|Chapter Title||A FEW FACTS CONNECTED WITH THE CASE.|
|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)|
|Trove Title||The Third Volume|
A FEW FACTS CONNECTED WITH THE CASE.
w ben the two young men left Linooln s Inn Fields after the momeutoue interview with Hilliston, they walked on in silence for I some distanoe, eaoh busied with his own
thoughts. Like most solitaries, Tait had a habit of speaking aloud, aud unmindful of the presenoe of Claude he stopped short at the gate of the New Law Courts to give vent to his feelings,
" It is deoidedly tUBpioious," he said in a low tone, " and quite inexplioable."
• " What are you talking about ?" asked Claude irritably, whereupon Tait became aware that he was not alone, but never theless showed no disposition to balk the question.
"I was thinking of Mr. HiddleBton," be | returned quietly. "I am not at all satis
fled with his oonduot. He is hostile to us,
"Hostile! Impossible! Ho is doing all in hie power to help us."
"do it appears," answered Tait drily, " nevertheless I think that he intends to ! thwart us in our plans—if heean."
[ "Now you are talking nonsens9," said I Claude, as tbey resumed their walk. "Why
? he first brought the oaee under my [ notice."
[ " And why ? Because he wanted to be
i beforehand with Mrs. Bezel. If he had
! not told she would have done so, and
naturally enough he wished to be first in the field."
"ButI can't think ill of him," protested Laroher. "He has been a eeoond father to me."
"No doubt! There is suoh a thing as re
" Remorse? Yon are mad !"
"Not at all! Iam euspioious. We will disouss Mr. Hilliston later on, when I will give yon my reasons for speaking thus. Mean while he has deoided to play a game against us 1"
"Nonsense! He has no motive."
" Pardon me. I think he has, but what it is I am uuable to say — as yet. However, he will make two moves in the game within the next twenty -four -hours."
" Indeed," said Claude ironically, " per haps you can tell me what those two moves will be."
" Certainly," answered Tait serenely. " As to the first be will call at my rooms to find out if we have gone to see Mrs. Bezel to-night and"
*' Why at your rooms ?"
" Because he thinks you are staying with me. And, moreover, knowing that we are acting together he knows your movements will coincide with mine."
"Ah! And the seoond move?"
" He will write a letter asking you to stay with him at Kensington Gore. _
" I don't see what there is suspioious about that,"said Claude petulantly.
"I know you don't. But it is my belief that he is afraid of your investigations in this oase, and wishes to keep you under his eye."
" But, good heavens, man ! He advised me to pursue the matter."
"On the oontrary, he advised you to let sleeping dogs lie."
"Bo he did,"cried Claude, with a sudden recollection of the interview. But why ? What harm can my investigations do to him ?"
"Ah I That is a difficult question to answer," said Tait reflectively; " to my mind they will show that Hilliston was not the friend of your father he pretended to be."
" But acoording to those papers he aoted like a friend throughout."
" Yes, aooordiug to those papers."
Lareher faced rouud suddenly, struck by the signifioanoe of the remark. He waB a [ clever young man, but oould not see
clearly before him, and honest himself, was far from suspecting dishonesty in others. I Instead of agreeing with Tait in his estimate [of Hilliston, he vehemently defended the
| "You must not speak like that, Tait," he I said angrily. " Mr. Hilliston is an honest man, and has been like a father to me. I owe
all to him."
"Perhaps you do," retorted Tait signifi cantly. " However we need not quarrel over the matter. I am oontent to wait, and will bet you five pounds that the enquiry is made to-night, and the letter is Bent to morrow."
Lareher did not aocept the bet thus confi dently offered, but walked on stiffly with his head in the air. He was seriously annoyed with Tait for daring to oaBt an imputation on the oharacter of a man to whom he owed all.
Never could ho bring; bimBelf to believe that
Hilliston intended him evil, and deemed that the lawyer, despite his manifest reluctance, would Jhelp him by all the means in hiB power
to discover the aasasain, 1
i Nevertheless, Tait proved to be in tberight. As the two young men passed down the stain on their--way to the theatre — whence Tait insisted on taking. OJaade with. a riew to distraoting hit mind—the; were.net by the
"Beg pardon, Sir," addressing himself to - Tait, " but a gentleman called some time ago and asked for yon and Mr. Lurcher."
"Who was. bet Why did yon not show him op?"
-" He wonld not give his name, Sir, an d did not wish to oome up. Hb only asked if yon had a box for the theatre, and when I said you had stalls, drove oS."
" Ah 1 Oan you.desoribe his appearanoe."
"Nob very tall, sir. Clean-shaven, with white hair and a red fade. Looked like a country gentleman, Sir."
"Thank you, that will do," replied Tait quietly, and left the house with Olaude.
For a few minutes he enjoyed his com panion's astonishment at thiB proof of Hillis-. ton's double dealing, and it was not till they Were in the oab that he spoke.
" Well 1" he said smiling. " Was I not right when I aaid that he would make the
first move?'' - <
" Vou are right so far," muttered Olaude, who looked ill at ease, "but I oannot bring myself to suspect my guardian."
