quasa^i!^ inte^bsed ;ttie ..#BmLV ! 'Of cbn^^^t-|v^jad'yi^e;ib^.^?fleliverea:??:to', 'i iw^^^JI^^^P^^^^*'^!'^' mbeol^^fe^^g|$fe|^u^'jS&^^tatea'j^it, ask 'jiJ^^^^H-i':vS^i^!^^^J^fM^p: be t^0^^!t^^si0^0:^^^^0^$ reeeived^ia^tee--par-^i-:ab(£»nt '^£:^ai^R %$?&-?? and uirieel|nih^:br^d;Vatoar^S^ri^.V-'^iea7: The;' iM|£& i|i^|||i; §»$%

and had eent word that she would be down again nearly immediately. v;. My place was a very -awkward one, as, try how I . might, I had to tura my back upon some of the people present I therefore step ped behind the tajjle and sat myself down on the/seoretary'B ehay? and waited. As I did rso, my glance fell quite casually on the writ .ing to front of me. It was a document writ ten in French in a bastard French' legal' rounck hand, ta which all the small letted were ex quisitely and p'erfecfly. formed, but all the capitals were simply printed Roman letters imitated in writing. ' The writing attracted me, and especially the word 'Resume' which headed it I thought I had gee.nthat 'E' before, and in the selfsame instant I recognised it The thought was so surprising that It nearly made me shiver. In my pocket there was that slip torn from the paper which had enveloped the poisoned box. I fumbled }n my waistcoat, and pulled it out and stole a glance towards it. It was absolutely the same 'R.' It was written in the same way with the pen held

sideways, and as I looked on the paper in front of . me, it was the selfsame kind ? of papen taken from aDe la Hue eighteenpenny i packet ? I I had . barely time to grasp, the whole ex i tent of my discovery, and its possible effect, when screams were heard, and one of the servants came rushing into the room. 'My lords, my ladies, there's something go ing on? There's a terrible smoke coming~but of Mr. Hume's room, and nobody can't get near it' We all started to our feet. I do not remem ber how the others received the news, but I flew helter-skelter upstairs in the direction pointed out by the scared and white-faced ser vants, who were iining the staircase: '? There was no difficulty in finding the place. On the second floor already a dense and acrid vapor gripped the throat and nostrils with a poisonous clutch. I tried to dash into it, but a single gasp proved to me that it was dead

ly. Luckily I had time to dart back out of it ere it could get full hold upon me. Even then, my head ewam, my eyes appeared to be on fire, the blood had started to my throat, an'd I felt as if it were about to pour from my eyes, nose; and lips.- ' ' ' . I jumped back to the landing, and stood there helpless. Two or three of the men servants were there looking at one another in horrified amazement, whilst the women were grouped lower down wringing their hands. As I looked around, I saw Lord Bent at my side. The old nobleman's face, had gone nearly as white as his hair. ' 'Terrible!' he said, 'terrible! The hand that murdered Lord Senfrey is in this.' Then he turned with a serenity of quiet selfposses sion to his servants. 'Open every window on this floor,' he said. 'You, Robinson, go with any two of the others by the servants' staircase to the fourth floor. Take a fire escape into the room over Mr. Hume's and lower yourself out of the window on to the little balcony outside Mr. Hume's room. Tie a handkerchief over your mouth and nose. Take a hatchet with you, and try to open Mr. Hume's door, and if you. fail, break the win dow. But, whatever you do, keep the fire escape rope round you, and the moment you've opened or broken the window, let the others pull you up with all possible speed.' After that we waited tor nearly ten min utes. Then a servant brought news that the man sent to do the work had broken Mr. Hume's window, and had been pulled up from the balcony by his comrades hi the nick of time and nearly unconscious. Another, terrible quarter of an hour passed before the currents of fresh air which were everywhere established rendered access to the next floor possible. - Then one by one we crept up. I had asked for a small wet sponge, which I placed in my mouth and tied a. hand-, kerchief over it and over my nostrils. Even then I staggered . and reeled like a drunken man as I reached the door. ? ? ? ?? 'Break it open!' said Lord Bent quietly from. below, 'if it's locked.' .'-.„.. _ .. One' of the men had brought a fireman's, axej and with a crash the panels flew into splinters. Again we had to retreat, for the poisonous fumes that came towards us were still near ly deadly. A few more smashes against the woodwork, and the door lay in pieces. Yet another interval elapsed before we dar ed to venture into the place. Hume was seated at Ms table. His arms were stretched out in front of him, and his head had fallen upon them; and just in front of him a little tin box stood open. It was another of those diabolical engines. I raised his head. _It was heavy as: lead, and, escaping from my grasp, fell back upon bis hands. I took one of the hands. They were icily cold. The man was dead. As I glanced around, I saw. a rfheet of note paper upon the table, and on it I read these lines: — ?..'.' 'Lady Georgina,— ? ? ? . 'I loved you with the love of despair. Since you were a child, I held you, my god dess, unapproachable, isacred. That a mor tal like myself should possess what I worship ped I deemed sacrilege. Fate placed a wea pon hi my hand, and I destroyed him who dared to claim you as his own. As a fitting sequel of sacrifice, I- now offer, my life. My last breath 5s perfumed by. a vow of love that will endure beyond the grave. Forgive a man who loved hot wisely but too welL I: dare net say forget - ? 'Oscar Hume.' ? ? * ? .*.' , * ? . - * ????; The medical^ minds, were sorely exercised In: this case, as in Lord Senfrey's, about the poison used. But at last they, discovered that it was a venom brought by Hume from. Africa. It was found to be tne powdered ex- : tract of a poisonous seed, much resemblipg: the Tanghinia venenifera, or Madagascar poison, and, like that seed, . u^ed-fey' the, na-; tives as an ordeal and arrow poison, only: much swifter and more terrible, in its effects. A Ismail quantity of the powdejv of an iron grey color, was found at the bottom of a little box in which .Hume bad kept it; and its analysis led to the proof. .;?».. A week after1 the terrible YeVents just record- ; ed..I .was again ^in -i*orii Benfs «tudy.; J£Hs wife and daughter were^witti him. ' . : 'I suppose' it's unnecessary now -to .keep this envelope: which you confided to me a lit tle time ago?' Lord Bent asked. . 'Open it, pray iopen 1 It, my lord,' I rejoined. A moment afterwards ' he held; the ten pound note and the llttie ficrap of paper In hie hand. ? ''. : -'-?,??.'??-'' . i. ?'? .'.':. ???'?/?-!:'. '?--??:. ??'? ?' '? 'Did he. think he^tdd : bujpniy soul for ten pbtii&3?''he read; and added, 'Whatrdbes this mean ?' - ??.-; ?? ? v-^ Ir ^ y,\ ?% -&;.;^r^:^ ?? ~. . :'??? ^is'ihe prbbf^f &e;late tio^ iSenfrey^s |*eola^;^^#^n^'^^»epaea,: V *X-?MQ :£rey^ iiip£d^ at ^mfetm^raM lirose W ^afe^o^

