Chapter 115566458

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Chapter Number2. XIX.
Chapter TitleMR FERRIS.
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-08-15
Page Number4
Word Count3072
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleFreeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text


Bx A. K. Green.

book i r. *'* THE WEAVING OF A WEB. ,:- , Chapter XIX. MR. FERRI3.

''?*' Whicli of you have done this ?'— Macbeth. ' What have we here?' — Tempest. Me. Ferns act in his office in a somewhat gloomy fgnine o£ mind. Tiiere hod been bad news from tha gaol that Eaoroing. Mr. Hil dreth bed attempted suicide the night before, and wag aov7 lying in a critical condition at the hospital. Mr. Femo himselE had neves doubted this man's guilt. From Hild?eth's first appearance at the inqueot, the District-Attorney had fixad

upon mm cu mo uiufuoi'ui' ul ixii'u. LiiBiiiuiBue, and np to this time he had seen no good and substantial season £of altering his opinion. E?en tho doubts expressed by Mr. Byrd hod moved him but little. Mr. B^ied was an sn tnusiast, and, natufolly enough, ahvank from believing a gentleman capable of suoh a crime. Bat the other detective's judgment V7co nn Stfayed, and he considered Hildreth gnilty. It woo not astoniahing, then, that the opinion of Me. Ferris should coincide with that ol the oldei? and more esperioncsd man. { Bat the depth of cUspti? ov.BomoFse v/hich ! had led Mr. Hildreth to this desperate attempt I upon hio oi7n life had struck the D strict- i Attorney with dismay. Though not ovefsensi tive by notuee, he could not help feeling oym jpatby for the miaery that had prompted saoh a deed ; and while secretly regarding this unouc ?cesaful attempt of suioide au an additional proof of guilt, ho could not fofbeo? oatisfying himself, ?by q review of the evidence elicited afc the in quest, that the action of the authontiao in ar resting thia man had been both wa?ranttible and necessary. The rcsolfc was satiofactory in all but one point. When he came to the widow's written aconBation against one by the name of Gouvev meai? Hildi?eth, he wao impreosed by a fact that had hitherto eocaped his notice. Thia was the yellowness o£ tho paper upon which the words were written. If they had been transcribed a dozen years be£ore, they would not hDve Icoked older, nor would tho ink have presented a more faded appeoronee. Now, as the suopoeted man waa nedec twenty. five years of age, and mast, therefore, hav9 beea a mere child when the paper wao drawn pp, the probability waa that the Gouveraon? intended was ths prisoner's father, their eames being identical. Bat this diacovrry, while it Fobbed tho oitau' of its moit dromctic feature, could not affect ia any aerioas way t'ae extreme significance of the remaining seal and compromising facts which told so heavily against this unfortunate man. ladeed, the well-known baseneao of the father mode it easier to diotnist the son, and Mr. Ferris had just como to tha conclusion that bis duty compelled him to draw up an indictment of the would-b© suicide, when the door opaned, and Mi. Bys?d and Mr. Hickory came in. . To see those two men in conjunction wos a surprise to tho District-Attorney. He, how ever, food ao time to express hieagelf on the subject, icoe Mr. By e-1, stepping forward, im mediately remarked : ' Mr. Hickory and I have baea in consultation, si? ; and wo have a few facts to give you that we think will alter youe opinion as to the person who murdered Med. Clemmeno.' 'Is this oo?' cried Me. Ferris, locking at Hiokory \7ith o glance indicative of doubt. ' Yes, oik1,' exclaimed that not easily abaohed .individual, with an emphasiig decided enough to -ahow tha stats of his feelinga on the subject, ?* After I last saw you a woman camo in my way and put into my handq so fresh and promising; a -clue, that I dropped the old sceot nt onc3 aid ?msdo instanter fof the new gamo. Bat I soon -found I was not the only sportaaian oo this trail, 'Before I had taken n dozan ctepo I ran upon tthis gentlemnn, and, fiodiag him true grit, struak -ap Q partnership with him that hag led to our ^bringing down the quarry together.' ' Humph !' quoth the Duteiet-AUoraoy. ' Some very remarkable discoveries mast have come to light to influence the judgment oi two such men so youtsolveo.' 'You dfq right,' rejoined Ms'. Byrd. ' In fact, I should not be surprised if; this case proved to be one of tho most remarkable on record. It \9 not often that equally convincing evideDce of guilt io found agoiast tv70 men having no ap parent connection.' ' And hove you collected suoh evidence ?' ' We hove,' 'And who is the person you consider equally open to suspicion with Mr. Hildreth ?' ' Croik Mansell, Mrs. Olommena's nephew.' 'The surprise of tho District-Attorney wao, as Mf. Hickory in later dayo remarked, natg to him. The eolemu nature of tho business he woa ?sngoftod upon never disturbed thia hardy detec tive's sonso of the ludicrous, ond ho indulged in one of hio deepest chuckles os he mot tho oyoof Mr. Ferris, 1 One never knows what they ava going fo run aipon in n chaoo of this kind, do thoy, sir?' be ffomatkod with the greatest cheerful ne9S, ' Mr, Monsell itj no moi's oi: a ^sntlpmcn tiioa Mi*. Hildroth ; yot, bocamss hg ia tho nocoud one of bis caoto ^7ho boo atfcraot&d ouv nttonfcioti, you oro nctuyally very much ouvpriood. But wait till you heui1 what we heve to toll you. I am confident you will be satisfied with one reaoono 4ot fluopeoting thio now povfcy/ And ho glanced ®t Mf, B^rd, who, aesisg so OBuao foe ddsyf

