Chapter 146835468

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article146835468
Full Date1891-06-18
Page Number1
Corrections0
Word Count2664
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Narracoorte Herald (SA : 1875 - 1954)
Trove TitleO'Neil M'Darragh, the Irish Detective; or, The Strategy of a Brave Man
article text

CHAPTER VII.

" Oh; dear child 1 yGU got my despatch—

didn't yon ?"

'' What despatch?" asked Miss Edelin in a

constrained tone of voice.

" I cent yon a telegram from P this morning—did your receive it ?"

"Ireceived no telegram. What was the nature of the one you sent ? Sas anything

gone wrong?"

" Ob, no, darling; only I wascomiug to the city to-day, and I merely telegraphed for you not to come home as long as I was coming

down."

" I did not receive the disnatsh."

" Well, how is it, then, that I find you here ?" O

" I concluded not to return to my hot^e to-day."

•' What induced you to change your mind so quickly V

" I do not choose to give any reason for changing my mind."

This was S3id in tones of icy coldness.

Mrs. Turner could not have tailed to notice

this fact, but she did not betray heiself by

changing her tone; on the contrary, her j words and manner were eweet and bland, as she exclaimed:

•' You must excuse me if I offended you by asking.especially as I with to ask a favour of you,"

Marian said nothing.

In her ears were constantly ringing O'Neil's

admonition:

"You muBi do just contrary to what Mrs. Turner asks youi"

" I wont to share your room with ycu. my dear, for a few days. I so detest going alone to a hotel."

- " I have not decided but that I shall re turn to Fudge Grove to night."

" Oh, do not 1 I am particularly desirous to have you remain with me a few daye in the city."

Marian's position was a most perplexing

one.

Should she refuse the request she would betray that there was a reason for her re fusal.

She was a quick-witted girl, and once more an expedient suggested itself, and she

said:

" If you particularly desire to remain with me, of course I cannot refuse to ask you to

do so."

" Thankyou, my dear, I have good.reasonB for asking to remain with you, whioh 1 can

not disclose at this moment; but believe ] me, my motives' ate good, and if I succeed j

in a. certain little affair which 1 have on ' band, you will be the first to thank

This was spoken in a significant tone, whioh Marian did not fail to observe.

Still she was greatly confueed and em barrassed, and her embarrassment was in creased when the rear parlor door opened, and the detective, in the disguise of an old man, stalked into the room.

Marian uttered a low scream of terror,

when she was immediately reassured by the j detective, who passed a signal to her, and re marked in the cooilest manner: ,

' Ah 1 excuse me, lady ; I was not aware that there was any one in the public parlor;

if you will permit me to get a book 1 left here, I will leave you alone again, with my most humble apologies."

With a trembling step the old man tot tered across the room^ towards a table, on which lay some handsomely bound books.

Marian was sufficiently ehiewd and quick witted to know that the officer wished to communicate with her, and she stepped to wards the table, saying:

" Can I not assist you in finding the 1

book ?"

*? Oh, thank yon 1" answered the old man. " Yes, you may ; really I have got on my wrong spectacles."

As the detective spoke, he laid a card upon the table, seeing first that the girl observed his motion. At the same moment he selected a book, and tottered back toward the rear parlor.door, and left the room.

In the meantime, while t.he detective was making his exit from the house, Marian had managed to glance at the few words written upon the card.

" Urge your friend to remain. Come out curing the couree of an bonr.

Mc

Thc above were the words as Marian deci phered them.

Having received a cue, her whole manner towards Mrs. Turner changed at once.

"Who was that old man?", asked Mrs. Turner, suspiciously, the moment the t detective left the room.

" You must remember that this is a public boarding house, and this room a common parlor. Any one has a right to come in here

and I have not been a resident of the house

long enough to have become acquainted with ] all its occupants," was the equivocal ana ingenious reply.

This answer appeared to satisfy the in quirer, and a moment later, Marian

said:

" Ws will go to ray room."

" I do not know that I had better remain," said Mrs. Turner. " You do not seem glad of my company."

When Marian chose she could be as plea sant and p.3 affable as any one, and in a few moments ehe made her iriend feel at home,

or rather seem to be so.