" You want another proof perhaps. Well 1 we will wait for your invitationHo Kensington
Claude shook his head and seemed so. indie posed to talk that Tait judged, it wise to humour his silenoe. Tho young man's thonghta were anything but pleasant. He had been aooustomed to look up to Hilliston as the model of an English gentlemen, honest. honourable, upright, and noble. If then this
suspicion of Tait*s eh "
suspicion of Tata's should prove oorreot—and
the last aot of Hilliston certainly gave oolour to it, where was he to find honest and honour able men. If Hilliston proved false, then Oiaude felt he oould no longer trust the human raoe. Still he fought against the supposition, and eeoretly hoped that the second prophecy of his friend would not be fulfilled.
Alas for his hopes. At 11 the next morning, while they were discussing the situation, a letter was delivered to Claude by speoial messenger. It proved to be from Hilliston, and oontained a warm invitation for Laroher to take up bis abode at the Kensington Gore house. " As you may only be in London for a short period, my dear Claude," wrote his guardian, "my wife and I must see as muoh of you as possible." . With
a bitter smile Claude tossed the letter aorosa to Tait.
"You see I was right," said the latter for the eeoond time, after skimming the note, "Mr. Hilliston is playing a double game. He wishes to keep you under his eye, thinking that as you trust him you will keep him informed as to your doings, so that being forewarned he may be forearmed."
"Do you really think he is my enemy, Tait ?"
?' I am really not prepared to say," replied
the little man with some hesitation. "Hir behaviour of yesterday struok me as suspi oious. He seemed unnecessarily agitated, and moreover urged you nob to see Mrs. Bezel. Perhaps he thinks she will tell you too muoh. Taking all these faots into oonsideration I oannot help thinking tbat Hilliston is asking yon to his house for some motive in oonneotion with our searoh."
" But he showed me the papers."
"I know that, but as I told you yesterday it was Hobaon's ohoioe with him. If he hadn't imparted the information, Mrs.
Bezel would have done so. Of two evils he choBe the lesser, and by showing you the papers proved to ail outward appearanoa that he was your firm friend. Should yon bring any obarge against him, he will meet it by the very argument you have just made use of."
"Good heavens,"' groaned Oiaude, in despair, "is everybody as treaoherous as you think him to be.
" A good number of people are," replied Tait suavely; a long residence in London does, nob strengthen one's belief in human nature. Itisaaityof wild beasts—of wolves and foxes, who rend and betray for the gam ing of their own ends. If Hlliston iB what I believe him to be we must do our best to baffle him ; and so you must oontinue to be hiB friend."
"How can I if he wishes to betray me!"
" Ah, you are so unsophisticated Claude," said the hardened man of the world; "yon betray your feelings too plainly. In ibis oity it is worse than madness to wear your heart on your sleeve. If you are con viooed that Hilliston bearB you ill"
" I am not oonvinoed. - I can t believe any man would be so base."
"Ah, bab, that is want of experience," retorted Tait raising bia eyebrows, "I'll pick you out a dozen of my deoent friend* who are as base or baser than I believe them to be. Respectability is all a question of oonoealment nowadays, and it must be confessed that your guardian wears his mask very prettily."
" but do you think he is"
"Never mind what I think," interrupted Tait impatiently. Hilliston may turn out to be an angel after all. But his oonduct of yesterday and this morning appears to be suspioious, and in dealing with the matters we have in hand it is as well to be aareful. Keep your faith in BLilliaton if it assists you to oontinue the friendship. He must suspeot nothiug."
"Do you then wish me to accept this invi tation ?"
"No. Why go into the lion's den. Write and thank him, and - decline."
" I have no excuse."
" Indeed ! X'bon I will provide you with one. You are engaged to etay with mo at Thorston for a month. By the end of that time you will know Biiffioient of Hilliston to deoide for yourself aB to the wisdom of ac cepting or declining hie invitation."
" But if we go to l'horston we cannot pro secute our enquiries."
" Yes, we oau. I tell you that book which contains the story of your father's murder also contains a description of Thornton. I recognise every soene."
" Well," repeated Tait, sharply, " can't you see. The author of that book must either live at Thorston, or have stayed a few monthB there. Else he could not have desoribed the village so acourately. We mast make enquiries about him there, and should we be fortunate enough to discover him we muet extract his secret."
" What eeoret ?"
Upon my word, Claude, you are either stupid or cunning. Why, find out where he got bis material from. That may put us on the right traok. Now write to Hilliston, and then go up to Hampstead and find out what Mrs. Bezel baa to say."
" Won't you oome too?" said Claude, going to the writing-desk.
" No. I have my own business to attend to."
" Is it connected with our enterprise ?"
"1 should think so. It is my intention to
call oil the firm who 'published '.The Whim of Pate,1 and find onfall 1 oan oonoernibg the author. When yon return from Mrs. Bezel we will compare note*, and on what infor mation we obtain will depend our future movements,"