p!?OOO03ei to uofold before the D'strictAfctosr noy tho ovilenoo they had collected uguinst Mr. Mansell, It wos ateong, tailing, an'] s^oraiogly con eluoive, ao v/o already know, and liwo'io in the mind of Mr. F^rao tho f;?t;a!;ost psc plesity ok hio life. It was not oimply that the fncta urged against Mf. Manaoll vroro of the cisjcumstaatial chai'octei' and of olmost tho caiao sigoifioonoe as those already urged against Me. Hildretb, but that tho asso ciation oe Miss Dore's name with thio new theory o!c ouspieioa pfooented difEculfcieo, if it did not involve consequences, calculated tjmcke any friead of Me- Orcufcfc qaail. And Mr. Ferris was ouch a friond, and knew very well tho violent nature of tho shock which th;s emi nent lawyer would exponence &t discovering tho gelations hold by t'iia tiusted woman toward a man suspected of crime. Then Mies Dire herself ! Was this beautiful end cherishad woman, hitoeiftj believed by oil who knew her to be set high abova tho reach of reproach, to bs dragged do wa froaa her podeotjl and submitted (o the curiosity of fcho rabble, if nof; to ita inginxmtioao and reproach P It coomod

lluiU ; bvou iu ou;a aujru, ury uuuruuax uasuu^ dead men's bonap, it siemod both hard and : bitter. And yet, beoonss he wns on honest muu, he had no tnought of paltering with his - duty. He ooald only toke time to make oure what that duty wj.3. Ha aeeoedingly refrained fj-om Qsp?es9ing any opinion in regai'd to Mr. MQasell'a culpability to the tsvo detectives, and fiaally diamirsad tlieaa without any special order?. But a day or two after this he sent for lihem agaiD, and said : 'Siuce I huve saen you I have considered, with due careful aeso, the various facts presented mo in support of your belief that Oroik Monoall is ths man who assailed the Widot? ClemtaeaR, Gad h-ive woighsd them against tho eqaolly sig nificant facts poia'.ing toward W.t. Hildreth as £ho gailty pavty, and find but one link lacking ia the foi'mor chain of evidnnce which is not lacking in tho latter, ani that is fchi3 : Mrs. Olemmens, in tho one or two lucid momenta which returned to her after the assault, gave utterance to an exclamation which many think was meant to serve as a guide in detsrmining tlie person of her murderer. Sho said, ' Ring,' os Mr. Byrd here will doubtless remember, and then ' Hond,' qs if she wished to fix upon the minds of those aboat hov that the hand uplifted against her wore a rinfj. At all evants, ouch a oonoladoa is plausible enough, and led to my making an ©spesisnent yesterday, which has, for over, sat the matter at rest in my own mind. I took my otand at the hugo clock in her house, just in the attitude she was sappesad to occupy when struck, and, while in this position, ordered my clerk to advance apon me from behind with his hands clasped about a titiok of. wood, which he was to bring down within an inch of my head. This was done, and while his arm was in the act of descending, I looked io see if by a quick glsnce from the corner of my eye I coald detect the broad seal ring I had previously pushed upon his little finger I discovered that I could ; that indeed it was all of the man which I could distinctly see without turning my head completely around. The ring, then, is an important feature in thin casa, a link without whieh any chain of evidence forged for the express purpose o? connecting a man with this murder must necessarily remain incomplete and conssquently useless. But amongst the suspicious circumstances brought to boat' against Mf. Mansell, I discern no token of a connection between him and any suoh article, while wo all bno-7 that Mr. Hildreth nob only wore a ring oq the day of the murder, but considered the cir cumstance so muoh in his own disfavour, that he slipped it off his finger when he begtan fco see the shadow of. suspicion falling upon him.' ? You have then forgotten the diamond I pioked up ffom the floor of: Mia. Clemmens's dining-room on the morning of the murder ?' sug gested Mr. Byrd with great reluctance. ' No/ answered the District Attorney, shortly. 