Chapter 162318119

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Title
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article162318119
Full Date1896-06-06
Page Number37
Corrections0
Word Count2532
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleAdelaide Observer (SA : 1843 - 1904)
Trove TitleThe Fly
article text

CHAPTER IV,

Early in November Mr. Adolphus Vere de Verereturned toour spare rooms. We—that Is I—received him with pleasure.

.*1 said to my mother, "Are you not glad to have him back -again? He gives very little

trouble."

"X really do not know what to Bay," an swered she. «•

1 saw that Wiggles grew grumpy and looked with an evil eye on He Vere, and no wonder, for I had refused him becauso Adolphus had gained my heart. He was, in fact, an i^eal man; blood blue of tho bluest, such an aristo cratic name andnose to correspond.

Besides, he was interesting, being an'in valid.

Of course I should have wished him to be in" robust health, but a handsome man, with an ancient name, languishing eyes, an aquiline dioae, and a well-trimmed dark moustache, even if obliged to be wheeled about in a bath chair, is immeasurably superior to a common place clerk with ordinary features, sandy hair, and the name of Wiggles.

This last individual was somewhat hard worked just now. The Company had altered its tariff of charges! so as to get a little more out of the public and into their own pockets, and the variation in rates was not quite settled and produced endless confusion. Consequently Mr. Wiggles did not return for his lunch, but carried sandwiches with him, and he was given a good supper, after which lie went back to the office. He was provided with a latch key, and came in or let himself out as he liked. When he was at his office we did not bar or chain tko front door, Mr. de Vero gave us no trouble worth mentioning. lie retired early to bed and roselate. He had his break fast; then, if the weather permitted, was wheeled out in his bath-chair. ' Herbert could not do this now, as he was at school, so we engaged for bim a pensioner named Grubb, who had occasionally wheeled him out before when Herbert was not available.

He took a light collation at 1 o'clock, and usually lay down for the greater part of the afternoon, on account of his spine, that was weak. He took no tea, but expected a good dinner at half-past 7.

The town was full of excitement over the marriage of Miss Smith with Colonel Moulin. Some said his name was Mullins, but it was officially given out as Moulin. Nothing was talked of in the place but the presents that had been sent. There were china globes—of not much present use, as they could not be taken to India, and seven sets of silver pepper cas tors and salt cellars and mustard pots to match. They were not all -of the same pat tern, however, so that there was one for every day in the week. The boatmen and their wives presented Miss Smith with a silver fish slice. Her grandmother sent hor a diamond necklace; her mother gave her earrings to match. Her father — a cheque. Several painted firescreens came in and much brass work. She received five blotting-cases, bound in tortoise-shell and brass. A rich uncle gave her a superb rubv-and-diamond broocli; an

aunt some fine old lace.

"I suppose that elaborate precautions will be taken this time against robbery," said Mr.

de Vere.

"Oh, yes!" said I. "AH in the place who like may go in and see. the presents, but a detective or two are always there, in plain clothes, to observe those who come in. If you like I will take you with me."

"No, thank you," answered Adolphus. " Wedding presents are much the same all the

world over."

" Not every one can havo such presents as Miss Fitz-Auberon Smith," said I. "You see the Smiths are so rich—I mean all her rela tives on the Smith aide. The Fitz-Aubcrona are poor but proud."

"So—detectives now?"

—"Yes," I continued, " and the rooms where the presents are to be kept and shown are. in the tower, on the third story, so as to be quite inaccessible from outside, and I hear that a light will be kept burning all night, and that a policeman will also bo on guard."

" Where?"

"Outside the roorn. The door will be locked and the key committed to Mr. Smith. You sen, noonecan possibly get in with the man on guard outside the door ail night long."

I see—it is well to take every precaution. No doubt the presents, or some of them, are

valuable."

" Valuable," said I, " is not the word. They are positively inappreciable. I am sure my pincushion alone is worth ten shillings."

I must now leave telling my own story to write clown something I. afterwards learned from Mr. Wiggles; but which J. here mention, because unless it bo related at this point what follows can hardly be understood.

