Chapter 161822309

See chapter in newspaper

Chapter NumberXXIV
Chapter TitleA NEW SUSPICION.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article161822309
Full Date1895-06-01
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2651
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Third Volume
article text

CSAPTER XXIV.

a jfjflw euanuiOK,

Spenser Tait walked back to the Manor House witb the pleasing conviction that ho bad passed a very profitable hour. He bad warnel Jenny about the probable movements of Hillistou, and thus had pot her on her guard against that astute individual. Ouce an idea enters a woman's head it is impos sible to get it out again, and Tait, by half hinting a confirmation o£ Jenny's suspicions regarding the Iswyer, had made her uneasily conscious that Iiillistun was a man to bo watched and reckoned witb. If ililliston ful filled Tait's prophecy, the little man believed that Jenny would resent his interference, penetrate his motives, and thwart him if pos sible. lu sniteof her denial that she thought hi ii guilty Tait could not but perceive that the reading of the oase had not biassed her in favour of the dead mau's friend. Jenny be hoved that Jeringhatn had oominitted the crime, but, if Hilliston acted iudisoreetly, it would not takemuoh to induos her toalter that opinion. Tait ohuckled as he thought of these things; for he had not only cut the ground from under Hilliston's foot by warning Jeunyof his possible arrival, but had, as he truly thought, oonverted a passive spectator into an aotive enemy.

Again, he had learned that it was the old servant who had informed the girl concerning the scarf-pin episode. Kerry said that the man who owned the soarf-pin was guilty ; and Kerry knew to whom the soarf-pin belonged. If be could only be induosd to part with the information there might be some ohanne of solving the mystery ; but Kerry's—or rather Denis Banlry'a— past conduct and present attitude were so doubtful that it was difficult to know how he would aot, even though ho wern driven into a oorner. Tait had little doubt in his own mind that Kerry was the old servant of Captain Laroher, for no one but he knew the truth about the soarf-piu. Neverthe less, ho failed to understand why the man bad changed bis name, and why he was staying at Thurston as servant to a recluse like Payatan. Only a personal interview with him oould settle these vexed questions, but Tait was of two opinions whether Kerry would be amenable to reason, and oonfess his reasons for such aonooalment.

Thus thinking, and trying to oome to some conclusion regarding the new aspeot placed upon affairs by the conversation with Jerry, the little man arrived home, and learning that Claude was still in the garden, be went there to report the result of his interview, and disouss the situation. Laroher was leaning back in a comfortable garden ohair, with an open book on his knee, but instead of reading he was staring with unseeing eyes into the fresh green of tho tree above him. On heav ing Tait's brisk step, he hastily lowered his head with a flush, as though he had been caught doing something wrong, and grew still more oonfused when he sew his friend looking at him with a queer expression of

amusement.

"She is a pretty girl," said Tait, signifi cantly : " and I don't wonder you ace thinking of her." - .

" Thinking of wliomf-' asked Claude, mer

rily, at thisreadingof his thoughts. "Are you a mind-reader ?"

"80 tar as you are oouoerned, I sib, Know ing how easily influenced you are by the sight

a pretty faoe,-1 don't think I em far wrong in guessing that ybur thoughts were with Jenny

Pavnton,"

"Well, yes," replied Claude, with a frank laugh.. "I do not deny it. The glimpse I oaugbtof her as we drove past in the oart charmed me greatly. I have rarely seen a more sympathetic and piquant faoe." '

"Bah! You Bay that of every woman you meet. Your geese are always swans 1"

"Jenny is at all events!" said Laroher, promptly, "and youoannot deny that; but I admire her exoeedingly—that is as a pretty woman. Yon see 1 already oall her Jenny in' my own mind, but that is because you always talk of her by her Christian name. Now, Jenny is"

"My dear Don Juan,"said Tait, blandly, "don't yon think we had better leave off these erotics and get to business. You must not indulge in the ideal to the exclusion of the

real."

" Oh, not that business 1" sighed Larcber, wearily. "1 don't believe we'll do any good with it. The mystery of my father's death is likely to remain one to the end of time, for all I oan see. Every traoe is obliterated by the snows of twenty-five years."

"Not entirely, my friend. For insbanoe, I have learned an important faot to-day."

"From Miss Paynton?"

"Yes. Wd had a long conversation, and she was oousiderablystartled whenehe learned the object of your visit here."

" Was it wise of you to tell her?"