'But Misa Dare distinctly avowed that ring to be hero, and you hava brought me no evidence as yet to prove her statement fake. If you can supply such proof, or if you can show fchat Mr, Mansoll had that ring on his hand when he en tered Mrs. Clemtnens'o house on the fatal nnra ing— another fact which, by-the-way, restg ao yet upon inference only — I shall consider the case ogainst him as strong as that ogainat Me. Hildreth ; otherwise, not.' Mr. Byrd, with a vivid remembrance before him of Misa Dare's looks and actions in the scene he had witnessed between her and the supposed Mansell ia the hut, smiled with S9oret bitter ness over this attempt of tho D'stricfc Attorney to shut his eyea to tho evident guiltinoss of this man. Mr. Ferris eav/ this smile and instantly be enme irritated, 'I do not doubt any more than yourself,' he resumed in a changed voice, s that this young man allowed hia iaaind to dwell upon the pos sible advantages which might aoorue to himself if his aunt should die. He may have gone so far as to meditate the commission of d crime to insure these advantages. Bat whether tha crime which did take place tho next day in his aunt's houoo was ths reaulfc of hio meditations, or whothor he found hio o-vn purpose forestalled by an attack made by another porson posssssing no leas interest than himsslf in saeing this woman dead, is not; dotermined h^ the evidence you bring' 'Then you do not favour his araogtP' inquired Mr. Byrd. ' No. Tho vigorous mocouroa which were taken in Ms1. Hildreth's caso, and tho unfovtu Buto event to which they havo led, are terrible enough to satisfy the public craving after ex oifceioont for a week at least. I am not fond of driving man to madnous myself, and nnloBS I can bo raudo to qoo that my duty domunds a com plete tonoforal of say ottspioioaa hom Hildroth to Mdogq!!, i go« odviso sobhiog ssoi'Q fehoa a

oloso but sooreft oai'veilkne© o£ the letter's move ment until the action of tho Grand Jary deter mines whotho?.1 the svidonoo ngainat Ml. Hil drtth in naffijioat to hold him fo? tri;:l ' Mi1. Byrd, who had sach oalicl, if private OBd uncoiaruanicDbk5, reasons fo? bslieviog in the guilt of Craik Manooll, wan nonaowhat taken nbock at thio unlooked-for decisioi of Mr. Foi'ria ; and, reoaombering the temptation which a mac like Hickory musi feel to makeh's csxno good at all hazard?, cast a sharp lcok toward that blunt opokon defceotivo, in some doubt as to whether he eoald be relied upon to keep his promise in tho faoo of this manifest disappointment. But Hickory had givan his u-ord, and Hickory remained fitm; and Mr. Byrd, somewhat re lieved in trig own miorJ, t7£ts ab^ut to uttor h's acquiescence is tho District Attorney's viov/s, whan a momontai'y interruption occurred, which gave him an opporton;ty to exchange a few words aside with hio oolleagua. ' Hickory,' ho whispered, ' what do you think of thin objection which Mr. Ferris tnakev ?' 'IP' w^s the hurried iJeply. 'Oh, I think theve is something in it,' ' Sftmnthinor in it P1

