Chapter 115568822

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter Number1. VII
Chapter TitleMISS FIRMAN.
Chapter Url
Full Date1891-06-20
Page Number4
Word Count3350
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleFreeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932)
Trove TitleHand and Ring
article text

TT A 'WTJ A ¥H 'R 1 W-Q-

By A. K. Green.


Mb. 'Bftd, Upon waking nest morning, found himself disturbed by c great perplexity. Were the wordo then ringing in bis ears real words, which he had overheard spoken outside of bin door some timo daring the past night, or were they merely tho empty utterances oi a more than usually vivid djsara? He coald not tell. Ho could remember the

very tone oi voico in which he fancied them to ha1? e been spoken — a (one which ho bed no difficulty io recognizing os that of the londlord o? the hotel : coald oven recall the faint oouods of the bus!le which aeoompnniod tbsra, an though the pevson U9ing them bad been showing another pefoon through the boll ; bat beyond that, all was indistinct and deeam-like. The wordo were these : * Glad to oee you back, si?. This murder following do clone upon your visit must hava been g gvecfe surprise. A sad occurrence tbafc, sir, and a very mystevious one. Hope yoa have eom© information to p,ive.' ' li it ia a sanaembraaGO and such words were uttered outside of my door last ni^ht,' os'gued tbe young detective to himself, ' tbe guest; wlio called them forth con be no otho? than tho toll and flo?id gentleman whom 1 eneoaoiered in the bar-room. Bat io it a remembrance, ov only a chimera oi my own overwrought brain strag

gling wiem o BUDjeec it wm not lev ai'op r aa Shakespeare soys, 'That is the question !' Fortanotely, it woo not one which it behoved him to decide. So, foe tho twentieth time, ha put the sobjeet by o»d seoolvsd to think of it no more. Bat perplexities oi this kind ore not so oosily dismissed, oad osope than once during his hurried and Qolitcsy fosaaMast did lie coir himself wbethep, in coos the words were veal, he hod not found in tbe loadlos'd of thio very hotel tho one witneso whosa teo eoroae:? wos so diligently seeking. A surprise awaited Mm g£Sps? bpaokfosf, in the sadden appeai'aaeQ at hia 200m docs? of the very gentlemen last alluded to. ? Ha, Byrd,* soid bo, witla ettearFuV vivacity ; 'here is 0 line from the ouporintendent wlaioh may prove interesting to yon.' ? And with c. complacent omile, Me. TVedwell handed ova? o lottos1 wbioh bod bee.a brought to him by the detective ulao feat Esosoiog arrived from New York. With c. dim sonoe o£ fo^oboding which be would have foaod difficult to explain, Mr. Byrd opened the aoto and rood the following words : Deae Sib, —I oand with thio o men sally com . petent to conduct d cose olc oay ordinary diffi ' culty. I acknowledge it is for one interest that you esssploy him to the exclusion o£ the pevson mentioned in your letter. But ii you 05? that person think that he eon render you any real assistance by bin interference, bo ia at libejty to aot in hio capacity of detective in oo fat5 qo ho can do do without divnlsmg too widely the secret 0$ hio oonneetlon with tho fosce. 'The oraporafcendenf: neod aot be concerned,1 said M.v. By?d, i-efcarning the noto with 0 con» strained bov/, eI oh ell not inte^itera in this matter.' ? You will mass 0 good thing, then,' remained the coronefj shortly, looking keenly at the young man. 'I cannot help it/ observed the other, with a quick sigh of impatience or FegFet. ' I Dfoorald have to oee my duty very clearly ond poooeos the ve^y otyongent Feaooas for ioterfeEingbefopo I presumed to ofiirep eithei' odvic© of oosistaace after a letter of thio hind.' ? And who knows but whot saeis reasono may yet present thomoelveQ P' ventured tbe coponev. Then seeing the youog man shake his beadB made haste to add in the bueineoa-like tone of one preparing to take hia leave, { At oil events the matter ntonds open for the preoent ; ond if duriDg the convoe of to-day'o inquiry you see fit to change yous mindt it will b© easy onouEh for you to notify we,° And without waiting foi1 ony further remonstrance, he gave a quick nod ond paseed haotily out. The state of mind in which he leffc Mi1. Byrd was anything bnt enviable. Not that the young man's former determination to let this matter alone had been in any wise shaken by the unex pected coneeosion on the part of the superinten dent, but that the Snol hint concerning the in quest had aroused hio interest to quite a for midable degree, and, whet wag worse, hod re awakened certain feelings which since lost night it had been hia moat oarnest endeavour to sab due. Ho felt like a mon pursued by an im placable fate, and dimly wondered whether ho would be allowed to escape before it was too late to S4vo himaolf from looting uneaainooa, if not lifelong vogrot. A final stroke of b^einess for Mr. Foma kept him at the court-house most of the morniag ; but hia duty in that direction being at an end, he no longer found any exouoe foe neglecting the task imposed upon him by tho corones1. Kg accordingly ppoceocJod to tho cofctago wIipl'o the inquest wao being bold, and finding «Bch and ovory available roots fchouo packed to ito utmost by intovastsd npaotatora, took up hia otand on too ontoido of a cuvtoinod window, whoi'o uitb. bat o olight oecnmg oi: kla neck he could aafela a vosy oafiicfootoL'y viov/ oS , tfa© diOoroaf; v/jfec^oo cg feo-/ cpjnc:::;c& huZeuo