" Why, yes," replied Tait, decidedly. " Wo oan do nothing without her help, and that she will reftiso to give us unless ehe learns the ressan of our enquiries,"

" What ii hor opimou of the matter f The same as Lillian's, I suppose?"

"By no means, She thinks that Jering ham killed your father; but I am not alto gether sure that she does nocsuspeot HiiHstoO. After all she may come round to Linton's opinion before long."

"Did you tell her that we suspected llillis ton'r" asked Claude, anxiously.

"Not directly. But I permitted myself to hint as much. However I only aided the seed of suspicion to sprout, for it was already im planted in her mind. You look astonished, Claude, but raoa.ll to your rooolleotion the report of that oase. and you will eee that Ilil listen was far too inuoh mixed up in the matter to ba as ignorant as he pretended to be at the trial. According to his evidence he had not left the ballroom, and consequently could nave known nothing of the tragedy which was then being enacted at 'The Laurels,' Yot he knows details which, so far as I can Bee, prove him to have been an eye-witness."

Claude jumped to bis feet, and began rest lessly pacing up and down the gravel walk. He yet retained some belief in Silliston, and was reluctant to think that one to whom he owed so inuoh should be guilty of so foul a oi iine. It was true that oert&in oiroumstances looked blaok against hirn, but these wore purely thearotioal, and by no means founded on absolute faots. After due consideration Claude iuolined to the belief thatTait was too easily satisfied of Hilliston'a guilt, and was willing to aooept any stray faots likely to oon firm his theory. Thus biassed, he could not possibly look on the matter in a fair and equable manner. The wish was altogether too greatly father to the thought.

"I don't think you give Hillieton a fair ahow,Taib," he said, stepping before his friend. "If he winks an eye, you lookon it as a sign of bis guilt. My mother assured me solemnly that Hilliuton was at the ball when the tragedy

ooeurred."

"Oh, in that oase, I have nothing more to eay," said Tail, coldly. "Still," he added, rattier BDitefully, " I should like to know why

Mr. Billiston is so auxious to kesp the matter ? quiet."

"Tail!" said Claude, hoarsely, sitting down by his friend aud seizing his arm, "do you know I have often aBked myself that question, and I have found a roply thereto—the only reply of which I can think."

He pvimd and loaned fearfully around, then wiped the sweat off his white face with a nervom gesture. Tait eyed him in amazs ment, and oould not understand what bad oorae over his usually self-possessed friend, but he had no time to speak, for Claude, with an irropro9sible shiver, whispered in a

low voice—

" What if my mother should be guilty after all? All, you may well look astonished, but that is the hideous doubt whioh has haunted mefordavs. My mother says she ran at my father with a dagger, but fainted before she strnok him. What if she did not faint-if she really killed him, and Hilliston, knowing this, is trying to screen her, and trying to save me from knowiug the truth ?"

" But, my dear fellow, the trial"

"Waver mind the trial. We now know that Denis swore falsely when ha asserted that my father was not in the house on that night. We know that he was in tho house, and that my mother found hiai with Mona Bantry. Her jealousy might have oarried ber to greater lengths thau she intended to go. Denis saved her at tho trial by telling a lie; but we know the truth, and I oannot rid my self of a doubt that she may he guilty. If so, in place of being an enemy, Hilliaton.is noting the part of a friend in plaoing obstacles in our

way."

Tait shook his head. " I do not believe Mrs. Bezel is guilty," he said quietly. " If she had been she would certainly not have written to you, and thus foroed Hilliston to show you the papers. Banish the thought from your heart, Claude, I am as oertain as I sit here that your mother is iunoosut of the

orime."

" If I could only be oertain 1"

"And why should you not be?"exolaimod Tait vigorously. " An eye-wituess could tell yon the truth."

" Where oan I find an eye-witness?" oried Claude with an impatient frown. Mono Ban try and Jeringham have both fled ; they are probably both dead by this time. My mother denies that ahestruok the blow, and Hilliston she says was at the ball when the murder took place. Who oan tell oae the truth »"

"Dsnia Bantry," said Tait quietly Listen to me, Claude. The episode of the garnet soarf-pin, wbioh to my mind is the clue to the aaaaesin, ia only known to your mother, to Hilliston, and to Denis Bantry. Now, Hillistondenies that euoh atrinketexists; your mother insists that it was found on the banks of the river after the murder. The only person who oan give the casting vote—who oan arbi trate so to speak—is Denis Bantry."

"And where is Denis Bantry. Lost or dead years ago."

