Chapter 161821832

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Chapter NumberXX
Chapter TitleA PR OF THE CASE.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161821832
Full Date1895-05-25
Page Number36
Corrections0
Word Count1516
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

THE NOVELIST.

THE THIRD VOLUME.

BY FERGUS HUME,

Author cf "The Mystery of a Hansom Cab."

" The Lone Inn," "The Chinese Jar,".&<v

CHAPTER XX. .

A FBEOIS OF THE CASE.

A month ago had any one propheaied that I, Speimer Tail, would be engaged in playing the part of an amateur deteotive^ 1 should have flatly contradicted his prognostication. Yet here I am doing my bast to solve the mysteiy whioh hangs round the death of my friend's father. X oannot say that I object to the task, for there is something tremendously exciting in this man hunt.- My friendship fox Claude is the prinoipal factor which indnoes me to meddle with the business; but a slight flavouring of selfishness is also present.

Hitherto we have beep fairly enooessfnl, and have at least found a clue likely to lead to some oertain result. Between Mrs. Bezel, HiJliston, and Linton's book we have learned a good deal of the osse, and all our know ledge points to an interview with Jenny Payn ton as the next step to be taken.

To-morrow we start for Thoreton for this ' purpose, but before exploring -the new field X

judge it wise Co set down all the facts whioh haveoome to our knowledge, end to deduce therefrom, if possible, a logical reason for onr future actions. 1 have my suspicions,.hut these are vague and intangible. Claude has bis euspioions, but these do not coincide with mine. He believes Jeringham to be guilty of the orirae. I think Hilliston ie likely to prove the assassin. Both of us may be

wrong.

To take the oase of Mr. Hilliaton. His attitude is deoidedly aggressive at the present moment, and he ie doinR his best to dissnde Claude from investigating the case. Why should he do so? George Lurcher was life dearest friend, and met with o cruel fate. If there is any obanoe of hie fate being avenged surely Hilliston should be the first to prose cute the enquiries. Instead of doing so be hangs baok, and throws oold water on my efforts and on Claude's. He must have some reason for his actions, Ie that reason to be found at Clarence Cottage in Hemp

stead?

This question brings me to a delicate point. My work ie hampered by the faot that Mrs. Bezel is Claude's mother, and I daro not ex press myself as I should wish. J gather from the report of the trial that Mrs. Larober was n vain aud silly ooquette who threw away the love of a good man for the indulgenoe ol her own selfish instinots. Guilty ehe may have bBen, but not with Jeringham, If ehe had any lover, it wee Francis Hilliaton. After

a visit to Olarenoe Cottage I believe the view taken of the oase by ths novelist to Jbe the right one.

Duringmy interview with Mrs. Bezel I noted her every look and aotion. When Hiltiaton's name occurred she flushed up and looked savage. She was anxious to know all about the wife at Kensington Gore, and id every way showed that she bad more interest in the man than ehe cared to oonfess. Again, she told me that her illness was of ten yeara'aura tion. Hilliston has been married ten years. What is more likely than that he should have wearied of the invalid, and bo deserted her for Mrs. Derrick, the rich widow.

Mrs. Bezel iB jealous of Hilliston and of bis wife. Her love has changed to hatred, and I verify believe that she would harm him if she could. Already she has attempted to do so, for it was only her threat to reveal all to Claude that made Hilliston produoe that report of the Larober affair. She had told me all she knows, but I cannot help thinking that she is keeping back certain faots con nected with the case. There is ahesitanoy and doubt in her speech whioh points to some secret. If I could learn that secret it might establish the guilt of Hilliston.

And yeti I cannot believe tbat. Wo woman, however vain, however frivolous, would have lived with the man who murdered her hus band, who slew the father of her child. Mrs. Bezel's secret may not directly inoulpato Hilliston, but it may point towards him tug the possible assassin. But I cannot believe that she thinks him guilty. Their relation* with one another forbids so horrible a suppo

sition.