the jury. The day was warm and ho woo hy no meats nncomfoitable, thoun-b be could have wished that tho advantages of hid position had occasioned lesn envy in tho breasta of tho im patient crowd that wes slowly gfiiihenBg at bin back ; ok% E'tithev, that thek1 flense oE fcbeso ad vantngea might have been esprosged in some moEe pleaoing way than by the various poshes he^EQceived from the move or iass adventurous spirits who endeavoured to raise 'fchemsolvoD ovap his shonldeii' oh inGinuoto thosBoolvsiQ undei1 hio QMS. _ The xoom iato which bo looked wao the sitting°room, ond it woo, do for as he oculd judge in the firot casual glance ho threw into it, occu pied entirely by stronftors. This wca a relief. Sine© it had become hia duty to attend this in quiryt he wished to do so with a free zaind,, un hindered by the watchfulness of those wbo know his intorsofc in tho affair, ol5 by tho pveaenoo of persons around whom bin own imagination hnd involuntupily woven a network of suspicion that made his observation of them at once signifiooat nod painful. The proceedings were at a ofcaadotill when be firafc came apoa the scene. A witness had just steppod aside, who, from tba impatient ebruga of many persona preoent, had_ evidently added little if anything to the testimony alseody given. Taking advantage of tbe moment, Wt. Byrd leaned forward and askod a burly man wbo oat directly ande? him for informatioa as to the evidence token, from whom he ?oceived a ^ruff reply. The coroner had something to say before he called for fosfchoi? testimony. ' Gentlemen,' he remorked, in a clear and com monding tone that ct once secured attention and awakened interest, 'we hava spent the morning in examining the persons who live in this street, with a view to aaeofffcoiaing if possible, who wao in conversation with Mrs. Clemmens at the time toe tramp went ap to he? door.' Wgs it 0 coincidence, or wao there eomefching in the words themselves that called forth the stir that at thin moment took place among tho people assembled directly before Mi1. Byrd P It was of tho slightest character, and was merely monaentary in its duration ; nevertheless it at tracted his attention, especially as it seemed to have its origin in a portion of tho voom shut off from bis observation by the corner of tho wall already alluded to. The coroner proceeded without pause. ' The result, as yon know, has not been oafcis factory. No one seems to be able to tell us who it wds that visited Mrs, Clemmens on that day. I aow p?opos© to opoa another esonii nation of q totally different ehorGeteF, which I hope may be more conclusive in its results. Miss EirmQD, ore you prepared to give your testimony P' Immediately a toll, gauot, but pleasant-focod woman arose from the dim recesses of tho pap lour. Shs wao dressed with decency, if nof: taote, and took her otond before the jury with a lady like yet perfectly assuzed air that promised well for the eoreeotnoos and discretion of her answers. The coroner at once addressed her. 5 Your full name, madnm P' 'Emily Letitio Firman, sir.' ' Emily !' ejaculated Mr. Byrd, to himself, with a throb of sudden interest. 'That is the name of the murdered woman's correspondent?' ? Tour birthplace,' pursued the coroner, ' and tho place of your present residence P' ' I was born at Danbury, Connecticut,5 wao the reply, ' and I am living at Utica, where I support my aged mother by dressmaking.' ' How are you related to Mrs. Clemmenp, the lady who was found murdered her© two days DgoP' £I am her second cousin; her grandmother and my mother were sisters.' 'Upon what terms have you always lived, and what can you toll us of her other relativeo and connections ?' 'We have always been frieadsj and I can tell you all that ia generally known of the two or three remaining personQ of her blood and kiadred. They are, first, my mother and mysslF, who, os I before said, live at TTtico, where I am connected with the dregs-making estdbligh raenfc of Madame Trebelle ; Qnd, oocondly, a nephew of hers, tho son of a favourite brother, whom ohe hao.alwajo oupported, and to whom sod bao frequently avowed her intention of leaving her accumulated savings.' ' The Bnme of this g8ntlemoB and Mq plcoe of residence?' Hio name io Mansell— Craik Maasell — cad he lives at Buffalo, wlsere ho has aoHaation of some trust in the large paper manufactory of Harrison, Goodman, and Chamberlain.' Buffalo ! Mr. Byrd gave an involuntary start, and become,, if possible, doubly atten tive. The coroner'0 qusstionc went on. 1 Do you know this young man P' 8 Yes si?, He'has been several times to ouv houRQ in the course of tho last fivo years.' ' What con you tell us of his nataro and dis position, as well ao hio regard for the woman who proposed to benefit him 00 materially by her will P' 'Well, sir,' returned Miss Firman, 'it is hard to read tho aaturo and feeling of ony moa who has ameb. character, ond Oraik ManDell hao a good deal of ehoractor. But I hove always tboaghfc him c very honest and capable young aaon, who might do us credit come day, if he were allowed to have hio own way and not bo intor ferad with too much. Aa for hio feelings to wardo his aunt, they were doubtleso those of gifatitudc, though I have never heard Mm ex press himaelC in any voey affeetionato termo towGi'da her, owing, no doubt, to a notBgoI vq° licence of diopooitioa which i»os boos obaoLvnWo in him from childhood.' ' You hnvo, howovoi', no poddoh to boliovo ho okepiobed asy fooliags o£ GnitQODifcv towci'dra Enio bonfactreoo P' continued tho coroner, Gomev/hafc carelosoly, 'oy poooeocod c;ay iaoi'diflD'o fieoirs cftok1 £ho moBo-\7 obo uoo Qzmdtmg So leovo Isiaa nfchoL'tetliP'.