1 Yes. Mr. MfiDssll is tho lasL m?n to wenv a ring, I must acknowledge. Indeed, I to ik pocae pains while in Buffalo to find oat if he over in dalged in any saoti vanity, and was told deoi dedly, No. As to the diomond you montionrd, that is certainly too rich a jevvsl for a man like him to posses «. 1—1 am afraid iho absence of thio link in our chain of evidence) is fdtal. I shouldn't vvondsr if the old saent was the best, after oil.' ' Bat Miss Dave— hoi1 feeling and her con victions, as manifested by the words shs aiaie use of in the hat P' objected Mr. Byt'd. ' Oh ! she think-j he ia guilty, of coarse !' She thinks! Mr. Byrd stored at hio oom panion for a minnts iu silence. She thinks ! Then there waa a poasibility, it oaemi, that it was only her though!; uad that Mr. Mansell woo not really the culpable man he had boen brought to consider him. Bat here an exclamation, uttered by Mr. Farrip, crilled their attention back to that gentleman. Ha wa3 roading a letter which had evidently been just brought in, and his expression was one of amozament, mixed with doubt. As they Icoked toward him they met his eye, that had a troubled and ooinawhat abashed expression, which convinced them that the commanieatioa he held in his hand was in some way connected with ihe mat ter under consideration. Surprised themoolves, they unconsciously sfcfuted forward, when, in a dry and not alto getor pleased tone, ths District Attorney ob served : ' This affair seems to bo fall of coincidences. You talk of a missing link and it iq immediately tiiru9t under youc nose. Raad this !' And ho pushod toward them the following epistle, roughly scrawled on a sheet of common writing-paper : ' If Mr. Forria is ansiocs for justice, and can believe that suspicion doea not always attach itself to the gailty, let him, or someone wheoe bnsiness it is, inquire o£ Miss Imogene Dave, of thid town, how sae came to claim as her own the ring that wao picked np on the floor of MtQ. Clemmens's house.' ? Well!' cried Mr. Byrd, glancing at Hickory, { wh/ifc are we to think of thia P' 'Looks like the work of old Sally Parkins,' observed fc'he other, pointing out tho lack of dote and signature. 'So it does,' acqaies?edi Me Byrd, in a re lieved tone. 'The m;S9fablo old wretch is grow» ing impatient.' But Mr. Ferris, with a gloomy frown, Ghostly oaid : 'The language is nof; that of an ignorant old eveatare like Sally Perkins, whatever the writing may be. Besides, how coald oho have known aboat the ring P The persona who were present at the time it was picked up are not of the gos- ' siping order.' ' Who, then, do you think wrote this ?' in quired Mr. Byrd. ' That is what I wish yoa to fi ad out,' declared the D'otrict Attorney. Mf. Hickory at onca took it in his hand. 'Wait,' ho said, ' I have an idea.' And he carried the letter to one side, wher9 ha st)od examining it for several minutes. Waon he came back he looked tolerably excited aod some what ploaoed. 'Ibslieve I can tall you who wiote it,' said he. 4 Who?' inquired the District Attorney. For reply tue deteotiye placed his finger upon o name that was written in the letter. ' Imogene Dare ?' exclaimed Mr. Ferris, os tonishod. ? Sao herself,' exclaimed the nelf-satiDfiod de tec ive, ' What mokea you think .that P' the District Attorney slowly asked. 'Because I have seen her writing, and studied her signature, and, abiy as she has disguised her hand in the rest of the letter, it betrays itself in her nnme, See here.' And Hickory tjok from his pocket-book a small slip of paper containing her autograph, and submitted it to tho teat oc comparison. The similarity between the two Digna'uFes was evident, and both Mr. Byrd and Mr. Fam& were obliged to alloiv tho dofcoctivo might bs right, though the admission opened np ougges' tiono of the most formidable character. ' It io a turn for which I am not prepovod,' de dared the District Attorney. ' It is a turn for which we aro not prepared, ' repeated Mr. Byrd, with a controlling look at Hickok'/. ' Lofc ran, then, defer farther consideratioa o£ tho matter till I have had an opportunity to soo Mios Diixo,' suggested Mr. Forrio. A ad tho two dotoetivoo \?ore very plsd to oo quienco in this, for they wore ao much astonished aa ho at thia action of Miou Dv.tu, though, v/iih fcheik' boUot1 icaowlodgo o£ hor Icoolingo, they fouod it corapDE'Qtivoly enoy to BQdQSStnnd how

hep?omo?oo and the gpeofc nnsiofcy dIjg doubt loso folt for Mr. Hildroth had siffiood to deiv© hor to such an extreme and denpotDto moaaui1©. (To be continued.;