"Nothing of the sott, my friend. Denis Bantry is alive and in this neighbourhood. Tea. Jenny Paynton admitted to me that the soarf-pin episode was related to her by their old servant Kerry. Therefore it naturally follows that Kerry is Denis Bantry."

" Bat why is he hiding here under another namef'said Laroher, after ha had digested this piece of information with a due display of

astonishment,

" Ihatl cannot say, unless," here Tait besi

tilted before uttering biB opinion, "utilesB Denis Bautry is the guilty patBOn."

" But that is impossible ; that is out of the questioh," said Claude, deoiuedly. "He was devoted to my father, as you know. Why should he turn - and kill him without a oaueet" ,

"Ah 1" said Tait eignifloantly, "What if he had a oau9e,' and a very good one, to kill your father. Recall your mother's confession. She returned at 3 o'olook in the morning and found her husband alone with Mona, the aieter of Denia. She aooused Mona of being her husband's mistress, and the girl confessed her guilt, whioh your father evidently oould not deny. Row, what was more probable than that Denis, attracted by high voices, should have followed your mother to the room. There he would hear the truth, probably while wait ing at the door. What follows ? With bis impulsive Irish temperament he dashes in hot to avenge the wroug done to his Bister. The dagger dropped by your mother is at his feet. Ho picks it up and kills hie master on the instant. Your mother, in a faint on the floor, knows nothing of what is going on, and brother and sister remove the body to the river, where they drop it in. Then Mona is sent away by Denis' to hide her shame, and evade awkward questions, while he remains."

" But why should he remain ?" interrupted Claude, smartly. " Would it not have been the wiser for him to fly V:

" And eo confess hie guilt. No 1 He in dcoos Jeringham to fly, with a threat of donounoing him as the murderer of Laroher. Jeringham is in suoh a dilemma that, seeing that all the evidence will be against him, he takes to flight. Thereupon Denis is able to save his mistress and himself, by denying that Iiaroher oame to the house on that night. Of oourae this is all pare theory, still it is as circumstantial as the rest of the evidence we have in hand,"

But Claude was by uo means inclined to agree with this last remark. "There are lie it a in your argument," he aaid after a few moments' reflection. " If Denis intended to deny that my father was in'the house on that night, why should be induce Jeringhain to fly?"

"To make assuranoe doubly sure. No doubt he intended first to put the blame on Jering ham, but finding that Mrs. Laroher is likely to bo aooused, be made thiugs safe for her by denying that his master returned on that evening:. Only four people knew of the return—Mona, who flad ; Mrs. Laroher, who held her tongue to save her nook ; Deuia, who swore falsely to servo his mistress; and Jeringbam, who thought he might be aooused of ' he onme."

" But why wouldn't he have denounced

Denis?"

" He was doubtless ignorant that DeniB was the oriininal. Yon forget that Jeringham was in the garden, and knew nothing of what was taking plaue in the eitting-room, Denis rushed out and finding Jeringham may have told him that Mrs. Laroher had killed her husband on his aooount. The man bewil dered and sbooked, yet sees that he is compli cated in the oase through bis love for Mrs. Laroher. Be guesaes that. owing to the goBsip of tho plaoe he may bo aooused of the crime, and so doeB the wiaosb thing be oould do—the only thing he oould do—and Bseks refuge in flight."

"Then ]

i you think Denis is guilty ?"

' I oan t say. As you see, I can make i

strong oase out against your mother, against Jeringbam, against Denis. Yes, t could even make a oase against Mona Bantry; but it is sole theory. Yet Dents must have some reason for biding here under the name of ' Kerry,' and for keeping those papers found by Jenny whioh contained a report of the oase. The oase is strong against Hillieton, I admit, but is stronger against your father's own servant."

"I don't think so," said Claude, quietly. 1 If Denis had killed my father, he would not have told Jenny about the scarf-pin."

"Why not? The scarf-pin may have be longed to Jeringham—to Hillieton. For his own safety—now that the oase is recognised after so many years by a girl's rash aotion— Denis would not hesitate to blame tbem to Bave himself. Taking it all round," added Tait, with tho air oi one who has settled the question, "I think the conduct of Denis is very suspicious, aud I would not be surprised if he turned out to be the guilty person."

" But the aots of Hilliston !"

"Taitrubbed his head and looked vexed, for he was unable to give a direct answer. " Let us leave the matter alone for the present," he said crossly. "I nm getting bewildered with all this balk. Only one person can tell the truth, and that is Kerry, alias Denis Bantry."