s Wo, sir. Both having minds of theie own, they frequently disagreed, especially on business rainttai's ; but thoro wns n«ver any bitterness bctweem them, as ?&v go I know, ghc! I never heovd him siv anything about bis espeotst/ODS one w&y or the other. Ha is a man ol much natural force, of strong, if rot violeafc, traits of eha^actsk1 ; but he has too keen a oonoe of his own dignity to intimate tho ©siotence of deoix-es so discreditable to him.' Thoi'o v/as something in thio reply and the impartial cspeefc of tho lady delivering it that vbd worthy of notice, perhaps. And aoeb it would have nadoubtedly received from Mr. Byrd, at least if the wovds she had used in cbcractarizing thio person bad not struck him 00 deeply that he fovgot to note anything further. ' A roan of great natural force— of strong, if not violent traits of character,' he kept repeat ing to hioassl?. 'Tbe deReriptios?, os I live, of tbe person whose pictuve I attempted to draw last night.' And, ignoring everything els', he waited with alraoot sickening expectation fop the question that would link this nephew of Mrs. ClemmeDs either to tbe tragedy itself, 0? to that person still in the background,, of whose secret eonnoe t;on with a man o£ -hia type he bad obtained 00 curious and occidental a knowledge. But it did not come. With a quiet abandoH tnent of the by to means exhausted topic, whiah eoovinced Mr. Byrd that the coroner had plena and suspiciono to which the foregoing questions had given no clue, Dr. Tredwell leaned elowlj forward, and, after purveying the witness with a glance of cautious inquiry, asked in a way to concentrate tbe attention of all present : 5 You soy that you knov7 the Widow Clem meas well ; that you have been on friendly terms with her and ere acquainted with her af fairs. Does that moan you bGve been m&de a confidante of her troubles, her responsibilities, and her cares P' 1 Yes, si? : thst i?, in qs fas' os she ever rasdo a confidant of any one. Mrs. Clpmrnens wap aot of a complaining disposition, neither was she by QBtuiro very communicative. Only at ra?o times did she make mention of herself or her troubles ; bat when she did, it wa° invariably to me, sir — or bo she used to oay ; and she wes not a woman to deceive you in ouch matters.' ' Very well, then, you are in 0 position to toll us .something of her history, and why it is she kept so clo^o aftes she camo to this town ?' But Miss Firman uttered 0 vigorous dis claimer to this. ' JSTof _ oir,' snidoho, ' I cm aot, Mrs. Clem mens' history is oimple enough, but her ssosoqg for living as ohe did have never been explained She wao not naturally a quiet woman, and whan a girl, V7OQ remarkable for her spirits and fond Bess for company,' 'Has she hod any great sorrow oince you knew he? — any eerious loss or disappointment that ma? hove eoured her dispooition. and turned hep, qb it were, against the world ?' c Perhaps j she felfc the death of her husband very much— indeed, bos never been qaita the same since she lesfc him.' ? And when was that, if yoa pleaoa ?' * Full fifteen years ago, sir ; just before she come to this town,' 4 Did you know Mr. Clemmens?' ' No, Gir ; none of us knew him. They were married in some smell village out West, where ho died — well, I think she wroto— a month if not less after their marriage. She wao inconsolable for a time, and though ohe consented to oora? East, refused to tcks up her abode with any of her relatives, and so settled in thio place, where oho remained ovei? Bince.' The manner of the coroner suddenly ohoagsd to one of great imprcssiveness. ' Miss Firman,' he now opked, ' did it ever strike you that the hermit life she led wao due to any fear or apprehension which she may have sacretly entertained?' 1 Ob, air/ was the hasty and somewhat ex cited leply, ' you mean Mr. Hildreth !' The way in which this was Gaid,' together with the slight flush of oatififaotion or ourprite which rooe to the coroner's brow, naturally woke the slumbering excit;ment of the crowd and made d Qmall sensation. A low murmur ran through the roomc, amid which Mr. Byrd thought he hoasd a suppressed but bitter exola m.ation. He could not be sure of it, however, and had just made up his mind thct his ears had deceived him when bis attention was attracted by a shifting in the position of the sturdy thiok aet man who had been leaning againot tbe oppo site wall, but who now crossed und took hissfcand beside thVjimb, on the other side of which sat the unknown individual toward whom 00 many inquiring glances had hitherto been di rected. Tbe quietneea wifrh which this change wae mede, and the slight, almost imperceptible, altsrstion in the manner of tho person making it, brought aaudden enlightenment to Mr. Byrd, and he at once made up his mind that this dull, abstracted-looking nonentity leaning with buc';1 apparent unconcern ag&it'St the well, wao the new detective who had been sent up that morning from New York. His curiosity in regard to the identity of the individual rouad the corner was aot lessened by this. Meantime the coroner had answered the hasty exolamotion of tho witness, by disclaiming any special meaning of his own, and had furthermore pressed the queation an to who thio Mr. Hildveth waa. She immodiatoJy answered : ' A gsatlemon o£ Toledo, air ; a young men who could only como into his property by tho death o£ Mro. Clom mens,' ' How P You have not opolren o£ aay secIj po?son as conuected with her.' ' No,' was bet1 steady response ; s no? wos ho 00 oomaoctod by any tio of family or friendship. Indood I do no6 know thai thoy vvoro oves ac quainted, or no fou that mofctor, evos.1 saw ooch othor'fl £go:-s. Tbe foot to which I allude wos oimply tho result o£ a will, . oir, mndo by Ms*