The two women had been in Marian's

room about an hour, when the latter1

said:

" Yon mast excuse me for about half an hour, 1 have a call to make."

Mis. Turner's face showed that this an nouncement did not please her, but under the circumstances she had no right to offer any objection, and a few moments later our heroine passed from the house.

A few blocks from her residence she was accosted by the detective, who Eaid:

I am glad you have come ; matters are reaching a climax; we must be' brief. I have some inBtraccioos to give you, and then I must away. Your guardian's wife has come to stay with you for a purpose."

" So I suspect."

'' Do ycu suspect her purpose ?" " I do not, exactly."

•' You must not be startled if I tell you her purpose abruptly." :?}

" I will try not to be."

" Your guardian, in case of your death, would inherit all the property with which

he is now intrusted ?"

" Yf-1'

" Weli, remember, no harm shall come to you, no matter what may be intended ; but I know thst woman, v?ho is now your guest, would not iic-eitate at any crime to gain that money for her husband !"

'? Our first duty must be to find Harry Trendail. If we do not find him, they are welcome to the money, as 1 will not live to enjoy it."

'• Yoa are in danger, Miss Edslin, and yon must now follow my directions to the

letter."

" I will da so, although I think you over rate my personal danger."

" I am going away, and may not turn up for some days. My experience teaches me to prepare for all manner of contingencies. Daring my absence, under no pretest what ever must you GCCo.-.'.pany Mrs. Turner to any place ! nor must you return to your home at Eidge Grove until you have seen me again, or until at least twenty days have passed."

"What excuse can I offer for not return

ing to Ridge Grove?"

" Your own ingenuity must help you in

that matter. I have already furnished you i with a cipher under which our correspondence j must be carried on, and on no account what ever must you pay attention to any com munication purporting to come from me,

unless it is written according to that I cipher."

" You are laying out a difficult game for me to play."

" Our game is all tending towards one j

purpose."

" Ana what is that ?"

" The production of Harry Trendail, alive |

and true to his vow."

The colour rushed iuto Marian's lovely j

face as she exclaimed.

" Forgive me ! You will not hear one i other objection fall from my lips to any course or plan which you might suggest."

" I am glad to hear you say so, Miss ' Edaiin, as it is absolutely necessary for your safety that you should follow my directions.

It would be rather hard if, after resouing j

Harry Trendail, I should have to tell him j that some evil had befallen you, and that you J

were lost to him after all."

" Have you fuch absolute confidence in finding Harry alive ?"

" Yes: I will tell you my theor7. Thus ]

far the abduction of Harry Trendall was merely a preliminary move in the wicked scheme to rob ycu of your inherit ance." •>

" I cannot understand how t"

" His reputed desertion of you would fur nish a motive for yon to destroy yourself; and if you were found deed the public could easily bo made to believe that you had com mitted suicide in a moment of disappoint

ment and de.'pairl"

" Do you really believe so fearful a crime is contemplated?"

" I do : Mrs. Turner would step at noth. ing to gain your property."

" Ii they will ret tore Harry to me they can have it all," exclaimed Marian im patiently.

" No they oan't," retorted the detective, decidedly, adding: "yen just follow my directions to the letter, and let me alone, and Harry shall be returned, and your estate preserved to you; and what is mere, these people will have no chance for working

evil upon yon."

The officer remained an hour longer con

versing with Marian.

During this time he gave her directions, and pointed out certain dangers, which will be duly recorded during the course of onr

narrative,

Upon the morning following the events which we have described, a man, whose garb indicated that he was a German^ emigrant, might have been seen moving along the road leading from the township of P , towards the mansion known as Bidge Grove

House.

The Dutchman kept upon his way until he reached the belt of woods previously described as that through which O'Neil M'Darragh, the .detective, had passed two nights previous when tracking the half-breed, Indian Jack. The moment the pedestrian strnekthe woods he lessened his speed, and' moved forward at a slower gait, while every moment his eyes were fixed upon the trees to his right, as though they had some special interest for him, or he was searching for some particular spot.

'' I must be near the place where I made the marks," he muttered at at last, and an

instant later he cried :

" Yes, they are my markB I And now let me see if any one is observing my move

ments."