Nevertheless Hilliston is afraid of the trntb coming to light. He denies that the garnet eoarf pin ever existed, while Mrs. Bezel eaid she saw it herself. If tlie lawyer ie not afraid, why ehould he tell a deliberate lief It is his word against that of Mrs. Betel, and as her statement ie baoked up by the description in the novel I believe she is telling the trntb. Oan it be possible that the soarf-pin belonged to Hilliston and was dropped by him in the garden of "The Laurels"on the night of the

struggle ?

Here Hilliston proveB an alibi. He stated to Claude that ab the hour of 3 o'clock, when the crime was presumably committed, he was at the ball in the Horriston Town Hall. If tuat can be proved he must perforce be

innocent.

Another supposition. Oan Mrs. Laroher be actually gnilty of her husband's death, and, knowing this, is Hilliston anxious to stop Claude in h.'s investigations lest be should learn so terrible a truth! I cannot believe this, for Mrs. Larcher, or Bezel, set the ball rolling herself, and were she gnilty ehe cer tainly would not have to run such risks.

Then, again, ?Teringham fled en the night of thn murder. For what reason ? If Hilliston killed Larcher why should Jeringham flyf If Mrs. Bezel killed her husband why sbonld Jeringham flyf I see no reason in bis flight, and yet if he was guilty and Hilliston knew him to be guilty why should he try and screen him at the present time? Altogether, the oase is so confusing that I do net know what to think or who to sospeo*-.

I wonder what has become of Mona Bantry and her ohild ? Mrs. Bezel said she had not seen the girl or her brother for twenty-five years. Yet they must be somewhere. Cir cumstances point to Jenny Paynton having heard the atcry of the tragedy from Denis, for no one else oould bare revealed the episode of the noarf-ptn, or have desoribod the jewel. If Denis told her he mpBt live at Thornton, and if he lives there bis sister mnet be with him. If this pair, who were in the house on the night of the murder, oan be found, the I ruth may oome to light.

After searohing Thorston and flndingout all I can from the Bantrys—presuming them to be there—it is my intention to go down to Horriston and find nut some one who remem bers the oase. In spite of the lapse of time there must be some old people alive who danced at that ball in their hot youth. They may be able to say if George Larcher was there present in the oharaater of Darnley, and at what time Hillistoo left the ball 1 may also hear what they think of Jeringham, and of the conduct of Mrs. Bezel. In making these investigations I shall not take Claude, as I shrewdly euspnet the opinions ot these oldsters regarding his mother are anything but flattering to that lady. If 1 go to Hor riston I must go alone.

Qa reading over these noteB I am hardly Satisfied with them. They do not aeem to give me muoh baaia on whioh to work. I eiupeot this person and the other, but I have ve/y little evidence to baofc me up in auoh I suspicions. The only thing that aeem* olear i to me ia that Hilliaton has aome objeot in ! thwarting our plana. What the objeot ia I miiat find out. Perhaps I shall do so at Thoraton, where I am certain to meet both Hilliaton and hie wife.

And that retninda me ol what Claude related about her emotion this evening. It ia oertainly ourioua, but toe worst of dabbling in . dekeotive business ia that one ia apt togebover

euapioious. In this oaaa 1 think there is no ground for euapioion. Mrs. Hilliaton ia in Amerioa, and oame to England twelve years ago. I know this for OBrtain, for I remember when ehe made her ddbut in sooiety. This being the oase, Bho oannot possibly have any oonneotion with Horriabon, and her emotion inuab have bBen merely the recolleotion of the story related by her husbaud when he told hsr of Oiaude.

Well, it ia past midnight, and I had better end these unaatiafaotory notes. Deteotive

business is harder than I thought. How' atn i I to evolve order out of all this ohaos I hardly ! fcnow save to trust to luck and Jenny Payn tou. And so to bed, as sayeth worthy Samuel Popye.