' A will p Esplain youraelf, I do not under stand.' ' Well, sir, I do not know much about the law, and may make a dozon mistckeo in telling you what you wish to know ; but whnt I understand about the matter ia this : Mr, Hildreth, the grand father of the gentleman of whom I have just spoken, having a large property, which he wanted to leave in balk to his grandchildren — thoir father being a very disoipated and reckless ajan— inode tho will ia oacte a way aa to prevent its distribution oiaoQg bis hairs till after the death of two persons whom he mentioned by ucime. Of 'these two portions one was the son oic hig hsad clerk, a young boy who sickened and died shortly after Mr. Hildreth himoelf, and the other my coasin, the poor murdered woman, who was then a little girl visiting the family. I do not know bow she came to be choaen by Mm for this purpose, unless it waa that afoe was particu larly sround^and ruddy es a child, and looked as it she might live fop eaaay yeare.' 'And of tho Hildrotbs? What of: them dur ing these yeare.' ' Well, the father, whoso disnipated habits weve tho cause of this peculiar will tying up the property, died somo little time ago ; also on© os? two of hia children, bat beyond that I know I little except that the remaining heiro are G-ou- I vorneur Hildroth nad ono or two young girla, all of tho wopldliesfe and moat fachioaahle dcB OBiption.' ' And G-ooverneur Hildreth ? Are you aura you have never heasd onythiag opeciolly deroga tory to thio young man or that Mrs. Clemmens bad notP' 4 1 have friends in Toledo who speak of him as tho fastest man about town, i£ that could be called derogatory.' (To be continued.)