Then, coming to a dead halt, he oast his eyes about in every direction.

" It strikes me no one is around," he mut tered at length, and moved slowly through

the woods.

His movements, as soon as he got beyond sight from the road, were anything but those

of a greenhorn.

His eyes roamed restlessly around, and his features betrayed a remarkable intelli

gence. 33

He moved rapidly, although his steps and actions were stealthy.

At length be stopped before & tree,the bark of which had been plainly marked by knife

cuts.

" Good!" he exclaimed, as his eyes fell on

these marks.

Again he moved forward, and so kept along, j ever and anon discovering the trees cut in a similar manner to that before which he bad

first halted.

At last he neared an opening, in the centre

of which stood a rude cabin.

He now dropped upon the ground, and for some moments lay still and watched the

building. J

There were no signs of life about, and he j finally rose to his feet and cautiously moved ' forward again. 1 i

The cabin door was closed and locked. ! The man waiked around the building a number of times, and at length, stopping in front of one of the windows, broke in the

glass.

In a few minutes he had removed the framework and crawled inside.

The man who had thus stolen within the cabin had no difficulty in seeing all over the

room.

A moment he stood still, and then a low, mattering exclamation fell from his lips, as his eyes rested upon some object upon the

floor.

The floor of the cabin was made of boards, I which had been worn smooth, and they were comparatively white and clean, except in one spot, and on this spot was visible a dark,

purplish stain.

M Darrsgh dropped on his hands and knees and closely scrutinised the stain.

"It's a blocd-etain 1" he muttered; and added, an instant later: " Great heaven! it's human blood ! And what is this ?"

As tbe detective spoke, he picked np from the very centre of the stain, a" lock of human

hair.

"It has been a murder, after all I" he muttered ; " and for once I have been mis

led."

There were two rooms in the cabin, and O'Neil M'Darragh commenced to make a close inspection.

In the larger room he found nothing that tended to corroborate his fresh suspicions, and he'proceeded into the small room adjoin

ing.. . i

In the latter was a bed. j The detective made a thorough search,and I almost despaired of making any fresh dis coveries, wheo chancing to look upward, he saw its end of what seemed ty be a canvas bag or sack protruding from a crevice near

the chimney.

He caught hold of the protruding end and drew forth the bag.

Producing a knife, th8 detective ripped the canvas near the lock, and sprung the hasp: the bag flew open, and, as the officer turned it up side down, several pieces of male ap parel tumbled out upon the floor.

Again, in low,distinct tones, the detective

murmured :

" That settles it 1 it was a murder, after

all r

Carefully he examined each piece of rai

ment.

There was a pair of pants, a coat, and a vest.

The materials was of the"finest; and what was more, the coat was: a dress coat, or, in other woods, the Eame pattern as is usually worn at weddings by bridegrooms.

For some time the detective stood and su£- j veyed the tell-tale clues.

it was not necessary for him to search

further.

Mechanically he put the blood-stained clothes bask in the bag, and moved towards

the outer room.

He had juEt stepped into the latter, when his blood was chilled by hearing a voice ex

claim :

" Stand, you villain I We have ran you

down at last!"

"The detective glanced in the direction from whence the voice proceeded, when he saw a face through the window by which he had

entered.

The eyes belonging to ihe face were glanc ing along the barrel of a gun, and the muzzle was levelled straight at the detective's

heart.

" By George, here's a go !" mentally soiiloquieed O'Neil M'Darragh, ss the full danger of the situation flashed over his

mind.

He did not flinch, however, nor show the least sign of trepidation,but with the utmost coolness asked, using the broken German

dialect:

" Halloo ! vat vas der matter ? How you comes holding dot gun so straight dot if it vent off I vould got hart f"

" Come out, then, you murderer, or I will shoot the top of your head clean off 1"

The men outside numbered three indi

viduals.

While one still held the gnn pointed at the seeming Dutchman, the three held a con

sultation.

" What shall we do, boys?" said one.

" Break in the door and make him & pri soner, while Tom keeps him covered with the

gun 1"

"By Cracky!" cried one, "it's lucky we followed him. I'll bet anything he has the murdered man's elothes in his possession at this moment!" (to be continued) OM 3