Chapter 162317600

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Chapter NumberII
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162317600
Full Date1896-05-30
Page Number38
Corrections0
Word Count2115
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Fly
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CHAPTER II.

The burglary at the Castle" caused the pro. fowidest excitement in^the place. A bout,the only person who took the matter coolly was that fellow Wiggles, who remarked, "Serve her right. Should keep her gew-gaws locked up. If women will be fools, they must suffer for their folly."

It was a relief to turnfrom him to Adolphus Vcre de Vere, who took the keenest interest

in the robbery, and exercised "his powerful genius in following out all the threads and in theorising on the manner in which it had been

executed. .

The way in which with his commanding intellect he surveyed the case was, in itself, an education.

"You will see, Miss Jane," said he, as I attended his wheeled chair, "that the dress ing-room could not have been entered from the outside. True—there were sash windows, and one was partly open. The reason of that 1 will tell you shortly. It is, of course, possible to reach the windows by means of a ladder, but tho only available ladders'were—one in the stable yard, and the other at a builder's place some 000 yards distant. Now, the ladders from the stables could not have been taken, for on account of the dinner party and ball, there were plenty of men about at the time with the horses and carriages. More over, it would not have been likely that burglars, after having ascended by means of the ladder, which we will suppose was taken

from the yard for the purpose, would be so, exact and conscientious as to carry it- back again, and rehang it on the crooks whence they had lifted it. You see this?"

, I replied that I did. <

"The same objection applies to the ladder of the local builder's. It was found in the morning where it had been the night before. Conceive of burglars taking it back along a road for no purpose, after they had possessed thenlselves of the jewellery1"

"Exactly," said I.

"Then," he continued, " Had a ladder been used there would have been marks in the gravel of the walk under the window where it was planted. And I have not heard that any thing of the Bort has been observed."

"Nothing," said I. "How clearly you pub things, sir."

proceed. There are no adjoining houses, so that it was nob possible to creep along roofs and get in by a skylight or attic

window. «»

" There are no houses at all nearer than ours, which is five minutes' walk distant."

"Then by what means could the window bo reachecj,? Theie are no lean-to roofs; there is no fall-pipe from the gutters. We may dis miss the window altogether from considera tion."

"Ibelieve," said I, "that the police are perfectly satisfied' that no entrance was effected from without through the windows."

"In that they show more sagacity than I would have given them credit for possessing. What apples to the window, also applies to the chimney—unless you think-that the bur glar was dropped out of the balloon, and des cended by a parachute right down Mr. Smith's chimney."

I laughed, and said that this was absolutely incredible.

" Then," continued Mr. Adolphus Yero de Vere, "at what conclusion do we arrive? How many openings are there into a room? Three, are there not 1"

"Yes, sir," I answered, "window, fireplace, and door,"

" And window and fireplace are excluded." " Then he must have entered by the door." " Quite so. But why he?"

" Do you mean to suggest that the burglar

was a woman?"

" I suggest nothing; but I would not jump at conclusions in these matters, but establish every stage in the enquiry, and so build up your theory by a series of eliminations. You say he. What makes you so sure that the jewels were talcon by a man?"

" I thought—of course—"

I stammered and blushed. T was as nothing before this great intellect. I felt it.

_ "Mako no assumptions whatever," he con tinued; " already you havo made throe. One in that you assume that the jewels were taken by a man, then that they were taken by one instead of several in a gang; thirdly, that they were carried off by burglars—that is to say by individuals who are so designated when they break into a houso. So far, all we liave assured ourselves is that the dressing-room of the lady was not entered either by the window or by the fireplace; therefore, it was entered by the

door. Now let us go on. The jewels were taken either at dinner-time or during the sub sequent dance. By what way was the door of Mrs. Fitz - Aubcron Smith's dressing-room reached? On what does that door open?"

"I know. I have been over the house. It opens on to the great landing at the end of the main staircase."

" Explain to me the interior structure of the house. Of what sort afe these stairs?"

" Oh! there is a sort of central hall, in which the people dance, and from this hall the stairs go up round three or four sides, I forget which, and it is all lighted up. When there is a ball, then the sitters-out go to (.hairs and sofas 011 the landings."

" You know all this?"

[ "Ob, yes! The Smiths gave a dance to a

lot of us middle-class people once bnforo my dear father died, and 1 was there, though so very young, because especially asked."

" Then the gallery or landing is not only lighted but occupied all the evening?"

"Not. I suppose, all the evening, not, of course, at dinner-time, but whilst dancing is going on."

" And during dinner-time the chambermaids are no doubt putting tidy the rooms in which their mistress and the guests have dressed?"

" I suppose so."

"Then, you see, 110 strange person could possibly go into Airs. Smith s dressing-room through the door without being observed?" 1

" Not whilst the sitters-out were there."

" Nor whilst daucing was going on. No one could well come up the stairs, lie 011 the landings, without attracting notice, if he were

a strauaer."

" Goodness!" exclaimed I, and a feeling as of cold water ran down my back. "You don't suppose that one of the ladies or gentlemen went in and stole the jewellery?"

" I hardly think this. It would have been thought a very queer thing if a guest had walked into the hostess's dressing-room. Such a thing might be—but is not likely. Those who sit out,-sit out in twos. Are there any persons who could go in and out without attracting attention?"

" None but the maids P

" Exactly—none but the maids. Now we have narrowed the enquiry greatly. Who are the maids?" .

41 All most < _

" You know t£em intimately?"

"No; I can't any that, but I have never heard aword against them."

"More negative reasons—worth nothing. Do you know that a girl in league with burglars.will sometimes farce her way into a large house,iwith forged testimonials, and will conduct herself there with the utmost pro priety for a wholqjnsar, even for longer, merely for the sake of committing such-a robbery as that which was perpetrated last night?"

I was staggered.

"You see, said he, we have completely demolished the theory of an entry haying been effocted from without. The thing must have been done from within, and almost) certainly was done whilst the family was at dinner, and done by one resident at the time in the house in some capacity or other, and who was familiar with the house and tb© various rooniB."

I was greatly disturbed.

The servants at the Oastlc were noted to be well-conducted, worthy persons. Mrs. Smith was most particular to nave only such as she was sure respected themselves, and would be a credit to her. It is true that recently she had had a new lady's maid, as the young woman who had been with her five years had got married. I did not know any particulars about the new servant, but I was quite sure Mrs. Smith would not have engaged one who would be so much about her person, and one, moreover, in a place of such responsibility, without having made every enquiry about 'her. I could"mott believe that she would have been taken in by forged testimonials. .

lsaid so to Mr. Vere de Veve.

" How was she to know forged from genuine

testimonials?" lie asked.

Later in the day we heard further news. The servants at the Castle had insisted on having all their boxes examined by the police. Mrs. Fitz-Auberon Smith had indignantly refused. She had said she would as soon mis trust her daughters as her servants; however, they were resolute; the examination of their trunks had been made, and had led to no in-. criminating discovorios. I told this to Mr. D©

Verc.

"Of course not,"he said. "Do you think one who had taken tho jewels would retain them in the house? She would know that ona of the first things to be done would be to

search the boxes of the domestics. Whoever took tho jewels had accomplices outside the building, and now the jewels are in town being divested of their settings, lest they should bo identified. Moreover, whoever took tho jewellery was a cunning hand. You remember that the dressing-room window was found

parciy open;

"Yes, I know."

" Very well—that was done by the robber so as to put the police on a false 6ceut, so as to have them believe that there had been a burglary from the outside, and that the burglars had entered and had escaped with the booty by the window."

I felt—for a while—vexed with Mr.

Adolphus de Vere. Of course, I knew it was no concern of his who was guilty, but it annoyed me that I had been forced by him to come to the conclusion that the guilty parties were inmates of the house, and among the

domestics.

" You will find, Miss Jane," said he " dare I, may I say, my dear Miss Jane, that there are great surprises in life, and that very often those are the biggest rascals whom we have least suspected."

" I am afraid it is so," said I with a sigh.

Mr. Adolphus Vere de Vere remained with us another fortnight. He did not exactly pro pose—but there was an understanding between us, which was unexpressed, save with our

eyes.

Not the smallest clue was discovered whereby the loss at the Castle could be accounted for. The painful part of the matter was that against her will and conscience, Mrs. Smith was obliged to suspect her servants, and they sus pected one auother. A shadow settled down on wlxat hitherto had been a harmonious house hold. Mrs. Smith often said, and I believe she «aid what was perfectly true, that what she regretted infinitely more than the loss of her jewels, was her loss of confidence in those

about her.

"By the way," said Mr. Vere de Vere, " when is Miss Smith going to be married?"

" In November."

"In November! The darkest—dreariest month in the year!"

"She cannot help it; her husband-elect is going out to India, and sails early in De cember. She, of course, accompanies him, and as the Irovsscau and all lias to be prepared, it was not possible to have it earlier,"

"And how about the presents?"

"Oil—there are sure to be heaps on heaps'. She is a great favourite. 1 hear the people of the town are going to present her with plate. There will bo magnificent presents, of that there can be no doubt. I am going to work her a pincushion."

"In November! Then I shall be here at the time."

"You will, Mr. De Vere? I am surprised and delighted."

" Yes, if yon will receive mo. Iam afraid of the fogs and first frosts of winter. I usually go to Algiers, but this year cannot afford it—I have lost on the Argentines—and must curtail my expenses. If you will receive me early in November, before the first, frosts, it will bo good of you."

"I am sure we shall'be delighted, Mr. Do

Vere."

"Dear me! Miss Smith to bo married then. Polks do say that one marriage always draws

on others."

My heart fluttered.

"Then,'' said he," farewell only for a little while, and then—" he did not finish that sen

tence.

And then—what was there comprised m these words—"and then?"

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