WP°maii's -eyes which went straight to my heart--.. '',' .:.??'?:?? ?????'. ? ' ? ? X-. '.- ;?'It' is well,' said Lord Bent, 'It shift be applied, with -others, -for her brother's de fence.' . ? ?-'? ' .'.??..? Lady Georgina had/stepped to my sidej and looked into my eyes. 'You say, Mr. Grey,' she' whispered, 'that my Alfred's little dog found these things. It is Sprat, of course. I had forgotten all about him. Have you got him now?'- 'Yes,' I answered J 'of course I haye.*' 'Will you give him to me?' she pleaded. '?Do, please, Mr. Grey, grant me this favor. Give 'him to me.' .''.'?..: I felt a momentary twinge. I was loth to part with my little doggie, but I knew that in that girl he would find a kind andjnftre than patient mistress; and, after all, she. had more right to him than I. ' 'You shall have him, Lady* Georgina,' I said. 'I will bring him to you to-day.' * * '.'?*, ? * ? ? i-v I do not know to this day whether I was right or wrong. The moralist may say, 'Nay,' but many people will agree with me in think ing that, after all, it was wiser and more just that I should preserve the honor and happi ness of that already sorely stricken house hold. I kept the story of Lady' Bent's pre vious career from the world. I made ar rangements for the poor woman with Byrne, by which, in consideration of a sum of money paid to him, he agreed to leave England an^ for ever to keep silence. I personally place little faith in the promise of that kind of man, but Lady: Bent felt a weight off her heart when she knew that Jasper Byrne had 'gone to America.. 'To thlbk of you being a detective, :Mr. Grant,' cried Mrs. Rooney, when I again ; stood in tiig little room in James-streit 'You : of all the people hi this world! I always did think that policemen hi plain clothes was awkward, gawky chaps with big boots and: big sticks, and vou lookinsr so nice, and be

ing so gentlemanly! WelL wonders will never cease. I'm sorry, I am, that you're go^ ing away, for it isn't often \hat a poor widow wiin seven children to keep, and one of them a cripple from 'is birth, and her old man dead and gone these ten years ? ' 'Yes, Mi's. Rooney,' I replied, 'it isn't But I'm coming back to you now and then, and you haven't seen what I've brought with me.' I pointed to a small hamper, Mrs. Rooney crept towards it as if it were something alive. She untied the string and opened it. 'Why,' she exclaimed, 'it is— it isn't— yes, of course it is— it's gin, and all tnese bottles — are they- for me?' . 'It's a present of a dozen for you — of a round dozen— to keep you warm when the nights get colder.' ; Mrs. Rooney. looked at me for a moment Then she held out her arms. 'You're- a duck!' she cried, 'and I must kiss you.' I bore the infliction like a martyr, and smiled. (The End!)