Owing to the work in the office at the station, Mr. Wiggles was kept up into the small hours. He was much exhausted when he left, on his way to our house, and worried, for there was something like three halfpence in the accounts that could not bo accounted for, and a hot altercation had been carried on be tween our lino and the Great Northern relative

to this deficit. The}' charged it on our line, and our line threw it on the Great Northern. Wiggles had gone through all the vouchers, and checked every account, and could not ex plain where that three halfpence was wrong. The sum in itself was trifling, but to a man of rectitude and precision any mistake was annoying, and no rest conld he take for his busy brain till he had got to the bottom of the

mystery.

The night was not very dark. There was no moon, hut there was starlight.

Mr. Wiggles passed the "Castle," and saw a light burning high up in the tower, in the third story. Here, as he was aware, the pre sents for Miss Smith, shortly to become Mrs. Moulin, were being arranged. The marriage was to take place in a couple of days, and all the gifts had not as yet arrived. The grand exhibition in the tower would be on the mor row afternoon.

Mr. Wiggles was not much interacted in the wedding and its festivities. They nad little to do with the railway, and his interests were engrossed in the affairs of the Company,

As he walked along he tWight he saw a darfc, slim figure .steal forward in the same direction as he was taking. The way led no where, save to our house, and thence out on the downs, Tt was hardly conceivable that any one would be promenading on the cliffs between 2 and 3 in the morning. Nor wa3 it likely that any visitor would l>c calling at our house at that "time of the day.

Accordingly Mr. Wiggles was surprised. He stood still and listened, but heard no foot fall whatever. Then be pressed on, and saw, as he believed, the black figure glide to our house and pass like a shadow up the wall, and disappear at the first story. It was too dark for Wiggles to see exactly where it had vanished, hut he believed it was at the window of the sitting-room occupied by the rival lodger. Mr. Wiggles rubbed his eyes, beat his breast, and believed that he was the victim of an optical illusion. However—and here was another odd thing—just as he came up to our door, he distinctly heard the sash of the up-' .stairs drawing-room window let down. Tt had J therefore been open, and Mr. He Vere bad

crawled from his bod arid had closed it

I at precise]/ the time whoa that mysterious

shadow had been seen by him to slip up the wall

and enter the window..

Mr. Wiggles said nothing to me about , this next morning. He appeared to be peculiarly

cheerful at breakfast. That same afternoon I went to the Castle to see the ranged tables laden with presents. Wo entered the tower door, ascended a broad deal stair to a large room that had windows looking two ways, and which was accordingly light for the exhibition. As the tower was detached from the main por tion of the house this was very convenient for the family. The feet did not tramp up the great stairs, nor was there any invasion of the private portion of the house. ~

X admired the presents vastly, but, of course, I admired my own donation/the pincushion, most of all. I was pleased to see that it was given a place of hdnour. There could be no doubt that the two men who watched atten tively all who passed through the room were detectives in plain clothes, and I looked at them with almost as great interest as I did at the beautiful presents.

When I had seen enough I came away. Only a limited number of people were allowed in at a time. I saw that provision had been made outside the tower chamber door for the accom

modation of a policeman for the night.

Now I must return to Mr. Wigglos's story— that I was told later. That night he came away from his office somewhat earlier than tin the preceding one, and went direct to the police station^ where ho was at once wel

corned, and without more ado, lie and threa

policemen departed together, and by a round about way went to the Castle, where thov con cealed themselves in some tamarisk bushefr

j that formed a hedge, and from behind whifeh

the two faces of the tower could be observed

| in which were the windows of the room where

the presents were displayed. Thero they waited for two hours before anything was seen to reward their patience. At last the reward came. A shadow was seen stealing along the path; after a moment's delay it ran up tlie wall of the tower like a fly; and those watch ing saw it open and enter the window of the lighted chamber where weio the wedding pre

sents of Miss Smith.

_ They waited patiently, or rather impa tiently, for five minutes, not more, and then the shadow reappeared at the window, emerged through it, closed it, and came down the wall as before—like a fly. No sooner had tho shadow reached the bottom than it was in the hands of the police and of Mr. Wiggles, and proved to be not a shadow, but a substance.

"My goodness!" I exclaimed next morning

as the milkman informed me that there had been a burglary at the Castle, and that all the valuables presented to Miss .Smith had been carried off. "Oh, milkman J" T. said ; "was my pincushion among them?'' I sent Herbert

to knock at Mr. de Vere's door. I was sure he would be interested to hear the news. Herbert knocked, but received no answer. He knocked again and again, but all. remained silent

within. The door was locked, and we could not enter. Seriously alarmed we consulted one of the coastguards, who was passing, and he volunteered bv means of a ladder to enter

the parlour window of tho first story. Tho ladder was planted and he went up, hut returned rapidly with the astounding news that the lodger was not there; the bod was uii disturl>ed. Not a trace of him was to bo found.

"Jiut how did he get away?"' I asked rny

mother.

*'My dear,"'she answered, "I have not the smallest inkling of an idea."

Somewhat later Herbert t ame bounding in with an " I say ; here's a jolly lark."

"What is tho jolly lark, as you vulgarly term it?" asked I.

"I say, it's rummy, ain't it? There's that chap De Vere took up."

"Took up!" I exclaimed, in my agitation

"es of

and alarm, ignoring the principles of gram

mar.

"Yes," said Herbert. "And got all tho things from the Castle 011 liim. He—by Jove,

it's a rummy go!" t

"What's a rummy go?" I asked breathless" in my emotion, ignoring the fact that I was using slang.

" Why, it scorns that Master de Yore is not a Do Vere at all, but a Timothy Hoggins, a notorious burglar, and that lie was in all like lihood the chap that, cleared (iff Mrs. Smith's jewels. Anyhow, now he had bagged all tho daughter's precious stones, and was making off, when Mr. Wiggles and the police clapped himsm the shoulder. As for his infirmities, liis spine, and his debilitated hind legs, its all my eye and Hetty Martin. They made him walk to the police station. Ho was a queer

card."

"Goodness!"

"You may well say goodness, Jane," said the boy. " Do you know how lie did it? How he ran up walls? It was all done with suckers, an ingenious imitation of fly's feet on his hands and knees. They,should let him off cheap for his cleverness in doing that. J say, mother, ain't this awfully rum?"

"J. hadn't the least notion possible it could be. so?" said my mother.

I need not enter into particulars, tier narrate the agitation into whieh I was thrown.

It was as Herbert said. We had actually harboured a notorious housebreaker, who went among his "pals" by the name of "Gentleman Tim. His real name was not .Adolphus, nor was it Vere, nor Vere do Vere, but Buggins. Happily all the spoils of the Tower were on Hoggins when captured, but the jewels of Mrs. Fitz-Auberon Smith were never recovered. How little did I think thai: the words of Adol phus would come true—that our great sur prises would be. finding that those whom wo most trusted were the greatest rascals!

A month later, one day, Mr. Wiggles said to

me—

"Miss Jane—havr you seen it?" "Seen what, Mr. Wiggles?"

"Have you looked in the paper to-day?"

"No—is that unfortunate man De Vere's case come on?"

" I do not mean that. Did you look in tho

ad vertisements?"

I said T. did not.

Then he unfolded a newspaper, and showed me a notice to the effect that Mr. Horatio Wiggles, clerk, would change his name to Clan-Alpine.

"It this is inserted a certain number of times the job is done," said he.

"What—you assume the name of Clan Alpine?" I asked in amazement. "Are you in any way Scotch?"

" Dear me, no; I am a Cockney, my father Cockney, my mother ditto—so far as I know anything. But Clan-Alpine is a finemame. I took it out of the ' Lady of the Lake'—to—to please; you."

" It is a fine name—I should not mind that said J.

So it was settled. I was to become Mrs. Clan-Alpine, I never could have Ijccomo Mrs. Wiggles.

" My dear Jane," said my intended, "thero is a. vein of your mother in you.'"

" Is there?" said I. " Did you ever remark that, mamma—that I was like you in soma things?"

"My dear." said she, " f j-.<???? had tho slightest idea.'1

Tin: